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DISCOURSES,

&c.

DISCOURSE I.

INSTRUCTION BY PARABLES.

MARK, iv. 23.

And with many SUCH parables spake HE the word

unto them.

THE condition of man, by nature, is unquestionably deplorable; and however persons may differ in opinion as to the origin of his infelicity, the fact is

very generally admitted. An infant is more helpless than the young of irrational animals, and but for early and long continued assistance, would inevitably perish. While the corporeal frame is obnoxious to so many pangs and perils, the nobler life has suffered far more severely from the foul apostacy of our primitive parents; and the varied efforts of philosophers, statesmen, and benevolent

B

persons in

every successive

age,

have unanimously attested that “ for the soul to be without knowledge “ is not good;" to impart useful information is consequently the truest benevolence: this is indeed an axiom which few, if any, are hardy enough to question, much less boldly to deny. The substance and method of instruction are, however, variously considered; and in earlier as well as in modern times, different opinions have existed as to what is the most useful species of information, and how instruction, allowedly beneficial, should be communicated,

Without undervaluing the several arts and sciences which enrich or adorn society, it must be affirmeđ, that the knowledge “ wherein standeth “ eternal life,” is decidedly of the most importance; but in proportion as any truth is essential, in that degree is the acquisition difficult, and I may add, disagreeable and laborious in attainment. Such is the sad and lamentable corruption and imbecility of the human heart!

Nor yet to depreciate the diversified modes of conveying to the uninstructed mind religious truth, the most decided preference should certainly be given to the method by similitude or parable ; and the highest authority for this system may be found in the public labors of our blessed Lord, the

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