Imatges de pàgina
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686 C Unit.


1 Tim. vi. 2, 3, 4. These things teach and exhort. If any man

teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and

strifes of words. If the Deity have seen fit to depart from the ordinary course of his operations in the moral world, and give to his creatures a miraculous communication of truth, what should we reasonably expect to be the character and the tendency of this revealed doctrine? Is it not that it should be “a doctrine according to godliness,” tending to strengthen and exalt the devout affections, and through them to perfect and refine the personal and social virtues ? The · moral education of his rational offspring is evidently the object to which the system of things in which we form a part has chiefly been devoted by its divine author; and we shall see little of its wisdom, and feel little of its beauty and beneficence, unless we consider its connexion with man himself, who, of

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all the living things that people it, is alone capable of deriving from it any moral or religious impressions. If suns arose upon us, only to light us to the everlasting darkness of the tomb; if all the stores which nature lavishes around us, served no other purpose than to supply the growth of those bodies, which must ere long say to corruption, “Thou art my father, and to the worm, Thou art my mother and my sister;" if all the order and the beauty which we behold with so inuch delight, were but the decoration of the stage across which we were to pass and then vanish into nothing; what disappointment and humiliation would mingle with the gratitude and wonder which the contemplation of it called forth! We know, however, that all these things have a higher object; that they are designed to awaken in us the belief of a superior power, by which we and every thing that we behold were made; to draw forth our affections of love and reverence to the God whom we recognise by the works of his hands; to unfold the bud of those religious dispositions which our moral nature contains, and gradually to form, beneath this coarse covering of mortality, a spiritual being, whose powers, after all imperfectly developed in the present state of things, shall be carried for

ward to perfection in another. The connexions with our fellow creatures into which we are thrown, are not designed merely to enable us to obtain enjoyments for ourselves beyond what a solitary condition would yield, or single strength supply; nor the affections which we form by means of this intercourse, merely to lessen the burdens and enhance the joys of life: this part of our frame, also, has a higher aspect than to the mere things of time and sense; the habitual affections which are constantly growing up within us, will be as indestructible as the intellectual and moral principle in which they have their seat. The laws which connect our actions with their consequences, all tend to show that our true happiness is to be found in obedience to the will of God, and to the dictates of virtuous moderation; they encourage to the practice of godliness, by connecting with it the promise of the life that now is. If then this be the evident design of God, both in the constitution of man and the course of his providence, why should we suppose that revelation has any other object, than to complete that which natural religion begins, but leaves imperfect? The God from whom they proceed is the same; the creatures to whom they are given are the same, in respect to their powers, their

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