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God. What they wrote He indited. ( viction, conversion, consolation, and They were but instruments whom He sanctification, may justly be considered condescended to employ. They were in as affording decisive proof that it is the the hands of the Spirit, what the pen is word of God. My brethren, are the Holy in the hands of the writer, and nothing Scriptures given by inspiration of God? more. Thus St. Peter speaks in the first With what a voice of authority do they chapter of his second epistle, at the address us! Are any of my hearers twenty-first verse—“ Prophecy came disregarding their authority? Are you not in old time by the will of men, neglecting the directions and admoni. but holy men of God spake as they tions which they convey? Are you were moved by the Holy Ghost”- cherishing principles and pursuing a equally applicable is this remark to line of conduct, the very reverse of every part of Scripture. Every part | those principles and of that conduct of it bears the lively stamp of inspira- | which the Holy Scriptures inculcate tion. The dignity and majesty of its and enjoin? Beware! the day will style are worthy of the Holy Spirit, come, when you must appear before the the sublimity and purity of its doc- judgment seat of Christ to give an actrines show that they could have pro- count of the things done in the body. ceeded from no other source—the Ah, what an account will it be if you agreement and harmony of its several continue to disregard the authority of parts furnish additional evidence of its the inspired Scriptures! It is God inspiration.
that speaks to you in them ! "Hear This again is strengthened by the ye him!” accurate fulfilment of prophecies con- I now proceed to notice in the Third tained in it. If we refer, for instance, place, to the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah,
THEIR IMPORTANT USE. bearing in mind that it was written This is stated in the text both nearly eight hundred years before generally and particularly—This is the birth of Christ; then carefully the general statement “ which are compare it with the account in the able to make thee wise unto salvaGospels of his sufferings, and the tion, through faith which is Christ manner in which he bore them, and Jesus.” you cannot fail to perceive that the To be read profitably, the Scriptures prophecy could only have been given must be read with faith; the mere by inspiration of God. Many similar reading of them without this will be instances might be mentioned, I merely productive of no real advantage. What notice this as a specimen.
St. Paul says in the fourth chapter of The stupendous miracles also that his Epistle to the Hebrews and second God enabled many of the writers of verse, “ The word preached did not Scripture to perform, testified its di- profit them, not being mixed with vine inspiration. “God," saith St. faith in them that heard it,” is equally Paul, in the second of Hebrews and true of the word read. But when the fourteenth verse, “bearing them wit- Scriptures are read with faith, and ness with signs and wonders, and with prayer, and dependence on the grace divers miracles and gifts of the Holy and blessing of the Holy Spirit, they Ghost, according to his own will." I are of the most important use to the will only add on this point, that the reader. They communicate that wispower and efficacy of the word on the dom to him, by the aid of which he minds of multitudes, as the grand in. may attain to everlasting salvation. strumentof the Spirit, in producing con. They impart to him a knowledge of the way of salvation. They show him | God, its baseness as committed against that salvation is through faith in Christ Jehovah in his trinity of persons; and Jesus, and they supply him with the thus do the Holy Scriptures address to most animating motives and the most every creature under the canopy of powerful encouragements to seek sal- heaven the language of reproof, “ for vation in that way. Thus it is, that all have sinned.” “the Scriptures are able to make Again, our text informs us, that they wise unto salvation;" the mere act are profitable for “correction.” They of reading the Bible does not save. are profitable not only for convincing Christ is the only Saviour, and that us of, and reproving us, for the error we may not mistake on this point, of our ways, but they show us how it is expressly said that the sal- to correct them-how to “put away vation, for the attainment of which the evil of our designs, and learn to the Scriptures supply the necessary do well”-how, what is amiss in our wisdom, is through faith in Christ spirit, temper, or conduct, may be Jesus.” But they are said to make amended. They are calculated to corwise unto salvation, because they re- rect the judgment, the affections, and veal the Saviour, unfold the great plan the practice; teaching us what to of salvation, through faith in his blood approve, value, love, and pursue; and righteousness, point out our need what we should lightly esteem, hate, of him, his suitableness to our wants forsake, and avoid. and necessities, his work and offices We must now consider that they as the Prophet, Priest, and King of his are also profitable, for “ instruction in church, his ability “to save to the righteousness.” They instruct us in uttermost all that come unto God by the real nature of righteousness; in him.”
