Imatges de pÓgina
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mighty Father, in throwing over the tremendous and apalling scene of the last day, that shadowy gloom, and indistinctness of vision, which form essential ingredients, even in the pages of divine Revelation, of true sublimity and grandeur. The holy Scriptures expressly tell us, That " eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him :" and, by parity of reason, we may conclude, with sufficient certainty, that the powers of the human mind can never attain to any clear, distinct, and accurate knowledge of what the sufferings of the wicked must be after death.

This dispensation of Providence is admirably adapted to support our hopes, and, at the same time, to alarm our fears ;-to make us "rejoice with trembling;"-to uphold the weak and feeble, and to impress those, who are "strong in the faith," still to "press on towards the mark, for the prize of their high calling in Christ Jesus."

Lastly, for the comfort and encouragement of all true believers, it is revealed to us, that the Saviour, who redeemed the world, and who "can be touched with the feeling of our infirmi

ties," will, at his second coming, "judge it in righteousness;-that he maketh intercession for us at the right hand of God; and, that the sincere, but imperfect services of a godly, righteous, and sober life, will be accepted, at the throne of grace, "through his meritorious cross and passion."

SERMON XIII.

ON THE THINGS WRITTEN AFORETIME FOR OUR

LEARNING.

ROM. XV. 4.

Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning; that we, through patience, and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope.

THE faculty of Reason is certainly the noblest distinction, and endowment, of human nature. Not to notice the various discoveries in the arts and sciences to which it leads, it guards us against the numberless dangers of ignorance and inexperience; and, by enabling us to distinguish between good and evil, it renders us responsible for our actions, as members of society, and accountable hereafter, as heirs of immortality, and children of God. But, after admitting that reason is attended with these, and many

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other advantages, it must be allowed, that the fullest exercise of its powers are often necessary to direct, or limit it, to proper and legitimate objects;-to prevent it from pursuing mere phantoms and shadows, instead of such inquiries as may be useful to ourselves and others; and, above all, to guard it against the mischievous mistake of substituting wild theories, and fanciful hypotheses, for the sober maxims of experience, and the dictates of practical wisdom.

Our essential duty on this, and on many other occasions, is to avoid the danger and the folly of extremes. By degrading human reason too low, man is apt to be the abject slave of prejudice and error, if not the mere tool of base and interested politicians; and, by over-rating its powers, he becomes impatient of all guidance and control;—or is raised by his vanity and self-love, to a giddy height of exaltation, from which his downfall is the more ruinous and disgraceful.

If we would see the truth of these observations exemplified, we need only turn over the pages of the later Platonists, take a slight view of the senseless jargon of the scholastic ages, or attend to some of the abominable absurdities, both in science, politics, and morals, that have

been broached by the pretended philosophers of our own times.

These considerations, therefore, should teach us to mix with our best attainments a large portion of Christian humility; and, more especially, when any thing comes under the cognisance of the human mind, that respects our duty to God: for if reason, in the exercise of her discursive powers, is bounded by the nature of every science, or when wandering too far, is in danger of perpetual errors ;-much more is she so, when, unassisted by divine revelation, she presumes to teach the doctrines, and prescribe the duties of religion.

This is not mere conjecture, or gratuitous assertion; for here, also, we can appeal to experience, and the authentic records of history. We shall have our inquiries farther aided, and our opinions confirmed, by many existing monuments of antiquity, which have escaped the ravages of time. If we direct our attention to Egypt, Greece, or Rome, it will appear from evidence, scarcely to be disputed, that these nations excelled all succeeding ages in such arts and sciences as depend on industry and judgment, on native genius, and cultivated taste. Accordingly, the architecture and sculpture,

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