Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

nefs of fin. Of course, idolatrous nations foon fprang from his loins. This event is recorded on the pages of the infpired volume, as a monument of the unteachableness of men. We may learn from it what blindness sin infuses into the mind.

Blinded by fin, men are now putting darkness for light, and light for darkness. While they profefs to receive the bible, as being a revelation from God, they explode many of its diftinguishing doctrines, and labour to modify others, until they make it contain little or nothing, which condemns the natural pride and selfishness of their hearts. The thought of departing from the truth may, at first, be alarming to them, and may fubject them to many painful upbraidings of confcience; but, through the deceitfulness of fin, they foon become hardened in opposition to all the foul humbling doctrines of the gospel. It is furprifing to think with what greedinefs depraved men drink in errours, and how artfully and perfeveringly they labour to extinguish the light of divine truth. When they venture to take one ftep in the path of errour, they are infenfibly led to take others; until it becomes manifeft, that the effential doctrines of chriftianity no longer have a place in their

creed.

2. Men are liable, through the deceitfulness of fin, to be hardened in the neglect of plain and pofitive duties.

and the heart will become nearly as hard and unimpreffible as the flinty rock, though all duties are neglected. Thofe truths, which deeply affected the minds of the wicked, when they were young, are often heard, in their more advanced years, with few or no feelings of anxiety. They, who have grown old in fin, will fit and hear the most powerful preaching, without any apparent perturbation; while children and youth, under the fame inftruction, will tremble and burst into tears. This is an evidence of the increafing hardnefs of men's hearts. Sinners, who have passed through the periods of childhood and youth, and whofe heads, by reafon of age, begin to incline toward the grave, have long been accustomed to hear the ftrictnefs of God's law, and the greatnefs of its penalty ; they have long been accustomed to hear the plain and pofitive duties of the gospel stated, and, through the deceitfulness of fin, they now hear them ftated, without any fpecial emotions. These duties, which were inculcated upon them in the houfes of their education, and which they, at first, neglected with pain, are difpenfed with, as they grow old in fin, without much remorfe. Correfponding with this idea, affecting as it is, are the words of the divine Saviour to the unbelieving and hardened Jews. "For judgment am I come into this world: that they, which fee not might fee; and that they, which fee, might be made blind.”

The influence of a religious education, on the confcience, is not commonly destroyed at once. But, though it may, at firil, give the wicked fome pain to neglect a plain and pofitive duty; yet, through the deceitfulness of fin, all this pain will foon be removed,

3. Through the deceitfulness of fin, there is danger of being hardened under the folemn warnings of Providence.

On all minds afflictions have one of two effects, they either harden or foften. Under the rod

of correction, perfons of humbled hearts are made more humble, while the wicked increase in ftupidity. Children and youth are often much more fenfibly impreffed on funeral occafions, and at the houses of the dying, than thofe, who are old in fin. The former, after attending the folemnities of a funeral, or witneffing the dying agonies of a fellow mortal, are often fo affect ed, as to have many ferious hours and fleepless nights. As they advance in years, and become more converfant with fuch fcenes, impreffions of this kind, through the deceitfulness of fin, are more faintly made. Hence there is great danger of living in the world, of feeing much, and of having much done for us, only to be hardened in fin.

4. Through the deceitfulness of fin, men are prone to be hardened in the practice of vice.

Sin, unless fubdued by the fpecial power and grace of God, is continually gaining ftrength, as we advance in life. No fooner do perfons begin to indulge in vice, than they begin to fee it lofe its frightful appearance. In the first inftances of yielding to temptation, they experience the fevere upbraidings of confcience, and feel the force of many restraints; but, by perfifting in vicious practices, they gradually ftifle their confciences, and become more and more blind to their characters, and to the danger, to which they are expofed. They become fo hardened, that they can deliberately do things, the thought of which would once have made them fhudder. How hardened, for inftance, the intemperate man appears, after he has, for fome time, practised the fin of exceffive drinking. When he first broke over

reftraints, he had to ftruggle against many diftreffing feelings, occafioned by his folly, and he was tender and affected, when feriously addreffed on the subject; but, by the repetition of the crime, he has become fo hardened, that nothing appears to touch his heart. The fame observations might be made in regard to all vicious practices; the longer they are indulged, the more blindness appears to be on the minds of those, who fuffer themselves to fall under their influence.

