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temporal and eternal happiness, he only en-. joins us a mild and lenient system of conduct, delightful in contemplation, easy in performance; 'a service of perfect freedom, “ whose ways are ways of pleasantness, and “all its paths peace;" the adoption of which leads to a man's respecting himself, without vanity or presumption, to the esteem of the worthy part of his fellow-creatures, to the enjoyment of cheerfulness and the peace of God in this life, and to glory, honour, and éternal happiness in the next.
The next instance I shall adduce of God's goodness to man is the excessive care he has been pleased to take, that no man should misapprehend the duty he is expected to discharge in this life, unless he does so, wil. fully. When the wickedness, which prevailed continually in the hearts of the antediluvians, was so excessive, that God declares in his Scriptures it even repented him that he had made man, he then, in mercy to the human species, destroyed this vile race, lest their evil and vicious principles should for ever have been propagated on earth, and have wholly obliterated from the mind of man all regard to virtue and piety. The souls of these miserable men were probably impreg
nated in the highest possible degree with that venom, recently received from the great enemy of mankind by the defection of Adam. But at the same time that God destroyed these wicked people, he was pleased to give a gracious instance of his mercy, by saving Noah and his family, that a better race should spring from them, and inhabit the earth, and better principles be inculcated into the human species ; " for Noah was a
just man, and perfect in his generations : 6 and Noah walked with God.”. Now there can be no reasonable doubt entertained but that Noah, who lived three hundred and fifty years after the deluge, preached all that time the elements of a pure morality and religion to the world; and when that pure religion and morality was first debased by the idolatry of Nimrod, whose intention in building the tower or temple of Babel, or Belus, was to alienate the hearts of men from the worship of the true God, and to introduce universally an idolatrous worship of the sun in that temple, with a view, by confining their worship to this temple, to aggrandize himself, by inducing as many of the then existing race of men as he could to settle in his dominions, and afterwards, when the pure
theology of Noah was so entirely obliterated, by the multiplied idolatries of wicked priests and princes, that the knowledge of the true God was no longer known on earth, God in his goodness, never forgetting to promote the happiness of the human race, then raised up his servant Moses, to re-establish that morality and religion, which had originally been preached by Noah. He condescended to write down himself commandments and laws for the use of man; he selected a nation, to be the keeper and preserver of these sacred and valuable oracles, with the knowledge of which he was so gracious to enrich the intellect of man; and at last, when the purity and excellence of these sacred oracles were extremely debased and contaminated by the Scribes and Pharisees, who impiously introduced into this heavenly code the traditions and commandments of men, and taught that they were of equivalent virtue and value with the doctrines of God, and which interpolation would probably have led to idolatry; in an age so highly enlightened by philosophy, and a knowledge of arts and sciences, as to be capable of receiving the sublime truths of the Gospel, our blessed Saviour came on earth, to reprove the impious conduct of
these Scribes and Pharisees, and to restore the genuine purity and morality of the Mosaic dispensation ; fully to divulge all God's gracious purposes and promises to mankind, to deliver those doctrines of philanthropy, charity, and benevolence, which inculcate the love of God and our neighbour, and that sublime holiness and purity of character, required to exist in the heart of man, and likewise to manifest clear and indisputable evidences of a resurrection to a future state of fered to the righteous ; which truths were all of them beyond the power of man's intellect to reach, or of any philosophy to teach.
Here, however, it is to be observed, that though the human race was not illumined by these blessed doctrines, yet God never Jeft himself utterly without witness in the world; not only, as St. Paul observes, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness; but likewise at different periods, by his gracious appointment, there arose in the heathen world philosophers, who taught the beauty and necessity of moral virtue, some of them the unity of the Godhead, and most, if not all, (excepting the Epicureans,) that the world was go
verned by his providence. Such were Hermes Trismegistus, and the High Priest of the Eleusinian mysteries in Egypt, Confucius in China, Zoroaster in Persia, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, Zeno, Epictetus, and all the Stoic philosophers in Greece and Rome; and likewise in all parts of the globe, civilized or uncivilized, there have ever been a class of men set apart for the purpose of instructing the ignorant in the rules of morality and piety, agreeably to the received ideas that such community had of virtue and piety. This is a clear indication of God's goodness, and how much it is his will that the human mind should have every possible advantage to understand its duty. In the civilized nations of Europe, God Almighty has put it into the hearts of those who govern them to institute a set of persons, at the public expence, to disseminate the rules of morality and piety, and to explain the Scriptures to such of the poor, illiterate inhabitants of their respective dominions, as are so engaged by their avocations, that they have neither leisure, nor perhaps ability, to investigate and consider these important topics. My ideas on this subject are so well expressed in the 130th Number of the second volume of