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“ But come, try, O ye gods, that ye may all see. Hang down the golden chain from heaven, hang
upon it all ye gods, and all ye goddesses; but ye shall “ not be able to draw from heaven to the ground Ju
piter the great counsellor, though ye strive ever so “ much, But when I afterwards shall be willing to “ draw, I shall lift both the earth itself, and the sea it“ self. Then I shall bind the chain round the top of
Olympus, and they shall all hang aloft. For so much “ am I above gods and above men.”
With this most masterly passage of the greatest master of the sublime, of all antiquity, the writes, who probably had the greatest natural and acquired advantages of any mortal for perfecting a genius; let the following verbal translation of a passage from writings penned by one brought up a shepherd, and in a country where learning was not thought of, be compared ; that the difference may appear. In this comparison, I know of no unfair advantage given the inspired writer. For both fragments are literally translated ; and, if the critics are right, the Hebrew original is verse, as well
, as the Greek.
“O Lord, my God, thou art very great! Thou art “ clothed with honour and majesty! Who coverest thy*“ self with light, as with a garment: who stretchest out
“ the heavens like a canopy. Who layeth the beams 66 of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds “ his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind. “Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flame “ of fire. Who laid the foundation of the earth, that it “ should not be moved for ever. Thou coveredít it “ with the deep, as with a garment: the waters stood “ above the mountains. At thy rebuke they fled; at “ the voice of thy thunder they hafted away. They
go up by the mountains; they go down by the vallies “ unto the place thou haft founded for them. Thou “ haft set a bound, that they may not pass over; that “ they turn not again to cover the earth.
“O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom “ haft thou made them all. The earth is full of thy “riches. So is the great and wide fea, wherein are
" creatures innumerable, both small and great. There
go the ships. There is that leviathan, which thou “ hast made to play therein. These all wait upon thee, “ that thou mayst give them their food in due season. “ That thou giveft them they gather. Thou openest “thy hand: they are filled with good. Thou hidit thy “ face: they are troubled. They die, and return to “ their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit: they are “ created ; and thou renewest the face of the earth. " The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever. The “ Lord shall rejoice in his works. He looketh on the " earth, and it trembleth. He toucherh the hills; and “they smoke. I will fing unto the Lord as long as I “ live, I will sing praise unto my God, while I have “ my being.'
I appeal to every reader, whether the former of these two fragments is not, when compared with the latter, a school-boy's theme, a capucinade, or a Grubstreet ballad, rather than a production fit to be named with any part of the inspired writings. Nor is it only in one instance, that the superiority of the Scripture style to all human compositions appears. But taking the whole body of facred poely, and the whole of profane, and considering the character of the Jehovah of the former, and the Jupiter of the latter, every one must see the difference to be out of all reach of comparison. And, what is wonderfully remarkable, Scripture poesy, though penned by a number of different hands, as Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the rest, in very diftant ages, gives a diftinct and uniform idea of the Supreme Being, no where deviating into any thing mean, or unworthy of him ; and still, even where he is spoke of in a manner suited to the general apprehension of mankind, his dignity and majesty duly kept up. Whereas, there is not one of the ancient Heathen poets, who gives a confiftent idea of the Supreme God, or keeps up his character throughout. Homer, in the same poem, describes his Jupiter with a great deal of majesty, and in another represents him as deceived by his wife Juno, and overcome with lust and sleep, while the inferior deities are playing what tricks they please contrary, to his intention. In short,
the Supreme God is by Homer described as a bully ; by Virgil, as a tyrant; by Ovid, as a beastly voluptuary; and by Lucretius, as a lazy drone. So that, if the cavils of the opposers of Revelation, with respect to the ftyle of Scripture, were of so much more consequence than they are ; it would still be the easiest, and indeed the only rational way of accounting for the amazing superiority of those writings to the greatest human productions, in spite of the disadvantages, of want of learning, and the like, which the facred penmen laboured under; to ascribe the sentiments in them to Divine Inspiration.
