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the very genius of irreligion to originate such preposterous and ridiculous theories, for it proposes to itself no higher objects of gratification than curiosity and personal ambition. On the contrary, it is in the very genius of true religion to originate sound principles in all the sciences, and to encourage every species of useful knowledge. To it, under all the corruptions of Antichrist, we are indebted for the preservation of the classics, of the Roman law, and the codes of Justinian and Theodosius; in short, for the
preservation of whatever of ancient literature yet remains.
IV. We proceed, in the fourth and last place, to apply the subject to the present occasion.
We are assembled, as you have heard, to supplicate the blessing of God upon his church, so that her want of ministers may be supplied, and her borders may be enlarged. This church owes her existence to the doctrine of righteousness through a Redeemer, and relies upon the same doctrine for her perpetuity and prosperity. She is a community gathered out of the world, from among the heirs of destruction, the
children of disobedience. On her account the world is preserved; for when she shall be completed, when the redeemed shall be gathered together in one, then cometh the end. We therefore learn from this subject,
1. The importance of the Church of Jesus Christ, in this world. The truths which she espouses, are necessary for the welfare of men. Nations can only thrive and prosper by the prevalence of these truths. Wherever they are despised, misfortune, calamity, and ruin will ensue.
It has been supposed that a nation of Atheists can exist. Let France speak, and she will tell you, that the position is false. She has been obliged to resort to her old superstition, as preferable to irreligion. The latter necessarily produces anarchy, with all its consequences. No nation can exist without religion, and revealed religion is the only one which can promote the real welfare of any people.
Value then, Men and Brethren, the Church of God as the sheet-anchor of the world. Rally round her standard ; reverence her ordinances; believe the doctrines which she
has embraced; and love those who belong to her fellowship, and walk worthy of their high vocation.
2. We learn the importance of a religious magistracy. Without righteousness as explained, men cannot be just, ruling in the fear of God. You may as well attempt“ to
up an hungry tyger with a cobweb","? as to keep the irreligious magistrate within the bounds of that duty which he owes to God and to his subjects. He will, unless restrained by more powerful motives, sport with truth, with humanity, with every thing sacred and holy. I would as soon trust to the ferocious savage, as I would to the skeptical and irreligious ruler, if he acts under the influence of his irreligion and skepticism without control.
Let no man mistake my meaning. I desire not the establishment of any denomination of Christians; but in the name of my Master, I say, that the magistrate must be a subject of the dispensation of mercy, an avowed believer in Jesus Christ, or he cannot fulfil the duties of his office aright. A skeptical magistrate is a traitor to the God of
Heaven, and therefore must be a curse to his subjects. God will never suffer a perversion of any of his own appointments, without manifesting his indignation, and causing the perverters deeply to feel the effects of their ungodliness.
3. We see how important is the design of such a day as this. It contemplates the spread of truth, the influence of righteousness, the increase of the kingdom of Christ among all flesh. How large a proportion of the world is without God, and without hope, because without the knowledge of the way
of salvation! Mahometans, Jews, and Gentiles, are in open revolt against the Lord and his Anointed; whilst the greatest part of those who profess Christianity, have corrupted the truth. How are all these aliens from the family of God, to be brought within the bonds of the covenant? By send. ing to them the ministry of reconciliation, to proclaim the righteousness of God which is by faith. Who but God can raise up men qualified to undertake this great labour of love, and work of faith? And must he not be inquired of for this, as well as for all other blessings. In a word, can we expect that he
will arise to bless the nations, if he does not pour out his Spirit upon his Church? It is from her members that the messengers of peace must be selected. And so long as she is in want of pastors, so long no great and effective plans for the conversion of the Heathen and others, can be adopted.
4. What powerful arguments does the subject suggest for importunity and perseverance in prayer. God is not confined to means, but he has been pleased to make it the duty of his people to ask, to seek, and to knock, and with their obedience to these commands, to connect the promise, that what is asked, shall be given ; what is sought, shall be found; and the door at which we knock, shall be opened. Contemplate now the objects embraced in the special supplications of this day, and tell me, are there any more interesting, or more glorious to be found ? Every thing that belongs to the honour of God, and the happiness of man in his various relations, is included in our prayers. Who, then, that loves the Redeemer, or the salvation of men, can be cold or indifferent? Let the language of our desires, and of our reso