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ings. We have no rational account any where else of a method for restoring a world ruined by vice.
Ini Scripture we have this great defideratum: Holy Scripture shines forth conspicuous by its own native heavenly fpendour; Enlightening the darkness, and clearing the doubts, which, from the beginning of the world, hung upon the minds of the wifest and best of men, with refpect to the important points, of the most acceptable manner of worshipping God; of the possibility of gaining the Divine Favour and the pardon of lin; of a future state of retribution; and of the proper immortality, or perpetual existence of the foul: Giving more clear, rational and sublime notions of God; teaching a more perfect method of worshipping and serving Him; and prescribing to mankind a distinct and explicit rule of life, guarded with the most awful sanctions, and attended with the most unquestionable evidences, internal and external, of Divine Authority. Bringing to light various important and interesting truths, which no human sagacity could have found out'; and establishing and confirming others, which, though pretended to have been discoverable by reason, yet greatly needed superior confirmation. Not only enlightening thofe countries, on which its direct beams have shone with their full splendour; but breaking through the clouds of heathenism, and superstition, darting some of its Divine rays to the most diftant parts of the world, and aifording á glimmering light to the most barbarous nations, without which they had been buried in total darkness and ignorance as to moral and religious knowledge. Drawing aside the veil of time, and opening a prospect into eternity, and the world of spirits. Exhibiting a scheme of things incomparably more sublime than is any were else to be found; in which various orders of being, angels, archangels, thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, rise in their several degrees, and tower above another toward the perfection of the Divine Nature; in comparison of which, however, they are all as nothing. Holy Scripture, in a word, takes in whatever of great, or good, can be con: ceived by a rational mind in the present state ; whaterer can be of use for railing, refining, and spiritualising
human nature; for making this world a paradise, and mankind angels; for qualifying them for that eternal bliss and glory, which was the end of their being. And it is highly probable, that while the world ftands, learned and inquisitive men will be from time to time discovering new wonders of Divine Wisdom in that inexhaustible treasure. The continual improvement of knowledge of all kinds, and the farther and farther completion of prophecy, give reason to expect this. They, who know what amaz. ing lights have been struck out by Mede, Locke, and a few others who have pursued their plan, will readily agree, ihat, as a century or two past have shewn us the Bible in a light, in which it was probably never seen before, fince the apostolic age; so a century or two to come may (if mankind do not give over the study of Scripture) exbibit it in a light at present inconceivable.
That it may in a satisfactory manner appear, how important the subjects, how wide the extent, and how noble the discoveries of Scripture are; it may be proper
to trace the outlines of the vast and various prospect it exhibits, I mean, to range in order the principal subjects of Revelation, as they lie in the holy books. This I will endeavour to draw out of the Bible itself, in such a manner as one wholly a stranger to our systems and controversies, and who had studied Scripture only, might be supposed to do it.
Holy Scripture begins with informing us, that God was the Author and Creator of the Universe; which truth is also consistent with human reason; and the direct consequence to be drawn from it is, That all creatures and things are his, and that all thinking beings ought to dedicate themselves to his service, to whom they owe their existence, and whatever they have, or hope for. As the Almighty Creator is a pure fpirit, wholly separate from matter, or corporeal organs of any kind, it is evident, that what he produces, he does by an immediate act of volition. His power reaching to the performance of all poslible things, nothing can refist his will. So that his willing, or defiring a thing to be, is producing it. His saying, or thinking, Let there be light, is creating light.
Scripture informs us, that the human species begun in two persons, one of each sex, created by God, and by himself put directly in the mature state of life; whereas all the particulars of the species, who have been fince produced, have been created indeed by God, but introduced into human life by the instrumentality of parents. We learn from Scripture, that the first of our species were brought into being, not only in a state of innocence, or capacity for virtue, but likewise naturally immortal, being bleft with constitutions fo formed, that they would of themselves have continued uninjured by time, till it should have been thought proper to remove the species to a new and more spiritual state.
