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a collection of compositions more ancient, more curious, more excellent, more entertaining, and more important, than any other extant. This is a merit you must allow it to possess, if your mind be ever so little improved in literary attainments. And if this is not your situation, you are ill qualified to judge of the truth or falsehood of a book of such vast antiquity, and which claims derivation from heaven. Several good scholars used to read the Sacred code, merely as a book of entertainment. Others have read it to raise and sublime their minds. Some read it for its history, some for its poetry, some for its eloquence, some for its morality, some for its maxims, some for its sublime views of the Supreme Being, some for the inimitable examples which it affords us of virtue and vice. Be it then true or false, as a system of divine revelation, let it have its due praise, and hold the rank among books to which it is so justly entitled(6) Give every author the honour due unto him, and sing with our epic bard :

" Yet not the more
Cease I to wander, where the muses haunt,
Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill,
Smit with the love of Sacred song; but chief
Thee, Sion, and the flow'ry brooks beneath
That wash thy hallow'd feet, and warbling flow,

Nightly I visit.” This book, which you are unhappy enough to despise, abounds with all the various beauties of the Greek and Roman classics, and in a much higher degree of perfection. It consists, not merely of a collection of chapters, and verses, and distinct aphorisms

(6) The beauties of composition to be met with in the Sacred Writings are beyond all praise. It is a neglect unpardonable in classical schools, that they are not read there, as the standard of good taste and of fine Writings, as well as of sound morals and religion. If they abound with such numerous specimens of noble composition in the most literal of all translations, let any mari judge what they must be in the original !

on trivial subjects, as too many are apt to conceive; but is one grand epic composition, forming sixty-six books, of unequal lengths, and various importance. As the sun, moon, planets, and comets, make one system, and are each of them necessary to the harmony of the whole ; so the different books of the Sacred code, though separately considered, and taken out of their connection, may appear unimportant; yet as parts of one large and complicated system, they are all necessary, useful, or convenient to the perfection of the whole. And though the time is longer than is usually admitted in compositions of the epic kind, its beginning being with the birth, and its end with the close of nature itself; yet even this circumstance is perfectly consistent with the rest of the adorable plan; a thousand years being with the Lord as one day, and one day as a thousand years. The action of it too is one, entire, and the greatest that can be conceived. All the beings in the universe, of which we have


knowledge, are concerned in the drama. The design of it is to display the perfections of the adorable Creator; to rescue the human race from total misery and ruin: and to form us, by example, to glory, honour, and immortality. The epic opens in a mild and calm sublimity, with the creation of the world itself. It is carried on with an astonishing variety of incidents, and unparalleled simplicity and majesty of language.(7) The least and most trivial episode, or under-actions, which are interwoven in it, are parts either necessary,

or con

(7) "The graceful negligence of natore pleases beyond the truest ornaments that art can devise. Indeed, they are then truest, when they approach the nearest to this negligence. To attain it

, is the very triumph of art. The wise artist always completes his studies in the great school of creation, where the forms of elegance lie scattered in an endless variety : and the writer, who wishes to possess some portion of that sovereign excellence, and simplicity, even though he were an infidel, would have recourse to the Scriptures, and make them his model."

venient, to forward the main design ; either so neces. sary, that without them the work must be imperfect, or so convenient that no others can be imagined more suitable to the place in which they are. And it closes with a book, or, to keep up the figure, with a scene, the most solemn, majestic, and sublime, that ever was composed by any author, sacred or profane.

«The human mind can conceive nothing more elevated, more grand, more glowing, more beautiful, and more elegant, than what we meet with in the Sacred Writings of the Hebrew bards. The almost ineffable sublimity of the subjects they treat upon, is fully equalled by the energy of the language, and the dignity of the stile. Some of these writings too, exceed in antiquity the fabulous ages of Greece, as much as in sublimity they are superior to the most finished productions of that celebrated people.” Moses stands unrivalled by the best of them, both as a poet, orator, and historian:(8) David as a poet(9) and musician: Solomon as a moralist, naturalist, and pastoral writer: Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Nahum, Joel, and some other of the prophets, as orators, or poets, or both: Homer and Virgil must yield the palm to Job for true sublime: Isaiah excels all the world in almost every kind of composition: the four evangelists are eminent as orators and historians : Peter and James, Luke and John, are authors of no ordinary rank: and Paul is the most sublime of writers,

(8) Longinus, the best critic of the heathen world, speaks of Moses as no ordinary writer, and cites his account of the creation as an instance of the true sublime.

