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less truth affirm, that the same quality belongs to the nature of genuine piety. Indeed, we may appeal directly to the law and testimony of Scripture in support of this position. Solomon assigns, as one characteristic of the righteous, that they are bold as a lion. The apostle Peter, enumerating certain moral qualities which he exhorts Christians to add to their faith, places valour or courage -for so the original term in this instance ought to be rendered, and not virtue-at the head of the catalogue. Let us next hear the language of our divine Lord himself: "Fear not them who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Brethren, cultivate an undaunted and a resolute spirit in the performance of what you have once ascertained to be your duty. Let nothing intimidate you, when the dictate of conscience is clear and imperative. A good man, in such a case, will feel a measure of that heroic determination which animated the soul of the great reformer, when, regardless of the affectionate and earnest dissuasions of his friends, he declared that he would go to the Diet of Worms, though as many devils stood in array against him as there were tiles on the houses.
We shall only add, in concluding, that the conduct of Daniel, in the case under consideration, evinces the reality and the efficacy of religion. Nothing but a paramount sense of accountability to the Most High, and an invincible confidence in the divine faithfulness and benignity, could have sustained the prophet in the arduous conflict through which he was doomed to pass. Happy the individual who possesses, in any degree, the same heavenborn principle! How is it, dear hearers, with you? Tell us, do you seriously and candidly believe that, had you been placed in Daniel's circumstances, you would have
done precisely as he did? Interrogate your consciences on this point. Or, if you regard the question as one which it may be difficult for you to answer, we have another query to propose How often do you pray? We shall presume that none in this assembly are entirely strangers to prayer, though we almost fear that the presumption implies an excess of charity. We ask, then, how many times every day you retire to some secret apartment, and there, prostrating yourselves in spirit before your Maker, render to him a tribute of heart-felt gratitude for mercies already received, and solicit, in humble submission to his will, and entire deference to his superior wisdom, a continued supply of blessings suited to your wants as fallen, yet immortal beings? We shall add nothing to this inquiry, beyond the single request, that you will make it a subject of deep and anxious meditation, throughout the week on which you have now entered.
DUTERONOMY XXIX. 29.
"The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law."
THE tendency of the human mind to extremes is so common and striking, that it has become proverbial. This tendency is displayed in respect to all the wide variety of topics, with which we are conversant. Of course, it extends to religion. We accordingly find, that two opposite errors in relation to this general subject, are prevalent among men. There are those who desire to know too much; and there are others who are careless of knowing any thing. Now, to each of these classes of individuals, our text addresses important instruction. It condemns the unbounded curiosity of the former, by assuring them, that "secret things belong unto the Lord our God;" and it rebukes the slothful indifference of the latter, by telling them, that, "things which are revealed, belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of" the divine "law."
Much has been said of curiosity as one of the instinctive principles of our nature. The Creator has endued us with a desire of knowledge, which is the basis of all mental improvement. There is pain in the consciousness of our ignorance, and pleasure in the removal of this ignorance, just as there is pain in the sensation of hunger,
and pleasure in the gratification of our appetite. The earliest developments of mind in children evince the existence of the principle to which we refer, and, in fact, consist in the vigorous operations of this principle. Visit the nursery, and interrupt the mother, as she is rehearsing to her infant boy some tale of marvellous tenour, and you will not fail to remark the impatience which he will manifest for your departure, or, at least, for the resumption of the narrative to which he had been listening.Would you behold the influence of the same principle in maturer life? Enter the room where the female, "unmindful of her form," and regardless of her dress, is tracing "with enchanted steps the mazes" of a new romance -or, repair to the study of the philosopher, before whose piercing eye a new field of intellectual research has just presented itself, and who has devoted his powers to the task of investigation, with the hope of revealing mysteries, which nature had concealed from all former inquirers. But it would be superfluous to multiply examples. The desire of knowledge is obviously among the most universal and the most active of our emotions. Nor need we now speak of "that bounteous providence of heaven," which,
"In every breast implanted this desire
Of objects new and strange-to urge us on,
Those sacred stores that wait the ripening soul,
In truth's exhaustless bosom."
It is not to be wondered at, that the curiosity of men should extend to religious subjects. These subjects, properly considered, are among the most interesting and sublime that can claim the attention, or employ the faculties of the human intellect. They relate to the being and perfections of Him who created and who upholds all
things-to the nature and objects of that moral government which he exercises over the universe-to the provision which he has made for the pardon of sin, and the recovery of our fallen race-to the duties of our present state, and to the destinies which await us after death, and which are to constitute the momentous incidents of our history throughout eternity. Such topics surely deserve our contemplation, and so far as they are exhibited on the works of God, or in his word, they cannot be too closely and perseveringly studied. There is, therefore, a desire of knowledge in relation to sacred things, which is not only commendable, but essentially connected with our interests and happiness as moral and immortal beings. This species of curiosity, as we shall have occasion more fully to remark in the sequel, is sanctioned and indirectly enjoined by the passage now under consideration.
But there is another species of curiosity with regard to religious subjects, which the text disapproves and virtually prohibits. There is a strong propensity to know more of the history, character and purposes of God, than he has deemed it expedient to unfold. There is an anxiety to penetrate the hidden counsels of the High and Holy One, which impels its possessor to overstep the boundaries of revelation, and to spurn the divine mandate, "Thus far shalt thou go." There is an unsanctified restlessness of mind, which is continually aspiring to be wise above what is written, and under the influence of which men are seen prying into the mysteries of the Godhead, and pushing their presumptuous way over regions which angels either visit not at all, or else visit with unsandalled feet, and trembling steps. Now, it is this excessive and unreasonable thirst for interdicted knowledge concerning sacred things, which the passage before us condemns. And deserves it not