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INSTRUCTIVE EXTRACTS.

SECTION I.

RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION.

ON GOD.

Of all the attainments, to which, in a certain degree, human nature is permitted to aspire, the knowledge of its Divine Author is undoubtedly at once the noblest, the most deeply interesting, and the most essentially important. Shall man take pride to himself in inves. tigating the laws of nature, in contemplating the magnificent arrangement of the heavenly orbs, the curi. ous structure of his own body, and the more curious workings of his soul? Shall he boast of every discovery which he makes, regarding the properties of each stone upon which he treads, each flower that dif. fuses its fragrance around him, each insect that flutters in the gale? And shall his soul not burn with the loftier ambition of rendering himself acquainted with that Being, to whom all things owe their existence, their beauty, their harmony, their utility: who spake, and they were made, who commanded, and they stood fast :

•Who gives its lustre to an insect's wing,

And wheels his throne upon the rolling worlds ?” Shall man take delight in going back to former ages, and tracing the past history of his own species, in reading of the exploits of heroes, the intrigues of statesmen, the discoveries of philosophers,--the revolutions of kingdoms, the improvements in science or in arts, the chequered fortunes of distinguished individuals ? And shall he take no pleasure in tracing, amid all these passing events, the operations of Him, who alone saw the end from the beginning; in whose overruling hand, the feeble actors, while aiming only at selfish and private ends, were rendered instruments for the accomplishment of his wise and benevolent designs; and who, sitting above the flood, hath all along directed and controlled its mighty course, making the wrath of man to praise him, and saying to it in its most impetuous career, as to the raging ocean,

- Hitherio shalt thou come, but no further, and here shall thy proud waves be stayed ?" And is man called by no still more deeply interesting motive, than that of curiosity, to the knowledge of his God? If he wish for happiness, where else can he seek it, but in the favour of that great Being, in whose hand are the issues of all things ? or how can he hope to obtain His approbation, of whose nature and terms of acceptance he is contented to remain in utter ignorance ? No. The voice of interest, no less than of duty and of honour, summons him to that fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom, and that knowledge of the Holy, which is understanding. Let not, then, the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches : but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth God." That there is a God,” indeed, “ all nature cries aloud through all her works.". The heavens declare his glory, and the firmament sheweth his handiwork : day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge of their great Creator. In no age, however dark, -no clime, however, ungenial,--no nation, however barbarous,-hath the Almighty left himself without witness; and there is scarcely any language, however rude, which hath not been tuned to accents of Divine adoration and praise. But weak and imperfect, dark and unamiable, have ever been the notions, which unassisted reason háth: been able to form of the object of its worship.' Who has not read, with feelings of horror and disgust, the accounts which are given of the idolatrous and superstitious observances of barbarous nations ? But let us not forget, that it is not to savage tribes alone, such degrading and revolting views of the Divine nature have been confined. Look to the greatest, the wisest, and most celebrated nations of antiquity, while as yet unil. lumined by the light of the Gospel. Behold Rome her. self, while seated on her highest pinnacle of glory, the mistress of the world, which she adorned by her arts, no less than subdued by her arms. See her altars blazing to appease the wrath, and secure the favour of a crowd of wicked and conflicting divinities, whose aid she successively implored to confound each other's feeble counsels. In her vain imagination, every district, every element, nay, every the most malignant passion and degrading vice, had its own peculiar protecting deity. Her worship, accordingly, was of the most unmeaning, sanguinary, and too often licentious kind; and, from the observance of such rites, she returned, as might be expected, to the ready perpetration of the most odious vices, of which, without any call to repentance, her sacrifices held out to her an easy expiation; or to which she was still more strongly encouraged, by the example and approbation of those imaginary beings, before whose unhallowed shrines she had so impiously bowed. Nor, if we turn to ancient Greece, the proud seat of human learning, of science, and philosophy, does any more cheering prospect arise to dissipate the gloom. There conceptions of Deity no less unworthy and degrading, rites still more impure and unhallowed, manners no less profligate and revolting, than any which had ever disgraced the neighbouring nations, whom she haughtily accounted barba. rian, present themselves to our view. A few, indeed, there were, of transcendent genius, the pride and glory of their age and country, who, by constant study and meditation, raised their minds to more exalted conceptions of the great First Cause of all. But their speculations were necessarily confined to themselves, and within their own schools, being of far too subtile and refined a nature to benefit the great body of the people. And, as they were no better than speculations,-resting upon no surer evidence than the deductions of able, indeed, but erring men,--the wisest of these philosophers themselves hesitated not to point out to their disciples, the necessity of some clearer and more direct revelation, from the fountain of all truth. Such a reve. lation of himself, which had from the beginning been determined in the counsels of Divine providence, and for which, in one obscure region of the globe, the way had silently been preparing, it at length pleased the God of mercy to vouchsafe to his human offspring. When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son. Men were no longer left to the vague and unsatisfactory conjectures of their own minds upon the most important of all subjects ; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. He, whom the Spirit of the Lord anointed to preach glad tidings to the meek, disclosed the loftiest truths in a language which all might understand, and confirmed what he spake by evidence level to the capacities of all. Not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, Jesus of Nazareth, the reputed son of a carpenter, and his fol. lowers, humble and illiterate fishermen of Galilee, taught sublimer doctrines regarding the nature and attributes of God, and his dealings with the children of men, than had ever fallen from the lips of any philo. sopher, and with an authority to which no philosopher ever attempted to lay claim. By this revelation it was disclosed to man, that there is in nature but one God; a Spirit, possessing irresistible power, boundless wisdom, perfect holiness, impartial justice, unwearied goodness; filling the infinitude of space, and living through the countless ages of eternity; the parent of universal nature, and extending his providential care to every thing which he hath made; at once the Keeper of Israel, and feeding the young ravens that cry; the God and Father, alike, of the Jew and of the Gentile, of the Greek and of the Barbarian, of the bond and of the free; dwelling in the high and holy place, with him also that is of an humble spirit; and above all,

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