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serve, and which, as now directed to the Deity, ascribes to him both the power and the inclination to pour down upon us every good and perfect gift; to supply all the wants which as dependant creatures we must ever feel; to assuage our sorrows; to listen to our prayers, and to accept the well-meant tribute of sincere and ardent thanksgiving.

Hence, while we know him under one aspect, and one only, our virtues would lose much of their activity, and our vices would become more frequent and more incorrigible; the felicity, of which we are capable even in this life, would be diminished; the miseries of it would be multiplied and embittered ; and, looking to a common end with the brutes that perish, we should be deprived of that peculiar excellence which seems intended for us even on this side of the grave, as reasonable and moral agents. Christianity then, by connecting the cause of social virtue with that of general piety—by carrying on our contemplation from the physical to the moral attributes of the Deity—by making his will the direct and proper rule of conduct to us—and by representing our future happiness as the appointed effect and covenanted reward of our present endeavours to please him, is a most illustrious instance of the divine wisdom and goodness, as they are displayed both in the precepts and the sanctions of our holy religion.

The Deity, it must be acknowledged, not with reluctance as disparaging to the honour of revealed religion, but with thankfulness as illustrating the real though limited usefulness of natural, did not


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entirely leave himself without witness among the heathens. His eternal power and godhead might have been, and in some degree were, from the creation of the world, understood from the things that were made. Such is the language of Scripture, and such would be the conclusions of our own unassisted judgments in the operations of the human mind in certain circumstances. But we must by no means forget the infirmities as well as the capacities of our fellow-creatures—we must remember that while the bulk of mankind had changed, as St. Paul saith, the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--that while progressive idolatry facilitated progressive immorality, and many of those who worshipped the creature more than the Creator were given up unto vile affections, even several of those persons who were more eminently distinguished for the splendour of their talents, and the depth of their researches, became, as says the same Apostle, vain in their imaginations — that professing themselves wise, they became fools—that even when they knew God, they honoured him not as God.

No enlightened Christian would be disposed to deprecate with wanton contempt, or from false humility, the powers of reason, because he must consider those powers as the gracious gift of God himself — as the distinguishing characteristic of our own nature; and the necessary instruments both of our intellectual and spiritual improvement. But in estiinating their extent and their effects, he must be guided by the testimony of ancient history and the dogmas of ancient philosophy, and from that history and those dogmas he will learn that many celebrated heathens who acknowledged God to be, yet doubted or denied a position far more interesting to human virtue and human happiness—that he is also a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. Even in the truths which relate to the existence of a Deity, the light, which revelation holds forth to us, is more pure and more steady than that which guided many teachers, who are justly considered as the ornament of the heathen world. It does not darken the subject by mystical traditions, nor by disputable abstractions, nor by the use of those uncouth metaphysical terms, which in the vain attempt to procure unusual precision eventually produced ambiguity. The Epicureans, it is well known, while they allowed the being of many gods, derided the belief of futurity, combatted all the obligations to virtue arising from our accountableness, and therefore are justly represented by Cicero, as teachers, who took away in reality what they admitted in appearance; and, while they declaimed against superstition, were in effect the enemies of all religion whatsoever. According to their hypothesis there is a God, but not such a God as we adore---not a rewarder of the good- not a punisher of the bad-unless we rush into the gross absurdity of saying, that God punishes and rewards himself, when the souls that were made out of him return into him, and lose ali identity with the individuals who had acted well or ill, in a state of temporary separation from the divine substance.

But the superiority of the Christian doctrine will be yet more intelligible, if we were to compare it with the tenets of other sects, more favourable in general estimation, than those of Epicurus, to the cause of virtue. You read in the Scriptures, that God in the beginning created the world from nothing; but this doctrine does not appear to have been taught by any one Greek or Roman sage; it was opposed, I am sure, by many of them; nor can any trace of it be seen in the theological antiquities or the metaphysical subtleties of Eastern nations. Yet surely this truth gives us the most exalted notion of omnipotence; and by the exclusion of it many of the most pertinent arguments, which a Christian would adduce for the existence of God, would be weakened. Plato held indeed the existence of God; he often speaks in glowing terms of the divine attributes ; he sometimes rises into eloquent representations of of a future state; but he avowedly maintained the eternity of matter, and therefore invalidated many of the proofs which a purer and more enlarged theism suggests to our minds. The later followers of this illustrious man, as we learn from Plutarch, spoke of the soul itself, not so much as the work and production of God, as a part of him-not as made by him, but from him and out of him; and thus, while they seem to assign the soul a share of the divine perfection, and talk of its having the same substance with God, their opinions strongly resemble the impieties which Spinoza maintained in times comparatively modern.

The acute successor of Plato held, in common with his master, the eternity of matter, from which all visible things were formed and endowed with forms. He held also the eternity of intelligence itself; and upon this very circumstance he would establish a doctrine which tends to prove that God is not the rewarder of those who diligently seek him; for the souls of men are among those things which he represents as in a continual flux, and which after death would be resorbed into the eternal mind, and therefore could not be capable of reward or punishment, - because consciousness, though it does not constitute personal identity, is the necessary and sole indication of it, and though it be only the property or power of the being, is such a power that, in the absence of it, every bcing, who is a moral agent, must cease to be the object of distributive justice.

A consequence not very dissimilar flowed froin the system of the Stoics, who, it must be owned, among all their strange paradoxes, and all their fierce contentions among themselves, speak in terms most reverential of the Deity. They inculcated many noble lessons of the more difficult virtues, and they sincerely, though not perhaps very consistently, recommended that worship which in the Epistle to the Hebrews is called “coming to God;” and upon which the Stagyrite, through the whole extent of his numerous writings, is studiously silent. But by the notions which they entertained about the refusion of the human soul into the soul of the world, and about the general conflagration ; about the successive revolutions of events and existence at stated periods ;

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