Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

which is of so varijas and help of natural reason, is uot to be duriltu a nutars that it is produc- expected, and consequently the light five of vice as well as virtue, and of reason canaot be our perfect and capable of leading us into error, as unerring guide. Are you satisfied veil as discovering truin.

as to this point ? This may be well excmplified by S. I aun convinced that hunian the inilorance, inconsistency, vici- . reason in its present depraved statc Ous customs and debauched practic is capable of bad as well as goud ces of the heatheu philosophers. An imprescicns, according to the examristotle and his school heid all things ples we sce, or the micans of our to be eternal; whereas the Epicu- education ; is the sole agent of all Teans imputed them to chance : and the evil, as well as of all the good none of them could dive into the

we do; and in its perfection unable true origin of evil ; nor prescribe to settle any certain rule of morality in what manner, and with what and duty. And I should be glad to kind of external service God might be as thoroughly convinced of the be acceptably worshipped: but they fallacy and falshood of their argusometimes cqualled themselves to

ments against the authority and dithe gods, who they worshipped. vinity of the scriptures. socrates owned that he was sensi.

T. What are their arguments ? ble of his own ignorance, and knew

S. They say that it is impossible, nothing. They disagreed so much

considering the mighty pretensions about the supreme happinoss of man,

to divine revelation by different that Tully says, it is impossible to reckun up their difforent sentiments. sects, to arrive at the knowledge of

a true revelation ; and consequently' Their notions concerning the im

that the Bible is false, mortality of the soul, and a future state, were equally as weak and un

T. The marks and tokens wherecertain ; neither had they any no. by to judge at all times of the truth tion of the resurrection of the body. of a revelation are the credibility of

the person who brings it ; the exThis ignorance gave a loose to all

cellency of the doctrire contained inanner of immorality and vicious

therein, and the divine proof he ness. Revenge, self-murder, fornication, and several other notorious gives thereof. Do you believe this?

S. Yos. viccs were not thought forbidden : an account whereof may be seen in

7. Well then ; what think you Diogenes Laertius, and other writ. of Moses, that man of God, whose ers ; yet none will pretend to say, declining all popularity and self-inthat Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Tula tercst shewed himself so wise and ly, Scncca, Epictetus, and Antoni- just, that we may well think him as. us, wanied the light of reason. The unlikely to be imposed upon himwisest of those were not ashamed self, as unwilling to impose upon to confess their ignorance and blind others ; who, as an historian, rela:

Therefore to begin and dis- ed facts, necessary for men to know, cover our duty in all points, with and becoming the natnre and majeswil its true inotives, merely by the ty of God to reveal; as a legislator,

ness.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

gare laws and ordinances, which T. Since it was the edullished had a manifest stamp of divine au- custom in the Jewish church to read thority; as a prophet, foretold such the law and the prophets every sabthings, as none but God could fore- bath day in the synagogue, and see ; and who, as a worker of mi

these books were translated into racles, cid such things as had all Creck by the heathens, almost 900 imaginable evidence of an Alınigh- years before Christ; and both the ty Power assisting him. Will not Old and New Testaments have been this convince you that what he did, usually read at least one day in ewas by the order and appointment very week in christian assemblies, of God; that what he delivered, and most frequently twice on every was expressly the will, and what day. And since it is evident that he wrote was infallibly the word of the frequent offices of religion, and God, who cannot be an abettor of public solemn festivals, enjoined falschood ? And,

thereby, having been constantly and Astothe prophets, it can be prov- publicly celebrated, and the laws ed that they were men of sobriety, contained therein, have been currgood education, and void of all craft rently and generally applied and ex and dissimulation ; no difficulties ercised from time to time ; it nuzi. nor dangers deterred them from the be ridiculous and absurd to suppose duty of their office ; they taught that these writings were not always, nothing but what was agreeable to and are not still genuine and uncorthe divine attributes, and the rea- rupted, and the work of those ausons and relations of things; dis- thors to whom they are ascribed. I covered things of the greatest im- might appeal to men of conmo: portance ; foretold events, which fenst, tirat if süottedits entre none but God, could know; per

