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What saith the judge ? 6. Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doth them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on a rock : And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell not ; for it was founded on a rock.” .

“ He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."

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SERMON VII.

ON READING THE HOLY SCRIPTURES.

JOHN v. 39,
Search the scriptures.

TO the serious mind it must be alike astonishing and painful to observe the heedless indifference, frequently, I had almost said commonly, betrayed toward “ that great salvation, which began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.” Multitudes, who read with avidity the current news of the day, and other publications, which relate exclusively to the affairs of the present world, find neither time nor incli. nation to inspect“ the lively oracles of God.” As if religion might be sufficiently understood without inquiry; or were less important in its nature, than earthly pursuits and gratifications, every source of human information, and even amusement is eagerly explored, whilst those records of grace and truth, which bring “ life and immortality to light,” lie neglected and unimproved. To this origin may be traced no inconsiderable portion of that insensibility to divine things, by which the christian world is too generally characterized and disgraced.

'That we may escape this prevalent corruption, and « know, in this our day, the things that belong to our peace,” let us, under the direction of our Saviour's injunction, in the text, attend first, to the import ; secondly, to the utility ; and thirdly, to the obligation of searching the scriptures.

1. The language, in which the heavenly teacher has clothed this command, marks, with a precision peculiar to himself,. the full extent of the duty in discussion. To " search the scriptures” is a phrase, which evidently im. plies something more than a hasty, desultory, or occasional inspection of their inspired contents. It conveys to every mind the idea of attentive, impartial, and frequent perusal ; and inculcates, not only the external act, but the object and motive, by which this act is to be guided.:.

: The scriptures give us a comprehensive view of the divine conduct and purposes, rela

tive to the improvement and salvation of the human kind; and furnish a perfect and unerr. ing rule for the government of our faith and practice. Systematick arrangement, however, more especially in the doctrinal and preceptive parts, both of the old and new testaments, is little regarded. With instructive facts, essen. tial truths and duties are interspersed. The same subjects are exhibited in different con: nexions, and set before us in a variety of lights; that if overlooked or neglected in one instance, they may seize and absorb the attention in another. Parallel passages variously express the same sentiments, or describe the same events, to give additional force and clearness to one another. The dark and obscure are illustrated by the more perspicuous and lucid.; the bold and figurative by the more plain and simple : and when both are equally intelligible and obvious, each is rendered more impressive by the varied style and phraseology of the other. In connected arguments, many sentences occur, which, unless limited and explained by the scope and design of the writer, will necessarily mislead the judgment, and generate errour. Precepts, which now meet our eyes in the indefinite language of metaphor, and seem to exact impossibilities, pres

ently appear in a more literal dress, and thus qualified, are divested of all the obscurity which surrounded them at first sight, without losing any part of the superiour energy, with which they then struck the mind. On this page, we find a sublime description of the promised Messiah ; on that, are detailed a series of transactions and facts, which evince its complete accomplishment in its time.

But if we would go on from first princi. ples to the higher attainments of the divine life, a still more extensive knowledge of revealed truth must be sought. To collect, compare, and apply the numerous and weighty lessons which are scattered through the sacred volume ; and, by this means, to give them their fuh effect upon our hearts and lives, dili. gent attention and research are apparently necessary. Not detached parts only, but the whole must be perused, and re-perused with care. Otherwise, though we may obtain what we know to be commonly possessed in chris. tian countries, a general and indistinct acquaintance with the gracious economy, under which we are placed ; yet, for want of more correct and deep impressions of “ the truth as it is in Jesus,” we shall be constantly liable to “make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience ;”.

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