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make them wise, and to put them in possession of the inward blessings flowing from the outward work of Christ, to make them wise unto salvation. This exact, but undesigned, harmony of the two Apostles, writing as they were to very different persons, and for the purpose of securing different objects, as will be apparent on considering the particular connexion of the passages respectively, proves both the perfect truthfulness of the writers, and that they were influenced by the same views of the religious system they had embraced, and to the establishment and diffusion of which their lives were dedicated.
The language of St. Peter may now be considered somewhat more particularly. He had been delivering his own personal testimony concerning the facts which proved Jesus Christ to be the Son of God, the Saviour and Lord of mankind. He adds, "We have also a more sure word of prophecy;" or, as Bloomfield would render it, a more sure word, the word of prophecy." The question is, In what sense more sure?" He could not mean more certain, either in reference to the declaration of the Father from heaven, or of the visible manifestation of the evidently-supernatural character of Christ. Nothing could be more certain than these to him who heard and saw them. Nor could he mean more certain than his own word, in itself considered; for he knew that he was one of the holy men who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and on whom, as Apostles, together with the Prophets, the church was founded. He places himself, in set terms, in the second verse of the third chapter, in the same relation to the church as that sustained by the Prophets: "Be mindful of the words spoken before by the holy Prophets, and of the commandments of us the Apostles of the Lord and Saviour." The testimony thus delivered by himself, as an individual, he delivers as that of a living man, thus addressing the persons to whom his epistles are inscribed. But having done this, he proceeds to show them that the facts rested not on his word alone; that he brought before them no novel doctrine which they were to receive merely because stated to them by himself. We have, he says, on this subject, a word more fully confirmed, both in point of evidence, extent, and time, even the word of prophecy, contained in the ancient Scriptures. Those among the "strangers scattered" abroad, who were of Jewish parentage, had been acquainted with them from their infancy, and had always been taught to acknowledge them as divine. The Gentile converts, likewise, knew the character attributed by the Jews to these writings, and had been taught themselves also to acknowledge it. The Christian converts, whether from among Jews or Gentiles, were "builded upon the foundation of the Prophets and Apostles, Jesus Christ being the chief corner-stone." Here, then, were writings of undoubted antiquity, and confirmed as to their character by the uninterrupted acknowledgments of generation after generation, from time immemorial. No one could dream of their recent composition. The Jews who refused to acknowledge Christ, believed them as firmly as did the Christians, and held them as the divinely-inspired oracles, which God himself had committed to them. And these Scriptures had not been written by one man, at one time they had been composed by individuals whose lives, taken together, spread over a number of centuries; and these individuals were all perfectly independent of each other, except that they all belonged to the same religious community. And thus considered, Peter might well say, "We have also a more sure word of prophecy," longer and more fully and extensively confirmed, than at that time his own declarations could be said to be. And this word
of prophecy bore, throughout, decided testimony to the facts and doctrines declared by Peter. In the midst of the obscurity of the Mosaic ritual economy, its declarations were as a light shining in a dark place." The essential doctrines of the Gospel are repeatedly stated; its great facts are repeatedly predicted; and the system of religion, fully unfolded and arranged in the New Testament, is plainly seen to be that which had been previously taught in the Old Testament, though mixed up there with numerous particulars, as was to be expected, belonging to the then existing economy.
In the interpretation of this "word of prophecy," however, St. Peter states that an important canon is to be observed, issuing from the fact of its divine inspiration, as acknowledged both by Jews and Christians. In his first Epistle he had stated that the ancient seers had prophesied of the Christian salvation, and that they had done this because "the Spirit of Christ" 66 was in them," and "testified beforehand of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow." In the second Epistle he says distinctly, "The prophecy came not in old time by the will of man.” These statements were not the result of the merely human knowledge of the writers, acquired by their own industry and skill; as, for instance, in the case of the old Grecian philosophers. "But" these "holy men spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." It was He who wrought on their minds,—in what particular manner we now pause not to inquire,— and caused them to speak and write as they did. The various prophecies, therefore, came through them, but from Him. They were, so to speak, the penmen, the amanuenses; but He was the Author. The channels were several; but the Fountain was one, and therefore the stream one. It is from this momentous fact that the canon arises," Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation." Papists, and papalizing writers, have given a curious meaning to this passage. Wishing to maintain an absolute domination over conscience, they have said,—Private interpretation is the interpretation of private persons, as distinguished from the public interpretation of the Church, meaning thereby themselves. The proper meaning is most evident from the assigned reason, that these holy men spake not of themselves, but as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. No particular prophecy, therefore, is to be interpreted as if it were merely the self-cogitated sentence of the immediate writer. Each prophecy is only a part of one vast scheme, and proceeds from the same Mind from which every other proceeds. No individual, certainly, may put his own sense, according to his own notions, on any prophecy; nor may any number or collection of individuals