« PreviousContinue »
and, at last, be for ever blessed with the fulness of his love. Is any one afflicted with the various calamities of life? How should hope beam in his soul, that he may be delivered from temporal and eternal evils. How should he seek to be an inhabitant of the new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, and where all things are in perfection the most consummate and glorious. Amen.
IDENTITY OF THE HUMAN RACE.
Acts, xvii. 26. And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to
dwell on all the face of the earth. The word of God is indeed a treasure of goodly pearls. In its vast resources may be found the richest jewels, and the most costly diamonds. To the cultivator of the earth it presents a field of immense value; and to the merchant, the choicest goods, and the most durable riches. To the wise are exhibited rich stores of hidden wisdom; and the simple are invited to receive instruction, and lay hold on understanding. Beauty and sublimity adorn its sacred pages, and invite the scholar to come, improve his taste, and attain the highest refinement of his mind. In the divine word the hungry
soul the choicest food; the weary find rest; and the thirsty, drink of the waters of salvation from the river of life. The poor may be made rich; the beggar wear a crown; and frail mortals be clothed with glorious immortality. The sacred writings abound with the most able instructions, that we may wisely order our conduct in time; but their chief value must be estimated from those important truths, which relate to eternity. All the doctrines and duties, taught in the Bible, are harmonious. They are all closely connected with each other; and necessary to form a complete system, that man may be instructed in all those things which may exalt the dignity of his nature. And no general truth can be taken away, without breaking the great chain of
revelation. In the words of the text, with those in connexion, we are taught the identity of the human
God that made the world, and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples, made with hands; neither is worshiped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things: And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth. These words teach us, that all mankind, throughout all the world, are of the same origin: Or, in other words, That God created Adam and Eve, and that from them the whole human race have descended. But mankind exist under such different varieties of stature, of complexion, and of features, that we might be led to conclude, they are not all of the same descent, had we not the word of God for our guide. In establishing the identity of the human race, I shall in the first place, contrast some of the peculiarities of the human body with the bodies of the animals of the earth. And the vast difference between them will be an argument in favour of human identity.
1st. The figure of the human body is essentially different from all animal bodies. Throughout, it is a more completely organized and finished piece of divine mechanism. Man, as it respects his animal frame, evidently holds the first rank in relation to the species of animals. He is distinguished from them also in a very striking manner by the erectness of his form. See the beasts naturally bending towards the earth, as if created for the purpose of grovelling in the dust, and solely its kindred. But see man from the erectness of his posture by nature, looking towards the heavens, as if of higher birth, and destined at last to soar on high. By an infinite number of muscles and articulations in the structure of the human frame, man is capable of a far greater variety of easy movements, and useful purposes, than any of the animal tribes, particularly in the
nicer operations of the arts, without which they could neither have been invented nor practised. The human body in its various members, and in the symmetry of the whole, exhibits remarkably pleasing and elegant proportions. Its adaptation to perform delicate and useful operations, plainly evinces the intention of the Creator to favour the cultivation of all the arts, necessary for the purposes of life, for convenience and ornament. The varied clothing of the animals of the earth are in direct contrast to that of man, All animals are clothed by the gift of nature; but the garments of man are the work of art. And this is one mark by which they may easily be distinguished. Thus we may be led to see by contrast, that the figure and condition of the human body are strikingly different from all animal bodies.
2d. The human countenance is essentially different from that of any of the animals. Some animals have a visage far more engaging than others. But how insignificant the appearance, compared with the beautiful and interesting countenance of a human being. Some animals by their looks discover docility; some, cunning; and others, sagacity. But intelligence,with far superiour paintings,is delineated on the fine and delicate lines of the human countenance. The variety of ideas and emotions continually arising in the mind, communicates to the countenance a habit of quick and various flexibility, which renders it capable of expressing suddenly upon the features, every thought. Says Doctor Smith, expression, in a low degree, belongs even to the animals. This we know; for we see them brighten with joy, and gambol with pleasure: they languish in sickness, and writhe in pain. Their eyes sometimes sparkle with love, or flash with rage: and even the tear of distress may be seen to roll down their cheeks. But the expression of the human countenance is incomparably more various than that of any animal. Such is the mysterious union and sympathy between the hụman soul
and body, that in the delicate and flexible human countenance, there is hardly the slightest movement or emotion of the mind, which has not its external character or symbol. Thus even the looks and features, though a silent, are an impressive language. Time will not allow me, to treat of the diversity and beautiful intermixture of colour, and its varied changes in a human countenance, which, by contrast, we discern to be evidently and strikingly different from that of any of the animals.
3rd. The human voice is a criterion, by which man may be readily distinguished from any of the animals of the earth. Speech is the prerogative of man, and of which no animal can be taught to participate. Animals can make those varied sounds, which are necessary to call their young, or to give them warning of their danger. But the power of communicating thoughts by words belongs to man alone. No animal has ever had the faculty of speech; but all the tribes of mankind have enjoyed this gift. Language, as to the characters and structure, is different in different nations ; but the great end is the same in all, to express the thoughts of the mind by words. The voice of man, in singing the praises of his Maker, is far superiour to the musical sounds of any animal both for melody and sentiment. The birds of the air warble their pleasant notes; but they have not the power of articulate harmony. Vocal musick is impressively instructing, and highly pleasing. Let us call to mind some person, that is dumb, or deprived the gift of speech, and then we may have some just views of the vast superiority, and striking difference, which exist between the power of the human voice, and those mere sounds of nature, of which animals are capable. The gift of speech, with that of musick, is one of the greatest blessings both for entertainment and benefit, ever confered on man, as it respects his animal frame. And although animals can make sounds, necessary to their situation; yet