Sermon I





Psalm cxix. 105.—"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

My wish, in illustration of this text, is to call your attention to the Bible. It is not to pronounce an eulogy on it, or to enter into an argument for its Divine origin, or to state and defend its doctrines; hut it is to urge its claims to attention, particularly as laying the foundation for the only true knowledge of tho "Way of Salvation.

When a man, especially one who has cherished sceptical views and feelings, sits down to read the Bible, there is a class of thoughts that bear upon his mind wholly different from such as exist when he peruses any other book. When he sits down to the study of the Iliad, he is conscious that he is perusing the most celebrated poem of the world. It has come down from a very remote antiquity ; it has been read by millions, and always with increasing pleasure ; it has commanded the admiration of the most eminent scholars of all ages. He feels, therefore, that his perusal of it will be attended with no discredit anywhere; and it will excite no feeling of shame in his bosom should it be known by all his friends that he is engaged in that employment. Substantially the same feeling exists when he reads the Paradise Lost. To admire it, is an evidence of good taste; and an intimate acquaintance with it will be a passport of some value to the good esteem of others, and will never suffuse his cheek with a blush. The same remarks might be made of Herodotus and Xenophon ; of Hume and Gibbon ; of Seneca and Bacon; of the Spectator and the Rambler. No young man could be found who would think it necessary to practise any concealment in reading them ; no one would close them if surprised in their perusal; no one would feel the blood mounting to his cheek as if he were engaged in an occupation which he would rather should be unknown. On the contrary, he knows that he will rise in the estimation of others in proportion to his familiarity with such productions of genius and taste, and is furnishing evidence that he is worthy of esteem.

But when he sits down to read the Bible, he is surrounded by a new set of influences, and is conscious of a new train of emotions. Unless he is a Christian, he enters upon it as if it were some deed that is to be done when alone. He would feel some revulsion at being surprised in the employment. He would expect that it would excite remark—perhaps a playful remark—if he were to select this book for perusal from a collection of annuals and poems on a centre table. He would be apt to close it if he was found reading it when he had laid down his Homer or his Virgil, his Addison or Shakspeare or Byron, for this purpose. His first feeling is, that it is a book of Religion, and that to read it will be understood to be indicativo of seriousness, and, a purpose to become a Christian. He is intimidated also by a somewhat antiquated style, and by what seems to him an uncouth phraseology; and, perhaps, he would be also by its denunciation of some passion that reigns in his heart; by its frequent reference to death and the judgment; and by the serious and solemn tone which everywhere pervades it. It is a book which he does not mean wholly to neglect, but its perusal he intends to defer until that somewhat remote period when it will be necessary to prepare for the future state, and when he purposes, as preliminary to that, to become religious.

The consequence ■of such feelings is, that the Bible is a book greatly neglected. Many are quite familiar with a considerable part of the range of ancient classic learning, who have almost no acquaintance with the sacred Scriptures. Many are familiar with the whole range of fictitious literature to which this age lias given birth, who are strangers almost wholly to the Book of God, except in name. Many see exquisite beauty in the poets of modern times, who see none in the " sweet psalmist of Israel;" and many find pleasure in copious draughts from the fountains of Helicon, who have no relish for the " gently flowing" waters of Siloam. I may add, too, that the people in a nominally Christian community are distinguished pre-emincutly for the neglect of the oracles of the religion which prevails in their own country. The Mussulman reads the Koran with profound attention, and without any consciousness of doing anything that should excite a blush; the Shasters and Vedas of the Hindoos are read by the worshippers of the gods with anxious care; but how few are there, except professed Christians, who are in the regular habit of reading the Bible ! How few young men are there who could be seen reading it without some consciousness that they were doing that which they would rather not have known!

I will, therefore, proceed to suggest some considerations designed to urge upon you the study of the Bible; and shall deem it a sufficient reward for my labour if I can induce but one to commence and continue the practice through life.

