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shall be taken up into heaven, which is a state of pleasure and bappiness, if they have been good and holy in this world; but if they have been wicked cbildren, they must go down to hell, which is a state of misery and torment.
5. They may also be informed, that though their bodies die and are buried, yet God can and will raise them to life again; and that their body and soul together must be made happy or miserable according to their behaviour in this life.
6. They may be taught, that there is no way for such sinful creatures as we are to be received into God's favour, but for the sake of Jesus Christ the Son of God; who came down from heaven into our world, and lived a life of pure and perfect holiness, and suffered death, to reconcile sinners to the great and holy God, who is offended by the sins of men ; and now he lives in heaven to plead for mercy for them; and that as this Jesus Christ is the only Reconciler between God and man, so all their hope must be placed in him.
7. They may be taught, that their very natures are sinful; they may be convinced, that they are inclined to do evil; and they should be informed, that it is the holy Spirit of God who must cure the evil temper of their own spirits, and make them holy and fit to dwell with God in heaven.
8. They should also be instructed to pray to God, that for the sake of Jesus Christ, the great Mediator or Reconciler, he would pardon their sins past, and help them by his Spirit to love and serve him with zeal and faithfulness for the time to come; that he would bestow all necessary blessings upon them in this world, and bring them safe at last to his heavenly kingdom.
9. In the last place, they should be informed that our blessed Saviour has appointed two ordinances to be observed by all bis followers to the end of the world, which are usually called sacraments. The one is baptism, wherein persons are to be washed with water in the name of the Faiher, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, to signify their being given up to Christ as his disciples, or professors of Christianity ; und as an emblem of that purity of heart and life, which, as such, they must aiın at and endeavour after. The other is the Lord's supper, wherein bread is broken, and wine is poured out, and distributed, to be caten aod drank by Christians in remembrance of the body of Christ, which was put to a bloody death, as a sacrifice to obtain pardon for the sins of men. The first of these, namely, baptism, is but once to be adininistered to any person ; but the last, damely, the Lord's supper, is to be frequently performed, to keep us always in mind of the death of Christ, till he come again from heaven to judge the world.
This is the sum and substance of the Christian religion, drawn out into a very few plain articles; and a child of common capacity, who is arrived at three or four years of age, may be taught some part of these articles, and may learn to understand them all at seven, or eight, or nine ; at least so far as is needful, for all his own exercises of devotion and piety. As his age increases, he may be instructed more at large in the principles and practices of our holy religion, as will be sbewn more particularly in the following article and in other parts of this work.
ON THE STUDY OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES. .
The first Book in the Bible, called GENESIS, contains an account of the most grand, and, to us, the most interesting events that ever happened in the universe. The creation of the world, and of man—the deplorable fall of man, from his first state of excellence and bliss, to the distressed condition in which we see all his descendants continue the sentence of death pronounced on Adam, and on all his race, with the reviving promise of that deliverance, which has since been wrought for us by our blessed Saviour—the account of the early state of the world of the universal deluge-the division of mankind into different nations and languages-the story of Abraham, the founder of the Jewish people, whose unshaken faith and obedience, under the severest trial human Rature could sustain, obtained such favour in the sight of God, that he vouchsafed to style him his friend, and promised to make of his posterity a great nation; and that in his seed, that is, in one of his descendants, all the kingdoms of the earth should be blessed: this, you will easily see, refers to the Messiah, who was to be the blessing and deliverance of all nations. It is amazing that the Jews, possessing this prophecy among many others, should have been so blinded by prejudice, as to have expected, from this great personage, only a temporal deliverance of their own nation froin the subjection to which they were reduced under the Romans : it is equally amazing, that some
Christians should, even now, confine the blessed effects of his appearance upon earth to this or that particular sect or profession, when he is so clearly and emphatically described as the Saviour of the world! The story of Abraham's proceeding to sacrifice bis only son, at the command of God, is affecting in the highest degree, and sets forth a pattern of unlimited resignation, that every one ought to imitate, in those trials of obedience under temptation, or of acquiescence under afflicting dispensations, which fall to their lot; of this we may be assured, that our trials will be always proportioned to the powers afforded us: if we have not Abraham's strength of mind, neither shall we be called upon to lift the bloody knife against the bosom of an only child: but, if the almighty arm should be lifted up against him, we must be ready to resign him, and all we hold dear, to the divine will. This action of Abraham has been censured by some, who do not attend to the distinction between obedience to a special coin mand, and the detestably cruel sacrifices of the heathens, who sometimes voluntarily, and without any divine injunctions, offered up their own children, under the notion of appeasing the anger of their gods. An absolute command from God himself, as in the case of Abraham, entirely alters the moral nature of the action; since he, and he only, has a perfect right over the lives of his creatures, and may appoint whom he will, either angel or man, to be his instrument of destruction. That it was really the voice of God, which pronounced the command, and not a delusion, might be made certain to Abraham's mind, by means we do not comprehend, but which we know to be within the power of him who made our souls as well as bodies, and who can controul and direct every faculty of the human mind : and we may be assured, that if he was pleased to reveal himself so miraculously, he would not leave a possibility of doubting whether it was a real or an imaginary revelation : thus the sacrifice of Abraham appears to be clear of all superstition, and remains the noblest instance of religious faith and submission that was ever given by a mere man: we cannot wonder that the blessings bestowed on him for it should have been extended to his posterity. This book proceeds with the history of Isaac, which becomes very interesting to us, from the touching scene I have mentioned, and still more so, if we consider him as the type of our Saviour: it recounts his marriage with Rebeccathe birth and history of his two sons, Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes, and Esau, the father of the Edomites or Idumeans the exquisitely affecting story of Joseph and his bretbren-and of his transplanting the Israelites into Egypt, who there multiplied to a great nation.
In Exodus, you read of a series of wonders, wrought by the Almighty, to rescue the oppressed Israelites from the cruel tyranny of the Egyptians, who, having first received them as guests, by degrees reduced them to a state of slavery. By the most peculiar mercies and exertions in their favour, God prepared his chosen people to receive with reverent and obedient hearts, the solemn restitution of those primitive laws, which probably he had revealed to Adam and his immediate descendants, or which, at least, he inade known by the dictates of conscience, but which time, and the degeneracy of mankind, had much obscured. This important revelation was made to them in the Wilderness of Sinai : there assembled before the burning mountain, surrounded “ with blackness, and darkness, and tempests, they heard the awful voice of God pronounce the eternal law, impressing it on their hearts, with circumstances of terror, but without those encouragements and those excellent promises, which were afterwards offered to mankind by Jesus Christ. Thus were the great laws of morality restored to the Jews, and through them transmitted to other nations; and by that means a great restraint was opposed to the torrent of vice and impiety, which began to prevail over the world.
To those moral precepts which are of perpetual and universal obligation, were superadded, by the ministration of Moses, many peculiar institutions, wisely adapted to different ends either to fix the memory of those past deliverances, which were figurative of a future and far greater salvation-to place inviolable barriers between the Jews and the idolatrous nations, by whom they were surrounded-or to be the civil law, by which the community was to be governed.
To conduct this series of events, and to establish these laws with his people, God raised up that great prophet Moses, whose faith and piety enabled him to undertake and execute the most 'arduous enterprises, and to pursue with unabated zeat the welfare of his countrymen ; even in the hour of bis death, this generous ardour still prevailed: his last moments were employed in fervent prayers for their prosperity, and in rapturous gratitude for the glimpse vouchsafed him of a Saviour, far greater than himself, whom God would one day raise up to his people.
Thus did Moses, by the excellency of his faith, obtain a glorious pre-eminence among the saints and prophets in heaven; while, on earth, he will be ever revered, as the first of those benefactors to mankind, whose labours for the public good have endeared their memory to all ages.
The next book is LEVITICUS, which contains little besides the laws for the peculiar ritual observance of the Jews, and therefore affords no great instruction to us now, you may pass it over for the present as well as the first eight chapters of NUMBERS. "The rest of Numbers is chieħy a continuation of the history, with some ritual laws.
In DEUTERONOMY, Moses inakes a recapitulation of the foregoing history, with zealous exhortations to the people, faithfully to worship and obey that God, who had worked such amazing wonders for them: he promises them the noblest tein poral blessings, if they prove obedient, and adds the most awful and striking denunciations against them, if they rebel or forsake the true God. It has been before observed, that the sanctions of the Mosaic law were temporal rewards and punishments; those of the New Testament are eternal: these last, as they are so infinitely more forcible than the first, were reserved for the last, best gift to mankind, and were revealed by the Messiah, in the fullest and clearest manner. Moses, in this book, directs the method in which the Israelites were to deal with the seven nations, whom they were appointed to punish for their proAligacy and idolatry; and whose land they were to possess, when they had driven out the old inhabitants. He gives them excellent laws, civil as well as religious, which were ever after the standing municipal laws of that people. This book concludes with Moses's song and death.
The book of Joshua contains the conquests of the Israelites over the seven nations, and their establishment in the promised land. Their treatment of these conquered nations must appear very cruel and unjust, if you consider it as their own act, unauthorized by a positive command; but they had the most absolute injunctions not to spare these corrupt people; " to make no covenant with thein, nor shew mercy to them, but utterly to destroy them.”
And the reason is given, “ lest they should turn away the Israelites from following the Lord, that they might serve other gods." (Deut. chap. ii.) The children of Israel are to be considered as instruments in the hand of the Lord, to punish those whose idolatry and wickedness had deservedly brought destruction on them: this example