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and there is an invisible hand which will punish it; and better that the sabbath breaker were now stoned to death like him of old, than bear what awaits him, when the day of vengeance comes.
XIV. We have endeavored to vindicate the perpetuity of the sabbath as an institution strictly divine, sanctioned and guarded by the authority of Almighty God, because, while we deem nothing more demonstrable, we are also persuaded that this ground ought to be taken by the friends of that holy day, in their noble combinations and exertions in its behalf. For, assuming such ground, they cannot but consider the profanations of the sabbath as open and flagrant immoralities; as truly so, as murders, adulteries, frauds, and other gross violations of the law of God; and having that character, what are combinations against them, but combinations for the support of the rights, the order, the peace, and the honor of the nation? Are such combinations to be censured? Would men censure us for combining upon lawful principles, against thefts and murders, and for the promotion of peace, and purity, and spirituality of living? But are the principles of these combinations lawful? What law of God or man; what right of any citizen, or any being, do they violate? Christians agree among themselves that they will withhold their patronage from those vehicles of transportation, which make merchandize of the sabbath, if they can find others which do not thus abuse God's holy day; and are they to be blamed for refusing to encourage one of the most flagrant, and at the same time most common modes of profanation? But, why combine for such a purpose? Each individual might resolve within himself, not to lend his patronage to these sabbath-breaking establishments, and no fault could be found; but it is another thing for associations of men, openly and unanimously to adopt such a resolution. It is indeed another thing; voluntary associations for promoting reformation of morals, for elevating the character and relieving the wretchedness of mankind, are doubtless the chosen instruments of heaven, for the world's renovation; and we know not on what ground they can be objected to, by any one, who does not wish to be recorded among the enemies of God. It is not pertinent to tell us here of the reproach which belongs to combinations and caucuses in the political world, designed to subserve the purposes of party-spirit. What party views, whether in politics or religion, can be subserved by christians of various denominations covenanting with each other to exert themselves lawfully for the honor of the holy sabbath, which ten thousand ungodly feet are treading in the dust? The cause of the sabbath is not the cause of a party, nor the cause of christians of one denomination or another; it is the cause of God; and when it can be shewn to be wrong, for men to unite in endeavoring to honor the
institutions of their Maker, then may the Society for Promoting the Observance of the Sabbath, be justly condemned. Behold those men who travel and traffic, and take their own pleasure, and do their own ways on God's holy day: Are these profanations of that day, no immoralities, no violations of the eternal law of God? Is it doubtful whether these profanations ought not to cease out of the land, as absolutely as robbery and fraud? Or is it questionable, whether, if christians combine together against these things, they will not be opposing things of a good and wholesome tendency? Recreations ought to be allowed, it has been thought, to one class of citizens; those who pass the week at labor in the cities: but the question is, does the law of the sabbath permit them? If that law is against them, then to maintain their propriety, is to make God tyrannical, and to aim to depose him from the government of the world. Besides, who does not see, that excursions for recreation imply the labors of many hands, and the making a merchandize of the day.
XV. It is not in God's behalf only, but man's equally, that the friends of the sabbath have associated themselves together. The highest interests of this world are involved in the observance of the Lord's day. Abolish that day, and the light of the world is quenched, and its hope perished. Religion is gone, virtue is gone, freedom is gone, all is gone, that now constitutes the elements of human dignity and happiness, and the overthrow of the world itself, hastens to its period. Especially is the hope of our own country bound up in the sabbath. Where the people exercise the sovereignty, government must be corrupt, if the people be so, in exact proportion. Does it need then the gift of prophecy to foretell, that if the holy sabbath be not sustained, in these united, happy, and exalted States, our free institutions will fall, and our fair and glorious civil fabric, the hope of other nations, sink into ruin with the republics of ancient days? And who that considers that our territory is capable of sustaining not less than three hundred millions of men, and the influence which a virtuous and free nation so populous, would exert upon the world, can avoid feeling as if the heavens had lost the sun, at the thought of such a nation becoming a mass of moral putrescence in the earth? What then is patriotism, if it be an enemy to the sabbath of the Lord? A name, a boast, a lying vanity. Give us not the patriotism which loves our country in word and in tongue; give us not the patriotism which passes off the love of glory as the ruling passion of the patriot; but give us that patriotism which stands by the holy sabbath, bearing up that real pillar of the state, amidst the scorn and contradiction of men, who have no eyes to see the indissoluble connection between the ruin and the irreligion of republics.
Vol. IV.--No. 3.
ART. I.-CHARACTER AND WRITINGS OF DR. MASON.
The writings of the late John M. Mason, D. D. Consisting of sermons, essays, and miscellanies, including essays already published in the Christian's Magazine. In 4 volumes. Selected and arranged by Rev. Ebenezer Mason.
