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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 originate.
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 reverence before the gods of their own making. To us this now appears so surprising, that we can hardly beJieve 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 wry 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.
It is then confessed, that all the reason of these men, whom we acr knowledge to have carried unassisted reason to its highest perfection, did not teach them, that just conceptions of the Deity are in any degree essential to morals. Yet this now appears to more enlightened reason as an incontrovertible truth: a truth first published from Sinai, and which, from the day of its publication, has stood at the head of the tables of the law. Ought we not to be filled with gratitude towards Him, who, in pity to our weakness, gave such additional instructions concerning his own nature, and gave them in such a way as to render it impossible that the impression could ever be entirely obliterated? We are told, "that all "the people saw and heard the thun"derings and the lightnings, and the "noise of the trumpet, and the moun"tains smoking; and that when the "people saw it, they removed, and "stood afar off. And they said unto "Moses, Speak thou with us, and
"we "we will hear; but let not God "speak unto us, lest we die. And M Moses said unto the people, Fear "not; for God is come to prove you, "and that his fear may be before your. "faces, that ye sin not. Then Moses "drew near unto the thick darkness "where God was. And the Lord "said unto Moses, Thus shalt thou "say unto the children of Israel: Ye (! have seen that I have talked with "you from heaven. Ye shall not "make with me gods of silver, neither "shall ye make to yourselves gods of "gold."