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fcripture presents to us, in the bleffed perfon of JESUS CHRIST, whofe doctrine and example are therein fo plainly and forcibly reprefented, that by the advantage of this perfect pattern, we fhould frame our lives as near as poffible to the author of all perfection. That this was the end of the pattern, and that it is our duty fo to do, the Apostle exprefsly declares (1 Cor. xi. 1.) in these words, Be ye followers of me, even as I am of Chrift. And St. John afferts, (in 1 Ep. ii. 6.) He that faith he abideth in him, ought alfo himself fo to walk as he walked. Now, how fhould we have been ever acquainted with the spotless courfe of Chrift's life, but through the knowledge of the fcriptures?

Again If the wifeft and beft of men acknowledge, that in an imperfect body that preffes down the foul, fome: fovereign remedy for a mind thus. fubjected to doubts and fears, through the infirmity of the flesh, is a relief devoutly to be wished: where fhall we ever find fuch effectual confolation, fuch ftrong affurance that all our tears fhall be dried up, as are afforded in the great and precious promises of the Gofpel? Have we not Chrift's word for it? Search the fcriptures, (fays he to the Jews) for in them ye think (that is, ye are perfuaded) ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me: It is certain therefore, from his affurance, who is the truth, the light, and the life, that they contain a fovereign cure for every fcruple concerning our immortal state. If we defire heavenly wisdom, furely we can apply to no one fo capable of enrich-. ing our minds, as to the Giver of all wisdom, who dealeth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not., Can we defire it more purely than from the mouth of Chrift himself? Since, according to his promife of being with his fervants to the end of time, he doth fulfil that promife moft effectually, in fpeaking to us by the fcriptures. He is not only prefent with. us by his grace and conftant loving mercy, that



upholdeth us, but to the great and endless comfort of all who have any defire of fearching after God, He doth now more profitably addrefs us in the history of his holy life, than he did by actual fpeech, the carnal-minded Jews, when living with them upon earth. For they alas! could neither bear nor fee the things, of which we shall never fail to be affured, provided we feek them, with those ears and eyes, by which the Divine counfels can be discovered; and what are they? Devout attention in reading and hearing the holy fcripture, and a lively faith in Chrift's healing promises.

And now, let us only judge of the perverfenefs of human nature, and how blind it is to its own best interests. If the bare print of our Savior's footsteps could any where be afcertained, doubtlefs, numbers would be induced to fall down and worfhip it; but to the holy Scripture, the words of his mouth, wherein not only the traces of his journies are recorded, but the most lively image of his perfon, and the power of his divine fpirt are still preferved in entire vigor. To thefe, how few pay any due refpect, and of thofe who do, how difproportioned is their reverence to the value of the legacy?

Again; could the feamless coat of Chrift be actually produced, how would the weak, and fuperftitious multitude, throng to behold the garment of his bleffed perfon? how eager, probably, to embrace it? but not all the relics of his human drefs could equally convey to us that notion of his excellence, which the fcriptures give. If men, from a vain, unprofitable love of Chrift, do heap up images of his human form, and even adorn them with moft coftly ornaments, thould not we be much more earneft in honoring thofe holy books, which few us Chrift fo truly? Pictures, and images, at beft, can only represent the earthly body to us, but the fcriptures do fo paint Christ, that we acknowledge God in man to our eternal D 2 comfort,

comfort. We may behold him fpeaking to, and healing our infirmities; dying for our fins, and rifing for our acceptance with his Father. In fhort, the language of the gofpel, does fo perfectly prefent unto us the very Savior of the world, that we may fee, and confefs him with the eye of faith, more effentially to our good, than otherwife it would profit us to behold him now before us with our bodily fight.

And as no chriftian will deny this, fo it is manifeftly of the greatest moment, to every individual member of Chrift's church, both old and young, moft earnestly and confiantly to ftudy thefe valuable records of all-faving truth; that at length we may be changed by their godly precepts and examples, into better chriftians; for they contain whatever is neceffary for the faith and practice of all true believers, and the promise of a bleffed inheritance of everlasting life and glory.

