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THE WAY TO BLESS
sought out, and have the opportunity of being instructed in the right way of the Lord.' Did the time permits and were it necessary, I might here trace the history of this blessed institution, from its precarious infancy to the lifting up of its head among the stars. I might speak of its early struggles, and the recent triumphs of its faith and its works—of the destitule regions which it has explored-of the thrilling appeals which have gone forth from the fullness of its heart-of the four hundred and fifty thousand children now in its schools—of the vast multitude of books which it has published-of the incalculable amount of good which it has already accomplished, and of its noble resolution, at the last anniversary, to supply the Valley of the Mississippi with Sabbath schools
in two years.
But it as little needs the eulogy as the defence of my feeble voice. It has excited the adıniration, and kindled the eloquence of the statesman, as well as the divine. Mightier voices never thundered in our National Capitol, than have spoken its praises. On a memorable recent occasion, we have seen the north give up, while the south kept not back. And then it was that the wrestling of the giants gave place to exalted moral reasonings, and mutual congratulations. But what is more than all, the character and deeds of this blessed Union are written, not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.' Its record is on high. Its all-comprehensive and sweet benevolence is reflected from nearly half a million of happy faces every Sabbath day, and gratefully acknowledged by as many tongues.
What it needs, is not the approving testimony of a humble individual, from the place which I now occupy, but the zealous co-operation of all the
friends of religion, and of our free institutions; and above all, the continued smiles of Heaven upon its counsels and its labors.
I shall therefore just glance at the principles of the Union; its admirable adaptation to the religious wants of of our country, and the genius of our government; and then press upon every class of our citizens, the duty of sustaining it, and of extending its operations. It is the glory of this institution, that it belongs to no religious party, or sect. Here all minor differences of opinion are merged in the acknowledged principles of a common faith, and yet so as to leave each denomination at full liberty to inculcate its distinctive views upon all the children of its connection. Thus while each tribe in our American Israel retains its own standard, all the tribes are represented in the blended studding of one common breastplate; and all move on together under His banner, who was with the church in the wilderness.' The objects of the Union, as expressed in the first article of the Constitution, are, To .concentrate the efforts of Sabbath school societies in different sections of our country-to strengthen the hands of the friends of religious instruction on the Lord's day--to disseminate useful information ; circulate moral and religious publications in every part of the land ; and to endeavor to plant a Sabbath school wherever there is a population. These objects are worthy of that enlightened benevolence which founded this noble institution, and cannot fail of securing the approbation of every Christian, and every patriot, The obvious design of the system is, to pre-occupy the infant mind, throughout this great republic, with the principles of virtue and piety-to sow the good seed, and keep out the tares--to teach all the rising millions of a
mighty empire, as they come up successively into life, their relations to God, their high duties and their immortal destiny. It is, to enlighten the understanding and educate the heart—to make virtuous and happy families and neighborhoods—to make good men and good citizens-good rulers—good and loyal subjects of the king of heaven; and, as a matter of course, good and peaceable subjects of a republican governinent. The design of the American Sunday School Union is, to send abroad a moral power which shall quench all the remaining fires of intemperance, and lock up every gaining house, theatre, and brothel ; and transform the whole army of drunkards and paupers into useful and independent members of society. It is, as soon as possible, to tear up every criminal docket, and stop all profane swearing, slander, and cheating. It is to rescue the Sabbath from every kind of profanation, and to inculcate upon the young, every truth, and every duty that is found in the Bible. The grand design of this institution, in short, is, to empty the prisons and fill the churches; to expel misery and crime in every form from the land; to spread pure and undefiled religion over all the east, and west, and north, and south ; and to train up our whole population for the kingdom of heaven. Such is the undisguised, the godlike design of the American Sunday School Union.
And need I stop to show how admirably, how perfectly, it is adapted to the wants of our country, and the character of our free institutions ? Whose soul does not kindle within bim, when he thinks of what has already been done by this institution, and of what it is now doing in every corner of the land ? How it seeks out the poor and the ignorant, and by bringing them together every week within the Sabbath school, with children of better circum
stances, introduces them into a new world of thought, and feeling, and moral influence. How it everywhere offers to adopt the fatherless, and to assist the widow in training up
her family for usefulness, and for glory. How its instructions "drop as the rain, and distil as the dew; as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass. How like an angel of mercy, it extends its visits where the Bible is scarcely known, and no morning or evening sacrifice goes up, and no pious counsel ever flows from parental lips; and how it allures the little strangers to God, whom it finds in these abodes of moral death, and turns their feet into the path of life.
Now is any thing wanting, but just to extend the blessings of this divine charity, and establish an efficient Sabbath school wherever there are children to be trained up in the way they should go ? Would not the other means of grace and salvation follow almost of course? The Bible would certainly be there ; nor would it be in the power of the prince of darkness himself to keep out the heralds of the cross. No village, or scattered settlement, that is once brought under the heavenly influence of faithful Sabbath school instruction, will ever consent to live without a preached gospel.
Need I speak of the cheapness of this system of religious education ? When once fairly introduced, how trifling is the expense. Who, of all the sixty thousand teachers now employed, desires, or would consent to receive any pecuniary compensation? Which of them does not reap a rich reward in personal improvement, and in the pleasure of doing good ? Never was so much labor performed so cheerfully, so faithfully, and so productively, for nothing. The contingent expenses of so great an institution must indeed be large. So vast a territory as
ours cannot be explored and organized but by the employment of many agents; and Sabbath school libraries cost something. But who, in the last age, would have believed it possible to purchase as much entertaining and useful reading for an hundred dollars, as can now be had for thirty ? lconfess that I am astonished when I look into your depository, and ask the prices of your publications. That congregation, or settlement, must be poor indeed, which cannot afford to procure a handsome library
of the happy adaptation of this wonder-working system to the genius of our free institutions, but little need be said. It must strike the eye and the heart of every enlightened patriot, at a glance. Our government is not a government of force, but of influence. Its only sure basis is the virtue and piety of the people. In the absence of these, should Heaven in its wrath ever visit us with so dark a day, it must inevitably fall. When it is gone, you may plant the soil on which it stood with swords and bayonets; you may compel a degenerate race to cringe at the foot of a throne; and you may proudly construct the monuments of national servitude, with cannon upon the battle field; but without the living principle of moral rectitude, in the mass of the people, no country can long be free and happy.
Now, the American Sunday School Union offers to provide the very security which is wanted, by carrying the blessings of religious education into every family; by planting the seeds of piety in every tender mind; by extending its adoption to every abode of moral orphanage ; and by giving its pledge, that, with God's blessing, the whole rising intellect and heart of our country shall be taught to fear God, and keep his commandments. This