Imatges de pàgina
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“ fruitful :” and he charges the church at Sardis, Rev. iii. 2. “ to be watchful, and strengthen the " things that remain, that are ready to die.” Exhortations of a similar nature abound in the aposto. Jiçal writings.

More especially are the books of scripture recommended to our use, as containing the best instruc. tions for a good life; and being a history of the divine proceedings, respecting the human race, they necessarily exhibit such views, as cannot but make an impression, in the highest degree, favourable to virtue. Moses repeatedly charges the Israelites to read and meditate upon his laws and writings, Deut. vi. 6. " These words which I command 66 thee this day shall be in thine heart. And thou « shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, « and shalt talk of them when thou fittest in thine 6 house, and when thou walkest by the way, and " when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”. The fame injunction he repeats, Deut. xi. 18. The kings of Israel were moreover required to write out a copy of the law with their own hands, Deut. xvii. 18. “ And it shall be when he fitteth upon the " throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a " copy of this law in a book, out of that which is s before the priests, the Levites. And it shall be < with him, and he shall read therein all the days 66 of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord 6 his God, to keep all the words of this law, and 56 these statutes, to do them, &c.” David says

a good man, Pf. i. 2. That “ his delight is in the “ law of the Lord, and in his law doth he medie «'tate day and night ;' and, Pf. xxxvii. 31. “ The law of his God is in his heart; none of “ his steps shall slide.” Lastly, the apostle Paul commends the parents of Timothy, and mentions it as a great advantage to him, 2 Tim. iii. 15. that, “ from a child he had known the holy scrip“ tures, which, he says, were able to make him “ wise unto salvation, through faith which is in “ Christ Jesus.” Concerning the same scriptures, he adds, that they are “ profitable for doctrine, for " reproof, for correction, for instruction in righ« teousness: That the man of God may be per. “ fect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."

Solomon repeatedly admonishes young persons concerning the danger of bad company. Prov. i. 10. « My son, if finners intice thee, consent thou « not;" v. 15. " Walk not thou in the way “ with them; refrain thy foot from their path." And he observes in general, Prov. xii. 20. that, 66 he that walketh with wise men shall be wise: “ but that a companion of fools shall be destroyed." The apostle Paul also cautions the Corinthians on this head, when he says, 1 Cor. xv. 33. "Be « not deceived: evil communications corrupt good “ manners."

The practice of our duty is, in general, represented in the scriptures as pleasant and easy, when

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we are accustomed to it. Thus Solomon says, of wisdom, Prov. iii. 17. that “ her ways are ways “ of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace;"> and David says, Pl. cxix. 165. “Great peace " have they who love thy law: and nothing shall “ offend them.” Our Saviour also says, Matt. xi. 29. " Take my yoke upon you, and learn of 6 me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye " Ihall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is 66 easy, and my burden is light.”

But, notwithstanding this, we are warned, agreeable to what reason and nature would apprize us of, that before vicious habits are subdued, and virtuous ones formed, great exertions of courage and resolution will be necessary; and the difficulty, in this case, is by no means concealed by the writers of the Old and New Testament, especially the latter, who generally wrote in times of persecu. tion. Their writings, accordingly, abound with exhortations to exert proportionate courage and fortitude.

Our Lord expresses the difficulty of conquering a propensity to certain vices, by a very strong figure, when he says, Matt. v. 29. “ If thy right “ eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from " thee, &c.”. He also gives us an idea of the great hardships which may attend the profession of christianity, when he says, Luke ix. 23. « If any “ man will come after me, let him deny himself,

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6 and take up his cross daily, and follow me, &c." Accordingly, we are exhorted by the apostle Paul, Col. iii. 5. To “ mortify our members which are 6 of the earth," and, Rom. xii. 2. “ not to be 6c conformed to this world: but to be transformed " by the renewing of our mind." We shall find, however, that the scriptures propose to us rewards - and encouragements, abundantly adequate to the labour and difficulties of which they apprize us.

Lastly, we are most earnestly exhorted to watch over one another, and to promote our mutual edi. fication by every proper means. Moses says, Lev. xix. 17. “ Thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy “ neighbour, and not suffer fin upon him.” The book of Proverbs contains excellent observations concerning the benefit of instruction and reproof. Prov. xxviii. 23. “ He that rebuketh a man af“c terwards thall find more favour than he that “ flattereth with the tongue;" and David says, Ps. cxli. s. « Let the righteous smite me, it s shall be a kindness; and let him reprove me, it « fhall be an excellent oil.” The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews enjoins, Heb. iii. 13. that we “ exhort one another daily while it is called, " To-day; left any of us be hardened through the * deceitfulness of fin.” We are, in many places, cautioned to give na offence; that is, to cause none to offend, by any improper liberty of ours. The apoftle Paul enlarges much upon this subject, I

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Cor. x. Lastly, the apostle James speaks in the highest terms of the man who contributes to the spiritual benefit of another, James v. 19. " Bre. .66 thren, if any of you do err from the truth, and " one convert him: Let him know, that he who “ converteth the finner from the error of his way, " Mall save a soul from death, and shall hide a « multitude of sins."

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SECTION V.

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General remarks concerning morality.

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T Shall close this account of the morality of the

Bible, with some obfervations of a more general nature.

It is unquestionably a just maxim in itself, and a clear doctrine of the scriptures, that no partial obedience to the law of God will be accepted, instead of universal obedience, which is absolutely required of us. A just respect to the authority of God, as our sovereign, lawgiver, and judge, will certainly lead us, as it did the Pfalmist, Pf.cxix. 6. “ to have respect to all his commandments,” and not to admit of some, and refuse others, as we shall judge it reasonable and expedient; or, which is generally the same thing, as we shall find it convenient to us. Such a conduct would not be ex

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