the obligations, motives, and encouThe important use of the Scriptures ragements to it, and in the way in is stated more particularly, when it is which alone we can attain to it. added, " that they are profitable for My brethren, would you
die the doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for death of the righteous ? Would you instruction in righteousness.” They wish your latter end to be like his ? are profitable for “doctrine,” they would you desire to be found among teach sound doctrine, concerning our the righteous, when they shall shine state by nature—our need of grace-forth as the Sun in the kingdom of the way of justification and accept their Father? Then delay not “ to ance with God, the necessity and na- search the Scriptures,” make your. ture of holiness, and the means by selves familiar with the instructions which it is to be attained, the future which are to be found in them—lay and everlasting state of happiness or those instructions to heart-obey them misery, and our various duties to God-profit by them. and our fellow men. They are pro
Remark, in the Fourth place, fitable for "reproof," being eminently
THEIR GRAND DESIGN-" that the calculated, under the blessing of the man of God may be perfect, throughly Holy Spirit, to convince us of sin, and furnished unto all good works.” reprove us for it. They shew the By the expression “the man of spirituality and extent of the Divine God,” we are to understand, in the law, and our manifold transgressions first place, especially as it is used by of it. They display the evil of sin- St. Paul in his Epistles to Timothy, the odious nature of it, as considered the faithful minister of God; but it in itself, its hatefulness in the sight of may with propriety be applied to
every true Christian, as one who loves passage before us, throughly fur. God, lives to God, one whom God, in nished unto all good works.” This the exercise of sovereign grace, power, is a distinguishing mark of the man and mercy, has called out of darkness of God: he knows that good works into his marvellous light, and sealed are indispensably necessary-not, inby his Holy Spirit unto the day of re- deed, as grounds of justification, demption.” In like manner, what is but as evidences of his faith, and the here said as to the grand design of the appointed means of glorifying his God. sacred Scriptures is said more particu. Knowing this, he abounds in them, larly with respect to ministers, but may and he desires to abound in them more with equal justice be applied to all the and more. He does not imagine, that people of God. The grand design, because he performs some good works, then, of the Scriptures, is that the he is at liberty to neglect others. He man of God, the real Christian may desires to be thoroughly furnished unto be perfect, not indeed perfect in the all good works; and it is the grand exact sense in which we generally em- design of the Holy Scriptures thus to ploy the term. In that sense none are
furnish him. They show him what perfect on this side of the grave. A really are good works; they incite and state of absolute and sinless perfection encourage him to be “zealous of them” is unattainable in this world. The —they point to the examples of many most exalted Christian that ever lived faithful servants of God in former never arrived at this point. No—not times, now glorified saints, who were even St. Paul himself; for thus he conspicuous for them; and they give writes in the third chapter of his him the most plain and weighty diEpistle to the Philippians, “not as rections, by following which he cannot though I had already attained, either fail to let his light so shine before men were already perfect;" and if such that they may see his good works and were his case, where is the man whose glorify his Father which is in heaven. case it is not ?
Having attempted to lead your atThe word “ perfect,” as applied to tention to the title, authority, importChristians in this, and some other ant use, and grand design of the Scrippassages of Scripture, denotes an ad- tures, what remains, my beloved brevanced stage of Christian experience. thren, but that I briefly, but earnestly, Moreover, the Scriptures possitively exhort you to seek to know them. assure us, that there are different de- First—For this purpose, examine grees of growth in grace, different de- them daily. A true Christian grees of advancement in the divine who desires his soul to thrive and be and spiritual life. There are those in health—will no more suffer a day among believers who are called in to pass without reading some portion Scripture “ babes in Christ,” and of the word of God, than a man who there are those who are called "strong desires his body to be strong and men.” To the latter class the term healthy, will suffer a day to pass with
perfect" is applied. When, there- out tasting food. Many think it suffore, it is said in my text, that the ficient if they read the Bible on the man of God may be perfect,” the Sabbath ; but this is a clear proof that meaning is, that he may be an ad- their hearts are not right with Godvanced, and mature Christian ; that that though they may have something he may be stablished, strengthened, of the form, they have nothing of the settled, in his Christian course;" or power of godliness-in a word, that as it is added in the last clause of the they have never been born again of the
