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to every circumstance of life ; formed upon the experience of all preceding ages ; and perfected by the unerring Spirit of inspiration. These are delivered with a conciseness so remarkable, that one might venture to say, every word is a sentence : at least, every sentence may be called an apothegm, sparkling with brightness of thought, or weighty with solidity of sense. The whole, like a profusion of pearls, containing, in a very small compass, a value almost immense ; all heaped up (as an ingenious writer observes) with a confused magnificence, above the little niceties of order.
If we look for strength of reasoning, and warmth of exhortation, or the manly boldness of impartial reproof; let us bave recourse to the Acts of the Apostles, and to the Epistles of Paul. These are a specimen, or rather these are the standard, of them all.
Another recommendation of the Scriptures, is, that they afford the most awful and most amiable manifestations of the Deity. His glory shines, and his goodness smiles, in those Divine pages, with unparalleled lustre. Here we have a satisfactory explanation of our own state. The origin of evil is traced ; the cause of all our misery discovered, and the remedy, the infallible remedy, both clearly shown, and freely offered. The atonement and intercession of Christ lay a firm foundation for all our hopes ; while gratitude for his dying love suggests the most winning incitements to every duty.--Morality, Theron, your (and, let me add, my) admired morality, is here delineated in all its branches, is placed upon its proper basis, and raised to its highest elevation. The Holy Spirit is promised to enlighten the darkness of our understandings, and strengthen the imbecility of our wills. What an ample- Can you indulge me in this favourite topic ?
THERON. It is, I assure you, equally pleasing to myself. Your enlargements, therefore, need no apology.
ASPASIO. What an ample provision is made, or referred to, by these excellent books, for all our spiritual wants ! and, in this respect, how indisputable is their superiority to all other compositions ! Is any one convinced of guilt, as provoking Heaven, and ruining the soul ? Let him ask Reason to point out a means of reconciliation, and a refuge of safety. Reasos hesitates, as she replies : “ the Deity may, perhaps, accept
our supplications, and grant forgiveness.” But the Scriptures leave us not to the sad uncertainty of conjecture. They speak the language of clear assurance. God has set forth a propitiation he does forgive our iniquities : he will remember our sins no more.
Are we assaulted by temptation, or averse to duty ? Philosophy may attempt to parry the thrust, or to stir up the reluctant mind, by disclosing the deformity of vice, and urging the fitness of things. Feeble expedients ! just as well calculated to accomplish the ends proposed, as the flimsy fortification of a cobweb to defend us from the ball of a cannon. The Bible recommends no such incompetent succours. “My grace,” says its Almighty author, “is sufficient for thee.'ha Sin shall not hare dominion over you.”-The great Jehovah, in whom is everlasting strength, “worketh in us, both to will, and to do, of his good pleasure.”
Should we be visited with sickness, or overtaken by any calamity, the consolation which Plato offers, is, that such dispensations coincide with the universal plan of Divine government. Virgil will tell us, for our relief, that afflictive visitations are, more or less, the unavoidable lot of all men. Another moralist whispers in the dejected sufferer's ear, “Impatience adds to the load ; whereas a calm submission reuders it more supportab.e.”-Does the word of revelation dispense such spiritless and fugitive cordials ?-No: those sacred pages inform us, that tribulations are fatherly chastisements, tokens of our Maker's love, and fruits of his care ; that they are intended to work in us the peaceable fruits of righteousness; and to work out for us an eternal weight of glory.
Should we, under the summons of death, have recourse to the most celebrated comforters in the heathen world ; they would increase our apprehensions, rather than mitigate our dread. Death is represented, by the great master of their schools, as the most formidable of all eyils. They were not able to determine, whether the soul survived the body. Whereas, this inspired volume strips the monster of his horrors, or turns him into a messenger of peace ; gives him an angel's face, and a deliverer's hand; and ascertains to the souls of the righteous, an immediate translation into the regions of bliss.
THERON. Another very distinguishing peculiarity of the sacred wri. tings just occurs to my mind; the method of communicating dvide, or administering reproof, by parables : a method which levels itself to the lowest apprehension, without giving offence to the most supercilious temper. Our Lord was asked by a student of the Jewish law, "Who is my neighbour ?" which implied another question, “How is he to be loved ?” The inquirer was conceited of himself, yet ignorant of the truth, and deficient in his duty. Had the wise instructer of mankind abruptly declared, “ Thou neither knowest the former, nor fulfillest the latter ;'probably the querist would have reddened with indignation, and departed in a rage. To teach, therefore, and not disgust; to convince the man of his error, and not exasperate his mind, he frames a reply, as amiable in the manner, as it was well adapted to the purpose.
