« EelmineJätka »
count, and added to the former, what an all-important book must the Bible be? what a blessing to mankind! Language cannot express the value of it. If the exhortation of a late noble author, as improperly applied to the Grecian bard, were applied to this inestimable volume, it would be used with the strictest propriety and decorum!
u Read God's Word once, and you can read no more ;
In short, my COUNTRYMEN, the Bible abounds with a past variety of matter, a confused magnificence above all order; and is the fittest book in the world to be the Aandard of doctrines, and the model of good writing. We defy all the Sons of Infidelity to shew us any thing like it, or second to it. Where will you meet with such a number of instructive Proverbs—fervent Prayers--sublime Songs--beneficent Miracles-apposite Parables-infallible Prophecies * -affectionate Epistles-reloquent Orations-in
• 'A valuable Correspondent, speaking of the prophetic fcriptures, expresses himself in the following manner:~" Next to Astronomy, feir fubjects expand the human mind more, than the view which prophecy opens to us of the government of the Great King. To see the vait nass of materials, kingdoms, and centuries, in motion, only to the accomplishment of his purposes: to fee refractory man employed to preserve the harmony of his designs; and the disorderly passions, while apparently working folely in their own narrow circle, ignorantly advancing the fulfilment of his determination! This is a ftudy delightfully interesting, and which, in common with the contemplation of all the GREAT CREATOR's doings, elevates the mind above the oppression of human cares and forrows, and seems to leave her in that ferenity of admiration, which one may imagine an imperfect foretalte of part of the employment and happiness of angels."
ABRAHAM COWLey tells us, that so all the books of the Bible are « either already most admirable and exalted pieces of poefy, or are the 66 best materials in the world for it."
Sir RICHARD BLACKMore says, that " for sense, and for noble « and fublime thoughts, the poetical parts of Scripture have an infinite & advantage above all others put together.'
MATTHEW PRIOR, Esq. is of opinion, that the writings of Solomon « afford subjects for tiner poems in every kind, than have yet appeared " in the Greek, Latin, or any modern language."
ft:uétire Hifcries—pure Laws-rich Promises--awful Denanciations useful Ensamples, as are set before us in this richly fraught magazine of all true excellence in matter
ALEXANDER Pope, Esq. affures us, that “ the pure and noble, the gracef.) and dignified fimplicity of language is no where in fuchs
perfection as in the Scripture and Homer; and that the whole book « of Job, with regard both to fublimity of thought and morality, ex“ ceeds beyond all comparison the most noble parts of Homer."
Mr. NICHOLAS Row too, the Poet, after having read most of the Greek and Roman histories in their original languages, and most that are wrote in English, French, Italian, and Spanish, was fully persuaded of the truth of Revealed Religion, expressed it upon all occasions, took great delight in divinity and ecclefiaftical history, and died at last like a Christian and Philosopher, with an absolute resignation to the will of God.
There are few ancedotes of our celebrated English Poets which have given me more pleasure than that of poor Collins, who, in the latter part of his mortal career, “ withdrew from study, and travelled with na “other book than an English Teftament, such as children carry to school.
When a friend took it into his hand, out of curiosity to see what com“panion a Man of Letters had chosen-I have only one book,” said ColLINS,“ but that is the best."
See JOHNSON's Lives of the Poets, vol. 4. I must own that such an ancedote as this knits my heart to Collins more than all the excellencies of his Poetry. Sick and in firm, in the fpirit of Mary, he sits at the divine ReDESMER's feet, listening to the words of eternal life. In such a state of body and mind, one single promise, from his gracious and infallible lips, is of more real value and importance, than all the pompous learning of the most celebrated Philosophers. This, indeed, will never be properly felt and understood till we come to be in similar circumstances. When Dr. Watts was almost worn out, and broken down by his infirmities, he observed in conversation with a friend, “ he remembered an aged minifter used to say, that the most learned and knowing Christians, when they come to die, have only the fame plain promises of the Gospel for their support, as the common and anlearned : and fo, said he, I find it. It is the plain promises of the Gospel that are my fupport; and I bless God, they are plain promises, that do not require much labour and pains to understand them, for I can do nothing now, but look into my Bible for some promise to support me, and live upon that.”
This was likewise the cas : with the pious and excellent Mr. Hervey. He writes about two montns before his death :-" I now spend,” says he, “almost my whole time, in reading and praying over the Bible.” And again, near the same time, to another friend :-" I am now re-, duced to a state of infant weakness, and given over by my physician. My grand consolation is to meditate on Christ; and I am hourly repeating those heart-reviving lines of Dr. YOUNG:
" This mean
and composition, the Holy Bible? We may say with Propertius, on another occasion,
Cedite, Romari scriptoros ; cedite, Graii* : And recommend to the Gentlemant, the Scholar, and the Pbilosopber, as well as to the illiterate Cbristian, the daily perufal of the Bible, with infinitely greater propriety, than ever HORACE did to the learned Romans the study of the Grecian models :
Nocturnâ versate manu, versate diurnât. There is another circumstance, MY COUNTRYMEN, I beg leave to submit to your consideration, which is, that
“ This-only this fubdues the fear of death :
1. Pardon for infinite offence !-2. And pardon
Through means that speak its value infinite!-
9. Nor I alone!-10. A rebel universe !
13. Yet for the fouleft of the foul he dies!--
15. As if our race were held of highest rank;
We have just read Godwin's Memoirs of Mrs. Godwin, otherwise, Mrs. MARY WOLLSTONECROFT. She was a woman of confiderable powers, but of a lewd character in life, living with a Mr. IMLAY, as a wife, and having a child by him; and then, when forsaken by him, living with, and being pregnant by Mr. GODWIN, who afterwards married her. I mention these circumstances, because they were both profeffed Philosophers, and Unbelievers, and as a contrast to the above pious Chriftians. She attended no public worship, and during her latt illness, no reiigious expressions escaped her philofophic lips.
