The people and the fast day.
The recommendation of the President
for a fast day will command the approbation of all who believe that there is a God, that He governs the world, and that He hears and answers the prayers of the penitent and believing.
Most men believe something, infidels being generally the most credulous, and sometimes superstitions, of all, Spiritualism has enlisted most of its multitudinous disciples from men who could not credit the Bible
That great light of atheism.
, who professed not to believe in God, had such an abiding conviction of the devil that he did not dare to go to sleep without a candle burning by his bedside.
, who mocked at the faiths and superstitions of all mankind, was thrown into terror on hearing the cries of rooks on his left, when in the country.
and other eminent unbelievers had as great and even greater capacity of believing things the most irrational and absurd.
It is only men of this stamp and their feeble imitators who derides the sublime faith of the Christian
, and profess themselves unable to discover any Creator or Governor
of mankind but Chance.
But however much as a Christian nation we may approve the public recognition of God's providence, as recommended in various admirable proclamations of the President
, we can anticipate no benefits from national prayers or fast days, unless the nation purges itself of the evil practices which may well be supposed to provoke the Divine displeasure.
To go to church on a certain day, to go over a certain form of ideas and expressions, to call ourselves great sinners, and acknowledge that we deserve punishment, and then to go to our own various places of business, public or private, and be guilty again of the very practices which have provoked the wrath of Heaven is only to mock the Almighty, and add hypocrisy to our other short comings.
We need be at no loss to know what sins displeasing to Heaven we have got not only to acknowledge, but to give up, before we can expect the Divine favor.--We invoke the clergy to speak out boldly in their fast-day sermons, to bring home to the consciences of the officials and the people their iniquities of omission and commission, to make that solemn occasion something more than a mocking form.
Oh, for a Massilion or a Whitfield to thunder and lighten in every pulpit ! Never was such an opportunity for the Church
before to handle the devil without gloves, and to scourge with a lash that shall bring blood at every blow the caitiff who have converted the temple of liberty into a den of thieves
We have some clergymen in our mind's eye who can do this subject justice, if they will only throw aside their stilts, come down into the aisles, and pummel the sinners, big and little, in office and out, who are sitting demurely in the pews, and wishing the services were over that they might be back at their old practices.
Let us have no vague generalities in our next fast day sermons; no pious plentitude and stereotyped invocations, The "sin of Achan" is not the only sin that must be searched out and brought to light on that occasion.
If our clergy will speak out-with the courage and the plainness that the times demand, we may hope for some reforms of abuses, not only in the corrupt practices of extortioners and speculators, but in official mismanagement, imbecility, and heartlessness.
There is time enough between this and the fast day to collect the data and the proofs of the manner in which the grandest, most sacred and disinterested movement for national independence that this age has witnessed has been perverted by subordinate officials in civil and military life to selfish and personal ends; what criminal want of foresight, system, and attention to detail has neutralized the genius of our commanders and the valor of our troops; how the precious fruits of the earth, at a time when our very existence depends on economy and good management, have been recklessly exposed to storm and plunder; how famished and wounded soldiers have been neglected and tyrannized over by heartless surgeons and brutal attendants; these, and a thousand like offences, call upon the clergy to do their duty manfully on the approaching fast, and, without fear, favor, or affection, scourge the offenders.
If the priests of the Most High
will speak as men having authority, if the people will truly repent and turn from their sins, the history of Nineveh
is a proof that, even if God had decreed our destruction, he can revoke the sentence, and will once more give victory to our arms, and in the end deliverance to our country.