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WHAT IS RELIGION ?
(Continued from page 4.) Q. We have said that belief in a God is the foundation of all religion. What is the fact next in order to be known and believed ?
A. The fall of man.
A. In the third chapter of Genesis, which has been called “the most mournful chapter" in the Bible, because it relates that awful fact which lies at the root of all the sin, the sorrow, and the misery that ever has been, or ever shall be in the world. .
Q. The fact recorded is, that man ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. In what did the sin consist?
A. The sin lay in the act of disobedience-man, by eating of that fruit, transgressed a positive command of God.
Q. And what did this sin of our first parents include ?.
A. Unbelief; they disregarded the words of God, who had said, “ In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die," Gen. ii. 17. And they believed the words of the tempter in opposition to those of God, " Ye shall not surely die," Gen. iii. 5. Their sin included pride: they wished to be as gods.--Ingratitude :-all the garden was allowed but one tree;--and cruelty : for the happi. ness of the whole human race depended upon them.
Q. What covenant was broken by this sin ?
Q. The transgression of the covenant of works, is called the fall of man. From what did he fall ? .
A. He fell from righteousness, and became a sinner, and he lost that part of the image of God which consisted in holiness.
Q. Man was created in the image of God; wherein did this likeness consist ?
A. In his having a living soul, -in his being holy,-in his having power over the rest of creation;--and in that complete and perfect happiness, which is the consequence of holiness.
Q. When God forbade man to eat of the tree of knowledge, how did he sanction this command?
1834.]" . WHAT IS RELIGION ?
113 * A. He said—“ In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.”
Q. What is the meaning of the word sanction ? · A. It signifies, to ratify a decree or ordinance, to make a thing binding, to give authority or influence, in order to strengthen or confirm the thing.
Q. In what condition was man placed by this command?
A. The condition was,-Obey and live,-Disobey and die. · Q. What is this condition called?
A. The covenant of works.
A. The word Covenant means an agreement. A solemn engagement on the one hand, and faith in that engagement on the other hand, enter into the nature of a covenant.-God made a covenant with man, and annexed a punishment to the breaking of it: man did break this covenant, and fell from righteousness; he lost his happiness, and, in a great measure, his dominion over the creatures; he became exposed to labour and sorrow, sickness, pain, and death. *.Q. And what change has taken place in the mind, and in the feelings of man in consequence of the fall ? · A. His understanding is depraved, his will corrupted, his desires irregular, and as much opposed to his own real welfare as they are to the general interest of the community—and moreover, the faculties of his mind are not exercised on their proper objects. The depravity of man lies deep within the heart and the understanding; and, from this bitter root, grows a tree that fills the world with deadly poison, which, without some counteracting influence, would, as a matter of course, bring about the final misery and destruction of every human being; for, independently of the wrath of God which is revealed against all ungodliness, it is in the very nature of things that sin should produce misery; the fire does not more naturally consume the wood, nor the tempest more naturally lash the ocean into fury, than, as a natural consequence, sin tends to ruin and devastation. We are under a dispensation of mercy, still we have constant proof of the misery produced by sin.
Q. What is the meaning of the word depravity ? · A. Distraction from the regular course-crookedness ; depravity turns things out of their ordinary course ; it is opposed to every thing that is right, and regular, and essentially good ; and it is therefore revolting to a sober, upright understanding.
Q. What is the meaning of the expression“ to corrupt?"
A. To disunite, to break to pieces, to destroy purity; . to be corrupted, means to be affected with contagion; to be capable of giving a taint to other things, to vitiate and spoil them, to raise in them a ferment that leads to destruction. Corruption may be more or less disguised in its operation, but it is fatal in its effects, and, like a slow poison, infuses itself into the heart and mind.
Q. From the third of Genesis to the last of Revela. tions, how is man addressed ? - A. Man is addressed as a sinner; all the types and ce. remonies under the law, and all the doctrines and precepts under the Gospel, refer to him as such.
Q. What other proofs have we of our fallen state ?
A. The evil dispositions we feel within ourselves, and the wickedness we see in others, affords sufficient evidence of the universal depravity and corruption of our nature. · Q. What are some of the lessons we ought to learn from the history of the fall ?
