Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

sensible objects can excite strong emotions. What is it in an earthly friend, that engages esteem and love? Is it his external form? Is it his head, his hands, or his feet? No surely. The features of his mind, the qualities of his heart, his integrity, benevolence, tenderness and generosity-these are the objects which attract and rivet our affec tion. The man whom we know to possess these and similar attributes, in an eminent degree, we can strongly love, though we have never seen. We can love him when absent; and we can love him when dead. Thousands who never saw a WASHINGTON, have cherished him in their hearts, as the father of his country, and the glory of mankind. Thousands who saw and loved him when living, think of him with even an increased tenderness and veneration, now he is no more.

The objects then, which lay hold on some of our strongest. affections, are imperceptible to sense. The purity and rectitude of a fellow-creature command our veneration. His benignity and condescension conciliate our love. And has not He who is at once the source, the sum and the perfection of every thing venerable and lovely, the highest possible claims upon us? True, we have neither heard his voice, nor seen his shape. But of his existence, we are as certain as of our own. His beauty over spreads creation. His glory shines conspicuous in every object our eyes behold. Nor is there a day, or moment of life, in which his bounty does not meet us in ten thousand various forms. By what potent and numberless considerations are

we then urged to open our hearts to him, and give him the strong est, the tenderest affections of which they are capable!

The argument arises to its highest pitch of evidence, when we consider that this glorious and exalted Being condescends to invite this tender tribute, and to assure us that he accepts its He calls us to give him our hearts. He permits us not only to reverence him as a Father, but to love him as a Friend. He indulges, nay more, he commands us, to trust in him at all times, to pour out our very souls before him, to cast our burdens on his arm, and to seek a refuge, amid the storms of life, in his compassion and love. Those who thus affectionately confide in him, he honours with appellations of the tenderest endearment. He styles them his friends, his children, his jewels, his treasure, his portion. Are they oppressed? He is their patron and avenger. Do they complain? He has an ear for their cries-a bottle for their tears. Nor is there a saint on this earth so poor and despis ed, but the HIGH AND LOFTY ONE who inhabits eternity, comes down to dwell in his heart, and cheer him with the consolations of his love.

Such are the astonishing forms in which the divine condescen sion and goodness exhibit themselves to man. What returns they demand, what emotions they should excite, what animation and tenderness they should im part to all the exercises and du ties of religion, let our minds, if they are not overwhelmed with the contemplation, conceive: but surely, no language, of man or angel, can adequately express.

It is equally surprising and affecting, to observe that those who would banish sensibility from religion, are not unfrequently those who would be thought to possess the greatest exquisiteness of feeling on every other subject. The neglect or unkindness of a friend, though in a solitary instance, they can scarce either support or forgive: while years of recollected sin, in which they have lived, against the God of heaven, excite little compunction, They can melt over a tale of fictitious wo; while their hearts are cold and callous to the real and unparalleled sufferings of the Saviour. They can overwhelm an acquain tance with congratulations on some trivial escape; they can

even

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

of fact, and of experiment. Is it rational then to brand every thing in religion, of the experi mental kind, as fanciful and en、 thusiastic? Are not its teachers called upon to describe and distinguish its peculiar features and exercises with the greatest possible accuracy? And in a case of such universal and everlasting moment, should not all be solicitous to try their characters and feelings by the standard of truth?

Doubtless, the cause of experimental religion has suffered much through the medium of its professed friends. Many who have been its loud advocates in words, have by their conduct, given it a deep wound. Many who have confidently boasted of their inward feelings and frames, have yet exhibited too convincing evidence that their hearts were false and hollow. These de plorable instances prove nothing against the reality of vital religion; but the reverse. The world is full of impositions which are practised under the mask of honesty and patriotism. This does not imply that there is no honesty or patriotism in existence, but rather that there is, and that the most depraved and vile are sensible of it. For who ever thought of counterfeiting a nonentity? Let us then beware of enthusiasm, and of hypocrisy. But let us likewise beware, lest, by an undistinguishing clamour against these abuses of religion, we be imperceptibly led to give up its characteristic features, its foundation, and its very essence. Z

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Here they are taught true wisdom, and introduced again into No, 2. the right path. Let every temp

tation to sin be avoided. Neither the statuary nor painter had encouragement among the Israelites. The prohibition extends only to such representations, when the object of worship, but lest men's minds should be withdrawn from the true God, neither figures, nor pictures of any kind were permitted in the commonwealth. The Roman governors, before Pilate, conformed so far to the opinion of the nation, as to remove from the ensign used at Jerusalem, the image which it usually displayed of the empe ror, A neglect of this afterwards gave great offence to the Jews, and excited them to very dangerous tumults. In the command we find a beautiful gradation.

THE DECALOGUE.

Second Commandment. "THOU shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

for

"Thou shalt not bow down thy self to them or serve them I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me:

"And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments."

This commandment corrects the erroneous ideas, which mankind had entertained of Deity. His nature is incorporeal. Representing it therefore, by any form in heaven, on earth, or under the earth, leads us from the truth. Such representations are strictly forbidden, as well as worship: ping him through mediums, which he hath not appointed, whether through the medium of images, of departed men, or of angels, All which mediums are found in experience to pervert the judgment, and to issue in giving to the creature, the worship which ought to be given to the Creator alone. In this commandment the doctrine, which our Lord taught the woman of Samaria, is evidently implied. That God is a Spirit, and that he must be worshipped in spirit and in truth. Mankind early lost this doctrine. They became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish hearts were darkened. "Professing to pe wise they became fools."

