Изображения страниц


corrections made since the last translation, xxii.-such may be found scattered up and and it is generally preferable to the words down almost throughout the Old Testaof the text. I would wish you to select ment. To bear testimony to him, is the some of the Psalms that please you best, great and ultimate end for which the spiand get them by heart; or, at least, make rit of prophecy was bestowed on the sacred yourself master of the sentiments

contained writers ;—but this will appear more plainin them. Dr. Delany's Life of David will ly to you, when you enter on the study of shew you the occasions on which several of prophecy, which you are now much too them were composed, which add much to young to undertake. their beauty and propriety; and by com

Mrs. Chapone. paring them with the events of David's life, you will greatly enhance your plea

§ 141. Of the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, sure in them. Never did the spirit of true

Solomon's Song, the Prophecies, and piety breathe more strongly than in these

Apocrypha. divine songs : which being added to a rich The Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are rich vein of poetry, makes them more captiva- stores of wisdom, from which I wish you ting to my heart and imagination, than to adopt such maxims as may be of infinite any thing I ever read. You will consider use both to your temporal and eternal inbow great disadvantages any poem must terest. But detached sentences are a kind sustain from being rendered literally into of reading not proper to be continued long prose, and then imagine how beautiful at a time; a few of them, well chosen and

; these must be in the original. May you digested, will do you much more service, be enabled, by reading them frequently, than to read half a dozen chapters togeto transfuse into your own breast that ther. In this respect, they are directly opholy flame which inspired the writer ! posite to the historical books, which, if not -to delight in the Lord, and in his laws, read in continuation, can hardly be under

, like the Psalmist -- to rejoice in him always, stood, or retained to any purpose. and to tbink “ one day in his courts bet

The Song of Solomon is a fine poemter than a thousand !”-But may you but its mystical reference to religion lies escape the heart-piercing sorrow of such too deep for a common understanding; if repentance as that of David-by avoiding you read it, therefore, it will be rather as sin, which humbled this unhappy king matter of curiosity than of edification. to the dust- and which cost him such Next follow the prophecies; which bitter anguish, as it is impossible to read though highly deserving the greatest atof without being moved ! Not all the tention and study, I think you had better pleasures of the most prosperous sinners omit for some years, and then read them would counterbalance the hundredth part with a good exposition, as they are much of those sensations described in his peni- too difficult for you to understand without tential Psalms—and which must be the assistance. Dr. Newton on the Prophecies portion of every man, who has fallen from will help you much, whenever you undera religious state into such crimes, when take this study_which you should by all once he recovers a sense of religion and means do, when your understanding is virtue, and is brought to a real hatred of ripe enough; because one of the main sin. However available such repentance proofs of our religion rests on the testimony may be to the safety and happiness of the of the prophecies; and they are very fresoul after death, it is a state of such ex- quently quoted, and referred to, in the quisite suffering here, that one cannot be New Testament; besides, the sublimity enough surprised at the folly of those, who of the language and sentiments, through all indulge sin, with the hope of living to the disadvantages of antiquity and transmake their peace with God by repentance. lation, must, in very many passages, Happy are they who preserve their inno- strike every person of taste; and the excence usullied by any great or wilful cellent moral and religious precepts found crimes, and who have only the common in them must be useful to all

. failings of humanity to repent of; these Though I have spoken of these books in are sufficiently mortifying to a heart deep- the order in which they stand, I repeat, ly smitten with the love of virtue, and with that they are not to be read in that order the desire of perfection. There are many but that the thread of the history is to very striking prophecies of the Messiah in be pursued, from Nehemiah to the first these divine songs, particularly in Psalm book of the Maccabees, in the Apocrypha;


taking care to observe the chronology re- or small, on which you may not safely ap. gularly, by referring to the index, which ply this rule for the direction of your consupplies the deficiencies of this history duct: and, whilst your heart honestly adfrom Josephus's Antiquities of the Jews. heres to it, you can never be guilty of any The first of Maccabees carries on the story sort of injustice or unkindness. The two till within 105 years of our Lord's circum- great commandments, which contain the cision: the second book is the same narra- summary of our duty to God and man, are tive, written by a different hand, and no less easily retained, and made a standdoes not bring the history so forward asard by which to judge our own hearts the first ; so that it may be entirely omit. “ To love the Lord our God, with all ted, unless you have the curiosity to read our hearts, with all our minds, with all our some particulars of the heroic constancy of strength: and our neighbour (or fellowthe Jews, under the tortures inflicted by creature) as ourselves." “ Love worketh their heathen conquerors, with a few other no ill to his neighbour.” Therefore if things not mentioned in the first book. you have true benevolence, you will never

You must then connect the history by do any thing injurious to individuals, or the help of the index, which will give you to society. Now, all crimes whatever, are brief heads of the changes that happened in their remoter consequences at least, if in the state of the Jews, from this time till not immediately and apparently) injurious the birth of the Messiah.

to the society in which we live. It is imThe other books of the Apocrypha, possible to love God without desiring to though not admitted as of sacred autho- please him, and, as far as we are able, to rity, have many things well worth your resemble him; therefore the love of God attention: particularly the admirable book must lead to every virtue in the highest called Ecclesiasticus, and the book of degree; and, we may be sure, we do not Wisdom. But, in the course of reading truly love him, if we content ourselves which I advise, these must be omitted till with avoiding flagrant sins, and do not after you have gone through the Gospels strive, in good earnest, to reach the greatest and Acts, that you may not lose the histo- degree of perfection we are capable of. sical thread.

Mrs. Chapone. Thus do these few words direct us to

the highest Christian virtue. Indeed, the $ 142. Of the New Testament, which is whole tenor of the Gospel is to offer us

constantly to be referred to, as the Rule every help, direction, and motive, that can and Direction of our moral Conduct. enable us to attain that degree of perfec

tion on which depends our eternal good. We come now to that part of scripture

Ibid. which is the most important of all, and which you must make your constant study, $143. Of the Example set by our Saviour, not only till you are thoroughly acquainted

and his Character. with it, but all your life long; because, how often soever repeated, it is impossible What an example is set before us in our to read the life and death of our blessed blessed Master ! How is his whole life, Saviour, without renewing and increasing from earliest youth, dedicated to the purin our hearts that love and reverence, and suit of true wisdom, and to the practice of gratitude towards him, which is so justly the most exalted virtue! When you see due for all he did and suffered for us! him, at twelve years of age, in the temple Every word that fell from his lips is more amongst the doctors, hearing them, and precious than all the treasures of the earth; asking them questions on the subject of refor his “are the words of eternal life!” ligion, and astonishing them all with his They must therefore be laid up in your understanding and answers, you will say, heart, and constantly referred to, on all perhaps, Well might the Son of

“ occasions, as the rule and direction of all

“ God, even at those years, be far wiser your actions: particularly those very com- “ than the aged; but, can a mortal child prehensive moral precepts he has graci- “ emulate such heavenly wisdom? Can ously left with us, which can never fail to “ such a pattern be proposed to my imidirect us aright, if fairly and honestly ap- "tation?"Yes, certainly ;-remember

— plied; such as, “ whatsoever ye would that he has bequeathed to you his heavenly that men should do unto you, even so do wisdom, as far

as concerns your own good, unto them.”—There is no occasion, great He has left you such declarations of his

will, and of the consequences of your ac- obey his commands ;-to be his faithful tions, as you are, even now, fully able to disciple--and ever to renounce and abhor understand, if you will but attend to them. those sins, which brought mankind under If, then, you will imitate his zeal for divine condemnation, and from which we knowledge, if you will delight in gaining have been redeemed at so dear a rate. Reinformation and improvement; you may member that the title of Christian, or even now become a wise unto salvation.” follower of Christ, implies a more than or- Unmoved by the praise he acquired dinary degree of holiness and goodness. amongst these learned men, you see him As our motives to virtue are stronger than meekly return to the subjection of a child, those which are afforded to the rest of under those who appeared to be his pa- mankind, our guilt will be proportionably rents, though he was in reality their Lord; greater, if we depart from it. you see him return to live with them, to Our Saviour appears to have had three work for them, and be the joy and solace great purposes, in descending from his of their lives; till the time came, when he glory and dwelling amongst men. The was to enter on that scene of public ac- first, to teach them true virtue, both by his tion, for which his heavenly Father had example and precepts. The second, to sent him from his own right-hand, to take give them the most forcible motives to the upon him the form of a poor carpenter's son. practice of it, by“ bringing life and imWhat a lesson of humility is this, and of mortality to light;" by shewing them the obedience to parents !-- When, having re- certainty of a resurrection and judgment, ceived the glorious testimony from heaven, and the absolute necessity of obedience to of his being the beloved Son of the Most God's laws. The third, to sacrifice him. High, he enters on his public ministry, self for us, to obtain, by his death, the rewhat an example does be give us of the mission of our sins, upon our repentance most extensive and constant benevolence! and reformation, and the power of bestow-how are all his hours spent in doing ing on his sincere followers the inestimagood to the souls and bodies of men ! - ble gift of immortal happiness. not the meanest sioner is below his notice;

'Mrs. Chapone. to reclaim and save them, he condescends to converse familiarly with the most § 144. A comparative View of the Blesscorrupt, as well as the most abject. All

ed and Cursed at the last Day, and the his miracles are wrought to benefit man

Inference to be drawn from it. kind; not one to punish and afflict them. What a tremendous scene of the last day Instead of using the almighty power, does the gospel place before our eyes ! which accompanied him, to the purpose of that day, when you and every one of of exalting himself, and treading down his us shall awake from the grave, and behold enemies, he makes no other use of it than the Son of God, on his glorious tribunal, to heal and to save.

attended by millions of celestial beings, of When you come to read of his suffer- whose superior excellence we can now ings and death, the ignominy and reproach, form no adequate idea—when, in presence the sorrow of mind, and torment of body of all mankind, of those holy angels, and which he submitted to when you consi- of the great Judge himself, you must give der that it was all for our sakes —" that by an account of your past life, and hear your his stripes we are healed,”—and by his final doom, from which there can be no death we are raised from destruction to appeal, and which must determine your everlasting life-- what can I say, that can fata to all eternity; then think-if for a add any thing to the sensations you must moment you can bear the thought-what then feel?- No power of language can

will be the desolation, shame, and anguish, make the scene more touching than it ap- of those wretched souls, who shali hear pears in the plain and simple narrations of these dreadful words :-“ Depart from the evangelists. The heart that is unmov- me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, preed by it, can be scarcely human,--but the pared for the devil and his angels."--Oh! emotions of tenderness and conipunction, - I cannot support even the idea of your 'which almost every one feels in reading this becoming one of those undone, lost creaaccount, will be of no avail, unless applied tures!- I trust in God's mercy, that you to the true end-unless it inspires you with will make a better use of that knowledge a sin'cere and warm affection towards your of his will, which he has vouchsafed you, blessed Lord with a firm resolution to and of these amiable dispositions he has



given you. Let us therefore turn from pursuit, through the whole course of your this horrid, this insupportable view—and life ?- If you are not insensible to that derather endeavour to imagine, as far as is sire of happiness which seems woven into possible, what will be the sensations of our nature, you cannot surely be unmoved your soul, if you should hear our beavenly by the prospect of such a transcendant deJudge address you in these transporting gree of it! and that continued to all eterwords—“ Come, thou blessed of my Fa- nity-perhaps continually increasing. You ther, inherit the kingdom prepared for cannot but dread the forfeiture of such an you, from the foundation of the world." inheritance, as the most insupportable evil! - Think, what it niust be to become an – Remember then-remember the conobject of the esteem and applause-not only ditions on which alone it can be obtained. of all mankind assembled together -- but of God will not give to vice, to carelessness, all the host of heaven, of our blessed Lord or sloth, the prize he has proposed to virhimself—nay, of his and our Almighty tue. You have every help that can aniFather :-to find your frail flesh changed, mate your endeavours:-You have written in a moment, into a glorious celestial bo- laws to direct you—the example of Christ dy, endowed with perfect beauty, health, and his disciples to encourage you—-the and agility: to find your soul cleansed most awakening motives to engage you-from all its faults and infirmities; exalted and you have, besides, the comfortable to the purest and noblest affections; over- promise of constant assistance from the flowing with divine love and rapturous Holy Spirit, if you diligently and sinceregratitude!—to have your understanding ly pray for it.--0! let not all this mercy enlightened and refined; your heart en- be lost upon you—but give your attention larged and purified; and every power and to this your only important concern, and disposition of mind and body adapted to accept, with profound gratitude, the inthe highest relish of virtue and happiness! estimable advantages that are thus affec- Thus accomplished, to be admitted into tionately offered you. the society of amiable and happy beings, Though the four Gospels are each of all united in the most perfect peace and them a narration of the life, sayings, and friendship, all breathing nothing but love death of Christ; yet as they are not exto God, and to each other ;- with them to actly alike, but some circumstances and dwell in scenes more delightful than the sayings, omitted in one, are recorded in richest imagination can paint-free from another, you must make yourself perfectly every pain and care, and from all possibi- master of them all. lity of change or satiety;--but, above all, The Acts of the Holy Apostles, endowed to enjoy the more immediate presence of with the Holy Ghost, and authorized by God himself to be able to comprehend their divine Master, come next in order to and admire his adorable perfections iu a be read. ---Nothing can be more interesting high degree, though still far short of their and edifying, than the history of their acinfinity--to be conscious of his love and tions—of the piety, zeal, and courage, favour, and to rejoice in the light of his with which they preached the glad tidings countenance!—But here all imagination of salvation: and of the various exertions fails ;-we can form no idea of that bliss, of the wonderful powers conferred on them which may be communicated to us by by the Holy Spirit, for the confirmation such a near approach to the Source of all of their mission. Mrs. Chapone. beauty and all good:-we must content ourselves with believing, “ that it is what

