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tries, and ranks, and ages, and natural tempers, and habits, and characters, and acquirements; to judge how humanizing the effect upon society would be, were Christianity to be generally received as the main spring and rule of conduct. How indeed could its effects be other than most humanizing, when by forbidding pride, revenge, sensuality, sloth, the love of money, the love of pleasure, and every thing else that hardens or brutalizes the heart, it strikes at all the roots and sources of savageness of every kind; or rather raises the heart above them, to humility, meekness, temperance, truth; and by a happy combination of opposite excellencies contrives to unite industry and activity with contentedness, and teaches men to be forgiving and self-denying, without making them cowardly or unsocial? For the progress of mankind it provides, by enjoining us to forget the things which are behind, and press forward to the things before us, till we all attain to the perfection of the All-perfect; while it secures the stability and good order of society by the family links of brotherly love.
Such, I need not say to you, would naturally have been my topics, had I attempted to prove the truth which, as it was, I barely enunciated. Their enumeration is enough to convict me of the great
imprudence of undertaking a plan which it was impossible to execute. Instead of completing the building I had designed, I did little, beside clearing away rubbish, and pillar or two of the portico.
perhaps raising a Defective however
me I cannot with
as my work is, it seems to propriety defer its publication any longer. Allow me, Sir, respectfully to dedicate it to you, and to my brethren the Clergy of your Archdeaconry, in the hope that their friendly anticipations of its usefulness may not prove altogether groundless, and that the Sermon with all its faults may conduce to the edifying of its readers.
I remain, my dear Sir,
Your much obliged
and obedient servant,
Alton, Sept. 29th, 1832.
AUGUSTUS W. HARE.
RELIGION, THE HUMANIZER OF MAN
AND SUPPORTER OF SOCIETY.
LUKE viii. 35.
And they came to Jesus, and found the man out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind.
I have selected these words for the groundwork of my discourse, because they appear to me to furnish a very striking instance of the benefits which true religion is capable of conferring on society. The wretch who had been driven by the devil into the wilderness, who had been often bound with chains and fetters, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces, for none could tame him,-is at once an emblem and an example of human nature in a savage state. Take from the story all which is supernatural and
peculiar to the time of our Saviour's stay on earth; and what remains? A man untamable by force, and hardened against punishment, reclaimed to civilized habits by the gospel. No apology, I should hope, can be necessary for considering the story under this point of view. Our Saviour's miracles are so generally recognised to be more than proofs of power; over and above their importance as evidence of his authority, they are so universally acknowledged and felt to have a spiritual and moral value; when we read, for instance, of his cleansing some poor leper, we are so naturally led to think of the fouler leprosy of sin which he washed away; when we speak of his having raised the dead, we are all of us so accustomed to ascend from the letter to the spirit, and to direct the minds of our hearers to that diviner act of mercy whereby he has raised the dead in trespasses and sins; that I trust I shall be pardoned for following a similar course on the present occasion, and for calling your attention to one of the moral truths latent in the miracle of Gadara.
The truth, if I apprehend it rightly, amounts to this: that religion can win its way to hearts barred against every other influence; that it can soften and conquer dispositions, which would else remain intractable and savage; and that hereby, in addition to all its other and higher merits, it
establishes a title to be considered the great humanizer of mankind.
This, if I mistake not, is the truth involved in the miracle and a most important and practical truth it is. Let none imagine it applicable only to men in the under stages of society, or fancy it can in no wise concern us. Experience has evinced, and is evincing daily, that men of savage hearts and savage deeds may be generated from the offscourings of civilization, no less than amid the barrenness of the desert. Nay, of the two extremes, the savages of civilization are the more dangerous; inasmuch as with the same untamable dispositions they combine greater knowledge, fiercer passions, ampler means, and above all a larger field for mischief. The heart sickens at considering what evil might be done by a few hands, if the rich and brittle edifice of prosperity, which by God's permission has been so laboriously reared in this country during a long succession of generations, were abandoned by him even for a few short moments to human laws and human vigilanee. When the Lord had ceased to keep the city, we should soon find that the watchman waketh but in vain. For what, after all, can human laws avail against men who own no moral tie? The crafty elude, the sanguine overlook, the violent defy them. Apart from their moral obligation, their