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distinction be assigned between the two rational grounds, of its divine authority. cases; between the producing watch, and At present, such inquiries would demand the producing plant; both passive, uncon- more study and greater powers of reasonscious substances; both, by the organiza- ing, than your age admits of. It is your tion which was given to them, producing part, therefore, till you are capable of untheir like, without understanding or de- derstanding the proofs, to believe your pasign; both, that is, instruments ?
rents and teachers, that the Holy Scriptures 2. From plants we may proceed to are writings inspired by God, containing oviparous animals; from seeds to eggs. a true history of facts, in which we are Now I say, that the bird has the same con- deeply concerned-a true recital of the cern in the formation of the egg which she laws given by God to Moses; and of the lays, as the plant has in that of the seed precepts of our blessed Lord and Saviour, which it drops; and no other, nor greater. delivered from his own mouth to his disThe internal constitution of the egg is as ciples, and repeated and enlarged upon in much a secret to the hen, as if the hen the edifying epistles of his apostles—who were inanimate. Her will cannot alter it, were men chosen from among those who or change a single feather of the chick. had the advantage of conversing with our She can neither foresee nor determine of Lord, to bear witness of his miracles and which sex ber brood shall be, or how many resurrection—and who, after his ascension, of either: yet the thing produced shall be, were assisted and inspired by the Holy from the first, very different in its make, Ghost. The sacred volume must be the according to the sex which it bears. So rule of your life. In it you will find all far, therefore, from adapting the means, she truths necessary to be believed; and plain is not beforehand apprized of the effect. and easy directions for the practice of every If there be concealed within that smooth duty. Your Bible then must be your
chief shell a provision and a preparation for the study and delight: but as it contains many production and nourishment of a new ani- various kinds of writing--some parts obinal, they are not of her providing or pre- scure and difficult of interpretation, others paring: if there be contrivance, it is none plain and intelligible to the meanest capaof hers. Although, therefore, there be the city-I would chiefly recommend to your difference of life and perceptivity between frequent perusal such parts of the sacred the animal and the plant, it is a difference writings as are most adapted to your un. which enters not into the account. It is a derstanding, and most necessary for your foreign circumstance. It is a difference instruction. Our Saviour's precepts were of properties not employed. The animal spoken to the common people amongst the function and the vegetable function are Jews; and were therefore given in a manalike destitute of any design which can ner easy to be understood, and equally operate upon the form of the thing pro- striking and instructive to the learned and duced. The plant has no design in pro- unlearned: for the most ignorant may ducing the seed, no comprehension of the comprehend them, whilst the wisest must nature or use of what it produces: the bird be charmed and awed by the beautiful and with respect to its egg, is not above the majestie simplicity with which they are plant with respect to its seed. Neither the expressed. Of the same kind are the Ten one nor the other bears that sort of relation Commandments, delivered by God to Moto what proceeds from them, which a joiner ses; which, as they were designed for unidoes to the chair which he makes. Now versal laws, are worded in the most concise a cause, which bears this relation to the and simple manner, yet with a majesty effeet, is what we want, in order to account which commands our utmost reverence. for the suitableness of means to an end, the I think you will receive great pleasure, fitness and fitting of one thing to another; as well as improvement, from the historiand this cause the parent plant or animal cal books of the Old Testament provided does not supply.
you read them as an history, in a regular $ 132. Of the Scriptures, as the Rule of mind as you go on. I know of none, true
course, and keep the thread of it in your Life.
or fictitious, that is equally wonderful, inAs you advance in years and understand. teresting, and affecting; or that is told in ing, I hope you will be able to examine for so short and simple a manner as this, which yourself the evidences of the Christian re- is, of all histories, the most authentic. ligion; and that you will be convinced, on I shall give you some brief directions
concerning the method and course I wish his race-with the reviving promise of that you to pursue, in reading the Holy Scrip- deliverance which has since been wrought tures.
