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means follows, that every reader or interpreter of the Bible is equally able to extract from it the
pure and entire system of truth which it contains.
There unquestionably the truth exists; there, and there only, it is to be found perfect. But, without the ordinary attainments of human learning, or the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit, (now no longer to be expected,) no one will be fully qualified to digest and interpret its contents: and he who though destitute of these pretensions, will not consent to be guided by others, incurs a hazard fearful in proportion to the value of the blessing that is at stake.
If this be so, and if we ourselves are thoroughly satisfied as to the soundness of faith and purity of worship maintained in the Church with which we hold communion, the question, “What is truth ?” will no longer involve us in perplexity. We shall deem it an invaluable privilege that we are not among the number of those who are “ever learning, " and never able to come to the knowledge of “ the truth",” nor of those who refuse to “stand “ in the old paths, and walk therein, that they may
find rest unto their soulse” Possessed of such spiritual advantages, the fault will be our own, if we turn aside to vain and unprofitable disputes. “Buy the truth,” saith the Wise Man," and sell it not f.” It is “the pearl “of great price,” for which he who knows its value will “ sell all that he hath to purchase “its.” He will obtain it at any cost; he will part with it for none. He will not barter it away for sordid interest. He will not yield it to corrupt pleasure. He will not sacrifice it to mistaken views of candour and forbearance. But he will retain it stedfastly as his own best treasure; and gladly dispense its benefits to others.
d 2 Tim. iii. 7.
Jerem. vi. 16.
Thus have I endeavoured to set before you, not the particular doctrines and propositions comprised in a full answer to the question, “ What is truth?” but the magnitude and importance of the question itself; the mode by which the proper answer to it may be obtained ; and the conduct by which our regard to it should be manifested; to shew, that, though when proposed by an unenlightened heathen it might excite little interest, it presents to a believer in God's word consequences which cannot be contemplated without the greatest solicitude; to shew also, that when the truth is found, it is an imperative duty to uphold it, and to preserve it inviolate; and, lastly, to suggest the special advantages, in this respect, that we ourselves enjoy, and the weight of that responsibility which such advantages impose upon us.
f Prov. xxiji. 25.
g Matth. xiii. 46.
Both to those who preach the word, and to those who hear it, a word or two of admonition may hence be not unseasonably addressed.
The question, “ What is truth ?” is that which
every minister of Christ's Church is more especially bound to consider, and, according to the ability that God hath given him, to propound the answer to it, for the edification of his hearers. Our Church, moreover, hath given ample security to her members, that this answer shall not be left to the precarious judgment of those who are appointed to the ministry. Her Liturgy and Articles are intended to be a standard of Scripture-doctrine; a test, to try the soundness of our preaching, and its correspondence with holy writ. These, while they give security that the word of God shall not be “de“ ceitfully handled"," serve also as guides to ourselves in the discharge of this part of our duty. They suggest the most important topics of discourse; they assist in framing clear
h 2 Cor. iv. 2.
and consistent expositions of Scripture; and they connect a reverence for those sacred oracles with an affectionate attachment to our Church.
From this model of doctrine and discipline, he who has formed correct notions of the evangelical office will never intentionally depart. His aim will be, to “preach " the truth as it is in Jesus';" and to maintain and enforce it in unison with the pattern these rituals set before him ; not wandering, on the one hand, into enthusiastic or mystical extravagancies ; nor, on the other hand, degenerating into cold, metaphysical disquisitions; but “ reasoning out of the Scrip“ tures k;" inculcating faith as the basis of practice, and practice as the evidence of faith; endeavouring, throughout, both to convince the judgment and to gain the heart.
To the hearers of the word also, these are subjects of equally momentous consideration. To know Him who is “the way, the truth, “ and the life!," is the sum and substance of Christian faith. To be like unto Him who left us an “ensample that we should follow “ His steps "",” is the perfection of Christian practice. In this Christian country (blessed
k Acts xvii. 2.
I John xiv. 6.
i Ephes. iv. 21. m 1 Pet. ï. 21.
be God !) the lay-members of our Church have full opportunity of “ knowing these
things;” and “happy are they, if they do “ them n." In every part of this kingdom, high and low, rich and poor, one with an
other,” have the Gospel preached to them. It is preached to them in the Scriptures ; it is preached to them in all the forms and offices of our incomparable Liturgy; and we will venture yet further to say, it is preached to them in the discourses of the great mass of our parochial clergy. Countless multitudes have gone before us, we trust, in this
straight path” to Heaven ; and what should hinder those who follow in the same path from obtaining the same blessed recom
Well indeed would it be for us, both individually and collectively, if these benefits were always justly prized. But since “ the prepa“ rations of the heart," as well as the illumination of the understanding, are “ from the “ Lordo;” and since, though “ one may plant, “ and another may water, it is God that “ giveth the increaseP;" let our humble supplications be unceasingly offered up to the throne of
grace, that He, from whom cometh
n John xiji. 17.
o Prov. xvi. 1.
p 1 Cor. iii. 7.