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tions, and more melancholy prospects. On these accounts most indubitable it is that the rich and mellow Word, with God's own wisdom mellow, and rich with all mortal and ima mortal attractions, is a better net to catch childhood, to catch manhood withal, than these pieces of man's wording, however true to Scripture, or compounded of the ingredients of human wisdom. From the prevalence of this taste for doctrinal and catechetical statements, there hath sprung,

In the Third place, This succession of practical evils, over which we most bitterly lament. The Scriptures are not read for the higher ends of teaching the soul practical wisdom, and overcoming the practical errors of all her faculties, of all her judgments, and of all her ways. Then the Word, which is diversified for men of all gifts, cometh to be prized chiefly as a treasure of intellectual truth, elements of religious dogmatism-often an armoury of religious warfare. Then our spirits become intolerant of all who find in the Bible any tenets differing from our own, as if they had made an invasion upon the integrity of our faith, and were plotting the downfall of religion itself. Then an accurate statement of opinion from the pulpit, from the lips of childhood, from the death-bed of age, becomes all in all ; whereas it is nothing if not conjoined with the utterances of a Christian spirit, and the evidences of a renewed life. Who can bear the logical and metaphysical aspect with which Religion looks out from the temples of this land, playing about the head, but starving the well-springs of the heart, and drying up the fertile streams of a holy and charitable life! An accurate, systematic form is the last perfection of knowledge; and a systematic thinker is the perfection of an educated man. Therefore it is high intolerance of the far greater number, whose heart and whose affections may be their master faculty, to present nothing but intellectual food, or that chiefly : and moreover it is a religious spoliation of the heavenly wisdom, which hath a strain fitted to every mood ; and it is an unfeeling, unfaithful dealing between God and the creatures whom he hath been at such charges to save. And to look suspicious upon those who are attracted to the sacred page by its gracious pictures of the divine goodness, and love it with a simple answer of affection to its affectionate sayings, or a simple answer of hope to its abundant promises--to undervalue those who feed their souls with its spiritual psalmody, or direct their life by its weighty proverbs, reckoning an authority and grace of God to reside in every portion of it--to suspect those who live on devotion, on acknowledge

ments of Providence, and imitation of Christ, because they cannot couch their simple faith and feeling in technical and theological phrase, but sink dumb when the high points of faith are handled-all these—the baneful effects of holding so much acquaintance with formularies of doctrine, and so little with the Word itself—so much acquaintance with the religious spirit of the age and country, and so little with the spirit of God, argue a narrow form of religion, and an uncharitableness of spirit, from which we pray God to deliver all who pertain to the household of faith!

Oh! brethren, let me now drop ‘this strain of censure which the honour of the Bible hath forced me to maintain against my better liking, and speak persuasively in your ear for a noble and more enlarged perception of the truth. Pour ye out your whole undivided heart before the command of God. Give your enlarged spirit to the communion of his word. Be free ; be disentangled. Let it teach ; let it reprove ; let it correct ; let it instruct in righteousness ; let it elevate you with its wonderful delineations of the secrets of the divine nature, and of the future destinies of the human race, higher than the loftiest poetry : and let it carry you deeper, with its pictures of our present and future wretchedness, than the most pathetic sentiment ever penned by the novelist :- and let it take affection captive by its pictures of divine mercy and forgiveness, more than the sweetest eloquence : let it transport you with indignation at that with which it is indignant, and take you with passion when it is impassioned; when it blames be ye blamed ; when it ex. horts be ye exhorted; when it condescends to argument, by its arguments be ye convinced. Be free to take all its moods, and to catch all its inspirations. Then shall you become instinct with all Christian feeling, and pregnant with all holy fruits, “thoroughly furnished for every good word and work.”

Why, in modern times, do we not take from the Word that sublimity of design and gigantic strength of purpose which made all things bend before the saints, whose praise is in the Word and the church of God? Why have the written secrets of the Eternal become less moving than the fictions of fancy, or the periodical works of the day; and their impressiveness died away into the imbecility of a tale that hath been often told ? Not because man's spirit hath become more weak. Was there ever an age in which it was more patient of research, or restless after improvement? Not because the Spirit of God hath become backward in his help, or the

Word divested of its truth—but because we treat it not as the all-accomplished wisdom of God—the righteous setting works of men along side of it, or masters over it-the world altogether apostatizing from it unto folly. We come to meditate it, like armed men to consult of peace-our whole mind occupied with insurrectionary interests—we suffer no captivity of its truth. Faith, which should brood with expanded wings over the whole heavenly legend, imbibing its entire spirit-what hath it become? a name to conjure up theories and hypotheses upon. Duty likewise hath fallen into a few formalities of abstaining from amusements, and keeping up severities—instead of denoting a soul girt with all its powers for its Maker's will. Religion also, a set of opinions and party distinctions separated from high endowments, and herding with cheap popular accomplishments-a mere serving-maid of every-day life; instead of being the mistress of all earthly, and the preceptress of all heavenly, sentiments--and the very queen of all high gifts and graces and perfections in every walk of life!

To be delivered from this dwarfish exhibition of that plant which our heavenly Father hath planted, take up this holy book. Let your devotions gather warmth from the various exhibitions of the nature and attributes of God. Let the displays of his power overawe you, and the goings forth of his majesty still you into reverend observance. Let his uplifted voice awake the slumber of your spirits, and every faculty burn in adoration of that image of the invisible God which his word reveals. If Nature is reverend before Him, how much more the spirit of man for whom he rideth forth in his state! Let his Holiness, before which the pure seraph veils his face, and his Justice, before which the heavens are rebuked, humble our frail spirits in the dust, and awaken all their conscious guilt. Then let the richness of his mercy strike us dumb with amazement, and his offered grạce revive our hopes anew; and let his Son, coming forth with the embraces of his love, fill our spirits with rapture. Let us hold him fast in sweet communion; exchange with him affection's kindest tokens; and be satisfied with the sufficiency of his grace; and let the strength of his Spirit be our refuge, his all-sufficient strength our buckler and our trust!

Then, stirred up through all her powers, and awakened from the deep sleep of Nature and oblivion of God, (which among visible things she partaketh, our soul shall come forth from the communion of the Word full of divine energy and ardour, prepared to run upon this worlel's theatre the

race of duty for the prize of life eternal. She shall erect herself beyond the measures and approbation of men, into the measures and approbation of God. She shall become like the saints of old, who, strengthened by such repasts of faith,“ subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, and turned to flight the armies of the aliens."

ORATION III.

JOHN v. 39.

SEANOI THE SCRIPTURES.

THE OBEYING OF THE ORACLES OF GOD.

HITHERTO our way hath been easy though among the prejudices of men. In claiming for the Almighty's voice a due preparation and a full attendance of our faculties, we have been handling a question of religious formality rather than of religious conduct.-Conduct doubtless it is duly to wait upon the Lord, the conduct of the heart as well as of the outward man, but it is a conduct which may be assumed at little expense. It requires a sacrifice of convenience and of attention, which many should be content to render, if it would purchase them the favour of God: and many there be who give themselves with all diligence to the lessons already handled of making ready and giving ear to the di. vine Word, but stop short when summoned to the obedience of what they have heard. Then interest comes in to play its part, and custom, and the fear of change with all the aversions of Nature to the will of God. The divine word, in old times, commended itself to the fears of men, while the emblems of omnipotence overhung them. The rebellion of Korah soon ceased when the earth opened her mouth; and the people left murmuring when the fiery serpents made havoc of the camp; and though these emblems have ceased, the Scriptures have around them so much of hereditary reverence, and so much of intrinsic recommendation, that the pleadings which we have made, seem to us easy compared with that upon which we have now to enter. We have now to contest it with the most stubborn habits and the most pleasing desires of Nature. It is no longer a matter of words to be listened to, but of deeds to be performed. The law promulgated with such solemnity, and listened to with such devotion, has now to be obeyed. Then, brethren, lend us a favourable ear, and give to our words a generous welcome: the cause is difficult, the issues most momentous ; the instrument is weak, and your interests are at stake

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