Imatges de pÓgina
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and punishments. Over the garment of righteousness which Jesus wore, they throw a robe of divine and transcendant beauty. They invest him with the high commission of the Messiah of God, give him powers the most exalted, and make him the herald and the pledge of the resurrection of our race. They call him the Prince of Peace, the first-born in the kingdom of God; and they point out the subjects of that glorious and eternal kingdom, in the myriads of rational beings who have peopled and continue to people the world.

How valuable, then, are these writings, and how important is it that we carefully and seriously study them! that, like Timothy, we devote our childhood, our youth, our age, to the acquiring their divine knowledge! Other studies may amuse our fancy or enrich our mind. We may

be deeply read in the history of individuals and nations, learn to trace events to their causes, and be able to account for the rise and fall of states and empires. We may possess a knowledge of the various animal and vegetable productions of the earth, and become familiar with nature in her most secret operations.

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look far above the earth, measure the sun in his course, give names to the stars, and point out their habitations ; but what is all this knowledge compared with the wisdom unto salvation of the Scriptures? What is this science in comparison with the science of living, by their aid, a virtuous life?

The reading of the sacred volume, therefore, is a profitable employment. It speaks to all in a language not to be misunderstood. It tells the rich that the blessings which Providence has placed within their reach, are not only intended to make them happy but to give them the means of affording happiness to others. It speaks to the poor in the kindest manner, urging them to be satisfied with their condition, and assuring them that to whom little is given, of him little will be required. It warns the haughty, that pride and arrogance render them unworthy of the blessings they enjoy, and admonishes them that however exalted they may be in their own eyes, they stand no higher in the view of Him to whom they owe their existence than the lowest of mankind. To the humble it says in a tone of gentleness, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall see God."

In the Bible the man of pleasure learns that there is no pleasure equal to that of doing good; and he who places in mortification and cold self-denial the essentials of religion, believing that God is best pleased when his numerous gifts are rejected and despised, is taught that the Being who placed around us such various sources of comfort and happiness invites their moderate and grateful enjoyments. All, indeed, are taught to improve their advantages under a grateful sense of the beneficence of the Giver; to deny ungodliness and wordly lusts; to be pure in their conduct and heavenly-minded; and to follow after the things which may qualify them for living in heaven.

Where, alas! shall the distressed and mourning look for comfort and hope, if they open not the treasures of divine revelation? What shall console them when misfortune embitters their day, when pain arrests their slumbers in the watches of the night, when death preys upon the long-tried friend and the endeared relative, if they will not drink of the waters of comfort which flow from the celestial fountain? Oh, why do they weaken their energies by continual dwelling on their woes? why pour out their spirit in sighs

and tears? why vent their feelings in ungrateful murmurs, when there is a balın for their sorrows and a support for their fainting spirits? Why do they delay to seize upon the hope which the gospel imparts--hope, the anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast ?-T, their childhood and youth the Scriptures were not known, or they would flee to them as a refuge under every calamity; nor have they imbibed the wisdom of the celestial volume. They have not deeply considered the lessons, nor dwelt upon the promises which it contains. To them, therefore, the day of visitation is dreadful, and the floods of affliction overwhelm their soul,

Far different and happier is his experience who studies and values the word of life. He remembers his Lord's consolatory discourse, “ Let not your hearts be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in me:” and when the world frowns upon him and disturbs his serenity, he reads the encouraging assurances of his Master, and his bosom is the abode of peace. In life he is resigned and happy ; in death he is tranquil and full of pious hope.

We might fill a volume with the recorded sentiments of pious men, who were happy in bearing their heart-felt testimony to the value of the Scriptures, and the benefit of a frequent perusal of them—but this is not necessary. We cannot refrain, however, from inaking one quotation, because it agrees so well with what has been already said. Bishop Hall thus writes in his “meditations:"_“1 durst appeal to the judgment of a candid reader, that there is no history so pleasant as the sacred. Setting aside the majesty of the inditer, none can compare with it for the magni

ficence and antiquity of the matter, the sweetness of compiling, the strange variety of memorable occurrences : and if the delight be such, what shall the profit be esteemed of that which was written by God for the salvation of men ? 1 confess no thoughts did ever more sweetly steal me and time away, than those which I have employed in this subject; and I hope none can equally benefit others: for if the mere relation of these holy things be profitable, how much more when it is reduced to use ?"

The Patriarch Noah.

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The brevity of Moses, in the early part of his history of mankind, is much to be regretted. All that he says possesses so much interest, that we naturally wish it had been his object to relate more at length the various events, both of a public and private nature, which happened in the first ages of the world. To trace the manners and customs of the antediluvians, their civil institutions and religious observances, and to compare them with the manners and customs of mankind in later ages, would be a high gratification to the lovers of history. Less pleasing it would certainly prove, though by no means without advantage, to note the progress of the moral corruption and depravity which overspread the world of that disobedience to the commands of the Creator of all things which, first appearing in Adam, descended with his posterity, increasing on its descent, till

it became at length very fearful and dreadful.' This, however, is not in our power. The historian, proposing to himself to record the divine call of Abraham and the sepation of his family from the rest of mankind, takes a rapid but striking view of the creation of the world and the destruction of its first inhabitants, as an introduction to his account. He traces the descent of Abraham from the original father of the human race through Noah the second father, introducing a short account of the descendants of Cain who were the inventors of the useful arts. In fulfilling his task so very brief, is he, that a genealogical table, a table of descent, suffices, for a period of 1400 years

which elapsed from the birth of Seth to the 500th year of Noah and we are, therefore, quite unacquainted with the state of mankind during this long period. Whether, as men increased, they formed themselves into communities and states, and erected kingdoms, or lived for the most part unconnected with each other; whether they peopled the immense continent of the globe, or confined themselves to the regions of the East, it is in vain to ask. We are told that there were mighty men of old, men of renown; and these would soon subdue the weak, and make them the objects of their violence. And we may be sure that power was unduly exerted and abused, for the historian informs us that the whole earth was filled with violence.

What was the moral condition of the human race, is a question more easily answered. Rapidly increasing in mernbers, their crimes seem to have increased in an equal degree. They lost all regard for the Supreme Being, all sense of his presence, all thought of his government and their duty to him. They cared for little except the gratification of their impure desires and lawless passions-and

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