Ir is the ordinance of heaven, that no man greatly distinguished for his talents and virtues should die, without leaving an important legacy to the world-the legacy of his own character. This is designed by Providence to be in the place of his living example and active efforts; to plead the cause of virtue af ter the eloquent tongue has been palsied by death, and to stimulate to noble enterprises on earth, when the spirit has entered on a higher sphere of action in heaven. Each generation therefore is bound to preserve some substantial record of its truly illustrious men;-such as while living have contributed most under God to form its character. Men of this stamp will indeed do much even without the aid of such a record, to guide the destinies of posterity; because such is the power of great talents, and such the connection of moral actions with each other, that from the life of every man of distinguished greatness and excellence, there is a tide of influence sent forth which must force its way through every obstacle down the tract of coming ages. Still the interests of society demand, that these influences be widened and perpetuated, by the erection of permanent memorials of departed greatness. If this is altogether neglected, or performed in a careless and cursory manner, if it is entrusted to inadequate hands, or becomes a monument of the partiality of human friendship rather than a faithful account of those qualities and actions which have really made up the character-great injustice is done both to the claims of the living and the dead. It is true indeed, that the character of departed illustrious men may exert its full influence upon
those who have known them well, without any other record of it than that which is inscribed upon their memories and their hearts; but with the mass of the world it is far otherwise; with them the want of some enduring and faithful delineation of what those men were, is the loss of all the good which might accrue to them from the contemplation of human intellect and virtue in some of their noblest forms.
But while it is due alike to the memory of great and good men, and to the interests of posterity, that a faithful account of such characters should be preserved and transmitted, it is important that the proper time for performing this service should not be overlooked. A work of this kind may lose in a great degree its legitimate interest and effect by being delayed too long; for no record of departed excellence or greatness can come with much authority, unless it embodys the personal recollections of the writer, or at least is formed of materials of undisputed authenticity. The proper time, as it seems to us, for erecting such a monument as we here contemplate to the illustrious dead, is, when they have been in the grave long enough to have their characters looked at with due impartiality, and yet not so long as to have thrown them in any degree into the mist of uncertainty. The biographer of such men is laboring for the world and for successive generations; and he should have every external facility, as well as every quality of mind and heart, which his important office demands.
The views which we have now expressed have led us deeply to regret, that down to this time there has appeared no adequate memorial of the illustrious man whose name stands at the head of this article. The public indeed were encouraged to expect, soon after his death, that this task would speedily be undertaken; and it was understood, to a limited extent at least, that the services of a distinguished professor in one of our theological seminaries, long the intimate friend of Dr. Mason, and probably better qualified to do justice to his character than any other man, had been, or might be expected to be engaged for this purpose; but we regret to find that the volumes before us have appeared without any thing in the form of a biographical notice. There were indeed two highly interesting sermons preached and published on occasion of his death, containing a brief outline of his life and. character; but a volume would scarcely be adequate to do justice to such a man; and we cherish the hope that some individual, who is competent to the task, will yet be found to satisfy the reasonable demands of the christian public, by the production of a work, which shall carry down to distant generations the influence of one of the brightest characters of our age.
But as a complete biography of Dr. Mason is still a desidera
tum, we cannot feel willing, in bringing his writings before our readers, not to make use of such materials as lie within our reach, to present a brief sketch of his eventful life. We shall only glance at a few of the more prominent facts in his history, and the more striking features of his character, depending partly on our own personal knowledge, and partly deriving materials from other sources, particularly from the judicious and valuable discourses of Dr. McElroy and Dr. Snodgrass, to which we have already referred.
Of Dr. Mason's ancestry we know nothing, except that his father, Dr. John Mason, was a native of Scotland, and was held in high estimation as a learned, able, and devoted clergyman. The father came to this country in 1761, soon after being licensed to preach, and took the pastoral charge of the Scotch Presbyterian church in Cedar-Street, New-York, where he continued to exercise the ministerial office with great fidelity and success, until his death in 1792. One of the noblest tributes which a son ever paid to the memory of a father, is to be found in the address which Dr. Mason (the son) delivered before the Presbytery relative to the resignation of his pastoral charge;-a tribute which no one can read without feeling a sentiment of veneration for the parent, and of admiration for the intellectual greatness and the filial sensibilities of the son.
Dr. Mason was born in the city of New-York, March 19th 1770. His childhood is said to have been characterized by a freedom from every thing vicious, an unusual sprightliness of temper, and a strong relish for study. It was obvious in the earliest development of his powers, that he possessed an intellect of no common order; and the rapid improvement and brilliant exhibitions of the boy gave no equivocal presage of the pre-eminent greatness of the His father, who was distinguished for his classical attainments, mainly conducted his education up to the time of his admission to college; and it was during this period that he laid the foundation of those habits of intellectual discipline, for which he was subsequently so much distinguished. In May 1789, he graduated at Columbia college in his native city, at the age of a little more than nineteen. After having spoken of his diligent application, it is hardly necessary to say that with such powers as he possessed, he held a distinguished rank in point of scholarship. His comprehensive and brilliant and versatile mind gave him the power of becoming pre-eminent in any department of learning to which he applied himself; while he is said to have been actually most distinguished for his classical attainments and his familiarity with metaphysical science.
The foundation of Dr. Mason's religious character scoms to