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necessity have captivated mankind to the sufficient to guide him into all truth, withobedience of faith; till the knowledge of out any need of revelation or faith? Shall the Lord had filled the earth, as the wa- he complain that the ways of God are not ters cover the sea.

like his ways, and past his finding out ? Whatever difficulties there may be in True philosophy, as well as true Christiasome of the historical, or prophetical, or nity, would teach us a wiser and modester controversial parts of the books of Scrip- part. It would teach us to be content withture, yet as to the practical part, the duties in those bounds which God has assigned required of a Christian in order to salva-- to us, “ casting down imaginations, and tion, there is no man that ever read the every high thing that exalteth itself against sermons of Christ and his apostles, or ever the knowledge of God, and bringing into heard them read, but understood perfectly captivity every thought to the obedience well what our Saviour meant by com- of Christ.”

Lord Lyttleton. manding us to worship the one true God of nature, the Author and Lord of the $ 124. The simplicity of the Sacred Writers. universe, and to do to all men as we would I cannot forbear taking notice of one they should do to us; and that, “ denying other mark of integrity which appears in ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should all the compositions of the sacred writers, live soberly, righteously, and godly in this and particularly the evangelists; and present world;" in expectation of being that is, the simple, unaffected, unornamenrighteously and impartially adjudged, ac- tal, and unostentatious manner, in which cording to our works, to a state of happi- they deliver truths so important and subness or misery in the world to come; bylime, and facts so magnificent and wonderour Saviour himself, our merciful and com. ful, as are capable, one would think, of passionate judge. There never was any lighting up a flame of oratory, even in the man in the Christian world, but felt the

dullest and coldest breasts. They speak of reasonableness and importance of this doc- an angel descending from heaven to foretel trine; and, whenever these things have the miraculous conception of Jesus; of been repeated to him, was immediately another proclaiming his birth, attended by conscious to himself, either of having fol- a multitude of the heavenly bost praising lowed or transgressed these precepts. God," and saying, glory to God in the

Dr. Clark. highest, and on earth peace, good-will

towards men;" of his star appearing in § 123. The Light of Reason imperfect.

the East; of angels ministering to him in If the glorious light of the Gospel be the wilderness; of his glory in the mount; sometimes overcast with clouds of doubt, of a voice twice heard from heaven, sayso is the light of our reason too. But shall ing, “ This is my beloved son;" of inwe deprive ourselves of the advantage of numerable miracles performed by him, either, because those clouds cannot perhaps and by his disciples in his name ; of his be entirely removed while we remain in knowing the thoughts of men; of bis this mortal life? Shall we obstinately and foretelling future events ; of prodigies frowardly shut our eyes against the day- accompanying his crucifixion and death; spring from on high that has visited us, of an angel descending in terrors, opening because we are not as yet able to bear the bis sepulchre, and frightening away the full blaze of his beams? indeed, not even soldiers who were set to guard it; of his in heaven itself, not in the highest state of rising from the dead, ascending into perfection to which a finite being can ever heaven, and pouring down, according to attain, will all the counsels of Providence, his promise, the various and miraculous all the height and the depth of the infinite gifts of the Holy Spirit upon his apostles wisdom of God, be ever disclosed or under- and disciples. All these amazing incidents stood. Faith, even then, will be necessary; do these inspired historians relate nakedly and there will be mysteries which cannot and plainly, without any of the colourings be penetrated by the most exalted arch- and heightenings of rhetoric, or so much angel, and truths which cannot be known as a single note of admiration; without by him otherwise than from revelation, or making any comment or remark upon believed upon any other ground of assent them, or drawing from them any conclusion than a submissive confidence in the divine in honour either of their master or themwisdom. What, then, shall man presume selves, or to the advantage of the religion that his weak and narrow understanding is they preached in his name; but content




