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his deluded children, that they are thus plagued ; but these torments are the necessary consequences of false ideas of God, and of the services which superstition imposes on the deceived. A fair sample of this may be seen in the idolatrous worship into which the Israelites degenerated, when they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Moloch. What must have been the distress of parents, who became so infatuated as to offer their little children in sacrifice to this abomination. Christian professors vainly imagine that such idolatry is most stupid, and offensive to God; but they kneel to an altar, on which millions of infants are devoted to a deity, whose wrath, they think, will kindle a flame upon them to all eternity! And, my friends, will you allow yourselves to reflect, one moment, on the aggregate amount of misery which such religion produces in what is called christian communities? Who can be otherwise than miserable, while believing that they themselves, their connexions, their dear children are every moment exposed to drop into unspeakable torment? Not only are the tenets of false religion fraught with consequences resulting in the nisery of poor deluded mortals, but all the duties it requires are burdensome. We constantly hear the outcries of the superstitious, representing the hardships they undergo in the service of their deity. They acknowledge themselves, that were it not, that they expect a reward hereafter, for their religious duties performed, if they were not in fear that God will administer, in the future world, dreadful torments on them, they would, by no means attend to the duties of their religion, but would indulge in every vice to which blind passion should lead. In this, we have their honest.confession, that their God is a tyrant, is a real Moloch, who takes delight in the misery of his subjects; and is so pleased with their sufferings, that he is willing to reward all such as will voluntarily torment themselves for his gratification ! We have
here also their honest confession, that their religious duties are irksoine, and that they think they deserve a recompense in the world to come, as they have none in this ! Thus they are plagued because they make the calf which their priests make. The blind lead the blind, and all fall into the ditch together.
As the image of the Egyptian idol was in the minds of the Israelites, it was natural for them to give their idol the same form ; and so it is with idol-makers in our times. They form their Molochs according to images which exist in their own deceived hearts, and furnish them with their own spirit and passion. We may learn the disposition. of the deity people worship by the disposition of his worshippers ; or we may learn their disposition by the disposition of their idol. There is not a quality in one which is not in the other; and for this good reason, the idol exists no where, but in the imagination and disposition of these idolaters. St. Paul says, and very justly, “ We know that an idol is nothing in the world.” When professors of religion exercise a bitter, persecuting spirit towards those who do not conform to their notions, they are always able to vindicate the justice of their unmerciful cruelty by the vindictive justice of their equally unmerciful deity ; and when they doom their fellow creatures to a state of endless sufferings, they can look up and see the wrath of their offended idol, all hot and ready to be poured down on their devoted heads! But after all, my friends, the whole of this vastly extensive scenery, the idol, the heaven he resides in, his wrath, together with the hell in which the subjects of his fury are to be tormented are no where in the whole universe, only in the deceived hearts of those idolaters. What an incalculable aggregate of misery is endured, by the millions, who are devoted to the service of such superstitions. Those who worship, worship out of fear, and those who do not
are afraid to attempt it, lest they should offend by soine inistake.
Let us turn from all this scene of misery and servile religion, and lend an ear to the celestial voice of confort. " Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” It is the voice of the Prince of peace; it is the language of the teacher sent of God. Jesus did not come to load men with burdens grievous to be borne : but he came to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free. This divine instructor was never known to set forth the her of spirits, as a being full of vindictive wrath and indignation towards men ; but on the contrary, he taught the people that God was their Father; that he is more kind to men than any earthly father is to his offspring : and that in room of hating the wicked, who are his enemies, he loves them and blesses them. This infinitely glorious truth, the blessed Saviour laid as the foundation of the true faith, and as a perfect model, according to which, he directed his disciples to conduct towards their fellow men. He never tanght the people, that they were sinners by nature ; that they, even in childhood, naturally hated God; that divine justice, like a devouring flame, was continually burning with vengeance towards them, for what they were by nature : or that they were in danger, every moment, of falling into a hell of endless misery. We have no account in the New-Testament, that Jesus asked such questions of those whom he called to be his disciples, as are now asked of such as are acknowledged as converts to the religion of our day. - He never asked one of his followers, whether he realized that he was an enemy to God by nature, or whether he was sensible that he hated his heavenly Father; or whether he could see clearly that it would
be just with God to sentence him to misery for ever ; or whether he would be willing to be eternally miserable for the glory of God. But he revealed the lovely character of the Father of infinite mercy and compassion ; and uttered such gracious words, and performed such miracles of grace, that the people were attracted and drawn to him by vast multitudes. And had it not been for the superstitious religion of his time, a superstition which seems now to be in fashion, it seems that the whole nation of the Jews would have embraced the Saviour and his gospel at once.
This superstition now stands forth to oppose the progress of divine light, and the spread of impartial grace : but its power is but weak, its influence is vastly diminished; while the Prince of peace and salvation is extending the triumphs of his grace, and thousands are rejoicing to see his day.
My friends, let us no longer worship the idol of superstition ; let us no longer bow down to that which is an abomination ; let us no longer imagine that our heavenly Father is possessed of these cruel, unmerciful passions, which have disgraced the christian name with persecutions too horrid to contemplate, and anathematized millions, for whom the Saviour died, with curses more horrid still. But let us learn of Himn who has taught us to love one another, to love our enemies, to bless and curse not.
The religion of Jesus is confidence in the divine favours ; it is hope in everlasting life ; it is forgiveness to those who injure us ; it is fervent in supplications for those who despitefully use us and persecute us. This religion is designed to overcome evil with good, and to reconcile all things to God : so that every knee shall bow, every tongue shall confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to glory of God the Father.
DELIVERED IN BOSTON ON THE SECOND SABRATH IN NARCH, 1822.
JEREMIAH, III. 15.
" And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed
you with knowledge and understanding."
In this prophetic testimony, the divine Being promises to give his people pastors, instructors or teachers according to his own heart. By this we learn that God will not leave it to the wisdom of this world to appoint a ministry ; but that he will see to this himself, and will endow those whom he appoints with his wisdom, his mind, and his will.
The great object of this ministry is clearly defined. It is not to amuse the people with mysterious dogmas, and to draw over their eyes a bandage of superstition, rendered sacred by tradition; but its object is to feed the people with knowledge and understanding. This directs us to consider that all the subjects on which the true ministry labours, are such as the teacher knows to be true, and such as he understands : they are such as people may be taught to know and understand.
When the wisdom of this world sets up religion, and appoints a ministry, it takes care that those who are thus appointed, are according to itself in heart and affections ; who will be faithful to its cause, and who will studiously oppose the wisdom, mind, and will of God. When theological institutions send out ministers, care is taken that their