Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

Moralists, then, may boast of their dignity as they please our religion is made for men who have lost their dignity; and it will succeed only upon those who glory in their infirmities, and determine to know nothing but Christ crucified. He who sets up his dignity, independent of revelation and divine grace, hath forgotten that he was baptized; and hath invented a new Gospel, as subversive of the old, as the vain traditions of the Scribes and Pharisees were subversive of the Mosaic Law. The wise men of this world (as they think and call themselves) err grossly upon this subject; giving us representations of human nature, as much differing from fact, as the et, as the scenery of pastoral, with all the artificial ornaments of poetry, differs from the ignorance and rusticity of real life. In this our modern reasoners are condemned by the Heathens, who have left us true and striking descriptions of human corruption. They never pretended that their religion was natural: their gods were traditional; they were the gods of their fathers; they signified the different powers of the created world; and their whole ritual was a system of expiation by sacrifice, such as natural religion never owned nor thought of. Let scholars consider this fact*.

* Heathens did not allow of a light of nature as a sufficient guide in religion or civil life: and their writings abound with testimonies of its insufficiency and corruption.

Nec natura potest justo secernere iniquum.

HOR. Sat. lib. i. 3.

Ποτερον ουν παντες πίνουσι τον πλανον η ου ; παντες πινουσιν, εφη. "Do all mankind drink of the cup of error when they come into life? Yea, said he, they all drink of it." Cebes in Tab.

Αθανατους μεν πρωτα θεους, νομω ως διακειται

Τιμα

"Worship the immortal gods as it is laid down by the law." However we take this precept, which is as it were the first command

Another observation which occurs is this; that if children are born in sin, and nature has this propensity to evil, parents and teachers may thence understand, how absolutely necessary it is for them to begin their instructions early; to bend nature, while it is tender and will yield to correction: for the sin that is bred in them will grow, if it be neglected, as fast as they grow; its seeds will strike deep root into the soil and afterwards, when you would sow the seeds of godliness, you find the ground occupied (past all recovery) with the weeds of nature.

Lastly, as the origin of evil is a question which has tortured the wits of men in all ages, let this consideration satisfy us, that God has permitted evil for the sake only of greater good: that his attributes and divine powers could never have been understood and admired by us, if they had not been opened by that scheme of redemption, in which mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Never let us torment ourselves with asking the question-" could not God have prevented the fall of man?" Thus the Jews ignorantly reasoned about the death of Lazarus-" could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that this man should not have died?" To be sure he could; but the glory of God, and the instruction of mankind, were better secured by his death, than they could have been by his preservation. Therefore Christ said of his sickness, this sickness is not unto death; it hath not happened

ment of heathenism, nothing can be found in it like what is now called natural religion. For, if voμos, law, here signifies the law of nature, then they held polytheism to be natural: if it means the common law of cities and kingdoms, then it puts all men under the traditionary worship of their country, and refers them only to the gods of their fathers.

that death may be at the end of it, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby. Lazarus died, that Jesus might raise him up; and man is fallen, that God may be glorified in his restoration. Here every wise and good man will rest; this consideration is sufficient for us at present; and as for those deep counsels of God into which we are now not able to penetrate, let us trust, that they will be farther revealed to us in a better state. "When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away."

THE

BOOK OF NATURE;

OR,

THE TRUE SENSE OF THINGS,

EXPLAINED AND MADE EASY

TO THE

CAPACITIES OF CHILDREN.

IN TWO PARTS.

ADVERTISEMENT.

THE first part of the following work is extant in a French translation; and may be purchased, for the use of such young people as are learning that language, with the English, at Messrs. Robinson's, Paternoster-row.

To MRS. W——, of G————

MADAM,

I HAVE been looking out for some good mother, who takes delight in the education of her own children, and is capable of teaching them in a proper manner.

I have long wished to see what effect it will have upon the understandings of children, if we teach them knowledge, (especially the knowledge of the Scripture) by things instead of words; and I find you a proper person to make the experiment

for me.

With this view I send you a little book of Lessons, which is my first essay on this new plan of instruction. I cannot recommend it to you as a regular system, because I have taken my several subjects as they happened to present themselves to my thoughts. But if my principle is right, you will soon find the good effects of it. If it should fail, I shall rest satisfied, that with such a mother, and such children, it has had a fair trial.

I recommend you and them, and my own endeavours, to the blessing of God.

« VorigeDoorgaan »