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will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh." While I was describing the heart of stone, the Spirit of God brought this reflection to his mind: "Verily, mine must be a heart of stone! for God is here speaking of giving a new heart, and I am only studying how to pronounce the English language." It cut him to the heart; it led him to the Cross; and afterwards he gave himself to the ministry of the gospel, and I had the pleasure of hearing one who was a delegate from the Scotch Congregational Union, tell me that I was his spiritual father.
THE WAGES OF SIN,
When I resided in Hampshire, and was but a young man, says one of our eminent ministers, still living, I passed through the grand forest of that county, as a poor unhappy creature who had been lately executed for murder was brought to be hung in chains, in the forest where he had committed the crime. I was going to visit a brother minister, and telling him of the circumstance, we agreed together to seize the opportunity of usefulness when the people would be collected together, in vast crowds, on the Sabbath, to witness that melancholy spectacle, a fellow-creature gibbeted to infamy. We took our station beneath the melancholy object. My brother preached from the words, "The wages of sin is death.” One of my congregation took me out in his phaeton, which served for my pulpit, from which I preached from the text, Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." There we had the sign of the wages of sin before us. To great numbers, who, like Zaccheus, had climbed up into the trees of the forest, and multitudes in wagons and on horseback all around, we preached the glorious gospel of Christ. A magistrate came up and thanked me for doing more effectually by the gospel what he was aiming to do by the law. One man, from my own town, who would never have gone into any place of worship, when I preached in the forest stood attentively to hear, and was touched to the heart. He afterwards came constantly to hear, and joined the church. His wife, also was brought to the knowledge of the truth, and while she was yet under the pangs of conviction, she addressed to me this touching speech; "Though I suffer what no tongue can describe, I am glad of it."
This was not merely for her own sake, because she hoped that salvation was coming nigh to her; but, because, said she," I have wicked relatives, and I hope they will take warning and fly to Christ." There was a specimen of what the Spirit of God does in producing wholesome pangs,-pangs, that, whilst they rend the heart, show that it is softened and opened to the most generous benevolence,-glad to be afflicted to the very core of her spirit, that her wicked relatives might be warned to flee “from the wrath to come."
REVELATION AND TRADITION.
(Concluded from page 68.)
We have thus examined the traditions which throw light upon this unwritten period of the earth's history. We have seen the gentile world, perplexed with "old wives' fables;" seeking rest but finding none, in the vain traditions and shadowy legends of priestcraft and superstition; holding many prejudices, but no conclusions; hoping much, fearing much, doubting much, reasoning much; but, knowing nothing. But now let us thrust through this thick darkness, the lamp of life, and in its light we shall see light clearly.
We have seen that the ancient heathen philosophers, had no right conceptions of a great Creating Power; for though some of them spoke occasionally of a Supreme God, they knew nothing of Him in reference to the earth which they inherited. They could not trace out the connection between Him and his works, or imagine how matter could emanate from the immaterial.
And this ignorance led them into a great variety of error.
First. That matter was eternal, and therefore the same with God. Second. That darkness was the oldest of all things-in fact, eternaland was also God.
Third. That the sun was the great source of light and life, and therefore, God.
Fourth. That the earth possessed an innate principle of life, and if not absolutely God, was able to produce and maintain all things without any extraneous power.
When, for example, they conceived of the earth, as "standing out of the water, and in the water," as primitive tradition described it; and saw enough in its structure, and the relics it enclosed, to satisfy them that it had suffered shipwreck even before they were called into existence; it was but natural that they should consider it eternal as regarded its
constituents. This opinion necessarily brought in materialism-the eternity, or, in other words, the deity of matter. Metempsychosis, or the wanderings and migrations of the soul followed; and to that succeeded the worship of those animals in which it was supposed successively to lodge.
But the Bible puts in its claim, and the plague is stayed. The alchemy of that one disclosure-"In the beginning, GOD created the heavens and the earth"-changes the entire aspect of this chaos of the mind, and leads it home; not indeed through a series of probationary stages, or the bodies of every kind of beast, and bird, and creeping thing, but by the direct intimation that our Creator is not far from any of us; for in him we live, and move, and have our being.
We have contemplated the earth swaddled in primitive darkness; and because the curtained eye could look no farther, we find that darkness deified, as the ancientest of things, and the first principle of all, under the names of Nox, Erebus, (a word originally Hebrew,) and Athor.
But Revelation is given, and the God of glory irradiates the thick cloud, looking from behind it, and driving back the congregated hosts of error, and ignorance, and impurity.
