« PreviousContinue »
tirely rejected; especially when they are sparingly and cautiously adminifered, and at proper intervals, and when they apparently conduce to the health and prefervation of the patient.
So much I have thought neceffary to be faid by way of apology for the task I am going to undertake; a task, which is never agreeable; but a task which the number and nature of the fins which I fhall exhibit to your view, and the danger to which they expose both our nation and our fouls, will fhew to be highly necessary.
Without further preface therefore, I fhall lay before you those crying fins of this nation, which are the most heinous in their nature, and have B 4 the
the most evil tendency; whether they be fuch as are common to mankind, or fuch as are the peculiar growth of this age and climate. And that I may not seem partial in my charge, I shall first produce a fin which those who profess themselves of the established religion, are more particularly accused of; and that is
1. PROPHANENESS! It matters not whether this accufation may juftly be laid against us, exclufive of all other fects and religions. But it is too notorious a truth, that we are fcandalously guilty of "taking God's "facred name in vain," of fwearing and cursing, and too often of perjury: of prophaning his fabbaths, forfaking his fanctuary, and neglecting his ordinances. What would a fober heathen
heathen or a mahometan judge of us from our written tenets, and from our oral profeffions! Certainly, that we were a nation of faints, nearly approaching to the dignity and holinefs of demigods or angels: that our land must be an elyfium or a paradife. But let him walk our streets in the open day, and what notions will he form of our fanctity, from those frequent specimens of ribaldry, profaneness, and blafphemy that are bellowed from the mouths of children; those babes and fucklings that were ordained to give praise to God!— But perhaps he might have more candor than to judge of us by the common people; when, at the fame time, that is the fureft way of characterizing any nation; fince They constitute the greatest part of it.— Let
Let him therefore join the politest affemblies, and he will foon find that the infection has reached the head, that the disease is epidemical, and that every conversation has a tincture of prophaneness. Let him next attend our midnight revels and our gaming tables, and what else could he think, but that legions of infernals were let loofe among us? Perhaps he might be induced to make a further trial of us, from his having been told, that there are certain flately ftructures dedicated to the fervice of the great God, which are every day opened, more particularly on the fabbath day, where the greatest multitudes refort, and where he would fee the most elevated devotion, and the pureft worship in the world. But how would his expectations be anfwered?
anfwered? On the common days of the week, would he not find our spacious temples entirely deferted, or thinly fpread over with the old and infirm? And on our fabbaths, what numbers would he fee idle at home, fetting out on journies, or expeditions of pleasure, wandering in the fields, or carousing in taverns? And in the midst of our devotion, how muft the inattention and indecency of many fhock and difguft him? And would he not haften to leave us, with this indelible reproach, that we have the best religion, but the worst practice upon earth? Hence it is, that our moft pure and holy religion, through our own abuse of it, is become the fubject of triumph to fectaries, of ridicule and railing to deifts and infidels, and of fcorn to atheists.