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vi between the moral and physical world, a system of religion was revealed unto man suited to his finite capacity on earth and adapted to his heavenly enjoyment.
The commands of the Almighty were from time to time communicated to his creatures according to the necessity of the period, and to their capacity for the reception of truth, and a blessed promise was held forth that Jehovah himself would become incarnate, dwelling on earth as an example in his life for all generations, and teaching by doctrines and precepts the principles on which mankind should regulate their temporal conduct in furtherance of their spiritual welfare.
In the fulness of time this heavenly mission was accomplished, and the Spirit of God descended on earth to remain with feeble and fallen man as a comforter in all his afflictions, as a guide to all his actions, and as a celestial chain of communication between a penitent sinner and a forgiving God.
The religion thus revealed at different epochs is developed in the inspired writings of the Old and New Testaments,-in the Parables, Prayers, and Sermons of Christ, and in the Epistles written by his Apostles.
The Divine Authenticity of the doctrines therein inculcated, is sufficiently proved by the insufficiency of mere worldly wisdom for their comprehension, --and by their perfect adaptation for the guide and governance of man under every state and condition.
A comparison between revealed religion and the creeds invented and promulgated by enthusiasts and sophists, demonstrates most conclusively the
vii utter inferiority of the latter; as well might the works of art be compared with those of nature,animal instinct with endowed reason,-or the limited intelligence of man with the infinite understanding of the Deity.
In proportion, however, as the various systems of religion adopted by man approximate to the revealed word of God, in such ratio they tend to purify the heart, to enlighten the mind, and to prepare the soul for a higher state ; but the least corrupt system falls immeasurably short of the Chris. tian's guide;—in none (for instance) is the forgive. ness of injuries rendered absolutely necessary to salvation; and even Mahometanism, although borrowed so extensively from the Bible, has no higher prospects of beatitude for its faithful disciples than the enjoyment of the grossest sensuality.
Nor is the benificent influence of Christianity on the temporal condition of mankind less apparent than its spiritual blessings : a firm believer in the truths of scripture will rigidly practise its doctrines,-his life will be modelled on that of Jesus, -piety and wisdom,-humility and courage-(in its true sense)—patience and perseverance-charity and justice will be its distinguishing attributes.
An aggregate of such citizens forms a righteous nation,—and the more an individual or a kingdom makes the revelations of the Almighty the sole rule of guidance, the greater will be its happiness, prosperity and power.
Heathen nations by means of bloodshed, fraud and tyranny have suddenly emerged from obscurity and become great amidst the kingdoms of the world; viii
INTRODUCTION. but their power was like unto a house whose foundations were built on sand, and therefore when the 'rain descended and the floods came, and the winds blew,' they fell, and great was the fall thereof.
But a Christian kingdom is like unto a house whose foundations are built on a rock, against which neither rain, nor flood, nor wind can prevail : honesty, freedom, and the love of peace must be its characteristics, and with the Gospel for a guide its very temporal power can only terminate at the will of Him ‘by whom all things were made, and without whom was not any thing made that was made.'
Such a kingdom, I would fain hope, is England now becoming,—as a Christian Nation she has maintained her existence for a thousand years, -yet so far from priding herself upon her superiority over other nations, let her bear in mind that where
much is given much will be required ;' and as she continues extending a knowledge of the word of life, so let her acting more thoroughly accord with its precepts, and then may she hope that her powerher wisdom-and her efficiency for good, will be augmented.
The dreadful fate of the Jews ought to serve as a most serious warning to Britain :—that nation so highly favoured by God rejected His word, and perverted its meaning; they adhered to cold ceremonials, and neglected the essence of religion,they became as whitened sepulchres- beautiful without but rottenness within ; repeated warnings were despised, and foreign domination was fol. lowed by their utter destruction as a people or nation. England should then remember that true
ix religion consists not in words but in deeds; and that mere lip service to God is an abomination which will most assuredly be punished.
No form of religion can be acceptable to the giver of all good, unless it emanate from the heart; -He whose essence is love, desires not a worship springing from fear or from passive obedience,a higher, holier, and purer influence, must be the regulating motive for our actions. A restoration of spiritual connection between man and his maker, so essential to our everlasting joy and felicity, must be based in a reciprocity of affection, which while it hallows the soul strengthens the conviction of our absolute dependence on an all wise all powerful-ever present God; for though a code of morals, perfect even as the scripture affords, be necessary to man in his weak and fallen state, yet let it be remembered that the mere observance of such, however rigid, will not be acceptable in the sight of Him who declareth that it is only the pure in heart that can see God.
Man makes or mars his own happiness ;--the good created for his bliss he perverts unto evil, and then laments over what he erroneously terms the dispensations of Providence: the freewill bestowed for his advantage, too seldom, alas! is governed by the influence of reason,-passion triumphs, and sin and misery ensue. Do we stand in need of a system of ethics for our temporal governance ? God has furnished it so clear that the simplest understanding may comprehend the meaning thereof without note or comment. Do we require evidence of His infinite wisdom ? we have it presented to us
INTRODUCTION. daily, hourly, nay, every moment, in the vast, varied, and perfect works of creation. Do we seek with a humble and contrite spirit to know Jehovah in his true essence? we must with heart-felt affection turn to the truths revealed in His holy word, and there while we praise and bless His holy name for all His goodness and mercies, we may with joyful love anticipate the beatitude reserved for those, who in addition to the mere fulfilment of His will, worship their Creator in spirit and in truth.
Mansfield Cottage, Iver, Bucks,
Sunday, 11th Sept. 1836.