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that of others, but to purify and convert us, and to recal us from abroad, whither our senses lead us, to our hearts, where his grace enlightens and instructs us.

It is certain that the Divine Wisdom has every kind of blessing in her train, and that all the qualities which the world respect, and can only receive from her, are at her disposal. And how would it be possible for her not to be eloquent, she who [m] opens the mouth of the dumb, and makes little children eloquent ? [n] Who hath made man's mouth ? says he, speaking to Moses, who thought himself not possessed of a good utterance, who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind ? have not I, the Lord ?

But the Divine Wisdom, in order to make itself more accessible and more eligible, has condescended to stoop to our language, to assume our tone of voice, and to stammer, as it were, with children. Hence it is, that the chiet and almost universal characteristic of the Scriptures, is simplicity.

This is still more apparent in the New Testament, and St. Paul discovers to us a very sublime reason of it. The Creator's design, at first, was to win over men to the knowledge of himself, by the use of their reason, and by contemplation on the wisdom of his works. In this first plan, and manner of teaching, every thing was great and magnificent, every thing answered to the majesty of the God who spake, and the greatness of him who was instructed. But sin has destroyed that order, and occasioned a quite opposite method to be used. [0] For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe. Now part of this folly consists in the simplicity of the evangelical word and doctrine. God was determined to discredit the vanity of Eloquence, of knowledge, and the wisdom of philosophers; and to bring into contempt the pomp of human pride, in dictating

, the books of Scripture, by which only mankind are [mm] Wisd. x. 2. [9] Exod. iv. 10, 11. [0] 1 Cor. i. 21.


to be converted, in a style quite different from that of the heathen writers. These seem studious only of heightening their discourses by ornaments, whereas the sacred penmen never endeavour to display wit in their writings, that they may bereave Christ's cross of the honour of converting the world, by giving it either to the charms of Eloquence, or to the force of human reason.

If therefore, notwithstanding the simplicity, which is the true characteristic of the Scriptures, we meet with such beautiful, such sublime passages in them; it is very remarkable, that this beauty, this sublimity, does not arise from a far-fetched, laboured elocution,

a but from the things, which are so great, so lofty in themselves, that they must necessarily appear magnificent when clothed in words.

Add to this, the Divine Wisdom has employed the same method in speaking to men, as it did in the incarnation, by which it wrought their salvation. It was indeed veiled and darkened by the disagreeable outside of infamy, silence, poverty, contradictions, humiliations, and sufferings : but then it always suffered rays of majesty and power to escape through those veils, which clearly discover the divinity. This double character of simplicity and majesty is conspicuous also in every part of the Sacred Writings: and when we seriously examine, what this Wisdom suffered for our salvation, and caused to be wrote for our in, struction, we discover equally in both, the eternal Word, by whom all things were made, In principio erat verbum; this is the source of its grandeur; but its assuming the flesh for our sakes, & verbum caro factum est; this is the cause of its weakness.

It was necessary to use these precautions, and to lay down these principles, before I undertook to point out in the Scriptures, such particulars as relate to Eloquence. For otherwise, by setting too high a value on these kind of beauties, we should expose young people to the danger of having less veneration for those passages of Scripture where it is more accessible


to little ones, although it be as divine in those places as in any other, and often conceals more profound things; or we should expose them to another danger, equally to be avoided, which is, to neglect those very things which wisdom says to us, and to attend only to the manner in which she says them; and by that means to set a less value on the salutary counsel she gives us, than on the strokes of Eloquence which fall from her. Now, it is injurious to her, to admire only her train, and not look upon herself; or to be more touched with the gifts she often bestows on her enemies, than with the graces which she reserves for her children and disciples.

I shall run over different matters, but not in a very exact order. I have observed elsewhere, that most of the reflections the reader will find here on the Scriptures, are not mine; which indeed their beauty of style will shew.


* They crucified him there.

The more we reflect on the inimitable character of the Evangelists, the more we discover that they were not directed by the spirit of man. These barely say in few words, that their master was crucified, without discovering the least surprise, compassion, or gratitude. Who would have spoke in this manner of a friend, that had laid down his life for him? What son would have related in so short, so unaffected a manner, how his father had saved him from death, by suffering in his stead? But it is in this that the finger of God appears conspicuous; and the less man appears in a conduct so little human, the more evident is the operation of God.

[p] The prophets describe Christ's sufferings in a lively, affecting, and pathetic manner, and abound with sentiments and reflections; but the evangelists


+ Luke xxii. 33.

Ilai. I. liii. Jer. xviii, &c.

(P] David, Ps. x, xi, & lxvii.


relate them with simplicity, without emotion, or reflections; without breaking out into admiration or testimonies of gratitude; or discovering the least design to make their readers the disciples of Christ. It was not natural, that persons who lived so many years before Christ, should be so touched with his sufferings: nor that men who were eye-witnesses of his cross and so zealous for his glory, should speak with so much calmness of the unheard-of crime that was perpetrated against him. The strong zeal and affection of the apostles might have been suspected, which that of the prophets could not be. But had not the evangelists and the prophets been inspired, the former would have writ with greater force and fire, and the latter with more coolness and indifference; the one would have shewn a desire to persuade, and the other such a timidity and hesitation in their conjectures as would not have affected any one. All the prophets are ardent, zealous, full of respect and veneration for the mysteries they publish; but as for the evangelists, they are calm, and have an inimitable moderation, though their zeal is as strong as that of the prophets. What man but sees the hand which guided both the one and the other? And what more sensible proof can we have of the divinity of the Scriptures than their not resembling, in any particular, such things as are written by men? But at the same time how much should such an example, and there are multitudes of the same kind, teach us to reccive the august simplicity of the sacred books, which frequently conceal the most sublime truths and the most profound mysteries:

[4] It is much in the same manner, the Scripture relates, that Isaac was laid by Abraham, on the wood which was to be his funeral pile, and was bound before he was sacrificed, without telling us one wordeither of the sentiments of the son, or his father's discourse to him; or preparing us for such a sacrifice

a by any reflections, or telling us in what manner the fa(9) Gen. xxii.




ther and son submitted to it. Josephus the historian puts a pretty long, but very beautiful and moving discourse into Abraham's mouth; but Moses describes him as silent, and is himself silent on that occasion. The reason of this is, the former wrote as a man, and as his genius prompted him; whereas the other was the pen and instrument of the Spirit of God, who dictated all his words.

II. SIMPLICITY AND GRANDEUR. . [r] In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. What man who was to have treated of such exalted matters, would have begun as Moses did? How majestic, and at the same time, how simple is this? Do we not perceive, that it is God himself who informs us of a wonder which does not astonish him, and to which he is superior? A common man would have endeavoured to suit the magnificence of his erpressions to the grandeur of his subject, and would have discovered only his weakness; but eternal Wisdom, who made the world in [s] sport, relates it without emotion.

The prophets, whose aim was to make us admire the wonders of the creation, speak of it in a very

dit ferent manner.

[t] The Lord is King, and hath put on glorious apparel; the Lord hath put on his apparel, and girded himself with strength.

The holy king, transported in spirit at the first origin of the world, describes in the most pompous expressions, in what manner God, who hitherto had remained unknown, invisible, and hid in the impenetrable secret of his being, manifested himself on a sudden, by a crowd of incomprehensible wonders.

The Lord, says he, at last comes forth from his solitude, He will not be alone happy, just, holy; but will reign by his goodness and bounty. But with [-] Gen. i. 1.

C] Prixcü. r. [s] Prov, viii. 31.


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