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eloquence; and, instead of involving those who heard them, in the doubtful labyrinth of scholastic speculation, they announced their precepts with unaffected simplicity, and adopted a tone, on all occasions, utterly uninfluenced by the artifices which usually distinguish dishonesty and craft.

In their representations of the more awful attributes of Deity, they afforded a proof of their simple but sublime wisdom. We are here averted by none of those obscure, and, often, contradictory reveries on the divine nature, which distract or mislead the votaries of other religions. For the profound and not unfrequently the frigid discussions of the philosopher, are substituted doctrines calculated to inspire the mingled awe and love of God; and we are told, in the clearest, and often the loftiest terms, of the uncontrouled and uncontroulable dominion of the Almighty, of his unrivalled and undivided majesty, of his eternal and universal presence, of the unsullied purity of his nature, and of the unerring perfection of his wisdom.

“ He is the Most High, “ whose footstool is earth, and whose throne is “ heaven; he is the only Jehovah, the only true God; “ he is the Father of lights in whom is no variable

ness, neither shadow of turning ; the alpha and,

omega, the beginning and the end; the inscrutable s Being whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain; “ the uncreated Spirit who hath life in himself, who “ seeth in secret, who knoweth all hearts, and to “ whom all things are subject *.” In this manner has been delineated the Deity of the Gospel. That which so transcendently surpasses the brightest visions of the poet, and which the Attic Moses so imperfectly beheld in his highest and happiest contemplations, has been clearly unfolded by the unostentatious and unpretending wisdom of Christ and of his Apostles ; and the humble Christian is taught to address his prayers to a Being, before whom he cannot bow down without correcting and purifying emotions, and from whose altars, it would be thought, he cannot depart, without a nobler consciousness of the responsibility by which he is bound, and of the duties which he is required to fulfil.

* Luke vi. 35. Mark xii. 29. Matt. xi. 25. Matt. v. 34; vi. 4: John xvii. 44. John iv. 24. Corinth. v. 26. Luke xvi. 15.

II. It is peculiarly worthy of remark, how frequently the Christian legislator and his disciples advert to those relative attributes of God, in which all intellectual natures are so much concerned. We are permitted, indeed, to elevate our contemplations towards the Almighty, seated, in the splendor of undivided majesty, on the throne of the universe; enshrined in the eternal blaze of ineffable and illimitable glory; and penetrating, at once, from the eternity which has passed, to that which is to come, by his omniscient wisdom. But he is also, in almost every page of the Gospel, held forth to us in the less awful, but more affecting and interesting, light, of the beneficent father, who strengthens our weak. nesses and relieves our wants; of the good and gracious shepherd, who leads his flock to the fountains of living water; of the bountiful sovereign, who maketh all things to conspire for the good of those that love him; of the merciful judge, who knows and pities the infirmities of our nature; of the compassionate God, who gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life*.

The views of more

• See for representations of this nature, John xvii. 15 ; xiv. 23; üi. 23; ir. 23 Luke vi. 35, 36 ; xvj. 15 ; xviii. 6; vi. 35, 43

awful or more abstract perfections, may excite in the mind the most profound and, perhaps, overwhelming emotions. But from the relationship of God to man, which is thus beautifully unfolded, and the relationship of man to God, which is thus emphatically implied, we derive considerations of a more affecting and instructive character. There

may

be less to astonish, but there is more to interest. A new dignity appears to be conferred upon our nature. We are no longer dust and ashes, but the children of the Omniscient, to partake the blessings of his protection and of his love. We are elevated and ennobled by the consciousness awakened in our bosom of our high descent; and we are taught to look up to God, with that humble but affectionate gratitude, which, wherever it is felt, affords new motives to piety, and new obligations to virtue.

III. Religion, were it to excite only joy, would become the source of levity and of folly; were it to excite only fear, would become the source of despondency and alarm; and, in either case, man would be perverted in his actions and aims, degenerating, in the first, into the fool who knows no restraint, or, in the last, into the slave who knows no hope. But the wisdom of Christ was to instruct and elevate, not to enfeeble or overwhelm, the heart; and his gospel, therefore, has afforded grounds neither for irreverent hope, nor unmitigated fear. Is the God whom we are taught to worship, the Father of spirits who keeps mercy for thousands of them that love him, who compassionates and embraces the returning sinner, who maketh the sun to rise upon the just and the unjust, and who willeth

Matt. v. 48; xviii. 14; vi. 14, 26, 32; vii. 11; X. 28; vi. 10; xxvi. 39; xxii. 37. · Mark X. 18. It would be easy to collect texts like these from almost every page of the Gospel.

not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should return from his wickedness and live? By such views our affections are awakened ; our trust and fortitude confirmed; a light is kindled amid the glooms of time and of the world, which warms and animates the soul; and a confiding faith is encouraged and sanctioned in the heart, which enables us to proceed in our pilgrimage through life with serenity and with peace. But the Gracious Benefactor to whose mercy seat we are thus encouraged to approach, is, also, the Mighty One of Israel ; the King immortal, eternal, and invisible; the All Wise whose slightest glance pervades the inmost recesses of the heart; the holy and just who will by no means pardon the guilty ; the Almighty who dwelleth in the secret place of the thunder, whose throne is wrapped in mysterious and unapproachable light, and at whose presence the universe trembles and bows down. While we dwell on these magnificent and awful representations, the heart is impressed with corresponding emotions. Hope and joy are blended with sacred reverence and salutary fear. Guilt is intimidated and repressed. We tremble though we trust; and the confidence that reposes in celestial goodness, is chastened and admonished by the apprehensions that point to celestial majesty and justice.

IV. In every other religion, from a variety of causes, the Divinity is degraded into a being of criminal or contemptible inconsistency; and not only are his attributes occasionally at war with each other, but, in the exercise of his powers, he is alternately feeble and mighty, dignified and corrupt, magnificent and mean. We behold the Jove of the Greek laying aside the thunders of Omnipotence, to soothe his cares in the dalliances of love; we see the god of the Mussulman blending maxims of high and practical wisdom, with the gross sanction of concupiscence and impurity ; and we contemplate the deity of the Bramin descending from the throne of his majesty, to traverse the earth under low and ludicrous forms, and generally, for low or ludicrous purposes. But the Christian legislator was not to be led aside from truth, by prejudice or by passion. In the Deity, disclosed by his gospel, we discover no contradictory qualities, and no intermixture of greatness and wisdom with littleness and folly. A sublime and uniform consistency, on the contrary, between the abstract and relative perfections of the divine nature, and between those perfections and the operations in which they are employed, is maintained in every page.

No feebleness limits his justice, no wrath silences his mercy, no error impairs his designs, no partiality misdirects his power, and no prejudice controuls bis will. His compassion extends itself even to the sinner, but his truth and equity remain unviolated. His goodness and beneficence descend in blessings on the universe, but he does not the less mark the ways of the guilty, nor hold in his hands the meed of punishment. In the same sublime accordance is the precept which he sanctions, with the perfections in which he is cloathed, and the providence which he exercises ; and the precept, the perfection, and the providence, collectively considered, afford an accordant and unequivocal testimony of the unvarying and unalterable excellence of his nature.

V. The gospel opens another, and not less interesting view of the nature and attributes of God. His will is the law of universal existence; and he

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