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are enemies to God. Are we, offered, would not the Lord anon that account, to pray for their swer, Oughtest thou not to have eternal undoing?
compassion on thy fellow servant, But David's enemies deserved even as I have had pity on thee ? destruction. Ah, doubtless they Doubtless the saints will did. So does the writer of these knowledge the justice and holiremarks, and so do all his fellow ness of God in his treatment of sinners. Still he hopes, that reprobates. They now acknowl. none, through benevolence, de- edge his holiness in sending sire either his, or their reproba dearths, earthquakes, tornadoes, tion.
and the pestilence, but they do But you proceed farther, and not pray for these judgments. say, the enemies of David were Who would not be surprised, incorrigible. Who knows this? should a pious believer, when em. David himself could not know ployed in domestic worship, be it, saving from special revelation; heard to pray against his wicked and if such revelation were made neighbours, that the Almighty to him, it removes the most would strike their houses with important objection against the lightning ; send sickness and opinion of Bishop Horne and Mr. want into their families ; bring Scott, who believe that the psalm- them all to an untimely grave, ist did not imprecate, but only and to the place appointed for foretel. If their destiny were the devil and his angels? revealed to him, it is not very
But it is said there are passa. surprising, that he should com- ges of Scripture, even in the New municate a knowledge of it to Testament, which would justify others.
such an intercession. Christ That the Scriptures do not said to the Scribes and Pharisees, commend impatience towards Fill up the measure of your the wicked, is very certain. God fathers. endures sinners with much long Is this a prayer ? If it be, to suffering, and encourages his whom is it directed ? It is spok. children to do the like. Many en ironically ; and no persons, after enormous profliga- proves, that our blessed Lord, cy, have yet been the monuments who, in the last hours of his life, of grace. It would, indeed, be an prayed for his murderers, did extraordinary occurrence in the previously pray against them, Christian world, should any hum- than the words of Solomon, Rio ble saint, under a sense of his own joice, young man in thy youth, &c. unworthiness and the divine for- evince, in him, a design to probearance towards himself, adopt mote rudeness and debauchery. the following language in relation To elucidate difficult passages to others," I have frequently pray- of sacred writ, by those which are ed that they might repent and plain, is safe and prudent; but to obtain salvation ; but as they still explain one obscure passage, by remain impenitent, and deserve others equally obscure, is by no wrath, I now pray, in opposition means satisfactory. to my former requests, that they The 2d epistle to Timothy may not repent, but be damned does, indeed, contain these words, forever." Were such a prayer Atexander, the coppersmith, did
me much evil. The Lord reward cations. If, therefore, they will, him according to his works. Is it as the learned observe, bear such so very certain, that St. Paul did, an interpretation, it can scarcely in these words, pray, that this be a desirable object that they mechanic might experience the should not. But if they be, in eternal wrath of God, that this fact, imprecations, there is doubt. text will prove David to have im- less something relating to the precated such misery on his en- case, which we do not under emies? In the verse next but stand.
LEIGHTON. one succeeding, the apostle informs Timothy, that, in his first defence, all men forsook him ; but subjoins, I pray God that it THE PIETY OF ANCIENT PAGANS. may not be laid to their charge. It is an opinion of many emiDid the apostle pray for the sal- nent authors, that there is no navation of those, who forsook him, tion or race of men so barbarous and against the salvation of him and brutish, as to bę utterly des: who withstood ghim? His own titute of all notions or impresvirulence against the gospel was sions respecting a supreme Beonce, it is probable, as great as ing. The accounts given of the Alexander's ; yet he obtained natives of New Holland, seem to mercy ; and he was divinely contradict this opinion; for so taught to give this direction, far, as the English residents in In meekness instruct them who that country can discover, the oppose themselves, if God perad- rude aboriginals of that sequesventure will give repentance to tered continent manifest the acknowledgment of the truth. ideas of a God. Without ate
The seeming imprecation on tempting to prove or disprove Alexander is thus paraphrased by the justness of an opinion, the Dr. Doddridge : “I doubt not, precise theoretical correctness of but the Lord, who exercises a which it may not be easy to set: guardian care over me as his tle, I would observe, that most faithful servant, will, sooner or savage nations have entertained later, reward him according to his some imperfect conceptions of a works. May it be an instructive supreme being or beings, who and merciful discipline to reform Created the world, and continue rather than destroy him." to exercise some influence over
“ All the ancients note,” says men and physical events. Ina learned commentator, " that deed it is hard to believe that bethis is not an imprecation, but a ings, endowed with intellectual prediction becoming an apostle. powers, however feeble and unPseudo Justin, Chrysostom, cultivated, should see themselves, Theodoret, Ecumenius, Theo- and every thing about them, un: phylact.”
