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manifesting' his love towards us, in that he sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. How lofty, and, at the same time, how amiable; how awful, yet how animating and consoling, is the representation, which the Gospel has given us of the Supreme Disposer of all things! Happy they, who in early life imbibe, and in their
mature years continue to cherish, sentiments like these! who see those attributes of divinity, which their infant minds were taught, displayed in every work of nature, in every event of providence, in every step of the glorious system of redemption; and whó, grateful for the revelation which has, in their present imperfect state of existence, been vouchsafed to them, await in patience that greater hour, when they shall see their Creator as he is,-when they shall know, even as also they are knowon.
ON THE CREATION OF THE WORLD.
BEFORE the sun and the moon had begun their course, before the sound of the human voice was heard, or the name of man was known; in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. To a beginning of the world we are led back by every thing that now exists ; by all history; all records, all monuments of antiquity. In tracing the transactions of past ages, we arrive at a period which clearly indicates the in. fancy of the human race. We behold the world peopled by degrees. We ascend to the origin of all those useful and necessary arts, without the knowledge of which mankind could hardly subsist. We discern society and civilisation arising from rude beginnings in every corner of the earth; and gradually advancing to the state in which we now find them : all which afford plain evidence that there was a period, when mankind began to inhabit and cultivate the earth.
What is very remarkable, the most authentic chronology and history of most nations coincides with the account of Scripture, and makes the period, during which the world has been inhabited by the race of men, not to extend beyond six thousand years. But, though there
was a period when this globe, with all that we see upon it, did not exist, we have no reason to think that the wisdom and power of the Almighty were then without exercise or employment. Boundless is the extent of his dominions. Other globes and worlds, enlightened by other suns, may then have occupied—they still appear to occupy—the immense regions of space. Numberless orders of beings, to us unknown, people the wide extent of the universe, and afford an endless variety of objects to the ruling care of the great Father of all. At length, in the course and progress of his government, there arrived a period, when this earth was to be called into existence. When the signal moment, predestined from all eternity, was come, the Deity arose in his might, and with a word created the world. What an illustrious moment was that, when from nonexistence there sprang at once into being this mighty globe, on which so many millions of creatures now dwell! No preparatory measures were required. No long circuit of means was employed. He spake, and it was done, he commanded, and it stood fast. The earth was at first without form and void : and darkness was upon the face of the deep. The Almighty surveyed the dark abyss; and fixed bounds to the several divisions of nature. He said, Let there be light, and there was light. Then appeared the sea and the dry land. The mountains rose; and the rivers flowed. The sun and moon began their course in the skies. Herbs and plants clothed the ground. The air, the earth, and the water, were stored with their respective inhabitants. At last man was made after the image of God. He appeared, walking with countenance erect, and received his Creator's benediction as Lord of this new world. The Almighty beheld his work when it was finished, and pronounced it good. Sua perior beings saw with wonder this new accession to existence. The morning stars sang together ; and all the sons of God shouted for joy.