We have heard the profane and vain babblings of antiquity, with regard to the vivifying energy of the sun; but have found no mention of Him who sends it forth, rejoicing as a strong man to run his race. And hence, under the names of Baal, Moloch, Osiris, Thammuz, Ammon, or the Lord of heaven, it has held a primary place in all the systems of idolatry; the lesser light that rules the night has been regarded as his consort, and all the host of stars have claimed their share of reverence and adoration.
But the Bible is interposed-the God who spake and it was done; the Word by whom all things were made, and the Spirit who garnished the heavens, demand the worship thus unwarrantably bestowed upon the creature.
Peor and Bäalim
Forsake their temples dim,
With that thrice-battered God of Palestine;
Heav'n's queen and mother both,
Now sits not, girt with tapers' holy shine,
The Lybic Hammon shrinks his horn,'
In vain the Tyrian maids their wounded Thammuz mourn.
And sullen Moloch, fled
Hath left in shadows dread,
His burning idol, all of blackest hue;
In vain with cymbals' ring,
They call their grisly king,
In dismal dance, about the furnace blue:
The brutish gods of Nile as fast
Isis and Orus, and the dog Anubis, haste.
So, when the sun in bed,
Pillows his chin upon the orient wave;
The flocking shadows pale
Troop to the infernal jail,
Each fettered ghost slips to his several grave;
And the yellow skirted fays
Fly after the night-steeds, leaving their moon-loved maze.
The doctrine of the mundane egg, supposed a quickening principle residing in the earth; and hence the prolific influence, wherever it was traceable, received that homage which was due only to the great Giver of Life himself. From this idea, resulted Pantheism, or the religion that affects to find God in all; though avowed Pantheism, it has been well remarked, is only another name for disguised Atheism.
But the records of inspiration clearly disclose an extraneous cause in the Spirit, who moved upon the face of the waters, and infused by his creative energy, life, and harmony, and beauty into the work of His hands.
The sympathy awakened by a serious contemplation of the views entertained by the heathens on the second topic-the fall of man, is of still deeper and more powerful character.
An overwhelming persuasion on their parts, that they had fallen from their original purity, and a vivid consciousness that the wiles of some evil spirit had been the instrumentality by which they had been allured into this state of suffering, drove them to the desperate alternative of sacrificing their dearest treasures; the desire of their eyes, the fruit of their bodies, as a propitiation for the sins of their souls; to implore the great tempter himself to reverse the fearful sentence, and to exclaim in intensest agony of spirit, "How long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear; even cry out unto thee, of violence, and thou wilt not save!"
Is it possible to imagine a scene of greater distress and horror, than that exhibited in the feasts of Bacchus Monoles, already referred to; when his worshippers, crowned with serpents, yelled out in tones that would have stricken through the coldest Christian heart, the iterated name of Eve, to whom they attributed all their present misery.
Nay, even in our own country, in times of druidical superstition, many an ancient pile has reddened in the altar-flame that preyed upon a human sacrifice devoted to the Great Destroyer-the Chiven or Remphan of the Bible-the star of which god then glowed coldly in the northern sky, forming the one most conspicuous and venerated, in the mystic constellation of the dragon.
This was natural religion-and natural religion enlightened too, by a straggling ray from Revelation-a ray that only served to make the darkness visible, playing with a lurid and uncertain light upon the wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores of a diseased and feverish world; but giving no clue to the discovery of the Great Physician.
But the Bible is vouchsafed: and the light that emanates from Calvary, is sent out to lead the weary and the way-worn-the fainting heart and the sickened head-to a refuge and a rest, a covert and a hiding-place in Him whose uttermost of mercy, is as comprehensive as his utmost of creation.
And what do we learn from the fact that certain forms and notions on religious subjects were afloat in the world among the heathens of antiquity; but that they wanted farther information to receive and apply them to their proper ends? Yes, we learn more; we gain a clearer insight into the fearful responsibility they incurred, by corrupting these rills from the fountain-head of truth; changing the truth of God into a lie, and worshipping and serving the creature more than the Creator!
But with regard to many to whom these streams had been transmitted with all their impurities, and who were not themselves directly answerable for these corruptions, how ardently a farther revelation might be desired. For though a vast majority, "when they knew God, glorified him not as God," there were those among them, who, in the words of Cowper,
-Would sit content,
And humble learners of a Saviour's worth,
Preach it who might-such was their love of truth,
Was it enough for them to know that without shedding of blood there was no remission (and this was more than nature taught them), and yet know nothing of Him, to whom all sacrifices pointed, and in whom they centred ? "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices, saith the Lord; I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts, and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats. Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination to me: the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies I cannot away with, it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting!"
But the Bible throws a flood of light upon the means by which acceptance may be sought and found; presenting us in few words with the substance of all these shadows, in Him who is to sprinkle many nations, being made a sin-offering for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.