I. In the first place, it is the oldest booh in the world. Of course you will not understand me as saying that the entire Bible is more ancient than any other book. I know that some parts of it were written since the time of Hesiod and Homer; of Xenophon and Herodotus ; of Demosthenes and Plato. But what, I mean is, that some portions of it stretch far back beyond the records of classic literature, and before the dawn of wellauthenticated profane history. He who sits down to read the book of Job may do it with the moral certainty that he is perusing the most ancient written poem in the world; and he who reads the book of Genesis is certain that he is perusing a history that was penned long before any Grecian writer collected and recorded the deeds of ancient times. Take away the history of the past which we have in the Bible, and there are at least some two thousand years of the existence of our race of which we know nothing—and that too the forming period, and in many respects the most interesting part of the history of the world. Begin, in your investigation of past events, where ancient profane history begins, and you are plunged into the midst of a state of affairs of whose origin you know nothing, and where the mind wanders in perfect night, and can find no rest. Kingdoms are seen, but no one can tell when or how they were founded ; cities appear, whose origin no one knows ; heroes are playing their part in the great and mysterious drama, but no one knows whence they came, and what are their designs; a race of beings is seen whose origin is unknown, and the past periods of whose existence on the earth no one can determine—a race formed no one can tell for what purpose, or by what hand. Vast multitudes of beings are suffering and dying for causes which no one can explain ; a generation in their own journey to the grave tread over the monuments of extinct generations, and with the memorials of fearful changes and convulsions in the past all around them, of which no one can give an account. Begin your knowledge of the past at the remotest period to which profane history would conduct you, and you are in the midst of chaos, and you cannot advance a step without going into deeper night—a night strikingly resembling that which the oldest poet in the world describes as the abode of the dead:—" The land of darkness and the shadow of death; a land of darkness as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness." Job x. 21, 22. And thus in reference to the darkness of the past—the history of our race in its by-gone periods— beyond the reach of all other guides—the Bible is " a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path."

Now there is some interest, at least, in the fact that we have in our possession the most ancient book which was ever written. We should feel some interest in seeing and conversing with a man who had lived on earth during all that time, and had looked on the sun, and stars, and earth before the time of Hesiod and Homer; who had lived amidst all the revolutions of past kingdoms and empires—while proud Assyria spread its conquests and fell; while Babylon rose and declined; while Rome carried its arms around the world and sank:—if he had lived on while seasons walked their rounds, and had seen fifty generations buried, and had come to us now with the ancient costume and manners, to tell us what was in the days of Noah or Abraham. "We contemplate with deep interest an "ancient river;" and no one ever looked on the Mississippi or the Ganges for the first time without emotion. So of a venerable elm or oak that has stood while many a winter storm has howled through its branches, and while the trees that grew up with it have long since decayed. So with an ancient bulwark or castle; an ancient monument, or work of art. Whatever stands alone, and has lived on while others have decayed, excites our admiration. The pyramids of Egypt, and the tombs of the kings of Thebes, and the pillar of Pompey, thus attract attention. Any lonely memento of the past has a claim to our regard, and excites an interest, which we feel for nothing when surrounded by the objects amidst which it rose. In the wastes of Arabia, between the Nile and Mount Sinai, there stand some half a dozen or more headstones in an ancient burying-place. There is not a town, or city, or house, or tent, or fertile field near. They are the lonely memorials of a far-distant generation. All else is gone,—the men that placed them there; the towns where they dwelt; the mouldering ashes, and the names of those whose last place of sleep they mark. So the Bible stands in the past. All is desolation around it. The books that were written when that was, if there were any, are gone. The generations that lived then are gone. The cities where they dwelt are gone. Their tombs and monuments are gone; and the Bible is all that we have to tell us who they were, why they lived, and what occurred in their times. Had the Bible to this day been unknown, or were it suddenly discovered in some venerable ruin and authenticated, who would not hail such a monument of what occurred in the past periods of the world ?

The circumstance here referred to of tho antiquity of the Bible derives additional interest from the attempts which have been made to destroy it. No book has excited so much opposition as this; but it has survived every attack which power, talent, and eloquence have ever made on it. Now, we do and we should feel an interest in anything which has survived repeated attempts to destroy it. The remnant of an army that has survived a battle, and that has successfully resisted great numbers in the conflicts of war ; the tree that has stood firm when all others in its neighbourhood have been prostrated; the ancient castle that has sustained many a siege, and that remains impregnable; the solid rock that has been washed by floods for centuries, and that has not been swept away—all excite a deep interest. We love to contemplate these, and we should deem ourselves destitute of all right feeling if we should pass them by without attention. But no army ever survived so many battles as the Bible; no tree has stood so long, and weathered so many storms; no ancient bulwark has endured so many sieges, and stood so firm amid the thunders of war and the ravages of time; and no rock has been swept by so many currents, and has still stood unmoved. It has outlived all conflicts, survived all the changes in empires, and come down to us notwithstanding all the efforts made to destroy it; and while the stream of time has rolled on, and thousands of other books have been engulphed, this book has been borne triumphantly on the wave. It has shown that it is destined to be borne onward to the end of time, while millions of others shall sink degradedly to the bottom.

