« הקודםהמשך »
the Author of all things, himself without beginning and without end. To this last Cause the inspired historian has ascribed the formation of this system; and by so doing has established that great principle and foundation of all religion and all morality, and the great source of comfort to every human being, the existence of one God, the Creator and Preserver of the world, and the watchful Superintendent of all the creatures that he has made.
The Sacred History next sets before us the primeval happiness of our first parents in Paradise; their fall from this blissful state by the wilful transgression of their Maker's command; the fatal effects of this original violation of duty; the universal wickedness and corruption it gradually introduced among mankind; and the signal and tremendous punishment of that wickedness by the Deluge; the certainty of which is acknowledged by the most ancient writers, and very evident traces of which are to be found at this day in various parts of the globe. It then relates the peopling of the world again by the family of Noah; the covenant entered into by God with that patriarch,
the the relapse of mankind into wickedness; the calling of Abraham; and the choice of one family and people, the Israelites (or, as they were afterwards called, the Jews) who were separated from the rest of the world to preserve the knowledge and the worship of a Supreme Being, and the great fundamental doctrine of The Unity; while all the rest of mankind, even the wisest and most learned, were devoted to polytheism and idolatry, and the grossest and most abominable superstitions. It then gives us the history of this people, with their various migrations, revolutions, and principal transactions. It recounts their removal from the land of Canaan, and their establishment in /Egypt under Joseph;' whose history is related in a manner so natural, so interesting and affecting, that it is impossible for any man of common sensibility to read it without the strongest emotions of tenderness and delight.
In the book of Exodus we have the deliverance of this people from their bondage in iEgypt, by a series of the most astonishing miracles; and their travels through the wilderness for forty years under the conduct of
Moses; during which time (besides many other rules and directions for their moral conduct) they received the Ten Commandments, written on two tables of stone by the finger of God himself, and delivered by him to Moses with the most awful and tremendous solemnity; containing a code of moral law infinitely superior to any thing known to the rest of mankind in those rude and barbarous ages.
The books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, are chiefly occupied with the various other laws, institutions, and regulations given to this people, respecting their civil government, their moral conduct, their religious duties, and their ceremonial observances.
Among these, the book of Deuteronomy (which concludes what is called the Pentateuch or five books of Moses) is distinguished above all the rest by a concise and striking recapitulation of the innumerable blessings and mercies which they had received from God since their departure from Horeb; by strong expostulations on their past rebellious conduct, and their shameful ingratitude for
all all these distinguishing marks of the Divine favour; by many forcible and pathetic exhortations to repentance and obedience in future; by promises of the most substantial rewards, if they returned to their duty; and by denunciations of the severest punishments, if they continued disobedient; and all this delivered in a strain of the most animated, sublime, and commanding eloquence.
The historical books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, continue the history of the Jewish nation under their leaders, judges, and kings, for near a thousand years; and one of the most prominent and instructive parts of this history is the account given of the life and reign of Solomon, his wealth, his power, and all the glories of his reign; more particularly that noble proof he gave of his piety and munificence, by the construction of that truly magnificent temple which bore his name; the solemn and splendid dedication of this temple to the service of God; and that inimitable prayer which he then offered up to Heaven in the presence of the whole Jewish people; a prayer evidently conajng from the hea*t, sublime^ simple, ner-*
£ 4 vous, vous, and pathetic; exhibiting the justest and the warmest sentiments of piety, the most exalted conceptions of the Divine nature, and every way equal to the sanctity, the dignity, and the solemnity of the occasion.
Next to these follow the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, which contain the history of the Jews for a considerable period of time after their return from a captivity of 70 years in Babylon, about which time the name of Jews seems first to have been applied to them. The books of Ruth and Esther are a kind of appendage to the public records, delineating the characters of two very amiable individuals, distinguished by their virtues, and the very interesting incidents which befel them, the one in private, the other in public life, and which were in some degree connected with the honour and prosperity of the nation to which they belonged. .. .•
In the book of Job we have the history of a personage of high rank, of remote antiquity, and extraordinary virtues; rendered remarkable by uncommon/vicissitudes of fortune, by the most splendid prosperity:at one time, by an accumulation of the heaviest calamities at