Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

moral law, infinitely superior to any thing known to the rest of mankind in those

rude and barbarous ages. The books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, are chiefly occupied with the various other laws, institutions, and regulations given to this people, respecting their civil government, their moral conduct, their religious duties, and their

ceremonial observances.

Among these, the book of Deuteronomy (which concludes what is called the Pentateuch or five books of Moses) is distinguished above all the rest by a concise and striking recapitulation of the innumerable blessings and mercies which they had received from God since their departure from Horeb; by strong expostulations on their past rebellious conduct, and their shameful ingratitude for all these distinguishing marks of the Divine favour; by many forcible and pathetic exhortations to repentance and obedience in future; by promises of the most substantial rewards, if they returned to their - B 4 duty; duty; and by denunciations of the severest punishments, if they continued disobedient : and all this delivered in a strain, of the most animated, sublime, and commanding eloquence. The historical books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, continue the history of the Jewish nation under their leaders, judges, and kings, for near a thousand years; and one of the most prominent and instructive parts of this history is the account given of the life and reign of Solomon, his wealth, his power, and all the glories of his reign; more particularly that noble proof he gave of his piety and munificence, by the construction of that truly magnificent temple which bore his name; the solemn and splendid dedication of this temple to the service of God; and that inimitable prayer which he then offered up to Heaven in the presence of the whole Jewish people; a prayer evidently coming from the heart, sublime, simple, nervous, and pathetic ; exhibiting the justest justest and the warmest sentiments of piety, the most exalted conceptions of the Divine nature, and every way equal to the sanctity, the dignity, and the solemnity

of the occasion. Next to these follow the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, which contain the history of the Jews for a considerable period of time after their return from a captivity of 70 years in Babylon, about which time the name of Jews seems first to have been applied to them. The books of Ruth and Esther are a kind of appendage to the public records, delineating the characters of two very amiable individuals, distinguished by their virtues, and the very interesting incidents which befel them, the one in private, the other in public life, and which were in some degree connected with the honour and prosperity of the nation to which they

belonged.

In the book of Job we have the history of a personage of high rank, of remote antiquity,

antiquity, and extraordinary virtues; rendered remarkable by uncommon vicissitudes of fortune, by the most splendid prosperity at one time, by an accumulation of the heaviest calamities at another; conducting himself under the former with moderation, uprightness, and unbounded kindness to the poor; and under the latter, with the most exemplary patience and resignation to the will of Heaven. The composition is throughout the greater part highly poetical and figurative, and exhibits the noblest representations of the Supreme Being and a superintending Providence, together with the most admirable lessons of fortitude and submissoon to the will of God under the severest sostiss tost can befal human nature. The Psors, which follow this book, are foll of so existed soirs of piety and &srcise, so tess: el sold snosted &sroos of its over, the wisdom. is ====y. Fre goires of GSS, obst it is rosse for 4-7 ree to resd these * Stot without feeling his heart inflamed with the most ardent affection towards the great Creator and Governor of the universe. The Proverbs of Solomon, which come next in order, contain a variety of very excellent maxims of wisdom, and invaluable rules of life, which have no where been exceeded, except in the New Testament. They afford us, as they profess to do at their very first outset, “the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity. They give subtilty to the simple; to the young man, knowledge and discretion.” The same may be said of the greater part of the book of Ecclesiastes, which also teaches us to form a just estimate of this world, and its seeming advantages of wealth, honour, power, pleasure, and science. The prophetical writings present us with the worthiest and most exalted ideas of the Almighty, the justest and purest notions of piety and virtue, the awfullest denunciations against wickedness of every

« FöregåendeFortsätt »