II. The second consideration which I suggest is, that the Bible contains the religion of your country. Chillingworth uttered a sentiment which contains as much meaning as can be well condensed into a few words, when he said, that " The Bible is the religion of Protestants." In a similar sense, we may say that the Bible is the religion of our country. The ancient religion of Persia is in the Zendavesta; the religion of India is in the Shasters; the religion of Turkey is in the Koran; the religion of our country is in the Bible. We have no religion in this land, and can have none, which is not in the Bible. Throughout the length and breadth of this great nation there is not an altar erected to an idol-god; nor in all our history has a molten image been cast, or a carved block received the homage of an American citizen. Not a temple has been reared in honour of a pagan divinity, nor is the knee bent anywhere to adore the hosts of heaven. It is a remarkable, but indisputable fact, that they who reject the Bible in our country have no altar; no temple; no worship; no religion. They offer no sacrifice; they have no incense; they have no books of praise or of prayer—no hymn-book, and no liturgy; they are emphatically living without God in the world. No religion will be sustained in this land which does not appeal to the Bible ; and if that is driven away, we shall be a people without any religion. The religion of this nation is to be the Christian religion or none; and when an American is asked what is his religion, he can only refer to the Bible.

We have, indeed, our different opinions. We are divided into sects and denominations, with peculiar views and modes of worship, yet with a good degree of common sympathy and of fraternal feeling; and we all harmonize in the sentiment, that whatever religion there is in this land is in the Bible, and that that is the rule of faith and practice. Our religion is not in creeds and confessions ; in catechisms and symbols ; in tradition and the decrees of synods and councils; it is In The Bible. To that, as a common standard, we all appeal; and around that we all rally. Much as Christians differ from each other, all would rush to the defence of that Book when attacked, and all regard it as the fountain of their opinions and the source of their hopes.

There is, moreover, among Christians in this country a growing conviction that the standard of all religion is the Bible. There is less and less confidence in the deductions of reason ; less reliance on creeds and confessions and tradition; less dependence on the judgment of man, and a more simple dependence on the word of God. It is, and it is to be, a great principle in this nation, that the Bible contains our religion.

Now, if this be so, then the reasons why the Bible should be studied are very obvious. One is, that any man must be destitute of a very essential part of valuable knowledge if he is ignorant of the foundation of the religion of his own country. Its institutions he can never understand, nor can he ever be fully prepared to discharge his duty in any calling in this country without an acquaintance with the sacred Scriptures. As connected with the history and institutions of his country, and as here destined to exert a controlling influence over millions of the most free minds on the earth, it demands his profound attention. I confess I feel a deep interest in the Koran, though I never expect to be subject in any way to the laws of that book ; and though I have never been able to read it though, often as I have resolved I would read it, and have attempted to do it. But I feel an interest in any book that has power to hold one hundred and twenty millions of the human race in subjection, and to mould the institutions and laws of so large a portion of mankind. I feel far more interest in that than I can in the power of Alexander, who subdued the world by arms; or of the Autocrat of the Kussias, who rules a vast empire by hereditary might; or even of Napoleon, who held nations in subjection by a most potent and active will. For in such cases there is living power, and there are vast armies, and frowning bulwarks, and long lines of open-mouthed cannon prepared to pour sheets of flame on all who dare oppose. But the dominion of the Koran is The Dominion Of A Book— a silent, still, speechless thing, that has no will, no armies, no living energies, no chain-shot, no cannons;—and yet it exerts a power which the monarch and the conqueror never wields. It lives, too, when monarchs and conquerors have died. It meets advancing generations, and subdues their wills too. It moulds their opinions, leads them to the temples of worship, and controls their passions with a power which monarchs never knew. So it is with the Bible. That, too, is a hook—a silent, speechless book. But in our own land, twenty millions acknowledge its right to give laws ; and in other lands, one hundred millions confess its power; and in past times, many thousand millions have been moulded by its precepts, and I would not be ignorant of that which exerts a control so near Omnipotence over so many human minds.