tions of the Jews had not lain under formed works, which none but God the strongest convictions, that the could do ; gave all imaginable evi- authority of these writings was as dence of the truth of their commis

sacred as the authors of thoni had sion, and some of them sealed it pretended it to be ; they would cerwith their blood. Wbat then can

tainly, for the credit of their own you desire more to convince you

nation, have either suppressed them, that the books written by Moses and

or at least not vindicated thcir authe prophets are of divine authority, thority with so much zeal : for they and revealed by God. Of Jesus

were the composition of those inC.rist, and the authors of the New spired persons, whom their fore-faTestament, I may have occasion to

thers had most impiously affronted, say more hereafter.

persecuted, tortured, and murdered, s. So far I am agreed with you.

because they had been the messenBut my next difficulty is, How can

gers of the plain unwelcome truths contained therein.

like, to keep its footing in the world: of our duty, and the fundamentals But that God should suffer a book, of our salvation, are frequently rethat pretends to such marks of truth peated in the scriptures ; and if in and authority, to make its way in one place they should be niore ob. his name for so many ages, through scurely or less aptly expressed, the all the usual shocks and attacks of defect is supplied in another, and in irge and time, through all those no one place is the text so mangled casualties and changes, to which e- as to destroy any artiele of faith. ven monuments of brass and marble

S. But what sticks with me most submit much sooner, and in spite of of all their objections, is the inacall the malice of such inveterate, curacy of the style, and the little powerful, and numerous enemies

use and knowledge to be acquired all along ; is not only highly impro- from reading the scriptures. bable, but in the nature of the thing

T. As to the style, you are much plainly impossible : for God can

deceived. Read the Bible without neither deceive nor be deceived.

prejudice, and you will soon be corS. This secms to be conclusive vinced that it pleases by its exactfor the genuineness of the books : ness; its instructions are delightbut, How shall I be able to judge of ful; and it contains nothing that is the true sense of them in the midst poor, mean, or superfluous. Its of the various readings ?

comparisons and descriptions, aeT. This objection, if at all con- cording to the manner of the eastclusive against the sacred writings, ern rations, are bold, but exact and is much more so against all ancient noble, the style being every where Looks, thikara passed through the adorned with necessary, easy, and

These divine hards of several amanuenses, and natural mictaphors. many editions in print ; therefore compositions raise admiration by the as it must prove too much, it in sublime manner wherein they speak Teason proves nothing. However, of divine things ; strike terror by when all those various readings are the veheinency and force of

exprescompared, and considered attentive- sion ; excite to a love of virtue and ly, they will appear to be inconsid- hatred of vice, by the lively descriperable, and no way affect our faith tion they give of both ; astonish by or our morals, and consist chiefly the severity of the threatenings in in words that are entirely synony- thein ; animate and encourage by mous, or merely expletives, or are the sweetness of their promises ; insuch manisest errors, as a critical spire with zeal through a divine analogy and grammar will serve to fire of which they are full : so that correct. The most important di- there is no book more proper to versity relates to chronology ; but work upon the mind, and affect the

CO

which I expect now to reap from age, the learned gain wisdom and every book I read :

eloquence, the orthodox are 7. That is the very design of put- firmed in the faith and confute erting these sacred books into your

ror. From hence we learn hunility hands, to instruct you in all kinds and modesty, magnanimity and på of polite literature. The Bible is tience, honest zeal and true piety, the fountain of all necessary know- and every thing that is useful in the ledge, and is very far from being conduct of human life, as well as barren, with regard to such points the means of obtaining a happy fuas are most entertaining.

ture state. Here only you will be

able to find a truc account of the Would you know whence natural

rise and fall, of the virtues and vi. philosophy, with astronomy and

ces, of the most carly kingdoms and other appendages on it, are said to derive their original ; I would re

states of the world ; and by their commend the reading of Genesis example learn to be wise and happy. and Job. For chics, or moral pre- vid's in his encounter with Goliah?

Whose courage can vie with Dacepts, search the sacred and sententious Proverbs, Wisdom of So- whose chastity is to be compared Jomon and Ecclesiastes. Genesis,

to the continence of Joseph? whose Exodus, Joshua, Judges, &c. fur- obedience to the voice of God can nish you with the most ancient, equal Abraham’s intended victim of certain, regular and pleasant histo- his own son Isaac ? Nor can any ry, diversified with great variety of history produce, for fortitude and narration; and though not designed success, such warlike heroes as for an universal history, or to ex

Moses, Joshna, Sampson, Gideon, hibit a complete system of chrono- David and Saul, who with a hand logy, it may be affirmed no onc book ful of men, inspired with more thin in the world gives so great helps

human courage, vanquished an in

credible number of their enemies, this way : here you need not fear

while the very elements conspired the ensnaring sophistry of the crafty, for all is solid and true, Geom

and fought on their side. And I can etry plainly appears in the building

assure you, that whilst you riako of the tabernacle ; and the working the holy scriptures your study, they in metals and wood was known long will arm you against all terrors and before the building of Solomon's teinptations, that hinder you in the temple. So I could proceed and prosecution of a virtuous life ; and shew that gardening, husbandry,

furnish you with such consolation, music, physic, anatomy, and all hope, and courage, that being firma manner of learning, arts and scien- ly persuaded you live according to ces, are comprehended within those the will, and under the protection of sacred pages, which may be pro

the Almighty, you will be able to undergo torments and death itself

11

appear in the capacity of a scholar, the plenitude of the scriptures and a critic, a chronologer, an historian, recommend their doctrine, because an orator, a disputant, a lawyer, a these may be thought partial in statesman, a pleader, or a preacher, their judgments; and only desire must not be unacquainted with this you to treasure up the saying of inexhaustible fund. Therefore what Robert, the king of Sicily, That ever the scoilers of this age, or the those holy letters were dearer to lovers of sin and singularity may him than his kingdom ; and follow think ; I could shew you, that in the example of those excellent and former days, men of all orders and illustrious persons Mr. Nelson, Sir degrees, of the highest station in Matthew Hale, Mr. Addison, Sir life as well as capacity in know. George Lyttleton, Mr. West, our ledge, of polite parts as well as so- profound logician Mr. Locke, the lid judgments, and who most excel- great philosophers Lord Bacon, Mr. led in all branches of literature, Boyle, and the incomparable Sir have always held the scriptures in Isaac Newton. Did not Milton singular veneration ; have employ- take his plan, and most of the diced their wit and eloquence in their tion of his lofty poems from the Bipraise, and thought their pens enno- ble ? and Cowley, Buchanan, and bled by the dignity of these sub- Prior, thought not their learning jecis.

nor ingenuity misemployed in emS. I should be glad to hear

bellishing, translating and paraphra

you mention some of these persons of sing on some parts thereof ; not to the highest rank, that have shewn mention the many great and learnsuch greai respect to the Bible.

ed men that have been concerned in 7. I will : David was a powerful

the various translations of holy writ. prince, a mighty warrior and con- S. I must ask you one question queror ; yet he says, that the law

When were the scriptures of the Lord is more precious than divided into chapters and verses ? gold, and sweeter than honey ; that T. The whole Pentateuch before he was instructed thereby, and X- the Babylonish captivity was dividpected a great reward for his obe- ed into 52 larger sections, according dience thereto. Ptolemy Philadel- to the number of sabbaths in one phus, though a heathen, was one of year, one section being read conthe most learned men and the great- stantly every sabbath-day. After est monarch of his age, he ordered their return from that captivity the Bible to be translated into his which lasted 60 years, the common own tongie, and placed in the mag, people born in Babylon, having in a nificent library he built. Longinus great measure forgot their mother must be acknowledged a noble judge tongue, in which the law was writof all kind of eloquence, and yet he ten, for they snng not the Lord's

more.

« AnteriorContinuar »