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and so many ages are contained. I have admired the divine goodness in making this information so brief and so easily accessible; which, if written in the manner of other histories, might have been swelled to a size much exceeding the leisure of a peasant, without any disproportion to the events. Even in this view it appears to me, that the very structure of sacred history contains an internal evidence, that it was designed for general use; that it is in fact an abridgment for the purposes of religious knowledge, made actually portable (if I may so speak) and wonderfully compressed for the convenience of all men. I wish Mr. O'C. (as he declares himself friendly to that species of instruction) would seriously consider that excellent story of the Shepherd of Salisbury plain, which is founded in fact, and he would then see beautifully exemplified, how time may be redeemed by the poor for the study of the Bible. I am persuaded many similar instances exist in various occupations, and even in some of the least stationary and the most busy. But it is my object, at present, to point out how the Old Testament history is accommodated to such. That it is so will (I trust) be evident, from observing with how much brevity in general the wais of the Israelites are recorded, and that, uniformly, the end of the sacred historian is to glo- . rify God and illustrate his providence, instead of displaying the valour of heroes, or of imparting knowledge which could be useful only to particular classes of men. What a small portion of the book of Joshua is bestowed upon the wars of Canaan in his time! How concise is the book of Judges, compared with the period and the transactions to which it relates ! And, when it does enter into detail, (as in the cases of Gideon, and of the Benjamites) is it not for the sake of a practical effect, alike important to the peasant and the prince ?
It would be unnecessarily tedious to multiply instances throughout the succeeding books. Let it suffice to specify the 8th chapter of 2 Samuel, in which the victories of king David over several great countries are dispatched in a few verses, together with a general reference to the many reigns, which are concluded with informing us, that the detail of their transactions was written, in the books of certain prophets, or in the chronicles of the kings of Judah, or of Israel. It was not therefore for want of copious documents, but purposely, that these details were
omitted ; while the ministry of Elijah, and the reforma· tion under Hezekiah, with his miraculous deliverance in "answer to the prayer of faith, are described at large.
The conclusion is, that these sacred records are already so far abridged as divine wisdom saw to be expedient, and providentially adapted to the religious instruction of those, who have little leisure for reading, and little money to expend upon the purchase of books.
We are informed in the New Testament *, that the earliest of the sacred historians 6 was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians;" yet, who would have discovered this in the Pentateuch ? King Solomon was so great a naturalist, that “ he spake of trees from the cedar of Lebanon, even to the hyssop that springeth out of the wall, also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes ;” (1 Kings iv. 33.) yet none of his studies in natural history have been preserved :—The wisdom of the prophet Daniel was proverbial ; he was also instructed in Chaldean learning; and he was high 'in station in the court of Babylon :-Yet, what species of wisdom is to be derived from his writings, but that which pertains to the dispensations of the Most High? I infer, that the Bible, while it presents a spacious and profitable field for the exercise of the learned, is not exclusively designed for their : use. ? $ 4. But in alluding to the wars of the Israelites, it may perhaps occur to some, that, notwithstanding the brevity with which they are related, the reading of them may be calculated to excite or cherish a cruel and sanguinary spirit. To allay this apprehension, I would first present à very serious danger, which it suggests to me, from restricting the reading of the Bible Is it possible, in the case of such restriction, effectually to oppose the false statements of infidels, or counteract their influence upon the minds of the ignorant? These insidious enemies (among other machinations) immediately seize the opportunity to pervert the wars of the Old Testament into an argument against revealed religion :--And, I would ask Mr. O'C., what illiterate man is most likely to fall into their snares? The man who is well read in the Holy Scriptures, or the man from whom they have been withheld? If he should entertain a doubt upon the subject,
.. See Acts vii. 22.
