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Entered, according to Act of Congress, on the 14th of January, 1832, by Geo. Duffeld; in the Clerk's office of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
MEMBERS OF HIS CHARGE,
THE FOLLOWING DISQUISITIONS ARE
ON OCCASIONAL ATTEMPTS, IN THE EARLY PBRIOD OF HIS MINISTRY AMONG
THEM, TO EXPLAIN THE GREAT FACT OF A
BI TÉE AID OF A PHILOSOPHY IMBIBED IN HIS THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION,
Whoever will carefully inquire, into the means by which he arrives at the knowledge of truth, not immediately falling under the cognizance of his senses, will presently discover, that he is entirely destitute of any original intuitive perceptions. All our knowledge, is, at first, derived through the avenue of our senses. The impressions made from sensible things, the mind combines in endless forms, and rising into loftier spheres, employs the ideas originally thence obtained as the representatives of unseen and spiritual verities;—and this it feels at liberty to do, by virtue of some assumed analogy between them.
It is in this way, we obtain our ideas of God, and of His perfections, and indeed of all the grand truths and facts of our religion. These are all as perfect realities as if they were perceptible through the medium of our senses. It is the great business of religion to bring us to the right apprehension of them.' The right apprehension of them 18 necessary,--to counteract and overcome the influence of sense, which binds us to earth and time,-and to connect us with the grand scenes of Heaven and Eternity. Iluman reason here impertinently volunteers its deductions, to lead Us away into the regions of abstraction; and we shall not have pursued this flattering guide far, till we shall be lost in labyrinths and worlds of our own creating. But faith affords a light, as much safer, as it is summarily, and more satisfactorily, given. The living God has in various ways reported to us the reality of His own existence, the attributes of His character and all that it is important, and necessary for our happiness here or hereafter, to know with regard to things unseen, spiritual and eternal. The
glories and faithfulness of His character, stand pledged for the truth of His communications.
- It is our duty and blessedness to believe what He says. But, in so believing, we are, from the very depravity of our nature, constrained to take our ideas of the things He reports to us, according to the plain and natural import of the language in which He addresses us. In doing so, we are not aware of any obligation to believe things are literally and formally, as, His expressions, taken from sensible objects with which we are familiar, would, at first hearing, intimate. Our minds are so constituted, and such is the law by which God is pleased to govern them, in our present complex state, as that, while we apprehend as realities, the things He states, we apprehend them not as clearly and perfectly understood, but as bearing some analogy to those sensible things, from which we ourselves originally took the ideas by means of which we have formed conceptions of what we can neither see, hear, taste, touch, nor smell.
The vulgar, or commonly received acceptation of terms, is the only true one, when they are transferred to a Being, whose intrinsic attributes are as incomprehensible by us, as His essence, and to a world which lies too remote for our intuitive cognizance. And yet to understand them literally, and properly, as we do, in reference to beings like ourselves, and to things in this world, who does not see how egregiously we shall err? For example, we commonly talk of the Life of God; but who will say that it is of the same kind with ours, which consists in the circulation of blood through our veins and arteries, and of breath through our nostrils, and lungs, and in other well known actions of our animal frame? Yet do we believe that there is some incessant activity in God, suitable to His own ineffable essence, which bears a resemblance, sufficiently striking to our life, to be thus denominated. In like manner we do not conceive of the Life even of ourown