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to the suggestions of the reasonable nature with which we are distinguished-that we should use and not abuse the gifts of his love. Seeing that we are surrounded with creatures of like feelings, passions, wants, capacities, and frailties with ourselves, and perceiving that they in common with ourselves are the subjects of the Divine bounty, the dependents upon Providence-we may hence infer, that in order to please God, we must do justly and love mercy; or, in other words, we must do unto others as we would that they should do unto us. These views of God and of human duty, result from serious meditation, upon the things that are made,' and are a part of that religion which nature teaches.
But God has not left us to derive our knowledge of him, of our obligations to him, and of our duties as reasonable and social creatures, only by meditations upon the things which he hath made and the circumstances in which he hath placed us in the world. He who manifested himself to men, in early times, chiefly, through the operations of nature, continually doing them good and showering down his blessings upon them, gave them, moreover, a clearer knowledge of himself and of his merciful designs for their present and eternal happiness, by holy men who spake as they were moved by his spirit.'
Religion henceforth assumed a higher character and put forth greater pretensions. She was no longer reduced to the necessity of appealing only to nature, in order to prove that her laws were man's best guide, and that his observance of them
was essential to his welfare, but she delivered her precepts in the name of the Lord. She asserted a divine commission to make known to man, truths, which could not be discovered by the light of nature. He whom men worshiped as the ' unknown God,' was henceforth revealed as the Father of Mankind. Life and immortality were. brought to light by the Gospel of Jesus. Mens' former inattention to the dictates of reason, and their culpable ignorance of the character and attributes of the Being, of whom, all nature testifies, were declared to have been overlooked. All men were commanded forthwith to repent, and to bring forth fruits meet for repentance; Because,' says the apostle, God hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.'
Thus what nature had testified of the Being and attributes of God-of man's duty to God, and to his fellow creatures, revelation confirmed; and it added thereunto, many new and most interesting facts. True religion, therefore, both natural and revealed, has for its object the encouraging of man to cherish a reverential regard to the Creator of the universe, and a deep feeling of his own accountability for the proper use of the privi leges and blessings which he hath bestowed upon him. Its laws are not compounded of mere arbitrary enactments, having little or no obvious reference to the powers, capacities, condition, and circumstances, of the beings for whose use and
government they were made; but they are com→ posed of precepts, founded in the nature of things, adapted to man's circumstances, necessary for his well-being and happiness: They are profitable to him for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the rational creature of God may be perfect, and thoroughly furnished unto all good works. This, I take to be, t the great end of religion, both natural and re vealed: and, so far as the sanctions and the doctrines, of the one, and of the other, are calculated to produce these effects, they are beneficial and divine: and where this is not the case, although they may have descended to us from ancient times, and have been taught in creeds and missals, and have been decreed sacred and true, and have been upheld by power, advocated by talent, and graced by fashion, they must be classed amongst the offspring of prejudice, and the visions of su† perstition.....
But here a most important question arises. How, says the inquirer, shall I discover truth and reject falsehood? By what rule shall I ascertain whether the precepts and doctrines that are propounded to me, really, have the sanction of genuine religion? We will proceed, briefly, to reply to this question.
We have already observed that, the Creator may be known by his works: or, in the words of the apostle; The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made:' that, from the same sources, we derive much knowledge of
what he requireth of us, as creatures whom he hath endowed with reason, and associated with beings of like nature with ourselves. We remarked, moreover, that 'revelation confirms the knowledge which men derive from meditations upon the works of God; that it adds thereunto, many new and most interesting facts, and presents to their minds other and more powerful motives' for the diligent performance of duty. So that, we perceive, the Divine Being hath provided the means whereby truth may be discovered, in the very nature and constitution of the system with which we are connected. In fact, truth has been, justly, defined to be, the agreement of our ideas, words and actions, with the real nature and state of things.' Here, then, we have a test, by which, in all those branches of knowledge more immediately necessary to our welfare-in every thing that concerns the chief duties and relations of our being, we may try our principles and actions, and form a tolerably correct judgment, as to what is good or evil, true or false. In proportion as men have paid a due regard to this test, their ideas of God and of their duty have been refined and enlarged, and the beneficial consequences of such attention have been visible in their condition; but, whensoever, either through the darkness of mind which never fails to accompany a too great devotion to sensual pleasures and pursuits, or the obliquity of judgment which is produced by teaching the fear of God, not after the testimony of his works, but after the traditions and precepts of men, they have been induced to disregard and contemn
this test, and to reject it as their rule in principle and practice, the truth of God has been changed into a lie the creature has been worshiped and served rather than the Creator; and superstition, vice, and misery, have been suffered to defeat the best purposes and hopes of humanity.
But it may be asked, how is it possible to make a rule, generally applicable, which requires a vast amount of previous knowledge in the person using it? How can it be of service amongst the greater portion of the human race, made up, as that portion is, of unlettered, inexperienced, men? The application of the rule requires a knowledge too profound, and an experience too extensive, for the generality of men to pretend to? This, as it seems to me, is an objection more plausible than solid. The Divine Being has so constituted the nature and circumstances of man, that in some cases, his very existence, and in all cases, his improvement and happiness, depend, upon his adherence to truth; while his bane and his misery are no less intimately connected with error. It cannot be, that, under the government of a Being of perfect goodness, the discovery of all truth, more immediately, necessary, to the welfare of man, should, to an honest and ingenuous mind, be an uncertain or difficult matter. I would not, indeed, be understood to say, that there do not frequently occur cases, in the eventful life of man, wherein the wisest, the most patient investigator, would be baffled in his researches; but that, as it respects homely, practical, every-day, truthstruths, which make men upright and useful mem