Blame was attached to those, who made images or pictures; they were more blama, ble, who bowed before them in adoration; but they were in the highest degree blamable, who served these by sacrifices, and offerings of any kind.

The truths contained in this commandment were not altogether unknown to the Gentiles. The knowledge of them might have been derived either from tradition or from the intercourse, which they had with the Jews. In many of the heathen temples no image was permitted. The Persians in this conformed to the injunctions of their Zoroaster, whose story is so similar to that of Moses, as to make it probable, that the nar ration had its origin in our sacred books. Numa allowed no stat ue, picture, nor image to debase

the worship of the Romans, believing it to be highly derogatory to the Divine honour to represent him by such mean things.

The transgressors of this law are spoken of as those who "hate" God. Idolatry would subvert the throne of God, and establish in its place the dominion of iniquity. It excites his jealousy and indignation. Wherever anger or fury are attributed to God, either in the law or in the prophets, idolaters are the objects. The order against the Israelites, who should fall into idolatry, discovers God's fixed aversion to this crime; and determination to punish it. (Deut. xiii. 12-17.)

The man who observes this commandment, loves God. He rejoices that God reigns, and submits cheerfully to all the or ders of his throne; he is tender of his honour, and gives him, and him alone, his heart and his adoration.

to correct the fault of the parent, the child would not suffer. Far be this from God. Children, who tread in the steps of the father (and this the commandment supposes) are justly exposed to the same distress, and no glossing can hence impeach any attribute of Deity; but even allow, as must some, times have been the case, that the child did suffer and die in consequence of the parent's idolatries; the difficulty here is not greater than in any other case when infants do suffer and die.

A vicious parent is sometimes affected with diseases which are hereditary. A generation who hold in abhorrence the crime of the ancestor, still groan under the doleful consequence. This is a fact of which all may inform themselves. It takes place, under the government of God, and proceeds from laws by him es tablished.

God will suffer no rival; the offender introduceth such a rival at his peril. A man may live to see the third, and sometimes the fourth generation. His crime shall occasion him calamity as long as he liveth. We are vul nerable in our children. He is sunk below the brute creation who has not for such the tenderest affections. The imitative power is strong in children. They do as their parents do; if parents be ungodly, so probably will be children. How in tolerable the thought, that you have, by your example, misled the child, and brought not only your own grey hairs with sor

Another fact is universally known. Since Adam disobeyed God, infirmity and pain, sickness and death, have threatened every infant descending from him, and been fatal to vast numbers of them. This, according to the present course of things, is inevitable. Has not God regulat ed things in this way? If he be pleased thus to shew his disapprobation of iniquity, what can we object? Shall we arraign wisdom, which is infinite? Shall we say of a plán known to us in part only, that it is defective? Can any thing be more presumptuous? Is it not true wisdom de voutly to acquiesce fully assur

row to the grave, but also entailed, that however things appear ed a sad inheritance upon chil- to us, the Judge of all the earth dren's children. Were the child hath done right?

God visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation, but shews mercy unto thousands of them that love him, and keep his commandments: his judg ments have a limit, his mercies are unlimited. Judgment is his strange work; in mercy he delights. Acts of mercy are much more agreeable to him than acts of punity. It would have given him pleasure to bless thousands of generations, but to the punishment of three or four he proceeded with reluctance.

PHILOLOGOS.

PROOFS OF A UNIVERSAL DEL

UGE.

1

No. 6. (Concluded from p. 255.) DEISTS have dwelt with impious satisfaction on some of the more remarkable parts of revelation. The descent of all nations from one pair, and the universal deluge have been themes of their indecorous animadversions. A few pretended or nominal Christians, not bold enough to deny, nor humble enough to believe the word of God, have sometimes joined with deists respecting these subjects. To these we beg leave to address the following proofs from the sacred scriptures, which establish the universal deluge, beyond the shadow of a doubt.

whose nostrils was the breath of life on the dry land died." Here observe that the waters prevailed exceedingly on the earth, that all the hills, all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven were covered. The mountains were covered; fifteen cubits deep were they covered. A suitable depth that no animal, nor giant might escape death on the top of the mountains, that the vast ship, the ark, might float safely over them.* All creatures on the land died. The flocks and herds are soon overwhelmed; the warlike horse is arrested in his flight. The soaring lark and towering eagle, their strength exhausted, unable to move a wing, fall, and sink in the dark abyss. Silent are the groves of Lebanon; not a bird flutters on the top of the Andes ; Atlas no longer trembles with the lion's roar. Villages and cities are swept away. In vain the inhabitants fled to the highest hills, or the ark of Noah. The door is shut. In vain they cry to God. Their hour of hope is past. Like the rich man in hell, they find their prayers rejected. The waters sweep them all away. Not a breath moves the air; silent death spreads his boundless empire; the world is an universal tomb.

Gen. vii. 19, 20, 22. "And the waters prevailed exceeding ly upon the earth, and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail, and the mountains were covered, and all in

Chap. viii. 14. "And the ark rested upon one of the mountains of Ararat." Unless the waters had covered the mountain, as mentioned in the 7th chapter, the ark could not have

floated on its summit. The ark must have grounded on the

Menochius and Bonfrerius. See Pool's Synopsis on the passage.

« AnteriorContinuar »