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tributes of the Living God; he has revealed to us the rule of duty, and our unchanging obligations to its uniform observance: he has brought life and immortality to light.
What a train of new reflections is the contemplation of these grand discoveries calculated to excite! How astonishing, to the mind of a reflecting, devout, and humble philosopher, it might have been imagined, would the doctrines of the incarnation, of the atonement, of regeneration, and of the influences of the Holy Spirit, have appeared! Long accustomed. perhaps, to think with reverence and awe of the attributes and of the ways of the Supreme Being; often lost in mazes of error and perplexity from which he had sighed in vain to be extricated; unable to reconcile even with his own obscure notions of the Divine rectitude, those mysterious dispensations of a Providence, which seems to award to the virtuous and to the vicious the same species and measure of compensation; and frequently when in the contemplation of death, and of that dark futurity which lies beyond it, exclaiming, vihen shall the dead awake from their slumbers? 0, when shall the sleep of the grave terminate?' --with what eagerness would a philosopher of this sincere and humble cast hail the first beams of the Divine light of Christianity, the earnest of everlasting day, and rise to the contemplation of the will and the attributes of his God, and the glories of the immortality which has burst upon his view.
And such is, indeed, the mighty change which he light of the Gospel has produced on the nations. Its renovating influences fell at first on the chosen people only, but it gradually penetrated and eventually rolled back the thick gloom which had previously enveloped the nations, and bursting forth into meridian day, at length overspread the whole world.
That wonderful scheme of mercy which is designated as the Gospel of reconciliation,- that characteristic doctrine of the Christian religion, Salvation by faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ, is no less peculiarly descriptive of the system of truth taught by the great Deliverer of the world, than were the tenets of Zeno, or Aristotle, or Epicurus, or Newton, of the respective schools of those masters of science.
But in order to have a full view of the superiority of the religion of Jesus Christ over that of the heathen philosophers, we must compare the system of morality taught in the Gospel with that tauglit by the Heathens. It is scarcely necessary to advert to the sensuality of the Epicurean, to the haughtiness of the Stoic, to the mixture of both in the Peripatetic, or to the indifference and universal scepticism of the Academic. Revelation has swept away the cobweb systeme
by which the leaders of those different sects supported their theories respecting the foundation of morals and the chief good; and it has given us, with extended views of the nature of moral obligation, the strength adequate to its performance. In place of conceiving that we are sent into the world for the mere gratification of our sensual desires, or, for the sole purpose of enjoying the more refined pleasures of the mind; it uniformly teaches us, that we are not our own, but that we are bound by the strongest ties to do the will of Him that made us and redeemed us; that we must purify the thoughts of the heart as well as the external conduct; and that without a continued effort after universal holiness, we cannot please the Lord. It is not surprising that this should have appeared a strange doctrine in Athens or in Rome, where the religion of the vulgar was a system of unmeaning and impure observances; and where the philosophy of the schools, so far as it regarded moral conduct, consisted either mentally or sensually in the gratification of self. It never entered into the mind of a heathen philosopher to conceive that man is bound to love the Creator with all his heart, and all his soul, and all his strength, and his neighbour as himself; and that every deviation from this rule, constitutes him guilty in the sight of God.
The best commentary on the morality of the civilized nations in the heathen world, is the uniform state of their feelings expressed by their uniform practice. -> Among the Romans, where do we meet with any thing like the subdued and elevated virtue of the Gospel? There are, indeed, those among us, who dignify with the sacred name of virtue, the proud respect wbichi the citizen of Rome ever felt for the majesty of the Roman people, and his insatiable love of conquest and of arms; but Christianity, while it' inculcates patriotism, frowns with indignation on the man who pretends to love bis own country to the injury of his neighbours; and uniformly urges on our attention the necessity of cherishing the holy fruits of humility, and meekness, and universal charity. What can be said for the morality of that people whose philosophers and educated females were regularly accustomed to witness the combat of those unhappy men who were doomed to shed their blood for their amusement ? Where is even the superior civilization of a nation who, in the days of its greatest humanity, conceived it necessary to the glory of the conqueror, to put to death the captured generals belonging to the enemy? Let this sanguinary conduct be compared with a late instance of noble magnanimity, which generously restored to their wives, their children, and their country, myriads of eaptive invaders, and how will the Roman people bear the
contrast? We have, indeed, allowed ourselves too long to be dazzled with the mere gaudiness of pomp and splendour; with the apparent symbols of rigid integrity and elevated virtue. Viewed through a proper medium, the Roman people, like all the other heathen nations, were filled with all unrighteous
So comprehensive and spiritual is the Christian morality, that a change of nature is considered as essential to its practice. We are told that we “must be born again :”--that before we can be disciples of Christ we must put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him. The necessity of this change arises from the blindness of the mind, and the corruption of the heart : and the effects which it produces are, piety to God, gratitude to the Divine benefactor who came into our world for the redemption of man, and an earnest desire to regulate the affections and the conduct according to the unchanging principles of universal holiness. This change, which is denominated regeneration, a doctrine as peculiar to Christianity as the principle of gravitation is characteristic of the philosophy of Newton,is not only essential to the exercise of pure morality, but to the enjoyment of those great benefits which the Redeemer died to procure. He himself has assured us, that unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God: and his inspired servants represent the spiritual life as commencing in this moral renovation. To impress us still more deeply with a sense of the universal holiness which is required of the disciples of Jesus, we are taught to depend upon the continued influence of the Holy Spirit--to pray for His power to give warmth to our devotions, and purity to our affections, -and to enable us, anid the snares and temptations of the world to continue stedfast ja the practice of every duty. Thus, the morality of the Bible is living and active. It includes our duty to God, to our neighbour, and to ourselves; it embraces the whole range of thought, and feeling, and action; it is cherished by an influence derived from the Fountain of all perfection. It meets man helpless and guilty as he is, at the verge of his exist. ence, offers to purify and guide him while preparing for futurity, and after restoring the glories of his moral nature, ushers him into the presence of bis God. This is the only religion which removes the curse of the Creator from the world which he has made; that converts it again into the lovely paradise of God; that teaches man how to live with usefulness to others, and with satisfaction to himself; and that illumipes the clark valley of the shadow of death, with a light that issues in the splendours of an endless day. He only has cause to fear, who, while professing that he has embraced it, remains destitute of its saving health ; and who, while he pities®the infidelity if the Jew, the superstition of the Pagan, and even the philosophy of the Greek, is yet a stranger to the penitence and the purity which it enjoins.
