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worship, and all false doctrines and religions, tend to plague their votaries, and bring them into torment. In this way likewise, all manner of wickedness operates to the disadvantage of transgressors, naturally tending to render them unblessed and miserable.
We shall now proceed to apply the subject of our text to represent the false religion of our own times; and the craft of a priesthood by which the people are led into error. As the children of Israel were brought up and educated in Egypt, and as they had in their youth imbibed many superstitions, they were prepared to be imposed upon, even by their own inventions. So, my friends, it is with the people in our day; they are educated in their youth, according to many vain superstitions. These vanities in process of time, became incorporated into their religion, and are venerated as divine principles.
The clergy so contrive as to have the grossest errors and most unreasonable superstitions taught to children, and impressed on their tender minds with all possible solemnity. What are called Sunday schools are particularly improved for such purposes. The child is informed, in the first place, that its nature is altogether bad, that it is an entirely depraved being; that its very nature is such as it is at enmity against God; and that it hates God: also that God is a being who possesses infinite indignation and wrath towards all such ; and that he has prepared a burning lake of brimstone, into which they who are thus sinners, are exposed to fall every moment. The child is informed that it deserves to be sent to hell for ever; and that it is suspended over the burning lake by the brittle thread of life, and that the divine wrath, like an all-devouring flame, is extending itself to consume this thread, and to precipitate its victim into remediless woe.
The child, who is thus taught, surely would never have thought of these things, if it had not
been told him. It feels no hatred towards God until a god of a hateful character is erroneously held up to its mind. It would know nothing of this natural depravity, if its instructors had not imposed such an idea on it. Nothing in nature would ever have suggested to the child, that it deserved to go to hell for ever after death. Nothing in the economy of divine providence would ever have suggested to his mind, that the divine ruler was possessed of an unmerciful vengeance and wrath towards him. All these are unnatural, unreasonable ideas; they are the work of erroneous imaginations, fostered by superstition and priestcraft.
Agreeably to this erroneous beginning, priestcraft goes on with its labours, and endeavours to establish a religion consisting of attributes of a similar description. And the religion, the duty, and the whole scheme of what passes for divinity with our schools of error, correspond as perfectly with those errors taught to children, as the Horeb calf did with the Apis of Egypt. The preachers of antichristian doctrines endeavour, to the utmost of their abilities, using all their learning, all their arts, and all the powers of eloquence, to operate on the fears of their hearers. From pulpits people are in the habit of hearing laboured representations of the torments of a future state, under the dispensation of the divine vengeance; and he is called the best preacher who can succeed in the most horrible representation of the divine character, and of the miseries of the future world. Such preaching, being assisted with other corresponding means, frequently produces what are called awakenings, excitements, revivals, and reformations. Some, one or two, are exercised with great distress of mind; fears of hell are worked up in their apprehensions, and they are said to be convicted of sin. Now is the time for Aaron the priest to exert his skill. He goes to these unhappy wretches, and putting on all the gloom of counte
nance which the rigidity of his profession has rendered familiar, and modulating his voice in a way to heighten the horrors which already occupy the mind, he prefaces with several long and deep sighs, and then proceeds to gather ear-rings and jewels as follows ; Do you view yourself lost and undone by nature ? Do you now realize that you hate God? Do you see the holiness of the divine vengeance for your sins, and the justice in your being sent to hell for ever ? All these jewels are delivered to the priest, and of them he forms the calf. When every feature of this Egyptian god is perfectly formed, it is customary for the priest to pronounce the subject of those horrors, hopefully converted. We frequently find published in religious papers, and religious tracts, accounts of these wonderful conversions. The narration will detail the particular exercises of mind, and set forth the views which the subject had, when it is supposed that the divine spirit had the control. In these accounts we are informed that poor sinners were made sensible of their lost condition by nature, their desperate hatred towards God, and the justice of the divine law in demanding their utter destruction. And sometimes it is carefully inserted, that the converts were deeply impressed with the entire falsity of the doctrine of universal salvation. But the Priests, who give us these accounts, are as careful not to intimate that they were the authors of all these views and exercises, as Aaron was not to own that he formed the molten calf and fashioned it with a graving tool. But whoever will take the liberty to examine these things, and compare them ; whoever will judge of them according to common rules of judging of other things, will be satisfied at once, that all their gloomy fears, all their erroneous notions about depravity of our nature, of our natural hatred towards God, of God's enmity and wrath towards us, and, of the justice of our eternal condemnation, when brought together and consolidated into one
mass, is nothing but a Moloch formed by priestcraft; an idol produced in the schools of superstition, and carefully guarded by the holy office.
My friends, I solemnly declare that I feel no opposition, no enmity against any denomination of religionists in the world, if I know my own heart. These remarks are not designed against men, against my fellow beings; but I acknowledge my determined opposition to all priestcraft, to all religious deception ; and I openly avow my entire devotedness to the work of rending the vail of superstition from the minds of men to the utmost of my feeble abilities. I hold in utter abhorrence the craft and art by which thousands are deceived, and made to believe, that the spirit of God teaches these abominations, which are as unlike God, as was the Moloch of the ancients, to whom thousands of innocent children were sacrificed. can be persuaded to believe that the divine spirit teaches such religion as we have noticed, then, of course, it becomes our duty to kneel before it and honour it with the devotion of our hearts. pears to have been the design of Aaron to deceive Moses, and make him believe that the calf was miraculously formed, when he knew that he formed it himself. I should be glad with all my heart, to save Aaron from this imputation, but it is out of my power. And I should be equally glad to save our antichristian clergy from the imputations here suggested, but it is equally out of my power. Every feature, every attribute of false religion is a direct and palpable testimony that the spirit of the true God has nothing to do with its whole scheme. The fingers of the priests of Baal have had the fashioning of every part of this idol ; and as Moses ground the Horeb calf to powder, and gave it to those who made it, to drink, so those who have fashioned false religion, must receive its deadly qualities to themselves.
To a heart of sensibility, the consideration of the evil effects of this priestcraft, is peculiarly af
fecting. The dismal horrors which are reiterated from pulpits, so powerfully operate on weak nerves, as to produce effects truly lamentable. The female part of the audience is generally most affected ; and these abominable notions produce in the minds of women and children such concern as banishes all comfort, and drives many even to despair entirely of the mercy of heaven. It is so well known by the clergy, that these gloomy fears have a greater power on female minds than on men, that they almost uniformly attack this weaker part. And some have given it as their opinion, that there will many more women be saved, than there will be of men. What makes them think so is, they find it easier to lead women into their notions, than to lead men. In consistency with these remarks, we find the most women in those congregations where the most of this gloomy doctrine of divine vengeance, eternal misery, &c. is held up. These remarks regard the subject generally. There are, females, to the honour of the sex be it observed, that are too sensible to be led away by that which is destitute of either scripture authority or the dictates of reason.
It is enough to melt one's heart into pity and compassion, to observe the operations of this false religion on the minds of children. It is not long since I was told of a poor distressed child, who, on its return from a sunday school, went to its parent and burst into tears, exclaiming, “I wish I had never been born!" With surprise and compassion the parent inquired the cause of this bitterness of soul ; when the child replied, I must go to hell and burn for ever in fire and brimstone! Thus early does priestcraft begin its operations, operations most insidious, artful, and deleterious.
We may now proceed to notice how those who make and worship this antichristian idol are plagued and even tormented. And here we shall do well to observe, that it is not because our heav, enly Father is possessed of any enmity towards