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Again, in the education of the Christian life, the services of natural religion are often invaluable. There are states of mind when its evidence is most convincing. There are moments when the heavens not only reveal, but declare the glory of God. Who, at the silent hour of midnight, can look at the hosts of stars, and not sometimes feel “immortal impulses?"

" Thick clustering orbs, and this our fair domain,

The tall, dark mountains, and the deep toned stars," have an articulate voice.

It is mentioned of a venerable New England clergyman, now deceased, that, when in college he was called upon to demonstrate the truths of the Copernican astronony, the evidence which it furnishes for the being of a God was so overpowering, that he fainted. The impression was never lost. It appeared to produce a permanent change in his feelings, and ever afterwards to constitute a characteristic feature of his mind.

Still, for a fallen race, natural theology is inadequate. It whispers of wisdom, not of grace, of a bountiful Creator, not of a redeeming Saviour, of one God, not the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ruined man needs other provisions, powers of grace which can regenerate and sanctify his heart. The foundation of a moral and religious character must be laid in that law which converts the soul, in that Gospel which purifies the conscience.

I now come to the remaining source and standard of moral influence. The Bible is the rule of life. The moral and religious character is to be moulded in accordance with the principles and spirit of the inspired page. When practically followed, what bearing does it have upon the character? How does obedience to its precepts affect the human soul?

I. It brings it into harmony with itself. It readjusts its disordered faculties. It begins by laying the foundation well.

When we first see a complicated piece of machinery in motion, having a thousand apparently independent parts, operating over a wide surface, with springs of exceeding delicacy playing in company with those of great weight and enormous power, the whole animated with the breath of life, conspiring, almost with superhuman intelligence, to one finished and beautiful result, we are filled with admiration, It is simplicity in the midst of labyrinthine circuits, the reign of perfect order in the midst of the most deafening confusion.

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1846.]
Powers of the Mind and Soul.

27 At an oratorio some years ago, there were collected several hundred instruments of music, and nearly all the musical genius of three kingdoms. Yet amid this wilderness of sounds there was entire concord. From the harpings of these multitudinous harpers, only one volume of melody was poured forth. Infinite diversity and perfect unity; a thousand agents rational and irrational tasking their utmost capabilities, and yet not the slightest dissonance. We are amazed at this triumph of genius over what should seem to be invincible obstacles,—that feeble man can so copy that variety in unity which characterizes the works of God. Yet, when we view God's workmanship we can hardly call it a copy; it bears hardly a faint resemblance to its divine original. When we look at the mind of man, a simple uncompounded substance, yet with powers of the utmost variety and complexity, its states changing with the rapidity of light, with faculties different in kind as well as in degree, its delicate and diversified machinery, operating though unseen, under laws as sure as those which govern the stars in their courses, and unlike all the works of man, supplied with powers for indefinite self-improvement, with aspirations after a state which it sometimes does not even picture to itself, with glimpses into undiscovered lands into which no eagle's eye hathglanced, conscious of the absolute freedom of thought and will, yet pressed upon by a Being who foreknows and foreordains the first inception of a desire ;-does the most exquisite and elaborated piece of machinery bear any analogy to this divine superstructure? Can the sublimest oratorio, that ever held the hearts of men in breathless admiration, be compared for one moment with this cunning living harp ?

Besides, we know little yet of the powers of the soul. The soul of one man has, occasionally, certain moods, which may not, perhaps, find an answering chord in any other human bosom ; certain states which it cannot fully explain to itself; thoughts which lie too deep for tears, and too deep to be interpreted. These peculiar moods of mind do not consist in the feelings which flow from refinement, knowledge, or piety, in the ordinary acceptation of these terms, but they are rather the yearnings of the soul towards what may be hereafter, dim foreshadowings of that joy which the disenthralled spirit alone can understand.

And yet such delineations have respect to what the mind has been and may be, not to what it is in its natural state. Its fine mechanism is strangely disordered. The original end of its creation is lost. We learn the nature of its structure by the extent and

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melancholy grandeur of its ruins. Its sweet music, which once charmed the ear of its Creator, is now harsh discord. The powers that allied it to angels are now known principally by the terror of their movement.

Account for the fact as we may, its existence is beyond contradiction. Whatever be our connection with the original apostasy, whatever be the nature of the influence that has come down from Adam, be the preponderance of evil on the side of the first transgression, or of the actual personal offence, the fact admits of no qualification or denial. The proofs crowd upon us unceasing. ly and in broad day light. They are within us and about us. The consciousness of every moment has a tongue, every wind of heaven has its sad voices. History, with its unbroken chapters of blood and crime, only confirms what we hourly see and every moment feel.

The youth that crosses our path is full of buoyant hope. Life in its long vistas is to him the garden of Eden. He exults even in animal existence. It is delightful to see his bounding movements, to hear his joyous shouts. They are perfectly befitting his period of life, and they attest the goodness of his bountiful Creator.