Other objections, as, that the genuineness of some of the books of the Bible has been disputed; those of various readings; of seeming contradictions; of doubtful interpretations ; of obscurity in the Scripture Chronology, and the like; all these difficulties are sufficiently cleared up by the learned apologists for Revealed Religion. Nor does it suit the purpose of this work to obviate all objections. Nor is it indeed necessary for the candid inquirer into the truth of Divine Revelation, to attend to the various difficulties started by laborious cavillers. It is of very small consequence, what circumstantial difficulties may be raised about a scheme, whose grand lines and principal figures shew its Author to be Divine; as will, it is presumed, appear to every ingenu. ous mind, on a careful perusal of the following general view of the whole body of Revelation. Some other objections are occasionally obviated in other parts of this fourth Book; and for a full view of the controversy between the opposers and defenders of Revealed Religion, the reader may consult the authors on that subject, recommended page 194. In whose writings he will find full answers to the most trivial objections; and will observe, that the cavils started from time to time, by the Deistical writers, have all been fully considered, and completely answered over and over; so that nothing new has been, for many years past, or is likely ever to be, adyanced on the subject.
SECT. II. A compendious View of the Scheme of Divine Revelation,
OLY Scripture comprehends (though penned by a
number of different authors, who lived in ages very distant from one another) a consistent and uniform scheme of all things that are necessary to be known and attended to by mankind. Nor is there any original writing befides, that does this. It presents us with a view of this world before its change from a chaos into an habitable ftate. It gives us a rational account of the procedure of the Almighty Author in forming and reducing it into a condition fit for being the seat of living inhabitants, and a theatre for action. It gives an account of the origiri ation of mankind; representing the first of the species as brought into being on purpose for discipline and obedience. It gives a general account of the various dilpensations and transactions of God with regard to the rational inhabitants of this world ; keeping in view throughout, and no where losing fight of, the great and important end of their creation, the training them up to goodness and virtue, in order to happiness. Every where inculcating that one grand leffon, which if mankind could but be brought to learn, it were no great matter what they were ignorant of, and without which all other knowledge is of no real value; to wit, That obedience to the Supreme Governor of the Universe is the certain, and the only means of happiness; and that vice and irregularity are both naturally and judicially the causes of misery and destruction. It shews innumerable instances of the Divine displeasure against wickedness; and in order to give a full display of the fatal consequences of vice, it gives some account, either historically or prophetically, of the general state of this world in its various periods from the time of its being made habitable from a chaos, to its reduction again to à chaos by fire, at the consummation of all things. Comprehending most of the great events which have happened, or are yet to happen, to most of the great empires and kingdoms, and exhibiting in brief, mot of what is to pass on
the theatre of the world. Setting forth to the view of mankind, for their instruction, a variety of examples of real characters the most remarkable for virtue, or wickedness, with most signal and striking instances of the Divine approbation of, or displeasure against them.
It is only in Scripture, that a rational account of this world is given. For in Scripture it is represented as God's world. The inhabitants of it are every where spoken of, as no other way of consequence, than in the view of their being his creatures, formed for Religion, and an immortal state of happiness after this life, and at present under the laws and rules of discipline, to train them up for the great end of their being. Even in the mere historical parts, there is always an eye to the true state of things. Instead of informing us, that one prince conquered another, the Scripture account is, that it pleased God to deliver the one into the hand of the other. Instead of ascribing the revolutions of kingdoms and empires to the counsels of the wise, or the valour of the mighty, the Scripture account of them is, that they were the effect of the Divine Disposal, brought about by Him, “in whose hand are the hearts of kings, “ who turns them which way he pleases; and who puts “ one down, and fets another up; who does in the ar“ mies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the “ earth, whatever seems good to Him, and whose hand “ none can stay, or say,-What dost thou ?” The view given in Scripture of our world, and its inhabitants, and their affairs, is that which must appear to an eye observ- . ing from above, not from the earth. For Scripture alone gives an account of the original causes of things, the true springs of events, and declares the end from the beginning; which shews it to be given by one who saw through all futurity, and by the same, who has been from the beginning at the head of the affairs of the world, who governs the world, and therefore knew how to give an account (so far as to his wisdom seemed fit to discover) of the whole current and course of events from the creation to the confummation.
We have no where, but in Scripture, a display of the wonders of Divine Mercy for a fallen guilty race of be