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dence of the spirit of God will be exclusively relied upon, addressed to the human mind as an intelligent being, not by imagination or passion, but in distinct, and intelligible terms, to produce it. In order to its practical influences upon the lives of men in producing the obedience of faith, after the truths are discovered, will be shewn the design, and use of the christian ordinances, together with the providences of God, including the evils which are incidental to humanity, such as its wants and necessities, sickness, pain, and sorrow, both of body; and mind, and of death itselfall of which, when explained, have a practical bearing upon man as a sinner, and as a probationer under a dispen. sation of grace for a future state of being. These are conducive to a life of faith when acting upon a person in whose mind the truth of God's word has been previously established by its proper evidence. What are called the evils of our world, and declared by God to be the effects of sin, are thus overruled, under the dispensation of grace, for the purposes of practical piety. In this sense they are said to be sanctified to the believer. Every christian will per. ceive, and feel the truth and force of these observations at once; and the greatest number of them will recognize the providences, and chastisements of God, operating mediately or immediately upon them, in having made them teachable under his word; and every person at all acquainted with the nature of either domestic or civil government, will perceive a striking analogy, and perfect harmony between the means by which obedience is produced in these, and the obedience of faith in the christian religion as above explained. In each, the rule of action is first prescribed, cominanding what is right, and forbidding what is wrong, with ample testimonials of the sovereign authority by which it is established, and promulgated. Obedience is produced by the apprehension of the displeasure of the ruler, and his entire ability to punish, and certainty of punishing transgression; and the assurance of protection, favour, and happiness, in consequei ce of obedience. But, because the sovereign in the spiritual government is not an object of sense, the knowledge of whose existence, and will, are only attainable by his revelations, and as the day of judgment, for the distribution of rewards and punishments, is beyond this present life, (which is the period of probation) the means of his government are so far different from, as the circumstances are dissimilar to, those of a temporal or human government. It is, however, the intellectual and moral powers of man, which render him capable of government in either case,
I shall bestow some attention upon other subjects in distinct chapters, than those contained in the two first. Although some of the subjects are acknowledged to be high, and mysterious, I trust that my manner of treating them will prove offensive to no person. My only object will be to rescue them from some erroneous ideas which seem to surround them, and to make them subservient to the formation of proper opinions relative to the great
Sovereign of the universe, and also conducive to a rational piety. A consistency will be preserved between the principles developed in the first two chapters, and the regular deductions in the last. No vain speculations will be indulged about the secret things of God, for the same reason that those things which have been revealed had remained secrets to the human race without that revelation. Yielding implicit obedience to the declarations of inspiration, that "the secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us, and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law," I feel an utter unwillingness to go beyond them.--Indeed it is with a view of demonstrating the necessity of God's word in order to our knowing any of the things of God, as such, that this work has been undertaken; “for the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God, which things also we speak, (said the Apostle) not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, explaining spiritual things in spiritual words.”
Natural Religion, and Atheism, investigated, with a
view to their refutation, and the establishment of the truth of the Revealed Religion.
The Powers of the Human Mind considered.
The extent of our ideas ascertains the limits of our knowledge, for we can have no knowledge where we want ideas. The human mind is incapable of originating simple ideas by the exertion of its own powers, and they are never produced but by impressions upon the senses, and reflection. All our ideas originate from sensation, and reflection; it is by them that the mind is made conscious of existence; and the ma. terials of the most diversified knowledge are obtained in that way; the ideas of reflection are dependent upon those of sensation, for they proceed from them, or are formed by the notice the mind takes of its own operations upon those of sensation. This seems to be a truth so well established by the experience of every person of observation, that but one opinion prevails in respect to it. Its truth is bottomed in the necessity of things as they relate to the mind; it is of the same kind of necessity with that which restricts our hearing to the ear, and vision to the eye. This is a subject upon which it is in the power of my reader to experiment, if he will attend to the operations of his own mind. For that purpose I will propose the following familiar exercise: -It is desired to know how the mind acquired the ideas of colour, and sound in general? The mind at once looks to, and points at, the eye, and the ear, as the channels through which these ideas were obtained. Ask a child ten years old, this question, and his answer will be the same. If it is
true in general, it is also true in particular. If light is per's ceivable only by the eye as light, so is all the various tints of light, and shade. If sound is only perceivable by the ear, so is all the variety of tone, from the loudest thunder, down to the softest whisper, including all the articulate sounds as signs of ideas. I am asked to describe the leading properties of gun-powder. I enumerate the sensible appearances it exhibits in the act of explosion; I say that it emits sound, light, and heat. In this enumeration I express in words, (which are by consent, and usage, the signs of ideas of sensation) the sensations which I experienced in witnessing the explosion. But perhaps I had never seen the explosion, nor witnessed by sensation the qualities enumerated; I may, however, have learnt them by verbal description, and by that description, could represent them to others; in order to this, I must have had the ideas of light, sound, and heat, and of course the senses upon which those impres sions were made, (viz.) the senses of seeing, hearing, and feeling, if the first ideas of them originated in my own sensations. The description only applies the ideas previously received (by the use of words) to the gun-powder, in a state of combustion.
The powers of imagination, and description, the mind possesses to an inconceivable degree, although, for their exercise, it is dependent upon the ideas, and the words which are their signs, previously received, and understood; for Mr. Hume very properly observes, “Although nothing is so unbounded in its operations as the powers of the mind, and the imagination of man-to form monsters, and join incongruous shapes, and appearances, costs the imagination no more trouble, than to conceive of the most natural, and farniliar objects; and whilst the body is confined to one planet, along which it creeps with pain, and difficulty, the iniagination, and thought, can transport us in an instant into the most distant regions of the universe. But although our thought seems to possess this unbounded liberty, we shall
ind, upon a nearer examination, that it is really confined within very narrow limits, and that all this creative power of the mind, amounts to nothing more than the faculty of combining, transposing, augmenting, and diminishing the materi
als afforded us by sense, and experience.” Of the same im. port are the observations of Mr. Locke.
He observes, “The simple ideas are the materials of all our knowlege, which are suggested, and furnished to the mind only by sensation, and reflection. When the understanding is once stored with these simple ideas, it has the power to repeat, compare, and unite them, even to an almost infinite variety, and so can make, at pleasure, new complex ideas. But it is not in the power of the most exalted wit, or enlarged understanding, by any quickness or va iety of thoughts, to invent or frame one new simple idea in the mind, not taken in by the ways before mentioned; nor can any force of the understanding destroy those that are there.” They may be variously combined, and differently associated, but not annihilated. "The dominion of man in this little world of his own understanding, being much what the same as it is in the great world of visible things; wherein his power, however managed by art and skill, reaches no farther than, to compound and divide, or decompose the materials that are made to his hand; but can do nothing towards making the least particle of new matter, or destroying an atom of what is already in being. The-same inability will every one find in himself who should go about to fashion in his understanding any simple idea not received by his senses from external objects; or by reflection from the operations of his own mind about them. I would have any one try to fancy any taste, which had never affected his palate; or frame the idea of a scent he had never felt, and when he can do this I will also conclude that a deaf man hath distinct notions of sounds." Mr. Locke concludes, “That it is impossible for any one to imagine any other qualities in bodies, however constituted, whereby they can be taken notice of, besides sounds, tastes, smells, visible, and tangible qualities. Had mankind been made with but four senses, the qualities, then, which are the objects of the fifth sense, had been as far from our notice, imagination, and conception, as now any belonging to a sixth, a seventh, or an eighth sense can possibly be; which whether yet some other creatures in some other parts of this ‘vast and stupendous universe may not have, will be a great presumption to deny.” As no, possi