5. Through the deceitfulness of fin, there is danger of becoming hardened in view of the awful realities of a future day of judgment.

Few perfons in this land of gofpel inftruction, pafs through the feafon of youth, without having their moments and hours of fober reflection. Their confciences are tender, and often greatly awakened. To think seriously of death, judgment, and eternity makes them feel folemn ; but, as they grow into years, though they may poffibly have more frequent feasons of meditating on these things, yet, if they remain under the dominion of fin, they generally meditate on them with lefs feeling. It is the nature' of fin to make the heart more callous, and more unimpreffible. Therefore, unnatural as it may appear, as finners draw nearer to the judgment feat of Christ, their hearts, through the deceitfulness of fin, are gathering hardness.

The attentive and candid reader of this paper will, it is prefumed, call to mind, and feel the force of, the following words of the apostle Paul in his epiftle to the Hebrews. "But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; left any of you be hardened

through the deceitfulness of fin." If a life of fin is attended with fo much danger, we ought to be vigilant in guarding againft its influence in ourselves and others. is the advice, yea more, it is a folemn and pofitive command of our Saviour, Watch and pray, left ye enter into temptation."

It

H.

For the Panoplist.

ON COVENANTING WITH GOD.

THE word covenant has originally a general meaning. Berith, Diatheke, and Fedus, the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin words, which are tranflated covenant, often fignify, teftamentum, or a will; but in general, any regulation, appointment, or declaration of the mind.* The word fometimes fignifies a law; hence the Pythagoreans denominated the rules given their pupils, Diathekai.t But cove nant in general fignifies, engagement or agreement.

The Hebrews fay, "to ftrike a covenant," ferire fœdus. This doubtlefs took its rife from the ancient ceremony of ftriking or flaying an animal to ratify the covenant. Probably God taught this rite to the firft inhabitants of the world; hence we find it early in different nations. "The Cynethenfes over the flaughtered victims took a folemn oath, and plighted faith to each other." Scripture fpeaks of such a ceremony; "Thofe that have made a covenant with me by facrifice." The cutting of the animal afunder denoted that, in the fame manner, he who broke the covenant, fhould be cut afunder by the divine vengeance.

[ocr errors][merged small]

In Num. xviii. 19. we read of "a covenant of falt." In Lev. ii. 13. we read, "with all thine offerings thou fhalt offer falt." This implied, that the covenant was fure and perpetual, as Lot's wife was turned into a pillar of falt to be a perpetual monument of divine wrath. All falt does not melt; the Arabs build walls and houfes with blocks of falt. There is a fpecies of falt used for money. In the kingdom of Tunis, is a mountain of purple falt, hard as ftone. The custom of offering falt with their facrifices prevailed among the Greeks and Romans,

as well as Ifraelites.

ac

Homer calls falt divine, and repeatedly mentions the rite of falt, "The facred offerings of the falted cake," and "facred falt from lifted urns." Plato says* that, 66 cording to human laws, falt was molt agreeable to the gods;" and Pliny fays that, "the influence of falt is thought to be greatest in facrifices, fince none are performed without falted meal." According to Virgil, falt was of fered with the facrifice at the treaty between Latinus and Æneas, "They ftrow the falted corn or meal."

[merged small][ocr errors]

* Rivet, Auguftine, Witfius. + Pliny.

Bruce.

• Parkhurft's Hebrew Lexicon. †Theodoret.

H

[blocks in formation]

Thus Abram forfook his country, his kindred, his father's houfe, his all. Thus when God afterward renewed covenant with him, he faid, "I am the Almighty God, walk before me and be thou perfect."

From these brief remarks we fee what is profeffed in entering into covenant with God. There is an engagement to be the Lord's. It is devoting one's felf, unrefervedly to God. A direct appeal is made to God. Omniscience is called to witness the fincerity of the foul. To affect the perfon, to roufe his attention, to imprefs and penetrate his heart, there was in the Jewish mode of covenanting, ceremony, pomp, and folemnity. Signs and fymbols were ufed. A harmless beast was killed; blood and death were invoked as witneffes of the auguft scene. This

Selections.