der the constant control of caus: Good people, it is thought, es beyond their reach, without a would find more pleasure and ed- strong impression, that there ification in reading such passa- must be a supreme, intelligent, ges with a well grounded belief and all-powerful Agent, to which that they are predictions, than if the visible operations of nature they considered them as impre- must be ascribed..
So much is certain, that most and to other gods, in fulfilment of the nations, of whom history of their vows. has preserved any correct ac- In the Institution of Cyrus we counts, have believed in and see the sentiments of Xenophon worshipped some kind of gods, in regard to the worship of a suas the authors of creation and preme power. He represents the dispensers of good and evil. Cyrus, as declaring that he never Imperfect as have been the ideas undertook any enterprise, great of the pagan world, concerning or small, without performing his the being and attributes of God, duties to the gods. In addition most men have been so conscious to many instances mentioned, I of their own frailty, imbecility, cannot refrain from citing the and exposure to evils, which they passage, in which an entertaincould neither foresee nor resist, ment was concluded by an adas to acknowledge their depend- dress to the gods-succépeivo Toss ence on some superior being sous ta agaba-praying for prosHence has originated, among perity ; an evidence that Xenmost pagan nations, that fear and ophon at least believed in the reverence of the supposed supe propriety of giving thanks and rior or supreme agent, which is asking a blessing at table. denominated piety. Of the prac- It was piety, which led the antice of piety among the ancient cients to the practice of vows ; pagans, many illustrious exam- or promises to perform certain ples are recorded, which, for acts to the gods, in case of sucsincerity, and the spirit of humil- cess in enterprises, or deliverity and submission to a superior ance from danger. These vows power, which appear to have ac- were held sacred, like oaths. Becompanied them, would do hon- fore the battle of Marathon the our to a real Christian. Thus Athenians vowed to immolate. to Herodotus relates that, when the Diana as many goats, as they Persians and Greeks were ar- should find Persians dead on the ranged for battle at Platea, both field of battle. armies offered sacrifices to the Extraordinary assemblies of gods; and in the midst of the the Athenians, holden in times battle, Pausanias, General of the of imminent danger, were introSpartans, looking earnestly to- duced with religious ceremonies. wards the temple of Juno, im- The place was lustrated with the plored the interposition of the blood of victims; a herald regoddess.
peated a formulary of vows and In the retreat of the ten thou- prayers, addressed to the gods sand Greeks under Xenophon, for the safety of the state. The sacrifices were offered to the Amphictyonic council also was gods, to procure their favour; opened by sacrifices, offered for and when the troops had arrived the public tranquillity; and Lyat Trebisond, on the Euxine, curgus commenced the work of which was considered as an ef- reforming the laws of Sparta by fectual escape from the dangers consulting the oracle of Delphi. of the march, sacrifices were of- The Romans, like the Greeks, fered to Jupiter, the preserver, reverenced the gods, and paid most sacred regard to the obli- testimonies of historians, the Rogations of an oath. In times of mans, in fidelity to their engagepublic calamity the senate direct- ments, have never been surpassed extraordinary ceremonies to ed by any Christian people. be performed, to manifest their This is a remarkable fact, and one dependence on the superior pow- that should put modern Chrisers, to appease the wrath of the tians to shame, that the fear of gods, and impiore their aid and pagan gods produced such improtection.
portant effects on the moral habIn the year of Rome 356, a its of a nation, when this effect winter of unusual severity, fol- is contrasted with the disregard lowed by a mortal pestilence, in- to oaths and promises, frequentduced the Senate to decree that ly observed in Christian counthe Sybilline books should be tries. In general, however, the consulted, and unusual ceremo- morals of the most refined nanies of religion should be per- tions of antiquily were licentious, formed.
