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devotion, to the honour of thy holy name, and intelligible to the meanest capacity and the benefit of my foul, through Jesus I would chiefly recommend to your fre. Christ our Saviour. Amen.
quent perusal such parts of the facred
writings as are most adapted to your unBefore they leave their Seats, thus;
derstanding, and most necessary for your Blessed be thy name, O Lord, for this instruction. Our Saviour's precepts were opportunity of attending thee in thy house spoken to the common people amongit the and service.
Jews; and were therefore given in a man. Make me, I pray thee, a doer of thy ner easy to be understood, and equally word, not a hearer only. Accept both us striking and instructive to the learned and and our services, through our only Medi- unlearned: for the most ignorant may ator Jesus Christ. Amen.
comprehend them, whilst the wiselt must
be charmed and awed by the beautiful and A Grace before Meat.
majestic fimplicity with which they are Sanēlify, O Lord, we beseech thee, exprefled. Of the same kind are the Ten these thy good creatures to our use, and Commandments, delivered by God to Mous to thy service, through Jesus Christ our ses; which, as they were designed for si. Lord. Amen.
versal laws, are worded in the most concise
and simple manner, yet with a majeliy A Grace after Meat.
which cominands our utmost reverence. Blessed and praised be thy holy name, I think you will receive great pleasure, O Lord, for these and all thy other bles as well as improvement, from the historical lings bestowed upon us, through Jesus books of the Old Testament-provided you Christ our Lord. Amen.
read them as an history, in a regular course,
and keep the thread of it in your mind as $ 179. Of the Scriptures, as the Rule of
you go on. I know of none, true or fictiLije.
tious, that is equally wonderful, interesting, As advance in years and understand and affecting; or that is told in fo hort ing, I hope you wi!l be able to examine for and simple a manner as this, which is, of yourself the evidences of the Chriftian re- all histories, the most authentic. ligion ; and that you will be convinced, 0.1 I shall give you some brief directions, rational grounds, of its divine authority. concerning the method and course I with At present, such enquiries would demand you to puriae, in reading the Holy Scripmore ftudy, and greater powers of reason tures. May you be enabled to make the ing, than your age admits of. It is your best use of this most precious gift of God part, therefore, till you are capable of un --this facred treasure of knowledge ! derstanding the proofs, to believe your pa- May you read the Bible, not as a talk, nor rents and teachers, that the holy Scriptures as the dull employment of that day only, in are writings inspired by God, containing a which you are forbidden more lively entertrue history of facts, in which we are deeply tainments—but with a fincere and ardent concerned-a true recital of the laws given desire of instruction : with that love and deby God to Mofes, and of the precepts of light in God's word, which the holy Psalour blessed Lord and Saviour, delivered mist so pathetically felt and described, and from his own mouth to his disciples, and which is the natural consequence of loring repeated and enlarged upon in the edifying God and virtue ! Though I speak this of epistles of his apofles--who were men the Bible in general, I would not be unchosen from amongst those who had the derstood to mean, that every part of the voadvantage of conversing with our Lord, to lume is equally interesting. I have already bear witness of his miracies and resurrec- faid that it consists of various matter, and tion-and who, after his ascension, were various kinds of books, which must be affifted and inspired by the Holy Ghost. read with different views and sentiments, This sacred volume must be the rule of The having some general notion of what your life. In it you will find all truths ne you are to expect irom each book, may cessary to be believed ; and plain and easy possibly help you to understand them, and directions for the practice of every duty. will heighten your relish of them. I hall Your Bible, then, muft be your chief study treat you as if you were perfectly new to and delight: but, as it contains many va the whole; for so I wish you to consider rious kinds of writing some parts obscure yourself; because the time and manner in and difficult of interpretation, others plain which children usually read the Bible, are
very ill calculated to make them really ac- earth, to this or that particular fect or proquainted with it; and too many people, feffion, when he is so clearly and emwho have read it thus, without understand- phatically described as the Saviour of the ing it, in their youth, fatisfy themselves whole world. The story of Abraham's that they know enough of it, and never af- proceeding to sacrifice his only fon, at the terwards ftudy it with attention, when they command of God, is affecting in the come to a maturer age.
highest degree ; and sets forth a pattern of If the feelings of your heart, whilst you unlimited resignation, that every one ought read, correspond with those of mine, wtilft to imitate, in those trials of obedience under I write, I shall not be without the advan- temptation, or of acquiescence under aflicttage of your partial affc&tion, to give ing dispensations, which fall to their lot. weight to my advice; for, believe me, my Of this we may be assured, that our trials heart and eyes overflow with tenderness, will be always proportioned to the powers when I tell you how warm and earneft my afforded us: if we have not Abraham'sprayers are for your happiness here and strength of mind, neither shall we be called hereatier.