§ 145. Character of St. Paul. mortal eye had not seen, uor ear heard, nei- The character of St. Paul, and his mither hath it entered into the heart of man to raculous conversion, demand your particuconceive.” The crown of all our joys will lar attention; most of the apostles were be, to know that we are secure of possessing men of low birth and education; but St. them for ever—what a transporting idea! Paul was a Roman citizen; that is, he

Can you reflect on all these things, and possessed the privileges annexed to the not feel the most earnest longings after im- freedom of the city of Rome, which was mortality ?-Do not all other views and considered as a high distinction in those desires seem mean and trifling, when com- countries that had been conquered by the pared with this ?—And does not your in- Romans. He was educated amongst the most heart resolve, that this shall be the most learned sect of the Jews, and by one ehief and constant object of its wishes and of their pripcipal doctors. He was a man


[ocr errors]

of extraordinary eloquence, as appears not comparing them with what you find in only in his writings, but in several speeches these. It is through the neglect of this in his own defence, pronounced before rule that many have been led to draw the governors and courts of justice, when most absurd doctrines from the holy scriphe was called to account for the doctrines tures.-Let me particularly recommend to be taught. He seems to have been of your careful perusal the xii. xiii. xiv. and an uncommonly warm temper, and zealous xv. chapters of the Epistle to the Romans. in whatever religion he professed: this In the xiv. chapter, St. Paul has in view zeal, before his conversion, shewed itself the difference between the Jewish and Genin the most unjustifiable actions, by furi- tile (or Heathen) converts, at that time: ously persecuting the innocent Christians: the former were disposed to look with but, though his actions were bad, we may horror on the latter, for their impiety in be sure his intentions were good; other- not paying the same regard to the distincwise we should not have seen a miracle tions of days and meats that they did; and employed to convince him of his mistake, the latter, on the contrary, were inclined and to bring him into the right way. This to look with contempt on the former, for example may assure us of the mercy of their weakness and superstition. Excellent God towards mistaken consciences, and is the advice which the Apostle gives to ought to inspire us with the most enlarged both parties: he exhorts the Jewish concharity and good-will towards those whose verts not to judge, and the Gentiles not to erroneous principles mislead their con- despise: remembering that the kingdom duct: instead of resentment and hatred of Heaven is not meat and drink, but against their persons, we ought only to righteousness and peace, and joy in the feel an active wish of assisting them to Holy Ghost.-Endeavour to conform yourfind the truth; since we know not whether, self to this advice; to acquire a temper of if convinced, they might not prove, like universal candour and benevolence; and St. Paul, chosen vessels to promote the learn neither to despise nor condemn any honour of God, and of true religion. It persons on account of their particular is not now my intention to enter with you modes of faith and worship; remembering into any of the arguments for the truth of always, that goodness is confined to no Christianity; otherwise it would be im- party—that there are wise and worthy possible wholly to pass over that, which men among all the sects of Christians-and arises from this remarkable conversion, that, to his own master, every one must and which has been so admirably illustra- stand or fall. ted by a noble writer, whose tract on this I will enter no farther into the several subject is in every body's bands.

points discussed by St. Paul in his various Mrs. Chapone.

epistles—most of them too intricate for $ 146. Of the Epistles.

your understanding at present, and many

of them beyond my abilities to state clearNext follow the Epistles, which make ly. I will only again recommend to you a very important part of the New Testa- to read those passages frequently, whích, ment; and you cannot be too much em- with so much fervour and energy, excite ployed in reading them. They contain the you, to the practice of the most exalted most excellent precepts and admonitions; piety and benevolence. If the effusions and are of particular use in explaining of a heart, warmed with the tenderest afmore at large several doctrines of Christi- fection for the whole human race—if preanity, which we could not so fully com- cept, warning, encouragement, example, prehend without them. There are, in- urged by an eloquence which such affecdeed, in the Epistles of St. Paul, many tion only could inspire, are capable of inpassages hard to be understood; such, influencing your mind-you cannot fail to particular, are the first eleven chapters to find, in such parts of his epistles as are the Romans; the greater part of his Epis- adapted to your understanding, the strongtles to the Corinthians and Galatians; and est persuasives to every virtue that can several chapters of that to the Hebrews. adorn and improve your nature. Instead of perplexing yourself with these

Ibid. more obscure passages of scripture, I would wish you to employ your attention chiefly

$147, The Epistle of St. James. on those that are plain ; and to judge of The Epistle of St. James is entirely the doctrines taught in the other parts, by practical, and exceedingly fine ; you can

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »