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tage in the communication, that the curiosity which they excite, impels every faculty of the mind to the study of the Scriptures, and our faith in the divine veracity, moreover, is exercised. Were we more fully acquainted than we are, with the ancient manners of the people to whom they were originally addressed, many apparent difficulties would vanish. Many have already been dissipated by the arduous labours and indefatigable. diligence of a succession of learned travellers and philosophers, who have explored the theatre of action, and examined the languages and customs. The permanency of these in that country, contributes effectually to the explanation of difficult passages of the sacred writings, which are found in reality to be obscured only by our ignorance. Places are at this moment identified, in many instances, by the same names, or by names very similar to those by which they were known in the earliest times, and relative narrations are elucidated by the manners and traditions of the inhabitants. As to the word Bible, your brother, though so many years younger than you are, has the advantage of you. I dare say he can tell you the meaning of the word.
CHARLES. The name is taken from a Greek word, which signifies a book.
MRS. M. Yes. The Bible is the Book; by way of eminence, indicating its superior excellence and authority. It consists of two parts, the OLD and the NEW TESTAMENTS, which are connected by a chain of predictions, many of them unquestionably fulfilled; the event and the prophecy thus mutually explaining each other.
The OLD TESTAMENT was chiefly written in the old Hebrew, or Samaritan language-and the NEW, with the
exception, perhaps, of the Gospel by Matthew, in Greek. They are subdivided into books, composed by different hands, and in different ages and countries; yet forming a whole, harmonious in all parts; because the writers were divinely taught, and their labours were all directed to one end, namely, to show the defection of man from the righteousness in which he was created, and the consequent forfeiture of eternal life: the total and uniform depravity of his heart from that moment, and the mode of his restoration by the unmerited favour of the Sovereign Creator and Disposer of all things-through a Redeemer.
Connected with, and illustrating this one grand design, the Bible gives us a history of the creation of the world, and the rise and fall of nations, the origin of languages and arts, and a variety of particulars, of which we have no other account which bears the credible marks of authenticity. The Bible consists of narrative and doctrines, precept and prophecy. The importance and sublimity of each would alone demonstrate their divine origin, if external evidence were deficient. But of this too there is enough; for the sacred book has undergone the scrutiny of enemies, and yet stands, and will ever stand, the triumphant monument of truth.
Prophecy is unquestionably the most obscure portion of the Scriptures; yet is it sufficiently plain to form the great palladium of their origin, the chief argument of their divinity. Its predictions are so far beyond the penetration of human intellect, and the accomplishment of these predictions are so multiplied and exact, as no art of man or combinations of men could achieve. The most hardened infidelity is compelled to refer both the prescience and the power, to something more than human,
But our business being with the contents, I shall not speak of the systematic evidence in favour of the Scriptures. You have been taught to receive them as the word of God. Take it for granted, then, that what you shall hear in the course of our Conversations, is the truth. Yet, you are not to build your faith upon my word. It is your duty to examine for yourselves, when your minds are matured. In the mean time, rest assured, that whenever the arguments by which the Scriptures are defended, shall be considered, their force will be found irresistible, and the study most delightful to a mind properly disposed.
FANNY. If the accomplishment of a prophecy occur, I hope it will comport with your plan to point it out. I should like to see the accomplishment of the promises.
MRS. M. That, my children, we shall all see. We may behold it every day if we are not wilfully blind. May it be your lot to enjoy the blessings which those promises, in their highest import, have offered to your accept
With respect to subordinate events, their prediction and their fulfilment are so interwoven with the narrative, that separation would be destruction; and the same must be premised of the miracles of the old Testament. You will therefore hear much of these interesting subjects.
The first five books of the old Testament were written by Moses, the great Jewish legislator. Taken collectively they are called the Pentateuch. They commence with Genesis, which, in reference to the subject, signifies, the beginning or production; because it relates, first, the history of the creation of all things.
Genesis contains the history of 2367 years; and informs us, first, that the Universe was created in six days by the almighty word of God. (B. C. 4004.) "He
spake, and it was done-He commanded, and it stood fast," and the same unerring wisdom pronounced it perfect: so perfect, that we are told in a beautiful figure, the angels and the morning stars beheld it with songs, and acclamations of joy.-Job, xxxviii. 7.
Every part of nature, both animate and inanimate, bears the impress of order; and thus it was in the beginning. All things did not start into existence at once, but successively. The original matter of which they were formed, was produced first, by the omnipotent Word. The spirit of God moved upon the elemental chaos, and light and darkness became day and night! Earth, air, and water separated, and took their destined places; the sun and moon began their revolutions; and the shining stars were arranged in the firmanent. Herbs, trees, and flowers, sprung next from the ground; the capacious bosom of the deep received its inhabitants; and the feathered tribes expanded their wings in air. Thus in five days, our universe came progressively from the Creator's hand. But supreme Wisdom does not work in vain. Every object of His mind must have an end. The flowers would bloom,
the fruits would cluster in vain, without a hand to gather' them. Creation would display its magnificence in vain, without an intelligent creature to contemplate the Creator's glory in his works. Wherefore, on the sixth day, Man, the noblest of all, was produced; and to him came all the inferior animals, and he named them, and governed them.
Every created being was furnished with a capacity to enjoy the Creator's beneficence according to its respective nature. To man alone was imparted an intellectual power to admire and adore, at the same time that he enjoyed. All
earth, and air, and sky contributed to his pleasure, but there was none to participate; no being who could unite with him in gratitude to the author, or who could receive and return the social affections with which his soul was endued. But in this lonely state he did not long continue! He " was cast into a deep sleep," and when he awoke, he beheld a companion, in all respects suited to his circumstances. "This is now bone of my bone (said Adam) and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh."
The Mosaic account of the creation has been admired by the most accomplished scholars. The emphatical sen tences by which the instantaneous production of light is described, has been cited repeatedly, as an example of the highest sublimity. And God said, "Let there be light-and there was light."
The seventh day the glorious Architect "rested from his labours," and therefore he "blessed and sanctified" that day. By these words we understand the appointment of a sabbath, or a reservation to himself, of one day in seven, for his special service, and at the same time for the refreshment of his creatures in a total cessation of their labours.
The division of time into weeks, which has been handed down to us from time immemorial, can no otherwise be accounted for, than in the divine ordinance here recorded, for the period is entirely arbitrary; not being indicated by any aspect of nature, like days, months, and years, by the revolutions of the sun and moon.
Adam and Eve (a word signifying Life, and therefore