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frame the defence as far as it may be possible in conformity with those principles which have been already laid down for the general interpretation of "things hard to be understood ;”—this is the object which I propose to pursue in the remaining portion of the present course of Lectures. To some this plan may appear to afford but little scope for the introduction of original views. But utility, rather than originality, should, in every religious undertaking, be our principal aim; and I cannot but think that by considering the historical difficulties of Scripture in the order in which they follow each other in the Bible itself, we shall not only contribute something to the right understanding of many of the obscurer parts of the word of God, but form also a very convenient book of reference for those who may feel disturbed by difficulties of this kind.

Here then I conclude the classification of "things hard to be understood,” and with it the consideration of the subject of Scripture difficulties in general. In the remainder of the course, I shall enter upon a particular consideration of those historical passages which have been most frequently made use of against revelation by the modern Deists, commencing with those which are to be found in the book of Genesis. That this selection will be deemed the most judicious by

all, it were in vain to expect. The difficulties which each man has felt most puzzling to his own mind, and most dangerous to his own faith, are, of course, those which he will deem most worthy of being first considered. Hence, the prophetical, the genealogical, or doctrinal difficulties have already been recommended to me as the proper objects of elucidation in the first instance; and it is to apologise to those who have made the suggestions, as well as to explain the grounds of a different choice, that I have entered so much at length into the reasons by which that choice has been determined. The preference once given, must, of necessity, be steadily pursued, or all hope of producing a connected and useful manual against the objections of unbelievers be resigned. I would, therefore, beseech every one to reflect, whether the circumstances and writings of the times in which we live have not given a prominence to the selected class of difficulties which renders their early consideration a matter of immediate importance.

But whether the choice which has been made, be censured or approved, at least let no Christian, who holds the honour of his Redeemer, and the welfare of souls in estimation, withhold his prayers for the success of the undertaking. These difficulties have proved offences to many unstable minds, and perchance made shipwreck of the faith of some, and may yet bring perdition on the heads of Be ye zealous, therefore, and continual in your supplications to God, for every one that would search into and vindicate the will of the Lord, knowing that “the effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it rained not on the earth for the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruita.” It was the same earth upon which both these events fell, and they fell upon it at the bidding of another. The natural powers of the soil were unaltered and unsubdued through the whole, but the dew of God's blessing was taken away, when no prayer for its continuance reached his ears, and consequently it was dried up and withered into barrenness. Trust ye not, therefore, for the support of your faith to the natural powers of any individual intellect. They may be vigorous, they may be sound, they may be penetrating; yet wherein are they to be accounted of, if their fruitfulness be not called for in prayer? Independent of the outpourings and refreshings of the Spirit, the understanding is nothing. Let God but speak the word, and the fountain of its efficacy in operation is closed,—the spirit of

more.

a Janies v. 16-18,

not so.

weariness overtakes its vigour, the spirit of delusion supplants its soundness, and the spirit of slumber seals up its penetration for ever. Ye then that be righteous, remember how the righteous Elias was heard, and pray ye that it be

Lift up your voices unto the God “that heareth prayer,” and call down the living waters of

pure and perfect wisdom to fertilize the fruitless wilderness of a mere speculative mind. Be it your labour, as it is your duty, thus to strengthen the hands of the feeble, and refresh the faintness of them that are weak and wearied through the earnestness of thought. “Watch ye thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all, but specially for us, that utterance may be given unto us, that we may open our mouth boldly and wisely to make known the mystery of the Gospel, for which we are ambassadors * :" that, as by the power of the Spirit the Apostles of our Lord were endued with a tongue from on high to speak the wonderful works of God in words, intelligible to all, so we Ministers of Christ may also be empowered to understand and to declare “ things hard to be understood,” and turn the mockings and doubtings of them that disbelieve into the language of wonder and praise for the revelation of God's love.

* Ephes. vi. 19, 20.

M

178

LECTURE X.

THE OFFERINGS OF CAIN AND ABEL,

AND THE

ORIGIN OF ANIMAL SACRIFICES CONSIDERED,

PART 1.

Genesis IV. 4.

The Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering ;

but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.

One of the immediate consequences of the fall, appears to have been that prudential arrangement for the purpose of lightening toil, which, in the political philosophy of modern days, is designated the division of labour.

The curse upon the ground, and man's banishment from the beauty and blessings of the Garden which God had planted for his delight and support, made such a change in the situation of the human race, as to render it necessary that some should exclusively employ their powers in the production of food for the common sustenance. The condition of the animal creation, seems also, at the same time, to have been so far deteriorated,

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