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mand that some one, far better qualified than I can pretend to be, should take the field against the encroachments of modern Infidelity. She appears in as many shapes as Proteus of old ; and there is no point of the compass, at which we do not behold her busily employed in her unhallowed design of sapping the foundations of our holy faith, and overthrowing its divine and beautiful superstructure.
In a conversation, in a neighboring state, with a learned professor of science, as well as religion, some two years or more since, he remarked, that he believed, that the battle between ChrisTIANITY and INFIDELITY would have to be fought entirely over again. The writer, at that time, was rather inclined to doubt the correctness of the conclusion, in its full extent. But since he has lived to see the banner of Anti-Christ boldly unfurled, and waving triumphant, on the floor of the House of Assembly of the CHRISTIAN State of New-York; and the Senate, at the same time, so far influenced by hasty and unfounded considerations, as to concur in the repeal of the law making provision for the pay of chaplains; he cannot any longer look upon the forebodings of the learned Professor above alluded to, as unfounded or visionary; but is compelled to acknowledge that these alarming facts afford strong if not conclusive proof of their being well founded.
Indeed we cannot longer hesitate to believe, that there has been for some time past an organised party of Infidels in this state, if not throughout the Union. In the city of New-York we have seen them carry on their operations without disguise or reserve; led on at one time by “ THE CORRESPONDENT," with Mr. Houston for its editor; and at a subsequent period by Frances Wright and Robert Owen, with “The FREE ENQUIRER” for their organ, edited by Miss Wright and the younger Ow; en, and widely circulated.
Next we see it raise its head on the floor of our State Legislature, and boldly and successfully attack an ancient, venerable, justly venerated, and most ; salutary custom, founded on our holy religion, and sanctioned by the uniform and universal practice of our pious ancestors.
In addition to these circumstances, and I presume in strict connection with them, there is published at Wilmington, in Delaware, a weekly sheet, entitled “The DELAWARE FREE Press,” which carries on a systematic warfare against Christianity.
In-two late nuinbers of this paper, I perceive a Lecture on the human constitution, by a Dr. Knowlton, of Massachusetts, in which he attempts to prove that what he calls pleasure is the main if not the only source of human happiness; a doctrine borrowed from the old Epicurean School; and which in the Doctor's hands is made the most of, as may be seen by the following delectable specimen of his argument.
" I do not,” says he,' "go so far as to say, that pleasure constitutes the whole of happiness; but I doubt whether we should be the subjects of any happiness, were it not for pleasure; I doubt whe- .ther we should have any thoughts that would be in agreeable : Yet what has the world been about? ☺ What have the Priests been about ? Robbing us of this life, and tickling our ears with another in 'n lieu of it, which we shall never see, or, if we do, it', will not be worth one snap to us, according to their own account of it. Who would live merely to think? What soul would want to stay in the Christian's Heaven over night, if it should happen to get there."
There are six columns of such nauseous stuff as this in the paper before us; and the reader is pro-' . mised a continuation of the Lecture. In another it number of the same paper, there appears a Synop- ' sis of the lectures of a Mr. E. Thompson, in which the Holy Scriptures are held up to ridicule, in lan
ploubt whe, were have any the Woout? Ranoth
guage scarcely more refined than the coarse and · vulgar terms so often repeated in Thomas Paine's Age of Reason..
Is not all this sufficient to prove, that there is an organised Infidel Party in these states, if not to demonstrate that in the language of the learned Professor, to whom I have already alluded, the battle between Christianity and Infidelity is to be fought over again?
