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ESSENTIALS OF RELIGION
IN CONNEXION WITH THAT DIVINE HARMONY WHICH
PERVADES THE WHOLE SERIES OF THOSE
WHICH GOD HAS MADE TO MAN.
“ Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the
OLD PATHS, where is the GOOD WAY, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.”—Jer. vi. 16.
THE ESSENTIALS OF RELIGION,
Descendants of the illustrious Abraham ! It may surely be reckoned among the signs of the times in which we live, that many persons, wholly unconnected with your nation by any human ties, are yet influenced by so deep concern for your spiritual and eternal welfare, as to use every endeavour to awaken your earnest attention to the principles and duties of Religion. In the name of many such, I request your patient perusal of this Tract; and, as we cannot be charged with any selfish motive in addressing you, surely it is but reasonable, on your part, to accept the exhortation, as it is given, in love, and with that solemnity of spirit which is suitable to the importance of the subject. We may the rather expect this, as we do not desire you to take for granted what we say. No, we entreat you earnestly to consider the subject, and to compare what we advance with the declarations of that Volume which both you and we acknowledge to be given by inspiration of God. We refer to the Scriptures of the Old Testament for the proof of those things which we assert; and our language among you is, “ To the Law, and to the Testimony: if we speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in us." (Is. viii. 20.)
But, while we acknowledge, as fully as you can do, the authority of Moses and the Prophets, there is another important portion of Holy Scripture, which you reject, as if it were inconsistent with that which you receive ; though it is, in truth, nothing more than the completion of that series of communications which it pleased God to make to your fathers. From the fall of Adam to the present day, God has revealed only one Religion to men,—but in different degrees of clearness and fulness, in successive ages, till the Divine System was fully developed. Hence, while you, receive that portion of the series which extends from Moses to Malachi, you are not consistent in rejecting what follows, from Matthew to Revelation,—which is, in fact, only the continuation and completion of the same Sacred Volume. To prove this, it will be necessary to lay aside all human systems, and simply to institute a comparison between these two portions of Scripture, upon such points as are manifestly fundamental in Religion. Search them, then, for yourselves. Compare the language and declarations of the one with those of the other; and then answer, from your own enquiries and convictions, the following questions:
1. Do they give different views of the Character of the Divine Being ?
II. Do they give different views of the natural state and moral condition of man ?
III. Or of the way by which alone man can draw near to God with any hope of acceptance ?
IV. Or, lastly, of the necessity of a great spiritual change, a renewal of his heart and mind, wrought in him by a Divine power and influence, without which man cannot, and will not, serve God in spirit and in truth?
On each of these points, I propose to compare the most remarkable declarations of the Old and New Testaments: and then to make a few practical remarks.
Of the Divine Character, as revealed in the Scriptures. That this is
widely distinguished from the views of idolaters and philosophers The exact agreement of the Old and New Testaments on this point.
Let us first enquire, Whether these two volumes give us different views of the Divine Character ?
There is something peculiar in the moral character of the Divine Being as revealed to us in the Scriptures. It is remarkably distinguished from all the representations of mere philosophers, and from all the vain imaginations of the heathen, who have ever been willing to suppose, that God is such an one as themselves. The God of the Scriptures is at once unspeakably more holy than even the purest phi