« PreviousContinue »
to him is the great and ultimate end, for which the spirit of prophecy was bestowed on the sacred writers:-but this will appear more plainly to you, when you enter on the study of prophecy, which you are now much too young to undertake.
The PROVERBS and ECCLESIASTES are rich stores of wisdom; from which I wish you to adopt such maxims as may be of infinite use, both to your temporal and eternal interest. But, detached sentences are a kind of reading not proper to be continued long at a time; a few of them, well chosen and digested, will do you much more service thap to read half a dozen chapters together; in this respect they are directly opposite to the historical books, which, if not read in continuation, can hardly be understood, or retained to any purpose.
history se entirely o
The SONG of SOLOMON is a fine poem; but its mystical reference to religion lies too deep for a common understanding: if you read it, therefore, it will be rather as matter of curiosity than of edification.
Next follow, the PROPHECIES, which, though highly deserving the greatest attention and study, I think you had better omit for some years, and then read them with a good exposition; as they are mnch too difficult for you to understand, without assistance. Dr. Newton on the Prophecies will help you much, whenever you undertake this study; which you silould by all means do, when your understanding is ripe enough; because one of the main proofs of our religion rests on the testimony of the Prophecies; and they are very frequently quoted, and referred to, in the New Testament: besides, the sublimity of the language, and sentiments, through all the disadvantages of antiquity and translation, must, in very many passages, strike every person of taste; and the excellent moral and religious precepts found in then, must be useful to
ATAS 10 tre, howe ing the New
Though I have spoken of these books, in the order in which they stand, I repeat that they are not to be read in that order :--but that the thread of the history is to be pursued, from Nehemiah, to the first book of MACCABEES, in the Apocrypha; taking care to observe the Clironology regularly, by referring to the Index, which supplies the deficiencies of this history, from Josephus's Antiquities of the Jews. The first of Maccabees carries on the story till within 195 years of our Lord's circum. cision; the second book is the same narrative. written by a different hand, and does not bring the history so forward as the first; so that it may be entirely omitted, unless you have the curiosity to sead some particulars of the heroic constancy of the Jews, under the tortures inflicted by their heathen conquerors; with a few other things not mentioned in the first book.
You must then coppect the liistory by the help of the Index, which will give you brief heads of the changes that happened in the state of the Jews, from this time, till the birth of the Messiah. in
SOLOMON is a fue poem; but
je zimit for some years they are
The other books of the Apocrypha, though not admitted as of sacred authority, have many things well worth your attention, particularly the admi. sable book called ECCLESIASTICUS, and the book of WISDOM. But, in the course of reading which I advise, these must be omitted till after you have gone through the Gospels and Acts, that you may not lose the historical thread-I must reserve, however, what I have to say to you concerning the New Testament, to another letler.
PROPHECIES, whick, though ie greatest attention and stads, I or omit for some years, and the good exposition; as they are or you to usderstand, without vion on the Prophecies will help er you undertake this study y all means do, when your is nough; because one of the maia a rests on the testinjony of the y are very frequently quoted, the New Testament: besides, e language, and sentiments, advantages of antiguing sod 1 very many passages, strike
and the excellent suoral and
id in ther, must he useful )
What Master! dedicated the practt
o see hi woonest 1 them ques
My dearest Niece,
W is the most important of all; and which you
"Son of "hean the such hra
proposed remember, Nelly wisd He has left
Head to the Lowledge teon and in rise unto xquired an weekly reti bose who
at part of Scripture, slici tant of all; and which you at study, pot obls till now ed with it, but all your life
en soever repeated, it is
justly due for all he dit,
benevolence, you will never do any thing injurious to individuals, or to society. Now, all crimes włatever are in their remoter consequences at least, if not immediately, and apparently) injurious to the society in which we live. It is impossible to love God, without desiring to please him, and, as far as we are able, to resemble him; therefore, the love of God must lead to every virtue in the highest de. gree : and, we may be sure, we do not truly love him, if we content ourselves with avoiding flagrant sins, and do not strive, in good earnest, to reach the greatest degree of perfection we are capable of. Thus do those few words direct us to the highest Christian virtue. Indeed, the whole tenour of the Gospel is to offer us every help, direction, and motive, that can enable us to attain that degree of perfection, on which depends our eternal good,
What an example is set before us in our blessed Master! How is his whole lite, from earliest youth, dedicated to the pursuit of true wisdom, and to the practice of the most exalted virtue! When you see him, at twelve years of age, in the temple amongst the doctors, hearing thein, and asking them questions on the subject of religion, and astonishing them all with his understanding and anSwer3,--you will say, perhaps, “Well might the “Son of God, even at those years, be far wiser " than the aged: but can a mortal child emulate " such heavenly wisdom? Can such a pattern be “ proposed to my imitation?"_Yes, my dear; remember, that he has bequeathed to you his heavenly wisdom, as far as concerns your own good. He has left you such declarations of his will, and of the consequences of your actions, as you are, even now, fully able to understand, if you will but attend to them. If, then, you will imitate his zeal for kaowledge;- if you will delight in gaining informa. tion and i:nprovement; you may, even now, become wise unto salvation. Unmoved by the praise he acquired amongst these learned men, you see him meckly return to the subjection of a child, under those who appeared to be his parents, though he
the words of eternal lile
"Love worketh Do il
was in reality their Lord: you see him return to live with them, to work for thens, and to be the joy and solace of their lives; till the time came, when lie was to enter on that scene of public action, for which his heavenly Father had sent him froin his own right hand, to take upon him the form of a poor carpeuter's son. What a lesson of humility is this, and of obedience to parents !--When; having received the glorious testimony from heaven, of his being the beloved Son of the Most High, he enters on his public miuistry, what an example does he give us, of the most extensive and constant bene. volence!-how are all his hours spent in doing good to the souls and bodies of men ! not the meanest sinaer is below his notice :-o reclaim and savo them, be condescends to converse familiarly with the most corrupt, as well as the most ahject All his miracles are wrought to benefit mankind; not one to punish and afflict them. Instead of using the almighty power, which accompanied him, to the purpose of exalting liimself and treading down his enemies, he niakes no other use of it than 10 heal and to save.
When you come to read of his sufferings and death, the ignominy and reproach, the sorrow of mind, and torment of body, which he submitted to;
when you consider, that it was for all our sakes; “ that by his stripes we are healed,"--and by his death we are raised from destruction to everlasting life ;-what can I say, that can add any thing to the sensations you must then feel-No power of langilage can make the scene more touching than it appears in the plain and simple narrations of the Evangelists. The heart that is unmoved by it, can be scarcely human :-but, my dear, the emotions of tenderness and compunction, which almost every one feels in reading this account, will be of no avail, unless applied to the true end ;-unless it
inspires you with a sincere and warm affection to*wards your blessed Lord ;--with a firm resolution
to obey his commands; to be his faithful disciple; and ever to renounce and abhor those sins, which