• Let both the Greek and Roman authors yield the palm to the Sacred Writings.
+ Dr. South observes, that “ he who would not read the Scriptura for fear of spoiling his ftile, shewed himself as much a blockhead as an etheilt, and to have as small a gust of the elegancies of expression, as of the iacredness oi the matter. Sermons, vol. 4. p. 326. | Read therein by day, meditate by night:
though there are several of your uxbelieving brethren, who are men of considerable natural abilities, of some learning, and of decent morals, yet there are not a few among you, as among us, who are profane and debauched in no smali degree ; and who, therefore, are not capable of being reasoned with upon any religious topic whatever. These are a disgrace to any cause. And the more zealously they'avow their party the less honourable it is to that party. Such men are little raised above the brutes that perish, being earthly, sensual, devilish. Let them but eat, drink, Neep, and indulge the baser passions of the human frame, they ask no more, they look no higher.—To intellectual and refined enjoyments they are strangers. Of literary gratincations they know little. For moral and religious pleatures they have no taste. Immortal expectations, which exalt and enoble the mind of man, they are wiiling to forego. The larguage of their sensual fouls, which are brutalized with indulgence, is no other than that of the ancient Epicureans :- Let us eat and drink; for to-morrow we die. And did they die to-morrow, the public would have no great loss of them: could they make good their hapes, that death is an eternal ceffation from sensibility, they themselves would sustain no material inconvenience. The best they can expect, is, to cease to be: a consummation, for such characters, devoutly to be wihed !
These are the men, however, who make the greatest noise, and most violently oppose the Religion of the Son of God and the Sacred Writings* !
It is an honour to that Religion, and those Writings, that fich men are infidels, and avow their Unbelief in the face of the world! May every unreasonable and immoral man do the same!
* It is calculated, that, when trade goes pretty well, there are, apon an average, 200,000 manufaclurers in this country, who constantly spend their working hours in idlenss, drinking, gambling and debauchery. This large body of men may too be considered as infidels in principle, atheists in practice, and ripe for any wicked and desperate enterprize which may arife. They are the curse and scum of the country; and yet they are usually excessively wife in their own eyes, and prudent in their own conceit. All the world are fools besides themselves. They are great politicians, great philosophers, great divines over their cups and
wisdom thall die with them!
After all, my COUNTRYMEN, if every thing besides in these papers shall be despised by you, let the several examples herein recorded have their due weight upon your minds. If there is importance in any thing, it is usually to be found in the sentiments and behaviour of men, when they draw near the close of their earthly existence.
“ Men may live fools ; but fools they cannot die." We may, indeed, be hardened in our fins, when that event draws nigh. We may brave it out against death. We may set at defiance all the threats of heaven. But, usually, we discover certain symptoms, even here, of what our future destiny is like to be. Fear, horror, indifference, hope, trust, faith, reliance, joy, will all more or less prevail, according as the state of our minds shall be, in those folemn moments, when death is making his approach*.
• There is a very affe&ting narrative just published by a John Cooke, of Maidenhead, in Berks, entitled Reajon paying homage to Revelation, in the Confeffion of a Deift at the gates of death. The gentleman in question was a very respectable person of the medical profesion in that town, and died at the age of thirty-three, He was a man of pleasure, as far as business would permit; but his favourite amusement was the card-table, at which he spent much time, and would frequently say to Mr. Cooke, who seems to be a disenting minifer, “ I am prodigiously fond of cards." While he was visiting one of his patients, he was fuddenly taken iil. His conscience was alarnied. His deistical principles, of which he had long made his boast while in health, gave way. He lamented his sad condition in most affecting and pitiable accents. Among other things, he acknowledged, with unutterable diftress, his neglect of the Lord's day, and the public worship of God. When he was well, he could say, “ he was easy or without the Bible, he had no fears for his soul he believed it would “ die with his body--and he was never disturbed about these things “ he could read profane history with as much pleasure as another reads « his Bible.” But, when he was ill, and apprehended himself to be on the brink of the grave, he was thrown into luch unutterable agony, as to be bereft, at times, of his reason. In the most bitter terms he bewailed his past
folly—mourned over his loft opportunities~-declared his full purpose, if reltored, of attending to the great concerns of his soul-and folemnly warned his companions not to follow his example—and cried unto God for mercy. At length, after having lain for some time in a senseless state, he breathed out his soul with a dismal groan.
If THOMAS PAINE was as easy and confident in his deifical principles under the views of approaching dissolution, as he pretends, and, as I suppose, he really was, this is by no means a sure criterion of those prin