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ding from our devotions, our alms, and all our other virtues, all regard to fame, reputation, and applause ; by laying down two great general principles of morality, love to God and love to mankind, and deducing from thence every other human duty; by con- . veying his instructions under the easy, familiar, and impressive form of parables; by expressing himself in a tone of dignity and authority unknown before; by exemplifying every virtue that he taught in his own unblemished and perfect life and conversation; and above all, by adding those awful sanctions, which he alone, of all moral instructors, had the power to hold out, eternal rewards to the virtuous, and eternal punishments to the wicked.

The sacred narrative then represents to us the high character he assumed; the claim he made to a divine original; the wonderful miracles he wrought in proof of his divinity; the various prophecies which plainly marked him out as the Messiah, the great deliverer of the Jews; the declarations he made, that he came to offer himself a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind; the cruel indignities, sufferings and persecutions, to which in consequence of this great design, he was exposed; the accomplishment of it by the painful and ignominious death to which he submitted; by his resurrection after three days from the grave; by his ascension into heaven; by his sitting there at the right hand of God, and performing the office of a mediator and intercessor for the sinful sons of men, till he comes a second time in his glory to sit in judgement on all mankind, and decide their final doom of happiness or misery forever. These are the momentous, the interesting truths, on which the GOSPELS principally dwell.

The ACTS OF THE APOSTLES continue the history of our religion after our Lord's ascension; the astonishing and rapid propagation of it by a few illiterate tent makers and fisherman, through almost every part of the world," by demonstration of the spirit and of power; without the aid of eloquence or of force, and

in opposition to all the authority, all the power, and all the influence of the opulent and the great.

The EPISTLES, that is, the letters addressed by the Apostles and their associates to different churches and to particular individuals, contain many admirable rules and directions to the primitive converts; many affecting exhortations, expostulations, and reproofs; many explanations and illustrations of the doctrines delivered by our Lord; together with constant references to facts, circumstances, and events, recorded in the Gospels and the Acts; in which we perceive such striking, yet evidently such unpremeditated and undesigned coincidences and agreements between the narrative and the epistles, as form one most conclusive argument for the truth, authenticity, and genuineness of both.

The sacred volume concludes with the Revelation of St. John, which, under the form of visions and various symbolical representations, presents to us a prophetic history of the Christian religion in future times, and the various changes, vicissitudes, and revolutions it was to undergo in different ages and countries to the end of the world.

Is it possible now to conceive a nobler, a more comprehensive, a more useful scheme of instruction than this; in which the uniformity and variety, so happily blended together, give it an inexpressible beauty, and the whole composition plainly proving its Author to be divine?

"The Bible is not indeed (as a great writer observes) a plan of religion delineated with minute accuracy, to instruct men as in something altogether new, or to excite a vain admiration and applause; but it is somewhat unspeakably more great and noble, comprehending (as we have seen) in the grandest and most magnificent order, along with every essential of that plan, the various dispensations of God to mankind, for the formation of this earth to the consummation of all things. Other books may afford us much entertainment and much instruction: they may gratify

our curiosity, may delight our imagination, may improve our understandings, may calm our passions, may exalt our sentiments, may even improve our hearts. But they have not, they cannot have that authority in what they affirm, in what they require, in what they promise and threaten, that the Scriptures have. There is a peculiar weight and energy in them, which is not to be found in any other writings. Their denunciations are more awful, their convictions stronger, their consolations more powerful, their counsels more authentic, their warnings more alarming, their expostulations more penetrating. There are passages in them throughout so sublime, so pathetic, full of such energy and force upon the heart and conscience, yet without the least appearance of labour and study for that purpose; indeed the design of the whole is so noble, so well suited to the sad condition of human kind; the morals have in them such purity and dignity; the doctrines, so many of them above reason, yet so perfectly reconcileable with it; the expression is so majestic, yet familiarized with such easy simplicity, that the more we read and study these writings with pious dispositions and judicious attention, the more we shall see and feel of the hand of God in them."

But that which stamps upon them the highest value, that which renders them, strictly speaking, inestimable, and distinguishes them from all other books in the world, is this, that they, and they only, "contain the words of eternal life." In this respect, every other book, even the noblest compositions of man, must fail us; they cannot give us that which we most want, and what is of infinitely more importance to us than all other things put together, ETERNAL LIFE.

Section IV.


Mighty years begun

From their first orb-in radiant circles run!


Nothing is lasting on the world's wide stage,
As sung, and wisely sung, the Grecian sage;
And man who through the globe extends his sway,
Reigns but the sovereign creature of a day;
One generation comes, another goes,
Time blends the happy with the man of woes;
A different face of things each age appears,
And all things alter in a course of years.


The moralist has recommended stated times for

the purposes of meditation. of meditation. At such periods the fac


ulties are awakened, and the soul is set in motion. Thus stimulated, the sluggish current of our thoughts becomes quickened, flowing on with an accelerated rapidity. Such is precisely our situation. The commencement of a century, occurs not twice in our life. This is a serious consideration.-May it be rendered subservient to our moral improvement !

Standing as it were on an eminence, and looking around us, we find the new revolving century replete with important, though obvious, topics of instruction. The commencement of a century should suggest to us the inestimable value of our TIME.

Time was granted to man for his improvement. By the protraction of life opportunities are afforded for our progress in knowledge, virtue, and piety. We were not raised into being that we might be idle spectators of the objects with which we are surrounded. The situation in which we are placed demands

reiterated exertion. The sphere in which we move calls for the putting forth all the ability with which we may be endowed. Enquiries therefore should be made how improvements can be best effected, either in our individual, social, or public capacities. This conduct will reflect an honour on our rationality. This train of action will elevate us in the scale of being-impart a zest to our enjoyment, and prepare us for the honours of immortality! It is said, that the elder Cato repented of three things-one of which was his having spent a day without improvement.

We cannot begin a century without being impressed with the vicissitude by which sublunary affairs are characterised.

Every thing around us in a state of constant fluctuation. Neither nature nor art continued long in one position. The heavens above us are in perpetual motion. The earth beneath us is ever changing its external appearance. The atmosphere around us is subject to incessant variations. Individuals, families, and nations, are altering their aspect, and assuming forms marked by strong traits of novelty. Not only opinions, but even long established customs at length lose their hold on the mind, and are shut out by practices of a directly opposite tendency. Thus are we whirled around in the vortex of life by incidents the most strange, and by events the most contrary to our expectation. Change, in its endless variety of shapes, presents itself, and we observe, with surprise, the effects produced by it, both in ourselves and in our friends with whom we are connected:

But sure to foreign climes we need not range,
Nor search the ancient records of our race,
To learn the dire effect of TIME and change,
Which, in ourselves, alas! we daily trace;
Yet, at the darkened eye, the withered face,
Or hoary hair I never will repine;

But spare, O TIME! whate'er of mental grace,
Of candour, love, or sympathy divine;

Whate'er of fancy's ray, or friendship's flame is mine.


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