Admitting such a crisis to be at hand, what is the duty of Christians ? I answer, to maintain calmly, steadily and inflexibly, the doctrines of the cross; to enforce them by reason and argument, and by these weapons alone. No coercive measures will have a salutary effect: And hence we regret to perceive, from the Resolutions of a public meeting held at Pittsburg, in Pennsylvania, that Dr. Knowlton has been in prisoned in Massachusetts for the publication of one of his Infidel Essays. This is precis ely what such writers, and their deluded adhere nts, wish for, if they do not intentionally aim at it. They rejoice in every opportunity to cry out “persecution” against Christians. Let us, then, my Christian Brethen, disappoint them in their hoped for martyrdom. Let us remember, that our Savior himself never said: " Whoever does not follow me, shall be made miserable by legal coercion; shall be considered as a rebel to the state in which he lives, unprotected by the laws, incarcerated in a dungeon, doomed to the fagot, or stripped of his property.” Let us also remember, that the Primitive Fathers of the Church, uninfluenced by the disorders of the passions, and the corruptions of our nature, followed the benign and gracious exarnple of the Redeemer. "
“We were of opinion,” says Saint Austin, writing to the Manicheans, “that to recover you from your errors, we ought not to persecute you with injuries and invectives, or any ill treatment; but endeavor to procure your attention, by soft words and exhortations, which would show the tenderness we have for you: according to that passage of ho
ly writ:-“The servant of the Lord ought not to · love strife and quarrels : but to be gentle, affable,
and patient towards all mankind; and to reprove with modesty those who differ from him in opinion." Let those only treat you with rigor, who know how difficult it is to find out the truth, and avoid error. Let those treat you with rigor, who know not how rare and painful a work it is, calmly to dissipate the carnal phantoms that disturb even a pious mind; who are ignorant of the extreme difficulty that there is, to purify the eye of the inward man, to render him capable of seeing the truth, which is the sun and light of the soul. To conclude, let those treat you with rigor, who never have been seduced into errors near akin to those you are engaged in.”
Such was the tolerant spirit of St. Austin; and happy would it be for mankind, were they to follow uniformly and universally, so pure and so laudable an example..
But next to the question, how it becomes Christians in general to act towards their Infidel opponents? I take the liberty to ask, how it becomes the Clergy to act in the present crisis, when they see themselves unjustly proscribed and excluded by modern Infidelity from the only small honor awarded them in the distribution of constitutional privileges by the political fathers of the state ?
The answer to this question is Let them evince the spirit which animated their Divine Master and his faithful Apostles, under similar circumstances. Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do! exclaimed the blessed Jesus, when assailed by the calumnious reproaches and insults of brutal and unfeeling Jews: It was no mere human voice; but the spirit of God that gave birth to such an exclamation: Í should ask no other proof of the Divinity of Christ, but this unparalleled, solitary, simple, and sublime effusion of his matchless eloquence. To a similar if not the same purpose, we have that memorable declaration of St. Paul-Though I speak with the tongues of men and of Angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 1 Cor. 13. 1.
. These passages of holy writ admonish us, that the warfare of the Clergy with their enemies should be conducted with all the moderation that frail humanity can call to its aid, and at the same time with all the firmness; with zeal too, but zeal tempered by discretion. It may, I fear, be thought. presumption in a Layman, like myself, to pretend to advise so learned and respectable a body as the American Clergy; but as the most ignorant soldier may sometimes afford a valuable hint to the wisest general, I will venture, with all due deference to the clerical character, to state frankly and more at large, than I have done, how I think it becomes the Clergy to act under existing circumstances. They ought, in the first place, to avoid every appearance, even the slightest, of yielding to the enemy, or shrinking from the bold and manly de- fence of the cause, with which God has entrusted them. Their situation is peculiarly delicate in one respect, and delicacy is never to be lost sight of by virtuous minds; but there are occasions when duty demands the sacrifice of delicacy; when conscience must and will rise superior to all extraneous considerations. The monitor in their own breasts must tcach then, that though some of them are suspected of a design to unite church and state, and all of them are subjected to the stale imputation of Priestcraft; yet these are no reasons why they should shrink for a moment from defending the sacred institution of Christianity, at whose holy altars it is their province, their duty, and I hope their