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The character of the punishment is usually proportioned to the nature of the crime. The whole earth corrupted by mankind is drowned with the waters of the deluge. The wretched cities burning with impure lusts are consumed by fire The adultery and homicide of David are revenged by the incests and murders of his children.
The PROVIDENCE of God is universal, presides over all, to the minutest particular, governs and directs all. God calls the famine, the sword, and the pestilence to punish the ungrateful, and humble the proud. He raises on a sudden the spirit of a people, who have no thoughts of war, and brings them from far to ravage a guilty nation. He inspires the troops with ardour, courage, obedience, and a contempt of fatigues and dangers. He gives the commanders vigilance, activity, and boldness for undertaking the most difficult things; the foreseeing and distinguishing the most useful expedients; the authority and art of making theinselves beloved and feared at the same time. Ile removes obstacles, facilitates enterprises, and grants success. On the other hand, from those he means to destroy, he takes away counsel, presence of mind, strength, and courage. He throws disorder and consternation into armies, and turns the swords of the soldiers against their companions. He brings about his designs by the most unlikely means, as in the history of Joseph; and often by such methods as seem the effects of pure chance, though all designed and prepared by infinite wisdom, as is clearly seen in the history of David, from his condition of a shepherd to the death of Saul.
Masters, in explaining Sacred History to youth, cannot too much insist upon providence, as it is an attribute of God, which we are most nearly concerned to know, of the greatest iinportance, and most necossary; as it influences all events both public and private, and every man ought to have it in his view in every circumstance of life, in every action of the day; as it is the firmest basis of religion, and forms the most
natural and strictest ties between the creature and the Creator; as it makes us more thoroughly sensible of our entire dependance upon him, of our weakness and wants, and presents us with opportunities of exerting the greatest virtues, such as confidence in God, a grateful acknowledgment of his mercies, disinterestedness, humility, resignation, and patience; and as it furnishes piety and religious worship with the most usual subject of their exercises, by prayers, vows, thanksgivings, and sacrifices.
The KNOWLEDGE OF FUTURITY. One of the most incominunicable characters of the divinity is the knowledge of faturity. God often challenges the false deities to foretel what is to come. [p] Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods. In teaching Sacred History youth must be made carefully to observe the most famous predictions, whether they regard temporal events or respect religion; and at the same time the character of the prophets, their mission, the end and dangers of their office. They are holy and unblamable in their manners, lead a poor and obscure life, without ambition,
а without interest, or deriving any advantage from their predictions. They are sent to the unbelieving who oppose and persecute them, and do not submit till the fulfilling of the prediction has made it evident. Their predictions regard public events, and declare the fate of kingdoms. They are circumstantial, published long before their accomplishment, known to all, and within the capacity of the most simple. All these particulars joined together are powerful motives for belief.
VI. Lastly, as Jesus Christ is the end of the law, whenever an occasion naturally offers, he should be pointed out to youth in the histories explained to them; in the sacrifices, the ceremonies, the actions of the patriarchs, judges, kings and prophets; in a word, in all those by whom God has thought fit in some respect figuratively to represent either Christ or the church, which is his spouse and his work.
6] Isa. xli. 23. X 3
VII. To all these observations I cannot avoid adding one more upon the advantages of PIETY, to which youth ought carefully to attend. And indeed it bath pleased God to shew, through the whole series of the history of the Old Testament, that all promises and rewards, with respect even to this life, are annexed to PIETY ; that all temporal advantages spring from God as their sole original, and that we ought to expect them from him alone, though he has reserved for his servants in eternity such as are far more worthy his magnificence, and bear a greater proportion to virtue. It was this piety, which principally consisted in a firm confidence of God, that alone directed the fate of his people, and absolutely decided the public happiness, and condition of the state. Every thing was measured by it, favourable seasons, plenty, fruitfulness, victory over our enemies, deliverance from the greatest dangers, freedom from a foreign yoke, the enjoyment of all the advantages that could be tasted in the bosom of a profound peace. It obtained all, and surmounted every difficulty. It was by piety that Jonathan with his armour-bearer alone put a whole garrison to flight; that David unarmed overthrew the giant, and secured himself from the artifices and violence of Saul; that Jehoshaphat, without drawing a sword, triumphed over three nations in league against him; that liezekiah saved Jerusalem and the kingdom of Judah, by seeing the destruction of an hundred and fourscore and tive thousand Assyrians. On the other hand, impiety drew down all the scourges of God's anger, famine, plague, war, defcats, bondage, and the entire ruin of the most mighty families; guilt always led to an unhappy end. .
Such observations may very much contribute to inculcate sentiments of piety insensibly, agreeably, without trouble or affectation, without seeming to preach, or to read long lectures of morality. It is the
principal end which God has proposed in connecting all the duties, virtues, precepts, salutary truths, mysteries, and in a word all religion, with such facts as men of every condition, age, and character, are affected, because they fall within their capacity, and are no less agreeable than useful. To omit such observations, were to deprive youth of the greatest advantages to be reaped from the sacred books, and leave them ignorant of the essential part of scripture.
Having pointed out the principal things to be observed in reading and explaining Sacred History, and in some measure laid down the foundations and principles of that study, I shall next make the application of them to some particular facts, to shew how the rules I have advanced may be reduced to practice; and this I shall do with the greates order and clearness
that I can.
THE APPLICATION OF THE FOREGOING PRINCI
PLES TO SOME EXAMPLES.
THE examples to which I shall apply the rules I have laid down, shall be taken from two great men very famous in scripture, Joseph and Hezekiah. And to the history of these two I shall add one article upon the prophecies.
THE STORY OF JOSEPH.
AS this story is very long and well known, I shall be obliged to omit or abridge several circumstances, though very material in themselves, that I may not dwell too much upon this subject.
I. Joseph sold by his brethren, carried into Egypt, brought into Potiphar's house, and throun into son. Gen. xxxvii, xxxix, xl.
Jacob had twelve children, of which Joseph and Benjamin the youngest, were born to hiin of Rachel. The particular affection which Jacob expressed towards Joseph, and the liberty Joseph took of charging his brothers before him with a crime the scripture does not mention, and the account he gave them of his dreams, which denoted his future greatness, raised their jealousy and hatred against him.
One day as they saw him coming up to them in the country, where they were feeding their flocks, they said to one another, See here the dreamer cometh; come now therefore, let us kill him, and throw him into a pit, and we shall see what will become of his dreams. Upon the remonstrance of Reuben, they contented themselves with throwing him into the pit, and taking away his coat. Soon after they drew him out from thence, to sell him to a company of Ishmaelite merchants, who were going down into Egypt, and accordingly sold him to them for twenty pieces of silyer. After this they took his coat, and dipped it in the blood of a kid, and sent it to Jacob, saying, This coat have we found ; see now whether it be thy son's coat, or no. And he knew it, and said, It is my son's coat; a wild beast has devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces. And Jacob rent bis cloches, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for. his son many days.
The Ishmaelites carried Joseph into Egypt, and sold bim to one of the principal officers in Pharaoh's court, named Potiphar. And the Lord, say the scriptyre, was with Joseph, and the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. His master seeing that the Lord was with him, took him into favour, made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hands. Also the Lord blessed the house
, of Potiphar, and he multiplied his blessings on all that he had, for Joseph's sake.