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OR A TI O N S.
JOHN V. 39. SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES.
THE PREPARATION FOR CONSULTING THE ORACLES
There was a time when each revelation of the word of God had an introduction into this earth which neither permitted men to doubt whence it came, nor wherefore it was sent. If, at the giving of each several truth, a star was not lighted up in heaven, as at the birth of the Prince of truth, there was done upon the earth a wonder, to make her children listen to the message of their Maker. The Almighty made bare his arm; and, through mighty acts shewn by his holy servants, gave demonstration of his truth, and found for it a sure place among the other matters of human knowledge and belief.
But now the miracles of God have ceased, and Nature, secure and unmolested, is no longer called on for testimonies to her Creator's voice. No burning bush draws the footsteps to his
presence chamber; no invisible voice holds the ear awake; no hand cometh forth from the obscure to write his purposes in letters of flame. The vision is shut up, and the testimony is sealed, and the word of the Lord is ended, and this solitary volume, with its chapters and verses, is the sum total of all for which the chariot of heaven made so many visits to the earth, and the Son of God himself tabernacled and dwelt among us.
The truth which it contains once dwelt undivulged in the bosom of God; and, on coming forth to take its place among things revealed, the heavens and the earth, and Nature through all her chambers gave it reverent welcome. Beyond what it reveals, the mysteries of the future are unknown. To gain it acceptation and currency the noble company of martyrs testified unto the death. The general assembly of the first-born in heaven made it the day-star of their hopes, and the pavilion of their peace. Its every sentence is
. charmed with the power of God, and powerful to the everlasting salvation of souls.
Having our minds filled with these thoughts of the primeval divinity of revealed Wisdom when she dwelt in the bosom of God, and was of his eternal self a part, long before he prepared the heavens or set a compass upon the face of the deep; revolving also how by the space of four thousand years every faculty of mute Nature did solemn obeisance to this daughter of the divine mind, whenever he pleased to commission her forth to the help of mortals; and further meditating upon the delights which she had of old with the sons of men, the height of heavenly temper to which she raised them, and the offspring of magnanimous deeds which these two, the wisdom of God, and the soul of man—did engender between themselves-meditating, I say, upon these mighty topics, our soul is smitten with grief and shame to remark how, in this latter day, she hath fallen from her high estate; and fallen along with her the great and noble character of men. Or if there be still a few names, as of the Missionary MARTYN, to emulate the saints of old-how to the commonalty of Christians her oracles have fallen into a household commonness, and her visits into a cheap familiarity; while by the multitude she is mistaken for a minister of terror sent to oppress poor mortals with moping melancholy, and do a deadly office upon the happiness of human kind !
For there is no express stirring up of faculties to meditate her high and heavenly strainsnor formal sequestration of the mind from all other concerns on purpose for her special entertainment—nor pause of solemn seeking and solemn waiting for a spiritual frame, before entering and listening to the voice of the Almighty's wisdom. Who feels the sublime dignity there is in à saying fresh descended from the porch of heaven? Who feels the awful weight there is in the least iota that hath dropped from the lips of God ? Who feels the thrilling fear or trembling hope
there is in words whereon the eternal destinies of himself do hang ? Who feels the swelling tide of gratitude within his breast, for redemption and salvatión, instead of flat despair and everlasting retribution? Or, who, in perusing the word of God, is captivated through all his faculties, transported through all his emotions, and through all his energies of action wound up? To say
the best, it is done as other duties are wont to be done: and, having reached the rank of a daily, formal duty, the perusal of the Word hath reached its noblest place. That is, that which is the guide and spur of all duty, the necessary aliment of Christian life, the first and the last of Christian knowledge and Christian feeling, hath, to speak the best, degenerated in these days to stand rank and file among those duties whereof it is parent, preserver and commander. And to speak not the best but the fair and common truth, this book, the offspring of the divine mind, and the perfection of heavenly wisdom, is permitted to lie from day to day, perhaps from week to week, unheeded and unperused; never welcome to our happy, healthy and energetic moods; admitted, if admitted at all, in seasons of sickness, feeble-mindedness, and disabling sorrow. Yea, that which was sent to be a spirit of ceaseless joy and hope, within the heart of man, is treated as the enemy of happiness, and the murderer of enjoyment: and eyed askance, as the remembrancer of death and the very messenger of hell!
Oh! if books had but tongues to speak their