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It may be admired as a great exploit; that Christianity, with all its restraints, is driven out : but the world may be assured, this will be no peaceable event. The faith, planted throughout the earth, will never be rooted out without a tremendous shock. When the founder of our religion expired, the earth trembled, the sun was darkened, and all nature felt the stroke; and if his faith is to expire, the catastrophe will shake the world ; ia circumstance often spoken, of in the Scriptures both of the Old and New Testament, as preparatory to the great day of the Lord. How much the earth is moved at this time, we feel every day: how much more it may be before the end cometh, it is not for us to judge : but this we know, that all the commotions of the earth will terminate in the fulfilling of the promises of God, when we shall receive a kingdom which cannot be moved *.
It is either weak and childish, or wicked and profane, to consider this as a frightful subject. We learn many things to prepare us for the part we are to take in this world; but we learn Christianity to prepare us for that other world which it hath promised : and shall we be afraid to hear it is at hand ? shall we pray daily that the kingdom of God may come; and shall we wish at the same time it may not come? Is not death the end of this world to every man; and is there any man who thinks he shall never see it? Does it come the sooner, because we preach about it? We may make people serious, and that may make them sober ; and so they may live the longer; and then death will come the later. So in the other case; the Lord, in his time, must be revealed from heaven, with every circumstance of majesty and terror : he that shall come
* Heb. xii 28. See also Hagg. ii. 7.
will come, and he will come in this manner. If we preach about it, we may make men wiser; and that
will make the event less terrible; and we shall thereby ..do them the greatest kindness in the world. If any
man can be brought to such a state of mind, as to hope for and desire that great event, which all the powers of earth and bell can never prevent; then he is a happy man indeed ; and not before. Let us there
fore all devoutly pray, that when we are told of the · Lord's coming, our hearts may be ready to answer
Amen; even so, come Lord Jesus ,
GOD SAW THAT THE WICKEDNESS OF MAN WAS
GREAT IN THE EARTH, AND THAT EVERY IMA· GINATION OF THE THOUGHTS OF HIS HEART WAS
ONLY EVIL CONTINUALLY. GEN. VI. 5.
N the short and comprehensive history of the time before the flood, we are told how sin first arose; how it came to maturity; and how it was punished. The words of this text do not give us a systematical account 'of it; but we may thence collect, what is the seat of it, and how it operates in the constitution of man: a subject which demands a close and serious scrutiny. For the nature of man is still the same: evil now keeps its place as in the beginning; it arises in the same manner, and gathers strength from the same causes.
Of all the things we see, nothing can be truly understood in its first principles. God alone can see things in their beginnings, who is himself the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end of all things. We can trace them so far only as he hath been pleased to disclose them to us; not for physical, but for moral purposes,
The wickedness of man is here said to consist in the evil workings of his imagination : the imagination therefore is that faculty, in which the wickedness of man hath its beginning. To understand this better, we must examine what the imagination is, how it works, is worked upon, and with what effects; a matter of more concern to us, than all the curious disquisitions that can be written upon the understanding. He that can discover the seat of a disease, and tell us how it may be cured, or how it may be prevented, is a more useful man in an hospital, though in a lower office, than the curious demonstrator, who can descant on the structure and ceconomy of the human frame. And here, one hint from the word of God, who knoweth whereof we are made, and in what respects we are become degenerate, will carry us farther in an hour, than our conjectural researches in the whole course of our lives.
Let us then first obtain what light we can from the sense of the words which the wisdom of God hath used in the text, to denote the imagination and thoughts of man. The terms of the original are translated, I believe, as accurately as they can be; and only want a little explaining. The word we render imagination, has the sense of forming and figuring, as a potter forms the clay, or a seal gives the impres. sion; and when applied to the mind, denotes its faculty of receiving and forming images. When it receives them it is passive; when it forms them it is active. The other word, which signifies the thoughts, has the sense of adding, computing, or putting things together : and as all the faculties of the mind can work together, like the members of the body, this operation of the head is very much under the infuence of the heart, which is the seat of the passions : so that what the head can form in image and figure, the heart and affections can compound and put together. If the innages of the mind are rightly compared, the result is truth; if iinproperly, unnaturally, or unfairly, the result is error. The old logicians, in tracing the operations of the mind, have told us very truly, that the mind compares two ideas, and thence forms a judgment. If a man does this falsely for himself, he is deluded: but if his intent is to deceive, he does the same thing for others; and having presented to them a faise composition of ideas, he leads their judgment wherever he pleases. To put the images of the mind truly and faithfully together, is the greatest wisdom of man; and it is what the word of God hath taught us how to do throughout the images of nature; particularly in the parables of Christ, by which he instructs the world ; to put images falsely together, is the artifice of Satan, by which he deceives the world; and by which wicked men never fail to deceive one another.
The subject now before us is so deep and curious, that it would adınit of much subtile disquisition; which, however, I shall avoid as much as I can, and endeavour to make it plain and profitable, by shewing the right use of the imagination, with the dangers we are under, and the punishment we suffer from the abuse of it. After which, if I can prescribe such rules as will secure us from the evils of the imagination, the moral end I have in view will be answered.
Truth being the great object of the understanding, the use of the imagination is to give us pictures and images of truth; and without the aid of such pictures, we can receive but little information. Give the mind a well-adapted image, and in that image it will see truth : an object so beautiful in itself, that it will see