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never satisfy the sensitive conscience. It must reach the hidden seat, the germ of the evil; and having lopped off the outward deformities, and severed this great tap-root of iniquity, the roused conscience of the people would next impel them to attempt its thorough eradication from the soil of the heart, by making the heart incapable-through grace from God, given unto it-of nourishing this plant of sin. To drop the figuregood men in the community having once so far awakened to a sense of duty in regard to a single gross and open vice, would not be likely to remain content with its apparent suppression-with a merely external and superficial reform; but would be encouraged to labor for the annihilation of the sinful disposition itself, in the conversion of the heart. Every one would feel that efforts for the spiritual good of the people might now be made with some hope of success. With such a victory confidence returns; harmony is restored; a spirit of high enterprise is awakened. Let it once be seen that this citadel has been stormed, that the very basis of the hostile operations has been captured, and that, if this strong hold can be held, one great province is forever conquered from the realm of sin, one vast growth of iniquity permanently checked-and who will not feel a new courage in his heart, and a fresh enthusiasm stirring there-the prophet of greater triumphs to come. Yes! this moral victory, won in a right spirit, and by worthy means, would sound like a trumpet-call to action, within every soul that longeth, and hopeth for the redemption of the people. Ay! and it would be a trumpet-call to others too! It would proclaim within the conscious hearts of them that live by pandering to corrupt appetites, and to the passions of the populace, the condemnation which eternal Justice pronounces on their deeds. They know their guilt; and now they feel its shame; they begin to see that their time is short. Yes! for the tide of moral sentiment having risen high enough to burst this ancient barrier of wickedness, would also, of necessity, overflow many a dyke, break down many an old embankment, undermine deep foundations of sin, and flood many a sink of iniquity with its waters of cleansing. The same conscientiousness which was unable to tolerate this sin, will also find it difficult to endure that other abuse, and this injustice or neglect; and the company of good men, encouraged with success, warmed with action, bound together in oneness of principle and of endeavor, would continue to co-operate in the work of God, in the warfare of the kingdom of heaven. Thus would it be found, that in this act was involved a whole series of acts that for its successful accomplishment, a state of mind was neces sary, and in it was matured, which was sure to go farther still, and work out manifold and great results.
In considering the probable consequences of any measure, my brethren, we are to enquire, first of all
In what state of mind that measure will leave the Church and the community? What principles are impliedly adopted and obeyed in carrying it through-what convictions have practical working in its accomplishment -what feelings are born and ripened as the project grows and comes to maturity? Now, I affirm, that this people cannot rise in obedience to conscience, and in the strength of God put down any gross and open wickedness-cannot settle any great question of public morality upon high grounds of duty, without the conscious, (or unconscious,) adoption of principles which will carry them onward to yet nobler ends;-without a development of feelings which cannot fail to urge the application of those same principles to other departments of life, and other details of action. In a word, the same spirit which led them to do this thing, indwelling still, and grown strong through exercise, and imperious from its triumph, would become a ruling element in their character.
There is every probability, therefore, That a renewed Christian activity would result from the shutting up of our public schools of vice.
IV. This renewal would not be a transient one.
If you carry any point through artifice, your success even upon a moral question has developed no moral principle, and awakened no new spiritual
- heart. If by an artificial excitement you gain your
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end, that excitement will leave, when the fume has settled, naught but emptiness, coldness, and dregs of discontent-and the last state shall be worse than the first. But if the body of good men in the community, rising in the strength of a moral conviction, in the fear of God, and in a humane love for their brethren, do utter their solemn judgment of duty, and seal it with deliberate and decisive action, then-then-my brethren, quite a different thing has been done-the deed will stand; it has a vital power in it, and will grow, and will bear fruit unto remote generations. Yes! The renewed Christian activity which will follow the suppression of our public schools of vice, and our most open profligacy, would be no transient activity. It would give an impulse to every good thing: it would greatly encourage every fainting heart among those who long for the redemption of the people. At the present time, whithersoever we turn, this horrid, giant form lowers upon us, with outspread wings and baleful breath, casting everywhere a deadly shade, infection, torpor, and despair! And how do our hearts sink, as we remember that good men, whose hearty co-operance in the divine war, would annihilate this monstrous evil-keep aloof; or standing in its very shadow, shoot their arrows upon their brethren!-that the good men are not all clearly and boldly on the side of righteousness-but many of them, through indolence, or a certain wonderful, and inexplicable blindness, or perversity of vision,-do not understand, will not act! If the Spirit of all Evil, the Father of lies, and profligacy, and woes, is palpably among us, shall we hesitate to bid him sternly in the Holy Name-Go hence! Why, yes, some say-wait. And they do wait. And while we wait, what happens? Crimes and woes, tears, curses, and death-death of the body, and death of souls-and death invading fast the precincts of social and religious life.
But if we break this lethargy?-if we cut short this delay ?-if, in the name of God, we set our foot forward!-where is the power that shall make us take it back? No! It would be no transient advantage, no ephemeral victory. It would be a step-I hesitate not to say--in the world's history that would never be retraced. The shadow upon the dial that measures the coming of the day of God, having advanced that degree, would not go back ward. Remember, my brethren, when we act thus, upon great moral questions, and from religious motives of deep solemnity, we act, not for ourselves alone, for our church, or our city; but for the world, and for time. For time, did I say? I change the word:-it is for eternity that we act. Give quick heed, therefore, my brethren, for the time is short. But
V. 1 remark: When there is a renewal of Christian activity, there is also a heightening and an expanding of Christian love.
We never unite in the common recognition of a great truth, or especially in the fulfilment of a sacred duty, without being drawn closer to one another. Did you never, when in conversation with one or two intimate friends, light, all together, upon some eminence of thought, as it werewhence you had a common vision of some sublime principle, or some affecting reality, and you were all, on the instant, brethren in spirit, your souls bound by that delightful charm in one tearful, loving, reverent union. Were you, now, to join with them in putting into practice the principle which you thus clearly see; were you together, to struggle with difficulties, and endure adversities, would not your spiritual love be deepened, and would not the sympathies of your hearts be mutually warm and full? Undoubtedly. And if your work had been of a kind to bring your soul into near contact with human woes, and sins, if you had learned to pity the erring, and had sought to lead them back to the good way-if you had opened your heart to the sorrows of the widow and the fatherless children, and moved by love, had sacrificed time, convenience, money for their benefit—I ask whether after all this, your own souls would not probably be warmer, wiser, and stronger than before-more firmly and intimately knit together in love-better fitted to be "temples of the Holy Ghost ?" Open your hearts to mercy and pity, then,-give the fulness of your love to your sinning and suffering brother, to shield him from temptations, and see whether there will not be a "heightening and en
largement" of all noble and Christian sentiments within your own bosom. His heart is enlarged, whoso ruuneth in the ways of God's comma....ments. But is this work feasible? I remark
Finally:-We have in the points already specified as likely to be gained, all the elements of success.
Nobody doubts that the Christian and conscientious portion of our communities is strong enough, if united in actio very shortly to pervade every rank and order of society with Christian influences. The Church here is wealthy enough, and intelligent, and numerous enough - if it were also holy and zealous-to do much more than merely to "enthrone religion" in this city, and spread through this city the ministrations of Christianity, and to close the schools of vice, and repress open profligacy within the narow limits of its own precincts. And it is the same throughout a great portion of our land. The question is not one of natural power, then, but only regards the possibility and the mode of calling forth that power in harmonious and concentrated action. Is there any specific method in which this may be done? The answer has been given; it has been shown, that from a union in combined and successful assault upon the great educational system of iniquity, which has so long proved itself a fountain of bitterness and death-from the final and complete shutting up of the public schools of vice-from the correction, and elevation of moral principle, and the awakening of conscience that must attend such action, a permanently enlarged Christian activity must flow, and from such activity again, a newness and fulness of love; and these, these are all that is needed to success. These are the very elements of power;-these, the assurance of that Divine Presence, which is the assurance of triumph.
My hearers, the decision of the great moral question now in debate within this community is a matter of the gravest, the most solemn moment. The heart of Omniscience alone, is adequately conscious of the mighty interests at stake: and yet we can see that the very fundamentals of religion, and even of morality are here involved; and these are they not the basis of our social order, of our political freedom, of our very existence as a nation?
There are those in our community, the main tendency of whose labors is to seduce the people from the path of right, to intoxicate them with a spirit of license-an intense, wild selfishness, reckless of all things both human and divine; to imbrute their manners, enslave their wills, and destroy their souls-" fitting them, by vice, for bondage," and using them as tools of their own purposes. With great truth has it been remarked, that the "demagogue is the worst enemy of his species; for he destroys the foundation of its best hopes, its faith in itself," and (we must add) in God. Of our very freedom, he forges oppression. Under his malign necromancy the holiest names, and the most sacred words become instruments of the vilest uses for vile ends; and there can be no constitution so favorable to true liberty or so carefully guarded, but he is able to transform it into a monster and a curse. Passages in the history of some of our own communities, most lamentably illustrate this fact. For a system by which the voice of the wise, the experienced and the good, is always drowned in the clamors of an ignorant and violent populace misled by bad men, instead of being a system of equality and freedom, is the very worst kind of inequality and despotism." It is, in fact, but an oligarchy, turned upside down-the government of an invisible committee, self-elected from among the baser sort, ruling them by corrupting them, and aspiring to the exercise through them of supreme control-a despotism of the few, and those few equally irresponsible and untrustworthydespotism without the proprieties and the -splendors of a court-the intrinsic influence of royalty without its majesty and its publicity—a secret and a vulgar tyranny.
