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ON THE STUDY OF THE HOLY
T NOW proceed to give my dear Neice' some short L sketches of the matter contained in the different books of the Bible, and of the course in which they ought to be read.
The first Book, GENESIS, contains the most grand, and, to us, the most interesting events that ever happened in the universe:- The creation of the world, and of man:-The deplorable fall of man, from his first state of excellence and bliss, to the , distressed condition in which we see all his descendants continue:-The sentence of death pro
Rural Dat has a per and mas
reviving promise of that deliverance which has since been wrought for us by our blessed Saviour:
The account of the early state of the world :Of the universal deluge:The division of mankind into different nations and languages: -The story of Abraham, the founder of the Jewish people; whose unshaken faith and obedience, under the severest trial that human nature could sustain, obtained such favour in the sight of God, that he vouchsafed to style him his friend, and promised to make of his posterity a great nation; and that, in his seed, that is, in one of his descendants, all the kingdoms of the earth should be blessed.--This, you will easily see, refers to the Messiah, who was to be the blessing and deliverance of all nations. It is amazing that the Jews, possessing this prophecy among many others, should have been so blinded by prejudice, as to leave expected from this great personage, only a temporal deliverance of their own Nation from the subjection to which they were re
man, tot Was really command
ON THE STUDY OF THE HOLY
I NOW proceed to give my dear Neice some short
duced under the Romans: it is equally amazing, that some Christians should, even now, confine the blessed effects of his appearance upon earth, to this or that particular sect or profession, when He is so clearly and ernphatically described as the Saviour of the whole world!
The story of Abraham's proceeding to sacrifice his only son at the command of God, is affecting in the highest degree, and sets forth a pattern of unlimited resignation, that every one ought to imitate, "in those trials of obedience under temptation, or of acquiescence under afflicting dispensations, which fall to their lot. Of this we may be assured, that our trials will be always proportioned to the powers afforded us: if we have not Abraham's strength of mind, neither shall we be called upon to lift the bloody knife against the bosom of an only child: but, if the Almighty arm should be lifted up against him, we must be ready to resign hins, and all we hold dear, to the Divine will. This action of Abraham has been censured by some, who do not attend to the distinction between obedience to a special command, and the detestably cruel sacrifices of the heathens, who sometimes voluntarily, and without any Diviue injunctions, offered up their own chil. dren, under the notion of appeasing the anger of their gods. An absolute command from God him. self, as in the case of Abraham, entirely alters the moral nature of the action; since He, and He ouly, has a perfect right over the lives of his creatures, and may appoint whom he will, either angel or man, to be his instrument of destruction. That it was really the voice of God which pronounced the command, and not a delusion, might be made ccrtain to Abrahain's mind, by means we do not com. prehend, but which we know to be within the power of Him who made our souls as well as bodies, and who can controul and direct every faculty of the human mind: and we may he assured, that if He was pleased to reveal himself so miraculou would not leave a possibility of doubting whether it waa a real or an imaginary revelation: Thus the sa
The first Book, GENESIS, contains the most
The account of the early state of the world:-*
reviving promisoht for us by our of the world :
unsbakent human nature of God, that to male or
sily ser, deliverance cing this profunded by preLiessing ade Jews, possove been so this great per
Ig that this should bareed from this Sheir own
Juice, as to have expected from this great per-
from the subjection to which they were re
crifice of Abraham appears to be clear of all superstition, and remains the noblest instance of religious faith and submission that was ever given by a mere man; we cannot wonder that the blessings bestowed on him for it, should have been extended to . his posterity.
