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truth, there is a real harmony. In vocal music there may be many voices employed at the same time, and yet there be no jar, because they all unite in the same sound. There may also be different tones, as well as voices, yet no discord, because they all unite to make a concord of sound. As the according tones and voices in singing, make one harmonious piece of music; so do the different doctrines, experiences, and duties of the gospel, all sweetly accord, and constitute a harmony of divine truth.
There is no doubt a harmony between the different doctrines, which make the creed of the scriptures; also between all those graces of the Spirit, which form the inward experience of the Christian ; and between all those duties, which when taken together, constitute a holy life. As there is an internal harmony in the ramifications which proceed from each of these principal branches, there is undoubtedly a harmony equally perfect between the principal branches themselves; they must all grow from the same root, and therefore make one tree. That experimental religion which is genuine, must harmonize with the true doctrinės ; for it is produced by them, and must of consequence
accord with them. That practice, which is right, will agree with experi. mental religion; for it is its most natural fruit. And since a correct practice is the fruit of those experiences, which are the product of truth believed, a correct practice must also have an intimate connexion with an orthodox faith.
After making two remarks, which have been suggested to my mind by an entrance on so interesting a subject as the harmonizing of divine truth, I shall proceed immediately to the main work, beginning with the doctrinal department.
1. There is great encouragement to engage in the study of theology, or divine truth. The subject is of all others the most important. It relates to the infinite God, and to things unseen and eternal. It opens a wider field for the employment of our expanding faculties than any of the human sciences; and is perfectly superior to them all, inasmuch as it has a more direct tendency to purify the heart and make us wise unto salvation. Here is truth of the most interesting character, and it can be known with entire certainty ; since a divinely inspired book is put into our hands to guide us in our researches. No human science can be compared with this, either in its importance, or in the facilities it furnishes to arrive at certainty, by ascertaining what is the very truth.
Medicine and law occupy the attention of many of our educated men; and these are no unimportant studies, since they not only im. prove the mind of the student, but qualify bim to be more extensively useful. The study of divine truth is still more improving, and its practical influence is of superior importance. The medical student employs his mind in acquiring that knowledge which will qualify him to be instrumental in removing the diseases of the body. In acquiring this knowledge he is assisted by books ; but his authors disagree, and in the controverted points he has not, like the student in theology, an infallible standard to which he can repair. It is conceded that theo. logical writers do not always agree; yet their possessing a common standard renders an agreement practicable. By this means truth can be known, and that with certainty.
Law has a nearer affinity to theology than medicine ; for while the latter contemplates man as an animal, the former considers him as an accountable agent: but theology, in importance, ranks above the civil law ; since it has to do more immediately with man's immortal inter. ests. It places him directly before the Supreme Judge, and seeks to influence him by the retributions of eternity. The law student has many valuable books to assist him in acquiring the knowledge of his profession ; but they do not afford him such effectual aid as the stu. dent in theology receives from that single volume, the Bible.
The study of medicine is confined to physicians, and that of law to attornies; but that of divinity need not, and ought not to be restricted to divines. The medicines of the physician may effect a cure on our bodies, while we are perfectly unskilled in his art; and the attorney may successfully plead our cause, though we should remain ignorant of those principles of law on which his pleas are grounded. But the spiritual patient must himself be made acquainted with his disease, and the remedies which are administered, else they will effect no cure : for as his disease is of a moral nature, so it is with the medicines which are made use of for its removal. And that sinner, who em. ploys the Son of God to plead his cause in the court of heaven, must himself understand the principles on which his Advocate grounds the pleas which he makes in his behalf. Nor let any man, even in the humbler walks of life, think the knowledge of divine truth is something beyond his grasp. Let him search for it as silver, and dig for it as for hid treasure, and he will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. Prov. ii. 4, 5.
. , 2. Nothing can be more proper than prefacing and accompanying the investigation of divine truth with humble prayer to God. With his word in our hands we are nevertheless greatly exposed to err, because sin has blinded our minds. David, with the word of God before him, felt that he needed still further assistance, and therefore prayed, “ Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” The Bible itself needs to be read prayerfully; and every other book we read should be spread before the Lord; and while it is read should be carefully compared with his word, that we may know what to receive and what to reject.
