Page images
[ocr errors]


a just sense of the importance of Christianity,
are not numerous; and thofe of them who
adopt a rational Chriftianity, the evidences and
doctrines of which will bear to be submitted
to the test of reafon, in this age, in which,
while many are carried away by the prevail-
ing tide of infidelity, others' oppose it by an
enthusiasm which disclaims the aid of reason,
are still fewer; and are therefore entitled to
the greater esteem of those who entertain the
fame fentiments.

We fhall, no doubt, ourfelves be ranked with enthusiasts by those unbelievers (and by far the greater part of them are of this clafs) who have become fo without any juft knowledge of the fubject, or investigation of the evidence of revelation. But the contempt of fuch perfons, whatever rank they may hold in the political or the learned world, is itself contemptible. Every ferious inquirer after truth, will refpect other ferious inquirers, though their opinions fhould differ ever fo much. But the cenfures of men, whether well


[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

or ill informed, will appear of little moment to those who look to the decision of the impartial Judge of all. And, mindful of his folemn warning, we must not be ashamed of him, or of his caufe, in any circumstances, however unfavourable, left he should be ashamed of us at a time when his favour will be of infinitely greater moment to us than any thing else.

You and I, Sir, are advancing to a period of life in which thefe views naturally open more and more upon us. We find this world receding, and another fast approaching, and we feel the importance of having something to look to when the present scene of things shall be clofed. And whatever we value for ourselves, it behoves us to recommend to others. You will, therefore, rejoice if an exhibition of the evidences of revealed religion, fuch as is contained in these Discourses, should produce any effect.

It is happy that, in this country, religion has no connection with civil power, a circumstance which gives the cause of truth


all the advantage that its best friends can defire. But religion is of as much use to Statesmen as to any individuals whatever. Chriftian principles will beft enable men to devote their time, their talents, their lives, and what is often a greater facrifice ftill, their characters, to the public good; and in public life this will often be, in a great measure, neceffary.

Let a man attain to eminence, of any kind, and by whatever means, even the most honourable, he will be expofed to envy and jealoufy, and of course he must expect to meet with calumny and abuse. It was the lot of our Saviour himself, and it is a part of the wife order of providence that it should always be fo. For, befides that it is of the greatest importance to the community, that every perfon in a public station should have the strongest motive for the greatest circumfpection, unmixed praise is what no human mind can bear without injury. An undue elation, which would foon be found to be as hurtful to him

felf as unpleasant to others, would be the neceffary confequence of it. And what principles can enable a man to confult the real good of his fellow-citizens, without being diverted from his generous purpose by a regard to their opinion concerning him, like those of the Chriftian, who can be fatisfied with the approbation of his own mind (which of course draws after it that of his Maker), and who, though not infenfible to due praise, can despise calumny, and, fteadily overlooking every thing that is intermediate, patiently wait for the day of final retribution? As these principles enabled the apostles to rejoice in tribulation, and perfecution of every kind, fo the virtuous statesman will not complain of that abuse which operates fo favourably both with respect to his own mind, and the interefts of his country. They are Christian principles that best enable a man to bear this, neceffary and excellent difcipline, and form the truly difinterested and magnanimous patriot.

I cannot

I cannot conclude this address without expreffing the fatisfaction I feel in the government which has afforded me an afylum from the perfecution which obliged me to leave England, perfuaded that, its principles being fundamentally good, instead of tending, like the old governments of Europe, to greater abuse, it will tend to continual melioration. Still, however, my utmost wish is to live as a stranger. among you, with liberty to attend without interruption to my favourite pursuits; wishing well to my native country, as I do to all the world, and hoping that its interest, and those of this country, will be infeparable, and confequently that peace between them will be perpetual.

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »