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parison of what they should, (if they are taught at all) either by their Parents at Home, or their Masters or Tutors afterwards, to be reverently conversant in the sacred Writings, and yet less instructed how to profit by them. Hence they are unacquainted with their History, their Doctrines, their Language: have no early Imprelfions made on them in Favour of what they contain: and so, when they are grown up, ignorantly slight them, sin without any Restraint from them, and are easily induced to join with Scoffers in ridiculing them. All this might be much otherwise, if they, who educate Children, were but near so careful about it, as true Piety, or even common Prudence, would lead them to be.
Other Causes, or Excuses, for neglecting to read Scripture are, the various Objections made against it, many of which you have heard confuted; and the Disagreeableness arising from the Peculiarity of its Style, of which also I have spoken. But such as can read it only in a Translation, and the rest are a very small Number in Proportion,) will be tempted to complain of it still more than others : whereas they ought to acknowledge, that they are less qualified to judge, and therefore less intitled to find Fault.
For all Translations, especially from Writings
making all due Allowances. Amongst these, a very great one is to be made on the following Account, that even this Translation was published above 150 Years ago; when Multitudes of Texts were not near so well understood, and consequently could not be so rightly expressed, as they have been fince: when also our Language was different, in several Particulars, from what it is at present; and therefore, though it hath been happily secured, by the common Use of our Bible and Prayer Book, from changing fo fast as it did before, yet fome Phrases in both are become less intelligible, and a great many less. proper and graceful, than they once were: not to say, that the utmost Propriety and Accuracy was not in those Days very strictly regarded.. Besides, every Book of the Bible hath, for the Convenience of Quotation, been divided, many Ages after it was written, into Chapters, not always quite so judiciously sepaTated, as they might have been : and these Chapters again into very short Verses, which Persons are too apt to consider as independent Sentences; and thus often mistake the Meaning, but oftener still overlook the otherwise plain Connexion and Force of Argument in the sacred Writings: perhaps imagine that there is none,
and that studying them is to little Purpose. Nay lastly, the very Expositors of Scripture, whose Profession is to assist Men in reading it, and whose Utility for that Purpose, upon the whole, is very considerable, yet sometimes difcourage them from it. For Commentators, in all Books on which they labour much, and therefore above all in the Bible, on which they have laboured most, frequently perplex what without them would be clear enough; either from Partiality to their own Notions, or Vanity of finding out something new, or Desire of seeming to differ from others where they do not, that they may not seem to copy them when they do.
All these Things contribute to lessen the Esteem of the Bible with some, perhaps more than is imagined : for though they may seldom be proposed as direct formal Arguments against its Usefulness, yet they are secretly and artfully thrown into the Scale, so as to weigh a great deal on that Side of the Question. And many, who will not allow, or, it may be, do not perceive, that they think the worsc of Scripture for them, yet are kept by them, more or less, from the serious reading of it. But evidently þoth Şorts of Persons açt very unreasonably.
For For the Original is not in the least answerable for the Defects of Translations, or for any other human Imprudences. And though it cannot, by the best Translation, appear in all its primitive Splendor ; yet in the worst (and ours is far from being such,) it exhibits every Thing necessary to the obtaining of eternal Life, which alone might sufficiently recommend it to our most reverent Respect and diligent Meditation. However, belides this, under its greatest Difadvantages, if we attend to it judiciously, we shall find in it, (as Critics, by no Means prejudiced in its Favour, have confessed) far nobler and more striking Beauties, and in far greater Plenty, than in any or all the Writers of Heathen Antiquity.
But the internal Hindrances, (if I may call them fo) of studying Scripture, have not been the only, or perhaps the chief ones. Others of strong Influence have proceeded from outward and accidental Circumstances. When restoring the Knowledge of it had overthrown the Dominion of Popery over this and several neighbouring Countries, (an Event, which ought to make it for ever dear to us,) the Spirit of Controversy, once raised on that Subject, was unnecessarily extended to so many others, that the