From what has already been faid, you will be enabled to collect fome of the advantages to be derived from reading and hearing thofe holy books; for, as before obferved, it is impoffible to exprefs them all, and justly. Now, though nothing can be clearer, than the truths our Bleffed Lord afferts himself, in St. Matthew xxii. that the ignorance of the holy fcriptures is the foundation of every pernicious error; for, as he faid to the Sadducees, Ye do err not knowing the fcriptures; and as fuch kind of error muft confequently prevent men from arriving at the knowledge of God, which only is the way to life eternal; yet are there fome, who have conceived a very mistaken notion concerning the ufe of the fcriptures; fuppofing, most unjustly, that may paffages being above the level of ordinary capacities, they might become a fumbling block, cr occafion of offence to the ignorant, or unenlightened reader; and the reafons they have advanced are thefe: Firft, that in fome parts of fcripture, the meaning

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meaning is conveyed in a too coarfe, and plain expreffion, ill fuited to the delicate and refined ideas of modern wits, whofe exception to the language, difcourages their attending to the Spirit of the writings. Secondly; they object, that in thefe books, we have examples of the moft grofs tranf greffions, even in fome men who were eminently diftinguished by the title of God's favorites; that feveral of their actions were contrary to the law of nature, public faith, and even the most positive commandment of God himself; and therefore, to fuch as have not leisure or ability to attend to the progress of their history, or to distinguish and reafon upon the oppofite principles that actuated their conduct at different times; or to perceive the unerring direction of providence, in ufing thefe inftruments to the purposes of his own wife defigns. To perfons of this caft, particular paffages are apt to create disgust, and not only caufe them to think unfavorably of fcripture in general, but even to question its authority. Some find it hard to reconcile the seeming and contradictory cruelty of the outward rites and facrifices of the law, with the principles of juftice and mercy ; and others, who are governed entirely by the spirit of the world, take great offence at the plainnefs of many of the gofpel precepts. They cannot allow it confiftent with the rules of juft government, that a man should turn bis right cheek to him, who ftruck him upon the left, or that it is advifable to offer our cloke to the person who would deprive us of our coat. Against all fuch exalted inftances of Chrift-like difintereftedness, they make exceptions. And laftly, an argument of in


Such fhallow cavillers might as reafonably object (in point of cruelty) to the flaughter of the animal creation for one ufe, as for another; fince, after the religious end or representation of the facrifice was answered, the bodies of the beafts were served up for the food of men, as they are now, though no longer previously employed to more holy purposes.


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vincible force is fuppofed to lay against that portion of the gofpel counfel, which feems to difcourage care and forefight concerning this world's goods, an error they treat with ridicule, and as exhibiting a great deficiency of fterling wisdom.

Now the cause of these feveral objections is very clear, for a mere worldly fpirit being necesfarily at enmity with God, and not capable of perceiving the things of God's fpirit, will naturally find fault with fuch precepts as are founded on the effence of perfection; but when once men have a right understanding of the pure intereft of thefe precepts, they will then find them no ways injurious to any worldly government, or their own, but comforts and advantages.

To remove these feveral pretended caufes of offence, being the principal defign of this difcourfe, we must endeavour to give a regular and fatisfactory reply to each objection. In order then that instruction may accompany your attention to these points, let us confider fome of the paffages which unthinking or profane perfons object to, on account of too great fimplicity, or groffness in their expreffions, and at the fame time their proper meaning fhall be explained. First, There is a paffage in the xxvth chap. of Deut. 5th ver. which has afforded a plea with perfons of the above defcription for needlefs criticifm. It feemed good to the wisdom of God, to deliver a law to his people, (as recorded in this chapter) that if a man died without iffue, his brother, or next kinfman, fhould marry the widow, and that the first born of the marriage fhould fucceed, in the name of the former husband; and this was done that the dead man's name be not put out of Ifrael, that is, that his family Should be kept up: and it was likewife ordered by this fame law, that in cafe of the next kinfman's refufal, the widow fhould then, in the prefence of the magiftrate, fhew public figns of her contempt for

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