Let me earnestly intreat every one who shall conclude to read the work which is now before him, to undertake it in a prayerful manner. The subject, you perceive, is one of great importance. A mistake on a subject so important as this, may be of such a nature as to prove fatal to the interests of your soul. As soon as you have finished reading this introduction, if you have not done it already, let me hope that you will present the book before the Lord, and seek for his aid
in its peru. sal. Ask him to put your heart into a frame to receive all the truth it shall contain, and to reject nothing except that which shall be repug. nant to his word. To preserve your heart in this teachable frame you will need the Holy Spirit, whose aid is promised only in answer to prayer. Luke xi. 13. If you do not need the Spirit to give correct. ness to your opinions, it is certain that without his help you will never receive the truth in the love of it.
The improvement of my readers in the knowledge of revealed truth, if I mistake not my own feelings, has been an object dear to my heart. It certainly has engaged many of my prayers. I trust they will not consider me unreasonable, when I request them to second these prayers which have been made on their behalf; and when I request them to implore the blessing of God to attend this book wherever it shall go.
The Bible contains a system of Doctrines. These are as true as the Bible itself, and one doctrine is as true as another; but they are not all equally fundamental to the religion it inculcates. The plan of this work will lead me to confine myself more particularly to the doctrines which lie at the foundation. These will be considered under distinct Articles.
THERE IS ONE ONLY LIVING AND TRUE GOD, POSSESSED OF INFINITE NATURAL AND MORAL PERFECTIONS; AND THE JEHOVAH or the SCRIPTURES IS THAT God.
The first truth which presents itself to our view, on looking into the volume of inspiration, or of nature, is the existence and infinite per. fection of God. This truth is the basis upon which all others stand ; for without it none of the rest could have had an existence.
Had not this been true, there had been no religion either revealed or natural : for had there been no God to create, there would have been no creatures to adore him. But since it is an incontrovertible fact, that there is a dependent universe, it is certain there is a creating Power.
That something has always existed, is as demonstrable as that there is existence at the present time ; for non-entity cannot originate being: It is easy to account for the existence of the world we inhabit, and all those which are spread out before us in the heavens, when once we
have adopted the sentiment, that there is a God, whose existence is without beginning, and whose ability both to plan and execute, are without any limits.
The visible universe, especially that portion of it which falls within our more immediate observation, while it is manifestly the product of unlimited skill and power, seems, in the most of its parts, to be wholly unconscious of its own existence; and in no part is there the least approach towards independence. “ Every house," said the apostle, “is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.” The house, while unconscious of its own existence, displays such skill and power as are possessed by no being on earth, except man.
It must, then, be correct reasoning to say, that the man who is the builder had an existence antecedently to the house he built ; also that his antecedent existence is the cause why such a house exists at all. And do we not reason with equal correctness, when, from the existence of a manifestly dependent universe, in which are displayed infinite wisdom and power, we infer that there must be an infinitely wise and almighty builder ; and that he must have been before the world was? Heb. iii. 4. Should the demand be made, How will you account for the existence of the builder of the universe, any more easily than for the existence of the universe without a builder? it may be replied by asking, Why do you always infer the existence of a builder on the sight of a house? Why do you not reason thus : “ If I should undertake to account for the existence of the house by saying, it was built by some man, I shall still have to account for the existence of the man who built it; I may there. fore as well stop at the threshold, and suppose the house to have existed independently of any cause beyond itself.” Yet no man reasons thus in relation to the products of human skill and power. No one thinks of attributing self-sufficiency to an unconscious house, however great may be its elegance and convenience. Nor does any one attribute such a product of skill to the sagacity of a brute. We do not rest until we have found a cause adequate to the effect. In man we find it. But now we need to find a cause adequate to the existence of man, and of all the animal and vegetable tribes with which we are surrounded. And is it not just as evident, if we would rationally account for the existence of the world, that we must look for a cause beyond the world itself, as that we must do so in the case of the house?
But where, it may now be asked, shall we stop ? The answer is plain ; stop when you are carried back to that Being whose power is sufficient to give existence to the world. You can go back no further. That you must stop somewhere is certain. But you can not stop at the house, a thing unconscious of its own existence, without searching for its cause.
You are irresistibly led back to man, its builder. Nor can you stop at man, who, though intelligent, is nevertheless as dependent as the house he builds. But when you are carried back to God, you can go no further in search of causes. In him you find a cause fully adequate to the production of all you behold. As his attributes are unlimited, they can not be dependent on any other being, either for existence or exercise. Here, then, must be the proper place to rest. The inquiry, How came such an infinite, all-sufficient, eternal Being, to exist ? is going a step too far. That he does exist, and always has