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DAILY OVER THEM, AND PRAY TILL YOU LOVE TO PRAY, When the Scriptures and Prayer become delightful, and the time spent therein seems soon expired, then may you humbly suppose you have made some proficiency in the divine life. But, if you can spend whole days together, without refreshing your soul with some portion of the Holy Writings; if feel yourselves cold, remiss, and negligent in private prayer; or if, when you read the Scripturrs, and retire for devotion, you have little or no taste for the heavenly employ, but it appears irksome and disagreeable, and the time spent therein tedious and wearisome, you may be assured, let your professions be what they may, and the serions you hear ever so numerous, or ever bô excellent, your soul is either wholly dead to things divine, or you are in a backsliding and dangerous condition, * If you have never been accustomed to this religious exercise, it is extremely probable, you will, for a time, find much reluctance to it, a grievous struggle under it, and great unprofitablemess in it. Be not, however, discouraged: but proceed in the divive employ till you have conquered every difficulty *. And re'member, these are difficulties that are common to man: that have been valiquished by multitudes in every age of the church; and that musí be overcome by you. Your present comfort, as well as your everlasting welfare depend upon the victory. For your encouragement, call to mind the Saying of PYTHAGORAS, the ancient Philosopher: « Let the best course of life
choice invite, For custom soon will turn it to delight:" And the similar sentiment of Hesiod, the old Poet; “ The Gods have placed labour before virtue; the way to her is at first rough and difficult, but grows more smooth and easy the further you advance in it.” Infinitely more encouraging aud authoritative still is the language of the Apostle; Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Various instances might be produced of persons who, when they approached the close of life, bitterly lamented their neglect of the Sacred Volume t. And numerous are the examples of
* See a fine paper on this subject in the Spectator, No. 447.
+ See the cases of SALMASIUS, HERVEY, and others, on the foregoing pages.
persons in all ages, who have spent much of their time in perusing that most unparalleled Book. Moses, Isaiah, and MALACHI *, enjoin it upon all the Jews, young and oid. God himself commands the duty to JOSHUA. It was the coustant practice of DAVIDt through life. And there is reason to suppose that Jesus Christ spent most of his leisure in this ipanner. Our great Epic bard hath represented him as saying:
“ When I was yet a child, no childish play
And was admir'd by all t.”. Both Christ and his disciple St. Paul recommend the employ to every Christian. TIMOTHY was trained from his childhood in this way. And the BereANS ate spoken of as being more noble than others, because they searched the Scriptures daily. The primitive Christians were intimately acquainted with the Sacred Writings, and generally carried a Bible about then, inaking it their con panion wherever they went. And such was their affection for it, that many of them have been found buried with the Gospel lying on their breasts. Women wore it hanging at their necks. Children were trained up from their infancy to repeat it by heart; some of whom made. surprising proficiency.
“ Instead of gems and silk," says St. JEROME to LETA, “ let your young daughter be enamoured with the Holy Scriptures; wherein not gold, nor skius, or Babylonian embroideries, but a correct and beautiful variety producing faith, will recommend itself. Let her first learn the Psalter, and be entertained with those songs, then be instructed into life by the Proverbs of Solomon. Let her learn from Ecclesiastes to
* Deut. vi. 6---9; Is. viii. 20; and Mal. iv. 4.
despise worldly things; transcribe from Job the practice of patience and virtue. Let her pass then to the Gospels, and never let them be out of her hands; and then imbibe with all the faculties of her mind the Acts of the Aposilts and Epistles. When she has enriched the storehouse of her breast with these treasures, let her learu the Prophets, the Pentateuch, or books of Moses*, Joshua aud Judges, the books of Kings, and Chronicles, the volumes of Ezra and Esther, and, lastly, the Canticles. The book of Revelation* has as many mysteries, as words; I said too little; in every word there is a Variety of senses, and the exeellency of the book is above all praise.
The Monks of Egypt daily learned some portion of Scripture, and more especially made it their meditation on the Lord's day; insomuch that many of them became so expert and well versed in the Holy Scripturé, that they could repeat it by heart; which is particularly noted of HILARION, AMMONINUS, MARCUS JUNIOR, Eros, SERAPION, SoloMON, and others. And by this means they were qualitied to entertain their souls with spiritual exercises, singing of David's Psalms, and repeating other parts of Scripture, even at their bodily labours.-At Christ's little village of Bethlehem there
* Mr. Pope, whom we liave before quoted on the subject of the Sacred Writings, and whose judgment few will call in question, in comparing the discovery of ULYSSES to TELEMACHUS, with JOSEPH's discovery of himself to his brethren, says, " It must be owned that HomeR falls infinitely short of Moses: he must be a very wicked man, who can read the history of Joseph without the utmost touches of compassion and transport. There is a majestic simplicity in the whole relation, and such an affecting portrait of hiuman nature, that it overwhelms us with vicissitudes of joy and sorrow. This is a pregnant instance how much the best of Heathen writers is inferior to the divine historian upon a parallel subject, where the two authors endeavour to move the softer passions. The same may, with equal truth, be said in respect to sublimity; not only m the instance produced by LONGINUS, viz. Let there be light, and there was light; let the earth be made, and the earth wus made; but in general, in the more elevated parts of Scripture, and particularly in the whole book of Jos, which, with regard both to sublimity of thought and morality, exceeds beyond all comparison the most noble parts of HOMER."
