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hear of the death of his children, with chastised regret, but when the ark of God was taken, when the delight of his heart, the hope of his country, the glory of Israel, was gone, overpowered with sorrow, his spirit failed him, he fell, and died.
Long, thou venerable seer, long as the scriptures shall endure, shall piety turn with fondness to thy story; and animated by thy example, may every friend of virtue, who cannot behold the happiness or misery of his fellow creatures, with cold insensibility, esteem religion as the guardian of his race; and consider all attacks upon her ministers and services, as arrows aimed at the shades of his ancestors, and the dearest interests of the world.
ON THE FAITH AND DOCTRINES OF THE
He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath
one that judgeth him. The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him, in the last day. John xii.
The religion of nature, is the law of God, speaking by the voice of reason. The religion of the gospel, is the law of God, speaking by the revelation of Jesus. Each of these laws might be deservedly called a great salvation, the former as the basis of all true religion, the latter as the consummation of all God's religious dispensations to mankind.
The world abounds with commentaries on the law of nature, and on the law of christianity; but the misfortune is, that most men regard the study of these laws, rather as an exercise of the mind, in the way of curious
speculation, than as an interesting pursuit, which concerns both their opinions, and their practice; which is just the same folly, as would be charged on those, who should spend their lives, in studying the municipal laws of their country, with a total unconcern about the observance of them, in their own persons.
Indeed the penal sanctions which attend the violation of these laws, would presently reclaim the student from this folly, and remind him of the end, to which his skill and knowledge in them, should be principally directed-and if, in the study of general morals, or of revealed religion, he neglect to refer his speculation to practice, it is only because their penalties are less instant, or less constraining; and not that either the law of nature, or the law of the gospel, is without its proper and suitable sanctions.
These sanctions, as to the law of nature, as little as they are sometimes considered, are easily pointed out. For who, that grossly offends against that law, but is punished with self-contempt, with an anxious dread of that power which inscribed the law on his heart, and will, some way or other, secure the honour of it; by a sensible diminution of his health, fortune, or reputation, by the decline of his faculties and understanding, by the distresses entailed upon his posterity, by his disgust of this life, and a trembling apprehension of what may befall him in a future ?
By these penalties is the law of nature enforced ; and they are such, as must convince a thinking man, that his true interest lies in the observance of that law-at the same time, it must be owned, that this law is strict and severe, -it punishes with rigour, and rewards sparingly. Disobedience is certain, often intense misery, while the most punctual compliance with it, secures but a moderate enjoyment of this life, and only a glimmering hope of happiness in another.
Yet this is the law, which many, it seems, had rather live and die under, than accept the benefit of a far better. . For,
It pleased God, in compassion to his creature man, not to leave him
under this law, but, by a special revelation of his will, to lead him, by wholesome discipline, to the religion of his Son, whose errand into the world was the most important, which ever entered into the conception of rational beings, or which was ever proposed in the providence of God.
* Of this vast and sublime purpose, the preaching of the gospel was a primary, and indispensable part. For this office our Lord was preeminently and divinely qualified. The duty, and spiritual necessities of man, he thoroughly understood, and together with these, the sins and ignorance of those to whom he was sent, their opposition to his precepts, their hatred of truth, and their reluctance to embrace those blessings, which in justice they had no reason to expect, and no means, in nature, to procure. The same perfect acquaintance he also possessed, with the design and import of the preceding revelation, its types, prophecies, and commands, the false glosses made on its contents, by the Jewish elders, and the miserable prejudices imbibed by those, whom they taught. These errors he detected and exposed, the sins of his