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habitants, and in his bounty spread over it all the rich furniture which we behold—that he exercises a continual providence over the world, and all crea. tures in it, from men down to the sparrow—that he directs and governs all events, great and small, publick and private, designed and casual, and will conduct them to a glorious issue—that he created the first human pair in uprightness, and placed them in a delightful situation, but under a particular trial, in which their fidelity would intitle them to a happy immortality—that listening to the temptation of an apostate spirit, they violated the law of their trial, fell from their rectitude, and subjected themselves and their race to death--that sin thus entered into the world and has spread its malignant influence among the human race—that, though a Saviour was early promised, and new terms of happiness were proposed, yet men revolted more and more from God, till infidelity and vice had so generally overspread the earth, that God by an awful deluge swept off the whole race, except a single family, which was preserved to replenish the world anewthat after this, God from time to time gave particular revelations to holy men, and that by their example and instructions the knowledge of religion was continued that God chose the nation of the Jews to be his peculiar people, instituted his worship anong them, and gave them laws for the di. rection of their conduct, and promises of a Saviour, who should bring in a perfect dispensation, and accomplish the redemption of fallen men by his own death-that, in the time which his wisdom had appointed, the Divine Redeemer, who was to come, appeared in human nature, made a full revelation of God's will, and confirmed it by miracles, offered himself a sacrifice for human guilt, and after his death arose and ascended to heaven to be a constant intercessor for them who come to God in his
name—that through this Redeemer there is pardon for the chief of sinners in a way of repentance, grace to help the infirmities of humble souls, and eternal life for them who seek it by a patient continuance in well doing—that God has appointed a day, in which he will raise the dead, and judge the world in righteousness, and that this Mediator is ordained the Judge--that he will render to all according to their works, to the righteous eternal life, but to the ungodly everlasting destruction.
These are doctrines which we learn from God's lively oracles, and from them only-doctrines in which mankind are deeply concerned-doctrines which are adapted to restrain the progress of vice, and to promote the solid interests of virtue and happiness.
The oracles of God exhibit the most correct views of human nature.
They teach us, that as our bodies were by God's hand formed from the dust of the earth, so our souls were given by his immediate inspiration, and are distinct from, and superior to our bodies. They give us a humbling representation of man, as springing from dust and returning to dust again ; but an exalted idea of him, as partaker of reason and intellect, and designed for glory and immortality. They shew us the happy condition, in which man was first made, the sad state into which he soon fell, and the wonderful way in which he may be recovered. . They point out his various relations, the duties resulting from them, the end and design of his being, the happiness which in the divine goodness is prepared for him, and for which by divine grace he is now preparing. They inform us, that he is here in a state of probation, and that every thing which he does, will have some influence to render his future existence happy or miserable.
The scripture prescribes the most excellent pre cepts and rules of life.
As it gives us a perfect character of God, so it teaches us to study a conformity to this character in righteousness, goodness, sincerity and truth. It exhibits to us a complete pattern of piety and virtue in the life and actions of Jesus Christ, who once dwelt on earth and conversed with mortals. It inculcates our duties in all relations and conditionsthe duties of love, reverence, faith, submission, gratitude and prayer, which we owe to God-the duties incumbent on us in our domestick and social connexions—the duties which belong to a state of prosperity and a state of adversity--the duties which respect our bodies and our souls, our passage through this world and our prospects in another. The religion which it describes is not merely external, but has its seat in the heart, and thence displays itself in the actions of the life.
It proposes the purest motives to virtuc-motives taken, not from the interests and honours of the world, but from the character and government of God, from his approbation and favour, and from the promises of eternal felicity in a future invisible state.
It inculcates the noblest virtues, and these in the sublimest exercises ; such as the forgiveness of injuries, love to enemies, benevolence to all men, contempt of the world, patience under sufferings and contentment in every condition.
It furnishes us with the best defence against tempt. ations, and the sweetest consolation in afflictions, by directing our views to a holy, just, merciful and omniscient God; to a wise superintending provi. dence, to the grace of the holy Spirit ready to be afforded for our assistance, and to an eternal state of felicity, reserved for those who are faithful to the death.
It has instituted the most excellent means of moral improvement in the order and discipline of the church, and in the stated ministrations of the sanctrary of God, to a faithful observance of which
gra. cious promises are annexed.
Finally; The scriptures give us affecting illustrations of God's attributes and providence in his various dealings toward the children of inen.
We there see many instances of his mercy to his obedient servants; many remarkable interpositions of his hand in favour of good men ; many season. able answers to the prayers of his afflicted saints ; many tokens of his displeasure against impious and bold transgressors. By these dispensations the promises and threatenings of his word are verified, and encouragements are held up to the virtuous, and warnings to tlie ungodly.
In a word ; Whatever we need to know, relative to our duty and happiness ; to our comfortable
passage through this world, and our safe entrance into a better, we may find in the sacred volume.
As God in his abundant goodness has committed his lively oracles to us, it is obvious,
II. That we are bound to convey them to succeeding generations.
God, in mercy to mankind, has given them'a rev. elation, and established it by competent evidence. That which he has once given and confirmed, he commits to the care of those who receive it, that it may by them be conveyed to their children, and by these again to their children, and thus be handed down to distant ages.
Moses says to the people of Israel, “I have taught you statutes and judgments as the Lord commanded me. Keep and do them; for this is your wisdom in the sight of the nations, which shall hear of these statutes. Teach them to your sons and to your sons' sons."
" These words which I con VOL. II.
mand thee, shall be in thine heart, and thou shalt teach them diligently to thy children, and shalt talk of them, when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou li. est down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them as a sign on thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes, and thou shalt write them on the doors of thine house and on thy gates.
The Psalmist, in later times, repeats these in. structions. “Give ear,
“Give ear, O my people, to my law, incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known and our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from our children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and the wonderful works, which he hath done. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children, that the generation to come might know them, even the children, who should be born, who should arise and declare them to their children, that they might set their hope in God, and not forget his works, but keep his commandments.
From God's giving us his holy oracles we may conclude their vast importance.
He would not have inspired men by his own Spirit, nor have sent down his divine Son from heaven to instruct men in the knowledge of his I will, if this knowledge had been of little consequence, or if it could with facility and certainty have been obtained in any other way.
Jf the scriptures are important to us, they are so to our children ; and if the conveyance of thein de. pends on our care, we are under the most serious obligations to attend to this object.
The succession of the human race will doubtless be continued for many ages. The numbers that