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The compositions of Bishop Horne have been so well known, and so highly esteemed for their warm piety and richness of scriptural allusion, that in presenting these “ CONSIDERATIONS” to the public under the sanction of his name, no other recommendation can be
than that which the Editor is enabled to give by his reply to two questions, which are usually asked, upon the appearance of a posthumous work, namely, “ whether it is genuine, and “ whether it was prepared by the author for publication.”
The Editor therefore conceives, that he shall have fulfilled his duty to the public on the present occasion by stating, that these Essays are written out in Bishop Horne's own hand, and corrected for the press; and that the ms. has continually remained in the possession of his family, with whose concurrence it is now published.
LIFE AND DEATH OF ABEL.
At the head of the noble army of martyrs stands the righteous Abel, the second son of fallen Adam. So early was that harsh but salutary lesson inculcated, that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. His name, implying something corruptible and transient, seems to have been predictive of his fate; and it intimates to us, what was afterwards expressed in terms at large by another of the afflicted servants of God-Man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live, and is full of misery: he cometh up, and is cut down like a flower; he fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay. Like a flower of the field, young Abel sprang up, and flourished.
Fair was his appearance, and sweet the odour of his virtues. But a brother's
But a brother's envy, like a blighting wind, went over him, and smote him to the earth,
The days of his pilgrimage were quickly ended, and he hasted away to an abiding city. Disinherited of the earthly paradise, from a wilderness grown over with thorns, he departed to the unfading gardens of everlasting delights. And so the holy Jesus, that King of saints and Prince of martyrs, made but a short stay ainongst us in the days of his flesh. The envy of his brethren pursued him even to death: and the fairest flower that ever bloomed on earth, overcharged with rain, and borne down by the stormy tempest, bowed its head and died. Set not your hearts then, Oye children of Adam, upon a long life; nor esteem it as necessarily a blessing. Had it indeed been so, Cain had never survived his righteous brother, nor had the King of righteousness died under forty.
The employment of Abel was that of keeping sheep: an employment, we see, nearly as ancient as the world itself, nor esteemed beneath those who were the first favourites of Heaven, and who are now exalted to the highest thrones in the kingdom of glory. And, indeed, where shall we find usefulness, innocence, and pleasure, so met together in any employment, as they are in this ? " My life (said Constantine the Great, when at the height of human felicity), “is something more honourable than that of a shep
herd, but much more troublesome.” No one subject hath so frequently engaged the pens of poets, as the felicities of the pastoral life; nay, when they would describe the golden age, and picture to our imaginations a heaven upon earth, they have found no method of doing it to greater advantage, than by representing