and their manners coarse, beyond The Dictator C. Cassus, in the what is observable in most Chrisyear 370, encamped before his tian nations. As they emerged enemies, and before commenc- slowly from barbarism, many of ing an attack, took the auspices, the rude customs, indecent and sacrificing a victim, and implor- inhuman practices of that state, ing the favour of the gods. were too firmly incorporated
Fabius, before he marched to into their habits, to be eradoppose Hannibal, offered sacri- icated by any thing short of fices to the gods; and before the a heavenly teacher and divine eveniful battle at Cannæ, every commands. There are some ilmouth was repeating the oracles lustrious exceptions to this genof the sacred books ; and vows, eral character of the ancients. and prayers, and supplicatory “ Religion," says Epictetus,“ reofferings occupied the city of quires us to entertain correct Rome.
opinions concerning the immorIn pursuance of this spirit of tal gods ; to believe that they ex-piety, public thanks were giv- ist, and that they govern the en for remarkable deliverances world in the best manner, and from danger. The victories with rectitude ; that we should, over the Samnites, in 459, were in all things, yield them our obefollowed by a thanksgiving of dience, and acquiesce in their four days, continuance-quatri- dispensations, as proceeding from dui supplicatione publicum gau- a mind of supreme perfection. dium privatis studiis celebratum We ought to perform sacrifices est.
and offer libations to the gods, From the same principle of with first fruits, according to the reverence for the gods, sprung custom of our country, with pure the sacred regard, which the Ro- minds and sincere zeal, not with mans maintained for an oath ; sordid parsimony, nor yet with an effect, which extended its sal- useless profusion, above our utary influence to innumerable means.” civil and military duties. In- . “ Our oatbs,” says Xenophon, deed, if we credit the concurring “to which we have called the
gods to witness, forbid us to be with a revelation of the divine enemies is and that person, who character, the only object of true is conscious to himself of having piety' and devotion. A. neglected them, in my opinion can never be happy; for whoever becomes the object of divine wrath, I know no swiftness can SURVEY OF NEW-ENGLAND save him, no darkness hide him, no strong place defend him, since in all places, all things are sub
(Continued from page 274.) ject to their power; every where they are equally lords of all. New-England under advantages
One cannot have lived long in This is my opinion concerning to obtain information, without obboth our oaths, and the gods, serving that a growing contempt whom we have made the depos- of creeds and confessions of faith itories of our friendship."
is characteristic of the present It would fill a volume to cite times.* They are abundantly the proofs of this reverence for
decried, as useless inventions, superior beings, among the an- having no tendency to promote cient Pagans. Suffice it to say, the interests of truth and relithat all historical records abound gion. They are represented, as with examples. And it is par- fruitful sources of debate and conticularly observable, that the his
tention. They are exclaimed torians constantly ascribe public against, as inconsistent with the calamities to the anger of the natural liberty of mankind, and gods. Earthquakes, plagues, the sacred freedom of Christiangreat disasters of every kind are ity. They are stigmatized, as represented, as the just punish- arbitrary impositions, engines of ment of men for their wickedness spiritual tyranny. In short, they and impiety ; and sacrifices to are loaded with all the reproachappease the gods and avert their
es, which distinguished wit and vengeance seem to have been co- learning can furnish. In conseeval with the human race.
quence of this, they are general" The gods (the only great and only ly undervalued, and, in inany of wise).
our churches, are falling into disAre mov'd by offerings, vows, and sa- use. crifice;
As this is deemed a great evil, Offending man their high compassion and as there is, in these hazard
wins, And daily prayers atone for daily sins." ous times, peculiar danger of its
gaining ground and increasing We see therefore sentiments its baneful influence ; we judge of piety have been common to the pagan, as well as Christian
For the substance of what is to world, but for want of just ideas he exhibited on confessions of faith, of the true God, and his will, this Pastor acknowledges himself indebted reverence of the pagan nations to a large preface to the Assembly's was ill-directed, and often mark- confession of faith, written by W.
Dunlop, Regius Professor of Divinity ed by the wildest absurdities. and Ecclesiastical History in the Unie The Christian alone is blessed versity of Edinburgh. Vol. II. No. 7. •RR