Mrs. Chapone. upon to lift the bloody knife against the
borom of an only chlid; but if the al. $ 180. Of Genesis.
mighty arm should be lifted up against I now proceed to give you some short him, we must be ready to resign him, and ketches of the matter contained in the dif- all we hold dear, to the divine will. ferent bocks of the Bible, and of the courle This action of Abraham has been censured in 'shich they ought to be read.
by fome, who do not attend to the distincThe firit book, Genesis, contains the tion between obedience to a special commolt grand, and, to us, the most interesting mand, and the deteftably cruel facrifices events, that ever happened in the universe: of the Heathens, who sometimes volunta-The creation of the world, and of man : rily, and without any divine injunctions, of--The deplorable fall of man, from liis fered up their own children, under the nofrit state of excellence and bliss, to the tion of appeasing the anger of their gods. ditrefled condition in which we see all his An absolute command from God himself deicendants continue :-The sentence of as in the case of Abraham-entirely alters death pronounced on Adam, and on all his the moral nature of the action ; fince he, rece-with the reviving promise of that and he only, has a perfect right over the deliverance which has since been wrought lives of his creatures, and may appoint for us by our blefied Saviour:- The ac whom he will, either angel or man, to be count of the early state of the world : his instrument of destruction. That it was Of the aniversal deluge:-The division of really the voice of God which pronounced mankind into different nations and lan the command, and not a delusion, might guages:– The ftory of Abraham, the be made certain to Abraham's mind, by tourder of the Jewish people; whose un means we do not comprehend, but whick fhaken faith and obedience, under the le we know to be within the power of him verett trial human nature could sustain, ob. who made our souls as well as bodies, and taired such favour in the fight of God, who can controul and direct every faculty that he vouchsafed to style him his friend, of the human mind : and we may be as. and promised to make of his posterity a fured, that if he was pleased to reveal himgreat nation, and that in his feed--that felf so miraculously, he would not leave a is, in one of his descendants--all the possibility of doubting whether it was a real kingdoms of the earth should be blessed. cr an imaginary revelation. Thus the faThis
, you will easily fee, refers to the Mes crifice of Abraham appears to be clear of fiah, who was to be the blefling and deli- all fuperftition: and remains the noblest Ferance of all nations.--It is amazing that instance of religious faith and fubmifsion, the Jews, poffefsing this prophecy, among that was ever given by many others, should have been to blinded cannot wonder that the blessings bestowed by prejudice, as to have expected, from on him for it should have been extended this great personage, only a temporal deli- to his pofterity. This book proceeds with verance of their own nation from the sub- the hiitory of Isaac, which becomes very jection to which they were reduced under interesting to us, from the touching scene the Romans: It is equally amazing, that I have mentioned—and fill more fo, if we some Christians should, even now, confine consider him as the type of our Saviour. the blefied effects of his appearance upon It recounts his marriage with Rebecca
mere man: we
the birth and history of his two sons, Ja- welfare of his countrymen. Even in the cob, the father of the twelve tribes, and hour of death, this generous ardour ftill Esau, the father of the Edomites, or Idu- prevailed: his last moments were employmeans—the exquisitely affecting story of ed in fervent prayers for their prosperity, Joseph and his brethren--and of his trans- and in rapturous gratitude for the glimpse planting the Israelites into Egypt, who vouchsafed him of a Saviour, far greater there multiplied to a great nation. than himself, whom God would one day
Mrs. Chapone. raise up to his people.
Thus did Mofes, by the excellency of § 181. Of Exodus.
