Imatges de pÓgina
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This attachment appears to great advantage in the Epistles which Paul wrote to Timothy, to encourage him in the discharge of his office as a Christian minister, to supply him with needful counsel, and to inspire him with increasing earnestness in his pious work. Thus he addresses him " To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that, without ceasing, I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy.”—In the midst of his own sufferings it was a cause of rejoicing that his young friend was pursuing so noble a course of duty, and a grateful employment to reflect on his many excellencies. And while he writes to him with the affection and tenderness which a conviction of his worth called forth, he speaks of the means by which Timothy became so upright, and disinterested, and pious. him to remain steadfast in well doing : “ Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

It was clearly the Apostle's opinion, that much of the goodness of Timothy's character was owing to the great knowledge he possessed of the Scriptures—a knowledge which, under the care of his excellent mother, he had been from infancy acquiring. Whatever there was in his charac

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ter of real worth, of a regard for truth and integrity ; whatever he evinced of modesty and humility, of temperance and chastity, of kindness and benevolence, of love to his friends, of reverence to his parents, of piety to his God these excellent qualities were brought forth, nourished and matured, in part at least, by the study of the Scriptures. So thought the Apostle Paul; this was the conviction of his mind, and our conviction cannot be very different. If the precepts of true wisdom, if the examples of the virtuous and best of our race, are at all useful or powerful in forming the human mind to the love of goodness, surely the best of these precepts, which the Scripture supply—the most remarkable and eminent of these examples, which the Scriptures hold forth, cannot but greatly affect the minds of the young, and strongly dispose them to good. If they study—if all study the records of revelation, the employment will be at once grateful and profitable, an improvement of time such as our state requires, such as our religious profession demands, such as will make our final happiness more secure.

And what are the Scriptures which the Apostle conceived to be so useful in forming the mind and habits of his dearly-beloved Timothy? They are the writings of the Jewish historians and prophets ; they contain most sacred and awful truths; they speak of the revelations of God to man. But these are not all the Scriptures which we possess. It is our advantage to own the Christian as well as the Jewish Scriptures, which together form the most valuable of books, which contain the written word of God. And if the diligent reading and study of the former, have so much to do in bringing into action and nourishing the noblest virtues

with which men can adorn themselves, how much do the latter, the christian Scriptures, add to their efficacy!

Did the Bible possess no other claims upon our regard than what its antiquity, its simplicity, its truth and morality give, it would be entitled to a most careful and repeated perusal. Other remains of ancient literature possess a high value-by men of learning they are regarded with veneration and deeply studied is not the Bible a precious relic of literature? It gives an account of the origin of the world, the most rational and probable now extant; and whatever is found among heathen writers that does not carry absurdity on the face of it, appears to have been borrowed from the book of Genesis. Where can we find such interesting histories as those of the patriarchs, so true to nature, and so instructive? The wonderful events which Noah beheld, and in which he was an instrument; the trials to which Abraham was subject; the pilgrimage of Jacob; the touching incidents of Joseph's life, are told with wonderful simplicity, truth, and beauty. As a history of the ancient and extraordinary people the Jews, how valuable are the books of Moses, and several which follow them. All classes of readers are interested in considering the peculiar system of religion and laws of this remarkable people, in watching the progress of their government, and in tracing the causes of their prosperity and decay.

The books of the Prophets are interesting in another way, as containing specimens of true grandeur and sublimity of language. Filled with poetical images even to excess, and rising, at times, to an elevation of thought and majesty of expression which have been scarcely equalled and never surpassed ; they shew what lofty ideas the views of the prophets inspired, whilst they prove that strength and beauty of language, and vivid eloquence, are found where society is in a simple state and human learning has made but little progress.

In the book of Proverbs we have a collection of maximns which an intimate knowledge of the springs of human conduct, and of all the motives, and feelings, and desires, of the heart, alone could suggest. Short, but forcible and full of wisdom, are the sayings of the King of Israel ; they are, to use his words, “ good doctrine," applicable to the situation and circumstances of mankind, and worthy of being stored in the memory of the wisest and the best.

And there are the Psalms of David, some of the earliest and finest specimens of lyric poetry-of poetry composed for music. No one, certainly, can read these pieces without admiring the fire of genius, and the tone of exalted feeling which pervade them. There is so much of true devotion and humility, and so deep a sense of dependence upon God in these sacred songs, as to entitle them to the warmest praise. When the poet bewails his sins and sufferings he is full of tenderness; when he dwells on the mercies of God to himself and to all, his strains glow with the warmth of his feelings, and are dignified by the solemnity of his devotion.

With this description of the Jewish sacred writings we break off, and shall resume the subject in another chapter. [16]

The Value of Good Intentions.

Errors respecting good intentions and the use and value of them are very common. It is sometimes thought that they are highly meritorious, even without considering whether they are made to appear in the conduct of the individual, or pass off his mind as they came on, without affecting his actions. Perhaps it is not too much to say, that in some cases they are regarded as equal in value to. active goodness—that which is openly witnessed in the life; and he who entertains them in his mind, feels as if he had done his part in forming them. The number of cases in which so much merit can be attributed to good intentions merely, is comparatively small; in many cases those who pride themselves upon them lean to a deception which is flattering but injurious to themselves, and are too apt to be contented with them, instead of endeavouring to make them evident by the conduct, which, rightly formed and listened to, they naturally dictate. It is our object in this subject to suggest rules for forming a correct judgment of the value of our good intentions, and to advise a regular endeavour to carry them into practice.

Let us ask, what are good intentions? what is usually, or ought to be understood of them? They are states of the mind, in which we design to perform some actions or trains of action of a moral kind: we are disposed to be more dutiful, for example, than we have been to our earthly benefactors and friends, or, in a higher sense, to our heavenly Benefactor; it is our purpose to carry into effect some plan that is worthy of ourselves, and useful and im

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