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to its full establishment in more enlightened times. So true it is, that "the children of this world are wiser "in their generation than the chil"dren of light!"
We, who believe that God has called us to prepare ourselves for a higher and nobler scene, ought surely to take no less pains to obtain all possible information upon what so nearly concerns our future welfare, than we .see to be taken by those who desire to qualify themselves for situations that are temporal and transient. — There can be no comparison in the interest which they are each calculated to excite. If a generous glow warms the bosom of the youthful patriot, when, as he reads the history of his country, he marks the infant form of Liberty, nursed in the bosom of reason, and gradually attaining strength and vigour to defend the
rights of his protectress, can we with insensibility, behold the progress of that light, whose beams brought freedom to an enslaved world? that light which taught us to claim, and enabled us to secure, our title to an everlasting kingdom, where no tyrant shall have dominion over us; for death and sin shall be no more!
We have seen the Almighty, he who is from eternity to eternity the same, he who is now present to you and to me; who knows our secret thoughts ere they be formed in our hearts, and witnesses all our actions; we have seen him displaying the majesty of power, and issuing from Sinai the laws which were to govern his chosen people.
Let us now proceed to take a farther view of this extraordinary interference of the Creator for the accom
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plishment of the designs of his infinite wisdom.
The ten commandments contain such instructions in the nature of the Deity, and such views of his attributes, and of the worship and reverence due to him, as never were known to any other nation. They contain such prohibitory statutes as reason allows to be the foundation of social union, and which experience has in all nations found essential to the wellbeing of society. Reason, the light of the soul, is from God: and by God are its decrees here confirmed, while, at the same time, additional light concerning the nature of the Giver is bestowed; not such light as opposes itself to that of reason, but clearer and brighter, more definite and distinct, than unassisted reason could attain.
I wish you to pay particular atten
tion to this; that if ever you are so unfortunate as to fall into the society of those who impiously scoff at Divine revelation, you may at once perceive, that it is not in reason but in folly that their rejection of its truths originates.
I wish you to attend to it upon another account; that when you become acquainted with the history, and conversant in the opinions, and religion, and philosophy, of the most celebrated nations of antiquity, you may be prepared not only to appreciate their merits, but to observe their deficiencies.
You will observe, that wherever the superior light of revelation did not illuminate the mind, idolatry, the most absurd of all human inventions, universally prevailed; and that the wise and the foolish, the learned and the ignorant, fell down with equal E 2 reverence reverence before the gods of their own making. To us this now appears so surprising, that we can hardly believe it possible that people endowed with a common share of understanding could ever have been guilty of such extreme folly. The fact is, however, too fully proved to allow a shade of doubt to rest upon it. The only palliating circumstance that is by way of apology offered, is the assertion that a few — a very few philosophers saw the absurdity of the idolatrous worship which was every where established, but did not think it would be proper to let the vulgar know that there was but one God, and that he was the only true object of reverence and worship.