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ous to his future state. Peace diminishes our devo. tion to God, by the prosperity it produces ; but freedom has a two-fold injurious effect upon religion. It invites a spirit of enquiry exceedingly dangerous to Christianity ; for man will not receive opinions, from a reliance on the assertions of others, when he has the liberty and means of examining them himself. Where the press is free, infidel publications will abound; and many will be led astray, if not eternally lost, by the delusive arguments of the enemies of God. It will be objected to this assertion, that reason is the support of our religion, and that the more it is examined, the clearer its truth will appear. But this is encouraging the pious with false hopes. Though Christianity is supported by reason, reason, when not carried to its fullest extent, bas produced, and will produce, many infidels. The objections to our holy religion, are much easier to be perceived than the answers to them. Some arguments (false and fallacious indeed) have. been advanced, which the Christians to this day bave been unable to refute ; and which must, beyond a doubt, have a lamentable effect on the minds of the people. Some of those, I trust, I shall be able to destroy, in the following work ; and others, with which I should be unable to contend, may be annihilated by future Christians ; yet many will remain as snares for the wavering The doctrine of Mr. Hume, that no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, is one which I should be happy to destroy, were my powers
sufficient to secure such a victory. But I feel myself unable to attempt such a task, and must therefore leave it to some more powerful hand, trusting in God that he will secure the triumph of his cause. Other ipfis dels too, have left the field of action in triumph. If the task then of defending Christianity be so great, and the labor of fipding fault so easy, that objections may be raised faster than answers can be devised, if arguments have already been advanced, which have not been, and cannot easily be, refuted, is not religion in danger where the press is free ; where these arguments may, without penalty, be laid before a people, whose curiosity is excited by an unexampled liberty of enquiry. If Christianity cannot be thus destroyed, many souls must be lost. Whatever benefits the freedom of the press may have, it must be allowed to produce effects exceedingly dangerous to the future state
The other injurious effect of freedom, on religion, arises from the increased prosperity and happiness which it produces. That these are increased by freedom, I need not attempt to prove, for it can be doubted by no American. That they are injurious to religion is little less manifest, though not so generally acknowledged. Misery, want, and afflictions, teach us to depend on God, to abhor our present life, and to look forward to a better world; while prosperity and abundance instil into our minds a love for our present state, and induce us to forget that being from whom all
good things are received. The danger of death car: ries our thoughts forward to the world beyond the tomb, and teaches us that we should every moment be prepared; while security induces us to put off our repentance to the twelfth hour of the day. Poverty teaches us, that we are not to look for happiness in this life ; while riches causes us to believe, that God cannot make us know want. “It is easier,” said our Saviour, “ for a camel to pass a needle's eye, than for a ricb man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.” So difficult is it for human nature to renounce the love of this world, except, when driven to it by poverty and wretchedness.
All wise Christians have considered sickness as the greatest enemy of infidelity, and happiness as its greatest friend. Those, who, in health and prosperity, have insulted the majesty of God, and doubted his existence, are, (as we are told,) ever ready to call on his
name, when overcome by sickness and afflictions, The righteous, says Christ, have many afflictions ; how then may we expect to enter into the kingdom of heaven, if we are not afflicted ; since no room, except for the righteous, can be found in that holy place. But in a land of liberty, afflictions are so few, that the souls of many must be lost, through the excess of earthly bliss. When I reflect upon these things, I am indeed unable to admire, or commend, the design of those, whose labours, guided by a false spirit of benevolence and patriotism, have brought our country to its presente
condition. In a land of despotism, where men see their fellow beings, hourly falling the victims of pretended justice, where every one knows that he is not a moment secure, against the halter or the axe, all will hasten to prepare for death ; but in a land where none but the guilty are punished, security will induce me'n to delay the work of their salvation. In a land, where the government crushes the people to misery, and slavery, they will loathe their present existence; but an American, like the conqueror of Troy, must be so enamoured of life, that he would prefer the meanest. stations of his country, to the joys of the Elysian fields, or of the Christian heaven. In a land, where heresy and scepticism in religion, are punished with death, the people will believe, that, that religion must be true, which it is so criminal to doubt ; but in a land, where all opinions are esteemed equally meritorious, where all may lay before the people, without danger of punishment, arguments against the cause of Christ, many enemies cannot fail to rise up against it. Can we then esteem our state of freedom more desirable than that of despotism.
Christians have used fasts and flagellations (as sub. stitutes for involuntary afflictions) to teach them their dependance on God, and the evils of this life. But a voluntary fast, whatever beneacial effects it may produce, can never be so useful, or conduce so much to the purpose for which it was instituted, as one which we have not the power to prevent. The object of
fasts, which is to make us feel our dependence on God for food, cannot be completely attained, when the person who subjects himself to them knows that he can end them at pleasure. The inconvenience which he may feel, the craving of his appetite, in such a case, may give him a lively sense of the condition to which he would be reduced, should God cease to supply him with food; but it can give him no evidence, beyond what he betore possessed, of the power of God to reduce him to this condition, or that bis sustenance is derived from the Deity. He will feel a full sense of the horrors of want, but he will regard the danger of its falling to his lot, as too remote to be noticed. But, the person who fasts for want of food, will be led to reflect, and to meditate, in a manner exceeding different, and much more agreeable to God. He will feel, not only the inconvenience of want, but the danger of its existence. So far will he be from feeling independent of divine aid, that he will trust only to his prayers, and to the goodness of God, for the means of sustaining his life. Such a man will naturally look to God for assistance, while the other will look only to the end of bis appointed fast. This, however, is not said as an objection to voluntary fasts, which the righteous have instituted, only because, they are convinced by long experience, of their utility;, but I must assert, that the beneficial influence of those fasts, bears no comparison to that of those which arise from want, and that they are not, therefore, an adequate substitute for