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alted as the oracles of reason, were borrowed at first from the Scriptures. At all events, human precepts, though ever so wise or reasonable, can never be set forth as the standard of religious truth; because they are destitute of those Divine sanctions which are requisite to give them proper authority.
On the contrary, the real excellence of the doctrines and precepts of the Bible, their obvious tendency to promote our welfare, and, above all, their Divine inspiration, stamp a value upon the Sacred Book containing them, which nothing can efface.
Other discoveries, such as those which are made in science, beneficial as they undoubtedly are to: society, refer only to the transient interests of the present life. But the grand truths of our holy religion have a more sublime origin, and a more noble end: they come down from the Father of Lights; and, whilst they grant their friendly aid to conduct us safely through this benighted wilderness, they, at the same time, point " to fairer worlds on high;" where, if we have died in the faith of Christ, we shall: realize those gracious promises with which they have cheered our path below.
4. Whether we consider the character of the donor, or the nature of the grant which he has made, the Bible will unquestionably appear to be a gift of inconceivable value. God, the King of heaven, has conferred it upon us. Now, as he never acts without: a design worthy of himself, we must conclude that the donation of the Scriptures is a gift as necessary as it is important.
The Israelites were taught to consider themselves: as a people distinguished above every other, " chiefly: because that unto them were committed the Oracles of God." Our privileges greatly exceed theirs.:
d Rom, iij. 2, Deut. iv. 1—9.
They had nothing but the types and shadows of good things to come: we have the very substance and reality of them. They had only indistinct views of the glory of Messiah's kingdom, the whole splendour of which was reserved to illuminate us Gentiles. They had but a portion of the Sacred Books which comprise the Canon of Scripture: we are in possession of the whole..
5. The quality of a gift increases or diminishes its value. We esteem some things more than others, either on account of their intrinsic excellence, or because they are more necessary to our comfort, of are more seasonably bestowed. In these respects, the Scriptures are inestimably precious. What gift could be more important, or more needed by the world, than the Gospel? Before the advent of Jesus, mankind, not liking to retain God in their knowledge, "became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish hearts were darkened." And when Christ came, the moral and religious aspect of the world was not a whit better. At that memorable æra, philosophy had exerted its ingenuity in vain, to find out the road to happiness. Various opinions were offered concerning the origin of evil, and the best means of obviating its effects. But human sagacity was incapable of discovering the cause, or of estimating the malignity of the disease, much less of devising a cure. Depravity still lifted up its deformed head, and refused to yield to the insufficient remedies which philosophy proposed. Now, the wisdom of God was seen triumphing over the boasted reason and science of this world. Now, the auspicious hour was come, for the Only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, to reveal the counsels of mercy to ruined men. Accordingly, as soon as the Incar
• Rom. i. 21-29.
nate Word entered on his ministry, he proclaimed, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel." "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness, but have the light of life." This message, first uttered by Christ, afterwards by his Apostles, and now by faithful Ministers, has been joyfully received by thousands, who, in consequence thereof, have turned from idolatry and iniquity, to "serve the Living and True God, and to wait for his Son from heaven"."
The change effected in the morals, religion, and habits of this favoured country should induce us to venerate the Scriptures, which, under the blessing of Heaven, have been the principal cause of so marvellous a reformation. Viewed in this light, they merit the high eulogium pronounced on them by the Psalmist: "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple: the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes: the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether; more to be desired are they than gold, yea, than fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honey-comb: moreover, by them is thy servant warned, and in keeping of them there is great rewardi."
'Mark i. 15.
John xii. 46. viii. 12.
ON THE STATE OF INNOCENCE IN PARADISE.
'Ecclesiastes vii. 29. Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.
GOD undoubtedly made our first parents upright and happy. Yet so short was the continuance of primæval bliss, that but little notice is taken of it by Moses. Sufficient, however, is said concerning it, to afford us a faint conception of its supreme excellence; and, consequently, of the dreadful loss sustained by them, and their posterity, when it was forfeited. We shall cursorily touch upon the perfection and felicity of that blessed state.
That it was a condition of great moral excellence, we learn from the sacred historian's concise account of man's original formation: "So God created man in his own image; in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them"."
The expression is doubled, that it may more engage our attention, and ensure our belief. This image. and likeness of God cannot be in the body: for God is a spirit, which no bodily shape can in any respect resemble. We must therefore look for it in the soul; and there we shall find it, according to the measure in which finite can resemble Infinite Being. Even in the present state of human nature, the soul of man bears some faint resemblance to its Maker. The understanding, memory, and imagination, in their several operations, exhibit a faint shadow of the Divine wisdom and knowledge: the will, and the powers of action which it commands, have some similitude ⚫ Jer. xi. 2. Gen. i. 27.
to the almighty effects of the Divine volition; and shew that mind can act on matter, though we cannot explain in what manner: nay, conscience, in the exercise of her dictatorial and judicial functions, gives a feeble reflection of the justice and holiness of the Judge of All; whilst the derived and dependent immortality of the human soul reminds us of Him who is self-existent and eternal bb.
Christians, who become (through renewing grace, in the most important respects) what Adam was by creation, bear a measure at least of resemblance to God: they have "put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness";" or, as it is elsewhere expressed, they "have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him who created him"."
1. With these spiritual gifts, Adam and Eve were endued in that degree which was suited to their condition as creatures, in whom such perfections must necessarily be limited. In the constitution and disposition of their minds they were naturally good and upright. Integrity, with all its attendant beauties, formed the element, habit, and delight of their souls. They were so thoroughly conformed to the Divine. law, which was substantially engraven on their hearts, as to be able to obey all its precepts: and their constant observance of that law constituted the righteousness of their state before God. Thus the unwearied pursuit of holiness was the great object, to the attainment of which their endeavours were to be directed.
This righteousness would evince itself in their perfect accordance with the will of Heaven. There
bb Scott's Commentary on Genesis i. 26, 27.
Ephes. iv. 24,