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LECT. finite value to those that possess them. The III.
apostles of Jesus Christ were poor in appearance, but could boast of being able to make many rich in faith and knowledge. The gifts of God to the mind are represented in one of the parables as so many talents of money, entrusted to men by the Lord of all things, with which they are to traffick in this state of probation, and improve them to the best of their power, He who makes no improvement will lose what he has got, and then he is poor indeed.
In the prophecy of Daniel, the four monarchies of the world were signified by the chief metals which are taken from the earth, all united in that visionary image which appeared to Nebuchadnezzar. The bead of gold meant the Asyrian monarchy; the breast of silver was the Persian ; the brazen part was the Grecian; and the legs and feet of iron and clay were the Roman. The last was inferior to all the rest in quality, but exceeded them in strength, as iron breaks all other things in
pieces. pieces. The kingdom of Christ, arising LECT. in the time of the fourth monarchy, is meant by the stone cut out of the mountain, (that is, out of the church) without hands, to finite this mighty image of worldly power upon the feet, and overthrow it. Accordingly, as christianity grew stronger, the Roman empire declined, and was soon reduced nearly to the state in which we now see it*.
We have taken a review of the natural creation, so far as the compass of these Lectures will permit, and have seen how the scripture has applied the several parts of it for the increase of our faith and the improvement of our understandings. Thus we are taught how to make the best and the wisest use to which this world can be applied. The Creator himself hath made this use of it, in revealing his will by it, and referring man to it for instruction
* The reader may see the three kingdoms of plants, aninals, and minerals, considered more at large in Three Difcourses preached at Fairchild's Lecture, by the author of this work. Printed for Messrs. Robinson, Pater-nofter-row. G 2
LECT. from the beginning. For this use he in
tended it when it was made; and without such an intention, there never could have been such an universal agreement between nature and revelation.
In this use of the world men differ from brutes, who can see it only with the eyes of the body, and can apply it to nothing but the gratification of the appetites. The ambitious and the covetous are wasting their time to gain as much as they can of it, without knowing what it is ; as children covet new books for the pictures and the gilding, without having sense to improve by what is within them. To those who consider only how the creation can furnish matter to their lusts and pasfions, it is no better than a vain shadow: but to those who take it rightly, it is a shadow of heavenly things; a school in which God is a teacher; and all the objects of sense in heaven and earth, and under the earth, are as the letters of an universal language, in which all nations have a common interest.
There There was an opinion, (I should rather LECT. call it a tradition) amongst some heathen S philosophers, that the world is a parable, the literal or bodily part of which is manifest to all men, while the inward meaning is hidden, as the soul in the body, the moral in the fable, or the interpretation in the parable*. They had heard there was
* Εξεσι γαρ και τον Κοσμον ΜΥΘΟΝ ειπειν" σωμαίων μεν και χρηματων εν αυτω φαινομενων, ψυχων δε και νοων κρυπτομενων. Sallust. Tege dewv. cap. 3.
Κοσμον δε αυθις Πρν μεν νοηλον οισεν η βαρβαρος φιλοσοφια, τον δε alo Inlov• 10v jusv agXlumov, 10V de Elmova 1x nanplev8 napadelynas ος. Και τον μεν αναλιθησι Μοναδι, ως αν νοηλον: Τον δε αισθηΠον Ežadı. Clem. Alex. Strom. Lib. 5. p. 412.
“ We may call the world a fable, or parable; in which " there is an outward appearance of visible things, with an 66 inward sense which is hidden as the soul under the body.
“ There is a barbarous philosophy, (i. e. a foreign philoBb fophy) which hath a knowledge of the sensible and the " intellectual worlds ; the one being the archetype or ori“ ginal, the other an image or copy of it. It compares the " intellectual to unity, and the sensible to the number fix.”
This barbarous philosophy, so called by Plato, whose doctrine is here repeated by Clemens Alexandrinus, was no · where to be found but in the bible; which in its week of Kays, has a single day, the fabbath, answering to the divine
LECT. such a thing; but to us the whole secret Spa is opened, by the scripture accommodating
all nature to things spiritual and intellectual; and whoever sees this plan with an unprejudiced mind, will not only be in a way to understand the bible, but he will want no other evidence of the Christian doctrines.
rest of the invisible world, and six days allotted to the works of this present world. Nothing but the Mosaic cosmogony, which describes the creation of the natural world in fix days, and makes one heavenly day of the fabbath, could be the original of this philosophy mentioned by Plato.
That certain characteristics of divine truth are legible in the works and ways of nature, is no new doctrine. It hath been supposed by fome, and lightly touched upon by others; but never pursued (as I have found) to any good effect. The two preceding Lectures give some little profpect of it as it stands in scattered passages of the scripture. But I am so much affected to the plan, that I have drawn out two Lectures upon it, under the title of the Natural Evidences of the Christian Religion, not yet published.