let France answer the question. Let him look to that unhappy country, with the causes, the horrors, and the consequences of its revolution; and let him never again mention the days of our Charles, in order to deter us from the circulation of the Bible. Let him recollect, that it was during the successful opposition of Great Britain, the society which he deprecates grew up to its maturity; and this, perhaps, may serve to dissipate some of his fears. Again, I would ask him to estimate the operation of such a production as the Age of Reason upon illiterate minds :- What shield would he provide against it? A partial acquaintance with the Scriptures, dispersed at the discretion of the learned and opulent. But how easy would it be, in such circumstances, to infuse the suspicion of priest-craft and imposture ?-How plausible the suggestion, that a part only of the Bible had been laid open to the public view, because the remainder would not bear examination ?-I know not any refutation of such a calumny, that could equal an appeal to the volume itself. ! But, in addition to this view of the danger of infidelity, and the best method of repelling it, I would observe, with respect to the tendency of being conversant with the extermination of the Canaanites, that the Protestant part of the community must necessarily obtain some knowledge of it from the public service of the church :- And, whether is that knowledge more likely to be abused in an imperfect state, or when accompanied with repeated and explicit declarations, that the iniquity of the Amorites was full, and that these nations were devoted by God's justice to an awful condemnation, of which it pleased his wisdom to make the Israelites the executioners ? Yet this advantage of enlarged reading in private is no imputation whatsoever upon the public reading-(for it is calculated to impart an abundant store of knowledge to regular and attentive hearers)—but upon those, who would restrict the information of the people: in contradiction to that authentic declaration, “ I say not nay, but a man may profit with only hearing, but he may much more profit with both hearing and reading *"
5. It is evident that the aim of the coinpilers of our Liturgy was to bring as much of Scripture as possible before the congregation, and to impress it upon their
* See 1 Homily, 2nd Part.
attention and memory as frequently as possible. To be convinced of this, we have only to inspect the calendar and instructions, prefixed to the Book of Common Prayer, The Psalms were intended to be read over once every month; the most part of the remainder of the Old Testament once, and the whole of the New Testament (except the Apocalypse *) thrice every year, besides the Epistles and Gospels:-And the Homilies most earnestly exhort, that private reading should be added to congrégational hearing. The very first of this inestimable collection is, " A fruitful exhortation to the reading and knowledge of the holy Scripture :”—And to what classes the exhortation extends may be learned from the following quotations : « There is whatsoever is meet for all ages, and for all degrees and sorts of men.” And again, 66 He that is so weak that he is not able to brook strong meat, yet he may suck the sweet and tender milk, and defer the rest until he was stronger, and come to more knowledge. For God receiveth the learned and unlearned, and casteth away none, but is indifferent unto all. . And the Scripture is full, as well of low vallies, plain ways, and easy for every man to use, and to walk in ; as also of high hills and mountains, which few men can climb unto.”
There is another homily expressly composed against the . cavils which were then objected to the circulation of the Bible. It begins with tracing up opposition against the free use of the Holy Scriptures-even to the agency of Satan, who trembles for his kingdom. It notices, that there are some who “ think it not meet for all sorts of men to read the Scriptures, because they are, as they think, in sundry places stumbling-blocks to the unlearned.” It specifies and answers their alledged reasons, and concludes with discussing objections to some of the Psalms. But to quote all that is apposite would be to transcribe almost the whole of these excellent discourses, I must therefore be content with intreating my readers to refer to the originals, and, in addition to their testimony, to weigh the following observation upon the appointed reading of the book of Psalms. It is without the omission of a single Psalm or a single verse :~And does not this afford an indisputable proof, that the Reformers of
*“Out of which there are only certạin proper lessons appointed upon divers feasts."
our church were completely of an opposite opinion to our author, as to the expediency of abridging the Holy Scriptures, in order to adapt them to the capacity and use of the lower orders? It is most manifest, that whosoever disputes against the principle of the Bible Society, must in effect abandon the principle of the Reformation, and is decidedly at issue with our Established Church; however he may boast a zeal for her interests. It is a zeal which she emphatically disclaims, and clearly pronounces to be “ not according to knowledge." If then we agree with the Established Church in the propriety of reading the whole boak of Psalms, and that so frequently in her public worship-let it be considered, in what manner that reading may most effectually be made “ a reason. able service.” Is it by a familiar acquaintance with the other scriptures, or the contrary? In the latter case, how many passages must be unintelligible, which a knowledge of the history and laws of the Old Testament would render plain and edifying ? To adduce examples would be as superfluous, as to reason at large upon the suitableness of the whole collection for informing the judgments, and animating the devotion of “ high and low, rich and poor, one with another.” But I cannot quit this part of the sacred volume, without quoting a question and answer of the royal Psalmist, “ Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word.” The answer is not given with a promise that the young man be a scholar ; nor is a different plan suggested for the illiterate : we are therefore warranted in taking it generally,---and, is it possible to regard the rule without a knowledge of its direction ?
Our author (I trust) will not dispute the account, which the book of Proverbs gives of its own design and tendency. - To give subtilty to the simple *, to the young man knowledge and discretion.” For these purposes its plain, sententious, hortatory style is admirably adapted-abstaining from all recondite discussion; yet speaking with authority and persuasion to the conscience of the learned and the unlearned. Yet it has some difficulties and obscurities; but who will presume to expunge them?
Parkhurst translates the original word “hasty,” but the difference does not materially affect the matter in question,