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throws an unmerited odium on whole bodies of men, because a few of their number may have displayed weakness or folly. He hates and despises men and their opinions, because they belong not to his political or religious party. He pronounces his decisions on the motives of men with as much confidence as if he had surveyed their hearts with the eye of omniscience. He cannot hear an objection against his favourite opinions with patience, nor an apology for any set of principles but his own.
He is arrogant and dogmatical in his assertions, and will make no concessions to the superiour wisdom of others. He sets himself with violence against every proposal for reformation in the church, because his forefathers never thought of it; and because such innovations do not suit his humour and pre-conceived opinions. He decides in the most confident tone, on what God can and cannot do, as if he had taken. the most perfect survey of infinite perfection; and he frets at the divine dispensations when they do not exactly correspond with his own humour and selfish views Moreover, he vainly imagines that he is better qualified to pronounce a decision on the varied topicks of divinity, than all the philosophers and divines, and all the brightest geniuses who have ever appeared in the world, though he cannot but confess that he never gave himself the trouble to examine into such matters. His views of the providential dispensations of God, are equally partial and distorted. If disease, or poverty, or misfortune, happen to his neighbour, especially if he had withdrawn from the religious party to which he belongs, it is considered as a penal judgement for errour and apostacy. If prosperous circumstances attend his family or religious party, it is viewed as a sign of divine approbation. He seldom views the hand of God except in uncommon occurrences; and then he imagines that a miracle is performed, and that the wheels of nature are stopped in order to accomplish the event.
He seldom looks beyond the precincts of his own church or nation, to observe the movements of the divine footsteps toward other tribes of his fallen
He overlooks the traces of divine operation, which are every moment to be seen above and around him; and yet, in the midst of all such partial and contracted views, he will sometimes decide on the wisdom and rectitude of the ways of God with as much confidence as if he had entered into the secret councils of the Eternal, and surveyed the whole plan of his procedure. Such are a few prominent outlines of the character of thousands whose names are enrolled as members of the visible church, and whose illiberality and self-confidence are owing to the contracted notions they have formed of God and of religion And surely it must appear desirable to every enlightened Christian that every proper means should be used to prevent rational, immortal beings from the remaining enchained in such mental thraldom.
On the other hand, the man who takes an enlightened view of all the works and dispensations of God, and of all the circumstances and relations of subordinate beings, readily acquires a nobleness and liberality of mind, and an accuracy in the judgeing of things human and divine, which no other person can possess. He does not hastily take up an evil report against his neighbour; for he considers how unfounded such reports often are, and how much they may be owing to the insinuations of envy or malice. And when he can no longer doubt of an evil action being substantiated against any one, he does not triumph over him in the language of execration, for he considers all the circumstances, relations, feelings, and temptations with which he may have been surrounded ; and he considers that he himself is a frail, sinful creature, and might possibly have fallen in a similar way had he been placed in the same situation. He does not trumpet forth the praises of a man who has performed one brilliant benevolent
deed, as if he were a character to be admired and eulogized, while the general course of his life is marked with vice and an utter forgetfulness of God and religion : nor does he fix a stigma of immorality upon the person who may have acted foolishly or sinfully in one or two instances, while the general tenor of his conduct has been marked by purity and rectitude; for in both cases, he considers that it is not a single action, but general habits which determine the character of any individual. He esteems the wise and the good, and holds friendly intercourse with them, to whatever political or religious party they belong. He can bear with affability and candour, to have bis opinions contradicted; and can differ from his neighbour in many disputed points, while at the same time he values and esteems him. He will not brand a man as a heretick or deist, because he takes a view of some opinions in theology in a different light from what he himself does; for he considers the difference of habits, studies, pursuits, and educational prejudices which must have influenced his opinions; and nakes due allowance for the range of thought to which he may have been accustomed. He is disposed to attribute the actions of others to good motives, when he has no proof of the contrary. He uses no threats or physical force to support his opinions, or to convince gainsayers; for he knows that no external coercion canilluminate the mind; and that the strength of arguments and the force of truth, can alone produce conviction. He is convinced how ignorant he is, notwithstanding all his study, observations, and researches, and presses forward as long as he lives, to higher degrees of knowledge and of moral improvement.
And such a man is an active promoter of every scheme that tends to enlighten mankind, and meliorate their condition, and extend the knowledge of salvation to the ends of the earth; for he considers that it is not by miracles, but by the subordinate
agency of intelligent beings, that God will effect the illumination, and moral renovation of our apostate race. He views the hand of God in all the movements of the scientifick, the political, and religious world; and perceives him accomplishing his purpose in the inventions of human genius, and in the economy
of the minutest insect, as well as in the earthquake, the storm, and the convulsions of nations ;-for he considers the smallest atom,and the hosts of heaven, as equally directed by eternal wisdom, and equally necessary in the universal chain of creatures and events. Hedisplays a becoming modesty in the speaking of the ways and works of God. When he meets with any dark and afflictive dispensation in the course of Providence, he does not fret and repine; but is calm and resigned, conscious that he perceives only a small portion of the chain of God's dispensations, and is therefore, unable to form a just comparison of the connexion of any one part with the whole. When he contemplates the depraved and wretched condition of the greater part of the world at present, and for a thousand years past, notwithstanding the salvation which has been achieved for sinners of mankind, he is far from arraigning the divine goodness and rectitude, in leaving so many nations to walk in their own ways; for he knows not what relation this dismal scene may bear, what influence it may have, or what important impressions it may produce on worlds and beings with which we are at present unacquainted.
Moreover, a man of such enlarged views is cautious in the pronouncing decisively respecting the dispensations of God, in regard to the universe at large. He does not, for example, assert with the utmost confidence, as some have done, that there never was, and never will be to all the ages of eternity, such a bright display of the divine glory as in the cross of Christ. He admires and he adores the condescension and the love of God in the plan of
salvation which the gospel exhibits, and feels an interest in it far beyond that of any other special manifestation of Deity; but he dares not set limits to the divine attributes and operations. He considers himself at present, with regard to the grand system of the universe, in a situation similar to that of a small insect on one of the stones of a magnificent edifice, which sees only a few hair-breadths around it, and is altogether incapable of surveying the symmetry, the order and beauty of the structure, and of forming an adequate conception of the whole. Heconsiders that he has never yet surveyed the millionth part of Jehovah's empire, and therefore cannot tell what the eternal Sovereign has been pleased to exhibit in its numerous provinces; and least of all, can he ever presune to divine into the depths of interminable ages, and boldly declare what the Almighty will or will not do, through eternity to come. He therefore views it as presumption, while he has no dictate of revelation for his warrant, to pronounce decisively, either on the one side or the other, of such a deep and important question, which seems above the reach of the loftiest seraph to determine. In short, he endeavours to take a view of all the manifestatìons of Deity within his reach, from every source of information which lies before him, and as far as his limited faculties will permit. He does not call in question the discoveries of science, because they bring to his ears most astonishing reports of the wisdom and omnipotence of Jehovah and the boundless extent of his kingdom; but rejoices to learn that the grandeur of his dominions is actually found to correspond with the lofty descriptions of divine majesty and glory recorded in the volume of inspiration, and is thereby inspired with nobler hopes of the glory and felicity of that heavenly world, where he expects to spend an endless existence. If, then, such be some of the features in the charac