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and it will be of use to you all to hear the doctrines which it teaches a little further unfolded, and the duties to which it directs you more fully described and enforced.
With this view, I propose to give you a short discourse upon the several articles of your Catechism; and while I do this, I shall expect your careful attention to what I say
Your Catechism begins with the following question :
The question and answer are taken from the Bible, a book with which I hope you will, ere long, be better acquainted; the author of them is Solomon, the wise king of Israel; it is he that directs us to “ remember our Creator in the days of our youth ;"-a time of life when, surely, we have the greatest reason to remember him; when the gift of life is fresh, as it were, upon our minds; when we are just entering into a world with the different parts of which we are, as yet, but little acquainted, and are ready to ask, concerning every thing we see, " What has made it thus?" But more especially are we curious to know something about our own beginning. It is plain we did not make ourselves, for we are fearfully and wonderfully made ; and the wisest of us do not know, after all their inquiries, more than a very small part of the wonders of our frame. For the same reason our parents did not make us ; for they know not how we are made: they cannot count the number of our bones, nor tell througli how many channels our blood is conveyed. Some one greater and wiser than our parents was our maker : he clothed us with skin and flesh, and fenced us with bones and sinews. This great Being we call God; whom, though we cannot see, yet ought we to remember ; for he hath made the world and all things that are therein,
Now, you know, to remember any person is to keep him in one's mind so as to think of him at all proper times, To remember a friend is to be always ready to serve him ; to remember one's father is to think of him with respect and gratitude, and to do nothing that will give him grief or displeasure. But God is much more your father and friend than any earthly friend or father can be, and therefore you ought to remember him at all times so as never to do any thing that may displease bim. For he will hear of
every thing you do; nay, he now sees every thing you
do for, though you do not see him, he is constantly with you, and will not fail to punish you if you do amiss.
So then to remember your Creator is to do every thing that is pleasing to him, and that with a view to pleasing him. It is to be thankful for all his favours to you (that is, for every thing you enjoy; for food, raiment, parents, pleasures, and instructions; for every thing is the gift of God); it is to be obedient to all his commandments ; to be honest and just in all your dealings; to be obliging and kind to all your acquaintance; and to form habits of temperance, sobriety, and purity of heart.
I hope you will not object to all this, what it is very common for young people to fancy they must dislike religion for, that it is a dull, gloomy, stupid business, very little suitable to the gay and lively spirits of youth, and that it is time enough to think of religion when one grows old and serious. My youg friends, whoever has given you this report of religion has miserably deceived you; for religion, in itself, uncorrupted by those who wish to make their own gloomy tempers and dispositions a part of it, is not that dull business you suppose, but is pleasant, cheerful, and enlivening: Religion is nothing but a firm persuasion that there is a good Being who governs the world, and makes all good people happy, and that every thing is disposed and ordered, not by random-chance and uncertainty, but by wisdom that cannot be mistaken: Now consider what a state you would be in if you had no father, or mother, or friend, to take care of and feed you, no master to give you, many of you, work, no house to shelter you from the cold. But just so destitute would they leave the world, who would persuade you that you need not care any thing about God; for without his good providence coutinually supporting us, we should all be just in such a state as you would be without parents, friends, or houses.
And then let me ask you to recollect yourselves, and consider whether you have been happier when you have been doing right, or when you have been guilty of any thing that was wrong. Where you have done nothing but what was right, you have not been afraid of any one finding fault with you; your diligence has been commended, you have told the truth, and had nothing to fear froin it; you have been quiet and peaceable, and nobody has quarrelled with you. You have, all this while, been cheerful
and happy; but when you have done wrong, this has not been the case. When you have been idle, have you not been afraid of the rod ? When you have told a lie, have you not been always uneasy lest you should be found out, and plagued yourselves with various schemes to prevent a discovery, perhaps invented new lies, which required new anxiety and additional contrivances? When you have been quarrelsome, what a storm have you raised about you ! Children, older and stronger than you, have beat you for disturbing them, and those who were younger, have proved unmanageable and troublesome. If any of you have ever been dishonest, the danger of discovery and the certainty of disgrace and punishment when discovered, have kept you constantly alarmned and uneasy; so that it is irreligion and wickedness that is the gloomy, fearful, apprehensive thing: but the lovers of virtue and religion are always, at least have always reason to be, cheerful, pleasant, and happy.
