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words, to exhort us to “ follow peace with all men :" -the first is the root ;-this, the fair fruit and hap. py product of it.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, in the bowels of mercy, let us put away anger, and malice, and evilspeaking ;- let us fly all clamour and strife ; let us be kindly affected one to another,-following “peace “ with all men, and holiness, that we may see the Lord :"
Which God of his infinite mercy grant, through the merits of his Son, our Lord and Saviour. Amen. SERMON XLII.
SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES.
ST. JOHN V. 39.
Search the Scriptures.
That things of the most inestimable use and value, for want of due application and study laid out upon them, may be passed by unregarded, nay, even
with coldness and aversion, is a truth too evident to need enlarging on. Nor is it less certain that prejudices, contracted by an unhappy education, will sometimes so stop up all the passa. ges to our hearts, that the most amiable objects can never find access, or bribe us by all their charms into justice and impartiality. It would be passing the tenderest reflection upon the age we live in, to say it is owing to one of these, that those inestimable books, the sacred writings, meet so often with a disrelish (what makes the accusation almost incredible) amongst persons who set up for men of taste and delicacy; who pretend to be charmed with what they call beauties and nature in classical authors, and in other things would blush not to be reckoned amongst sound and impartial criticks But so far has negligence and prepossession stopped their ears against the voice of the charmer, that. they turn over those awful sacred pages with inattention and an unbecoming indifference, unaffected amidst ten thousand sublime and noble passages,
which, by the rules of sound criticism and reason, may be demonstrated to be truly eloquent and beautiful.
Indeed, the opinion of false Greek and barbarous language in the Old and New Testament, had, for some ages, been a stumbling-block to another set of men, who were professedly great readers and admirers of the antients. The sacred writings were, by these persons, rudely attacked on all sides : expressions which caine not within the compass of their learning, were branded with barbarism and solecism ; words which scarce signified any thing but the ignorance of those who laid such groundless charges on them.-Presumptuous man !-Shall he, who is but dust and ashes, dare to find fault with the words of that Being, who first inspired man with language and taught his mouth to utter !-who opened the lips of the dumb, and made the infant eloquent !—These persons, as they attacked the inspired writing on the foot of criticks and men of learning, accordingly have been treated as such :and tho' a shorter way might have been gone to work, which was,—that as their accusations reached no farther than the bare words and phraseology of the bible,
they in nowise affected the sentiments and soundness of the doctrines, which were conveyed with as much clearness and perspicuity to mankind, as they could have been, had the language been written with the utmost elegance and grammatical nicety : and even though the charge of barbarous idioms could be made out-yet the cause of Christianity was thereby nowise affected, but remained just in the state they found it.--Yet, unhappily for them, they even miscarried in their favour
ite point ;-there being few, if any at all, of the scripture-expressions, which may not be justified by numbers of parallel modes of speaking, made usc of amongst the purest and most authentick Greek authors.--This, an able hand amongst us, not many years ago, has sufficiently made out, and thereby baffled and exposed all their presumptions and ri. diculous assertions. These persons, bad and de.. geitful as they were, are yet far outgone by a third set of men.-I wish we had not too many instances of them, who, like foul stomachs, that turn the sweet. est food to bitterness, upon all occasions endeavour to make merry with sacred scripture, and turn every thing they meet with therein into banter and burlesque.-But as men of this stamp, by their excess of wickedness and weakness together, hare entirely disarmed us from arguing with them as reasonable creatures, it is not only making them too considerable, but likewise to no purpose to spend much time about them,
they being, in the language of the apostle, “creatures of no understanding, speak. « ing evil of things they know not, and shall utterly « perish in their own corruption."-Of these two last, the one is disqualified for being argued with, and the other has no occasion for it; they being already silenced. Yet those that were first mentioned, may not altogether be thought unworthy of our endeavours ;-being persons, as was hinted before, who, though their tastes are so far vitiated that they cannot relish the sacred scriptures, yet have image inations capable of being raised by the fancied excellencies of classical writers :--and indeed these persons claim from us some degree of pity, when, through the unskilfulness of preceptors in their youth, or some other unhappy circumstance in their education, they have been taught to form false and wretched notions of good writing.When this is the case, it is no wonder they should be more touched and 'affected with the dressed-up trifles and empty conceits of poets and rhetoricians, than they are with that true sublimity and grandeur of sentiment which glow throughout every page of the inspired writings.-By way of information, such should be instructed :
There are two sorts of eloquence: the one indeed scarce deserves the name of it, which consists chiefly in labour'd and polish'd periods, an over-curious and artificial arrangement of figures, linsellid over with a gaudy embellishment of words, which glitter, but convey little or no light to the understanding. This kind of writing is, for the most part, much affected and admired by people of weak judgment and vitious taste ; but is a piece of affection and formality the sacred writers are utter strangers to. It is a vain and boyish eloquence ; and, as it has always been esteemed below the great geniuses of all ages, so much more so, with respect to those writers who were actuated by the spirit of Infinite Wisdom, and therefore wrote with that force and majesty with which never man writ.The other. sort of eloquence is quite the reverse of this ; and which
be said to be the true characteristick of the holy scriptures; where the excellence does not arise from a laboured and far-fetched elocution, but from a surprising mixture of simplicity and. majesty, which is a double character, so difficult to be united, that it is seldom to be met with in compositions merely human.We see nothing in holy writ