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the immortality of the soul, of a general resurrection from the dead, of a future judgment, of a state of eternal happiness to the good, and of eternal misery to the bad. It is there we are made acquainted with the fall of our first parents from a state of innocence and happiness; with the guilt, corruption, and misery, which this sad event brought on all their posterity; which, together with their own personal and voluntary transgressions, rendered them obnoxious to God’s severest punishments. But, to our inexpressible comfort, we are further told in this divine book, that God is full of mercy, compassion, and goodness; that he is not extreme to mark what is done amiss; that he willeth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his wickedness, and save his soul alive. In pity therefore to mankind, he was pleased to provide a remedy for their dreadful state. He was pleased to adopt a measure which should at once satisfy his justice, show his extreme abhorrence of sin, make a --> sufficient sufficient atonement for the sins of the whole world, and release all who accepted the terms proposed to them from the punishment they had deserved. This was nothing less than the death of his Son Jesus Christ, whom he sent into the world to take our nature upon him, to teach us a most holy, pure, and benevolent religion, to reform us both by his precepts and example ; and lastly, to die for our sins, and to rise again for our justification. 13y him and his evangelists and apostles we are assured, that if we sincerely repent of our sins, and firmly believe in him and his Gospel, we shall, for the sake of his sufferings and his righteousness, have all our transgressions forgiven and blotted out, shall be justified, that is, considered as innocent in the sight of God, shaft have the assistance of his Holy Spirit for our future conduct; and if we persevere to the end in a uniform (though, from the infirmity of our nature, imperfect) obedience to all the laws of Christ, shall, through his merits, be c 4 rewarded
rewarded with everlasting glory in the life
to COInne. Since then the utility, the absolute necessity of reading the Scriptures is so great, since they are not only the best guide you can consult, but the only one that can possibly lead you to Heaven; it becomes the indispensable duty of every one of you most carefully and constantly to peruse these sacred oracles, that you may thereby “become perfect, thoroughly furnished to every good work”.” They who have much leisure should employ a considerable share of it in this holy exercise, and even they who are most immersed in business have, or ought to have, the Lord's Day entirely to spare, and should always employ some part of it (more particularly at this holy season) in reading and meditating on the word of God. By persevering steadily in this practice, any one may, in no great length of time, read the Scriptures through, from one end to the other. But in doing this, it it will be advisable to begin with the New Testament first, and to read it over most frequently, because it concerns us Christians the most nearly, and explains to us more fully and more clearly the words of eternal life. But after you have once gone regularly through both the Old Testament and the New, it may then be most useful, perhaps, to select out of each such passages as lay before you the great fundamental doctrines, and most essential duties, of your Christian profession ; and even amongst these, to dwell the longest on such as express these things in the most awful and striking manner, such as affect and touch you most powerfully, such as make your heart burn within you, and stir up all the pious affections in your soul. But it will be of little use to read, unless at the same time also you reflect ; unless you apply what you read to those great purposes which the Scriptures were meant to promote, the amendment of your faults, the improvement of your hearts, and the salvation of your souls.
* 2 Tim. iii. 17.
To assist you in this most important and necessary work is the design of these Lectures; and in the execution of this design I shall have these four objects principally in view: First, to explain and illustrate those passages of holy writ, which are in any degree difficult and obscure. 2dly, To point out, as they occur in the sacred writings, the chief leading fundamental principles and doctrines of the Christian religion. 3dly, To confirm and strengthen your faith, by calling your attention to those strong internal marks of the truth and divine authority of the Christian religion, which present themselves to us in almost every page of the Gospel. 4thly, To lay before you the great moral precepts of the Gospel, to press them home upon your consciences and your hearts, and render them effectual to the important ends they were intended to serve; namely, the due government of your passions, the regulation of your conduct,