his faith, obtain a glorious pre-eminence In Exodus, you read of a series of won- among the faints and prophets in heaven; ders, wrought by the Almighty, to rescue while, on earth, he will be ever revered the oppressed Ifraelites from the cruel ty- as the firit of those benefactors to mankind, ranny of the Egyptians, who, having first whose labours for the public good have received them as guests, by degrees re- endeared their memory to all ages. Ibid. duced them to a state of Navery. By the most peculiar mercies and exertions in their 182. Of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deufavour, God prepared his chosen people to
teronomy. receive, with reverent and obedient hearts, The next book is Leviticus, which con. the folemn reftitution of those primitive tains little besides the laws for the pecuJaws, which probably he had revealed to liar ritual observance of the Jews, and there. Adam and his immediate descendants, or fore affords no great instruction to us now: which, at least, he had made known by the you may pass it over entirely—and, for dictates of conscience ; but which time, the fame reason, you may omit the first and the degeneracy of mankind, had much eight chapters of Numbers. The rest of obscured. This important revelation was Numbers is chiefly a continuation of the made to them in the Wilderness of Sinah; history, with some ritual laws. there, assembled before the burning moun In Deuteronomy, Moses makes a reca. tain, surrounded“ with blackness, and dark- pitulation of the foregoing hiftory, with ness, and tempeft," they heard the awful zealous exhortations to the people, faith. voice of God pronounce the eternal law, fully to worship and obey that God, impressing it on their hearts with circum- who had worked such amazing wonders stances of terror, but without those encou- for them: he promises them the noblest ragements, and those excellent promises, temporal blessings, if they prove cbewhich were afterwards offered to mankind dient; and adds the most awful and strike by Jesus Christ. Thus were the great laws ing denunciations against them, if they of morality restored to the Jews, and rebel, or forsake the true God. I have through them transmitted to other nations; before observed, that the sanctions of the and by that means a great refraint was Mosaic law were temporal rewards and opposed to the torrent of vice and impiety, punishments : those of the New Testament which began to prevail over the world. are eternal; these laft, as they are so in
To those moral precepts, which are of finitely more forcible than the first, were perpetual and universal obligation, were reserved for the last, best gift to mankind fuperadded, by the ministration of Mofes, and were revealed by the Meliah, in many peculiar institutions, wisely adapted the fullest and clearest manner. Moses, to different ends-either, to fix the me. in this book, directs the method in which mory of those past deliverances, which the Israelites were to deal with the seven were figurative of a future and far greater nations, whom they were appointed to pu. salvation—to place inviolable barriers be- nish for their profigacy and idolatry, and tween the Jews and the idolatrous nations, whose land they were to poffefs, when they by whom they were surrounded-or, to had driven out the old inhabitants. He be the civil law by which the community gives them excellent laws, civil as well as was to be governed.
religious, which were ever after the standTo conduct this series of events, and ing municipal laws of that people.This to establish these laws with his people, God book concludes with Moses's fong and raised up that great prophet Mofes, whose death.
Ibid, faith and piety enabled him to undertake
$ 183. Of Tohua. and execute the most arduous enterprizes ; and to pursue, with unabated zeal, the The book of Joshua contains the con
quests of the Israelites over the seven na other people, and defended, by a great numtions, and their establishment in the pro- ber of peculiar rites and observances, from mised land. -Their treatment of these con- falling into the corrupt worship practised quered nations must appear to you very by their neighbours.
Mrs. Chapone. cruel and unjust, if you consider it as their own ad, unauthorized by a positive com $184. Of Judges, Samuel, and Kings, mand: but they had the most absolute in The book of Judges, in which you will janctions, not to spare these corrupt peo- find the affecting stories of Sampson and ple—" to make no covenant with them, Jephtha, carries on the history from the nor few mercy to them, but utterly to death of Joshua, about two hundred and defroy them :" — and the reason is given, fifty years; but the facts are not told in - lest they should turn away the Israe the times in which they happened, which lites from following the Lord, that they makes fomc confufion; and it will be nemight serve other gods." The children cessary to consult the marginal dates and of Irael are to be considered as instru- notes, as well as the index, in order to get merts, in the hand of the Lord, to punish any clear idea of the succession of events thofe, whose idolatry and wickedness had during that period. deservedly brought destruction on them: The history then proceeds regularly this example, therefore, cannot be pleaded through the two books of Samuel, and in behalf of cruelty, or bring any imputa those of Kings : nothing can be more intion on the character of the Jews. With re- teresting and entertaining than the reigns gard to other cities, which did not belong to of Saul, David, and Solomon : but, after these seven nations, they were directed to the death of Solomon, when ten tribes re. deal with them according to the common volted from his fon Rehoboam, and belaw of arms at that time. If the city sub came a separate kingdom, you will find mitted, it became tributary, and the people fome dificulty in understanding distinctly were spared; if it resifted, the men were the histories of the two kingdoms of Israel to be llain, but the women and children and Judah, which are blended together; saved. Yet, though the crime of cruelty and by the likeness of the names, and cannot be juftly laid to their charge on this other particulars, will be apt to confound occalion, you will observe, in the course your mind, without great attention to the of their history, many things recorded of different threads thus carried on together : them, very different from what you would the index here will be of great use to you. expe& from the chosen people of God, if The second book of Kings concludes witla. you (upposed them selected on account of the Babylonish captivity, 588 years betheir own merit: their national character fore Christ till which time the kingdom was by no means amiable; and we are re of Judah had descended uninterruptedly peatedly told, that they were not chosen in the line of David.
