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A SERIES of pulpit discourses on the obvious subject-matter of Scripture, is of a different character, from those critical and expository works, the object of which is to fix and ascertain the meaning-even of the more obscure and controverted, as well as of the clearest passages. The following is a record of the Sabbath preparations of many years back— now given without change or improvement to the world; and the appearance of which in their present state is very much owing to the frequently expressed desire of my old hearers,
to have the Lectures which I delivered on the Epistle to the Romans, set before them in a more permanent form.
It may account for the long delay of their publication, that I had hoped to bestow upon them, the usual elaboration which such compositions undergo, in their passage from the pulpit to the press. But the growing multiplicity of my engagements obliges me to relinquish this hope; and despairing, as I now
do, of being able to condense or remodel these writings, either at present or afterwards, when they will fall to be absorbed in the general series of my works now in the course of publication, I commit them to the world as they are, with their numerous literary imperfections -satisfied if, through the divine blessing, they shall be found to strengthen the faith or minister to the comfort and instruction of Christian readers.
LECTURES ON THE ROMANS.
Ir is possible to conceive the face of our world overspread with a thick and midnight darkness, and without so much as a particle of light to alleviate it, from any one quarter of the firmament around us. In this case, it were of no avail to the people who live in it, that all of them were in possession of sound and perfect eyes. The organ of sight may be entire, and yet nothing be seen from the total absence of external light among the objects on every side of us. Or in other words, to bring about the perception of that which is without, it is not enough that we have the power of vision among men; but, in addition to this, there must be a visibility in the trees, and the houses, and the mountains, and the living creatures, which are now in the ordinary discernment of men.
But, on the other hand, we may reverse the supposition. We may conceive an entire luminousness to be extended over the face of naturewhile the faculty of sight was wanting among all
the individuals of our species. In this case, the external light would be of as little avail towards our perception of any object at a distance from us, as the mere possession of the sense of seeing was in the former instance. Both must conspire to the effect of our being rendered conversant with the external world through the medium of the eye. And if the power of vision was not enough, without a visibility on the part of the things which are around us, by God saying let there be light-as little is their visibility enough, without the power of vision stamped as an endowment by the hand of God, on the creatures whom He has formed.
Now we can conceive that both these defects or disabilities, in the way of vision, may exist at the same time-or that all the world was dark, and that all the people in the world were blind. To emerge out of this condition-there must be a twofold process begun and carried forward, and at length brought to its full and perfect termination. Light must be poured upon the earth, and the faculty of seeing must be conferred upon its inhabitants. One can imagine, that, instead of the light being made instantaneously to burst upon us in its highest splendour, and, instead of the faculty being immediately bestowed upon us in full vigour to meet and to encounter so strong a tide of effulgency-that both these processes were conducted in a way that was altogether gradual-that the light, for example, had its first weak glimmering; and that the eye, in the feebleness of its infancy, was
not overcome by it-that the light advanced with morning step to a clearer brilliancy; and that the eye, rendered able to bear it, multiplied the objects of its sight, and took in a wider range of perception-that the light shone at length unto the perfect day; and that the eye, with the last finish upon its properties and its powers, embraced the whole of that variety which lies within the present compass of human contemplation. We must see that if one of these processes be gradual, the other should be gradual also. By shedding too strong a light upon weak eyes, we may overpower and extinguish them. By granting too weak a light to him who has strong eyes, we make the faculty outstrip the object of its exercise, and thus incur a waste of endowment. By attempering the one process to the other, we maintain, throughout all the stages, that harmony which is so abundantly manifested in the works of Nature and Providence, between man as he actually is, and the circumstances by which man is actually surrounded.
These preliminary statements will we trust be of some use for illustrating the progress, not of natural, but of spiritual light, along that path which forms the successive history of our world. Whatever discernment Adam had of the things of God in Paradise, the fall which he experienced was a fall into the very depths of the obscurity of midnight. The faculties he had in a state of innocence, made him able to perceive, that the Creator, who formed him, took pleasure in all that He had