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committed many gross and wicked outrages, to the great grief of their illustrious and immortal chieftain; the man among them, who most resembled him in valor, talent and enterprise, and who proved himself the most faithful, was the Cavalier Diego Mendez. He it was, that to save Columbus and his shipwrecked crew from famine, or murder, by the savages, performed the daring and unparalleled exploit of making the .voyage from Jamaica to Hispaniola in an Indian canoe, with only one Spanish companion, and several Indian rowers. This exploit of Diego Mendez defies all history for its counterpart in perilous adventure, and how do we account for this noble spirit, this hallowed zeal in behalf of suffering humanity? I answer, in the Christian faith of the hero: For among the books which he bequeathed to his family, was “ The Art of Holy Dying"--and “The Contemplation of the Passion of our Saviour.”[F.]
The next modern example is Charles V. He was the great man of his age, as Columbus had been of the age before him. He was the conqueror of conquerors; the Napoleon of his day: And yet, after rioting in all the enjoyments that earthly power and splendor could bestow, he retired from the world, and sincerely devoted himself to God and to good deeds; declaring that there was more consolation in the sincere faith and practice of the Christian Religion, than in all the joys that crowns and courts could yield.
I could add many other European examples; bu
not without being too prolix. Methinks I see you smile at my simplicity, in supposing these examples will have any effect upon your conclusions: But although we know what we are, Mr. Herttell, we know not what we may be. I am, I confess, please ed, on reflection, to find myself in such good company; and perhaps you may yet think, that a subject which engrossed such mighty minds as those I have mentioned, may be worthy of your own serious reflection. I will, however, refer to two more illustrious cases. John Jay is indeed a venerable name; and so is De Witt CLINTON. The former of these spent many years in the sole pursuit of investigating the subject of Divine Revelation : And the latter, I have it from high authority, had experienced a change of mind in behalf of Christianity long before he died. Indeed I had it from his own lips, that he would rather, if left to his decision, increase than diminish the influence of the clergy." These were the precise words of De Witt Clinton, addressing himself to the writer of these letters : And certain I am, that he was no friend to a Church and State Alliance : But he, no doubt, saw the deplorable decline both of public and private virtue, which has marked our progress as a nation; and .felt an honest conviction that an upright, enlightened and faithful body of clergymen, might do much to arrest its course, which I hesitate not to assert, now threatens the total destruction of our liberties.
With the utmost sincerity I declare, that it is not
because I love Thomas Herttell the less; but that I love my country and mankind the more, that I have taken up my pen on this occasion; not that I have lost a particle of that friendship, which I have long entertained for him, but that I have gained by time and experience, and I humbly hope through the grace of God, in attachment to that.Divine Religion, which is the sheet-anchor of the soul in the stormy ocean of life; the solace of humanity under all the ills that assail it here ; and the only ground of hope for a blessed state of existence hereafter. The great ones of the earth, the rulers of men and of nations, may disregard this religion, or pervert it to their vile purposes of lust and ambition : Priests may profane its altars by deeds unworthy of their high calling, and laymen may profess, while they neglect to practice, its divine precepts; and finally, the atheist and the deist may openly discard it; but it is still, and ever will be, considered seriously and sincerely by thousands of the wise and the virtuous, by millions of the good and the unsophisticated, as the purest and best gift of God to man. When; therefore, I find men like you, sir, men possessing your mental powers and moral virtues, overlooking the Divine Excellence of this religion, seeking for opportunities to cavil at it, and willing to explode it, I am struck with surprise at the moral phenomenon, and can scarcely realize its existence.'
There is, Şir, a brief sketch in holy writ, which I think you would do well to reflect upon; and in the hope that you may do so, I call your attention to it.
“The Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat : But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and when thou art. converted, strengthen thy brethren : And he, (Simon) said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison and to death: And he, (the Lord,) said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.” .
If we compare this sketch, Mr. Herttell, with your speech, I tear it will exhibit you somewhat in the same predicament with Peter; for although you begin with the pretext of showing only the unconstitutionality of inviting chaplains to pray for the House; yet you do not get through without a pretty clear and unequivocal denial of the truth as it is in Jesus. I believe, that whatever may be your errors, you are no hypocrite : But if you did intend, under pretence of excluding an unconstitutional custom, to conceal the cloven foot of opposition to the gospel, you have not succeeded. Your unbelief, your infidelity, is too broadly stamped upon every paragraph of your speech, to elude the observation even of the meanest capacity. Were it not so, I should deem the task I have undertaken, not merely useless, but mischievous.. is . .. Your speech, then, my dear sir, will be taken as it really is, for a covert, if not an open and avowed attack upon the gospel of Jesus Christ; and I shudder for the consequences, when I reflect, that coming, as it does, from such high authority, emanating
from the most numerous branch of the Legislature of the great and powerful state of New-York; it may be the means of pouring the poison of scepticism, as to the Christian Religion, into the minds of thousands of heedless and thoughtless young men; of leading some of them, perhaps to the penitentiary, if not to the gallows, and of bringing the gray hairs of their aged parents with sorrow to the grave. I speak advisedly on this serious topic. I may ask, and with great propriety too, how many have seen and deeply felt-how deeply no pen nor pencil can describe the heart-rending sorrow to which I have just alluded? And though it may not, in all cases, have brought their gray hairs down to the grave, it has pierced their hearts as with barbed arrows, and caused their tears to flow in copious and bitter streams : And are you willing, my dear sir, can it be possible that you are, to add to this misery of your fellow-beings, by prolonging or extending the cause of it? I will not readily believe, that you are so destitute of good feeling ; that your head is so weak, or your heart so wicked; but rather that you have never, to this day, taken a serious, a thorough, and a substantial vłew of the subject before us. “ Search the Scriptures," I beseech you, my friend, " for therein is the righteousness of God revealed.”
You shall hear from me again, next week. In the mean time, I subscribe myself, as ever, yours, sincerely and affectionately. SHERLOCK.
Salem, Washington Co. Mareh 4th, 1833.