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rather to purify the heart, than captivate the imagination, or gratify lettered curiosity: yet the God who created human nature, knew, intimately, the method by which that nature was most forcibly attracted; he knew, consequently, what mode of address was best adapted, and would most readily be admitted into the bosom, and work its way into the foul. For this very reason, it is obvious, he directed a language likely to answer such ends; and this accounts for the remarkable majesty; simplicity, pathos, and energy, and indeed, all those strokes of eloquence which distinguish the Bible: whence, every vice may be restrained, every error corrected, and every virtue encouraged. Religious eloquence, and the rhetoric of the scriptures, are, in the highest degree, favourable to the cause of truth. Nor can they, surely, ever suffer, by any critical observations on the splendour, correctness, or purity of the didtion. Fully persuaded of this, I proceed with my sketches.
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I cannot, however, pass by this part of scripture, without noticing its unornamented simplicity and importance. The first chapter of Genesis may be considered as she exordium of the Bible. The sacred penman, in a single page, hath related a variety of events, circumstances, and actions, which demand the most consummate attention. To one scanty chapter is confined the work of the creation. Curiosity is captivated, and the soul impressed by every sentence.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Here is the first aweful and admirable transaction, and yet compressed within the limits of ten words. The second verse mentions the chaotic state of things, of themselves, incongruous and incompetent, prior to the creation.
The third verse, fills the human foul with as magnificent an image as it is capable of entertaining ; and recites, indeed, so bright a blessing, that we must seek relief from its effulgence in the feebleness of mortal understanding, that cannot bear the fuller displays of cælestial radiance.
The fourth verse, recounts the Omnipotent^ approbation at the survey of his own performance: and another blessing, of equal magnitude—the division of light and darkness.
The sixth, gives name to these, and closes the benevolent business of the first day.
I take it for granted, every man hath both an ear, and a soul for such passages.
Modern writers, sensible of the beauty of this admirable opening of the sacred books, have viewed it as worthy their imitation, and, without any scruple, adopted it as a pattern: and yet, neither moderns, or ancients have equally the brevity, the simplicity, or the perspicuity of Moses. It is needless to run into the catalogue of
instances;. instances: the general defect is sufficiently obvious. The greatest epic poets amongst the ancients, Homer and Virgil, have been complimented on the conciseness of their exordiums; but, neither the Iliad, or the Æneid, reach the various excellencies which are comprejfed without being creuded, in the first chapter of Genesis. I submit the comparison to the critics, with all possible confidence of superiority on the side of scripture. The passages, however, are too well remembered to make a transcript necessary.
I therefore conclude the subject, that the learned and judicious reader may turn to the originals.
ESSAY Origin of Dress.
AND TBIt WIBI BOTH NAKED, THE MAN AND HIS WITl, AND WERE NOT ASHAMED.
nr1 H E purity of Paradise is no where -*- more sweetly displayed than in this verse: for unconscious of guilty desires, they were unconscious of shame.
They were both naked, the man and his wife.
There is a modesty in the very found of the words; even though they exhibit a nudity. They were not ajhamed, Lust and Sin, the parents of disguise, were not yet born: a state of nature was then the state of God.—
Man walk'd with God joint tenant of the shade.