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a long season of darkness, and at length was answered at the appointed time.

In our former discourse we stated that, while the Protestant Churches were declining in piety, a NEW ENEMY appeared. “While men slept, the « Tares were sown.” Matt. xiii. 25. It was about the middle of the last century that InfiDELITY, which had appeared long beforé, first began to shew itself in strong and general operation. It was at a time when the light of Christianity was very feeble, and it was apprehended that this new adversary would totally extinguish it. But behold the providence of God! At this very period, there was a revival of religion in England, commencing in the bosom of our own church. Distinguished preachers arose in succession; men possessing the spirit and eloquence of the first Reformers, and " the doctrine of the Blessed Apostle, and * Evangelist St. John," was preached with great energy and effect; multitudes of the people bearing witness, by their repentance and conversion, to its truth and heavenly power. And it was soon found to be the pure and operative faith of the Primitive Church, and of the Reformation ; differing as much from the mere profession of Claristianity, as the substance from the shadow; and bearing the true character, which cannot be

feigned, namely, righteousness in life, and

peace in death.” At the very time when the spirit of Infidelity was fostering its strength, under the name of philosophy, and preparing for the awful revolutions which followed, the spiritual religion of Christ began to revive, and has since produced the most beneficial effects. True Religion and Infidelity have shown their proper fruits in our own time; and we can now contrast them with advantage. Let us therefore look back, and examine what have been the effects of each.

INFIDELITY first caused a whole nation to renounce Christianity; and, by natural consequence, destroyed religious hope and moral obligation; that nation, inflamed with cupidity and lust of dominion, invaded other nations, deluged them with blood, and at last, having acquired the temporal power, would, like Papal Rome, enslave the world, by its despotism. And the principle of its despotism is the same; namely, “ To keep the minds of men in the CHAIN OF DARKNESS." Thus do Infidelity and Superstition lead to the same point, by different ways.

The Spiritual religion of Christ hath, during the same period, produced very considerable effects.

1. It hath promoted a knowledge of the Holy Scriptures (the same effect which was produced at the Reformation), and hath thereby cultivated, to a great extent, the principles of the Gospel. And, on this foundation hath been built the practice of many excellent VIRTUES (some of them very seasonable in this age of revolution), such as subordination, quiet conduct, loyalty, and contentment.

2. It hath promoted the instruction of the Poor. The number of those among the lower classes, who can read the Scriptures for themselves, is supposed to have been more than doubled, within the last thirty years.

3. It hath promoted a more general worship of God. The volume of Praise and Thanksgiving which rises to the Most High from voices in this land, constitutes an ACCLAMATION, compared to the feeble sound at a period not very

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remote.

4. It hath cultivated very extensively a critical knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. A reve. rence for HEBREW learning seems again to be restored to the nation; for persons, even in secular life, begin now to study the Bible in the original Tongues; as we know was the case in a

former age.

5. But this revival of religion has heen pro

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ductive of another good, new and extraordinary in its nature; not confined to this country, nor to the present time; but extending to remote nations and distant ages.

Christianity hath again, after a lapse of many ages, assumed its true character as “ the Light “ of the world." We now behold it animated by its original spirit, which was to extend its blessings "to ALL NATIONS.” The Scriptures are preparing in almost every language, and preachers are going forth into almost every clime. Within the period of which we speak, men have heard the Gospel“ in their own tongue, wherein they were born,” in India, throughout many of its provinces; in different parts of AFRICA; in the interior of ASIA; in the western parts of AMERICA ; in New HOLLAND, and in the isles of the Pacific SEA; in the WEST INDIES, and in the northern regions of GREENLAND and LABRADOR. MALAYS, CHINESE, PERSIANS, and ARABIANS, begin now to hear, or read, in “ their own tongues the wonderful « works of God." Acts ii. 11.

III. It is with propriety then that tve distinguish the present period as a Third Era of Light in the Christian Dispensation. Yes, it is true, that while INFIDELITY, like the pillar of the cloud hanging over the Egyptians, (Exod.

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xiv. 20) is rising in awful form, threatening to involve the earth in darkness; the religion of Christ, on the other side, like " a pillar of Fire;": is giving light to the world. While Infidelity is prostrating thrones, and forging chains for mankind, the religion of the Messiah is diffusing its pure and free spirit, like a copious stream, into the hearts of men; constraining them not only to cultivate its moral and benevolent principles in their own country (whereby they resist Infidelity with the best weapons) but to communicate them to others; and to enrich, with higher blessings than those of commerce, the most distant climes and nations.

Is it asked why this spirit for diffusing religious knowledge did not sooner appear in this nation ; for it seems scarcely to have been thought of at the era of the Reformation? The desire was not given, because we had not the

Our commerce. had not extended to the uttermost parts of the earth. We had no Empire in the East. Another reason was, The Romish Church held the world in chains. Its superstition had supplanted us in almost every region. But by the revolution of events, this obstacle is now nearly removed.

It was an opinion delivered by Sir Isaac Newton, after the study of the prophetical books,

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MEANS.

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