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favor the admission of any, who were not openly infidel or immoral. This last act prepared the way for the disruption of the church in 1818. Many other causes contributed to the same result. Subsequent to the Revolutionary war, there was a lamentable change in public morals. The camp is the school of vice. The Sabbath was desecrated,-the word and ordinances of God were neglected, public attention was diverted from things spiritual and divine,-infidel principles and pamphlets were imported from France, the pastors of the churches had been chaplains in the army, Harvard College, whence emanated the ministers of the day, became cold in its piety,-the worship of God in the family was widely suspended, and the Spirit in his convincing and sanctifying power withdrew. Some churches became alienated from the true faith, and perhaps all suffered in their vital interests. This church did not escape the contagion of the age. Unconverted persons obtained access to its ordinances, and discipline was relaxed.
In the review, what do we owe to our ancestors? "Whose are the Fathers." It is an honor to claim such a lineage. They were a peculiar people. They are entitled to our veneration for their private virtues and public services. They claim our gratitude and filial respect. Their good example merits our imitation. We ought to beware how we root up what they planted, and break down what they built up. They labored, suffered and bled for us. They exercised self-denial for our comfort, and endured privations to secure to us our literary, civil and religious advantages. This ought to endear to us our Bibles, schools and republican institutions. We ought to carry their plans into execution, so far as we can with a sober judgment and a good conscience. They desired us to receive nothing with an implicit faith in human authority, but left to us the right of private judg ment which they claimed, and the same standards of truth to which they resorted. And how can we meet their frowns, if we subvert the church which they founded, divide the Republic which they united, and reject the Saviour whom they adored?
What do we owe to our successors? To transmit to them the equitable laws and free institutions which have been entailed to us, to improve our schools, to preserve our churches pure, to perpetuate a healthful state of public morals, to multiply our Bibles, and to render ourselves worthy of their respect and imitation, are a part of our duty toward them. We can take our children by the hand and lead them to the tombs of our fathers, and tell them the story of their achievements and sufferings. We can enter into covenant with God in their behalf, consecrate them to his service in the precious ordinance of baptism, govern them in his fear, instruct them in the elementary principles
of the gospel, and attend them with our prayers and counsels, till we bequeath to them all share that we may have in the things of time.
And what shall we say to those, who shall celebrate the next Centennial Anniversary in this church? No one of us will be seen in their assembly. Our names and works will be lost in the distance of the past. But records, minute and faithful, will declare facts. We send down to them a volume of the Discourses of the early ministers of this church, some of which had become the food of worms and were soon to be consigned to utter oblivion. Will they wish us to note the signs of the times? Shall we tell them that it is an age of enterprise and bold adventure? that advances in the arts are rapid? that canals are dug and railroads constructed? that our rivers and lakes are navigated, and the wide Atlantic is crossed, by the power of steam? that the last of the red men in these States, being rudely pushed, are slowly retiring into the Western forests; and that free colonies on the shores of Africa invite the return of her emancipated sons from this country? Shall we tell them that it is an age of Bible, Missionary, Education and Tract Societies,-of Asylums and Schools, of Lyceums and Periodical Papers? Shall we tell them that the Sabbath school, designed for the free instruction of all children in divine knowledge, is in extensive and successful operation? Shall we tell them that the Temperance Reform is far advanced? Shall we tell them that names, once known and honored in this town, Lusher and Aldis, Dwight and Wheelock, Belcher and Dexter, Ames and Sprague, Avery and Swan, are now extinct among us? Shall we tell them that while some errors in religion are popular, and a lamentable proportion of the people are greatly indifferent to the welfare of the soul, God in his mercy revives his work, sinners turn to Christ, and the churches are often enlarged? Shall we cordially salute them as the heirs to our goodly heritage, to our Sabbaths and sanctuaries, to our schools and libraries, to our free institutions and equitable laws, to our lands and houses, to our present sources of enjoyment and to our immortal prospects, -in the prayer and devout hope that we and they may prove to be true and worthy sons of the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Pilgrims?
In conclusion, it may be remarked, that the enterprise which brought our fathers into this wilderness, only begins to be developed. The rapid settlement of this country seems like the work of enchantment. Cities are founded, where the red men lately pitched their tents. Villages flourish, where the deer nursed its fawn without disturbance, or the wolf howled in the silence of night. Our fathers had no special foreknowledge, and did not comprehend
the magnitude and dignity of their work. They could not look down the course of time and see the high elevation and wide extent of the structure, whose foundations they began to lay. A republic, of large territory and rich resources, did not rise to their A temple to civil and religious liberty, into which some of many nations should enter, did not rear its dome in prospect. A commercial people among their descendants, whose sons should traverse every ocean, and visit every island, did not make a part of their calculation. They came to enjoy in peace the ordinances of religion, to educate their children at a distance from the temptations of the old world, and if there was a third primary desire in their hearts, it was to publish the gospel to the Indians. Little did they anticipate the dangers of prosperity, the speedy extermination of the native tribes. Little did they comprehend the influence of their enterprise on the disenthralment of the human mind, on the melioration of government, on the increase of knowledge, and the diffusion of the gospel.
A precious legacy is committed to us to bequeath to our posterity. Not to impoverish these lands or waste these estates, is a small part of the trust. Not to contaminate the blood of the race by luxury or sensuality, hardly makes an item in the account. To deny or becloud the doctrines of grace, which purify the soul and inspire hope in death, is a gross breach of trust. To exclude the Bible from the school, and prayer from the fireside, is a great step in the downward path. To pollute the current of public morals, and expose the young to strong temptations, is a cruel violation of parental duty. To desecrate the pulpit, and destroy the efficacy of Christian ordinances by neglect or contempt, is an irreparable loss. If this does not remain a Christian people, it is not because a papal hierarchy denies to us the Bible, nor because the combined power of church and state prescribes our modes of worship; but it must be attributed to the ordinary developement of native depravity, under the best circumstances for the culture of a sincere piety. Our hope is in God. Witness, then, millions of people in the possession of the Bible, and in the free enjoyment of civil and religious institutions. Witness millions of immortal beings, instructed in divine truth, sanctified by the Spirit, sprinkled with the blood of atonement, and at last translated to the paradise of God. And trace the influence of the Word and Spirit on the future hundreds of millions, who shall dwell in this land from age to age. Be faithful to your trust. Transmit to your children's children the legacy of your fathers, in all its variety of privilege and richness of mercy, and attend it with your fervent prayers. "Freely have ye received, freely give."
A people, whose ancestors fled from persecution, will long be zealous for their civil and religious freedom. The right of private
judgment, the Bible in our own tongue, the liberty to worship God without the forms of public prescription, an educated ministry, the freedom of the press, the school and the college, will not soon be resigned. To these, under God, we owe our happy and prosperous republic; and on these its perpetuity depends. Let us be slow to bow the neck to the yoke of Romanism. Let us study the Assembly's Catechism, which has endured the scrutiny of nearly two hundred years. Let us cultivate in our heart and life that divine religion, which was the solace and guide of our fathers. And while we walk among their tombs, and bow our ear to their slumbering ashes, let us hear their voice,-" Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man."