This book proceeds with the history of Isaac, which becomes very interesting to us, from the touching scene I have mentioned ;-and still more so, if we consider him as the type of our Savious. It recounts his marriage with Rebecca ;-the birth and history of his two sons; Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes; and Esau, the father of the Edomites, or lduineans:—the exquisitely affecting story of Joseph and his brethren,--and of his transplanting the Israelites into Egypt, who there mului. plied to a great nation,
In EXODUS, you read of a series of wonders, wrought by the Almighty, to rescue the oppressed Israelites from the cruel tyranny of the Egyptians, who, having first received them as guests, by degrees reduced them to a state of slavery. By the inost peculiar mercies and exertions in their favour, God prepared his chosen people to receive, with reverent and obedient hearts, the solemn restitution of those primitive laws, which probably he had revealed to Adam and his immediate descendants, or which, at leasthe had made known by the dictates of conscience; but which, time and the degeneracy of mankind had much obscured.-This important revelation was made to them in the Wilderness of Sinai: there, assembled before the burning mountain, surrounded * with blackness, and dark
ness, and tempest,” they heard the awful voice of God pronounce the eternal law, impressing it on their hearts with circumstances of terror, but without those encouragements, and those excellent promises, which were afterwards offered to mankind by Jesus Christ.
Thus were the great laws of morality restored to the Jews, and, through them, transmitted to other
ON THE STUDY OF
fice of Abraham appears to be clear of all saper.
if we consider him as the type of our Savious.
nations; and by that ineans a great restraint was opposed to tire torrent of vice and impiety, which began to prevail over the world.
To those moral precepts which are of perpetual and universal obligation, were superadded, by the ministration of Moses, many peculiar institutions, wisely adapted to different ends;either to fix the memory of those past deliverances, which were figurative of a future and far greater salvation, to place inviolable barriers between the Jews and the idolatrous nations, hy wliom they were sur. rounded, or, to be the civil law, by which the community was to be governed.
To conduct this series of events, and to establish these laws with his people, God raised up that great prophet Moses, whose faith and piety enabled him to undertake and execute the most arduous enterprises, and to pursue, with unabated zeal, the welfare of his countrymen. Evey in the hour of death, this generous ardour still prevailed; his last moments were employed in ferveut prayers for their prosperity, and in rapturous gratitude for the glimpse vouchsafed him of a Savionr, far greater than himself, whom God would one day raise up to his people.
Thus did Moses, by the excellency of his faith, obtain a glorious pre-eminence among the saints and prophets in heaven; while, on earth, he will be ever revered, as the first of those benefactors to mankind, whose labours for the public good have endeared their meinory to all ages.
In EXODUS, you read of a series of wonders,
prepared his chosen people to receire, with it
pronounce the eternal luw, impressiug it ou
The next book is LEVITICUS; which contains little besides the laws for the peouliar ritual observance of the Jews, and consequently affords no great instruction to us now: you may therefore pass it over entirely: aud, for the same reason, you may omit the first eight chapters of NUMBERS. The rest of Numbers is chiefly a continuation of the history, with some ritual laws.
am surrounded embled before the Wildernes
In DEUTERONOMY, Moses makes a recapitulo
lation of the foregoing history, with zealous exlins. tations to the people, faithfully to worship and obey that God, who had worked such amazing wonders for them: he promises them the noblest temporal blessings, if they should prove obedient; and adds the most awful and striking denunciations against them, should they rebel against, or forsake the true God.
I have before observed, that the sanctions of the Mosaic law were, temporal rewards and punishments; those of the New Testament are eternal; these last, as they are so infinitely more forcible than the first, were reserved for the last, best gift to mankind; and were revealed by the Messiah, in the fullest and clearest manner:-Moses, in this book, directs the method in which the Israelites were to deal with the seven nations, whom they were appointed to punish for their profligacy and idolatry; and whose land they were to possess, when they had driven out the old inhabitants. He gives them excellent laws, civil as well as religious, which were, ever after, the standing municipal laws of that people. This book concludes with Moses's song and death.
The book of JOSHUA contains the conquests of the Israelites over the seven nations, and their establisment in the Promised Land.-Their treatment of these conquered nations may appear to you very cruel and unjust, if you consider it as their own act, unauthorized by a positive command: but they had the most absolute injunctions, not to spare these corrupt people; "to make no covenant " with them, nor shew mercy to them, but utterly " to destroy them." And the reason is given:* lest they should turn away the Israelites frong * following the Lord, that they might serve other “ gods*." The children of Israel are to be consi. dered as instruments in the hand of the Lord, to punish those wliose idolatry and wickedness had de.