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Supreme Being, of religious worship, or of the true end and happiness of man. If on each of these, manifest and gross errors have prevailed ; if even on fundamental truths the best and wisest among them have not been able thoroughly to satisfy themselves, or to convince others; may we not ask, with the Apostle, “ Where is the wise? Where is the “ scribe? Where is the disputer of this 66 world ? Hath not God made foolish the 66 wisdom of this world b?"
Still, however, these researches have their value. The Gospel itself is not addressed to us as weak and credulous beings, incapable of discerning between what is worthy or unworthy of God to promulgate, or of man to receive. To its doctrines, no less than to its precepts, the injunction applies, “ in malice “ be ye children, but in understanding be “ meni."-entertain no prejudices hostile to truth, receive it with the simplicity of an ingenuous mind, yet “ be ready always to give “ a reason of the hope that is in you k.” St. Paul reasoned with the Athenians from the natural and moral evidences of the Divine perfections. He reasoned also with the Corinthians from similar evidences, in proof of a resurrection from the dead. Our blessed h 1 Cor. i. 20. il Cor. xiv. 20.
ki Peter iii. 15.
Saviour frequently suggested to his hearers considerations of the same kind : and notwithstanding our inability to discover spiritual truths, yet, when discovered, various are the corroborating testimonies within our reach by which they may be confirmed, illustrated, and recommended so much the more effectually to general acceptance. By the due application of such means we shall most effectually fulfil the injunctions to “prove all
things', and to “ believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God m.”
Thus it appears that the deplorable state of the Gentile world at the first promulgation of the Gospel, the labours of the Apostles, and of St. Paul in particular, in “ turning “ them from darkness to light, and from the
power of Satan unto God,” and the eminent success of their labours in establishing those great elementary principles of religion which form the basis of the whole mystery of our Redemption,-all combine to impress us with the deepest feelings of gratitude and humility, with the profoundest sentiments of admiration and awe. While they admonish us of our own natural imbecility and corruption, they elevate our thoughts to the inscrutable perfections of the Divine nature, and to 11 Thess. v. 21.
m 1 John iv. 1
the boundless mercy and love of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, in delivering us from the bondage of ignorance and error, and leading us to the knowledge of the truth. Our return for these benefits is, that we “ wor
ship God in spirit and in truth ";" that we “ have fellowship with the Father and with “ his Sono;" that being now
light in the “ Lord,” we “walk as children of light,” having “no fellowship with the unfruitful works “ of darkness P;" and that we present our“ selves a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable “ unto God, which is our reasonable service l.” These are the indispensable obligations we owe to “ the Author and Finisher of our “ faith;” and “if we know these things, happy
are we if we do them ?:”
ROMANS ix. 13, 14.
As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau
have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
IN judging of any portion of Holy Writ, and especially of the historical occurrences in the Old Testament, it is highly necessary that we bear in mind the general scope and design of the sacred writings. The main purpose of these writings is to unfold the history of man's redemption, and to trace its gradual accomplishment from the earliest ages of mankind to that “ fulness of time,” when “ God sent forth his Son” to perform the promises made to the Patriarchs, to Moses, and to the Prophets. In the developement of this great design, many instances are recorded of the overruling providence of the Almighty rendering the most untoward actions and circumstances subservient to His will. Narratives of this kind not only derive great
additional interest from being thus connected with the leading object of the Scriptures, but may
hence oftentimes be cleared from difficulties and misconceptions, to which they would otherwise be liable.
To remove these, however, it is further necessary that we carefully discriminate between the characters of the persons concerned in such occurrences, and the purpose to which the Divine Providence rendered them instrumental. We are not to suppose that every action related of persons the most distinguished in holy writ for piety and goodness is recorded for our imitation, however conducive it may appear to have been to the designs of the Almighty. It is the sole prerogative of the Almighty to “make all things “ work together for good,” and even to bring good out of evil. It is therefore incumbent upon us to form our judgment of men's personal conduct in these transactions according to the principles of duty laid down in Scripture itself, and not to imagine that the good or ill success resulting from it is a certain proof of the Divine approbation or disapprobation of the respective parties.
The history of Jacob and Esau, referred to by the Apostle in the text, is one of those portions of Scripture which requires particu