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can attain, they would perceive its worth by the extended views it would afford them; and, in laying low the selfish pride that blinds their judgment, would induce the same rigid and dispassionate examination of them, they now bestow on subjects of far less importance:-they would then find that the mine of truth lies deep, and its treasure imparted but progressively to human intellects-that, in the providence of the Almighty, "she is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day"-that "her ways are ways of pleasantness" in liberality and justice; and that "all her paths are peace" in reciprocal good-will.
It is necessary here to observe, that in the following pages, the words added to passages from the Scriptures to make them understood, or any thing asserted, will be afterwards found supported by other passages from them: for the plan pursued throughout the work is, that revealed knowledge shall speak for itself—and so arranged as to make manifest, that the whole is consistent with our natural reason, as far as experience can inform us; and that the order of all things, within our limits, tends to that harmonious whole, independent of the jarring passions of human weakness, which the Scriptures assure us we are approaching.
It is also necessary to observe, that in tracing the meaning of the words, Devil-Satan-works of the devil-works of the flesh-lusts of the fleshthe serpent-prince of this world-of the power of the air of darkness-Beelzebub-the beast, &c. the dispassionate understanding is required, and appealed to; as in our ordinary reading of the Scriptures, those words have seldom had a definite meaning to satisfy the mind-few people having supposed they meant, the influence of the malignant passions in the actions of mankind, including every other word which signifies evil, that is contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ; yet, such will be found to be their true meaning. But, in the following work, the words spirit of evil-spirit of malignitymalignant passions-seed of the serpent, are occasionally used to express the same meaning. We, therefore, humbly hope that no one will suffer an inconsiderate levity to mislead him, in ascertaining this important truth, as we believe it will be found the key to that knowledge, in which human happiness is most essentially concerned.
VIEW OF THE SCRIPTURES.
OF THE EXTENT OF THE NATURAL MIND OF MAN;ITS UNCERTAINTIES, AND FEARS WITHOUT REVEALED KNOWLEDGE.
In taking a view of the Scriptures, the first question that naturally presents itself to the inquisitive mind is, What knowledge are they intended to reveal that the natural mind could not obtain without them, which is essential to our welfare and comfort amidst the pains, disappointments, and cares that daily surround us, and conducive to our happiness at the end of them?
To answer this question, let us first consider the knowledge which the ancient philosophers directed the uninstructed mind to obtain in its rudest state, and in the infancy of the world under the guidance of the providence of our Creator, To know Thyself! The wisdom of the precept must be evident to the enlightened mind; because, by knowing ourselves, we must necessarily know the cause of our weakness and imperfections on the
one hand; and the nature and dignity of the soul on the other, with its constant dependance upon the will and support of Him, "in whom we live, and move, and have our being."
To attain this important knowledge, we shall have recourse to all the light our observations upon the actions of others, and our own feelings can furnish, together with the knowledge of the physical laws of our organization; and then bring the light of revealed knowledge to our aid, as explanatory of our nature, that removes the mysterious veil of ignorance in which natural knowledge leaves us enveloped; and thence make it evident, that the Scriptures were necessarily "written for our learning," as they profess to be, and that without their light our knowledge must have been limited to a boundary of dissatisfaction and misery.
We find, by our daily experience, that in the actions of man there are two principles governing him a mind possessing a reasoning power, and passions which at times suspend that power, or deprave its nature. We have, therefore, to discover the means by which we can know the mind uninfluenced by those passions ;-what the mind is, and those passions are; and for what end man was placed in this world, subject to passions which at times suspend the reasoning faculty of the soul, that places him above the brute creation?
Of what the essential nature of the mind of man is, or what the malignant passions are, no one has