Again: No man should be a stranger to the religion of his country. At some future period of life, and that not far distant, these questions may be asked of some young man here, for aught you know, on the shores of India, or in the islands of the Pacific, or in the heart of the Celestial Empire:— ' What is the religion of the United States ? On what is it based ? What are the doctrines of the Book which is the acknowledged authority there ? By whom, and when, and where was it written ? And why is it there received as of Divine origin ?' How many a young American may have been asked these questions, who was as unabltj to answer them as he would he similar inquiries respecting the Koran or the Shasters! How strange to an intelligent foreigner would it seem that one from a land like this could give no account of the religion of his own country!

There is another thought here, which I wish to express with as much deference for the elevated classes in our land as possible. Some who read these pages may possibly yet occupy places of influence and power in the councils of the nation, or be called as professional men to appear in conspicuous stations before their countrymen. Now the idea which I wish to express is, that the uses which are made of the Bible, and the allusions to it, by men in public life, are sometimes such as may admonish those who are coming on to the stage of action to become familiar with it, and such as are anything but commendatory of the knowledge which they have of the one Book which, more than any other, controls this nation. Shakspeare shall not be inaccurately quoted; and Byron and Burns, and Homer and Virgil shall be referred to with classic elegance ; but a quotation from the Bible shall show that with whatever other learning the orator may be endowed, his familiarity has not been with the inspired records of the religion of his country; and the words of David, Isaiah, and Paul, and even of the Redeemer, shall be miserably mangled, and made almost unintelligible. Many a young man now entering on life will yet be placed in circumstances where it will be discreditable to him not to be acquainted with the Bible. No one can be placed in circumstances where that knowledge would be disreputable or injurious.

There is one other thought under this head. It is this:—The Bible has gone deeply into our institutions, customs, and laws, and no one can understand the history of this country who does not understand the Bible. It has made us, directly or indirectly, what we are. Our own ancestors, in our father-land, once were wild barbarians, and sacrificed human beings to idols. The oaken groves of England witnessed many a Druid superstition ; many a now well-cultivated spot in that land was a place where men, woven in wicker-work, were consumed as an offering to the gods! I need not say that the change in that country from what it was to what it is, was brought about by the influence of the religion which is taught in the Bible. That religion banished superstition and idolatry ; raised Christian temples in the places where stood the groves of the Druids ; introduced civilization, intelligence, and social order; made immortal Alfred what he was ; laid the foundations of Cambridge and of Oxford ; and moulded the literature and the laws of our ancestors.

Still more directly has it gone into our own institutions. We have derived our origin in great part from the Puritans, a people to whom Hume said was to be traced whatever of civil liberty there was in England. I need not recall any of tho events of our early history. I need only remind you that with the Puritan, the axe was not a more needful or inseparable companion than the Bible. It went with him into the deep forest; comforted him when the war-whoop of the savage sounded in his ears; prompted him to build the church, the school-house, and the college ; entered into his literature, and constituted his laws ; was the foundation of his civil rights, and the platform of his views of government. It contained the lessons which he taught to his children; and his parting counsel to them, when he lay on a bed of death, was, that they should always love it. Phidias so wrought his own name into the shield of the statue of Minerva at Athens, that it could not be removed without destroying the statue. So the precepts and truths of the Bible have been inwrought into all our institutions. They are not interwoven—as if they were separate warp and woof. They are not laid on—as plates of gold may be on a carved image. They are fused in—intermingled—and run together—as the gold and silver and brass of Corinth were in the great fire which burnt down its statues of silver and gold and brass—forming the much-valued compound of antiquity, the Corinthian brass. They cannot be separated; and it is too late to trace their independent proportions and influence. We have no institutions, no laws, no social habits, that are worth anything, and no learning, no literature of any kind, no liberty, which have not been moulded and modified by the Bible. No man can write our history who is a stranger to the Bible; and you will Never understand it, if you are ignorant of that Book. The man who enters on public life ignorant of the influence of this book in our history, is liable to perpetual mistakes and blunders in regard to the institutions of his own country. He will perpetually come in contact with opinions and habits which he cannot understand. He will never be acquainted with the public mind in this nation. He will be mistaken in regard to the course which the popular feeling will take on any subject. He will run counter to what he will esteem mere prejudice, but what in fact is conscience; and he will Suppose that he meets mere popular feeling, when he encounters that which enters into every principle of our liberty. There is nothing on which foreigners who come among us are more liable to misunderstand us than on this point; and nothing which to them appears more inexplicable than that religion is propagated and maintained by voluntary efforts, and without an alliance with the State. The ■jecret of the whole is, the hold which the Bible has on the public mind, and the fact that that Book is allowed to influence 10 extensively the opinions, the laws, and the customs of the land. It is now in almost every family, and we intend it shall be in every family. It is read every day by millions; and hundreds of thousands of children and youth are taught every week in the Sabbath-school to reverence it. A great National Society is in existence whose business it is to see that that Book is placed and kept in every family in the land; and though the press teems with novels, and romances, and poems, and books of science, yet the book that is most frequently printed, and on which the art of the printer and the binder is most abundantly lavished still, as a private enterprise, is the Bible. And in reference to our own most interesting history as a people, and to the nature of our institutions, civil and religious, as well as in reference to all the past, the Bible is the only certain " lamp unto our feet, and light unto our path."

