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rays of the sun.
The life of souls, to be sure, is a sacred flame of divine love; this flame, as we are now born into the froward race of fallen mankind, is alas! but too truly and unbappily extinguished, and by no means to be kindled again, but by the enlivening light and heat of the sun of righteousness, who is most auspiciously arisen upon us.
HE great corruption of mankind, and their innate disposition to every sort of wickedness, even the doctors of the heathen nations, that is, their philosophers and theologers, and their poets also, were sensible of, and acknowledged; though they were quite ignorant of the source from which this calamity was derived. They all.own, " That it is natural to man to sin* ;" even your favourite philosopher, who prevails in the schools, declares, that we are strongly inclined to vicet; and speaking of the charms and allurements of forbidden pleasures, he observes, that mankind by nature “is easily catched in these snarest.” The Roman philoso
pher takes notice, “ That the way to vice is not only a descent, but a downright precipice
And the comic poet, “ That mankind has always been, in every respect, a deceitful, subtle creaturet."
The satyrist likewise observes, “ That we are all easily prevailed on to imitate things that are, in their nature, wicked and disgracefult.b. And the Lyric poet,
66 That the human race, bold to attempt the greatest dangers, rushes with impetuosity upon forbidden crimes 8."
All the wise men among the heathens exerted their utmost, to remedy this evil by precepts and institutions of philosophy, but to very
purpose. They could not, by all their arts and all their
precepts, make others better ; nay, with regard to most of them, we may say, nor even themselves. But, “ when there was no wisdom in the earth, says Lactantius, that blessed doctor was sent down from heaven, who is the way, the truth, and the lifell,” and, by an almighty power, effected what all others had attempted in vain.
* Ad vitia, non tantum pronum iter, sed et præceps.
Gens humana ruit per vetitum nefas. Hon. Od. lib. i. H Sed cum nulla esset sapientia in terris, missus est e cælo doctor ille, via, veritas et vita.
It is not at all to be doubted, but the end pro. posed by philosophy, was to renew and to reform mankind, and to reduce the course of their lives to a conformity with the precepts of wisdom and vir. tue. Whence the common definition, given of philosophy, is, “ That it is the rule of life, and the art or science of living uprightly.” To this purpose Seneca says, “ Philosophy is the law of living honestly and uprightly." True religion, to be sure, has the same tendency : but it promotes its end with much greater force, and better success; because its principles are much more exalted, its precepts and instructions are of greater purity, and it is, besides, attended with a divine power, whereby it makes its way into the hearts of men, and purifies them with the greatest foree and efficacy; and yet, at the same time, with the most wonderful pleasure and delight. And this is the regeneration of which we are speak. ing, and whereof we have already observed, that philosophy acknowledged it, even under the same name; but that it effected it, we absolutely deny. Now, it is evident from the very name, that we are to understand by it an inward change, and that a very
remarkable one. And since God is called the author and source of this change, whatever the philosophers may have disputed, pro and con, concerning the origin of moral virtue, we are, by no means, to doubt, but this sacred and divine change upon the heart of man, is produced by an influence truly divine: and this was even Plato's opinion concerning virtue; nor do I imagine you are unacquainted
with it. The same philosopher, and several others
for all diseases of the soul proceed from it: impiety is the severest distemper of the soul S.”
What wonder is it then, if these very thoughts are expressed in the more divine oracles of the sacred scriptures, more fully, and with greater clearness? And this conformation of the buman mind to the divine nature, is commonly represented
* Nulla sine Deo bona mens est. + Τελος ανθρώπε ομοίωσις Θεώ.
+ ουτος ο νές εν μέν ανθρώποις θεός εσίν, διό και τίνες των ανθρώπων Θεός εισι. . Trism. περί να κοινά προς τατ.
και όσαις αν νυν ψύχαις, &c.
therein, as the great business, and the end of all religion.
What was more often inculcated upon the ancient church of the Jews, than these words, “ Be ye holy, because I am holy ?” And that the same ambition is recommended to Christians, appears from the first sermon, we meet with in the gospel, of our Lord and Saviour, who came down to this earth, that he might restore the divine image upon
“ Be merciful, says he, as your Father, who is in heaven, is merciful.” And, according to Luke, “ Be perfect, as your Father is perfect.” And again, “ Blessed is the pure in heart.” And, indeed, this is the true beauty of the heart, and its true nobility; but vice introduces degeneracy, and deformity also.
Now, the more the mind disengages and withdraws itself from matter that pollutes it*, that is, from the body it inhabits, the purer and more divine it constantly becomes; because itattains to a greater resemblance with the Father of spirits; and, as the apostle Peter expresses it, “partakes more fully of the divine nature." Hence it is, that the apostle Paul warns us at so great length, and in such strong terms, against living after the flesh, as the very death of the soul, and directly opposite to the renewed nature of a Christian. He that is born of God, is endued with a greatness of soul, that makes him easily despise, and consider as nothing, those things,
* από της ύλης βορβορώσας. .