Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

A

SO

ligion, Morality, and Government, their folly in rejecting whatever is old, and their precipitation in embracing whatever is new, I avow my firm conviction, that there is no greater or more fruitful source of mischief and misery, than a wild, unrestrained ardour for innovation: I MAINTAIN THE TRUTH AND THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CHRISTIAN REVELATION, THE VALUE OF ANCIENT LEARNING, THE DIGNITY OF SCIENCE, AND THE EXCELLENCE OF THE BRITISH CONSTITUTION. And in order to provide the most efficacious antidote against the poison of their opinions, I recommend an intimate acquaintance with the eminent divines of the Church of England, such as CUDWORTH, BARROW, TILLOTSON, STILLINGFLEET, CLARKE, and PALEY; and with our great philosophers and moralists, Bacon, LOCKE, BOYLE, NEWTON, ADDISON, and Johnson. These are the authors, whose understandings I reverence, whose opinions upon the leading subjects of Religion and. Morality, I highly esteem, and whose excellent works I earnestly recommend. These are the writers, whom, in decided preference to all arrogant sciolifts, and plausible infidels, I hold up to general attention, as the luminaries of useful knowledge, the teachers of genuine wisdom, and the true friends of mankind.

Such are the instructors, by whose affiftance the student is advised to extend the sphere of his applia cation beyond professional knowledge, and to cul

tiyate

tivate fome of the more open fields of useful and" pleasing instruction.

I consider myself as affuming the office of a Guide to the youthful and inexperienced traveller, and as undertaking to point out the interesting prospects of a charming country, without aspiring to the accuracy of a topographer, or the diligence of an antiquarian. I shall conduct him, who commits himself to my directions, from a low and narrow valley, where his views have been closely confined, to the summit of a lofty mountain :—when he' has reached the proper point of view, he will feel his faculties expand, he will breathe a purer air, enjoy a wider horizon, and observe woods, lakes, mountains, plains, and rivers, spreading beneath his feet in delightful prospect. From this commanding eminence, I shall point out such places as are most deserving his researches; and finally, I fhall recommend him to those, who will prove more instructive, and more pleasing companions, through the remaining part of his journey.

CLASS

[blocks in formation]

THE feeds of religious knowledge are implanted in our minds during the earliest period of our lives. The notions of a Providence, and the various duties which we owe to God, to mankind, and to ourselves, are inculcated long before our judgments are sufficiently matured to determine the reasonableness, or estimate the utility, of moral and religious truth.

· That the conduct of the instructors of children, in thus taking advantage of the curiosity and the docility of the infant mind, is not the result of fuperftition and credulity, but of good sense, and a proper regard to its best interests, and most valuable improvementwill appear, when the faculty of judgment is sufficiently strengthened by time to enable a young man to examine those principles, which he has been taught from his early years to hold, venerable and sacred. To inquire on what account Christianity claims an ascendency over all other branches of knowledge, and what are the particular grounds upon which he believes it to be VOL. I.

a divine a divine Revelation, is a duty which he owes equally to his own reason, and to the dignity and importance of the subject itself.

“Revelation claims to be the voice of God, and our obligation to attend to his voice is surely moral in all cases. And as it is infisted that its evidence is conclufive, upon thorough confideration of it; fo it offers itself to us with manifest obvious appearances of having something more than human in it, and therefore in all reason requires to have its claims most seriously examined intoa."

Such an examination, conducted with that degree of care and attention, becoming the infinite importance of the subject, will clearly prove that the Christian Religion conftitutes the most useful and the moft fublime part of our knowledge. It introduces us to an acquaintance with those fubjects, which are in the highest degree defirable to be known : as it opens the clearest profpeet, that man in his present state can survey, of that Being, who is the essence of all perfection, the centre of infinite excellence, and the fountain of inexhaustible wisdom, goodnels, and power. The knowledge of created beings is low and trivial when compared to this; for however admirable they may be in their construction, however useful in their nature and properties, and however ftupendous in their frame and magnitude, they are fiill but faint shadows and

? Butler's. Analogy, p. 401.

imperfect imperfect images of the glory of their Creator. The instruction, which the Christian Religion conveys, is not only of the most excellent kind, but its acquisition is above all things to be defired; especially when we consider the Almighty, with respect to the wonders of his power, and the difpensation of his Providence-when we view him by the clear light of the Christian Revelation, not only as the Maker and Governor of the universe, but as the Father of the Saviour of the world, whom he commissioned to proclaim his divine will, to establish the certainty of a future state, and to propofe everlasting happiness to mankind, on condition of faith in his name, and obedience to his commands.

To know Christianity is therefore both to undera stand what the Supreme Being has revealed for our greatest good, and to ascertain what conduct we ought to pursue in order to obtain his approbation and favour. How low therefore must the acquirem. ments of learning and science fink in our opinion, when placed in opposition to religious knowledge! But when it forms the basis upon which they are built, they derive additional value as well as strength from its support; they are consecrated to the beft purposes, and directed to their most falutary ends. Much as the knowledge of the scholar, and the speculations of the philosopher may elevate and enlarge the mind, and much as they may imprové and adorn it, they extend not our prospects beyond the world, they bound our views within the narrow

limits

C

2

« ElőzőTovább »