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shipped, always indicate the character of the worshipper; and whatever has a tendency to reform this, will necessarily reform Paganism. The admission of the Great Jehovah of the Jews among the divinities of Pagan worship, and his acknowledged superiority, introduced a new æra in Paganism itself. He was doubtless their Jupiter, the father of gods and men; and notwithstanding the intermixture which absurd and impure imaginations sometimes made, he was considered not only as more powerful, but of a more perfect character than the others. The idea of a Supreme, reduced the other beings into a salutary subordination. Their empire was more limited, their morals were more pure. That great Being, whose condescension is infinite, winked at these times of ignorance, as the Apostle expresses it; resented not so unworthy an alliance; for by these means he was gradually leading forwards his untutored offspring, to a more perfect knowledge of himself.
The Apostle Paul observed, when he was at Athens, an altar erected to the unknown God. Whether this was a general confession of the ignorance and embarrassment of their minds, respecting the great first cause, as some suppose,
or referred, as others suppose, to the desire of the Athenians to honour some particular god, who had averted a great calamity from their city, it was still a confession of ignorance, and also an indication of a grateful disposition. Both were preparatory to the reception of the truths of revelation. To be conscious of our own ignorance is, in fact, an advancement in knowTedge. A mind perfectly in the dark cannot perceive its own darkness. Their more savage ancestors thought that they knew their gods most intimately, and that they perfectly resembled the most tyrannic and depraved models of the human species. When reason begins to doubt of the absurdities which had checked its exertions, it is weakening their influence. It will find its way through one class of errors; and should it not immediately arrive at truth, the new class of adopted errors will not be so formidable, or so tenacious of their hold. To doubt of the existence of beings whose attributes and characters are not as they should be, not only manifests the struggles of a superior mind, but it is a noble attempt to burst the chains of ignorance. It prepares the mind to yield to the force of evidence which may finally lead to truth. No season could be more opportune for Paul to preach the knowledge of the true God
to his audience, than when they confessed that they were worshipping an unknown God.
It is hoped that the above strictures will manifest the designs of Providence in its various dispensations, respecting the heathen world:-silence the cavils of unbelievers, against occasional miracles, as if their sole object were to amaze and terrify:-enable us to trace an unity in the divine plan, amidst the diversity of operations; and prove that this unity consists in the determined production of good by the diffusion of light and knowledge in exact proportion as the minds of men were prepared for their reception:- that the heathen world was not excluded from the divine favour, by the selection of a particular people, to be the deposits of moral and religious truths; but that their interest was also consulted by the great father of all. In a word, we perceive that the human race, which was plunged into ignorance and vice, beyond the influence of their natural powers to extricate themselves, have been gradually conducted by a superintending providence, from palpable darkness to dawns of light, which increased in every age, until they became, as it were, the Aurora, which ushered in the Sun of Righteousness, destined to illuminate the world.
OBSERVATIONS AND INFERENCES RESPECTING
We have in the preceding Chapters stated every leading circumstance, in the history of this wonderful people, that the grand object may appear in a conspicuous point of view, and the characteristic excellences of the dispensation become duly impressive. The whole history of events, relative to the subject, is placed before the reader, without the selection of particular facts, in order to support a favourite hypothesis. The reader is thus enabled to pronounce concerning the validity of the writer's remarks, and the legitimacy of his inferences.
In his opinion, the preceding investigations have established the position as indubitable, that the Jewish dispensation is most worthy of a divine origin;—from its nature and tendency;--from the peculiar manner in which the important plan
has been executed;-and from the moral characters of the agents employed. With a short illustration of these three positions, we shall close the present subject.
I. The Jewish dispensation, and this dispensation alone, communicated to mankind at a very early period, while the reasoning powers were in their lowest exercise, such sentiments of the being, natural and relative perfections of God, as perfectly correspond with the dictates of the most enlightened reason; and it has promulgated, in the most ample manner, those religious and moral duties, which we have proved to be essential to human happiness. It has also given the strongest evidences, that the performance of these duties is, in every age, and in every situation, an acceptable service. Obedience has always been rewarded; omissions have always been punished; repentance and reformation have always been received with pardon and complacency. We shall leave our readers to compare these facts with the wisest institutes of antiquity, which affect a divine origin, or with the most renowned systems of ethics which antiquity can boast. We are confident that a comparison will produce the conviction