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The children with whom the parents are supposed to converse, are from twelve to seventeen
and the names are
CATHARINE: who, together with the
MOTHER, make the fire-side circle.
ON THE CHARACTER OF GOD.
F. We are now to converse on some of the infinitely important and deeply interesting discoveries of divine revelation. You are not, however, to imagine that you are to hear of things altogether new, for your minds have been made familiar with them from your infancy, by the endearing and valuable instructions of your most affectionate mother; but we shall take a closer and more connect. ed view of these precious truths, which are otherwise unknown, excepting by the revelation of Jesus Christ. These truths are of such a nature, that they communicate the purest light to the darkened understandingthe most sublime and elevating joys to the contrite heart and are fitted to assimilate our souls to the image of the infinite and ever blessed God.
E. Are these the purposes for which God has given the Scriptures?
F. Yes, Eliza, God had compassion upon man, when in that degraded and miserable condition into which he had brought himself by his transgression, and, in the greatness of his love, purposed to raise him from his low condition, restore him to the enjoyment of his forfeited favour, and render him eternally happy, by making him like himself.
E. Are we to understand that it is essential to our happiness that we should be like God?
F. It certainly is; but you are not to think that I mean like Him in his Self-existence, Independence, Omnipotence, Omnipresence, &c. for it is impossible that ever creatures can resemble him in these. All creatures, from the highest angel to the meanest insect, have derived their existence from God, and are entirely and for ever depending upon him; but we must be like him in his holy and righteous character, before we can be as God is, perfectly happy.
H. But what is meant by the character of God?
F. Supposing any one were to ask a person the character of another with whom he was intimate, how would he describe it?
E. He would, I think, tell him what were his virtues, disposition, and temper ; and perhaps he might mention some parts of
his conduct to prove the truth of what he said.
F. When we speak of the character of God, we do not apply such terms as virtue, disposition, temper to him; but we speak of his attributes or perfections, and may refer to his works, as displaying their excellency and glory.
H. I recollect that, last winter, when conversing with us on the works of God, you said, that these displayed his wisdom, power, and goodness. F. I did so.
It is, however, but a limited view which we can have of the glory of God in the material creation, and not suited to inspire sinful creatures such as we are with confidence in him; besides, you have been already informed, that those who had only this means of knowing God, soon sunk into the grossest ignorance, and indulged in the most wicked, debasing vices. Even those who were esteemed the wisest among them, in attempting to describe the character of God, where like blind men giving a description of colours. To know God without express communication with himself, is utterly impossible: “ Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection? It is as high as heaven, what canst thou do? deeper than hell, what canst thou know? the measure thereof is longer than the earth, it is broader than the sea."
E. But are there not people who say, that the works of nature are quite sufficient to teach us all that is necessary to be known of God?
F. There are people who speak in high terms of what is termed natural religion; but there are none in this country who are solely indebted to nature for any enlightened knowledge they may have of God. You remember the accounts which were given you about the poor Bushman and the Greenlander: they had natural religion, but it could neither relieve their doubts, nor give comfort to their heart; and the darkness of their mind, and the sorrows of their heart, were expelled only by God shining into their heart, giving “them the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ.”
It is revelation that has given us light to discover in Nature what of the divine glory is impressed upon it; for wherever the mind of God is unknown, the light of Nature is like a small glimmering lamp, which may serve to show the people that they are sitting “in darkness and the shadow of death,” but it cannot direct their “ feet into the way of peace;” because it neither fully unfolds the di. vine character, nor gives them any distinct information of the relation in which they stand to him, and the duties he requires of them.
H. Since our conversations last winter, I like much to study the works of nature.