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which qualify them for occupying the place their predecessors were no longer capable of maintaining. One great advantage of history is, that it teaches this important truth, that there is a point of ascension on the one hand, and of depression on the other, beyond which human af. fairs cannot reach, and that corruption operates her own punishment and termination. It happens, deplorably however, that those who possess the means of more easy remedies are most obstinate in rejecting them, and are the real authors of the convulsions and horrors which precede the violent deaths of corrupt systems.
Perhaps Mohammedism was not, at bottom, worse than the abominable corruptions of Christianity which it supplanted. Still, as long as the sacred scriptures were preserved, the means of ultimate reformation remained ; and, even in the most corrupt and darkest periods of the church, some chosen individuals retained purity of faith, communicated privately their opinions, and deeply deplored the general degeneracy. Thus a precious germ has always been preserved; its vivifying energy was not allowed to perish, and it was destined to shoot, to expand, and to fructify in due time. The Waldenses preserved, from the days of the apostles, the Christian doctrine. They supplied the stem of the Lollards and the Wickliffites. The heroes
of the Reformation delivered the Protestant churches from Romish corruption and tyranny.
It is evident that the only tolerable ingredients of Mohammedism are derived from Jewish and Christian sources, though extremely polluted. It has been already shown that the grand object of the Mosaical dispensation was to advance the glory of God, to deliver man from the darkness of error and the bondage of vice, to exalt him to intellectual and moral excellence, and to prepare him for that perfect economy under which these blissful ends might be completely attained. That this is the main object of the religion of Christ will be incontrovertibly established, when its purifying tendency shall, in the next and immediately succeeding chapters, be compared with all the other forms of religion which have appeared in the world.
ITS FACTS-ITS DOCTRINES-ITS MORAL PRECEPTS
-ITS WORSHIP AND RITES-ITS INSTITUTIONS
The religion of Jesus is reared on the foundation of the Mosaical economy. It was considerably advanced by our blessed Redeemer himself, and completed in all its parts by his apostles, after they had been instructed by him, and still more enlightened by that holy Spirit which he promised to send to them, and whose directing, strengthening, and animating effusions they experienced in such miraculous abundance. The structure raised by the Messiah, and the workmen whom he employed, and his Spirit directed, exhibited neither defect nor redundance, but was perfect in all its dimensions. If it had been allowed to remain in the state in which they left it, nor had been disfigured and weakened by the various additions of “ gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble,”a which human ignorance or presumption has attempted to incorporate with it, long since it would have furnished a certain refuge to the greatest miseries of the human race, and opened the school for the improvement of their present happiness, and for their preparation for eternal felicity. The original building displayed that chaste simplicity which unites utility with magnificence, and bears the signatures of divine contrivance and execution. It rested on the rock of truth, and towered towards heaven with unborrowed majesty. It has been shamefully deformed by the appendages of various kinds annexed to it, and the work of God has been marred by the paltry inventions
Our divine religion was not delivered in a didactic or systematic manner, such as was employed in the schools of philosophy. Its different parts occasionally rose in the course of our Saviour's ministry and of that of his apostles, after these last had been completely furnished with the means of executing the sublime commission with which he had invested them. Both he and they, retaining the essentials of Judaism, consisting in the belief of the unity and infinite perfections of the Deity, as the sole object of worship and the infallible director of conduct, and in the immutable obligations of the moral law, superadded to these those farther informations concerning the Supreme Being himself, and the final recovery and regeneration of man, which human nature absolutely required, and completely unfolded that ultimate dispensation under the Messiah, which the Jewish prophets had foretold, and for which the temporary economy of Moses was the just preparation. As, from the contemplation of the divine works, we collect the existence, the perfections, and the moral government of God; so, from the accounts of his second creation of man to new intellectual and moral life and energy, as detailed in the scriptures of the New Testament, we infer the sum and substance of Christian faith and practice. These scriptures relate the facts of our Saviour's history, his conduct, his doctrines, his actions, his death, his resurrection, and ascension ; the transactions of his apostles in spreading his religion; and exhibit their instructions, their exhortations, their rebukes, their warnings, delivered to their converts, in the Epistles, including the book of Revelation. As Christianity, then, is founded on certain well-established facts, the simplest method of giving a concise view of it seems to be, to state, 1st, the facts on which it is grounded ; 2dly, the distinctive doctrines which it establishes ; 3dly, the moral precepts
a ] Cor. iii. 12.
b Simplex sigillum veri.