ON THE ARTLESS SIMPLICITY OF THE GOSPEL
In the gospel narratives there is little or no parading about their own integrity. We can collect their pretensions to credit from the history itself, but we see no anxious display of these pretensions. We cannot fail to perceive the force of that argument, which is derived from the publicity of the Christian miracles, and the very minute and scrupulous examination, which they had to sustain from the rulers and official men of Judea. But this publicity, and these examinations, are simply recorded by the Evangelists. There is no boastful reference to these circumstances, and no ostentatious display of the advantages, which they gave to the Christian argument. They bring the story forward in the shape of a direct and unencumbered narrative, and deliver themselves with that simplicity and unembarrassed confidence, which nothing buttheir consciousness of truth, and the perfect feeling of their own strength and consistency, can account for. They do not write as if their object was to carry a point that was at all doubtful or suspicious. It is simply to transmit to the men of other times, and of other countries, a memorial of the events, which led to the establishment of the Christian religion in the world. In the prosecution of their narrative, we challenge the most refined judge of the human character, to point out a single symptom of diffidence in the truth of their own story, or of art to cloak this diffidence from the notice of the most severe and vigilant observers. The manner of the New Testament writers does not carry in it the slightest idea of its being an assumed manner. It is quite natural, quite unguarded, and free of all apprehension that their story is to meet with
any of those numerous readers, who had it fully in their power to verify or to expose it. We see no expedient made use of, to obtain or to conciliate the acquiescence of their readers. They appear to feel as if they did not need it. They deliver what they have to say in a round and unvarnished manner; nor is it in general accompanied with any of those strong asseverations, by which an impostor so often attempts to practise upon the credulity of his victims. In the simple narrative of the Evangelists, they betray no feeling of wonder at the extraordinary nature of the events which they record, and no consciousness that what they are announcing is to excite
appears to us to be a very strong circumstance. Had it been the newly broached tale of an impostor, he would, in all likelihood, have feigned astonishment himself, or, at least, have laid his account with the doubt and astonishment of those, to whom it was addressed. When a person tells a wonderful story to a company, who are totally unacquainted with it, he must be sensible, not merely of the surprise which is excited in the minds of the hearers, but of a corresponding sympathy in his own mind, with the feelings of those who listen to him. He lays his account with the wonder, if not the incredulity of his hearers; and this distinctly appears in the terms with which he delivers his story, and the manner in which he introduces it. It makes a wide difference, if, on the other hand, he tells the same story to a company, who have long been apprised of the chief circumstances, but who listen to him for the mere purpose of obtaining a more distinct and
particular narrative. Now, in as far as we can collect from the manner of the Evangelists, they stand in this last predicament. They do not write as if they were imposing a novelty upon their readers. In the language of Luke,
they write for the sake of giving more distinct information; and that the readers might know the certainty of those things, wherein they had been instructed. In the prosecution of this task, they deliver themselves with the most familiar and unembarrassed simplicity. They do not appear to anticipate the surprise of their readers, or to be at all aware that the marvellous nature of their story is to be any obstacle to its credit or reception in the neighbourhood. At the first perform. ance of our Saviour's miracles, there was a strong and a widely spread sensation over the whole country. His fame went abroad and all people were amazed. This is quite natural; and the circumstance of no surprise
being either felt or anticipated by the Evangelists, in the writing of their history, can best be accounted for by the truth of the history itself, that the experience of years had blunted the edge of novelty, and rendered miracles familiar, not only to them, but to all the peo. ple to whom they addressed themselves.
ON THE UTILITY OF MIRACLES IN THE EARLY PROPA
GATION OF THE GOSPEL.
UNLESS we admit that the founder of our religion did actually work the miracles ascribed to him by his historians, it is utterly impossible to account for the success and establishment of his religion. It could not, in short, to all appearance, have been established by any
other means.- -Consider only for a moment, what the apparent condition of our Lord was, when he first announced his mission among the Jews, what his pretensions and what his doctrines were, and then judge what kind of a reception he must have met with among the Jews, had his preaching been accompanied by no miracles. A young man of no education, born in an obscure village of obscure parents, without any of those very brilliant talents or exterior accomplishments, which usually captivate the hearts of men; without having previously written or done any thing, that should excite the expectation, or attract the attention and admiration of the world; offers himself at once to the Jewish nation, not merely as a preacher of morality, but as a teacher sent from heaven; nay, what is more, as the Son of God himself, and as that great deliverer, the Messiah, who had been so long predicted by the prophets, and was then so anxiously expected, and so eagerly looked for, by the whole Jewish people. He called upon this people to renounce at once a great part of the religion of their forefathers, and to adopt that which he proposed to them; to relinquish all their fond ideas of a splendid, avictorious, a triumphant Messiah, and to accept in his room a despised, a persecuted, and a crucified Master. He required them to give up all their former prejudices, superstitions, and traditions,