« PreviousContinue »
will fully comprehend his meaning, when he intimates, that he has attempted to digest the miscellaneous contents of a day hook, into a methodized ledger.
The particular object which the author had in view, when he applied himself to the perusal of the Old Testament with attention, was, that he might extract and arrange those doctrines respecting religion and morality, which were correspondent to the principles investigated in his Ethical disquisitions; and this circumstance has, at the same time, enabled him to trace the harmony that pervades the whole, notwithstanding the great diversity of the parts; and also the relation of this whole to the common interests of mankind.
It would, at all times, have been desirable to render the moral history of the world, which is contained in these Sacred Records, more intelligible, pleasing, and instructive to biblical readers. But at the present period, the pious ardour which is diffused over these happy lands, the unanimity with which Christians, of every denomination, exert themselves to communicate light and knowledge to the Pagans in distant regions, and to instruct those who are nearly as ignorant as Pagans, at home, render every attempt to remove some of the obscurities which hang, like a mist, over the Divine Book, of peculiar importance. The period is approaching,, and must arrive, in which that Book will become perfectly intelligible to believers, perfectly rational to unbelievers, and most acceptable to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death; and happy is every one who can accelerate its arrival.
DN NATURAL AND REVEALED REEIG ION, AS CONNECTED
- CHAP. II.
Religion is every thing, or it is nothing. It is the one thing needful, or it is a phantom of the brain. If a being or beings exist, who possess the power, and the disposition, to interfere in the concerns of mortals, and who are perpetually engaged in conferring favours, or inflicting evils, a most important connection, a relationship exists also, which no human being can dissolve, or elude; and it becomes an act of the highest prudence to turn this connection to the best account. Our earnest enquiries should, therefore, be into the reality of such an existence and agency, and in what manner we shall be able to secure the complacency, or avert the displeasure of these beings: and we shall naturally be induced to shape our conduct,