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pressor, “What hast thou done? The voice of “ thy brother's blood crieth from the ground !” Permission was given to the citizens, on certain occasions, to kill their slaves. One of the wisest legislators of the heathen world, commanded that all children should be exposed, who appeared in any respect maimed or defective: and thus was the horrible practice of destroying infants who did not seem likely to be of service to the state, not merely openly tolerated, but expressly instituted. The result of these prevailing opinions and pernicious institutions, was as might be expected, 2. A Most per Ective systEM OF MoRALs. Depravity was the inevitable consequence of so barbarous a system. The world, was an aceklama—a perpetual scene of violence on some occa-, sions, when it was agitated by ambition; and on others, in seasons of peace, was polluted by every abominable and nameless vice. Virtue was a mere shadow—a name. It was serviceable as a subject of eulogy in the schools; but was little reduced to practice; and for the most part, their very virtues leaned to the side of unnatural severity. In the fragments of antiquity, we meet with some beautiful pieces of morality: but unfortunately the history of those times proves, that the deportment even of the persons who wrote these admirable precepts, contradict
ed all their recommendations; and that they broke, one by one, every rule which they prescribed to others. We are moved with pity in reviewing ages when men thought and wrote so well; and lived so immorally. So many vices were called by the name of virtue, that it is difficult to imagine, what they would call vice, save cowardice. Their most eminent and enlightened characters were guilty of crimes not to be recited; and the general character of the whole heathen world was, that they were “given “over to a reprobate mind, to do those things “ which were not convenient.” The palaces of the Caesars raised their imperial turrets to the skies, crowned with matchless magnificence: but within, they were stained with every species of impurity. It is not possible to read the account given of these monarchs who held the sceptre of the world, without pity and indignation. The narration of Suetonius, alternately elevates and depresses, informs and pollutes the mind of the reader: and if one moment we follow the warrior through his victories, and participate his triumph, the next discovers him to us in his retirement, an object of horror and disgust, “ committing all manner “ of uncleanness with greediness.” The general contamination may well be imagined, when Horace obscures his genius with shameless inde
cency, and the elegant pen of Virgil sullied his pages with impurity. I dare not refer to my authority for this mortifying statement; but it is a subject which, alas, admits of no dispute. We observe in general, respecting the heathen world,
3. THAT THEIR systEMs were Too REFINED for THE com Mo N PEoPLE. And here Christianity triumphs. It's morality is pure, simple, intelligible, adapted to the meanest capacity. All other religions on the face of the earth were formed, for the most part, for the rich, and for the wise. This was a grand defect in their system. Their theology was so complex, that the philosopher alone could, comprehend, it's refinements, while the vulgar were abused with the grossest fables, as a substitute for religion. It's mysteries were professedly held back from the scrutiny of the crowd. But the gospel is the consolation of the poor. It has no mysteries which are dark to a plain understanding, and fathomable by the wise: no mysteries but such as are necessarily beyond the limited comprehension of reason; therefore equally obscure to the peasant and to the philosopher. Of it's fundamental principles, “ a way-faring man” is a competent judge; and they descend to the level of his uncultured intellect. Other religions required splendid sacrifices, such as a poor man could not present;
priestly demands were made, beyond his ability of performance; and the temple was barred against him, because he could not pay the fee of entrance. But the religion of Jesus addresses itself to every description of men; and hides the poor under the shadow of it's wings, from the ills and the injuries of life. It's adaptation to human infirmity, is universal. Other religions were the religions of the city, of the empire, of the century: and varied with the changes of custom. But Christianity is equally suited to the East, the West, the North, or the South; it is adapted to the European, the African, the Asiatic, and the American: all are implicated in the charges it brings against human nature, all are drawn in the characters it delineates, and all are interested in the discoveries which it makes of life and immortality. But we forbear —we are not desirous to pronounce an eulogium on Revelation, but to prove it's necessity from the state of the heathen world before it's introduction; in order to which, we request your attention further, to
III.--THEIR UN cFRTAIN conj ECTURES IN RELATION TO FUTURITY.
To the mind even of the philosopher, futurity was, like the chaos of Moses, fathomless,
empty, without shape or order, and “darkness was upon the face of the deep.” The poets sang of Elysian fields and Tartarean punishments; but these were regarded as the flights of an ardent imagination; and the fictions under which their theories were buried, were openly rejected by the wisest among them. Who does not pity the genius of the immortal Homer, labouring
under the pressure of this mournful ignorance? In vain he stretches the wing of his imagination to penetrate the secrets of futurity—not an object could be seen through the gloom. In vain he would carry the torch of reason into the world of spirits—the shadows of death extinguish it. When he draws the picture of eternity with the pencil of fancy, he makes his greatest hero prefer a miserable life, laden with all the woes of this valley of tears, to the highest honours which can be bestowed after death". Some of the most enlightened among them, agitated the question respecting the immortality of the soul; yet their reasoning led them no higher than conjecture, and they could not attain the firmness of persuasion. Nor had it ever entered into their most sanguine expectations respecting the body that HE who first constructed the machine, and took it in pieces,
- See note 8, at the end of the Lecture.