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careful not to employ the tools or ceremonies of man's invention; for the Lord, in directing his chosen people to build an altar, said, “An altar of earth shalt thou build unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt-offerings and thy peace-offerings: and if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.” Exodus xx. 24. Deut. xxvii. 5.
The offerings in God's temple are no longer of an outward nature, for “he is not worshiped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing." He requires us to give him the “first fruits' of all that we possess: we must serve him before all others, and · give him the first place in our affections. The sacri
fice which he accepteth is a broken and a contrite spirit;" and the smoke of the incense which ascends up before him, is “the prayers of the saints.” Rev. viii. 3. · I shall conclude this subject with a quotation from the writings of that great and good man, William Penn. “If,” says he, “we are not to take thought what we shall say when we come before worldly princes, because it shall be given us, and that it is not we that speak, but the spirit of our Heavenly Father that speaketh in us; (Matt. x. 20,) much less can our ability be needed, or ought we to study to ourselves forms of speech in our approaches to the great Prince of princes, King of kings, and Lord of lords. The psalmist says, 'Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble, thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear;' and says Wisdom, • The preparation of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.' Here it is: thou must not think thy own thoughts, nor speak thy own words; which indeed is the silence of the holy cross; but be sequestered from all confused imaginations, that are apt to throng and press upon the mind in those holy retirements. It is not for thee to think to over
come the Almighty by the most composed matter cast into the aptest phrase: no, no,--one groan, one sigh from a wounded soul; an heart touched with true remorse, a sincere and godly sorrow, which is the work of God's spirit, excels and prevails with God. Wherefore, stand still in thy mind; wait to feel something that is divine to prepare and dispose thee to worship God truly and acceptably. And thus taking up the cross, and shutting the doors and windows of the soul against every thing that would interrupt this attendance upon God,-how pleasant soever the object be in itself,-how lawful and needful at another season,--the power of the Almighty will break in,-his spirit will work and prepare the heart, that it may offer up an acceptable sacrifice.” .
ON THE ORIGINAL AND PRESENT STATE OF MAN.
James. Brother John and. I have lately been conversing about the original and present state of man, but we cannot agree in opinion, and have concluded to ask thy view's upon the subject. He contends, that the transgression of Adam, in eating the forbidden fruit, produced an entire change in the nature of man, so that we are all born in a corrupt and sinful state; and that we are liable to punishment, not only for our own transgressions, but likewise on account of the guilt of our first parents, which he says is imputed to all their offspring. This doctrine I cannot believe; for it appears to me to be entirely inconsistent with the justice and mercy of the Divine Being, to impute to me a sin which I never committed; nor can I understand how the nature of man could be so completely changed by that one transgression of Adam; for we do not find any inherent difference now between the children of the righteous and the children of the wicked; they appear to be all born in the same state, though it is acknowledged that the example and teaching of their parents have a great influence upon their characters.
John. I do not reason in this way upon subjects of so momentous a character, but am content to refer to the Scriptures of truth, which, being written by inspired men, are a much safer dependence than the fallible reason of man.
Father. I believe that all Scripture, “given by inspiration of God, is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” The truths contained in the Scriptures, if properly understood, and made the rule of our actions, are of inestimable value to man; but it is very evident that they cannot be understood without the exercise of reason; for a man deprived of reason could not derive the least benefit from them. They are addressed to the understandings of men; but owing to the imperfection of human language, they are liable to be misunderstood, espe cially by those who have no experimental knowledge of the things to which they relate. The most valuable parts of Scripture are those which relate to spiritual things; but in order to understand them clearly, we must come to the knowledge of the things themselves. When we undertake to study any natural science, we are not satisfied with merely reading descriptions of natural objects, but we examine the objects for ourselves. For instance, the science of botany describes the various plants and flowers which the great Creator has so profusely scattered over the face of the earth; but we cannot obtain an accurate knowledge of them, merely by reading descriptions; we must ourselves examine the things described; and
in order to do this, we must have light to assist us. Now this is the course we ought to pursue in the examination of spiritual things. The Scriptures inform us, that “the kingdom of God is within us,” and that it consists of “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” But.what will this description avail us, unless we look within us to find these things, and become obedient to the teachings of the Holy Spirit, whose light will make them manifest? There is much useful information in the Scriptures, about the state of original purity in which man was created; the state of sin and corruption into which he has fallen by disobedience; and the state of restoration and salvation which is obtained by the faithful servants of Christ. This information is sometimes conveyed in plain and simple precepts, which may be understood literally; but it is often adorned with metaphors, and not unfrequently it is clothed in parables or allegories, according to the genius of the oriental languages. It is well known that Jesus frequently spake in parables, which were not generally understood by the multitude, and that he explained their meaning to his disciples. · But even to his disciples he did not open every thing at once, for he said, “ I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." There are many pious men, who although they do not doubt that the account given by Moses of the garden of Eden and the fall of our first parents, is literally true, yet they believe it has in it a spiritual signification of far more importance to us. .
John. I am afraid to depend upon these spiritual significations, lest I should overlook the literal meaning of the text, and thus convert the whole Bible into an allegory. When any thing is stated as parable, I am then willing to look for a spiritual meaning, but not otherwise.
Father. It appears that the apostle Paul was of a different opinion; for he says, when speaking of the two sons which were born unto Abraham, that they were “an allegory” of “the two covenants.” Gal. iv. 24. Yet Moses does not say it is an allegory, but relates it as a matter of history; and I have no doubt the facts did occur just as Moses has stated them, and that the spiritual meanings revealed to the apostles is equally true. It will be acknowledged by almost every experienced mind, that the account given by Moses, of the journeying of the Israelites from Egypt, through the wilderness to the promised land, contains a faithful and beautiful allegory of the Christian's progress, from a state of darkness and sin, to a state of gospel light and salvation; yet who can suppose that this view of the subject impairs our belief of the facts related by Moses? With respect to the garden of Eden, in which man was originally placed, when he was created, there can be no doubt that the account given by the inspired penman, is beautifully descriptive of that state of spiritual enjoyment which resulted to Adam from his dressing and keeping the trees of the garden; or, in other words, from his keeping in their proper order all the desires and affections of his animal and spiritual natures, which were given for the promotion of his happiness, and pronounced to be good. That the garden of Eden was considered, among the holy men of old, as a state of spiritual enjoyment, we have an evidence in the writings of the prophet Ezekiel ; for he says, in addressing the king of Tyrus, 6 Thus saith the Lord God, Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, the topaz, and the diamond; the beryl, the onyx, the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, the carbuncle, and gold; the workmanship of thy tabrets and thy pipes, was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth, and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast