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an awful prostration of heart, the contemplation of a series of events, every one of which bears, in a nearer or remoter view, on that personal interest which involves his own salvation. It comprises within its compass, the grand revelation of all the purposes of the Almighty, unapproachable but by the eye of faith. At the same time, it staggers not the imagination by any unusual reach of intellect or depth of thought. The apprehension of an ordinary mind is as well qualified to appreciate all its treasures, as those whom the world calls wise, and who stand upon the high places of the earth. If we bring with us a teachable heart, an unprejudiced understanding, fervent prayer, and a due sense that we ourselves want all that a benevolent Saviour can bestow, the door of salvation will be fully opened, and we shall hear the joyful accents of that voice which gladdens all nature, and strikes the sorrowful penitent with comfort-" Come, ye blessed of my Father!"
There is something overpowering in the contemplation of a grand series of events, of whatever kind, but when they constitute an essential part of our own history, it requires the energy of the man, as well as the calmness and discrimination of the Christian, to appreciate their real value. Confusion of ideas would overturn the plain system that lies before us in one comprehensive view, a system so plain, and beneficial, that the Evangelical Isaiah, in delineating the way of holiness that the redeemed shall pass along, observes
that “the way-faring man, though a fool, shall not err therein 1."
Learned men have divided the annals of the world into several grand epochs of time, that the movements of its great events might illustrate the history of human nature. They imagined that similar periods would produce similar conclusions. The Platonic, or great year, (consisting of a cycle of about twenty-five thousand years) or the revolution of the equinoxes, when the stars and constellations return to their former places in respect of the equinoxes, is a memorable, but fanciful computation. The chronological arrangement of the Bible has been pressed into the same service, and the term of six thousand years been presumptuously allotted to the duration of the world; namely two thousand before the flood of Noah, two thousand till the birth of our Lord, and the remainder till the consummation of all things.
In the study of divinity, the same kind of arrangement has been adopted, but on more solid principles; that the spiritual history of the man might accompany the narrative of his original condition. As the introduction of revelation is that striking incident which brought light into the world, the interpretation of the occurrences of life would be unintelligible without it. Resting on this ground the division of Christian time will be different from that of all others. For as the
1 Is. xxxv. 8.
fundamental doctrines of Christianity may be traced through a succession of ages, that very circumstance stamps a value on the benevolent disclosure. It makes it evident that, in the application, they were not calculated for one age, one clime, one country, but that they are the property of the universe, and that they will continue to prevail till time itself shall be no
The revealed dispensations with which we are most concerned, are, the Patriarchal, the Levitical, and the Christian; not one of which can be clearly understood without the other. Taken as one whole they offer an awful subject of contemplation. As, in the sublime in building an appropriate greatness of dimension is requisite1; so, in one view of the grand dispensation of Providence, a magnitude of imagination, a magnificence of thought, if I may so express myself, springs up instantly at the sight; and the sublime is experienced in our own bosoms. The effect indeed of the immensity of the prospect is momentous; and happy will that man be, in whom it excites astonishment and devotion.
The harmony which subsists in the three dispensations of our revealed religion is such as to satisfy the mind that they originate in the depth of Almighty wisdom, and are completely adapted to the holy purposes for which they were instituted. The two former dispensations were initiatory to the third,
1 Burke on the Sublime.
which completes that grand design of God for the salvation of man, "before the foundation of the world." As an unity of intention is evident in all the revelations made to the patriarchs and prophets, so an unity of doctrine, spiritual, pre-eminent, and divine, forms the conspicuous crown of the revelation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
That there is a consistency between the wants of man in a state of nature, and his relief in a state of grace, is evident from every word of the Gospel. It is in itself whole and complete. No one particle of connection can be omitted. Every circumstance harmonizes with good effect in the most beautiful order, and brings forth that result most essential to the Christian character, that we may be complete in him, want no requisite to salvation, in, and through him, who is the head of all principality and power. "The corruption of human nature, our reconciliation to God by the atonement of Christ, and the restoration of our primitive dignity by the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit, it is clear, are all parts of one whole, united in close dependence and mutual congruity."
The genuine doctrine of the Christian Church is embodied in that series of festivals and fasts, which distinguish the ecclesiastical or Christian year. In all this, there are infinite grounds for serious reflection; and, if considered as comprising all the "counsel of God"," every step that we take in Christian know
ledge, will be a step taken in Christian faith, and our walk completed in Christian duty. Oh! who can tell the inward satisfaction of such an unction of the spirit! Who can describe the glorious sensations of à departing soul impressed with such a seal! The ascent will be the ascent of an angel passing through regions of unutterable bliss, till it reaches the empyreal height, gladdened, saved, and crowned in the presence of the Almighty!
II.-The Child of Promise.
THE word promise, in the Christian acceptation of the expression, is attended with such a pleasing contemplation, that we are prepared to pursue the train of imagination with an alacrity that delights, and a zeal that leads to a conclusion which satisfies the warmest expectation. The land of promise has become proverbial; and we pursue the wanderings in the wilderness till we arrive, with the Israelites, at a country flowing with milk and honey, a country abounding in every thing that could please the eye or gratify the senses. That land of promise to the sons of Jacob, was merely an emblem of a spiritual kingdom to the sons of the Gospel. For who is our leader through the wilderness of the world? Who is he that strikes the rock, and bids the living water flow through the Christian camp? One who was