be enabled to make the for us by our blessed Saviour: The acbest use of this most precious gift of God count of the early state of the world :-Of —this sacred treasure of knowledge!- the universal deluge:-The division of May you read the Bible, not as a task, mankind into different nations and lannor as the dull employment of that day on- guages:
The story of Abraham, the foundly, in which you are forbidden more lively er of the Jewish people; whose unshaken entertainments -- but with a sincere and ar- faith and obedience, under the severest dent desire of instruction : with that love trial human nature could sustain, obtained and delight in God's word, which the holy such favour in the sight of God, that he Psalmist so pathetically felt and described, vouchsafed to style him his friend, and and which is the natural consequence of promised to make of his posterity a great loving God and virtue! Though I speak nation, and that in his seed--that is, in this of the Bible in general, I would not be one of his descendants—all the kingdoms understood to mean, that every part of the of the earth should be blessed. This, you volume is equally interesting. I have al- will easily see, refers to the Messiah, who ready said that it consists of various mat- was to be the blessing and deliverance of ter, and various kinds of books, which all nations. It is amazing that the Jews, must be read with different views and sen- possessing this prophecy, among many timeats. The having some general notion others, should have been so blinded by of what you are to expect from each book, prejudice, as to have expected, from this may possibly help you to understand them, great personage, only a temporal deliverand will heighten your relish of them. I ance of their own nation from the subjecshall treat you as if you were perfectly new tion to which they were reduced under the to the whole; for so I wish you to consider Romans: It is equally amazing, that some yourself; because the time and manner in Christians should, even now, confine the which children usually read the Bible, are
blessed effects of his appearance upon very ill calculated to make them really ac- earth, to this or that particular sect or proquainted with it; and too many people, fession, when he is so clearly and emphawho have read it thus, without understand. tically described as the Saviour of the ing it, in their youth, satisfy themselves whole world – The story of Abraham's that they know enough of it, and never proceeding to sacrifice his only son, at the afterwards study it with attention, when command of God, is affecting in the highthey come to a maturer age.
est degree; and sets forth a pattern of unIf the feelings of your heart, whilst you limited resignation, that every one ought to read, correspond with those of mine, imitate, in those trials of obedience under whilst I write, I shall not be without the temptation, or of acquiescence under afflictadvantage of your partial affection, to give ing dispensations, which fall to their lot. weight to my advice; for, believe me,
my Of this we may be assured, that our trials heart and eyes overflow with tenderness, will be always proportioned to the powers when I tell you how warm and earnest afforded us; if we have not Abraham's my prayers are for your happiness here strength of mind, neither shall we be called and hereafter,
upon to lift the bloody knife against the
bosom of an only child; but if the Al§ 133. Of Genesis.
mighty arm should be lifted up against I now proceed to give you some short him, we must be ready to resign him, and sketches of the matter contained in the dif- all we hold dear, to the divine will.- This ferent books of the Bible, and of the course action of Abraham has been censured by in wbich they ought to be read.
some, who do not attend to the distinction The first book, Genesis, contains the between obedience to a special command, most grand, and, to us, the most interesting and the detestably cruel sacrifices of the events, that ever happened in the universe; Heathens, who sometimes voluntarily, and -The creation of the world, and of man: without any divine injunctions, offered up -Tbe deplorable fall of man, from his their own children, under the notion of first state of excellence and bliss, to the appeasing the anger of their gods. An distressed condition in which we see all absolute command from God himself-as his descendants continue :--The sentence in the case of Abraham-entirely alters the of death pronounced on Adam, and on all moral nature of the action; since he, and
he only, has a perfect right over the lives pronounce the eternal law, impressing it on of his creatures, and may appoint whom their hearts with circumstances of terror, he will, either angel or maa, to be his but without those encouragements, and instrument of destruction. That it was those excellent promises, which were afterreally the voice of God which pronounced wards offered to mankind by Jesus Christ. the command, and not a delusion, might Thus were the great laws of morality rebe made certain to Abraham's mind, by stored to the Jews, and through them transmeans we do not comprehend, but which mitted to other nations; and by that means we know to be within the power of him a great restraint was opposed to the torrent who made our souls as well as bodies, and of vice and impiety, which began to prewho can controul and direct every faculty vail over the world. of the human mind : and we may be as- To those moral precepts, which are of sured, that if he was pleased to reveal him- perpetual and universal obligation, were self so miraculously, he would not leave a superadded, by the ministration of Moses, possibility of doubting whether it was a many peculiar institutions, wisely adapted real or an imaginary revelation. Thus the to different ends—either, to fix the memory sacrifice of Abraham appears to be clear of of those past deliverances, which were figuall superstition; and remains the noblestrative of a future and far greater salvation instance of religious faith and submission, -to place inviolable barriers between the that was ever given by a mere man: we Jews and the idolatrous nations, by whom cannot wonder that the blessings bestowed they were surrounded—or, to be the civil on him for it should have been extended law by which the community was to be to his posterity. This book proceeds with governed. the history of Isaac, which becomes very To conduct this series of events, and to interesting to us, from the touching scene establish these laws with his people, God I have mentioned and still more so, if we raised up that great prophet Moses, whose consider him as the type of our Saviour. faith and piety enabled him to undertake It recounts his marriage with Rebecca- and execute the most arduous enterprises ; the birth and history of his two sons, Jacob, and to pursue, with unabated zeal, the welthe father of the twelve tribes, and Esau, fare of his countrymen. Even in the hour the father of the Edomites, or Idumeans of death, this generous ardour still pre—the exquisitely affecting story of Joseph vailed: his last moments were employed in and his bretbren—and of his transplanting fervent prayers for their prosperity, and in the Israelites into Egypt, who there mul- rapturous gratitude for the glimpse vouchtiplied to a great nation.
safed him of a Saviour, far greater than Mrs. Chapone. himself, whom God would one day raise
up to his people. 134 Of Exodus.
