« AnteriorContinuar »
we might dwell much upon them; nor would it answer the divine requirements were our acquaintance with the scriptures to be ever so extensive, if it consisted in little more than treasuring up the words in our memories, or understanding particular passages, without perceiving their connection with the system of scripture doctrines ; but we must let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, in all wisdom, or understanding. In order to this, it is evident that much study of the scriptures, with patient, candid, and prayerful examination, is requisite. The
11. Thing proposed was to offer reasons in support of this duty; or to show why we ought to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, in all wisdom, as here explained
1. An obvious and sufficient reason is the command of God. This is plain, pointed, and often repeated. It was given by Moses in the Old Testament as in the passage just cited from Deuteronomy : “ These words which I command thee this day, shall be in thy heart.” They were commanded to learn and remember them, and to meditate upon them, day and night ; and so to digest and understand them, as to be able to teach them to their chil. dren, and all under their care. In the New Testament, in addition to the express words of the text, We find God requires of his people, that they should be enriched with all 'knowledge, and to abound yet more and more, in knowledge and in all judgment. The apostle exhorts his brethren, Heb. vi. 1. “ To leave the first principles of the doctrine of Christ, and go on to perfection :" that is, not to rest satisfied with a partial acquaintance with the 'scriptures, or with a knowledge of the plainest things the first principles ; but to become acquainted with the whole system of divine truth, even the deep things of God, so far as these are revealed.
2. The reasonableness and importance of the duty. enjoined in the text will appear, if we consider the character of Christ, who speaks, and the importance of the subjects, upon which he addresses us in his word. He is the glorious Son of God, who has come forth from God, and is alone able to reveal him ; as he is in the bosom of the Father, and is perfectly acquainted with his mind and will, and in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Does it not, therefore, greatly become us to hearken to his voice, and to let his word dwell in us richly ! Especially wh: we consider the import.rnt subjects upon which he addresses us—they are no less than the being and perfections of God, and all the important truths of religion ; as the creation of the world--the creation and fall of man—the immortality of the soul-the resurrection of the body-a future judgment-and an eternal retribution to the saints, and to the wicked--the way of salvation, by a mediator-the work of the Holy Spirit on the hearts of men-our duty to God, and the way in which we may become, in our measure, like God himseif, and enjoy him for ever! What interesting subjects ! How valuable, and how important to be known ! They are indeed the study of angels, who desire to look into these things; and they have been the main study of the holy patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, and of all good men, in every age of the world.
3. A compliance with the injunction in the text, is necessary to a comfortable assurance of hope. If the word of Christ dwellnot in us, if we neglect to study it, or to meditate day and night upon the truths which it reveals ; and find our minds better pleased, and chiefly taken up with other things, we manifest a corrupt taste, and give evidence that we have no true regard to Christ, who speaks in his word. Nothing is more evident than that what cur hearts are upon, will engage our earnest attention, What an ardent
affection was manifested by David, and the saints of old, to every part of the word of Christ which they then had. Their language was, Oh, how I love thy law-it is my meditation all the day, my soul breaketh for the longing it hath unto thy judgments at all times the law of thy mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver. But the word of God has been greatly enriched, since the time of David. If, therefore, we have the scriptures in our hands, and yet let not the word of Christ dwell in us richly, we manifest disaffection to the character of God, and of the Saviour, and to the whole f:in of redemption, aral the glorious things implied in it. Only in proportion, therefore, as we comply with the duty enjoined in the text, can we have a well grounded hope in ourselves, and adorn a profession of friendship to Christ before men.
4. The importance of complying with the exhor. tation in the text, appears from the consideration, that the word of God is a peculiar mean of sanctification. This must be an interesting motive to every Christian. Christ prayed, that his followers might be sanctified through the truth, even by the word of God, which is truth. We are taught, that the gospel worketh effectually in those who believe. But in order that the word of God may be to us a mean of sanctification, it must be understood, and receivedy and dwell in us richly. Would we, therefore, grow in grace, we must grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, by an extensive and critical acquaintance with his word. An expansion of the mind, by an increase of the knowledge of the truth, or word of Christ, in its various parts and connections, supplies the heart, with objects for the exercise of its affections; and upon becoming thus enlarged, the soul is sweetly constrained to run in the way of the clivine commandments.
5. The word of God is a rich source of Christian enjoyment and consolation. The habitual joy, which was possessed by the apostles and primitive Christians, arose chiefly from a knowledge and belief of the truth of God's word. To those, in whom the word of Christ dwells richly, in all wisdom, it becomes easy and natural, to teach and admonish one another, in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs singing and making melody in their hearts unto the Lord. Under all trials and afflictions, a knowledge of the word of Christ supports them, and enables them to glory in tribulation, and bears up the mind, even in the nearest views of death. But no effect of this kind can be produced by the word of Christ, any farther than we become acquainted with the scriptures, imbibe the truth, and cause it to dwell in
6. We ought to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, in all wisdom, because it will lay a foundation for peculiar usefulness in the world. It will assist and enable us to diffuse light among those, with whom we are conversant. This is an important duty. Professing Christians ought to cause thc light of truth to shine, not only by living according to it, but by diffusing instruction, in the way of conversation, and .by teaching those under their care. Every Christian moves in a sphere of some extent; and ought so to occupy it, as to embrace every occasion which may offer, for communicating divine knowledge, as far as possible, to those around him. The duties of a parent, and a master, particularly, include in them the instruction of those committed to their care.. There are opportunities in which all, in every station and situation, might communicate the light of the knowledge of divine truth to others, if they were possessed of it. But as it is evident we cannot communicate any thing, beyond the degree in which we possess it, the discharge of this duty, so
important, and so desirable to the benevolent, depends upon our compliance with the injunction in the text, to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, in all wisdom. In no other way can we be qualified, for teaching and admonishing one another, upon divine subjects, to profit and edification.
7. A thorough and intimate acquaintance with the word of Christ, so as to understand the system of truths which it contains, with their connection and dependence, will be a great support, in times of apostacy, when many are liable to be carried about by every wind of doctrine, and to make shipwreck of faith. But without this, there is no safety. We are in danger of being led away, by the error of the wicked, and the cunning craftiness of those who lie in wait to deceive. Even real Christians, who have some knowledge of the truth, unless the word of Christ dwells in them richly, in all wisdom, will be confused in their ideas of many subjects, and consequently be unstable, and liable often to change from one sentiment to another, to the injury both of themselves. and the cause. I would only observe further, that each of the arguments now adduced is sufficient, of itself, to evince the great importance of the duty inculcated in the text. Indeed, the command in the text is sufficient ; yet the other considerations now adduced, serve to exhibit the importance of a thorough knowledge of the scriptures, in various points of light, and are weighty motives to a diligent study of the word of Christ.
What remains, is an application and improvement of the subject.
1. This subject administers reproof to all such, as have the holy scriptures in their hands, and yet suffer them to lie neglected ; and who continue ignorant of the first principles of the doctrine of Christ. The duty now enforced, to let the word of God dwell