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and delicacy; who pretend to be charmed with what they call beauties and nature in classical authors, and in other things would blush not to be reckoned amongst found and impartial critics.—But so far has negligence and prepoffefsion stopped their ears against the voice of the charmer, that they turn over those awful sacred pages with inattention and unbecoming indifference, unaffected amidst ten thoufand sublime and noble passages, which, by the rules of some criticism and reason, may be demonstrated to be truly eloquent and beautiful,
Indeed the opinion of false Greek and bar. barous language, in the Old and New-Testament, had, for some ages, been a stumblingblock to another set of men, who were professedly great readers and admirers of the an. cients. The sacred writings were, by these persons, rudely attacked on all fides : expreffions which came not within the compass of their learning, were branded with barbarism and folecism; words which scarce signified any thing but the ignorance of those who laid such groundless charges on them.—Presumptuous man!-Shall he, who is but dust and ashes, dare to find fault with the words of that Being, who first inspired man with language, and taught his mouth to utter; who opened the lips of the dumb, and made the infant eloquent ? --These persons, as they attacked the inspired writings on the foot of critics and men of learning, accordingly have been treated as such; and tho’a shorter way might have been gone to work, which was, — that as their accusations reached no farther than the bare words and phraseology of the Bible, they, in no wise, affected the sentimients and foundness of the doctrines, which were conveyed with as much clearness and perspicuity to mankind, as they could have been, had the language been written with the utmost elegance and grammatical nicety. And even though the charge of barbarous idioms could be made out;-yet the cause of christianity was thereby no ways affected, but remained just in the state they found it.-Yet, unhappily for them, they even miscarried in their favourite point;—there being few, if any at all, of the Scripture expressions, which may not be justified by numbers of parallel modes of speaking, made use of amongst the purest and most authentic Greek authors.-This, an able hand amongst us, not many years ago, has sufficiently made out, and thereby baffled and exposed all their presumptuous and ridiculous affertions. These persons, bad and deceitful as they were, are yet far out-gone for a third set of men.--I wish we had not too many instances of them, who, like foul stomachs, that turn the sweetest food to bitterness, upon all occasions endeavour to make merry with facred Scripture, and turn every thing they meet with therein into banter and burlesque.--But as men of this stamp, by their excess of wickedness and weakness together, have entirely disarmed us from arguing with them as reafonable creatures, it is not only making them too considerable, but likewise to no purpose to spend much time about them; they being, in the language of the Apostle, creatures of no understanding, speaking evil of the things they know not, and thall utterly perish in their own corruption. Of these two last, the one is disqualified for being argued with, and the other has no occasion for it; they being al.
ready silenced. Yet those that were first mentioned, may not altogether be thought unworthy of our endeavours;— being persons, as was hinted above, who, though their tastes are so far vitiated that they cannot relish the sacred Scriptures, yet have imaginations capable of being raised by the fancied excellencies of classical writers.—And indeed these persons claim from us some degree of pity, when, thro' the unskilfulness of preceptors in their youth, or some other unhappy circumstance in their education, they have been taught to form false and wretched notions of good writing.-When this is the case, it is no wonder they should be more touched and affected with the dressed-up trifles and empty conceits of poets and rhetoricians, than they are with that true sublimity and grandeur of sentiment which glow throughout every page of the inspired writings.-By way of information, such should be instructed :
There are two sorts of eloquence, the one indeed scarce deserves the name of it, which consists chiefly in laboured and polished periods, an over-curious and artificial arrange
ment of figures, tinsel'd over with a gaudy embellishment of words, which glitter, but convey little or no light to the understanding. This kind of writing is for the most part much affected and admired by the people of weak judgment and vicious taste, but is a piece of affectation and formality the sacred Writers are utter strangers to.—It is a vain and boyish eloquence; and it has always been esteemed below the great geniuses of all ages, so much more so, with respect to those writers who were acted by the spirit of infinite wisdom, and therefore wrote with that force and majesty with which never man writ.-The other sort of eloquence is quite the reverse to this, and which may be said to be the true characteriftic of the holy Scriptures; where the excellence does not arise from a laboured and far fetched elocution, but from a surprizing mixtnre of fimplicity and majesty, which is a double character, so difficult to be united, that it is feldom to be met with in compositions merely human.-We see nothing in holy writ of affectation and superfluous ornament. As the infinite wise Being has condescended te stoop