Page images

heathen or a mahometan judge of us from our written tenets, and from our oral professions ! Certainly, that we were a nation of faints, nearly approaching to the dignity and holiness of demigods or angels : that our land must be an elysium or a paradise. 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 blasphemy that are bellowed from the mouths of children; those babes and sucklings 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 same time, that is the furest way of characterizing any nation ; fince They constitute the greatest part of it.-


Let him therefore join the politest assemblies, and he will soon 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 loose among us? Perhaps he might be induced to make a further trial of us, from his having been told, that there are certain stately structures dedicated to the service of the great God, which are every day opened, more particularly on the sabbath day, where the greatest multitudes resort, and where he would see the most elevated devotion, and the purest worship in the world. But how would his expectations be answered ? On the common days of the week, would he not find our spacious temples entirely deserted, or thinly spread over with the old and infirm ? And on our sabbaths, what numbers would he fee idle at home, setting out on journies, or expeditions of pleasure, wandering in the fields, or carousing in taverns? And in the midst of our devotion, how must the inattention and indecency of many shock and disgust him ? And would he not hasten to leave us, with this indelible reproach, that we have the best religion, but the worst practice upon earth ? Hence it is, that our

answered ? with

pure and holy religion, through our own abuse of it, is become the subject of triumph to sectaries, of ridicule and railing to deists and infidels, and of fcorn to atheists. And

most pure

with what grace can we defend the doctrines of our church against their united endeavours. What avails the acuteness, the folidity, and strength of our arguments : and how unjustly do we boast of the superiority of revelation over reason, and of the church of England over all other reformed churches ; when the dissoluteness of our lives cannot stand the fearch of a moral enquirer ?

The shame that arises from the confciousnefs of our bearing a bad character, has often a good effect upon private persons; and if their interest is concerned, seldom fails of producing a reformation. Whilft he that ftifles this ingenuous passion, is sure to become completely wicked, a torment to himself, and a scandal to


mankind. So, were we once made sensible, that the profaneness of every individual tends to blacken the credit of our religion, this single motive would be sufficient to prevent it's progress. But whilst every one wantonly indulges his vicious inclinations; he forgets that whereinsoever he suffers, the whole body suffers with him; and that he is the cause, so far as his example actuates, of bringing a whole kingdom, nay, perhaps, the christian world, into disgrace.

Were it, I say, merely our concern for our character as a collective oody, this alone should check our profaneness; but were the ill opirion that others have of us, the ony ill consequence of this fin, christianity teaches us,' and the example of our


« PreviousContinue »