But will not corruption continue to spread so long as its fountains flow unchecked? And will not the demagogue be mighty, so long as his school-the tippling-shop-shall unmake the men whom the Lord hath made? Will not the people be ruled by base masters, be led into base
deeds, so long as they debase themselves? Is public law venerable to them who are without private morality? Is religion sacred to those whose daily practice flouts all her precepts? Is anything sacred to him who makes a mock of duty? Is anything safe, when nothing is sacred? I repeat it, my hearers; The fundamental interests of society are at stake. in this question. The inextinguishable curse, of God rests on the community which endures the dominion of the demagogue and the drinking shop!
It is wonderful, and it is fearful how, oft times, years are condensed into a single act; how destinies hang upon single threads. The decision takes but an instant: and that instant it is decisive forever! The stroke of the murderer is swift as thought: that moment, there is murder! The soul of the guilty man had wavered, and reluctated and hesitated long, it may be ; but, finally, in the twinkling of a star the die is castthe deed is done! All eternity does not wipe out or diminish that brief moment. It was itself an eternity in an instant. The general of an army is weary, and his men complain. He tarries for a night, and lo! the morning that should have brought victory, brings defeat, and an empire's overthrow the face of the world is changed, and the great stream of events is turned into new channels. All time looks backward to that moment of folly, and eternity can never forget it. O DUTY! Awful word! A duty neglected-what ruin may not that neglect inherit! In single acts, my hearerrs, are bound up long years' results of character. From single acts again, flow long years' results in character: and character is the root of destiny. This community, these churches bearing the sacred name of Christ, this our church for whose character and influence we are responsible-they will reap what they sow. Duties come. They tarry not long; but if they receive not our homage, they are gone their hour is past!
A future of apppalling greatness is coming fast upon the people of this land. A few generations more, and the world will behold on this western continent, either most terrible catastrophes, or a glorious and an eternal triumph. The problem of mankind's destiny for ages to come is to be solved here. We shall need a great abundance of that heavenly salt, and that celestial light which are found only in the souls of the just, that we may not perish in our corruption, and cloud with premature darkness the bright day which seems to be dawning. We are called upon by the most tender appeals which can be addreseed to the human heart; by motives of solemn and overruling import-absolutely immense in their grandeur-to be faithful to the duties of our day, and to secure to the next generations, upon whom will probably come some of the severest trials which have ever visited our humanity, the advantage of a firm basis of religious principle. It is necessary for our temporal security, for the permanence of our institutions and the freedom and peace of our homes, that we should thoroughly christianize these communities-enthroning religion above all other law, and giving the stated ministrations of Christian truth in some form, to every family, and closing every public school of iniquity. If we neglect to do so, then, there is nothing better before us than what we now see on the continent of Europe-corruption, oppression, anarchy, gloom, fear, alternate fury and despair. Such must be the lot of nations that know not God. And in this social ruin, what devastation of individual souls-thousands and millions spending the day of their probation in sins and bitter woes, and dying under a cloud!
The Past joins with the mysterious and wonderful Future, in calling unto us; and they say " Be faithful to the memory of your Fathers; betray not the hopes of your sons; be obedient to God, be faithful to manthen shall neither you nor your children after you ever acknowledge any earthly master, or bend the knee to any mortal dominion; but ye shall all be free forever, and ye shall be called the sons of God."
My hearers, I leave this matter in your hands. You will act, or neglect to act. You will be faithful or unfaithful: and over all is God, who knoweth all, and who judgeth all.
PASTOR OF THE SOUTH CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH, PITTSFIELD, MASS.
THE DEMANDS OF SINNERS UNREASONABLE.
"He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe on him."-MAtt. xxvii. 42.
THESE words were uttered respecting Jesus by the Scribes and Pharisees, after they had nailed him to the cross. They contain a confession that he had wrought miracles in saving others, and a charge that he was unable to save himself. They contain, also, a demand that he would prove his claims to the Messiahship by coming down from the cross, and a promise, that, if he would do this, they would receive him as the Messiah. It strikes us at once that this demand is unreasonable even to effrontery.
But, my hearers, the question, "Will you receive Christ as your Saviour?" was not presented to the Jews of his own generation alone; it is a practical question to every hearer of the gospel; it is a practical question to you, and, as such, without doubt, you have all made it a subject of deliberation and decision. Yet many of you would tell me, should I ask you, that you have not accepted Christ as he is offered in the gospel; that you do not exercise repentance for sin and faith in the Saviour; that you have never experienced that new birth, without which, as Jesus himself declares, no man can see the kingdom of God. I suppose you have some reason for this. I am not at liberty to suppose, that, as reasonable beings, you are acting on this momentous subject without giving to yourselves some reason which satisfies, or at least silences your consciences, and relieves you