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at least render that of the purse, or as if the saints cared little for the former, if only they could make sure of the latter. I see that Christianity is only another competitor among the crowd of candidates for station, power, and wealth, nestling in palaces, creeping up to thrones, and luxuriating in the good things of this life. I see its Ministers aspiring to Princes, intriguing at courts, controlling senates, enacting laws, and ruling with worldly authority vast nations of men. I see them assuming sacerdotal pre-eminence, claiming special divine prerogatives, professing to dispense heavenly grace, and erecting for themselves a sovereignty over the consciences of men. I see others not open to such a charge, but still allied to the party of the wealthy few rather than that of the poor and toiling many, flattering the great and excusing their crimes, discouraging the cause of popular progress, advocating the continuance of things as they are, rather than labouring to make them what they should be, following the fashion of the world, votaries of respectability rather than of truth, without large sympathies and a generous desire, at any personal sacrifice, to promote the welfare of mankind, and too often, more anxious to secure the fleece than to benefit the flock. I see Christians zealous for points of doctrine, but lamentably apathetic in advancing the physical, intellectual, and social interests of men. I see them torn into factions, wrangling with each other on subtle distinctions, while advocating liberty of opinion for themselves often practically denying it to others, and setting up their individual notions as tests of character, contending for creeds and formulas and ceremonies rather than emulating one another in justice, and mercy, and love. I see religion assumed as a mask, behind which villany may be the more securely perpetrated, so that when I learn that a man professes to be pious, I am specially on my guard, lest he cheat me in business, or betray my confidence, or malign my reputation. I see Christianity sanctioning unjust wars, and banners consecrated by its priests, uplifted in front of desolating armies, and beckoning on to butchery and pillage, a furious and licentious soldiery. I see the aborigines of distant climes ever driven farther and farther back into the forest and the desert, and advantage taken of the petty ebullitions of their sense of unmerited wrong, to exterminate whole tribes in the name of a righteous vengeance, thus ever extending the limits of an already overgrown christian' empire. I see that atrocious system which subjects one race of men to be the cattle of another race, and practically denies their claim to humanity, sanctioned and upheld by professors of the gospel, so that from the auction mart where they have for ever sundered the dearest ties, men will come to take part in a prayer meeting, and from flogging their slaves in the field, to preach to the saints in the church. I hear that slavery derives its strongest support from ecclesiastical confederations, and that the Eible is quoted in its defence. I see—but time would fail me in enumerating all the reasons which I have for looking suspiciously at Christianity, as not
the true friend of the many, the poor, and the oppressed.”
We may think such a charge as this, in many points exaggerated, and in others altogether untrue, but whatever our opinion of its validity, it is a fact that such a charge is made by multitudes, and felt by still more, who hesitate to give it expression. Such feelings as these are at the bottom of that indifference to religion which so lamentably prevails among the great masses of society, and it becomes Christians, instead of contemptuously closing their ears against such objections, to apply themselves vigorously to their refutation. What reply shall we make ?
Friend, we give you credit for sincerity, and can excuse your warmth. Anxious for the melioration of human woes you are indignant when that which professes to remove seems only to increase and perpetuate them. Far from us be any vindication of injustice and selfishness, by whomsoever practised. But is not your inference unsound when you reason from the character of some who profess Christianity to the nature of the system and charge on itself, all the errors of its votaries? No creed whatever, merely held in the intellect will affect the conduct of those whose hearts are under the sway of selfishness. Such men may profess Christianity or any other religion but their crimes are attributable to their own depravity, unless you can prove a clear connexion between the principles they hold as causes, and the deeds they do as effects. It is possible that christianity may be good though professed by bad men. Has anything ever existed truly valuable which has not been counterfeited? Where the coin of a realm is debased there is no danger of what is spurious ; but the more valuable it is, the more it will be worth men's while to imitate it. Thus many a rogue has assumed the garb of honesty, yet honesty is good for all that, and Christianity may be a divine and lovely thing though that very loveliness has made it answer men's purpose to hide their villanies behind a profession of it. We lament that there is too much truth in many of the