More delightful still is it to see the unfolding of his intellectual powers, the ardor with which he opens the page of knowledge, the admiration with which he gazes on the discoveries of science, when all the walks of literature wear the freshness of the morning. He is developing another part of the nature that God has given him. It is always pleasant to see these transitions from a life of sensation to one of reflection and imagination, the blending of childlike feelings with those of youth and manhood.

And yet if we follow this ardent youth through the day till the shadows of night close around him, do we find that his thoughts and feelings spontaneously revert to his Creator and Redeemer? Does he sometimes hasten to the place of retirement and prayer? Does he sometimes gladly leave the society of his companions that he may converse with his invisible Friend and Father? Is this last duty of the day the most grateful ? Does his heart sometimes seem like a flame of fire ascending to its original source? Nothing like this appears. The animal and the intellectual absorb the whole of his thoughts. His moral nature is a waste.

Now here is the point where the word of God comes in. It does not repress the animal instincts. It does not discourage the

1846.)
Mode of Instruction in the Bible.

29 highest efforts of the intellect, but it rectifies the moral disorder. It rearranges the scattered pillars of the moral edifice. It brings the entire soul into harmony with itself. In short it establishes the character on an enduring basis. It begins with a foresight of the end. It builds a structure which the storms shall not overturn.

The maxims current in society, those finer sentiments possessed by a few elevated natures, together with all the formal rules of the moralist, and even the sublime teachings of nature, fail on this point. They do not touch the source of the difficulty. They do not mould aright the primary elements of the character. This is the prerogative of God's truth.

II The Bible furnishes the appropriate knowledge for the formation of character.

This knowledge will be particularly serviceable in the formation of character in three respects. It is fitted to the enlightening and educating of the conscience. Its principal design is to affect our moral nature. It does not concern itself primarily, with the understanding. It has nothing to do with abstract, scientific truth. Its doctrines and precepts relate to us as moral and spiritual beings, to our duties towards our fellow men and to God. While, therefore, the eye is perusing these sacred truths, and the inind is apprehending their relations, the conscience is quickened, and the mists of prejudice being dispersed, it becomes quick to discern and authoritative to decide. It lives in its appropriate element; it has food congenial to its nature. We no longer mistake its enlightened conclusions for weak and unfounded scruples. Thus the way is prepared for unanimity in its verdicts, and the characters of all formed under its divine illuminations will have strong points of coincidence.

Again, this knowledge consists, in large part, of general principles. Many of the precepts of the New Testament are stated in the most comprehensive forms, as if they admitted no exception. The Bible teaches nothing dialectically. It has no system of definitions, no ingenious casuistry. It affirms broadly and without qualification, not informing us whether its statement has respect to this country, or to that age exclusively. It imposes no such shackles.

Now the advantages of this mode are manifold. We feel an interest that we could not in any other circumstances. It throws ns upon our common sense and good judgment. It compels us to make limitations, to separate the local from the permanent, the

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shadow from the substance. We are to carry out the principle into its details. We are to judge in regard to its applicability to particular cases. The intellect and moral sense are thus thoroughly awakened. We search the Scriptures. We dig into them as for hidden treasure. And not the intellect merely expands in the process; under this hardy discipline the character is formed to an excellence which could never be attained, did the Bible consist of minute detail, specific applications, and not of sugges. tive hints and fruitful principles.

A third peculiarity of this knowledge is, that where there is a living exemplification of a principle, no notice is given of the fact. There is no moral appendix to the story. We are not advertised of the object of the narrative. All is left to make its natural impression upon us. It seems to be a history, or biography, and nothing more. No ulterior purpose is apparent. In the most guileless simplicity every incident is recorded, as if the matter were to end with itself. Now such compositions always make the deepest impressions on the heart. We are taken captive before we are aware. The story has conveyed some abiding practical lesson. The account respecting Joseph is an artless memoir. Yet it fastens on the soul some of the weightiest articles in a scheme of theology. It is eminently useful because it makes no pretension. How unlike the wordy commentary with which vain man often covers up this beautiful narrative. This is peculiarly characteristic of the Bible. Its stories drop like the rain and distil as the dew. The writers never try to take the heart by storm. On the contrary, their words insinuate themselves among our deepest sensibilities, just as the preparatory influences in the winter and early spring silently pervade the soil,—the sure precursors of abundant flowers and fruits.

III. Another advantage of the biblical morality arises from the fact that it lays its prohibition on the first tendency to evil in the heart. It does not wait for the overt act, nor for the half-formed desire. It denounces the slightest parleying with temptation, the entertaining for the briefest moment of a corrupt wish. In its view, the apostasy did not consist in plucking the fruit. The race was ruined, when the first suggestion of the tempter was not instantly repelled. Death eternal hung on a moment's weakness in the will. All hope was gone when the moral principle wavered.

In the estimate of God's law, the high-way robbery is comparatively innocent. The crime was in the covetous glance of the eye-in not instantaneously crushing the avaricious desire. What

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