Page images

) the earth; and whether, in these ages of religious darkness, there was any nation or people who believed in God as a God of truth and righteousness, a punisher of iniquity and a rewarder of virtue.

This inquiry will immediately lead us into an examination of the history of the Jews, the only people whose religious faith gave any essential support to moral principle.

The Jews were neither warlike nor literary. They were neither celebrated for wisdom nor for genius; nor were they held in high estimation by any of the surrounding nations. Yet, while the rest of the world remained in a state of profound ignorance concerning the origin and end of all things, and the superintending Providence by which all is governed, this despised nation possessed such sublime and elevated conceptions of



the power and government of God, as were evidently beyond what had ever been obtained by the human mind. From what source they derived this superior knowledge, it would indeed be extremely difficult to discover, nor could we even form a conjecture upon the subject that would not outrage all the laws of probability. But happily we are not left to the uncertainty of conjecture. By the providence of God, the account has been preserved to us in such a perfect state, as to give entire satisfaction to every unprejudiced and candid mind.

In the books of the Old Testament we learn, that while it pleased our heavenly Father to discontinue all immediate and perceptible communication of his will to the rest of the inhabitants of the earth, he perpetuated the knowledge of himself, by a

special special revelation, to one particular race: and that, for the preservation of the light he had thus graciously dis. pensed, he renewed from time to time by his servants, the prophets, the prof. fers of grace, and the promises of mercy; and by these inspired men existed the fervent hope and expectation of a Saviour and Redeemer, in whom, not only the Jews, but all mankind should be blessed.

“ He who in times past spoke to " the fathers by the prophets, hath in “ these last days spoken to us by his “ son.” In all that he hath thus spoken, there are some things hard to be understood; some things which man, in his present imperfect state, must necessarily be unprepared to comprehend. But let us see whether this ought to surprize us ?

I have already shewed you, that the knowledge gained in childhood,


though in no respect full nor perfect, is of importance in preparing the mind for a fuller use of its powers in the period of youth ; and that the knowledge acquired in youth, though different in degree, and of greater moment, must still, in many instances, remain to be perfected in a state of maturity. Is it not reasonable to suppose, that this progressive state of the mind goes on beyond death and the grave; and that the wisest of the sons of men, in the full vigour of his faculties, is, comparing all he knows with all he has yet to learn, but as a child, proud of being able to point out the first letters of the alphabet ?

In all that the Bible teaches concerning what God has revealed to us of the scheme of providence, nothing is rendered entirely clear, but what

affords affords us essential aid when relied upon as a principle of action. As every successive generation which has, or which is to exist on this globe, till the determined period of its dissolution, are but parts of one great whole, all equally present in the mind of Him who inhabiteth eternity; and as all this mighty whole makes but a part of the scheme of the universe, it must be in vain for us to attempt comprehending a plan so vast, so inscrutable, so “past finding “ out.”

Any one who has ever made the attempt of explaining to children some particular parts of subjects, which stood connected with others, that from their ignorance and want of capacity they could not understand; and who has patiently listened to all the objections, and tried to reconcile


« PreviousContinue »