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with the deepest anguish, and exult with, almost, a celestial joy in the Redemption which took place to restore its original purity. It can be impressed, by a narration of facts, warranted by inspiration, which shall fill it with reverence to the Deity, and stimulate all its exercises to his great and eternal glory. The mind, indeed, is an intelligent power that could only have proceeded from some superior agent; the exercise of which is one of the strongest arguments in proof of the Godhead.
But, although the mind is thus capable of accomplishing what appears to us great and momentous objects, there is a limit which Jehovah has set upon its power, through which it is in vain to attempt to break. In its lawful exercise it is a noble and bounteous gift—in its unwarranted speculations it is futile and contemptible. Thus then we arrive at the distinction we are desirous of drawingand the distinction indeed is great and most worthy of the deepest consideration.
The distinction rests between the lawful exercise and the unwarranted speculations of the mind. Now, to show you
the vastness of the distinction, we must lay it down as an axiom, that the creature was endowed with faculties constituted to promote the glory of God. The design of the Maker is evident; his will indisputable; from which view we must exclude the consideration of the faculties being impaired by original sin, because we believe, that Redemption was larger in extent than the fall, or at all events, that power was restored to man by the merits of the Son of God, enabling him to combat temptation and exercise his mind to the glory of his Maker : hence if he have a power, vouchsafed by heaven for an especial purpose, any abuse of that power, or any unlawful exercise of it, must not only be unwarrantable but sinful; and the sinfulness may be ascertained, by an inquiry, whether the tendency of each act is either to promote the glory of God or to infringe his injunctions. There can be no possible objection for man to occupy his mind in the widest fields of rational enjoyment. We do not deny to him the scanning of the heavens, or the reading of the
stars: we do not forbid his nicety of calculation, or his surprising and powerful inventions, which, whilst they facilitate human intercourse, whilst they enlarge the intellect, and display in their operations the wonderful resources of Omnipotence, clearly subserve vast important purposes in the Providence of God. For the bringing down, as it were, of the constellations of heaven to the human gaze, only displays to the admiration of man the works of a beneficent Deity. And so long as the mind of man is confined to admiration, the occupation is innocent and amusing, it is even profitable and worthy of attention ; and we will go so far as to say, that important observations may be made by the astronomer for the benefit of society. But when the power is abused by an imaginary astrology, predicting a number of events, out of which a few may come to pass by mere fortuity, we must enter our decided protest, because we believe the vision of prophecy to be sealed.
The same may be said with respect to all the discoveries and inventions of the world, the ascertaining of which may have innocently occupied the mind, and the using of which may cause the greatest good and gratification ; for where they display the glory of God, they are calculated to elevate the reasoning mind from finite contemplations, to that Infinite Being, who is pure intelligence, and the author of every good and perfect gift, who created all those properties, from which these inventions originated. But when these inventions are misapplied, and the glory is detracted from the Creator by the presumptuous pride of man, we make the powers that have been given to us the occasion of sin, and exulting in the work of our own hands, or the devices of our own imaginations, lose sight of the Divine First Cause, in whom we live, and move, and have our being. In the Sacred Page, and the records of the Ancient Pagans, we find lamentable examples of the truth of these remarks; we need not, therefore, enumerate instances, because we are persuaded that by the Bible, from which we derive our faith, we are able to overturn the false philosophy of the whole world. Let me not be misapprehended. The greatest encouragement should be given to the arts and sciences, and to the inventions and improvements of the day, because they display the powers of the human mind, from which we look up to the Giver and Disposer of all things, and return all the glory to him who bestowed it. And the more intellectual and capacious the mind is, of the greater value we esteem the gift; consequently, the greater must be the glory that we tender to the Deity. Thus you perceive, that we desire to place no bounds upon the lawful exercise of the mind; but when we find men invading the counsels of the Deity, when we find the mind affecting to dive into the secrets of Heaven, and endeavouring to ascertain what belongs solely to God, when we find men attempting to disprove the records of eternal truth, or even to call them into question-when we find men, who, by their calculations, would deceive the too credulous multitude, and palm upon them their fallacious prophecies, and deceitful theories, wrought at best by