Holy Spirit; for if they had, they desire, and aim to arrive at a know. would, as new-born babes, desire ledge of the truth as it is in Jesus. the sincere milk of the word, that “ Receive with meekness the engrafted they might grow thereby;" and such word, which is able to save your souls" a desire would not allow them to approach the sacred volume with a rest satisfied without reading every childlike spirit- say with Samuel, day some portion of the word of God. “ Speak, Lord, for thy servant hear. My brethren, be assured it is not eth.” Let us, then, the ability, it is the inclination alone Fourthly, read the Scriptures with that is wanting. You can find time earnest prayer for the teaching and for sleep-you can find time for your blessing of the Holy Spirit. It is meals — but, alas! Satan persuades solely through his teaching and blessmany that they have no time for at- ing that the Scriptures are able to tending to the concerns of their im- make wise unto salvation. They are mortal souls; or, at most, no time but the instrument, He is the Agent; except one day in seven, for reading the Bible is a sealed book till He unthe Bible, the directory to heaven. seals it. The reading of it is profitable Permit me to caution such persons of to none but those who are enlightened the danger of such gross neglect. Be and instructed by Him. He only, by on your guard, my brethren, against whose inspiration it was given, can his subtle devices, who, like a roaring impart to us a spiritual and saving lion, goeth about seeking to devour understanding of its blessed truths. your soul; unless you make this in- Whenever, therefore, we open the valuable book your daily study, be as- Bible, let us lift up our hearts in sured you will never be wise unto sal- humble prayer, that we may be envation.
lightened and taught by the spirit of Secondly-Read the Scriptures with God, that we may understand and seriousness; when you open your Bible profit by what we read. Let us pray reflect that it is the word of God-the with holy David : “Open thou mine revelation of his mind and will to you eyes, that I may behold wondrous -the guide to heaven. Beware of a things out of thy law." Plead the careless and trifling spiritthe reading precious promise_"they shall be all of the Scriptures is not a light and taught of God"—thus shall you astrilling spirit-remember it is for your suredly receive the blessing out of life!
Zion, even life for evermore, for Je. Thirdly- Read them with sim- hovah himself hath declared, for your plicity. Do not bring to the study of encouragement, “ Ask and ye shall reScripture, as is the manner of some, ceive, seek and ye shall find”-and thus your preconceived notions, views, or shall ye become wise unto salvation. prejudices--come to it with a simple
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Genesis, xxiv. 63.-“ And Isaac went to meditate in the fields at the eventide." Whosoever hath walked forth, like and we seem to hear the stream of time the Patriarch, about the eventide, flowing past us. When outward na. into the silent and retired places of ture is so stripped of its gay colouring, nature, and seen the dusky mantle and divested of its turbulent and noisy of twilight falling upon the earth, agitation, and the body hath also attumust have felt stealing over his own ned itself to the mood of the soul, then breast, a state of repose and a sober cometh to the breast some of the most shade of thought in harmony with profitable and delightful moods, which the aspect of nature around him ; for it ever partakes in this changeful being. there is a twilight of contemplation in The good and ill of the past come bethe soul, midway between the excite- fore us, dressed in sober colours, the ment of action, and the deadness of gay divested of vain glory, the evil slumber—the stir of passion is at rest, divested of remorse; everything sober. and the noisy calls of interest have sub. ed down like nature in its twilight sided—and a pensive mood cometh ou varieties of dress, its splendours shaded, rich with sober reflections—and the its defects veiled, its asperities smoothsoul careth not for a companion to ex- ed, and altogether softened and har. press herself before ; and if, by chance, monised by the witching influence of she hath one by her side, both she and the solemn hour ;—and our present ocher companion steal into themselves, cupation cometh up for judgment beand though they love each other dearly, fore us, and we meditate its usefulness they fear to intrude upon the sweet and and its end; then errors are not asham. unperturbed work, which the soul is ed to confess themselves, and the soul carrying on in her sacred recesses :- not averse to consider them, and better and the soul being left alone peruseth purposes and resolutions are engenderherself, and meditates her condition, ed. The vanity of life now showeth and the body keepeth harmony with the itself without a preacher, its speedy deepand solemn occupation of the mind passage, like a morning.cloud, its by a slow and solemn pace; and the disappointments, and its sorrows, and eye to catch no disturbance casteth it all its troubles. The soul becomes self upon the ground, and the ear is philosophical of her own accord, she conscious only to the stillness of nature, wonders at her thoughtfulness, and the