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he knows of Christ, and entirely from what is revealed in Scripture, he gains from those divine sources more clear and distinct views of the Deity than unassisted reason could ever attain; and of consequence, more correct ideas of what is required of himself, both with respect to God and man. His ideas may be mean in their expression, compared with the splendid language of the sages of antiquity; but the cause of the superiority of his conceptions is obvious. While they “go about to establish their own wisdom," he submits to the wisdom of God, as he finds it in his word. What inadequate views must the wisest pagans, though "they felt after him,” have entertained of Deity, who could at best only contemplate him in his attributes of power and beneficence, whilst their highest unassisted flights could never reach the remotest conception of that incomprehensible blessing, the union of his justice and his mercy in the redemption of the world by his Son-a blessing familiar and intelligible to the most illiterate Christian.

The religion of the heathens was so deplorably bad in its principle, that it is no wonder if their practice "Those just measures of

was proportionally corrupt. right and wrong," says Locke, "which necessity had introduced, which the civil laws prescribed, or philosophy recommended, stood not on their true foundation.” They served indeed to tie society together, and by these bands and ligaments promoted order and convenience but there was no divine command to make them respected; and there will naturally be little reverence for a law, where the legislator is not rever

enced, much less where he is not recognized. There will also be little obedience to a law without sanctions, where neither penalty is feared, nor reward expected.

Previous to the establishment of Christianity, philosophy had attained to its utmost perfection, and had shewn how low was its highest standard. It had completely betrayed its inability to effect a revolution in the minds of men. "Human reason," says the same great authority above quoted, "never yet, from unquestionable principles or clear deductions, made out an entire body of the law of nature. If a collection could be made of all the moral precepts in the pagan world, many of which may be found in the Christian religion, that would not at all hinder, but that the world still stood as much in need of our Saviour, and of the morality he taught." The law of the New Testament recommends itself to our regard by its excellence, and to our obedience by the authority of the Lawgiver. Christianity, therefore, presents not only the highest perfec tion, but the surest standard of morals.

In a multitude of the noble sentences and beautiful aphorisms of many of the heathen writers, there was indeed a strong tone of morality. But these fine sentiments, not flowing from any perennial source, had seldom any powerful effect on conduct. Our great poet has noticed this discordance between principle and practice in his dialogue between two great and virtuous Romans.-Cassius, who disbelieved a future state, reproves Brutus for the inconsistency between his desponding temper and the doctrines of his own Stoic school

You make no use of your philosophy,
If you give way to accidental evils.

Many of their works, in almost every species of literature, exhibit such perfection as to stretch the capacity of the reader, while they kindle his admiration, and invest with no inconsiderable reputation, him who is able to seize their meaning, and to taste their beauties ; so that an able critic of their writings almost ranks with him who excels in original composition. In like manner the lives of their great men abound in splendid sayings, as well as heroic virtues, to such a degree as to exalt our idea of the human intellect, and, in single instances, of the human character. We say, in single instances, for their idea of a perfect character wanted consistency, wanted completeness. It had many constituent parts, but there was no whole which comprized them. The moral fractions made up no integral. The virtuous man thought it no derogation from his virtue to be selfish, the conqueror to be revengeful, the philosopher to be arrogant, the injured to be unfor giving: forbearance was cowardice, humility was base. ness, meekness was pusillanimity. Not only their justice was stained with cruelty, but the most cruel acts of injustice were the road to a popularity which immortalized the perpetrator. The good man was his own centre. Their virtues wanted to be drawn out of themselves, and this could not be the case. As their goodness did not arise from any knowledge, so it could not spring from any imitation of the Divine perfections. That inspiring principle, the love of God, the vital spark of all religion, was a motive of which they had

not so much as heard; and if they had, it was a feeling which it would have been impossible for them to cherish, since some of the best of their deities were as bad as the worst of themselves.

When the history of their own religion contained. little more than the quarrels and the intrigues of these deities, could we expect that the practice of the people would be much better, or more consistent than their belief? If the divinities were at once holy and profligate, shall we wonder if the adoration was at once devout and impure? The worshipper could not commit a crime but he might vindicate it by the example of some deity; he could not gratify a sinful appetite of which his religion did not furnish a justification.

Besides this, all their scattered documents of virtue could never make up a body of morals. They wanted a connecting tie. The doctrines of one school were at. variance with those of another. Even if they could have clubbed their opinions, and picked out the best from each sect, so as to have patched up a code, still the disciples of one sect would not have submitted to the leader of another; the system would have wanted a head, or the head would have wanted authority, and, the code would have wanted sanctions.

And as there was no governing system, so there was no universal rule of morals, for morality was different in different places. In some countries people thought it no more a crime to expose their own children than in others to adopt those of their neighbour. The Persians were not looked upon as the worse moralists for marrying their mothers, nor the Hyrcanians for not marrying

at all, nor the Sogdians for murdering their parents, nor the Scythians for eating their dead.*

The best writers seldom made use of arguments drawn from future blessedness to inforce their moral instruction. Excellently as they discoursed on the beauty of virtue, their disquisitions generally seemed to want a motive and an end. Did not such a state of comfortless ignorance, of spiritual degradation, of moral depravity, emphatically call for a religion which should "bring life and immortality to light?" Did it not imperatively require that spirit which should 46 reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment?" Did it not pant for that blood of Christ which cleanseth from all sin.

Even those fine theorists who have left us beautiful reflections on the Divine nature, have bequeathed no rule for his worship, no direction for his service, no injunctions to obey him; they have given us little encouragement to virtue, and no alleviation to sorrow but the impracticable injunction, not to feel it. The eight short beatitudes in the 5th of Saint Matthew convey, not only more promises to virtue, and more consolation to sufferers, but more appropriate promise to the individual grace, more specific comfort to the specific suffering, than are to be found in all the ancient tomes of moral discipline.

Those who were invested with a sacred character, and who delivered the pretended sense of the Oracles, talked much of the gods, but said little of goodness;

*Plutarch relates, that Alexander, after conquering these coun tries, had reformed some of their evil habits.

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