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ing themselves with relating the naked judged it sufficient to lay before us in truth, whether it seems to make for them silence, and expects from our observations or against them: without either magnifying the proper comments and deductions, on the one hand, or palliating on the other, which, having endued us with reason, he they leave their cause to the unbiassed bath enabled us to make. And though a judgment of mankind, seeking, like genuine careless and superficial spectator may fancy apostles of the Lord of truth, to convince he perceives even in this fair volume marather than to persuade: and therefore ny inconsistencies, defects, and superfluicoming, as St. Paul speaks of his preach- ties; yet to a diligent, unprejudiced, and ing, “ not with excellency of speech, — rational inquirer, who will take pains to not with enticing words of man's wisdom, examine the laws, consider and compare but with demonstration of the Spirit, the several parts, and regard their use and and of power, that,” adds he,“ your tendency, with reference to the whole defaith should not stand in the wisdom of sign of this amazing structure, as far as his men, but in the power of God.” And short abilities can carry him, there will aplet it be remembered that he, who speaks pear, io those instances which he is capable this, wanted not learning, art or eloquence, of knowing, such evident characters of as is evident from his speeches recorded wisdom, goodness, and power, as will leave in the Acts of the Apostles, and from the him no room to doubt of their author, or testimony of that great critic Longinus, to suspect that in those particulars which who, in reckoning up the Greciau ora- he hath not examined, or to a thorough tors, places among them Paul of Tarsus; knowledge of which he cannot perhaps atand surely, bad ihey been left solely to tain, there is nothing but folly, weakness, the suggestions and guidance of human and malignity. The same thing might be wisdom, they would not bave failed to said of the written book, the second volay hold on such topics, as the wonders lume, if I may so speak, of the revelation of their master's life, and the transcendant of God, the Holy Scriptures. For as in purity and perfection of the noble, gene- the first, so also in this are there many rous, benevolent morality contained in his passages, that to a cursory, unobserving precepts, furnished them with. These to- reader appear idle, unconnected, unacpics, I say, greater than ever Tully, or countable, and inconsistent with those Demosthenes, or Plato, were possessed of, marks of truth, wisdom, justice, mercy, mere human wisdom would doubiless have and benevolence, which in others are so prompted them to make use of, in order visible, that the most careless and inattento recommend in the strongest manner the tive cannot but discern them. And even religion of Jesus Christ to mankind, by these, many of them, at least, will often be turning their attention to the divine part found, upon a closer and stricter examinaof his character, and hiding, as it were, in tion, to accord and coincide with the other a blaze of heavenly light and glory, his more plain and more intelligible passages, infirmities, his sufferings, and his death. and to be no heterogeneous parts of one And had they upon such topics as these, and the same wise and harmonious comand in such a cause, called in to their assiste position. In both indeed, in the natural as ance all the arts of composition, rhetoric, well as the moral book of God, there are, and logic, who would have blamed them and ever will be, many difficulties, which for it? Not those persons, I presume, who, the wit of man will never be able to redazzled and captivated with the glittering solve ; but will a wise philosopher, because ornaments of human wisdom, make a mock he cannot comprehend every thing he sees, at the simplicity of the Gospel, and think reject for that reason all the truths that lie it wit to ridicule the style and language of within his reach, and let a few inexplicable the Holy Scriptures. But the all-wise difficulties over- balance the many plain Spirit of God, by whom these sacred wri- and infallible evidences of the finger of ters were guided into all truth, thought fit God, which appear in all parts - both of to direct or permit them to proceed in a his created and written works? Or will different method; a method, however, he presume so far upon his own wisdom, very analogous to that, in which he hath as to say, God ought to have expressed been pleased to reveal himself to us in the himself more clearly ? The point and great book of nature, the stupendous frame exact degree of clearness, which will of the universe; all whose wonders he hath equally suit the different capacities of


men in different ages and countries, will, of God, by those most ignorant, most abI believe, be found more difficult to fix surd, and yet most self-sufficient pretendthan is imagined; since what is clear to

ers to reason and philosophy, the Atheists one man in a certain situation of mind, and Sceptics.

West. time, and place, will inevitably be obscure to another

, who views it in other positions, $ 125. The superiority of Christian Philoand under other circumstances. How va

sophy over the Stoicul rious and even contradictory are the read- Epictetus often lays it down as a maxim, ings and comments, which several men in that it is impossible for one person to be in the several ages and climates of the world, fault, and another to be the sufferer. This, have made upon nature! And yet her on the supposition of a future state, will characters are equally legible, and her certainly be made true at last; but in the laws equally intelligible, in all times and stoical sense, and system, is an absolute exin all places. “There is no speech nor travagance. Take any person of plain language where her voice is not heard : understanding, with all the feelings of buher sound is gone out through all the manity about him, and see whether the earth, and her words to the end of the subtlest Stoic will ever be able to convince world.” All these misrepresentations him, that while he is insulted, oppressed, therefore, and misconstructions, of her and tortured, he doth not suffer. See works, are chargeable only upon man- what comfort it will afford him, to be told, kind, who have set themselves to study that, if he supports bis afllictions and ill

, them with various degrees of capacity, treatment with fortitude and patience, application, and impartiality. The ques- death will set him free, and then he and tion then should be, Why hath God given his persecutor will be equally rewarded ; men such various talents! And not, Why will equally lose all personal existence, and

? hath not God expressed himself more return to the elements. How different clearly? And the answer to this question, are the consolations proposed by Christias far as it concerns man to know, is, that anity, which not only assures its disciples, God will require of him according to what that they shall rest from their labours in he hath, and not according to what he hath death, but that their works shall follow not. If what is necessary for all to know, them; and by allowing them to rejoice in is knowable by all; those men, upon hope, teaches them the most effectual way whom God hath been pleased to bestow of becoming patient in tribulation ? capacities and faculties superior to the The Stoical doctrine, that human souls vulgar, have certainly no just reason to are literally parts of the Deity, was equally complain of his having left them mate- shocking, and burtful; as it supposed por. rials for the exercise of those talents, tions of his being to be wicked and misewhich, if all things were equally plain to rable ; and by debasing men's ideas of all men, would be of no great advantage the divine dignity, and teaching them to to the possessors. If, therefore, there are think themselves essentially as good as he, in the sacred writings, as well as in the nourished in their minds an irreligious and works of nature, many passages hard to be fatal presumption. Far differently the understood, it were to be wished, that the Christian system represents mankind, not wise and learned, instead of being offend- as a part of the essence, but a work of the ed at them, and teaching others to be so hand of God; as created in a state of imtoo, would be persuaded, that both God proveable virtue and happiness; falleo, by and man expect that they would set them- an abuse of free will, into sin, misery, and selves to consider and examine them care. weakness; but redeemed from them by an fully and impartially, and with a sincere Almighty Saviour ; furnished with addi. desire of discovering and embracing the tional knowledge and strength; commandtruth, not with an arrogant unphilosophi- ed to use their best endeavours; made sencal conceit of their being already sufici sible, at the same time, how wretchedly deently wise and knowing. And then I doubt fective they are; yet assured of endless fenot but most of these objections to revela- licity on a due exertion of them. The tion, which are now urged with the great. Stoic philosophy insults human nature and est confidence, would be cleared up and discourages all our attempts, by enjoining removed, like those formerly made to and promising a perfection in this life, of Creation, and the Being and Providence which we feel ourselves incapable. The


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Christian religion shews compassion to or of one deputed by him, to appear among our weakness, by prescribing to us only mankind, as a teacher and example. the practicable task of aiming continually Upon the whole, the several sects of at further improvements, and animates our Heathen philosophy serve as so many endeavours, by the promise of a divine striking instances of the imperfection of aid, equal to every trial.

human wisdom; and of the extreme need Specifying thus the errors and defects of a divine assistance, to rectify the mistakes of so celebrated a system, is an unpleasing of depraved reason, and to replace natural employment; but in an age, fond of pre- religion on its true foundation. The Stoics ferring the guesses of human sagacity be- every where testify the noblest zeal for fore the unerring declarations of God, it virtue, and the honour of God; but they seemed on this occasion necessary to ob- attempted to establish them on principles serve, that the Christian morality is agree. inconsistent with the nature of man, and able to reason and nature; that of the contradictory to truth and experience. By Stoics, for the most part, founded on uo- a direct consequence of these principles tions, intelligible to few; and which none they were liable to be seduced, and in fact, could admit, without contradiction to their often were seduced into pride, hard-heartowo hearts. They reasoned, many times, edness, and the last dreadful extremity of admirably well, but from false principles : human guilt, self-murder. and the noblest of their practical precepts,

But however indefensible the philosophy being built on a sandy basis, lay at the of the Stoics in several instances may be, mercy of every strong temptation. it appears to have been of very important

Stoicism is indeed in many points infe- use in the Heathen world; and they are, rior to the doctrine of Socrates, which did on many accounts, to be considered in a not teach, that all externals were indif- very respectable light. Their doctrine of ferent: which did teach a future state of evidence and fixed principles, was an exrecompence; and agreeably to that, forbad cellent preservative from the mischiefs, suicide. It doth not belong to the pre- that might have arisen from the scepticism sent subject to show, how much even this of the Academics and Pyrrhonists, if unbest system is excelled by Christianity. It opposed; and their zealous defence of a is sufficient just to observe, that the author particular providence, a valuable antidote of it died in a profession, wbich he had to tbe atheistical scheme of Epicurus. To always made, of his belief in the popular this may be added, that their strict notions deities, whose superstitions, and impure of virtue in most points, (for they sadly worship were the great source of corrup- failed in some) and the lives of several tion in the Heathen world; and the last among them, must contribute a good deal words he uttered, were a direction to his to preserve luxurious states from an absofriend, for the performance of an idola- lutely universal dissoluteness; and the subtrous ceremony.