I know there are some people who pass for religious, who have formed themselves into a inelancholy, sour, morose set of beings, and with great severity discourage every thing that looks like cheerfulness and satisfaction. But of this I am sure, that sourness is no part of religion, and that as far as any people are so, they are not religious. If their gloom and melancholy arise from their piety, they have formed very false and injurious notions of God; for he is just and holy indeed, but at the same time is good and gracious; he loves to see the happiness of his creatures, and would have them enjoy the good things he has provided for them. At least, I will venture to say, that this is the notion that Solomon had of God, when he directed young people to remember their Creator, for he gives this reason for his direction, because it is a work well suited to the days in which we enjoy pleasure. It is a work fit for young persons, because they are full of life and spirit, and capable of enjoying every thing around thein ; they should, therefore, give thanks to that good God who has given them so many things to enjoy, and made them capable of so much pleasure.
And this reminds me of another reason why you should be religious in your youth, which is, that as religion is of all things the most excellent, being that duty which you owe to your greatest benefactor, you ought to devote to its exercise the best of your days, and not delay.it till you are
fit for nothing else; for then, be assured, you will not be fit for religion ; or do you think that God will be satisfied to be neglected in your youth, and be put off with the weak and feeble services of decrepid old age ? Hath he deserved so ill at your hands, who hath given you all things to enjoy, as to be repaid with neglect and disobedience ? Or is it more likely, when you shall have ceased to enjoy so many of bis blessings as old age will assuredly strip you of, that you will then be better disposed and fitted for his services ? O then, while you have his gifts in your pos. session thank him for them; and do not expect to find yourselves more inclined to it when sickness and decay shall have deprived you of many of them.
But supposing it to be the case, that as you grow older you will grow more serious, and that when you come to have less reason for thankfulness you will feel yourselves more disposed to be thankful,---what will you do with all the stock of evil habits which you will have laid in during the course of a vicious and irregular youth? You must get rid of all these, and grow virtuous and good before God will accept your religion. You know if
agree to run a race with one of his companions, and should set off a different way from what he ought to have gone, it will cost him much labour and toil and pains to overtake his adversary, and after all he will probably be beaten in the race.
Just in the same way, if you get into a wrong course of life when you are young, whenever you come to find out your mistake, you will have much trouble and anxiety to recover your innocence, much bitter repentance for every false step you have made, and many bad habits which will be as so many difficulties in your way, and make the path of virtue, wbich might have been pleasant and delightful, a thorny and troublesome road.
But if any of you be disposed, in spite of all I have said, to try what pleasures vice may afford, and determine to be idle and dishonest, profane and disobedient, for a while, in hope that you may afterwards have time to repent, consider, I beseech you, how uncertain are even your lives, short as they have hitherto been. Look about you among your acquaintance, and how many will you remember, of your own age, that you can now do no more than remember! How then can you be sure that you shall not soon die as well as they ? Suppose that some infectious distemper, or some unlooked-for accident, should presently seize
you, and I should never see or speak to you more, would it be enough to say, when you come to die,“O God, I have been a very silly and a very wicked child, but I intended, some time or other, to have grown better, and minded my duty”? Would your masters, think you, accept of such an excuse, “Sir, I had a mind to be idle to-day, but I meant to have returned to my work to-morrow"?
Therefore, since religion and virtue are pleasant and satisfactory, and wickedness is followed byimmediate uneasiness, and must cause, in the end, either utter destruction or bitter repentance; since it is very hard to correct bad habits, but very easy to persist in good ones; since time is so short and life so uncertain, I beseech you, my dear young friends, to remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days of old age come, and the years in which, without religion, you shall certainly have no pleasure.
THE INSTITUTION OF PRIESTHOOD AN EVIL. [From “ The Celtic Druids.” By Godfrey Higgins, Esq. 4to.1827,
Ch. VII. § xiv. pp. 297—299.] Man, in all ages, has had a natural propensity to multiply religious rites and ceremonies. This arises from fear --from a dread of that futurity which he can never fathom. In this priests find their account, therefore they encourage it. To aid the priest in taking advantage of this weakness the female, by nature timid, lends her assistance: united, they are always irresistible. From this source was derived the absurd and complicated machinery of all the religions of the ancients, and of most of those of the moderns. Man cunningly whispers to himself that he had better believe too much than too little. If he believe all, he not only cannot err by unbelief, but he arrives at the very perfection of virtue, according to the priests, lively faitli ;* while if he take only a part he may incur the guilt of incredulitythe greatest of crimes, according to the doctrine of the
*. Faith! proved by Mr. Locke to be a matter of necessity, not of choice. A man cannot choose to believe or not to believe. Thus un. belief may be a misfortune, but can never be a crime. Of all the discoveries by Mr. Locke this was the most important, though bow studiously kept out of sight; for if it were attended to, there would be at once an end of religious war or persecution. The doctrine of the Roman Church, upon this point, is as excellent as the practice of its priests is detestable,