A. We should learn from the history of our first parents-never to listen to temptation, but to flee from it at once :-to be content with such things as we have to be careful not to desire any thing, merely because it appears pleasant to the eye, or good for food; and, before we indulge a wish for any thing, to consider whether it is consistent with our duty to do so. Another important lesson to be learned from this history is, that making una reasonable excuses for ourselves, and laying the blame of our own faults on others, is an original sin of our nature, and one of the earliest effects of the fall. Extreme unkindness is the characteristic of this fault.
1834.] THOUGHTS ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS. 115
Q. Having traced our fall to its source, and having proved, both from Scripture and experience, that we are sinners, what ought to be the great object of our anxiety? - A. The great object of our anxiety ought to be, how our depravity may be corrected; and how we may escape the guilt and misery which sin entails upon us. The Bible answers this inquiry, but we must read the Bible with an ardent desire to learn, and with earnest prayers for the teaching of God's Holy Spirit, if we would wish the remedy set forth in Scripture to be of any use to us. - Let us therefore pray—“O God, the strength of all them that put their trust in thee, mercifully accept our prayers, and because through the weakness of our mortal nature, we can do no good thing without thee, grant us the help of thy grace, that in keeping thy commandments we may please thee both in will and deed, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”- Collect for the 1st Sunday after Trinity.)
C. W. (To be continued.)
THOUGHTS ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS. A GENERAL in time of peace, a pilot in a calm, and a clergyman when people are in health, are thought to be of very little account. War, storm, and sickness, cause them all to be sought for and confided in.
When a Christian beholds sickness (his last especi. ally) coming towards him, he should address it, as St. Andrew did the cross; as that which he had long expected, and which would convey him to his blessed Master, by whose sufferings it had been sanctified. Even on the cross, St. Andrew ceased not to instruct and admonish those around him. When he beheld it afar off, he saluted it, and entreated it to receive him as the disciple of that Master, who had himself been nailed upon it. He then prayed to Christ, and exhorted the people to remain steadfast in the faith, which he had delivered to them. He lived, it is said, two days upon the cross, and during all that time never ceased to admonish and instruct the people. · An indolent, idle man, is a carcase; and, if he does not take care, the birds of prey (the messengers of vengeance) will seize upon him. "In Romney Marsh, when the ra
vens, hovering on high, and keeping a sharp look out, see a sheep turned on his back, so that he cannot recover himself, they instantly souse down upon him, pick out his eyes, and then devour the body, carrying it away piecemeal, as they are able. Persons are then set to watch, on purpose to prevent this." Watch ye.” . Bishop Cumberland, being told by some of his friends that he would wear himself out by intense application; replied, “ It is better to wear out than to rust out." · The reproaches of an enemy often serve to quicken a man in his Christian course ; as, in Siberia, they join a large dog to a rein-deer in their sledges, that the latter may be urged on by the bark of the former.
Naturalists tell us of harts and hinds, that, in crossing a piece of water, the hart as strongest, swimmeth first, to break the force of the stream, and the hind, as being weaker, followeth, reclining her head on his back. Woman is the weaker vessel, and standeth in need of man to be her conductor through life, that, under his guidance, she may stem the torrent of the world, and reach in safety the shore of eternity. « Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe,” and let her welfare and security bè equally attended to by her husband.
Husbandmen " are careful continually to stir and loosen the earth about the roots of plants; otherwise it grows dry and hard, and ministers no nutriment. The mind will do the same, unless exercised by troubles and disturbances, and will starve the good seed planted in it. Our Lord applies this in the parable of the fig-tree, “I will dig about it."
Riches, honours, and pleasures, are the sweets which destroy the mind's appetite for its heavenly food: poverty, disgrace, and pain, are the bitters which restore it. .
The note of the cuckoo, though uniform, always gives pleasure, because it reminds us that summer is coming ; but that pleasure is mixed with melancholy, because we reflect, that what is coming will soon be going again. This is the consideration which embitters every earthly enjoyment. Let the delight of my heart then be in Thee, O Lord, and creator of all things; with Thee alone is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.