THE MISCHIEVOUS DOCTRINE OF EXPEDIENCY EXPOSED.

was the cuftom even with the heathen; who had never heard of the gofpel, or the Saviour, or Holy Ghoft. More was done. The victim was not only flain, but cut, and torn afunder. The language was, as has been obferved, "If I am not fincere, may I, like this bleeding lamb, or mangled dove, be feparated and torn afunder by the judgments of God." This was not all. "Every facrifice was falted with falt." A token, a pledge of inviolable love, of eternal friendship, was employed. A covenant was an oath of fidelity. Every thing was done to express cordiality, to give weight and importance to the tranfaction. The cultoms of men, and the rites of God were united; heaven and earth lent their aid to render a covenant valid, binding, and folemn. Blood and falt, types of the atonement of Chrift, and the faving faith of the gospel, were used. When we enter into covenant we do, therefore, declare by the Saviour's blood, that we are the Lord's. In fealing this covenant we virtually eat the body and drink the blood of the Son of God; if unworthy, we eat and drink judgment to ourselves.

From the Rev. R. Hall's Fast Sermon of Oc 1803. p. 42, 51.]

re

Mr. Hall enters into a full consideration of that fashionable system of expediency, by which " ligion is degraded from its preeminence into the mere handmaid of social morality; social morality into an instrument of advancing

PHILO.

[ocr errors]

the welfare of society; and the world is all in all."

The following passage, with which the discussion on the subject of expediency closes, and in which Mr. Hall expresses with uncommon strength and precision, views, which we ourselves have long entertained, would do honour to the pen, even of a Burke.

"As this fashion of reducing

every moral question to a calcula- to the same thing at the foot of the tion of expedience is a most im- account. Hence that intrepidity portant innovation, it would be in guilt, which has cased the strange if it had not produced a hearts of the greatest adepts in change in the manners of society. this system as with triple brass. In fact, it has produced an entire- Its seeds were sown by some of ly new cast of character, equally these, with an unsparing hand, in remote from the licentious gaiety France, a congenial soil, where of high life, and the low profliga- they produced a quick vegetation. cy which falls under the lash of The consequences were soon felt. the law a race of men distin- The fabrick of society tottered to guished by a calm and terrible fe- its base; the earth shook under rocity, resembling Cæsar in this their feet; the heavens were inonly, that as it was said of him, volved in darkness, and a voice, they have come with sobriety to more audible than thunder, called But unthe ruin of their country. The upon them to desist. greatest crimes no longer issue moved amidst the uproar of elefrom the strongest passions, but ments, undismayed by that voice, from the coolest head. Vice and which astonishes nature and apimpiety have made a new con- pals the guilty, these men continquest, and have added the regions ued absorbed in their calculations. of speculation to their dominion. Instead of revering the judgThe patrons of impurity and li- ments, or confessing the finger centiousness have put on the cloak of God, they only made more of the philosopher; maxims the haste, (still on the principle of exmost licentious have found their pediency) to desolate his works, way into books of pretended mo- and destroy his image, as if they rality, and have been inculcated were apprehensive the shades of with the airs of a moral sage.* a premature night might fall and "A callous indifference to all mo. cover their victims ! ral distinctions is an almost inseparable effect of the familiar application of this theory.". "Crimes and virtues are equally candidates for approbation, nor must the heart betray the least preference, which would be to prejudge the cause; but must maintain a sacred neutrality, till expedience,

whose hand never trembles in the midst of the greatest horrours, has weighed in her impartial balance their consequences and effects. In the mean time they are equally candidates, we repeat it, for our approbation, and equally entitled to it, provided the passions can be deceived into an opinion, and this is not difficult, that they will come

..........................

The unholy fpeculations of Mr. Godwin are founded entirely on this bafis.

"But it is time to conclude this

discussion, which has perhaps, already fatigued by its length. I cannot help expressing my apprehension, that this desecration of virtue, this incessant domination of physical over moral ideas, of ideas of expedience over those of right, having already dethronfrom her ancient basis, will, if it ed religion, and displaced virtue be suffered to proceed, ere long shake the foundation of states, and endanger the existence of the civ

ilized world. Should it ever be come popular, should it ever descend from speculation into com mon life, and become the practical morality of the age, we may apply to such a period the awful words of Balaam; 11'ho shall live when God doth this? No imagina

.

« AnteriorContinuar »