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As an exemplification of our remark, we may instance the several changes produced by creative power in the great work of preparing a habitation for the human race. The earth,' says the sacred historian, was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.' When God said, “Let there be light; and there was light,'—upon what a desolate scene must the first ray of morning have shone! Nevertheless, in process of time, the seas retired into their appointed beds, and the dry-land appeared, and spring cast over the unsightly masses of the earth her lovely mantle of green. The vegetable tribes successively came forth: the fruit trees put out their blossoms, and anon, yielded their fruit; and the children of the forest? waved their branches on high.
Almighty power, having provided a habitation fit for croatures endued with animal life, new forms of being were added to the previous works of God. Every creeping thing,' and winged fowl,' and beast of the earth, was brought forth abundantly; and the new creation teemed with life, and echoed notes of joy. Finally, man, the noblest earthly being, was created in the intellectual image of the Deity; and, to him, was assigned dominion over all the earth, and over every living thing that dwelleth upon the earth. .
The law which the Divine Being prescribed to himself, in his original work of creation, was appointed by him to control and direct all the subsequent 'operations of nature. When the
husbandman commits the seed to the ground, he waits patiently until the earth yield her increase? -'first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear;' and when the united influence of sun, and air, and rain, shall have matured it, "he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.' The trees of the forest are, proportionably. to their longevity and durability, a longer, or a shorter iime, in attaining their perfection. The acorn, after having been deposited in the earth, sends forth its diminutive leaves, whose slender stem advances into a twig. Thence it becomes a sapling; and, finally a tall and stately tree, sheltering the fowls of heaven in its out-spreading branches. Revolving centuries witness its pro-, gress towards maturity, and centuries pass away. during its decline. . . Sensitive nature, also, whether of the higher or lower ranks of being ,---whether enjoying a tran-, sient, or a more extended existence, is subject to the same universal law. The Ephemera which. starts into life at sun-rise, attains the perfection: of its nature at noon, and perishes with age in the evening breeze, -or man, in his progress from wailing infancy, to the full vigour of his being, and, downward, to the dreary grave, passes through these several changes gradually. Nor, if we turn to the condition and circumstances of man, in whatsoever respect, shall we find it otherwise. In the eras of ancient time, man was a miserable savage, sheltering in caves and holes of the earth, thence, the constructor of a bower, with its interwoven branches and leaves. Anon,
he is the architect of a wretched hovet, and prides himself upon his increased accommodations. The onward course of improvement affords him the comforts of a cottage; until finally, he is the lord of a spacious and convenient mansion... : The same progressive principle appears in the means he, from time to time, has resorted to, for the procuring of subsistence. First, a gatherer of wild fruits, and roots, and acorns, the spontaneous productions of nature; these were the dainties of the earliest race of men. Anon, he became a hunter; then a tender of sheep. In process of time, agriculture arose, in its simplest rudiments, until, step by step, it attained to the efficiency and dignity of a science, and man was enabled to clothe the fields with golden harvests. I
No less progressive is man as a moral and social being. For the ensuring of this progress, the wiss dom of God has admirably provided. The Divine Being has decreed that man should not be a selfish and solitary creature, but that he should be driven into society by the instincts of his nature. · God setteth the solitary in families,'' in order that the better feelings and dispositions of human nature may not perish from disuse, or be stifted in one overwhelming and brutal selfishness. The being drawn off from an uninterrupted tegard to self, from those narrow and demoralizing concerns, which have self for their object and end, to such as arise in family connexions, is a sure means of human improvement. The duties 'which hence arise, cannot fail to make man a superior being, by eliciting feelings and dispositions which are the
chief incentives in his progress to all human excellence. From family ties, man proceeds to form those of a more extended nature. His social instincts, as well as the necessities of his condition, urge him to associate with his fellow-beings. The union of several families, for the more effectnal accomplishing of the purposes, and securing of the advantages, of life is a great step in human improvement; while, at the same time, man's onward progress is thus provided for. More extended relations being entered into, other feelings aro called into existence, other and more extensive duties arise, other and higher motives present themselves to man's mind. In the varied and complicated situations into which man must, hereafter, necessarily, be thrown, all the conflicting passions and dispositions of human nature will be disciplined; all those higher properties of man as an intellectual, a moral, and an accountable being, will be drawn forth, and directed to objects and pursuits worthy of his superior nature. Thus does the Divine Being secure throughout his works a progress towards the perfection of their several natures or states. If we turn to the contemplation of those ways of God's providence, which have been more particularly applicable to man as an intellectual creature, designed for the enjoyment of a life beyond the grave, we shall perceive that they have been instituted with a due regard to his circumstances, as a progressive and
improving being. * In the infancy, as it were, of the human race,
revealed religion, doubtless, cousisted of a few plain truths, such as a people acquainted only, with the first rudiments of knowledge, could comprehend. As men increased upon the earth and their intellectual powers expanded, a more perfect knowledge of all human duty, and of God's gracious intentions towards the human race, was necessary to their welfare. This was granted to them through the medium of the patriarchs and holy men of old, whom God raised up to be the lights of the world. It pleased the Divine Being, moreover, to set apart, by appointing to them a peculiar code of laws, a people, who should be, as it were, the medium of communication between the visible and the invisible worlds, who should keep alive the knowledge of One Almighty Creator, and who should be, throughout all ages, witnesses against the idolater and the sceptic. Judaism, however, although so well adapted to the times, and to the purposes, for which it was instituted, was neither intended for a universal religion, nor calculated for an advanced stage of human society. When, therefore, it had accomplished the chief purposes for which it had been instituted, and the improved condition of man required a more perfect system, it was superseded by the Christian revelation. This was a reformation in religion, demanded by the altered state of man's circumstances, and the peculiar nature of his wants. Infinitely more comprehensive than any former system, Christianity is, at once, calculated to destroy the abominations of idolatry, to