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tenance of his law. God is "just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." In sending his only-begotten Son into the world, to bear the penality of our sins, he has shown forth in glorious union, his holiness and his love - his abhorrence of sin, and his mercy to the sinner.
Now the information which the Bible gives, respecting the Supreme Being, whether considered as a harmonious whole, or viewed its principal details, is to be found originally in the Bible alone. Whatsoever of correct theology is to be met with in the pages of modern Christians, or even of deists, is borrowed from the sacred volume, - a remark which also applies to all that is true in the religion of Mahomet.
With respect to the ancient heathen philosophers, their best notions respecting the Supreme Being, were probably derived from original revelation, as well as from the light of reason and conscience. Yet these notions were fluctuating and imperfect, often tending on the one hand towards idolatry, and on the other, towards that absurd doctrine of pantheism, which identifies all created things with their Creator, and makes the universe, God. To compare the theology even of Plato and Socrates, with that of Moses, David, or Isaiah, is to compare the shades of twilight, with the full blaze of day. When we consider, that the Athenians were a highly civilized people, remarkable for the cultivation of their mental powers, and that the Jews were comparatively unpolished and ignorant; it seems impossible to account for this difference by any thing short of the doctrine laid down by Paul —" All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”
This argument is addressed to the scholar. To the unlettered man, we may safely appeal on the simple ground that the account which he finds in the Bible of the Creator and Governor of the universe
the Father of every rational being corresponds with his own sense of all that is holy and sublime. When he reflects on the strength and beauty of its several parts, and on the harmony of the mighty whole, his soul is raised and illuminated. There is a sure witness in his own heart and understanding, that this account of God is true; and that, being true, it flows not from the polluted springs of man's wisdom, but from the fountain of all truth, even from God himself.
It is one of the properties of truth that it bears to be examined from various points of view, and that its several features, under whatsoever light they are regarded, are found substantially to accord. What but truth can account for the undesigned and unforced, yet clear coincidence, between the moral attributes of God as revealed to us in Scripture, and the law communicated to mankind, through the same medium? God is holy, and he requires of his creature
a corresponding purity of heart and conduct. He is true and faithful, and his law demands a universal integrity. He is just and equitable, and whatsoever power we have over others, as parents, as masters, or as magistrates, must be applied with even-handed justice and strict impartiality. He showers down upon us innumerable gifts, and at the same time, commands us liberally to dispense the blessings which we receive. In his mercy, he forgives our iniquities; and by his moral code, he binds us to forgive one another. Notwithstanding our ingratitude and rebellion, he continues to bless us both temporally and spiritually; he suffers long, and is kind; and what are the parallel precepts of his law? — That we should return good for evil, melt down our enemies with charity, and exercise towards all around us meekness, patience, and forbearance. Finally, "God is love;" and the Scripture teaches us, that “ love is the fulfilling of the law.”
The moral law, as revealed in Scripture, partakes of the character of its Author, first, because it prescribes the practice of every virtue, and is therefore "holy, and just, and good ;'' and secondly, because it is "spiritual”- insinuating itself into the heart, reaching the spirit, and convincing the understanding. It applies to all circumstances, comprehends all conditions, regulates all motives, directs and controls all overt acts. No man who is acquainted with its precepts, and has observed their tendency, will refuse to set his seal to the following declaration : “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple ; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is
pure, enlightening the eyes ; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold ; sweeter also than honey, and the honey-comb. Moreover, by them is thy servant warned, and in keeping of them, there is great reward.”
The moral precepts contained in the writings of some of the ancient philosophers, especially in those of Plato and Cicero, appear to afford one evidence among many, that some traces of the law of God are to be found in the hearts of all men. Although, however these philosophers were gifted with an insight into the beauty and reasonableness of virtue, it is possible that they might derive part of their information on morals indirectly from the Jews, or from original revelation; and after all, it must be confessed that their morality, like their theology, was both variable and defective. There were in it two fundamental wants, producing a fearful void which revelation alone could fill. It was destitute of a fixed standard, and of adequate motives.