« AnteriorContinuar »
". If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.”_We do not reject expositors, or any other help, in circulating the holy Scripture alone;-we prepare materials for their useful labours; we do not intend or excite any rivalry against preachers or missionaries *, in instituting Bible Societies; we expect and pray for all needful co-operation; and God, in his wisdom and mercy, is raising up a variety of instruments, to work together for good..
There is really no danger of the study of the Bible begetting a contempt or disregard of others means. I trust the humble answer of the Ethiopian treasurer, when asked by Philip " understandest thou what thou readest?” is not quite singular:-and I can truly testify, in my own experience among the peasantry around me, that I know none more regular in attendance upon public worship, none more modest in receiviug instruction, and proposing their own ideas, than those who are most diligent in reading the Holy Scriptures.
In this opinion and testimony I am corroborated by the similar experience of the Rector of Clapham, stated in his review of Mr. Norris's Attack; and by the powerful authority of the Bishop of St. David's, in the preface to the work already quoted t :
" I am" (says Mr. D. p. 20) « a regular Clergyman: a Society is established in my parish, and it has not superseded me. The effect of it is to put Bibles into the hands of the poor. Hence I can employ my own funds to supply them with Tracts and Prayer-Books. I could not do both, and I am therefore truly thankful that such an institution exists. So far is this Society from superseding my labours, that it most essentially aids them.”
or The objection,” (says his Lordship) “ that the universal distribution of the Bible supersedes the regular ministry of the Church, is, I am persuaded, the very reverse of the fact. Our reformers had certainly no such apprehension. They are undoubtedly most inclined to attend to the Church service, who bring their Bible with them: and they, who are best read in the Bible, will be most likely to frequent the service of the Church, and will certainly be best prepared to profit by the instructions of their Minister.”
See “ Thoughts,” &c. Section 22.
† See Ch. I. Section 2.
$9. Let us not then withhold from the humble peasant the inestimable opportunity of enlarging his views, confirming his faith, and improving his understanding, by seeing, for himself, the numerous and striking prophecies, which have been fulfilled in the history of our redemption. If he be truly humble, he will not be permitted to go astray :-- If not, he may be led to discover a medicine for his pride. And, should the event unhappily be, that he remains unchanged, it is what the prophet had to deplore in more than one order of society :-06 Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed ?”
There is no exclusive charter of the path of safety, in the pursuit of heavenly wisdom ; and they, who fatter themselves with the idea of superior endowments, are in far greater danger than the most uneducated. Proverbs xxvi. 12.-" Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones." It is a presumptuous sing for a man to say to his brother, “ Thou fool ;” and, while we are arrogating to ourselves the clearest vision, it is possible, that we may be incurring the dreadful sentence of judicial blindness.
It is recorded (John ix) upon the occasion of bestowing sight upon a man who had been blind from his birth, that the Lord Jesus made this remarkable declaration“ For judgment I am come into this world ; that they which see not might see, and that they which see might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also ? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, we see ; therefore your sin remaineth.”
Is there then no charter of safety ? yes :—to a character; -but not to a class. It is a character, which I trust is found to constitute true riches and honour, among a very goodly company of the opulent, the learned, and the noble; and which they rejoice to recognize in the inferior walks of life. It is a character, which enjoys the presence of God, and therefore cannot be without his guidance and protection, however situated in the social scale:
" For thus saith the high and lofty one that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” (Isaiah lvii, 15.)
Such are the consolations, which are to be attained by reading the books of the prophets, as the language of inspiration ;--under the persuasion, that “ prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” And, it is important to observe, that the happy influence of such a persuasion must be greatly weakened, if not entirely lost, in reading the very best compilation, which could be substituted for the Bible. The most precious promises, -if they should not be omitted, or mutilated, or altered, would yet acquire somewhat of a human aspect; they would want the authority, with which the sacred volume is impressed- the broad seal of heaven. A similar observation is applicable to the precepts, exhortations, and threatenings, which abound in the writings of the prophets. What then shall we think of the plan of our author, (p. 31.) to circulate among the common people “ the sum and substance of religion judiciously extracted from the sacred scriptures !” one advantage of which extract he seems to suggest would be, that combined with the example which he recommends, it would not savour so much of “ dictation," as the labours of the Bible Society. How feeble are such suggestions for the advancement of morality and religion, when weighed against the powerful effect, with which the Holy Spirit pronounces, 5. Thus saith the Lord.”
$ 10. That the prophetic books abound with plain promises and threatenings, precepts and exhortations, adapted to the purposes of repentance, edification, and comfort it would seem almost superfluous to prove, by an elaborate degree of quotation or reference.-It may be well, however, to remind the reader briefly of the language, in which the Holy Spirit addresses us in this part of the Bible. ..« Hear, O Heavens, and give ear 0 earth ; for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children and they have rebelled against ine.".." Wash ye, make you clean ; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil ; learn to do well ; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed ; judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord : though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah i. 2, 16-18.) “ And
rate det, to "Holy Spiri
vation is my strength.) “ Tha theebecaired the
in that day thou shalt say, O Lord, I will praise thee; though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned -away, and thou comfortedst me. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid ; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.” (xii. 1, 2.) “ Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee.”_66 With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” (xxvi 3. 9.) 6 And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever.” (xxxii. 17.) 6. Who hath directed the spirit of the Lord ? or being his counsellor hath taught him ?"66 To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal ? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold, who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.” “ He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.” (xl. 13. 25. 26. 29.) « I, even I, am the Lord, and besides me there is no Saviour.” (xliii. 11.) 66 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth : for I am God, and there is none else.” (xlv. 22.) " Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (lv. 6, 7.) “ Thus saith the Lord, the Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool : Where is the house that ye build unto me? And where is the place of my rest ? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord : but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” (lxvi. 1, 2.) " Fear ye not me? saith the Lord: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea, by a perpetual decree that it cannot pass it; and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass it.” (Jer v. 22.) « Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man
it.” Prevail; thoughes thereof toss
glory in his might, let' not the rich man glory in his riches. But let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteouesness in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord. (ix. 23, 24.) “ Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.”_" The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” (xvii. 5. 9. 10.) « Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him ? saith the Lord: Do not I fill heaven and earth ? saith the Lord," (xxiii. 23, 24.) “ It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” “ For the the Lord will not cast off for ever ; but though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.” (Lam. jii. 22. 31-33.) “Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord. Let us lift up our hearts with our hands unto God in the heavens.” (40, 41.) “ If the wicked will turn from all his sins, that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.” “ Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed ; and make you a new heart, and a new spirit; for why will ye die, 0 house of Israel ? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God; Wherefore turn yourselves and live ye." (Ezek. xviii. 21.31, 32.) “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” (xxxvi. 26.) “ To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him.” (Dan. ix. 9.).« Come and let us return unto the Lord ; 'for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten and he will bind us up."-" I desired mercy and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God, more than burnt-offerings.” (Hosea vi. 1. 6.) « Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly.” (Joel. i. 14.) • Andrend your heart and not your garments.” (ii. 13.) “ Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God ? Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings,