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4th. A collection of wonderful prophecies, delivered by those holy persons who were raised
from time to time, during a period of 1000 years : who foretold the great events that would happen at a future time, and especially declared the coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; who, as the Almighty was graciously pleased to promise, should, at the appointed season, come down from heaven to save mankind from eternal death, by laying down his life for their sins.
5th. A collection of the most beautiful psalms and holy hymns of adoration to the Creator; many of them foretelling things to come, composed in great part by King David.
6th. A number of the most valuable inoral maxims and proverbs for the instruction of mankind in all their common duties; composed and collected by: Solomon, another of the kings of Israel.
The Old Testament has been carefully preserved through distant ages by the Jews, as containing the substance of their religion and laws, and the accounts of their national history. It continues to be held in the highest authority by that very remark
able people, and remains among them to this day, without either alteration or addition, only that the books which it contains are divided by them somewhat differently than by us, and the whole volume consists of three parts, which they call the Law, the PROPHETS, and the Psalms;— by which title our Saviour and his Apostles continually refer to it in the New Testament.
In order to remove some difficulties, which many meet with in the examination of the Sacred Writings, it may be proper to offer some reflections, which are of importance to persons unacquainted with, or unaccustomed to such inquiries.
I can easily conceive the difficulty to any one who, for the first time, opens his Bible with any thing like a serious inclination to understand it. His mind, let me tell him, must be entirely unprepared for such a subject. The confused notions which he has received of the Sacred History, either from his parents, or from some accidental information, give him little or no assistance in the undertaking.
The inexperienced reader is therefore naturally surprised at many things as he proceeds in his examination. He reads of many holy men, raised up from time to time among these chosen people, who were instructed by God himself to deliver to them accounts of the most extraordinary events that were afterwards to happen; taking them to task for their crimes in the severest language, yet, at the same time, promising to them the greatest future blessings, and the distinguished honour of giving a Saviour to the world in aftertimes, who should be descended from their own stock. Let any one who is thus confounded at the difficulties which press upon his mind, and possibly inclined to doubt the very truth of the Sacred Writings and prophets, or to turn away in despair of understanding matters so contrary to his own experience ;—let any one, I say, who is thus lost in amazement at the many wonderful things of which he reads, be reminded of the chief points required to be considered on entering upon the study of the Bible.
1st. The many various things contained in it.
2nd. Its great age, and the rudeness of the times in which the Scriptures were composed, and the change of manners and opinions since.
From our childhood we are accustomed to look upon the Bible as a single book, not considering its varied contents as totally separate from each other in their nature ; treating of different subjects, and directed to different purposes, yet all tending to the same end, and all of equal authority. History, prophecy, and instruction are collected together, and oftentimes mingled in the same page. Nor, perhaps, is it sufficiently remembered, that these writings were composed in different ages of the world, at the distance of many hundred years from each other, and that they are the work of different authors, who, though all writing under the immediate command of God, were, for the most part, unconnected one with another.
This leads me in the second place to notice, that the Bible is by far the oldest book in the world. Moses composed the first five books, which bear his name, 1500 years before the birth of Christ. In the book of Genesis he tells us, in a plain unostentatious manner, those great facts concerning the formation of the earth, the creation of our first parents, their disobedience afterwards, and the dread
inquire,) the most inconceivable to our apprehen-