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SERM. than that in the Bible; and, as the people
w ere used to it, it was not thought ad-
I shall dismiss this subject by observing, that the book of Psalms is an inexhaustible treasure of every branch of piety, prayer, praise, humiliation, and thanksgiving ;and, therefore, a more constant use of it, than of other parts of the scripture, is very properly enjoined in our Form of Prayer.
As we began with confession of sins, and then proceeded to setting forth God's
most worthy praise, we now go on to SERM.
Vill. hear his most hoay world, the minister being directed to read select portions from the Old and New Testament. It was always esteemed a solemn part of divine worship among God's people, the Jews, to read in their assemblies his word; they were positively commanded to do it.“ When all Israel is come to appear be“ fore the Lord thy God, in the place " which he shall choose, thou shalt read “ this law before all Israel in their hear“ ing.”
It was a custom with the Jews to read the · Law' for the first lesson, that is, the five books of Moses, called the Pentateuch; and the Prophets for the second. We Christians, who have the New Testament in addition to the Old, take our first lesson from the law and prophets together, that is, from the whole Jewish scriptures, and our second lesson from the New Testa
SERM, ment, which contains four histories of the VIII.
life of our Saviour, written by four dif: ferent persons, and likewise the epistles or letters of some of his most eminent followers.
Where there is church every day in the week, the Old Testament, with some ex. ceptions of repetitions and less useful or more difficult parts, is, the whole of it, read over once every year, and the New Testament three times. The books of both Testaments are read in the same order in which they stand, except that, in the Old, the prophet Isaiah (who foretels, in the fullest manner, the coming of Christ) is read immediately before Christ. mas-Day, the day of Christ's birth; and, in the New, the Gospels are read in the morning, and the Epistles in the after, noon. I should observe however that, excepting two or three chapters, the book of Revelations is never read in public, as it is very difficult to be understood, and fit SERM. only for the private study of those who are are qualified for it.
I must pause here, earnestly to recom. mend to you, to be seriously attentive while the word of God is reading ; it always speaks on the most important subjects; and, though it may not be always easy to understand every part of it, yet the difficulty will lessen by attention, and some good may always be drawn from particular parts, though now and then the portion appointed to be read may not, in general, be intelligible to the unlearned. But let me hope that you will not content yourselves with what is read to you of God's word in public, but employ yourselves frequently in either reading, or listening to others reading it in private, It used to be a custom, in every family, to pass much of the Sabbath in reading the Bible, and I trust the same custom re
SERM. mains in many, yet; no employment can VIII.
be more profitable; it will give consolation to the afflicted, and reproof to the iniquitous—it will give faith to the unbeliever, and increase the godliness of the soberminded : I entreat you, therefore, to make yourselves well acquainted with this most valuable of all books; it will prove your surest protection from the assaults of the devil, and best preservative from the practice of habitual wickedness. You may, occasionally, fall into temptations, and even yield to them—but, if you are constant in reading the Bible, it will be almost impos, sible for you not to leave off sinning presumptuously.
Its precepts will so open your hearts to a sense of what is right-its promises of everlasting glory will so excite your hopes — its threatenings of everlasting misery will so alarm your fears that you must be quite abandoned of God, and