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THE REV. JAMES SAURIN,
LATE PASTOR OF THE FRENCH CHURCH AT THE HAGUE.
·CONTENTS OF THE SECOND VOLUME.
Sermon LXXXIV.-St. Paul's discourse
PROVERBS iv. 26.
Ponder the path of thy feet, and all thy ways shall be established.
THE sentence which we have now read, in- | arises concerning the subject, to which it is cludes a subject of immense magnitude, more applied, and this requires a second elucidation. proper to fill a volume, than to be comprised The term step is usually restrained in our lanin a single sermon; however, we propose to guage to actions of life, and never signifies a express the subject of it in this one discourse. mode of thinking; but the Hebrew language When we shall have explained the subject, we gives this term a wider extent, and it includes will put it to proof; I mean, we will apply it all these ideas. One example shall suffice. to some religious articles, leaving to your piety "My steps had well nigh slipped," Ps. lxxiii. the care of applying it to a great number, and 2, that is to say, I was very near taking a false of deriving from the general application this step; and what was this step? It was judging consequence, if we ponder the paths of our that the wicked were happier in the practice feet, all our ways will be established." of licentiousness, than the righteous in obeying the laws of truth and virtue. Solomon, in the words of my text, particularly intends to regulate our actions; and in order to this he intends to regulate the principles of our minds, and the affections of our hearts. "Ponder the path of thy feet, and all thy ways shall be established," for so I render the words. Examine your steps deliberately before you take them, and you will take only wise steps; if you would judge rightly of objects, avoid hasty judging; before you fix your affection on an object, examine whether it be worthy of your esteem, and then you will love nothing but what is lovely. By thus following the ideas of the Wise Man, we will assort our reflections with the actions of your lives, and they will regard also, sometimes the emotions of your hearts, and the operations of your minds.
We must beg leave to add a third elucidation. The maxim in the text is not always practicable. I mean, there are some doctrines, and some cases of conscience, which we cannot fully examine without coming to a conclusion, that the arguments for, and the arguments against them, are of equal weight, and consequently, that we must conclude without a conclusion; weigh the one against the other, and the balance will incline neither way.
This difficulty, however, solves itself; for, after I have weighed, with all the exactness of which I am capable, two opposite propositions, and can find no reasons sufficient to determine my judgment, the part I ought to take is not
I suppose, first, you affix just ideas to this metaphorical expression, ponder the path of thy feet." It is one of those singular figures of speech, which agrees better with the genius of the sacred language than with that of ours. Remark this once for all. There is one among many objections made by the enemies of religion, which excels in its kind; I mean to say, it deserves to stand first in a list of the most extravagant sophisms: this is, that there is no reason for making a difference between the genius of the Hebrew language and the idiom of other languages. It would seem, by this objection, that a book not originally written in the idiom of the language of scepticism can not be divinely inspired. On this absurd principle, the Scripture could not be written in any language; for if a Greek had a right to object against inspiration on this account, an Arabian, and a Persian, and all other people have the same. Who does not perceive at once, that the inspired writers, delivering their messages at first to the Jews," to whom were committed the oracles of God," Rom. iii. 2, spoke properly according to the idiom of their language? They ran no risk of being misunderstood by other nations, whom a desire of being saved should incline to study the language for the sake of the wisdom taught in it.
How extravagant soever this objection is, so extravagant that no infidel will openly avow it, yet it is adopted, and applied in a thousand instances. The book of Canticles is full of figures opposite to the genius of our western to determine at all. Are you prejudiced in languages; it is therefore no part of the sacred favour of an opinion, so ill suited to the limits It would easy to produce other which has pleased God to set to our knowexamples. Let a modern purist, who affects ledge, that it is dangerous or criminal to susneatness and accuracy of style, and gives lec-pend our judgments! Are your consciences so tures on punctuation, condemn this manner of weak and scrupulous as to hesitate in some speaking, "ponder the path of thy feet;" with cases to say, I do not know, I have not deterall my heart. The inspired authors had no mined that question? Poor men! do you know less reason to make use of it, nor interpreters to yourselves so little? Poor Christians! will you affirm, that it is an eastern expression, which always form such false ideas of your legislator? signifies to take no step without first delibe- And do you not know that none but such as rately examining it. The metaphor of the live perpetually disputing in the schools make text being thus reduced to truth, another doubt it a law to answer every thing? Do you not