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entertainment and much instruction; may gratify our curiosity, may delight our imagination, may improve our understandings, may calm our passions, 'may exalt our sentiments, may even improve our hearts. But they have not, they cannot have that authority in what they affirm, in what they require, in what they promise and threaten, that the Scriptures have. There is a peculiar weight and energy in them, which is not to be found in any other writings. Their denunciations are more awful, their convictions stronger, their consolations more powerful, their counsels more authentic, their warnings more alarming, their expostulations more penetrating. There are passages in them throughout so sublime, so pathetic, full of such energy and force upon the heart and conscience, yet without the least appearance of labour and study for that purpose ; indeed the design of the whole is so noble, so well suited to the sad condition of human kind; the morals have in them such purity and dignity ; the doctrines, so many of them above reason, yet so perfectly reconcileable with it; the expression is so majestic, yet familiarized with such easy simplicity, that Yol. I.
the more we read and study these writings with pious dispositions and judicious attention, the more we shall see and feel of the hand of God in them*.” But that which stamps upon them the highest value, that which renders them, strictly speaking, inestimable, and distinguishes them from all other books in the world, is this, that they, and they only, “ contain the words of eternal life*.” In this respect, every other book, even the noblest compositions of man, must fail us ; they cannot give us that which we most want, and what is of infinitely more importance to us than all other things put together, ETERNAL LIFE.
* That accomplished scholar and distinguished writer, the late Sir William Jones, chief justice of Bengal, at the end of his Bible wrote the following note; which, coming from a man of his profound erudition, and perfect knowledge of the oriental languages, customs, and manners, must be considered as a most powerful testimony, not only to the sublimity, but to the divine inspiration of the Sacred Writings,
“ Į have (says he) regularly and attentively read these Holy Scriptures, and am of opinion, that this volume, independently of its divine origin, contains more true sublimity, more exquisite beauty, more pure morality, more important history, and finer strains both of poetry and eloquence, than can be collected from all other books, in whatever age or language they may have been composed.
“ The two parts, of which the Scriptures consist, are connected by a chain of compositions, which bear no resemblance, in form or style, to any that can be produced from the stores of Grecian, Persian, or even Arabian learning: the antiquity of those compositions no man doubts; and the unstrained application of them to events long subsequent to their publication, is a solid ground of belief that they are genuine predictions, and consequently inspired.”
This we must look for no where but in Scripture. It is there, and there only, that we are informed, from authority, of the immortality of the soul, of a general resurrection from the dead, of a future judgment, 'of a state of eternal happiness to the good, and of eternal misery to the bad. It is there we are made acquainted with the fall of our first parents from a state of innocence and happiness; with the guilt, corruption, and misery, which this sad event brought on all their posterity; which, together with their own personal and voluntary transgressions, rendered them obnoxious to God's severest punishments. But, to our inexpressible comfort, we are further told in this divine book, that God is full of mercy, compassion, and goodness ; that he is not extreme to mark what is * John vi. 68.
done amiss ; that he willeth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his wickedness, and save his soul alive. In pity therefore to mankind, he was pleased to provide a remedy for their dreadful state. He was pleased to adopt a measure which should at once satisfy his justice, show his extreme abhorrence of sin, make a sufficient atonement for the sins of the whole world, and release all who accepted the terms proposed to them from the punishment they had deserved. This was nothing less than the death of his Son Jesus Christ, whom he sent into the world to take our nature upon him, to teach us a most holy, pure, and benevolent religion, to reform us both by his precepts and example; and lastly, to die for our sins, and to rise again for our justification. By him and his evangelists and apostles we are assured; that if we sincerely repent of our sins, and firmly believe in him and his Gospel, we shall for the sake of his sufferings and his righteousness, have all our transgressions : forgiven and blotted out, shall be justified, that is, considered as innocent in the sight of God, shall have the assistance of his Holy
Spirit for our future conduct; and if we per· severe to the end in a uniform (though, from
the infirmity of our nature, imperfect) obedience to all the laws of Christ, shall, through his merits, be rewarded with everlasting glory in the life to come. : Since then the utility, the absolute necessity of reading the Scriptures is so great,
e they are not only the best guide you can consult, but the only one that can possibly lead you to heaven; it becomes the indispensable duty of every one of you most carefully and constantly to peruse these sacred oracles, that you may thereby 5 become perfect, thoroughly furnished to every good work*.” They who have much leisure should employ a considerable share of it in this holy exercise, and even they who are most immersed in business have, or ought to have, the Lord's Day entirely to spare, and should always employ some part of it (more particularly at this holy season) in reading and meditating on the word of God. By persevering steadily in this practice, any one may, in no great length of time, read the Scriptures
* 2 Tim. iii. 17.