Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][merged small]

oN THE MANNER PURsu ED BY Divine PROv IDENce, To PRESERVE THE D6CTRINEs of PURE RELIGION AND MORALITY AMONG THE HEBREws, FROM THE corRUPTIONS OF SURROUNDING NATIONS.

IN the preceding chapter we have shewn, that under the Jewish Dispensation, it was an important object to inculcate just, reverential, and sublime sentiments of religion, and to impress upon the mind the grand duty of Obedience. It was also proved, that this obedience consisted in a perfect confidence in the Divine administration, unreserved submission to the Divine will, and a strict conformity to all the duties of morality: that is, in principles and dispositions essential to human happiness. The Jewish people were instructed in the doctrines of religion and morality, in a manner, and to an extent, totally unknown to the Pagan world. As this people were, in the course of human events, to be perpetually exposed to all

|

the ignorance and vices of surrounding nations,
and to the seductive influence of example, every
expedient was employed to counteract the inju-
rious effects of example, that was consistent
with the primitive constitution of man ; that
might do honour to the freedom of his choice,
and render all the offices of piety, and the prac-
tice of every virtue, the acts of a wise mind,
and well-regulated dispositions. -
The accomplishment of this purpose required
a process which was to continue many ages, and
to be conducted through manifold contingences,
which might arise during so long a period. The
nature of these contingent circumstances, and
the manner in which the grand design was
effected, now demand our attention.
- The subject is extensive, and it consists of
various branches, which, notwithstanding their
diversity, have an intimate relation to the grand
object. In treating it we shall observe the fol-
lowing order.
I. We shall consider the early state of the
world, respecting Religion.
II. The selection of a particular family in
order to prevent an universal apostasy from
Monotheism, or the principles of true religion;
and also the deliverance of this family from a

state of bondage.

III. The religious Ceremonies instituted during the sojournment of the Hebrews in the wilderness; their nature and object. .

IV. The propensity of the Hebrews to Idolatry, and its causes : The nature and pernicious influence of idolatry; and the injunctions necessary to preserve this people from its fatal seductions.

W. The religious and moral character of the Israelites, under the different forms of government, with the correspondent consequences produced.

VI. The instrumentality of the Prophets of Jehovah, in the preservation of true religion.

VII. The Captivity of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and its salutary effects in the final establishment of Monotheism in the land of Judea.

SECT. I.

CURSORY VIEW of THE EARLY STATE" of THE - world, RESPECTING RELIGION.

IT being the chief object of the sacred historian to treat of the theological and moral history of this selected nation, the events of several preceding ages are passed over in the most rapid manner. Hints are simply given of certain facts which were introductory to his, principal design. Noris.it practicable for any modern to fill up the large vacancies, observable between different periods, with conjectures of a satisfactory nature, by the deepest researches into antiquity. Yet these hints, concise as they are, furnish a clue which enables.us, to trace, with some degree of precision, the designs, of the moral governor of the world, and the manner in which these, designs, are accomplishing. Where there is, great obscurity, and, doubtless for wise reasons an intended obscurity, thrown over the early state of mankind, it is, indecent to, substitute vague conjectures, or hypothetic doctrines, as absolute facts,; and it is dangerous, to venerate, the particular opinions of the wisest men, as if they were indubitable and historical truths, or the infallible oracles of God. As the sacred history commences with the account of Adam's, formation, and relates his disobedience and punishment, thus it presents us with some insight into his superiority as an intelligent and moral agent. We perceive, in this account, the distinguished honours conferred upon Man, in the very mode of his creation, as well as in his, mental powers. God is represented as, ordering the Earth, to bring forth grass, and the herb yielding seed, after his kind; and also cattle and creeping things: and the HVaters to bring forth the inhabitants of the deep, and the winged fowl after his kind : but in the formation of MAN the divine energy is represented as being exerted immediately, without any kind of instrumentality; and “God said let us make Man in our image, after our likeness.” - - . . . We know of three very important characteristics of human nature, correspondent with these expressions. The dominion over every other sensitive being, and the power of converting the inanimate creation to an infinitude of uses; by which he imitates the Sovereignty of his Maker: his Intellectual Faculties; and his Moral powers; by the due cultivation of these—he is able to imitate his Maker in the still more venerable attributes of Wisdom and Goodness, and their concomitant Felicity. Of the precise degree of Intellect possessed by our first parents, and how far it transcended the powers of their offspring, we know nothing; for the scriptures have not informed us. Of their moral Attainments, and the sublimity of their Wirtue or Piety, we are not authorised to say much to their honour. The restraint imposed upon them, in the midst of the most liberal grants, as a proof of their

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »