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With respecl forte Pentateuch, it is a matter of notoriety, that it was delivered with the utmost publicity, and was neither more nor less thin the public and municipal law of the Jewish commonwealth, which every king, on his ascending the throne, was commanded to copy with his own hand, as the perpetual rule of his government; and every head of a family, to teach and inculcate on his children, when he sat in his house, and when he walked by the way. It was first proclaimed from the top of Mount Sinai, with ineffable splendour, in the hearing of the whole nation, prefaced with the remarkable words, "Hear, O Israel." There is surely no pretence for representing it as a deposit committed to a particular class, when an accurate acquaintance with it was requisite, in order to regulate the private as well as public life of every Israelite. Though, in process of time, its interpretationgave birth to a particular profession, whose followers are styled scribes, in the New Testament, nothing was further from their thoughts than the assumption of a right to withhold it from public perusal: their employment was, partly, by an accurate transcription, to preserve the purity of the copies, and, partly to elucidate its obscurities.
If we descend to the Prophets, we ■hall find them addressing their instructions, and announcing their predictions, in the most public manner, to all descriptions of persons; to princes, to nobles, to the populace, in crowded assemblies, in places of the most public resort. Such was the manner in which Jeremiah prophesied :—" I am full," saith he, " of the fury of the Lord; I am weary with holding in; I will pour it upon the children abroad, and upon the assembly of young men together." Jer. vi. 11. When strong political reasons seemed to dictate a different proceeding, when he was violently importuned by his sovereign to conceal his predictions, lest he should weaken the hands of the people, and encourage their enemies, he remained inflexible, and continued to divulge the suggestions of inspiration, with the same publicity as before. Yet, it is the prophetic part of Scripture, which is the most obscure, and most liable to be perverted to the purposes of popular delusion.
Of the Hagiographs little need be said. As they consist chiefly of maxims of civil prudence, sentiments of devotion, and sublime descriptions of the Deity and his works, it is probable none will contend for their restricted circulation.
Let us take a rapid glance at the Jfew Testament. Here, the Gospels will claim our first attention; and, with respect to these, if we are to credit the earliest ecclesiastical writers, they are a mere abstract of the preaching of the respective Apostles and Evangelists whose names they bear. We are informed
that, when they were about to leave certain countries where they had beta employed for a considerable time in disseminating the gospel, the inhabitants of those districts were anxious to possess a permanent record of the principal facts in which they had been instructed, thai, by reading them at their leisure, they might, in the absence of their teachers, impress them, on their memory. The Gospels of Mark and Luke are affirmed, by the earliest historians, to have been composed from the preaching of St. Peter and St. Paul, and not to have been pub. lished until they had received the entire approbation of those Apostles. This part of Scripture, then, supplies no pretence or apology for the practice of restricted distribution.
The Epistles next come in order; and these, as is evident from their inscriptions, were addressed to the whole assemblies of the faithful; in which, /ich and poor, learned and unliarned, Jew and Gentile, were incorporated on terms of religions equality. They were also read publicly, every Lord's-day; in the devotional exercises of which the reciiation of the Scriptures, after the manner of the ancient synagogue, occupied a conspicuom place. We "find St. Paul strongly adjuring one of the societies to which he wrote, to take care that his Epistle was read to "all the holy brethren."
There is one extraordinary book, of » character totally distinct from the rest, which closes the canon of inspiration. The book to which 1 refer, you are aware, is the Revelation of St. John; a composition distinguished above all others by a profusion of obscure, figurative diction; delineating, by a sort of hieroglyphics, the principal revolutions destined to befal the Christian church from the earliest times till the consummation of all things. This portion of Scripture is a fertile mine of erroneous, extravagant conjecture, and supplies, by its injudicious interpretation, more gratification to * heated imagination, to a taste for the marvellous and incredible, than the whole of the New Testament beside; insomuch, that few have been found capable of preserving a perfect sobriety and composure in the midst of its stupendous scenery, where the curtain rises and falls so often, where new creations so rapidly succeed each other, accompanied by myriads of the angelic order, and the sound of trumpets, and of voices, and thunderiugs, and lightnings. Yet it is sufficiently remarkable, that this M the only book, to the perusal of which an express benediction is attached:— "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy. Its integrity is also guarded and secured by a fearful measure denounced against such as shall presume to alter it in the minutest tittle, by adding to or taking away from its words. The Holy Spirit, foreseeing what actually ensued, that the peculiar features of this prophecy would excite the prejudices of some, and in others, its obscurity induce neglect, judged it necessary to employ a special precaution against its falling into contempt, or oblivion.
Thus it appears, from a rapid induction of particulars, that the Bible is common property, over which there is no control; that, as "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God," so it is all " profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished for every good word and work."
( To be concluded in our next.)
BRITISH AND FOREIGN SCHOOL SOCIETY.
We fast month laid before our readers, interesting Extracts of two letters received from Captain Bromley, who is bending all his efforts to establish a colony of Indians in our British settlements in Canada, (See our Magazine, p. 284, &c.) and we have just received a still more recent communication from the same Gentleman, which we have much pleasure in subjoining.
Halifax, Nova Scntia, August IS, 1817. MY DEAR FRIEND,
As I wish to avail myself of every opportunity of writing, I shall endeavour to forward this by a Midshipman of the name of Latouch, the nephew of an eminent Lady of that name in the City of Dublin.
Since my last, some changes have taken place in our plans and operations in the propagation of the Gospel, which are rather interesting.
I availed myself of a fortnights vacation lo pay a visit to my Indian friends, who have really done wonders, und notwithstanding the prevalent opinion of the whites, that the Indiansare too degenerate to bceome useful members of Society, yet I am perfectly satisfied that if the necessary aid shall be afforded me, either by the government or private individuals, an extraordinary work under Divine Providence will speedily take place among these people.—They have exceeded our sanguine expectations, in the cultivation of this land since the last winter, and their crops of" potatoes, &c. really appear equal, if not superior to many of the whites, and the influence of the Romish Priest is evidently decreasing.—As I was under the necessity of walking to the Indian settlement, a distance of 50 miles (instead of 45 as I before stated) 1 was under the necessity of calling for refreshment at a tavern at midnight, but such was the eruel animosity of the people
towards the poorsavages, that the moment they saw me, they poured out such a volley of abuse upon ine, in consequence of ray attachment to the Indians, that I was obliged to travel the whole night through the woods, which brought on a fever for several days. I have also to observe that many of the dissipated Indians who cannot be prevailed on to work, appear as inveterate against me, and the good Indian Chief, and his people, as any of the whites, and would injure us were it in their power, as they have au idea that they ought to partake of the provisions and other supplies given to the more industrious Indians. This reminds me of the words of the great apostle of the Gentiles, " In perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the wilderness, fyc." and surely this should serve to animate me to greater fortitude, but without Christ I know I can do nothing. On my return to Halifax I waited on the Earl of Dalhousie, who received mc with great kindness, and who shewed me a Letter received from Mr. Stonard, which he observed he thought very discouraging. I however told His Lordship that "/ was of a different opinion, and added that the Society for the propagation of the Gospel could not be supposed to favour the interference of a Romish Priest;" indeed I could not think of acting as an agent for the Society under such circumstances. I am however happy to say that the Indian Chief and his people appear resolved to act under my directions in opposition to the repeated Bulls and threats of the Priests, who are constantly thundering out their Anathemas against us, and I have the fullest conviction that the means which God has been graciously pleased to put into our hands will eventually loosen the double yoke of popery and paganism among the Indians, who are however so far enlightened as to perceive that the advice I have given them is according to truth, and profitable to themselves; indeed the Indian Chief has been repeatedly heard to say that God surely sent me to this country for the benefit of poor Indians, and although he has not shook off the popish yoke, yet his conversation is at times evangelical, and his moral conduct eminently exemplary. You may recollect that this was the case with my dear friend the Priest Marcelino in Spain, who wrote to the Bible Society— Pray have you heard any thing more of him? I trust if he is spared, he will become another Luther in that country, yet I have serious fears at times that be has found his way into the Inquisition; if so may Daniel's God be his keeper and preserver 1 I hope our friends of the Bible Society who considered a time of war an unseasonable opportunity for the circulation of the gospel on the Peninsula, are How of a different opinion, for my part I always thought that God had some wise end in view in permitting the sword to be unsheathed in that country, and I sincerely hope that the seed already sown in consequence of the war will bring forth fruit abundantly.—But I am digressing. I must return to the Earl who acceeded to my wishes in allowing £25. to be laid out of the Provincial Treasury in addition to the sum voted by the House of Assembly, for the extension of a road to the Indian Settlement, and he also requested me to draw out an estimate of tlie sum required for the purchase of -winter grain for about 20 or 25 acres of land which the Indians are preparing to receive. I am therefore of opinion that should the Societies at home condescend to grant a further supply, that in 2 or 3 years the Indians will be entirely independent of the whites, and will no longer rely on the chase for a scanty sustenance, which has hitherto had the effect «f keeping them in the most brutal ignorance, and totally precluded the possibility of introducing the use of letters among them, as their wives and children always accompany them in their excursions, and the system hitherto adopted by the Society of taking the children from their parents at an early age, and binding them out as apprentices to the white people, has generally proved a curse instead of a blessing, as the vices they
have thereby contracted among the Colonists have ruined their morals; and the remarkable fondness of the parent! shewn towards their children has induced them to return to their wild habits.—Will you have the goodness to mention to Mr. Stonard that there is about =£60. remaining out of the money voted by the Society, with which we intend to continue the supply of the provisions to the Indians. When that sum is expended, I shall of course render a correct statement to the Secretary.
I remain yours most truly,
Paradise Chapel, Paradise Walk, Chelsea; having undergone some repairs, wat re-opened for public worship on Wednesday, the 24th September, 1817, for the use of the Baptist Congregation lately assembling in Sloane-place Knightsbridge. Three Sermons were preached on the occasion; that in the Morning, by Mr. lvimey of Eagle street, in the Afternoon by Mr. Pritchard of Keppel-street, and that in the Evening, by Mr. Chin of Walworth. Messrs. Bunce, Morrison, Dunn, Elvey, Shepherd, and Clarke, engaged in the devotional exercises.
Translations from Latin Poems in Dr. Watts's Lyrics.
TO MY BROTHER PROCEEDING ON A
Go, my Brother, speedlhee well,
May no winds with furious sweep,
O'er th* inhospitable sea,
Cautious turn thy steady prow,
Fearless do thou spread thy sails,
Thou whom Ocean's waves obey,
EXCITING MY HEART TOWARDS
How long my soul wilt thon delay
Nor burst thy prison-door?
And tread thy Father's floor i
Born from this flesh a thousand foes
Aud ceaseless tumult bring:
To plunge her venonVU sting.
No pleasures on this earth appear,
Thy Jesus, far away:
And pours celestial day.
Then prune thy wings and stretch tbem WW*
But he may cleave the sky-r
For God invites thee nigh.