III. A third consideration is, that the Bible has such evidences of Divine origin as to claim your attention. I do not assume that it is given by inspiration—for my purpose now does not require this, nor am I about to detain you with any proofs on that point. But I would show you that there are such presumptive proofs of its being a revelation from God, as to demand study and inquiry; such that it is ill-becoming the young man, or any man, to neglect it; and such that to reject it without examination,is no mark of an elevated understanding, or of true manliness of sentiment. The considerations which I would suggest under this head are these:—

(1.) The friends of the Bible have been among the most sober, calm, and thoughtful of mankind. They have been such men as are accustomed to look at evidence, and to weigh arguments before they embrace them. That some of its ncglectors and adversaries have had this character I have no occasion to deny ; but that the mass of them have been of this stamp no one will venture to affirm. But a book which has commended itself to the faith of millions of thinking and intelligent men as of Divine origin, is not to be treated with contempt, or rejected without a hearing. No man recommends his own intelligence or wisdom by a contemptuous rejection of such a book.

(2.) Again, a considerable part of those who have embraced the Bible as of Divine origin, have done it as the result of examination. I admit that all have not done it from this cause. Many have been trained up in its belief, and have never doubted of its Divine origin ; but a considerable portion even of this class, when they have arrived at mature age, have instituted an examination on the subject, and have satisfied their own minds that it is from God. But many an hereditary infidel has yielded his opposition to the Bible by the force of evidence, and embraced it as true ; many a scoffer has become a believer by the force of the argument, and admitted that it was from God. Meantime all its friends, whether hereditary friends—if I may so call them—or the friends made such by argument, have been willing to submit the evidence of the Divine origin of the Scriptures to the sober reason of mankind. They have asked them to examine the question. They hold themselves ready at any moment tp give the book to any man who will examine it. They invite discussion, and they always consider it a point gained, and a very probable indication of the conversion of an infidel, if he can from any motive be induced to examine the Divine origin of the Scriptures. And so scoffers and infidels feel when one of their own number is induced, from any cause, to read the Bible. From the moment when he takes the book in his hands, they regard his conversion to Christianity as more than half certain. They anticipate, almost as a matter of course, that if he is led to investigate this question he is lost to their cause. And so all feel. Many a man is deterred from reading the Bible, and from examining its claims, under a belief that, if he does it, he will become a Christian. Yet what a state of mind is this! And what a tribute is thus unwittingly paid to the Bible ! And how clear is it, that, if this be the case, the Bible has such evidence of a Divine origin as to demand your attention!

(3.) Again, its effects on the world are such as to show that it has sufficient claims to a Divine origin to demand attention. As a mere matter of curiosity, if there were no better motive, one would suppose that an interest would be felt in the Book which displaced the ancient systems of philosophy; which changed the whole form of religion in the Roman empire—overturning altars, closing temples, disrobing priests, and revolutionizing laws; which abolished slavery in all the ancient world; which has elevated the female sex from the deepest degradation; which has everywhere been the promoter of good morals ; which banished the barbarous sports of the amphitheatre; which has led to the foundation of colleges, and the erection of hospitals, and the diffusion of universal education; which has curbed the tiger-passions of many a man, and made him like a lamb; and which has transformed tho intemperate, the licentious, and the profane, in millions of instances, and made them pure and holy men. Now a book which can do this has such claims of a Divine origin as to demand attention, and to be worthy of perusal.

(4.) And again, the class of men whom it has satisfied of its Divine origin is such as to show the same thing. They have been, in many instances, men most eminent in all departments of science and learning, and who stand, by common consent, at the head of the race. I need not tell you who they are. In our most rich English literature there is scarcely a man of eminence who has not bowed to the authority of the sacred Scriptures. Who, in teaching the laws of morals, was superior to Johnson ? Who better understood the beauties of the English tongue than Addison ? Who was a sweeter poet than Cowper ? Who more majestic and grand than Milton ? Who has controlled more human minds by stating its laws than Locke ? Who has seen farther into the distant heavens than Newton ? What individual of our race is by common consent at the head of any department of learning, who has not acknowledged the Divine authority of the Bible ? I by no means say that this proves that it is of Divine origin. I say only, that it demonstrates that there are claims to such an origin which demand examination. I add one other thought under this head—

(5.) That the same thing is shown by the fact that the Bible has outlived all the attacks which have been made on it, and has nearly or quite weathered out the storm of conflict. It was penned in a remote age ; in a little corner of the world ; among a people without science, and without any other literature ; when the rules of poetry and history were unwritten, and when the human mind was comparatively in its infancy. That a book so written, and with such pretensions, should be attacked was not wonderful. Accordingly, every science, I believe, has been made the occasion of an assault on the Bible. Astronomy, and history, and antiquities, and geology, and chemistry, all have had their turn; and all have in their turn alarmed the friends of revelation. But the war from these quarters has nearly ceased to rage. Every gun has been spiked, or turned on the foe—except in the matter of geology—and the friends of revelation may safely leave that until the geologist will tell us precisely what his own settled opinion is. In the year 1806 the Prench Institute counted more than eighty theories in geology hostile to the Scripture history, not one of which has lived to the present time {Lyell). The argument from astronomy was demolished by Chalmers. The argument from the high antiquity of the sacred books, and the history of India, has been abandoned by infidels themselves. Point after point has been yielded, and the Bible still lives; and it advances in its power over the human mind just as science advances, and at the moment when I am writing has a control over the intellect of the world which it never had before. It will have a greater control to-morrow; and will continue to extend its empire to the end of time. It is speaking now in an hundred and fifty languages more than it was fifty years ago, and there is nothing more fixed pertaining to the future than that the period is not distant when it will speak in all the languages of the world. It is destined to be the book which shall ultimately model the laws, and direct the worship of the race; the book which is to displace the Koran, the Zendavesta, and the Vedas ; and the book which is to be found in every living language when the great globe shall dissolve. Now I do not say that this proves that the Bible has a Divine origin. I say only, that it demonstrates that such a book is not to be treated with contempt, that it has sufficient claims to a Divine origin to demand perusal and study. He gives no evidence of extraordinary talent or independence who can neglect or despise such a book ; he who studies it is at least associated in one thing with the minds that have done the most to honour our race, and who have secured the widest respect among mankind. And in reference to the whole range of investigations that come before the human mind, to the actual developments of the human powers, and to the changes that have occurred on earth, and to all our inquiries respecting the future, as well as in reference to the past history of nations, and to our own history as a people, it may be found to be true that the Bible is the only certain " lamp unto our feet, and light unto Out path."

IV. The fourth consideration which I urge is, that the Bible reveals a way of salvation—a method by which a sinner may be conducted to happiness and to heaven. I here mean only to state this—not to attempt to prove it. Nor is it necessary for my purpose now to prove it. All that my purpose demands is to bring the fact to your notice, and to state that such a plan is revealed, and in such circumstances as to demand your attention. That it professes to reveal a way by which a man may be saved, no one can doubt;—for this is the leading design of the book. That it is a simple and intelligible way, is demonstrated by the fact that it has been embraced by millions of our race who had no special claims to superior intellectual endowments, and no superior attainments in science. That it is a safe way has been demonstrated, as far as such a fact could be, by its sustaining power in those circumstances which most certainly test the truth and value of our principles—the circumstances which attend our departure from the world. But while commending itself to minds in humble walks, and in the lowly condition of life, it has also so commended itself to minds most elevated and cultivated; has so met their wants, and so imparted peace, and so sustained them in the day of trial, as to show that it has a claim on the attention of all mankind. To such minds it has commended itself as simple, satisfactory, and rational ; as adapted to the condition of fallen man, and as imparting the true peace, for which a soul conscious of guilt seeks. It claims, too, to reveal the only way by which a sinner can be saved, and urges this on the attention of the race by all its proofs of its being a communication from heaven—by its miracles, and its prophecies, and its purity of doctrine, and its elevated rules of morality, and its influence on mankind. He is not, he cannot be wise, who turns away from a book that comes with such evidence of a heavenly origin as the Bible has, and that has satisfied so many minds of its truth. He is not, he cannot be wise, who in such circumstances refuses to examine the claims of a book that professes to disclose the only method by which man can be saved.

