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dishonoured; he exactly kept the law of Moses, to which he came to put a period, and yet chose to signify his purpose only by doing acts of mercy upon their Sabbath, doing nothing which they could call a breach of a commandment, but healing sick people, a charity, which themselves would do to beasts, and yet they were angry at him for doing it to their brethren.
In all his life, and in all his conversation with his nation, he was innocent as an angel of light; and when by the greatness of his worth, and the severity of his doctrine, and the charity of his miracles, and the noises of the people, and his immense fame in all that part of the world, and the multitude of his disciples, and the authority of his sermons, and his free reproof of their hypocrisy, and his discovery of their false doctrines and weak traditions, he had branded the reputations of the vicious rulers of the people, and they resolved to put him to death, they who had the biggest malice in the world, and the weakest accusations, were forced to support their want of articles against him by making truth to be his fault, and his office to be his crime, and his open confession of what was asked him, to be the article of condemnation ; and yet, after all this, they conld not persuade the competent judge to condemn him, or to find him guilty of any fault; and therefore they were forced to threaten him with Cæsar's name, against whom then they would pretend him to be an enemy, though in their charge they neither proved, nor indeed said it against him; and yet to whatsoever they objected he made no return, but his silence and his inno
cence were remarkable and evident, without labour and reply, and needed no more arguments than the sun needs an advocate to prove, that he is the brightest star in the firmament.
THE VOLUME OF THE SCRIPTURES SUPERIOR TO
ALL OTHER BOOKS. The Scriptures contain, independently of a di. vine origin, more true sublimity, more exquisite beauty, purer morality, more important history, and finer strains both of poetry and eloquence, than could be collected within the same compass, from all other books that were ever composed in any age, or in any idiom. The two parts, of which the Scriptures consist, are connected by a chain of compositions, which bear no resemblance, in form or style, to any that can be produced from the stores of Grecian, Indian, Persian, or even Arabian, learning. The antiquity of those compositions no man doubts; and the unstrained application of them to events long subsequent to their publication, is a solid ground of belief, that they were genuine predictions, and consequently inspired *
Sir William Jones.
- There is not a book on earth so favourable to all the kind, and all the sublime affections, or so unfriendly to hatred and persecution, to tyran
• We extract this passage from the author's Eighth Discourse to the Society for Asiatic Researches. He is said to have written it also at the end of bis Bible,-- Editor.
ny, injustice, and every sort of malevolence, as - the Gospel.-It breathes nothing throughout but .mercy, benevolence, and peace. Beattie.
In what other writings can we descry those excellencies which we find in the Bible? None of them can equal it in antiquity : for the first penman of the sacred Scripture hath the start of all philosophers, poets, and historians, and is absolutely the ancientest writer extant in the world. No writings are equal to those of the Bible, if we mention only the stock of human learning contained in them. Here linguists and philologists may find that which is to be found no where else. Here rhetoricians and orators may be entertained with a more lofty eloquence, with a choicer composure of words, and with a greater variety of style, than any other writers can afford them. Here is a book, where more is understood than expressed, where words are few, but the sense is full and redundant. No books equal this in authority, because it is the word of God himself, and dictated by an unerring Spirit. It excels all other writings in the excellency of its matter, which is the highest, noblest, and worthiest, and of the greatest concern to mankind. Lastly, the Scriptures transcend all other writings in their power and efficacy.
Wherefore, with great seriousness and importunity, I request the reader that he would entertain such thoughts and persuasions as these, that Bible-learning is the highest accomplishment, that this book is the most valuable of any upon earth, that here is a library in one single volume, that this alone is sufficient for us, though all the libraries in the world were destroyed.
EXCELLENCE OF THE SCRIPTURES, AS POETICAL,
ORATORICAL, HISTORICAL, AND DIDACTIC. If we examine the sacred records, we shall find they consist of four different kinds, the poetic, oratorical, historical, and didactic forms. The poetic lies chiefly in the book of Psalms, of Job, and several detached passages in the Prophets, particularly of Isaiah. They contain many noble efforts of unmixed poetry or pure imitation : yet, these being all centered in one intention, that of extolling the works, and celebrating the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Deity, do generally partake of the character of eloquence, being chiefly of the lyric kind. In all these, the great character of simplicity is so strongly predominant, that every attempt to embellish them, by adding the supernumerary decorations of style in translation, hath ever been found to weaken and debase them.
As to the oratorical or pathetic parts, innumerable might be produced, equal, if not superior to any recorded by profane antiquity. In these, the leading character of simplicity is no less remarkable. Our Saviour's parables and exhortations are generally admirable in this quality. Filled with unfeigned compassion for the weakness and miseries of man, they breathe nothing but the purest benevolence. St. Paul's last conversation with his friends at Ephesus, on his departure for Jerusalem, his discourse on the resurrection, and on charity; his reproofs, his commendations, his apologies, especially that before Agrippa, are wrote in the noblest strain of simplicity. And as a perfect model of this kind, we may give the story of Joseph and his brethren, which for tenderness, true pathos, and unmixed simplicity, is, beyond compare, superior to any thing that appears in ancient story.
But as the most important part of Scripture lies in the historical and preceptive part; especially in the New Testament, whence chiefly our idea of duty must be drawn; so we find this uniform and simple manner eminently prevailing throughout, in every precept and narration. The history is conveyed in that artless strain, which alone could adapt it to the capacities of all mankind; the precepts delivered by our Saviour are drawn from the principles of common sense, improved by the most exalted love of God and man; and either expressed in clear and direct terms, or couched under such images and allusions, as are every where to be found in nature, such as are, and must ever be, universally known, and familiar, to all mankind; in which we may further observe, his manner of teaching was greatly superior to the justly applauded Socrates, who, for the most part, drew his images and allusions from the less known arts and manners of the city. Through all this variety of striking allusion and moral precept the