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VERY many Christians appear to derive much less gratification and profit, than they otherwise might, from the study of THE HISTORICAL SCRIPTURES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT, nay, they are even pained and offended by several parts of them, in consequence of certain floating misconceptions and inadequate views of their character, design, and value. The following Discourses attempt to provide some remedy for these evils. And although they were originally addressed to the University, and contain a few passages more immediately applicable to some of its members, they are not unsuited, it is hoped, to Christian readers of other classes.
The First Discourse treats of the general design of the sacred records as RELIGIOUS
HISTORIES; the four next, of their particular design and some of their leading uses, with respect either to the nature and conduct of. man, or to the will and the attributes of his Maker. Thus the Second Discourse considers the gradual preparation made for the doctrines of atonement and sanctification by the demonstration which these sacred Histories afford of THE WEAKNESS AND THE SINFULNESS OF MAN: and the Third examines the strong testimony which, in the very midst of this demonstration, they bear to the extreme LOVING-KINDNESS OF GOD toward man even in his lost and unregenerate condition. The Fourth and Fifth Discourses relate to our practical conviction of the Divine FAITHFULNESS; and, taking into account the points of agreement and difference between the Christian and the earlier dispensations, they treat of the value and the right application of the old Ilistorical Scriptures with reference to either branch of this great subject—the ProvidENCE of God—and His ProMISES, In the concluding Discourse are considered those ANTICIPATIONS OF THE GOSPEL which may be discovered in
sacred records of the Old Testament, and which throw a Christian colouring, as it were, over the Old Scriptures.
The work is not restricted to what are usually called “ the Historical Books” of the Old Testament, as distinguished from the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophetical Books, but extends to whatever in any of these writings is in its own nature historical. Neglecting, however, all that variety of uses in detail, which are gathered from almost every separate text in holy writ, and which are continually treated of in Sermons and Commentaries, it only attempts to consider some of the leading objects and uses of the Historical Scriptures. In the selection of the subjects there must of course be ample room for variety of opinion. We owe it to the goodness of God, that the Old Testament is not exactly divided into distinct portions, historical, devotional, prophetical, or didactic; and in the Historical Scriptures more especially, there are occasionally blended the characters of every portion of holy writ. Some obvious topics, however, although not discussed at large in these Discourses, have not been altogether forgotten. Thus the Second treats by implication of that “ admonition” which, according to the Apostle, we are bound to derive from the“ ensamples” in the sacred history. (1 Cor. x. 11.) Whilst other subjects, such as the holiness, the justice, and the placability of the Almighty, although they might have been considered in this place, may be treated to greater advantage among the leading objects of the Law of Moses, or of the law and history of the Jews together. In a word, the design has been to treat either of the peculiar uses of the Historical Scriptures, or of such as appeared upon the whole to be more appropriately discussed in connexion with these than with other parts of the sacred writings.
It unavoidably happened, in the prosecution of such considerable subjects within a limited space, that a few of the more difficult questions of theology were touched upon
incidentally, and therefore briefly. The unlearned reader may perhaps meet with occasional difficulties springing from this source. But in