(9) Addison says “ After perusing the book of Psalms, let a judge of the beauties of poetry read a literal translation of Horace or Pindar, and he will find in these two last such an absurdity and confusion of stile, with such a comparative poverty of imagination, as will make him sensible of the vast superiority of Scripture stile."

and eloquent of orators.(50) All these eulogiums upon the sacred penmen are spoken of them merely as authors, without the smallest view to their higher order as inspired writers, and messengers of the Lord of Hosts.(1) If this last consideration be taken into the account, and added to the former, what an allimportant book must the Bible be? what a blessing to mankind? Language cannot express the value of it. If the exhortation of a late author, as improperly applied to the Grecian bard, were applied to this inestimable volume, it would be used with the strictest propriety and decorum!

“ Read God's word, once, and you can read no more ;
For all books else appear so mean, so poor.
Verse will seem prose: but still persist to read,

And God's word will be all the books you need." The Bible abounds with a vast variety of matter, a confused magnificence above all order; and is the fittest book in the world to be the standard of doctrines, and the model of good writing. We defy all the sons of infidelity to shew us any thing like it, or second to it. Where will you meet with such a number of instructive proverbs—fervent prayers-sublime songs-beneficent miracles-apposite parables infallible prophecies(2)-affectionate epistles-melo

(50) Longinus ranks Paul among the most famous orators.

(1) Madam Dacier, in the preface to her translation of Homer, assures us, that, “ the books of the Prophets and the Psalms, even in the Vulgate, are all full of such passages, as the greatest poet in the world could not put into verse, without losing much of their majesty and pathos.”

(2) “ Next to astronomy, few subjects expand the human mind more than the view which prophecy opens to us of the govern. ment of the Great King. To see the vast mass of materials, kingdoms, and centuries, in motion, only to the accomplishment of his purposes: to see refractory man employed to preserve the harmony of his designs; and the disorderly passions, while apparently working solely in their own narrow circle, ignorantly

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quent orations--instructive historians--pure laws. rich promises-awful denunciations-useful examples,


advancing the fulfilment of his determinations! This is a study delightfully interesting, and which in common with the contemplation of all the Great Creator's doings, elevates the mind above the oppression of human cares and sorrows, and seems to leave her in that serenity of admiration, which one may imagine an impefect foretaste of part of the employment and happiness of angels.”

Cowley tells us, that “ all the books of the Bible are either al. ready most admirable and exalted pieces of poesy, or are the best materials in the world for it."

Blackmore says, that “ for sense, and for noble and sublime thoughts, the poetical parts of Scripture have an infinite advan. tage above all others put together."

Prior is of opinion, that “ the writings of Solomon afford subjects for finer poems in every kind than have yet appeared in the Greek, Latin, or any modern language."

Pope assures us, that “the pure and noble, the graceful and dignified simplicity of language is no where in such perfection as in the Scripture and Homer; and that the whole book of Job, with regard both to sublimity of thought and morality, exceeds beyond all comparison the most noble parts of Homer."

Rowe, after having read most of the Greek and Roman histories in their original languages, and most that are written in Engo lish, French, Italian, and Spanish, was fully persuaded of the truth of revealed religion, expressed it upon all occasions, took great delight in divinity and ecclesiastical history, and died at last like a christian and philosopher, with an absolute resignation to the will of God

There are few anecdotes of our English poets which give more pleasure than that of Collins, who, in the latter part of his mortal career, " withdrew from study, and travelled with no other book than an English Testament, such as children carry to school." When a friend took it into his hand, out of curiosity to see what companion a man of letters had chosen-mrs I have one book only," said Collins, " but that is the best."

This knits my heart to Collins more than all the excellencies of his poetry. Sick and infirm, in the spirit of Mary, he sits at the divine Redeemer's feet, listening to the words of eternal life. In such a 'state of body and mind, one single promise, from his gra. cious and infallible lips, is of more real value and importance, than all the pompouslearning of the most celebrated philosophers. This will never be properly felt and understood till we are in sini. lar circumstances. When Dr. Watts was almost worn out, and


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