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great and only Physician, that has any real power to cure ?
I. 5. I turn, with pleasure, to a more consolatory example, not less confirmative of our general proposition ; and appeal to the book of Psalms, (when viewed in the reflected light of the Christian revelation,) as an abiding testimony of what is in man, as well as of what man needs to be. If these divine compositions deserve the eulogy of Hooker, they supply (of course) an example applicable to our purpose, though reaching very far beyond it. It is he that shall speak their praise and character, notwith
standing it be to repeat a passage so well known: Eccles. Pol. “ What is there necessary for man to know,
“ which the Psalms are not able to teach ? They 6 are to beginners an easy and familiar introduc“ tion; a mighty augmentation of all virtue and
knowledge, in such as are entered before ; “a strong confirmation of the most perfect “ among others. Heroical magnanimity; ex« quisite justice ; grave moderation ; exact wis“ dom; repentance unfeigned ; unwearied pa" tience; the mysteries of God; the sufferings of “ Christ; the terrors of wrath; the comforts of “ grace ; the works of Providence over this “ world; and the promised joys of that world " which is to come; all good necessarily to be “ either known, or done, or had, this one celestial
b, v. 37.
“ fountain yieldeth. Let there be any grief “ or disease, incident unto the soul of man, any “ wound or sickness named, for which there is s not in this treasure-house a present comfortable “ remedy at all times ready to be found. Hereof “it is, that we covet to make the Psalms espe6 cially familiar to all.” This, indeed, is eulogy: but is it undeserved eulogy. We believe that it is Cf. Lect. iv,
(Note h.) quite true. But let us consider, and we shall perceive that it cannot be true, unless that book proceeded from a knowledge, both retrospective and prospective of the whole of that which is in man.
I. 6. I cannot forbear to notice, with regard to the same point, the Book of Ecclesiastes. It has, undoubtedly, its difficulties : but that its authority should ever have been questioned on the score of immorality or impiety', appears to argue unreasonable misapprehension. · It is a book, in every point of view, remarkable. To the Jews, without express revelation of a life to come, it must have been, as it were, a light 2 Pet. i. 19. shining in a dark place, which the darkness John i,5. could not adequately comprehend : but to us, on whom the light hath shined, it appears very differently. As a buttress to the Gospel, resting on the sure ground of human nature ; as an anticipative deference of the perfection of human wisdom and human experience to the pure
< See the introduction to this Book in Poole's English Annotations : also, the same in the Family Bible.
tary on this as and book.
simplicity of the wisdom to come; it seems to deserve a rank amongst the most extraordinary possessions which the will of God hath caused to be preserved, for the full establishment and consolation of his existing Church. Concerning the specimen of frailty, which it exposes (or rather, confesses) in the person of its human author, we
may, with very reasonable faith, acquiesce conCommen- tentedly in the pious remark of Bishop Patrick :
18 « And perhaps,” he says, “as God suffered St.
“ Thomas to doubt of our Saviour's resurrection, “ for the greater confirmation of our faith, by 56 the satisfaction he at last received; so he let “ this great man go astray, that by his dear“ bought experience he might teach us this wis“ dom-to keep the closer to God in faithful 6 obedience.”'
I. 7. As multiplication of detached passages is always tedious, and the New Testament as yet lies untouched; I will subjoin only one example more from the Old Testament, from the writings of the Prophets 1.
d I refer to them, here, not as prophets, in the peculiar and highest import of the word; but as expositors and preachers of divine truth to corrupted man. And let a caution be expressed, generally, (with reference to this distinction,) that it behoves all prudent persons to give good attention that they do not handle the prophetic writings, so frequently the utterances of a peculiar inspiration, rashly : that they neither assert the specific dignity of prophecy for that which is prophetic only as the divine enunciation of everlasting truth; nor (on the
Does it, then, amount to exaggeration to contend, that, looking at the general tenor of the writings of the prophets, in their lower capacity, of reproof, warning, or exhortation, we may almost suppose them to look upon our own very selves? to address their particular regard to the things which we daily witness with our own eyes ? Shall not a warning voice like this, be truly regarded as belonging to words that never pass away? as a possession appertaining to believers, in its full force, for ever? Woe unto them. Is. v. 8,9. that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth! In mine ears said the Lord of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant. Are not nature and experience here?
Again: Woe unto them that call evil good, and ver. 20, 21. good evil; that put darkness for light, and light
for darkness ; that put bitter for sweet, and | sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in
their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Again: Woe unto them that are mighty to drink ver. 22, 23. wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!
other hand) insist upon a general application of that, which either may be shown with fairer reason to be limited; or which, through metaphor and figure, may mislead.
Are not these the voices of a Spirit that knows what is in man to the uttermost? I forbear to point any special application of them: it might seem uncharitable, and cannot be necessary on an occasion like the present. But I am sure, that the shaft of them pierces deeply into that human nature which we know: the curse of them must
enter into many houses, even in this Christian Cf. Zech. v. land, and consume them with the timber thereof
and the stones thereof. Particular chapters of the Bible (we are told) have so affected, as almost by themselves to convert, particular persons, to belief of Christianity. I could say of this fifth chapter of Isaiah alone, "Almost it per“ suadeth me to believe that holy Scripture is “ the voice of God!"
II. But our position, as depending on the evidence of the Old Testament, must, with these examples, be sufficiently illustrated; and it is time to see how it will appear under a purer dispensation.
Do we, then, meet in the New Testament with la recognition, and (if I may so speak) acceptance, of this same condition of human nature ? that is to say, of a condition, at once harmonizing, in its real features, with the delineations of the Old, and with our experience of ourselves. It is contended that we do.
But here will be a proper place, under this position, (and especially with reference to one of