In the second place, the principles of Christian Philosophy, are cqually distinguished from many of the peculiarities of the modern schools of philosophy. It is not necessary to take notice of those crude and indigested notions which have been diguified by the appellation of the infidel philosophy; partly, because the most powerful and eloquent of writers has sufficiently exposed their sophistry and pernicious tendency; and; partly, because there are few persons now to be found, with any pretensions to science, capable of being deluded by their influence, -Bat are there not some moral philosophers, professing Christianity, who allow themselves to talk of the mere principles of natural religion, as if they intended to substitute them for the knowledge of revelation-who restrict themselves and their pupils to the din twilight of reason, when they have it in their power to take a view of the unclouded light of the Gospel ?
Far be it from us to insinuate that it is not the duty of the moral philosopher to study very fully the doctrines of natural religion: these form the elementary principles of some of the discoveries of revelation ; and by ascertaining the extent to which they may be established, by surveying the phenomena cf the universe, and the order of Providence, an important service is rendered to the cause of Christianity. And happy are we in being able to bear our feeble testimony to the fact, that in a northern University, more illustrious for the science with which it is adorned, than for its opulence; where the philosophy of Mind, through the eloquence of Stewart and Brown, has assumed a new aspect, the study of morals, as founded on the light of nature, is rendered subservient to the profitable contemplation of the sublime doctrines of revelation.
The consideration of the principles of natural religion will, in this view, always be useful : we must, however, object to that mode of treating them, which would lead us to conclude that there is nothing peculiar in the doctrines of revelation from the discoveries which they afford. After subjecting the laws of nature to the closest examination, how scanty is the knowledge we can thence deduce of the perfections of God, of the duty which we owe to him, and of the manner in which that duty, in order to be acceptable, must be performed; of the immortality of the soul, and of the mode of its existence, when separated from the body! The Scriptures not only afford us appropriate and definite information on these topics, but by discoveries which are beyond the power of reason either to make or fully to comprehend, they enable us VOL. III. N.S.
partly to account for the existence of evil under a government of infinite perfection, the source whence it proceeds, and the manner in which it is to be removed. They teach us in language so plain, and so often repeated, as not to be misunderstood, that man has fallen from the holy and exalted situation in which he was originally placed ; that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, assumed the nature of man, and voluntarily made himself an expiatory sacrifice for sin ; and that the design of this sacrifice, ia relation to man, is to redeem him from all iniquity, to deliver him from the effects of the fall, and restore bim to all the glories of his moral nature. And, finally, they teach us that the Saviour has promised a Divine influence to carry these beneficent designs into effect, to qualify us for the discharge of all the duties, for bearing all the trials of life, and for the eventual enjoyment of the glories and feliçity of that immortality, which is reserved for the soul in the immediate presence of its all-perfect Creator.
These are some of the doctrines that constitute the prineiples of the Christian philosophy. With respect to the work which has suggested the preceding observations, our opinions may be inferred froip the hints which we have already offered. Though not written however exactly in the manner in which we should like to see a treatise on the principles of Christian Philosophy, it has two qualities which are highly estimable, we mean soundness in the faith, and devotion in the sentiment. Many authors have written with a more enlarged comprehension of their subject, and with greater ability, but few with greater piety. The following extract affords a very favourable specimen of his usual manner.
• The reflection is awful, that a few years of human life, which compared with eternity, are no less than a drop in the mighty ocean, shall not only determine the situation of the soul, but even the precise degiee of happiness or of misery. This great gift of God ought to be diligently improved and spent in such a way as we could wish we had done when we are about to appear before the presence of the Judge who'gave us life. Time and life are in one respect synonimous terms, though strictly life is the principle, and time the continuation of the operation of the principle. Life now and life hereafter are portions of the same existence, but the circumstances are greatly altered. Then the state is everlasting and subject to no change. Now it is temporary, being the prelude to that state which shall endure for ever; and we mark the progress of this toward that by divisions, in order to enable us to ascertain and to remember it more correctly. This period is to all men very uncertain, and in itself is short and constantly in flight. Every moment diminishes its duration, and brings us near to eternity. He who listens to the beating of a clock may reflect, as he listens, that with each beat a moment flies never to return. Perhaps there is scarcely any thing better calculated to