Thus did Moses, by the excellency of
his faith, obtain a glorious pre-eminence In Exodus, you read of a series of won- among the saints and prophets in heaven; ders, wrought by the Almighty, to rescue while, on earth, he will be ever revered the oppressed Israelites from the cruel ty- as the first of those benefactors to mankind, ranny of the Egyptians, who, having first whose labours for the public good have received them as guests, by degrees reduced endeared their memory to all ages. them to a state of slavery. By the most pe
Ibid. culiar mercies and exertions in their favour, God prepared his chosen people to receive, 135. Of Levilicus, Numbers, and Deuwith reverent and obedient hearts, the solemn
teronomy. restitution of those primitive laws, which The next book is Leviticus, which conprobably be had revealed to Adam and his tains little besides the laws for the pecuimmediate descendants, or which, at least, Jiar ritual observance of the Jews, and he had made known by the dictates of con- therefore affords no great instruction to us science; but which time, and the degene- now: you may pass it over entirely-and, racy of mankind, had much obscured. This for the same reason, you may omit the first important revelation was made to them in eight chapters of Numbers. The rest of the Wilderness of Sinah; there, assembled Numbers is chiefly a continuation of the before the burning mountain, surrounded history, with some ritual laws. “ with blackness, and darkness, and tem- In Deuteronomy, Moses makes a recapest,” they heard the awful voice of God pitulation of the foregoing history, with
Zealous exhortations to the people, faithe cannot be justly laid to their charge on this fully to worship and obey that God, who occasion, you will observe, in the course had worked such amazing wonders for of their history, many things recorded of them: he promises them the noblest tem- them, very different from what you would poral blessings, if they prove obedient; expect from the chosen people of God, if and adds the most awful and striking de- you supposed them selected on account of nunciations against them, if they rebel
, or their own merit: their national character forsake the true God. I have before ob- was by no means amiable; and we are reserved, that the sanctions of the Mosaic peatedly told, that they were not chosen law were temporal rewards and punish- for their superior righteousness" for they ments: those of the New Testament are were a stiff-necked people ; and provoked eternal; these last, as they are so infinitely the Lord with their rebellions from the more forcible than the first, were reserved day they left Egypt.”_" You have been for the last best gift to mankind- and rebellious against the Lord,” says Moses, were revealed by the Messiah, in the full- “ from the day that I knew you."
." —And est and clearest manner. Moses, in this he vehemently exhorts them, not to flatter book, directs the method in which the Is- themselves that their success was, in any raelites were to deal with the seven nations, degree, owing to their own merits. They whom they were appointed to punish for were appointed to be the scourge of other their profligacy and idolatry, and whose nations, whose crimes rendered them fit land they were to possess, when they had objects of divine chastisement. For the driven out the old inhabitants. He gives sake of righteous Abraham, their founder, them excellent laws, civil as well as reli- and perhaps for many other wise reasons, gious, which were ever after the standing undiscovered to us, they were selected from muuicipal laws of that people. This book a world over-run with idolatry, to preconcludes with Moses' song and death. serve upon earth the pure worship of the
Mrs. Chapone. one only God, and to be honoured with
the birth of the Messiah amongst them. § 136. Of Joshua.
For this end they were precluded, by diThe book of Joshua contains the con. vine command, from mixing with any quests of the Israelites over the seven na- other people, and defended by a great numtions, and their establishment in the pro- ber of peculiar rites and observances, from mised land.— Their treatment of these con- falling into the corrupt worship practised quered nations must appear to you very by their neighbours.
Ibid. cruel and unjust, if you consider it as their own act, unauthorized by a positive comi- 137. Of Judges, Samuel, and Kings. mand: but they had the most absolute in. The book of Judges, in which you will junctions, not to spare this corrupt peo- find the affecting stories of Samson and plem" to make no covenant with them, Jephtha, carries on the history from the nor shew mercy to them, but utterly to death of Joshua, about two hundred and destroy them:”—and the reason is given, fifty years; but the facts are not told in
-“ lest they should qurn away the Israel- the times in which they happened, which ites from following the Lord, that they makes some confusion; and it will be might serve other gods." The children necessary to consult the marginal dates and of Israel are to be considered as instru- noles, as well as the index, in order to get ments, in the hand of the Lord, to punish any clear idea of the succession of events those whose idolatry and wickedness had during that period. deservedly brought destruction on them: The history then proceeds regularly this example, therefore,cannot be pleaded through the two books of Samuel, and in bebalf of cruelty, or bring any imputa- those of Kings: nothing can be more intion on the character of the Jews, With teresting and entertaining than the reigos regard to other cities, which did not belong of Saul, David, and Solomon : but after to these seven nations, they were directed the death of Solomon, when ten tribes reto deal with them according to the common volted from bis son Rehoboam, and belaw of arms at that time. "If the city sub. came a separate kingdom, you will find mitted, it became tributary, and the people some difficulty in understanding distinctly were spared; if it resisted, the men were the history of the two kingdoms of Israel to be slain, but the women and children
and Judah, which are blended together ; saved. Yet, though the crime of cruelty and by the likeness of the names, and
other particulars, will be apt to confound ten: many parts of it are obscure : but it is yonr mind, without great attention to the well worth studying, for the extreme beaudifferent threads thus carried on together: ty of the poetry, and for the noble and the index here will be of great use to you. sublime devotion it contains. The subject The second book of Kings concludes with of the dispute between Job and his prethe Babylonish captiviiy, 588 years before tended friends seems to be, whether the Christ-till which time the kingdom of providence of God distributes the rewards Judah had descended uninterruptedly in and punishments of this life in exact prothe line of David.
portion to the merit or demerit of each in
dividual. His antagonists suppose that it $ 138. Of Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiuh, does; and therefore infer, from Job's unand Esther.
common calamities, that, notwithstanding The first book of Chronicles begins his apparentrighteousness, he was in reality with a genealogy from Adam, through all a grievous sinner. They aggravate his supthe tribes of Israel and Judah ; and the re- posed guilt by the imputation of hypocrimainder is the same history which is con- sy, and call upon him to confess it, and to tained in the books of Kings, with little or acknowledge the justice of his punishment. no variation, till the separation of the ten Job asserts his own innocence and virtue in tribes. From that period, it proceeds with the most pathetic manner, yet does not the history of the kingdom of Judah alone, presume to accuse the Supreme Being of and gives therefore a more regular and injustice. Elihu attempts to arbitrate the clear account of the affairs of Judah than matter, by alleging the impossibility that the book of Kings. You may pass over so frail and ignorant a creature as man, the first book of Chronicles, and the nine should comprehend the ways of the Alfirst chapters of the second book; but, by mighty: and therefore condemns the unall means, read the remaining chapters, as just and cruel inference the three friends they will give you more clear and distinct had drawn from the sufferings of Job. He ideas of the history, of Judah, than that also blames Job for the presumption of you read in the second book of Kings. acquitting himself of all iniquity, since the The second of Chronicles ends, like the best of men are not pure in the sight of second of Kings, with the Babylonish cap- God-but all have something to repent tivity.
of: and he advises him to make this use of You must pursue the history in the book his afflictions. At last, by a bold figure of Ezra, which gives an account of the re- of poetry, the Supreme Being himself is turn of some of the Jews on the edict of introduced, speaking from the whirlwind, Cyrus, and of the rebuilding the Lord's and silencing them all by the most sublime temple.
display of his own power, magnificence, Nehemiah carries on the history for and wisdom, and of the comparative littleabout twelve years, when he himself was ness and ignorance of men. This indeed governor of Jerusalem, with authority to is the only conclusion of the argument, rebuild the walls, &c.
which could be drawn at a time when life The story of Esther is prior in time to and immortality were not yet brought to that of Ezra and Nehemiah: as you will light. A future retribution is the only see by the marginal dates; however, as it satisfactory solution of the difficulty arihappened during the seventy years' capti- sing from the sufferings of good people in vity, and is a kind of episode, it may be this life.
Ibid. read in its own place. This is the last of the canonical books
$140. Of the Psalms. that is properly historical; and I would Next follow the Psalms, with which you therefore advise, that you pass over what cannot be too conversant. If you have follows, till you have continued the his- any taste, either for poetry or devotion, tory through the apocryphal books. Ibid. they will be your delight, and will afford
you a continual feast. The bible transla$ 139. Of Job.
tion is far better than that used in the comThe story of Job is probably very an- mon-prayer book, and will often give you cient, though that is a point upon which the sense, when the other is obscure. In learned men have differed : It is dated, this, as well as in all other parts of the however, 1520 years before Christ: I be- scripture, you must be careful always to bieve it is uncertain by whom it was writ- consult the margin, which gives you the