The appointment of one day in seven, as a day of relt; the fanctifying a seventh part of our time to religious purposes, was an ordinance worthy of God; and the account we have in Scripture of its having been appointed so early, by Divine Authority, and as a law for the whole world, explains how we come to find the observance of a seventh day as sacred, by universal custom, mentioned in such ancient writers as Homer, Hefiod, and Callimachus. Nor can any appointment be imagined more fit for keeping up an appearance of religion among mankind, than this. Stated folemnities, returning periodically, have, by the wisdom of all, lawgivers, been thought the best expedients for keeping up the lasting remembrance of remarkable events. And it is evident, that no event better deserved to be kept in remembrance than that of the completing of the work of creation ; till such time as the work of redemption, the second and best creation of man, was completed in the resurrection of the Saviour of the World. Upon which the first Christians fanctified the first day of the week, and, according to the best authority now to be had, the seventh likewise ; though neither with the strictness required by the Mofaic Constitution ; but with that decent liberty, with which Christianity makes its votaries free.
The design of creating the human species, was to put them in the way toward such a happiness as should be fit and suitable to the nature of free moral agents. This rendered it necessary to place them in a state of dif
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cipline; the only possible method for learning virtue; and we accordingly find a leffon of obedience *
prefcribed then immediately on their coming into existence. A law, to all appearance, very easy to keep. Only to abstain wholly from one particular indulgence, being at liberty, within the bounds of moderation, with respect to others. In the state of things at that time, it would not have been easy to prescribe a particular trial, which should not turn upon the government of passion or appetite. Being the only two on the face of the earth, they could not be guilty of a breach of duty to fellow-creatures. And with the frequent intercourse, Scripture gives us reason to think, they had with angels, and celestial beings, they could hardly bring themselves to any positive violation of their duty to God; and were under no temptation to neglect it. That they should fall into this fatal transgression of the first law given for trial of their obedience, was to be expected from beings newly created, and wholly unexperienced and unprincipled. Thus we see, that young children have no fixed principles sufficient to prevent their yielding to temptation : for virtue is an attachment to rectitude, and abhorrence of all moral evil, arising from reason, experience, and habit. But though this, and other deviations from obedience, were to be expected from the first of mankind, it does not follow, that such deviations were wholly innocent. Pitiable undoubtedly their case was, and the rather, in that they were milled by temptation from a wicked being more experienced than themselves. Accordingly their case, and that of the rest of the species, has found such pity, and such interpositions have been made in their favour, as we have reason, from Scripture, to fuppose other offending orders of beings, particularly the fallen angels, have not been favoured with. For it is expressly said, that nothing equivalent to the Christian Scheme of Restoration and Salvation has been planned out in favour of them; but that they are left to the consequences of their disobedience.
This point is not here stated as the author now thinks it ought. See wie Note page 252.
The natural tendency of the least deviation from moral rectitude is so dreadfully and extensively fatal, as to render it highly necessary that the righteous Governor of the World ihould inflict some signal and permanent mark of his displeasure on the occasion of the first transgression of the first of the species. As a wise father, who has found his child once guilty of a breach of truth, or any other foul crime, seems at first to disbelieve it, and then punishes him with the loss of his favour for a very long time after, and otherwise; in such a manner as may be likely to make a lasting impression on his mind, and deter him from a repetition of his fault. Scripture informs us, accordingly, that immediately upon the first offence, the trangreffors, and in them the whole species, were sunk from their natural immortality, and condemned to a state obnoxious to death.
Whether eating the forbidden fruit was not the natural, as well as judicial cause of disease and death, it is needless to dispute; but what is said of the tree of life in the book of Genesis, and afterwards in the Apocalypse, as if it were a natural antidote, or cure for mortality, and the means of preserving life, is very remarkable.
. Death, the consequence of the first transgression, and which has been merited by innumerable succeding offences, was pronounced upon mankind, on purpose to be to all ages a standing memorial of the Divine displeasure against disobedience. With the same view also, Scripture informs us, the various natural evils, of the barrenness of the earth, inclement seasons, and the other grievances, under which nature at present groans, were inflicted; that men might no where turn their eyes or their thoughts, where they should not meet a caveat against vice and irregularity.
Here I cannot help observing, by the by, in how ridiculous a light the Scripture account of ihe fatal and important consequences of the first transgression shews the usual superficial apologies made by wretched mortals in excuse of their vices and follies. One crime is the effect of thoughtlesness. They did not, forsooth, consider how bad such an action was. Another is a natural action. Drunkenness is only an immoderate indulFf3