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of voice and instrument, which conspired to form the most transporting concerts. · The pomp of sacrifice was succeeded by dances, games, and convivial festivities.

Agreeable to the tenets and mode of worship of this religion, was the morality which it inculcated: a morality not repressive of the passions, but indulgent and flattering to them. Those disorders, to which the corruption of the human heart experiences, unfortunately, so strong a propensity, were not only tolerated, they were, in some measure, recommended. They were authorized and consecrated by the example of the gods. A variety of other circumstances contributed also to the support of this religion, in itself so engaging. It had been imbibed by its infatuated votaries with the earliest principles of education. They considered it as an old and precious inheritance, transmitted to them by their venerable ancestors. They conceived their own happiness to be linked with it. Their republics and empires had been erected on its basis. It was so dear to them, that in its defence they exerted more pertinacious efforts than for their lives and fortunes. So ancient was this religion, that, unable to trace it to its origin, they imagined it to be coeval with the foundation of the world, and the gods themselves to have been its authors. It united the suffrages of ages and of nations. The great statesmen of antiquity, whose laws we still admire, philosophers, orators, historians, poets, all the most distinguished ge

niuses of Greece and Rome, whose writings are at this day regarded as models of taste and elegance, all bowed down before the statues of the gods, and assembled with the plebeian crowd to chaunt their praises. Rome was thought to have been informed by Jupiter himself, that she should one day become the empress of nations; and a rapid succession of victories appeared to justify the prediction of the god. These prejudices, which the circumstances already mentioned conspired to establish, in favor of the heathenish worship, derived additional strength from the persuasion which prevailed, that the power of the gods had frequently been manifested in behalf of their worshippers. The temples abounded with inscriptions, attesting the acknowledgments of grateful votaries for received favors; and history, unfaithful to her charge, nourished the blind credulity of the multitude, hy recounting prodigies which they were said to have performed. Surely, my friends, it must be allowed, that a religion like that of which I have just given you an imperfect sketch, could not be subverted but by the most extraordinary means !

Such however was the religion, on the ruins of which was projected the establishment of Christianity; a religion, which to those to whom it was first announced, must have presented, one would think, a repulsive rather than an attractive aspect. It was new, and therefore did not seem to possess that awful character of sacredness which antiquity stamps on all its works. Its doctrine being of a mysterious nature, dark and incomprehensible, was offensive to the pride of human reason. It derived not any adventitious lustre from.its external

pomp of worship. For the Christian religion was not then, as it is at present, (with all due respect for prevailing discipline be it spoken) it was not then recommended to the senses by the attractions of music, the parade of ceremony, or the decorations of art. It was plain, simple, and unadorned. Nor was there any thing in its moral code which favored the inordinate inclinations of corrupt nature. Though holy, it was severe; and, notwithstanding its admirable tendency to reform and improve the human heart, it had to encounter a violent opposition from the feelings of flesh and blood, the irregular motions of which it was intended to restrain. Can any enterprise be conceived more difficult of execution than that of substituting a religion, attended with disadvantages so numerous and discouraging, in the place of one, to which so many favorable circumstances conspired to afford security against every species of assault. Yet this was the enterprise which the Apostles undertook to execute, and that too on so extensive a scale as to give it the appearance of being altogether chimerical. For it was not confined to a single town, or province, or nation. It was circumscribed by no other boundaries than those of the whole world. In vain did obstacles present themselves to their view. Neither the intemperature of climates, the inclemency of sea

sons, the asperity of mountains, the burning sands of the desert, or the dangers of the sea, could shake their constancy, or damp their ardor. The habitual antipathies of rival nations, the jealousies of conflicting interests, the prejudices arising from diversity of sentiments, manners, customs, all the discordant principles which agitate the human breast, and excite contention, animosity, and disorder among men; ambition, envy, anger, resentment, all were to be melted down by the pure ethereal flame of Christian charity, and from elements apparently the most jarring and incoherent, was to be formed a society of men, embracing the same system of doctrine, regulated by the same code of moral precepts, and animated by one and the same Holy Spirit. Neither these, however, nor any other considerations, could deter them from their bold and arduous undertaking.

Had a project of so vast and marvellous a description been proposed to be executed at an early period of society, when the mind, unseduced by the delusions of false science, and unbiassed by prejudice, retained in great measure its primeval simplicity, and the heart was yet unpolluted the corrupt refinements of sensual gratification, its success, though even in that case highly improbable, might be conceived at least to be possible. But the period chosen for its execution was diametrically the reverse. It was distinguished on the contrary by the highest cultivation of the human mind, and the most profound corruption



of the human heart. It was pre-eminently the era of science and of vice, of elegance and libertinism; and the writings still extant of the most celebrated authors, who flourished at the memorable epoch of which I speak, are standing monuments both of the polished and depraved state of the age in which they lived. Can any plan be conceived more impracticable, than that of prevailing on men accustomed to reason and enquire, to embrace, with all the simplicity of children, a doctrine which it was not given to them to comprehend, and of persuading them to subject their corrupt inclinations, which hitherto they had laid under no restraint, to the severe discipline of the Christian law ?

Who then were these Apostles, who could entertain expectations of success in an undertaking apparently so inconsistent with every view of human prudence ? What uncommon resources did they possess ? What means had they at their disposal to enable them to remove so many obstacles which stood in their way? Were they endowed with extraordinary talents? Had they received from nature the gift of persuasion in a superior degree? Did they trust to artifice and intrigue for a prosperous issue of their undertaking? Had they riches to seduce, authority to command, or force to compel? None of these things, my friends, fell to the lot of the first propagators of the Christian religion. your vocation, brethren,” exclaims the great Saint

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