Noles on the sixteenth Odyssey. + See Strictures on this book in the 24-34 sections of SIMPson's Key to the Prophecies.
sras nothing to be heard but psalms: one could not go into the field, but he should hear the plowman singing his hallelujahs, the sweating mower solacing himself with hymns, and the vinedresser tuning David's psalms. Thus the ancient Monks joined their bodily and spiritual exercise together, and made their common labour become acts of devotion to God. Their times of eating and refreshment were managed after the same manner. In some places they had the Scriptures read at table.. At other places, when supper was ended, they sung a hymn and so returned to their cells. Thus their ordinary refreshments were sanctified with the Word of God and prayer.-It is very observable, that in the primitive church not only men and women, but children were encouraged and trained up from their”. infancy to the reading of the Holy Scriptures. Of this we have undoubted evidence from many eminent instances of their practice. EUSEBIUS remarks of the great care of LeONIDES, the Martyr, and father of ORIGEN, in the education of his son, that he made him learn the Scriptures, before he set him to the study of the liberal arts and polite learning. And Socrates makes the like observation upon the education of EUSEBIUS, surnamed Emisenus, who was born of noble parentage at Edessa, a city of Osroene in Mesopotamia, that he was first taught the Holy Scriptures from his infancy, and then human learning. And SoZOMEN, in relating the same story, says, this was done according to the custom of the country; which shews, that it was no singular instance, but a general practice to bring chịldren up from their infancy to the use of the Holy Scriptures. GREGORY NYSSENE notes it in the life of his sister MACRINA, that the first part of her instruction in her infancy was to be taught the easy portions of Scripture, which were most suitable to her age. He says also, she did the same for her younger brother Peter, taking him from his mother's breasts, and instructing him in the Scriptures, that he might have no tiine to spend upon vain studies. It is noted by Sozomen and PALLADIUS of MARCUS, the Hermit, that he was so expert in the Scriptures when he was but a youth, that he could repeat all the Old and New Testament without book. Such was the advantage which some hearers in those days reaped froin the benefit of having the Scriptures read, that it is very remarkable what is related of one or two of them; that being men of good memories, they got the Scriptures by
heart, without any knowledge of letters, only by hearing them constantly read in the church or elsewhere. St. Austin remarks this of St. ANTHONY, the famous Egyptian Monk; that without being able to read himself, he made such a proficiency in the knowledge of the Scriptures, as both by hearing them read, to be able to repeat them, and by his own prudent meditation to understand them. And GREGORY the Great gives a like instance in one ServULUS, a poor man at Rome, who though he knew not a letter in the book, yet purchasing a Bible, and entertaining religious men, he prevailed with them to read it continually to bim, by which means he perfectly learned the Holy Scriptures. It is yet a more astonishing instance, which EUSEBIUS gives in one of the Martyrs of Palestine, a blind man, called John, who had so happy a memory, that he could repeat any part of the Bible as readily as others could read it. And he sometimes supplied the office of reader in the church; and he did this to so great perfection, that EUSEBIUS says, when he first heard him, he was perfectly amazed, and thought he had heard one reading out of a book, till he came a little more curiously to examine him, and found that he did it only by the eyes of bis understanding, having the Scriptures written not in books or tables of stone, but in the fleshly tables of the heart. There are many such like instances in ancient history*.
At the time of the Reformation also, after the Bible had been buried under the rubbish of human ordinances for many ages, the people in this country were extremely eager to read and hear the Holy Scriptures. They were received with inexpressible joy. Bishop Ridley and others could repeat large parts of them without book. The learned JOSHUA BARNES sometime afterwards, is said to have read a small pocket Bible, which he usually carried about him, a hundred and twenty times over, at leisure hours. Beza, at upwards of eighty years of age, could repeat the whole of St. Paul's Epistles, in the original Greek, and all the Psalms in Hebrew.
Lord CROMWELL, Earl of Essex, in a journey to and from Rome, learned the whole of the New Testament by heart. The excellently learned Lady JANE Grey, though executed at the age of sixteen, the night before she died, be
* See BINGHAM's Antiquities of the Christian Church.