do this. The Author of the prophecies is the Spirit of God, and the interpretation of each, of any, of all, is to be sought in the same way, by a reference to the mind of the Spirit, as disclosed in the entire scheme. Each bears a relation to the whole, and by a careful examination of the whole is the meaning of each to be sought; and that interpretation best claims reception in which that relation is most fully preserved, and most clearly shown. The proper authorship of Scripture is one. It is the work of the Holy Ghost. All Scripture is God-breathed. It is, therefore, throughout consistent with itself, whether we, in our present circumstances, can always perceive this or not. No prophecy is to be interpreted as if the writer were its sole and ultimate author. It is not susceptible of such private interpretation. It is not to be its own interpreter, considered separately and independently; nor is it to be explained by a mere reference to the opinions and circumstances of its
apparent and human author. It belongs to a whole; and that whole, in all its parts, proceeds from the Spirit of God. Each part, therefore, is to be explained by reference to the whole. Whatever subordinate help we may employ,—and there is much that may be employed most profitably, the great object must be to ascertain the relation of the part to the whole, and its consistency with the whole. Such relation and consistency are the proper tests of the correctness of any particular interpretation. If, in any one place, the meaning of the Spirit be not at once apparent, it is to be sought by reference to his language and meaning elsewhere. In Scripture, as in providence, "God is his own interpreter ; " and if, with a proper disposition, we diligently employ these the only proper means, we shall find that all will be made plain that needs to be made plain. Some portions, particularly of the prophetic Scriptures, are enveloped in a mystery hitherto baffling all research, and perhaps are left to be explained by their fulfilment, and not till that arrives; but for all that relates to the wisdom that is unto salvation, let us carefully obey the injunctions of Peter. In the Scriptures, the great facts and doctrines connected with the redemption, government, and final judgment of mankind, are clearly and impressively made known, that we may thus be made wise unto salvation. Possessing this sacred volume, let us exhibit that long-established mark of true piety, love to the law of the Lord, by frequent and regular perusal and meditation. To do this is the duty of every Christian. To forbid him is to interfere between him and the fulfilment of a divinely-imposed obligation. It is his privilege and right, and to forbid him is intolerable usurpation it is despotism, it is robbery. In itself considered, submission here is sin. We not only may read the word of God, but we ought to do So. It is the command of God by St. Peter that we "be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy Prophets, and of the commandment of the Apostles of the Lord and Saviour;" and whatsoever may be alleged on behalf of those who allow themselves to be deprived of their Christian birthright, and however God may exercise mercy on them, their conduct involves much evil, and leads to great mischief. He who values not the word of truth, loves not the truth itself, the chief instrument of his salvation; and God's fearful judgment on all such shows the alarming extent of their criminality. They shall be given up to strong delusion that they may believe a lie. The reception of false doctrine is often judicial. To be guarded against false prophets, we must take heed to the inspired word, and search out its instructions by a conscientious reference to its Author, character, and design. The dogmatic usurpations of spiritual despots, the arrogant and absurd speculations of proud and self-called rationalists, and the sometimes indolent and sometimes fanciful conceptions of our own careless and stagnant minds, are equally to be avoided. Scripture is not composed of cunningly-devised fables, though it may have some depths and mysteries for the exercise of our humility and faith. It is not a dark enigma, only to be understood in the explanations of human authority. The supremacy, wisdom, holiness, and benevolence of the word of God, all repudiate this. It is given to make us wise unto salvation, and it is able to effect this. Its doctrines rest on plainly-revealed facts; and they who seek to " 'grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ," shall never "wrest unto their own destruction even the "some things hard to be understood" in Scripture. Let them be studied in reference to their design, and in such a spirit as that design intimates, a desire to know the will of God, in order to its experience and
practice, and "the word of Christ" shall "dwell in us richly in all wisdom." Let it be especially recollected, that the great object of the Scriptures is, that we receive remission of sins, and that salvation of our souls which is by it, and which is the end of our faith. The practice of which the word of God lays down the rules, is constituted by the works which only those who are saved can perform. To the inspired word, therefore, we "do well to take heed," till our natural ignorance is removed by the dawn of the day of holy knowledge, heavenly light shining around us; so that the whole landscape shall spread clearly before us, and we see 66 the way of peace "in all its distinctness. We do well to take heed to it, till its great purpose be accomplished, and "the day-star arise in our hearts;' till we so believe as to have the "witness in ourselves," and the light of the countenance of a sin-pardoning God lifted up on us. Thus being mindful of the Scriptures of the Prophets and Apostles, not basely and slavishly surrendering them to those who would tyrannize over our souls, nor allowing the professors of a godless knowledge to "spoil us through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ," "beguiling us with enticing words," we shall be guided and preserved in "the way of holiness,” and live “looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God; so that instead of being "led away with the error of the wicked, and falling from our own steadfastness," our 66 diligence" shall receive the abundant recompence of mercy, and we shall "be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless," and have an everlasting inheritance in the “ new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." E. T.
