Imatges de pÓgina

TH Rawell

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THE Decalogue is acknowledged by all christians to contain the words of eternal truth; and the sum and substance of it is declared by our Lord himself to consist in the love of God, and the love of our neighbour. Hence it was, that when he was asked by a certain person, "what he should do, that he might inherit eternal life;" he made no other than this short and plain reply, "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." Matt. xix. 17.

The doctrine of life, therefore, is clearly and fully revealed in the ten commandments; and those, who love truth for truth's sake, need not be at a loss to discover the way that leadeth unto life. They need not consume their time and strength in speculative investigations, or deep and unprofitable metaphysical inquiries.

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Let them begin with resisting their selfish and worldly passions. Let all selfish and worldly prejudices and interests be set aside. In other words, let them begin with close and serious self-examination of their hearts and lives, their affections and their thoughts, as well as their words and deeds, by the precepts of the decalogue. If they are honest and ingenuous in the search, they will soon find, that in their affections and thoughts, if not in their words and deeds, they have greatly deviated from the way of life therein commanded they will soon find, that in themselves they have no strength to obey any one of the precepts in sincerity and truth; but that they stand every moment in need of that holy and all powerful influence, which proceeds only from the source of goodness and truth."

This, if they persevere, will lead them to the exercise of faith, and of prayer. Their understandings will then be opened. They will be enabled to see and admire the great truths contained in the Holy Scriptures, which they were ignorant of before they will be enabled, in some degree, to comprehend what our Lord said to his two disciples on the


way to Emmaus, when "beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the scriptures the things concerning HIMSELF;" and also, what his meaning was, when at his last appearance to them, before his ascension, he reminded them of the words which he spake unto them, while he was yet with them, viz. "that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning HIM;" immediately after which it is added, "Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures."

They will then discover, to their inexpressible astonishment and delight, that the Bible is not to be read or understood as any other book, but as the Word of God; and that, from beginning to end, it relates wholly, in all its historical as well as prophetical parts, to that HUMANITY, which the ETERNAL GOD assumed, and made divine; assumed for this great purpose of infinite love, that he might bring back the fallen nature of man to that state of life, in which it was originally created; which life is no other than the love of the Lord, and the love of ou

neighbour, according to the doctrine of the decalogue.

They will, moreover be convinced, that all the various forms of human government, in every age of the world, all the institutes of civil and municipal law, of every kind, in every nation upon earth, when examined and traced to their first principles, are founded upon this doctrine of life contained in the ten commandments; and that they are more or less pure, and useful to human society, according as they are more or less conformable to this standard of eternal truth.

They will farther discover the vast extent and enlargement of these commandments; that they come forth in their highest purity and splendor from heaven itself, the throne of the Highest, descending through different orders and states of being, to man in his lowest state of natural truth and goodness; that from thence, that is, from natural, they ascend to spiritual, and from thence to celestial, as man, by his obedience to them, under the divine influence, becomes qualified for the opening and unfolding of his natural, spiritual, and celestial powers. These powers are capacities of reception, with which

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every man is born into the world: they are the gift of the Lord, by which he alone enables man to open and enter into life, from lower into higher states, according as he exerts himself in keeping the commandments, that is, in resisting evils as sins against the Lord, and believing at the same time, that the Lord alone has given, and does continue, the power of such resistance.

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The natural man, before his spiritual faculties are opened, can have no conception of the wonderful discoveries of divine truth, which a life according to the commandments, gradually displays to the sincere, humble, and obedient mind. Let any man set himself earnestly to work, according to this infallible rule of life, and he will very soon be convinced of the truth of our Lord's declaration, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God."

But, alas! the misfortune is, that the generality of learned men and philosophers would take it extremely amiss, to be advised to begin their religious researches over again, by keeping the commandments, especially if their outward lives and conversation should be strictly

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