This melancholy in- jects of arbitrary government, from a stance of ignorance and error, in the most wretched and contemptible pusillanimity. illustrious character for wisdom and virtue Even now, their compositions may be in all heathen antiquity, is not mentioned read with great advantage, as containing as a reflection on his memory, but as a excellent rules of self-government, and of proof of human weakness in general. social behaviour; of a noble reliance on Whether reason could have discovered the the aid and protection of heaven, and of great truths, which in these days are as- a perfect resignation and submission to the cribed to it, because now seen so clearly divine will; points, which are treated with by the light of the Gospel, may be a ques. great clearness, and with admirable spirit, tion; but that it never did, is an undeni- in the lessons of the Stoics: and though able fact; and that is enough to teach us their directions are seldom practicable on thankfulness for the blessing of a better in- their principles, in trying cases, may be formation. Socrates, who had, of all man- rendered highly useful in subordination to kind, the fairest pretensions to set up for an Christian reflections. instructor, and reformer of the world, con- If, among those, who are so unhappy fessed that he knew nothing, referred to as to remain unconvinced of the truth of tradition, and acknowledged the want of a Christianity, any are prejudiced against it superior guide: and there is a remarkable by the influence of unwarrantable inclinapassage in Epictetus, in which he repre- tions; such persons will find very little adsents it as the office of his supreme God, vantage in rejecting the doctrines of the


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New Testament for those of the Portico; 9 126. Fine Morality of the Gospel. unless they think it an advantage to be

Is it bigotry to believe the sublime truths laid under moral restraints, almost equal to of the Gospel with full assurance of faith? those of the Gospel, while they are depri- I glory in such bigotry: I would not part ved of its encouragements and supports. with it for a thousand worlds; I congraDeviations from the rules of sobriety, jus- tulate the man who is possessed of it; for, tice, and piety, meet with small indulgence amidst all the vicissitudes and calamities in the stoic writings; and they who pro- of the present state, that man enjoys an fess to admire Epictetus, unless they pursue inexhaustible fund of consolation, of which that severely virtuous conduct which he it is not in the power of fortune to deprive every where prescribes, will find themselves him. treated by him with the utmost degree of - There is not a book on earth so fascorn and contempt. An immoral cha- vourable to all the kind, and all the sublime racter is indeed, more or less, the out-cast affections, or so unfriendly to hatred and of all sects of philosophy; and Seneca persecution, to tyranny, injustice, and every quotes even Epicurus, to prove the uni- sort of malevolence as the Gospel.-I versal obligation of a virtuous life. Of breathes nothing throughout but mercy, this great truth, God never left himself benevolence and peace. without witness. Persons of distinguished

Poetry is sublime, when it awakens in talents and opportunities seem to have the mind any great and good affection, as been raised, from time to time, by Provi

piety, or patriotism. This is one of the dence, to check the torrent of corruption, noblest effects of the art. The Psalms and to preserve the sense of moral obliga- are remarkable, beyond all other writings, tions on the minds of the multitude, to for their power of inspiring devout emowhom the various occupations of life left tions. But it is not in this respect only but little leisure to form deductions of that they are sublime. Of the Divine natheir own. But then they wanted a pro- ture they contain the most magnificent deper commission to enforce their precepts; scriptions that the soul of man can comthey intermixed with them, through false prehend. The hundred and fourth Psalm, reasoning, many gross mistakes ; and their in particular, displays the power and goodunavoidable ignorance, in several impor- ness of Providence, in creating and pretant points, entangled them with doubts

serving the world, and the various tribes which easily degenerated into pernicious of animals in it, with such majestic brevity errors. If there are others, who reject Christia- human composition.

and beauty, as it is vain to look for in any nity, from motives of dislike to its pecu- Such of the doctrines of the Gospel as liar doctrines, they will scarcely fail of en

are level to human capacity appear to be tertaining more favourable impressions of agreeable to the purest truth and the sound

est morality. All the genius and learning partiality, to compare the Holy Scriptures, of the Heathen world; all the penetration from whence alone the Christian religion of Pythagoras

, Socrates, and Aristotle, is to be learned, with the stoic writings ; have never been able to produce such a sysand then fairly to consider, whether there tem of moral duty, and so rational an acis any thing to be met with in the disco- count of Providence and of man, as is to veries of our blessed Saviour, in the writ- be found in the New Testament. Comings of his apostles, or even in the ob- pared indeed, to this, all other moral and scurest parts of the prophetic books, by

theological wisdom which, equitably interpreted, either their

Loses discountenanced, and like folly senses or their reason are contradicted, as


Beattie, they are by the paradoxes of these philosophers; and if not, whether notices from $127. Beneficence to the poor more forcibly above, of things in which, though we com

enjoined by the Gospel, than by any other prehend them but imperfectly, we are pos

writings. sibly much more interested, than at present we discern, ought not to be received The Christian Scriptures are more cowith implicit veneration; as useful exer- pious and explicit upon our obligation to cises and trials of that duty, which finite bestow relief upon the poor than almost understandings owe to infinite wisdom. any other. The description which Christ

Miss Carter,

hath left us of the proceedings of the last

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