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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 coming from the heart, sublime, simple, ner!!! . B 4
vous, and pathetic; exhibiting the justesť 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 heavieșt calamities at
another; another; conducting himself under the former with moderation, uprightness, and unbounded kindness to the poor; and under the latter, with the most exemplary patience and resignation to the will of Heaven. The composition is throughout the greater part highly poetical and figurative, and exhibits the noblest representations of the Supreme Being and a superintending Providence, together with the most admirable lessons of fortitude and submission to the will of God under the severest afflictions that can befal human nature. The Psalms, which follow this book, : are full of such exalted strains of piety and devotion, such beautiful and animated descriptions of the power, the wisdom, the mercy, the goodness of God, that it is impossible for any one to read them without feeling his heart inflamed with the most ardent affection towards the great Creator and Governor of the universe.
The Proverbs of Solomon, which come next in order, contain a variety of very excellent maxims of wisdom, and invaluable rules of life, which have no where been exceeded except in the New Testament. They
afford us, as they profess to do at their very 'first outset, “ the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity. They give subtilty to the simple ; to the young man, knowledge and discretion.”
The same may be said of the greater part of the book of Ecclesiastes, which also teaches us to form a juft estimate of this world, and its seeming advantages of wealth, honour, power, pleasure, and science.
The prophetical writings present us with the worthiest and most exalted ideas of the Almighty, the justest and purest notions of piety and virtue, the awfullest denunciations against wickedness of every kind, public and private; the most affectionate expostulations, the most inviting promises, and the warmest concern for the public good. And besides all this, they contain a series of predictions relating to our blessed Lord, in which all the remarkable circumstances of his birth, life, ministry, miracles, doctrines, sufferings, and death, are foretold in so minute and exact a manner (more particularly in the prophecy of Isaiah) that you would almost think they were describing all
these * John v. 39..
these things after they had happened, if you did not know that these prophecies were confessedly written many hundred years before Christ came into the world, and were all that time in the possession of the Jews, who were the mortal enemies of Christianity, and therefore would never go about to forge prophecies, which most evidently prove him to be what he professed to be, and what they denied him to be, the Messiah and the Son of God. It is to this part of Scripture that our Lord particularly directs our attention, when he says, “ search the Scriptures, for they are they that testify of me*.” The testimony he alludes to is that of the prophets; than which no evidence can be more satisfactory and convincing to any one that reads them with care and impartiality, and compares their predictions concerning our Saviour with the history of his life, given us by those who constantly lived and conversed with him. This history we have in the New Testament, in that part of it which goes by the name of the GOSPELS.