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We Have Peace With God, Through Our Lord Jesus Christ.
SIMPLICITY, which every thing human approaches in proportion as it is perfect, is remarkably visible in what we know of the natural Providence of God. The various motions of the material world, the revolutions of the vast luminaries above us, and the operations of the elements around us, depend upon one single principle. We call it attraction; we know there is such a thing in nature; we understand and calculate its effects and uses. But what K 4 this this principle is, and how it operates, no one pretends to explain or understand.
Whether free creatures are capable, upon the whole, of being guided by such simple methods, as matter, is a question. But we are led from the knowledge we have of nature, to receive and admire the wonderful appointment of the common Maker in the moral world. For there is here one universal principle; one common Mediator to support, assist, and govern our moral powers by his influences. Here is one common method of salvation. And though there are some parts of this scheme above our comprehension; yet this ignorance deprives us not of its benefits and uses.
But such is the perverseness of man; we admit those things in nature, which we stumble at in revelation. We strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. We take not the word of God himself for things, which we implicitly believe in
other other cases, where our lusts and prejudices are not cqncerned.
The scripture account of the state of man is not, as I take it, without its difficulties. But as it gives us a clear consistent view of our state, as it solves most of the appearances in the moral world, as we sink into total darkness the moment we lose this light to assist our views; a rational person should be inclined to receive it upon its own evidence, independent of its Divine authority.
Revelation considers man in a fallen, imperfect state. Free will, which, it seems, is a necessary privilege of rational creatures, soon introduced misery and corruption into the creation. A gracious remedy was provided for this defection. A scheme of mercy, under the mediation of that Divine person, who formed the world at first, was established, to rectify all disorders, to atone for our sins, to help our infirmities, and raise us to our lost immortality. By a gradual process of moral discipline, regularly opening and unfolding itself, this Mediator, bringing good out of all this confusion, will in tim« establish a new heaven and new earth the abodeof righteousness: man will be happier than he was before; and, looking back through the maze of Providence, which had perplexed and embarrassed him so much before, will see nothing, but wisdom and goodness and order shine through the whole extensive plan.
Compare with this, the gloomy view, that unassisted nature gives us of ourselves, and we sliall then learn to put a proper value upon this small degree of acquaintance with Divine mysteries.
Lay aside your bible; divest yourself of what traditional religion has taught you; look around you, take your sentiments from your present abode, and see what they are in this unenlightened state.
Do you know, where you are ?—Are you acquainted with your state, and destination ?*—Do you not feel to yourself, like a shipwrecked man, cast upon a desert shore, ignorant where you are, and what is to become of you ?—Here you find yourself—in a small corner of the world — what it is, when it began, what is to become of it, you know not. You came not here of yourself— if you have the curiosity to look beyond your Immediate parents, and to search about for some superior author of your existence—-yet, do you know, who that Being is, what he expects of you, what relation you bear to him? You are surrounded with a strange mixture of blessings, and evils—is it not a doubt with you, whether he sent you here in kindness or displeasure? You have an in
* — ignari hominumq; locorumq;
Erramus, vento hue et vastis fluctibus acti.
Virg. Æn. i. 336.