A certain person going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, fell among thieves. * Not "content to rob him of his treasure, they strip him of his garments; wounded him with great barbarity; and leave him half dead. Soon after this calamitous accident, a traveller happens to come along that very road : and what renders him more likely to afford relief, he is one of the ministers of religion ; one who taught others the lovely lessons of humanity and charity ; and who was, therefore, under the strongest obligations to exemplify them in his own practice. He just glances an eye upon the deplorable object ; sees him stretched on the cold ground, and weltering in his blood ; but takes no further notice : pay, to avoid the trouble of an inquiry, he passes by on the other side. Scarcely was he departed, when a Levite approaches. This man comes nearer, and looks on the miserable spectacle; takes a leisurely and attentive survey of the case : and though every gash in the bleeding flesh cried and pleaded for compassion, this minister of the sanctuary neither speaks a word to comfort, nor moves a hand to help. Last of all comes a Sanjaritan ; one of the abhorred nation, whom the Jews hated with the most implacable malignity. Though the Levite had neglected an expiring brother ; though the priest had withheld his pity from one of the Lord's peculiar people; the very moment this Samaritan sees the unhappy sufferer He melts into commiseration. He forgets the embittered foe and considers only the distressed fellow-creature. He springs from his horse, and resolves to intermit his journey The oil and wine, intended for his own refreshment, he freely converts into 'healing unguents. He binds up the wounds ; sets the disabled stranger'üpon his own beast; and
with all the assiduity of a servant, with all the tenderness of a brother, conducts him to an inn. There be deposits money for his present use ; charges the host to omit nothing that might conduce to the recovery or comfort of his guest ; and promises to defray the whole expense of his lodging, his maintenance, and his cure.
What a lively picture of the most disinterested and active benevolence! a benevolence which excludes no persons, not even strangers or enemies, from its tender regards; which disdains no condescension, grudges no cost, in its labours of love' Could any method of conviction have been more forcible, and at the same time more pleasing, than the interrogatory propo-, sed by our Lord, and deduced from the narrative ? “ Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among thieves ?" Or can there be an advice more suitable to the occasion, more important in its nature, or expressed with a more sententious energy, than that which is contained in these words ; 66 Go thou, and do likewise ?" In this case, the learner instructs, the delinquent condemns, himself. Bigotry bears away its prejudice ; and pride, (when the moral so sweetly, so imperceptibly insinuates,) even pride itself, lends a willing ear to admonition.
ASPASIO. It has been very justly remarked, that this eloquence of similitude is equally affecting to the wise, and intelligible to the ignorant. It shows rather than relates, the point to be illustrated. It has been admired by the best judges in all ages ; but never was carried to its highest perfection, till our Lord spoke the parable of the prodigal; which has a beauty that no paraphrase can heighten ; a perspicuity that renders all interpretation needless ; and a force which every reader, not totally insensible, must feel.
THERON. The condescension and goodness of God are every where conspicuous. In the productions of nature, he conveys to us the most valuable fruits, by the intervention of the loveliest blossoms. Though the present is in itself extremely acceptable, he has given it an additional endearment, by the beauties which array it, or the perfumes which surround it. In the pages of revelation, likewise, he has communicated to us the most glorious truths, adorned with the excellences of composition. They are, as one of their writers very elegantly speaks,“ like apples of gold in pictures of silver." .
ASPASIO. Who then would not willingly obey that benign command ? “ Thou shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way ; when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”
When I consider the language of the Scriptures, and sometimes experience the holy energy which accompanies them, I am inclined to say, “ Other writings, though polished with the nicest touches of art, only tinkle on the ear, or affect us like the shepherd's reed. But these, even amidst all their noble ease, strike, alarm, transport us.” When I consider the contents of the Scriptures, and believe myself interested in the promises they make, and the privileges they confer, I am induced to cry out, “ What are all the other books in the world, compared with these invaluable volumes !"*
SECTION 1. The defence of Socrates before his Judges. SOCRATES, in his defence, employed neither artifice nor the glitter of eloquence. He had not recourse either to solicitation or entreaty. He brought neither his wife nor children to incline the judges in his favour, by their sighs and
* That accomplished scholar and distinguished writer, the late Sir William Jones, chief justice of Bengal, at the end of his Bible wrote the following note ; which coming from a man of his profound erudition, and perfect knowledge of the oriental languages, customs, and manners, must be considered as a powerful testimony, not only to the sublimity, but to the Divine inspiration of the sacred writings.
"I have,” says he, “regularly and attentively read these Holy Scriptures; and I am of opinion, that this volume, independently of its Divine origin, contains more true sublimity, more exquisite beauty, more pure morality, more important history, and finer strains both af poetry and eloquence, than can be collected from all other books, in whatever age or language they may have been composed."