INSTITUTION OF THE SABBATH.
GENESIS ii. 1-3.-In these words you hear the origin of the divine and ancient institution of the Sabbath-day, but one day younger than the earth and its inhabitants. During six days the Almighty had been pleased to employ himself in the great work of creation; calling upon every day of the six to witness some wonderful addition to the mighty whole; and now, when all was finished, God called upon the seventh day to behold him resting from his work which he had made. Upon this day the Almighty solemnly pronounced a blessing, and dedicated it, or "sanctified" it, as a day of rest for ever. To an unfallen world how dear a boon! that there, where every day would doubtless behold the intimate communion of creatures and their God, even there, one day, "the Queen of days," should be, above all others, dedicated, and wholly set apart, for this blessed employment. But, in a fallen world, how absolutely necessary a provision ! Were it not for this most hallowed institution, surely all holiness, all piety, all knowledge of and intercourse with God would have, long since, been blotted out for ever. Were there no pause amid the exciting, stirring, earth-born business of the world, engrossing as it now is, how would it, long ere this, have swallowed up all thoughts, all minds, all time, and have left nothing for the calm and holy duties of the soul to God. Blessed, then, be God for the Sabbath-day. Let nothing tempt you to forego its privileges, or to neglect its injunctions: let it be to you, as far as is compatible with your stations and employments, always a day of holy rest; not a day of slothful and unprofitable listlessness, not a day of idle visiting, not a day of frivolous conversation; still less a day of guilty pleasures; but a day withdrawn, as far as it be possible, from the worldly employments of all other days; and
"sanctified," as the Lord your God has sanctified it, to himself, to the public ordinances of his religion, to the private searching of his word, to prayer, to praise, to calm, and quiet, and endearing family intercourse with your children and your dependents; in fact, to the more stated and weekly preparation for the rest which remaineth for the people of God.-Blunt on the Pentateuch.
No. XXVII.-REMARKS ON WESLEY'S NOTES ON THE NEW TESTAMENT.
(To the Editor of the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine.)
THE Explanatory Notes on the New Testament were first printed by William Bowyer,* in 1755, with a good type, on excellent paper. The number of capital letters in use is explained by Mr. Wesley's note, p. 47 : "Many texts are not understood, and others are utterly mis-understood, by placing the emphasis wrong. To prevent this, the emphatical words are here printed with capital letters." In 1757 the second edition was published. London, 4to. In 1760 they were first printed in three volumes, 12mo., for the convenience of Preachers to carry in their pockets while travelling their Circuits; for they were directed "frequently to read and enlarge upon a portion of these Notes." +
He began transcribing these Notes for the press, January 6th, 1754, and finished them September 23d, 1755. The preface is dated from the HotWells at Bristol, whither he had retired, by Dr. Fothergill's advice, for the benefit of his health, and there "to resume a work he had determined to delay as long as possible, that, if it should please God, he might finish this work and his life together." In his Journal he makes the following entries::—“ Having finished all the books which I designed to insert in the 'Christian Library,' § Sunday, January 6th, 1754, I began writing Notes on the New Testament, a work which I should scarce ever have attempted had I not been so ill as not to be able to travel or preach; and yet so well as to be able to read and write."
'February 27th. My brother came down from London, and we spent several days together, in comparing the translation of the Evangelists with the original, and reading Dr. Heylin's Lectures, and Dr. Doddridge's Family Expositor.
"March 19th. Having finished the rough draught, I began transcribing the notes on the Gospels."
Before Mr. Wesley put his Notes to press, he sent the мs., with a copy of Bengelius,|| to the Rev. James Hervey, who had been a Student of the same
* Chalmers says, "He stood unrivalled for more than half a century as a learned printer; and some of the most masterly productions of this kingdom have undoubtedly appeared from this press. To his literary and professional abilities he added an excellent moral character." He printed the Dissertationes in Librum Jobi, by Samuel Wesley.
+ Wesley's Works, vol. viii., p. 317. See also Minutes, vol. i., pp. 16, 41. All the large societies were to provide these "Notes for the use of the Preachers." (Wesley's Works, vol. viii., p. 315; also vol. xiii., p. 10.)
See Preface, close of the first paragraph, Works, vol. xiv., p. 250; Matt. xiii. 57. § 12mo. edit., fifty volumes, 1749-1755.
The Notes are chiefly a translation or abridgment of a learned German Divine, John Albert Bengelius, the first of the Lutheran Divines who published a learned, pro