Page images

in his majestic career. Stripped of his poetical garb, and arrayed in the plainest dress by a literal translation into another language than his own, his book retains its grandeur, alloyed, yet easily distinguishable; and he moves with a princely port, under all the disadvantages of an humble investment.-The mind of Jeremiah was cast in the mould of tenderness. Far less sublime than the prophet who preceded him, he is much more pathetic; and it is impossible to read the language in which he deplores the ruin of his country, without feeling our hearts melted, and mingling our tears with those of the patriot.-Ezekiel, possessing neither of these qualities to the same extent as the others, is distinguished for the force and fire of his appeals. Neither of these is greater than the other as an inspired writer; all were influenced by the same Spirit of truth-all were clothed with the same authority-all demanded the same submission to their awful messages: but each displayed the quality of his own mind in the character of his style.



THE most learned, acute, and diligent student, cannot, in the longest life, obtain an entire knowledge of this one Volume. The more deeply he works the mine, the richer and more abundant he finds the ore; new light continually beams from this source of heavenly knowledge, to direct the conduct, and illustrate the work of God, and the ways of men; and he will at last leave the world, confessing that the more he studied the Scriptures, the fuller convic

tion he had of his own ignorance, and of their inestimable value.


THE Scriptures teach us the best way of living, the noblest way of suffering, and the most comfortable way of dying.


THE Scripture is suited to every capacity. It is a ford wherein a lamb may wade, and an elephant swim ; and herein is the infinite wisdom of God seen, in wreathing together plain truths with obscure, that he might gain the more credit to his Word, by the one instructing the ignorance of the weakest, by the other puzzling and confounding the understanding of the wisest. This also adds a beauty and ornament to the Scripture.

As the beauty of the world is set off by a graceful variety, so it is in the Scripture. There are sublime truths, that the most aspiring reason of man cannot overtop, and there are more plain and easy truths, in which the weakest capacity may converse with delight and satisfaction. No man is offended with his garden for having a shady thicket in it; no more should we be offended with the Word of God, that among so many fair and open walks, we here and there meet with a thicket, that the eye of human reason cannot look through.


HAD I the tongue of angels, I could not sufficiently set forth the excellency of the Scriptures.


WHO can set forth the excellency and usefulness of

God's Word? It is a glass to discover our spots, a lamp to guide us in the dark, a. fire to warm our cold affections, a magazine to supply us with armour against our spiritual enemies. It is a physic garden, wherein grow all sorts of medicinal herbs for our spiritual maladies: the promises are as fragrant flowers or spices in this garden; believers take many a pleasant walk among these beds of spices. It is an apothecary's shop, out of which we may have eyesalve for our blindness, sovereign cordials in our soul-distresses. Here are suitable cordials for all our various cases, be it desertion, temptation, poverty, sickness, reproach, persecution, &c. Here are the waters of the sanctuary for cleansing us from our pollutions. Here is the heavenly rain, for making soft and tender our hard hearts. The Scriptures are both food and physic to our souls; here is meat for strong men, and milk for babes. The two Testaments, as Augustine saith, are the two breasts which we must suck for spiritual nourishment. And there are none of God's children that will call them dry breasts, or empty cisterns; they have often afforded them strength, nourishment, light, life, and comfort. O how highly have God's people, in all ages, prized God's Holy Word, and the liberty of reading it! It hath been sweet as honey to their taste. I have read of one, who, being a prisoner in a dark dungeon, when light was allowed him for a short time to take his meat, he would take his Bible and read a portion of it, saying, He could eat without light, but he could not read without it. I am persuaded there is no better way in this world, for improving the faculty of sight, and benefit of light, than by reading the Word of God.



IN what other writings can we descry those excellences which we find in the Bible? None of them can equal it in antiquity: for the first penman of the sacred Scriptures hath the start of all philosophers, poets, and historians, and is, without the least shadow of doubt, the most ancient writer extant in the world. No writings are equal to those of the Bible, if we mention only the stock of human learning contained in them. Here linguists and philologists may find that which is to be found no where else. Here rhetoricians and orators may be entertained with a more lofty eloquence, with a choicer composure of words, and with a greater variety of style, than any other writers can afford them. Here is a book, where more is understood than expressed, where words are few, but the sense is full and redundant. No book equals this in authority, because it is the word of God himself, and dictated by an unerring Spirit. It excels all other writings in the excellency of its matter, which is the highest, noblest, and. worthiest; and of the greatest concern to all mankind. Lastly, the Scriptures transcend all other writings in their power and efficacy.

Wherefore, with great seriousness and importunity, I request the reader that he entertain such thoughts and persuasions as these:-that Bible-learning is the highest accomplishment, that this book is the most valuable upon earth, that here is a library in one single volume, that this alone is sufficient for us, though all the libraries in the world were destroyed.



THE oracles of truth are the wisdom and eloquence of God, the heart and soul of the most high JEHOVAH ; the first, the best, and the most blessed book, put in our hands by its divine author, being his own composition, and under his own commendation, impressive of its merit, divinity and dignity. The word used in holy writ, to set forth the glory and dignity of the Scriptures, includes many ideas, as illustrious, valuable, liberal, abundant, admirably illustrating the matter of the Scriptures. They are spirit, and they are life, saith JEHOVAH JESUS himself; in them are registered the deep things of God, the unfathomable secrets of his unalterable will, the mysteries of infinite wisdom, an absolute treatise of religion. Whatsoever they teach is truth.

Whatsoever they command is goodness.
Whatsoever they promise is happiness.

As the sun is to the world, so is the Scripture to the church; it being the whole counsel of the infinite JEHOVAH, and very essence of soul-saving wisdom.

Every point in the venerable Scriptures is essentially necessary, they contain the entire body of divinity. All divine doctrines, all divine precepts, all divine prophecies, all divine laws, all divine promises, all divine privileges, all divine ordinances, all divine mysteries; every idea touching faith and practice is plainly laid down, and powerfully insisted upon in the divine word, (2 Tim. iii. 16.) All Scriptures are given by inspira-" tion of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for intruction in righteousness; they being sufficient for these, are not deficient in ought else, nor can they be, as they are penned by the spe

« PreviousContinue »