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LECTURE I. FEB. 23, 1798.
It being my intention to give from this place, on the Fridays during Lent, a course of Lectures explanatory and practical on such parts of Scripture as seem to me best calculated to inform the understandings and affect the hearts of those that hear me, I shall proceed, without further preface, to the execution of a design, in which edification, not entertainment, usefulness, not novelty, are the objects I have in view; and in which therefore I may sometimes perhaps avail myself of the labors of others, when they appear to me better calculated to answer my purpose than any thing I am myself capable of producing
Although my observations will for the present be confined entirely to the Gospel of St. Matthew, and only to certain select parts even of that, yet it may not be improper or unprofitable to introduce these Lectures by a compendious view of the principal contents of those writings which go under the general name of the Holy Scriptures.
The book which we call the Bible (that is, the Book, by way of eminence) although it is comprized in one volume, yet in fact comprehends a great number of different narratives and compositions, written at different times, by different persons, in different languages, and on different subjects. And taking the whole of the collection together, it is an unquestionable truth that there is no one book extant, in any language, or in any country, which can in any degree be compared with it for antiquity, for authority, for the importance, the dignity, the variety, and the curiosity of the matter it contains.
It begins with that great and stupendous event, of all others the earliest and most interesting to the human race, the crea