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hackneyed, and in this country absurd and unfounded cry of INFIDELITY)—the reader may be assured, that the author of the Letters which follow, is a LAYMAN, too independent in his opinions of men and measures, whether religious or political, to be influenced by any man or set of men; that no Clergyman has had any share, directly or indirectly, in writing them; and that he can, with perfect sincerity
, affirm, that to aid in preserving the good order
, peace, liberty and prosperity of his country, all of which are deeply involved in this question, was the sole motive that induced him to take up his pen on this occasion.
The Notes and Illustrations have been added, because the haste in which the Text was written, as well as other circumstances, did not admit of some views being taken, which are intimately and properly connected with the subject. ALBANY, July 4th, 1833.
LET TER I. TO THOMAS HERTTELL, ESQ.
Sir, — The long acquaintance I have had with you, and the sincere respect and esteem I have ever felt for you, on account of your amiable character and many virtues, entitle me to address you in the spirit of candor and of friendship, on a subject of vital importance to mankind; but more especially to that country which, I trust; we mutually love. Although I think the speech you have lately delivered on the floor of the House of Assembly, calculated to do infinite mischief to our country, and especially to the rising generation; yet my personal knowledge of you forbids even a suggestion that your motives are impure, or your object to injure the interests of society, or impair the happiness of mankind.
But I very much fear, my Dear Sir, that in your żeal to save the Constitution, which you have thought to be in danger, you have forgotten, that if Thomas Herttell be so constituted, morally and physically, or both, that he has no occasion for the restraints which Christianity imposes upon the human passions, no call for the aids which it affords to human weakness and infirmity, or the consolations with which it visits the afflicted and the miserable ;
there are thousands, yea, millions, who clearly see and deeply feel its inestimable value in these respects, and could not be deprived of it without losing all hope of happiness both here and hereafter. Nay, more, my Dear Sir, I fear you have forgotten that, though morally and legally speaking, Thomas Heritell may, and, I presume, does perform faithfully all his duties to his fellow beings, and the government of his country, without the aid of Divine Revelation; there are thousands, and tens of thousands, who, but for the restraint which that puts upon them, would become the active and determined enemies of all law and order, and the depredators upon the lives, liberties and properties of their fellow men.
You may not agree with me, but I think we can safely refer to several periods of history, which prove conclusively the necessity of the Christian Religion, to restrain the evil inclinations, and the violent passions of men, and prevent them from dégenerating into profligate and debauched, or malig. nant and murderous spirits.
Think you that Brutus would have stabbed Cæsar, his long intimate and confiding friend, on the floor of the Roman Capitol, if he had known and yielded to the influence of the gospel of Christ? Think
that the triumvirate of Antony, Octavi. us and Lepidas, would have committed all the bloody deeds, which they did commit; would have cut off the head of Cicero, and deluged Rome in the blood of thousands and tens of thousands of innocent and unoffending victims, if they had been influenced by the letter and spirit of that religion, the immaculate Author of which taught his disciples, as a fundamental principle, that whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do you even so unto them?
Without referring to the bloody proscriptions of Sylla and Marius, or the subsequent and long career in wickedness and depravity, tyranny'and corruption, of the Roman Emperors, I would ask you whether you think that the Goths and Vandals would have overthrown the Roman Empire, and subverted, it to its very foundations, not only massacreing the conquered of all ages, sexes and conditions, but destroying all the noblest works of art, all the grand monuments of genius and of science; and finally, trampling upon the allodial right of the Romans in the soil, and rearing on its ruins that barbarous and horrible despotism, called the feudal system : Would, I ask you, all these flagrant outrages have been committed, if their authors had been under the influence of the Holy Spirit of Christ, as breathed through the gospel.
I might descend to later times, if not to the present day, and ask you, whether you would account for the corruption and profligacy of certain courts of Europe, such as those of Charles II. of England, and Louis XIV. of France, on the ground of the absence or the presence of a Christian influence in the hearts of those who composed them; and whose time was almost entirely occupied in ministering to