Ibid. for their superior righteousness" for they were a tiff-necked people, and pro- § 185. Of Chronicles
, Ezra, Nebemiah, and voked the Lord with their rebellions from
Efther. the day they left Egypt."-" You have The first book of Chronicles begins been rebellious against the Lord,” says with a genealogy from Adam, through all Moses, “ from the day that I knew you." the tribes of Israel and Judah ; and the re- And he vehemently exhorts them, not mainder is the same history which is conto flatter themselves that their success was, tained in the books of Kings, with little or
any degree, owing to their own merits. no variation, till the separation of the ten They were appointed to be the scourge of tribes. From that period, it proceeds with other nations, whose crimes rendered them the history of the kingdom of Judah alone, fit objects of divine chastisement. For the and gives therefore a more regular and fake of righteous Abraham, their founder, clear account of the affairs of Judah than and perhaps for many other wise reasons, the book of Kings. You may pass over undiscovered to us, they were selected the first book of Chronicles, and the nine from a world over-run with idolatry, to first chapters of the second book; but, by preserve upon earth the pure worthip of all means, read the remaining chapters, as the one only God, and to be honoured with they will give you more clear and distinct the birth of the Messiah amongit them. ideas of the history of Judah, than that For this end they were precluded, by di- you read in the second book of Kings. vine command, from mixing with any 'The second of Chronicles ends, like the
second of Kings, with the Babylonish cap. God—but all have something to repent tivity.
and he advises him to make this use of You must pursue the history in the book his afflictions. At laft, by a bold figure of Ezra, which gives an account of the re of poetry, the Supreme Being himself is turn of some of the Jews on the ediet of introduced, speaking from the whirlwind; Cyrus, and of the rebuilding the Lord's and filencing them all by the most sublime temple.
display of his own power; magnificence; Nehemiah carries on the history for and wisdom, and of the comparative littleabout twelve years, when he himself was ness and ignorance of man. This indeed governor of Jerusalem, with authority to is the only conclusion of the argument; rebuild the walls, &c.
which could be drawn at a time when life The story of Esther is prior in time to and immortality were not yet brought to that of Ezra and Nehemiah ; as you will light. A future retribution is the only fafee by the marginal dates ; however, as it tisfactory solution of the difficulty arising happened during the seventy years capti- from the sufferings of good people in this vity, and is a kind of episode, it may be life.
Ibid. read in its own place. This is the last of the canonical books that
$187. Of the Psalms. is properly historical; and I would there Next follow the Psalms, with which you fore advise, that you pass over what follows, cannot be too conversant. If you have till you have continued the history through any taste, either for poetry or devotions the apocryphal books
they will be your delight, and will afford $ 186. Of Fob.
you a continual feast. The bible tranda.
tion is far better than that used in the comThe story of Job is probably very an mon-prayer book, and will often give you cient, though that is a point upon which the sense, when the other is obscure. In learned men have differed: It is dated, this, as well as in all other parts of the however, 1520 years before Chrift: I be- fcripture, you must be careful always to lieve it is uncertain by whom it was writ- conlult the margin, which gives you the ten: many parts of it are obscure; but it is corrections made since the last translation, well worth studying, for the extreme beauty and it is generally preferable to the words of the poetry, and for the noble and sub- of the text. I would with you to select lime devocion it contains. The subject of some of the Pfalms that please you beft
, the dispute between Job and his pretended and get them by heart: or, at least, make friends seems to be, whether the Provi. yourself matter of the sentiments contained dence of God distributes the rewards and in them. Dr. Delany's Life of David will punishments of this life in exact proportion shew you the occasions on which several of to the merit or demerit of each individual. them were composed, which add much to His antagonists suppose that it does; and their beauty and propriety; and by comtherefore infer, from Job's uncommon ca- paring them with the events of David's lamities, that, notwithstanding his appa- life, you will greatly enhance your plearent righteousness, he was in reality a sure in them. Never did the spirit of grievous finner. They aggravate his fup
They aggravate his lup- true piety breathe more strongly than in posede guilt, by the imputation of hypocri- thcfe divine fongs : which, being added ly, and call upon him to confefs it, and to to a rich vein of poetry, makes them more acknowledge the justice of his punishment. captivating to my heart and imagination, Job allerts his own innocence and virtue in than any thing I ever read. You will the most pathetic inanner, yet does not consider how great disadvantages any popresume to accuse the Supreme Being of em muft sustain from being rendered liteinjustice. Elihu attempts to arbitrate the rally into pruse, and then imagine how matter, by alledging the impoffibility that beautiful these must be in the original. fo frail and ignorant a creature as man May you be enabled, by reading them hould comprehend the ways of the Al- frequently, to transfuse into your own mighty; and therefore condemns the un breat that holy flame which inspired the juit and cruel inference the three friends writer !--to delight in the Lord, and in had dra'vn from the fufferings of Job. He his laws, like the Pfalmift--to rejoice in allo blames Job for the presumption of him always, and to think “ one day in acquitting himself of all iniquity, since the his courts better than a thousand !”-Buc belt of men are not pure in the fight of may you escape the beart-piercing forrow