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Ask yourselves what you gain; what you expect to gain; what you do not lose. Remember that you lose your reputation, at least in the minds of all the wise and good, and all the blessings of their company and friendship; that you sacrifice your peace of mind; that you break down all those principles on which virtue may be grafted, and with them every rational hope of eternal life; that you are rapidly becoming more and more corrupted, day by day; and that with this deplorable character, you are preparing to go to the judgment. Think what it will be to swear, and curse, to mock God and insult your Redeemer through life; to carry your oaths and curses to a dying bed; to enter eternity with blasphemies in your mouths; and to stand before the final bar, when the last sound of profaneness has scarcely died upon your tongues.
The Value of the Bible.
ON casting a survey over the different orders into which society is distributed, I am at an utter loss to fix on any description of persons who are likely to be injured by the most extensive perusal of the word of God. The poor, we may be certain, will sustain no injury from their attention to a book which while it inculcates, under the most awful sanctions, the practice
of honesty, industry, frugality, subordination to lawful authority, contentment, and resignation to the allotments of Providence, elevates them to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away;" a book, which at once secures the observation of the duties which attach to an inferior condition, and almost annihilates its evils, by opening their prospects into a state where all the inequalities of fortune will vanish, and the obscurest and most neglected piety shall be crowned with eternal glory. "The poor man rejoices that he is exalted;" and while he views himself as a member of Christ, and the heir of a blessed immortality, he can look with undissembled pity on the frivolous distinctions, the fruitless agitations, and the fugitive enjoyments of the most eminent and the most prosperous of those who have their portion in this world.
The poor man will sustain no injury by exchanging the vexations of envy for the quiet of a good conscience, and fruitless repinings for the consolations of a religious hope. The less is his portion in this life, the more ardently will he embrace and cherish the promise of a better, while the hope of that better exerts a reciprocal influence, in promoting him to discharge the duties, and reconciling him to the evils, which are inseparable from the present. The Bible is the treasure of the poor, the solace of the sick, and the support of the dying; and while other books may amuse and instruct in a leisure hour, it is the peculiar triumph of that book to create light in the midst of darkness, to alleviate the sorrow which admits of no other alleviation, to direct a beam of hope to the heart which no other topic of consolation can reach; while guilt, des
pair, and death vanish at the touch of its holy in spiration.
There is something in the spirit and diction of the Bible which is found peculiarly adapted to arrest the attention of the plainest and most uncultivated minds. The simple structure of its sentences, combined with a lofty spirit of poetry,-its familiar allusions to the scenes of nature, and the transactions of common life, -the delightful intermixture of narration with the doctrinal and preceptive parts,-and the profusion of miraculous facts, which convert it into a sort of enchanted ground,—its constant advertence to the Deity, whose perfections it renders almost visible and palpable,-unite in bestowing upon it an interest which attaches to no other performance, and which, after assiduous and repeated perusal, invests it with much of the charm of novelty; like the great orb of day, at which we are wont to gaze with unabated astonishment from infancy to old age. What other book besides the Bible, could be heard in public assemblies from year to year, with an attention that never tires, and an interest that never cloys? With few exceptions, let a portion of the sacred volume be recited in a mixed multitude, and though it has been heard a thousand times, a universal stillness ensues; every eye is fixed, and every ear is awake and attentive. Select, if you can, any other composition, and let it be rendered equally familiar to the mind, and see whether it will produce this effect.
The Blind Preacher.
[THIS is an extract from one of a series of Letters written by Mr. Wirt, under the assumed name of the British Spy.]
RICHMOND, Oct. 10, 1803.
I have been, my dear S , on an excursion through the counties which lie along the eastern side of the Blue Ridge. A general description of that country and its inhabitants may form the subject of a future letter. For the present, I must entertain you with an account of a most singular and interesting adventure, which I met with in the course of the tour.
It was one Sunday, as I travelled through the county of Orange, that my eye was caught by a cluster of horses tied near a ruinous, old, wooden house, in the forest, not far from the road-side. Having frequently seen such objects before in travelling through these states, I had no difficulty in understanding that this was a place of religious worship.
Devotion alone should have stopped me to join in the duties of the congregation; but I must confess, that curiosity to hear the preacher of such a wilderness, was not the least of my motives. On entering, I was struck with his preternatural appearance. He was a tall and very spare old man; his head, which was covered with a white linen cap, his shrivelled hands, and his voice, were all shaking under the
influence of a palsy; and a few moments ascertained to me that he was perfectly blind.
The first emotions which touched my breast were those of mingled pity and veneration. But how soon. were all my feelings changed! The lips of Plato were never more worthy of a prognostic swarm of bees, than were the lips of this holy man! It was a day of the administration of the sacrament; and his subject, of course was the passion of our Saviour. I had heard the subject handled a thousand times: I had thought it exhausted long ago. Little did I suppose, that in the wild woods of America, I was to meet with a man whose eloquence would give to this topic a new and more sublime pathos, than I had ever before witnessed.
As he descended from the pulpit, to distribute the mystic symbols, there was a peculiar, a more than human solemnity in his air and manner, which made my blood run cold, and my whole frame shiver.
He then drew a picture of the sufferings of our Saviour; his trial before Pilate; his ascent up Calvary; his crucifixion; and his death. I knew the whole history; but never, until then, had I heard the circumstances so selected, so arranged, so coloured! It was all new: and I seemed to have heard it for the first time in my life. His enunciation was so deliberate, that his voice trembled on every syllable; and every heart in the assembly trembled in unison. His peculiar phrases had that force of description, that the original scene appeared to be, at that moment, acting before our eyes. We saw the very faces of the Jews: the staring, frightful distortions of malice and rage. We saw the buffet; my soul kindled with a flame of