« הקודםהמשך »
some quotations from the Bible and other books, yet I do it with a view of giving words to my own feelings; and as conveying the sentiments of the respective authors, rather than as attaching any authority to their particular doctrines. As I shall not attempt much more, than stating my own views and feelings, I shall not rely upon any proof to support them, but leave them to be examined, condemned or approved, as my readers may feel disposed.
If we are to deny every thing that cannot be demonstrated, we shall be led into a labyrinth of scepticism. The feelings of men are appealed to, in proof of the most common truths; and philosophy has acknowledged their umpire, in questions which human reason has been unable to fathom.
That every man, in this life, owes a duty to God, is a truth so universally admitted, as to require no argument to elucidate it; and yet there are those, who, while they would deem the de. nial of it great impiety, do not scruple to affirm, that man is dependant upon his fellow-man to point out what this duty is. If people were unbiassed by tradition and education, we should probably find them as universally admitting that they knew their own proper duty, without the
aid of other men or books, as that thčre was a God on whom they are dependant.'
If there are any who suppose that a vocal voice called to Adam in the garden, their feelings must be of a very carnal nature.
Personifying God, and giving him a local habitation, is a species of idolatry. I truly believe that every perception that Adam had of Deity, was similar to what each of his descendants has felt in every succeeding age of the world. If it were not so, the Almighty, beneficent Jehovah, has been partial to his creatures.
Man was created for happiness; and it was only the attempt to know good and evil for himself, or a departure from the eternal principle of Truth, that plunged our common parent into misery-he was allured by his lusts and fell.
Let us drop the allegorical picture of a local paradise-of an audible voice of a material serpent-of visible trees and fruit—and we shall find his situation to resemble our own; we have our duty to perform as he had; the same guide to lead us to obedience to God; the same feel. ings attendant on a corporeal existence, to entice us; we seek for independence and we fall.
If we literally believe every account that is recorded in the scriptures, we shall creditthe most palpable contradictions; they abound with
allegorical descriptions and parables; and of Jesus it is said, that " without a parablespak e he not to the multitude."'*
Similar modes of expression are often record. ed in scripture, “the Lord said unto Cain, if thou doest well shalt thou not be accepted ? If thou doest not: well, sin lieth at the door.”'t There is not to be found an unbiassed indivi. dual, who has not heard this truth without a vocal voice ; and he believes it, not becauge he has read it in scripture, or that his preceptor has told him of it, but because the voice of God has spoken to his own soul. The man who has never heard it can hardly be considered as an accountable creature.
Familiar language is most frequently resorted to in the scriptures, to represent the imme, diate converse of God with man. Abraham stood before the Lord and plead for Sodom and Gomorrah "and the Lord went his way as soon as he had left communing with him."I Few will be found who believe that this was effected by the agency of words or of material existence; if it was not, it follows that there is a revelation in which the will of the Father is perceived, and known in the soul, by its own immcdiate per,
: * Matt. xiii. 3. + Gen, iv. 7. Gen. xviii. 33,
ceptions'; úninfluenced and uncontrolled by any outward circumstances.
Following the train of scripture history, we find similar language. The word of the Lord came to the prophets, &c. And Elijah is represented as conversing with the Almighty, in the cave at Horeb. Numerous are the accounts that are given of directions received by man from his Maker, through the intervention of visions of various kinds, all referring to the same spiritual communion.
In the New Testament the same language is maintained-the agency of the Holy Ghost and of angels is recorded, and the figures of Heaven, and Hell, and Satan, are resorted to, to impress the most simple truths.
When the disciples of Christ queried of him, why speakest thou unto them in parables ?” he ansivered, “because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not given.” “ For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have closed ; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart. Or in other language their perceptions were so outward and carnal, that
* Matt. xiii.
the sweet influence of the spirit of God, was ob. scured in their souls.
Conviction of truth can only be upon the soul itself; and though we may see visions and dream dreams, yet true faith is not the result of seeing or of hearing, but of internal conviction. This we may be convinced of by considering the representations of various kinds, which are made for the express purpose of pleasing the sickly desires of men; which though the eye sees, and the ear hears, there is no con• viction and consequently no belief. Now as outward representations cannot of themselves produce belief, it seems extraordinary, that their agency has ever been believed in, or considered by serious minds necessary, in the communion between God and man; it can only be accounted for, by that state of darkness, which,
seeing, perceives not, and hearing, does not understand.”
However varied the language may be, in which the communication of God's will to man is described; whether under the figure of a vocal voice; of a ministering angel, or a Holy Ghost, I conclude the same spiritual influences are alluded to.
The New Testament, containing less metaphor than the Old, has many direct references to