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to know in general, that it cannot be liable to the Imputations, which profane People would cast upon it, because the Spirit of the whole is inconsistent with their Suggestions. If indeed they themselves would but take the Trouble of understanding what they take the Liberty of burlesquing, it would save them the Guilt of many a blasphemous Reflection, and the Shame of many a filly Jeft. But at least Persons of better Dispositions will surely be persuaded to so sational a Method of guarding against the Infection of their pernicious Irreverence. Possibly some will reply, that irreligious Thoughts and Temptations to Unbelief may arise from what occurs to us in reading the Bible ourselves, as well as from what others occasionally say of it. But certainly the Danger is far less: and the greatest Part of that may be prevented by observing such Rules for the safe and useful Performance of this Duty, as Persons, one should imagine, would of Course lay down for themfelves, or at least will see to be reasonable, when proposed to them; as, God willing, they shall be to you the very next Opportunity. And if still any Difficulty and Triel remain, yet coming in our Way, when our Minds are in a serious and considerate State, disposed to
examine impartially and reverently, as in the Presence of God, and to beg, that his Spirit would guide us into all Truthd; there will be no Doubt of obtaining, on due Inquiry, competent Satisfaction...
I fhall only say this farther, to thew the Evil of neglecting the sacred Writings, that They are what makes us to differ from the Gentiles, which know not God, for even our natural Religion is borrowed from them; and they can be useful only by being read: that when the Church of Rome had almost suppressed them, Christianity was buried under Falsehood, Superstition and Wickedness; and when they were restored to common Use, true Piety, Virtue and Liberty, were restored by their Means : that those Nations and those Persons, who attend to them with the highest Respect, are the most sincerely, the most steadily good : and that in Proportion as We of this Nation have difregarded them, we have grown unsettled in our Faith even of what Reason teaches, profligate in our Behaviour, unmindful of public or private real Welfare, and visibly ripe for speedy Destruction,
John xvi. 13. • 1 Thell, iv. s.
Let us all therefore instantly return to the right Way, before it is too late. The poorest of us, if he hath not a Bible, may have one, either by Purchase, for he lays out much more in a few Weeks on Matters of far less Neceflity, or by the charitable Gift of some pious Benefactor. And the busiest of us may and must find Time for every Branch of the one Thing needful'. Every Person hath at least several Hours of the Lord's Day, and some little Share of others, for the Exercises of Religion : But many of us have much more Leisure; not all of it perhaps innocently, and a great deal of it not prudently, employed. Spending a due Part of it on the divine Law would both difpofe and enable us to spend the rest, whether devoted to worldly Affairs or to Relaxations, with truer Cheerfulness now, and to a better Account at the great Day. We have most of us at Times heavy Sufferings : and poor Supports are any others, that we can use under them, compared with theirs, who by Patience and Comfort of the Scriptures have Hope 8. The most cautious of us have frequently violent Afo faults from our spiritual Enemy: and we cannot arm ourselves against him more effectually,
f Luke x. 42. & Rom. xv. 4.
than, than, as our Lord himself did, with the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. The strongest of us have fad Remains of Weakness, the discreetest of Injudiciousness : and the surest Remedy for both is that of the Son of Sirach : Let thy Mind be upon the Ordinances of the Lord, and meditate continually in his Commandments: He hall establish thine Heart, and give thee Wisdom at thine own Defire'.