V. The fifth and last consideration which I shall suggest is, that the Bible is a booh whose consolations and counsels you will need on a bed of death. Instead of detaining you with an argument on this point, I will just advert to one fact which will have more weight with many whom I address than anything which I can say; and with this I shall close this discourse. A few days before the death of Sir Walter Scott, there was a lucid interval of that distressing malady which had for some time afflicted him, and to remove which he had travelled in vain to London, to Italy, and to Malta. Ho was again in his own home. In one of these calm moments of reason, " gentle as an infant," says his biographer, when the distressing aberrations of his mind had for a time ceased, he desired to be drawn into his library, and placed by the window, that he might look down upon the Tweed. To his son-in-law he expressed a wish that he should read to him. " From what book shall I read?" said he. "Can you ask?" Scott replied;" There Is BUT One." " I chose," says his biographer, " the fourteenth chapter of St. John's Gospel. Ho listened with mild devotion, and said when I had done, Well, this is a great comfort; I have followed you distinctly, and I feel as if I were yet to be myself again" (Life of Scott, vi. 288). I need not enlarge on the dying testimony of this eminent man in favour of the Bible. On the bed of death, "there is but one" book that can meet the case. Not his own beautiful poems; not his own enchanting works of fiction, were his comforters there. He had come to a point where fiction gave way to reality; and we can conceive of scarcely any scene of higher sublimity than was thus evinced, when a mind that had charmed so many other minds, the most popular writer of his age, if not of any age, in the solemn hour when life was about to close, gave this voluntary tribute to the solitary eminence of the Bible above all other books. Would that his dying declaration could be imprinted on the title-page of all his works—that wherever they shall be read, his solemn testimony might go with them, that a time is coming when BUT ONE Book can have claims on the attention of men, and BUT One Book will be adapted to guide their steps and to comfort their hearts! May I suggest to the readers of novels and romances that the time is coming when, one after another, these books will be laid aside; when the romance of life will be exchanged for the sober reality of death ; and when the most gorgeous and splendid illusions of this world will give place to the contemplation of the realities of that everlasting scene which opens beyond the grave. Then you will need, not fiction, but truth ; not gorgeous description, not the enchanting narrative, not the wizard illusions of the master min# that can play upon the feelings and entrance the heart; but the word—the eternal word of that God who cannot lie, and the sweet consolations of that "one Book" whose beauties, after all, as much transcend the highest creations of genius as its truths are more valuable than fiction. We may lice amidst gorgeous scenes; amidst splendid illusions; amidst changing clouds; amidst vapours that float on the air, and then vanish; but when we die we shall wfsh to plant our feet, not on evanescent vapours and changing though brilliant clouds, but on the Eternal Itoek;—a position which shall be firm when the rains descend, and the floods come, and the winds blow (Matt, vii. 25). And in reference to that dark valley which we must all soon tread—that valley that appears so chilly and dismal to man—along which no one has returned to be our conductor and guide, whatever may be said of the value of the Bible in regard to the past history of our race, or our own history in particular, or the various inquiries which have come before the human mind—it is indubitably then to be the only certain " lamp unto our feet, and light unto our path."

Let me, in conclusion, ask of each one individually, Is there force enough in my argument to induce you to read the Bible ? If there is, let it be done. I ask you not to lay aside your Homer, your Cowper, your Dryden, your Milton. I ask you not to burn your Addison, your Johnson, or your Burke. I ask you not to throw away your Galen, or your Davy—your Coke, or your Hale ; but I ask you to give THE SUPREME PLACE in your life to that One Book which the greatest of all writers of fiction gave on the approach of death—to The Bible.