Page images

to recommend to you never to lay down this or any book of instruction without fixing in your mind a summary of what you have been reading. Consider its purport and its tendency; reflect upon the arguments which have appeared to you most convincing, and treasure them in your heart. May God in this and all things bless you.



Under a full conviction of the advantages that result from having a clear, distinct, and comprehensive view of divine revelation presented to the mind of youth, I shall, in the prosecution of my plan, endeavour to simplify the subject as much as possible. I am nevertheless still sensible that in order to embrace these general views, the faculties must be exerted with a degree of vigour, such as I cannot now expect my dearest Lady Elizabeth to possess. Some passages will, I am persuaded, excite attention; but the unremitted attention necessary to grasp the whole, it may not be in your power to command. You must therefore return to it, and by repetition you will impress it upon your mind. I beg you to recollect how many things, that at first view appeared totally above your comprehension, you by degrees got so thoroughly acquainted with, as to wonder how you could have remained so long in ignorance concerning them. Recollect how much you used to delight, when, in comparing your present ideas with the past, you were sensible of the acquisitions you had made, especially with regard to such branches of knowledge as had at first appeared most difficult; and let the remembrance of these circumstances encourage- you to apply your mind


te to the subject now before you, which is of infinitely more importance than any in which you can engage. We have already seen that the revelation which God dispensed to Abraham was clear and definite; but we have no reason to believe that it was attended with any very extraordinary display of the divine majesty. The events foretold could only have been foreseen by divine omniscience, they could only have been accomplished by divine power: Abraham had a full conviction that they were revealed by God, and this conviction was all that was requisite.

And here I must request you, to observe the remarkable correspondence which appears between the ordinary and extraordinary dispensations ,of Providence; evincing that the general laws by which they are regulated are (if upon such a subject I may/


.presume so to express myself) conducted upon the same principles. By those who have turned their observation to the works of God in the wonders of creation, it is universally allowed that nature bestows nought in vain. Her frugality has excited an equal degree of astonishment and admiration; Throughout all her works, nothing superfluous, nothing unnecessary, is to be found; and so fully is this now understood, that among the investigators of nature, none are so presuming as to pronounce any thing useless, because they have not been able to discover its use: such presumption would be considered as a proof of ignorance; but humility is the companion of knowledge and of wisdom.

The works of nature are therefore to be considered as a revelation of the divine power and wisdom.


« PreviousContinue »