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Alection, understanding, and judgment give him a place among the intelligent offspring of the Deity. Whether he form the connecting link
ir intelligences and irrational animals is immaterial. It is enough for us to know that God “ made him a little lower than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honour; made him to have. dominion over the works of his hands,” to be lord over this part of creation.
“ There is a spirit in man; and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth him understand. ing.”
God “ teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth, and maketh us wiser than the fowls of heaven.” By exercising, and reflecting upon, the powers of your own minds, you will learn, that you bear the image of him that cre. ated you, that your reason emanated from the eternal fountain of intelligence. This natural conclusion is authorized by a divine testimony, « God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him.” This image of the Deity, which was originally stamped upon human nature, and which it still retains in some degree, did not consist wholly in moral rectitude; but partly in the rational faculties of the
mind. So far as moral rectitude, or perfect in-. nocence, is an impression of the image of the creator on the creature, man has now no claim to the honour. Conscious that he is not in a state of perfect innocence, he must feel that, in this respect, he hath lost his dignity. Under the dominion, or corrupting influence, of sin, he bears no moral likeness to infinite purity and holiness. But, in his reason, or capacity of choosing and acting with design, and for some end, he yet exhibits a faint resemblance of underived wisdom and intelligence. In this view man holds a dignified rank among the creatures of God; and he may be reasonably required to pursue a course worthy of his nature and dig. nity, and pleasing to the author of his being..
What, then, is his duty, as a rational creature, capable of moral action? We wish our readers to enter most seriously into this inquiry: It is of vast importance. It deeply concerns you, my young friends; as an erroneous opin. ion, and wrong step, at the commencement of your mortal race, may involve you in conse: quences fatal to present peace, and to ultimate happiness.
If reason, or a capacity to discern the differ. ence between good and eyil, between that which
is agreeable, and that which is opposed, to the holy nature and will of God, be a part of the glory and honour with which man is crowned, it is his duty to obey the voice of reason, to choose and act agreeably to his knowledge of the difference between good and evil. When reason, or moral sense and discernment, fail to govern his determinations and actions, he becomes an offender against God, and against the law under which he is placed; and loses the glory and honour, which distinguished him from inferiour creatures; or tarnishes their lustre, and degrades himself below the rank assigned him. If his intellectual faculties and moral powers emanated from God, and were communicated to give him an honourable elevation in the scale of being, and to fit him for higher service than other creatures can perform, and purer enjoyment than they can receive, it must be his duty to employ them to the divine honour, for the end which God designed by enriching his soul with such gifts. A correct knowledge of ourselves as the creatures of God, endued with rational powers, and subjects of his government, will give clear views and a deep sense of our duty to him. But other considerations than those already suggested will make the matter more plain, and show, in a very strong light, that our happiness is intimately connected with the proper exercise and application of all our powers, and with the faithful improvement of every talent.
The destination of man is one. Though it should be admitted, that no certain conclusions on this point can be formed by ordinary minds and means from the light of nature; yet from this light only it appears highly probable that man is appointed to another state of existence. On this subject, however, our inquiries must be guided, principally by revelation. This confirms the conjectures which reason forms, and supports the opinion which reflecting persons have conceived from the light of nature, that the existence of human beings is not limited to the short term of the present life. The body, we know, is destined to dissolution and dust. This fact is verified in the history of all the past generations of men. They are gone down to the grave; and all the living expect to follow them. But, beyond death, what is decreed for man? Will he exist conscious of his being, and capable of either happiness, or misery? We say the light of nature, though it does not afford complete assurance to every mind, leads
the thinking part of mankind to believe the affirmative, and to conclude there must be another state of existence for our race. The author of our frame seems to have made this impression on the mind.
“ 'Tis the divinity that stirs within us ;
This doctrine, inferred from natural princi. ples, and agreeing with the strongest and most correct sentiments of the human mind, is attested by a voice from on high. It is revealed and taught by the word of God in the most explicit manner.
Will, then, our future state be affected by any thing we do in the present? Upon this point the holy scriptures, in perfect agreement with the suggestions of sober reason, are clear and decisive. They assure us, that we shall pass from this to a state of righteous retribution; in which we are to receive “ according to the deeds done in the body.” Man therefore, though at present clothed with mortality, and compassed with infirmities, is an heir of immortality, destined by his creator to pass through this world to scenes unknown, from