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exalt our ideas of the Creator's goodness, his very distinguishing goodness to mankind! And should they not proportionably endear that eternal Bene. factor to our hearts ? His ever-bountiful hand has, with profuse liberality, scattered blessings among all the ranks of animated existence. But to us he exercises a beneficence of a very superior kind. We are treated with peculiar attention. We are admitted to scenes of delight, which none but ourselves are capable of relishing.
Ther. Another remark, though very obvious, is equally important. The destination of all these external things is no less advantageous, than their formation is beautiful. The bloom, which engages the eye with its delicate hues, is cherishing the embryo fruit; and forming, within its silken folds, the rudiments of a future dessert.—Those. streams, which shine from afar, like fluid silver, are much more valuable in their productions, and beneficial in their services, than they are beautiful in their appearance. They distribute, as they roll along their winding banks, cleanliness to houses, and fruitfulness to our lands. They nourish, and at their own expense, a never failing supply of the finest fish. They visit our cities, and attend our wharfs, as so many public vehicles, ready to set out at all hours.
Those sheep, which give their udders to be drained by the busy frisking lambs, are fattening their flesh for our support; and while they fill tireir own fleeces, are providing for our comfortable clothing. Yonder kine, some of which are browsing upon the tender herb, others, satiated with pasturage, and ruminating under the shady.
covert, though conscious of no such design, are concocting, for our use, one of tlie softest, purest, most salutary of liquors. The bees, that fiy humming about our seat, and pursue their work on the fragrant blossoms, are collecting balm and sweetness, to coinpose the richest of sirups; which, though the produce of their toil, is intended for our good. Nature and her whole family, are our obsequious servants, our ever-active labourers, They bring the fruits of their united industry, and pour them into our lap, or deposit them in our store-rooms.
Asp. Who can ever sufficiently admire this immense benignity !-The Supreme Disposer of events has commanded delight and profit to walk hand in hand, through his ample creation; making all things so perfectly pleasing, as if beauty was their only end; yet all things so eminently serviceable, as if usefulness had been their sole design.And, as a most winning invitation to our gratitude, he has rendered man the centre, in which all the emanations of his beneficence, diffused through this terrestrial system, finally terminate.
ON THE EXCELLENCE OF THE SCRIPTURES.
THERON AND ASPASIO.
Ther. I fear my friend suspects me to be somewhat wavering, or defective, in veneration for the Scriptures.
Asp. No, Theron, I have a better opinion of your taste and discernment, than to harbour any such suspicion.
Ther. The Scriptures are certainly an inexhaustible fund of materials, for the most delightful and ennobling discourse and meditation. When we consider the author of those sacred books, that they came originally from Heaven, were dictated by divine wisdom, have the same consummate excellence as the works of creation; it is really surprising, that we are not often searching by study, by meditation, or converse, into one or other of those important volumes.
Asp. I admire, I must confess, the very language and composition of the Bible. Would you see history in all her simplicity, and all her force ; most beautifully easy, yet irresistibly striking?-See her, or rather feel her energy, touching the nicest movements of the soul, and triumphing over our passions, in the inimitable narrative of Joseph's life.--The representation of Esau's bitter distress; the conversation pieces of Jonathan and his gallant friend; the memorable journal of the disciples going to Emmaus; are finished models of the impassioned and affecting.—Here is nothing studied; no flights of fancy; no embellishments of oratory. If we sometimes choose a plaintive strain, such as softens the mind, and soothes an agreeable melancholy, are any of the classic writers superior, in the eloquence of mourning, to David's pathetic elegy on his beloved Jonathan; to his most passionate and inconsolable moan over the lovely but unhappy Absalom; or to that melodious woe, which warbles and bleeds, in every line of Jeremiah's Lamentations ?
Are we admirers of antiquity ?-Here we are led back, beyond the universal «leluge, and far beyond the date of any other annals. We are introduced to the earliest inhabitants of the earth. We take a view of mankind in their undisguised primitive plainness, when the days of their life were but little short of a thousand years. We are brought acquainted with the origin of nations ; with the creation of the world; and with the birth of time itself.
Are we delighted with vast achievements ? Where is any thing comparable to the miracles in Egypt, and the wonders in the field of Zoan? to the memoirs of the Israelites, passing through the depths of the sea ; sojourning amidst the inhospitable deserts; and conquering the kingdom of Canaan ?-Here we behold the fundamental laws of the universe, sometimes suspended, sometimes reversed; and not only the current of Jordan, but the course of nature, controlled.
If we want maxims of wisdom, or have a taste for the laconic style,-how copiously may our wants be supplied, and how delicately our taste gratified ! especially in the book of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and some of the minor prophets.—Here are the most sage lessons of instruction, adapted to every circumstance of life; formed upon the experience of all preceding ages; and perfected by tho unerring spirit of inspiration. These are delivered with such remarkable conciseness, that one might venture to say, every word is a sentence : at least, every sentence may be called an apophthegm, sparkling with brightness of thought, or weighty with solidity of sense. The whole, like a profusion of pearls, containing, in a very small compass, a value almost immense; all heaped up (as an ingenious writer observes) with a confused magnificence, above the little niceties of order.
If we look for strength of reasoning, and warmth of exhortation, or the manly boldness of impartial reproof; let us have recourse to the Acts of the Apostles, and to the Epistles of Paul. These are a specimen, or rather these are the standard, of them all.
Another recommendation of the Scriptures, is, that they afford the most awful and most amiable manifestations of the Deity. His glory shines, and his goodness smiles, in those divine pages, with unparalleled lustre. Here we have a satisfactory explanation of our own state. The origin of evil is traced; the cause of all our misery discovered ; and the remedy, the infallible remedy, both clearly shown, and freely offered. The atonement and intercession of Christ lay a firm foundation for all our hopes; while gratitude for his dying love sug. gests the most winning incitements to every duty. ---Morality, Theron, your (and, let me add, my) admired morality, is here delineated in all its branches, is placed upon its proper basis, and raised to its highest elevation. The Holy Spirit is promised to enlighten the darkness of our understandings, and strengthen the imbecility of our wills. What an ample-Can you indulge me, on this favourite topic?
Ther. It is, I assure you, equally pleasing to myself. Your enlargements, therefore, need no apalogy.