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comparatively small importance of doctrinal truth, is subversive of revelation; and in fact is only a more plausible and a more dangerous species of infidelity.
If we believe the Scriptures to have been written by inspiration from God, and have any suitable apprehensions of his omniscience, veracity, and other perfections; we must be convinced, that it is the height of arrogance for us shortsighted erring creatures of yesterday, to speak of any doctrine contained in them, as false or doubtful, because it does not coincide with our reasonings or conceptions. Surely, a small portion of modesty and humility might suffice, to induce a confession, that we are more likely to be mistaken than the only wise God! In rejecting the doctrines evidently taught in the Bible, we must either arrogate to our own understanding a superiority above the omniscience of God, or impeach his veracity, or deny a part of the Scriptures to be a divine revelation; reserving to ourselves the infallible determination of what part is of divine authority and what is not.—But if we think any part of the Scriptures, though true, to be of little or no importance, or of bad tendency, what do we, but affront the infinite wisdom or goodness of God, as if he did not know what truths were proper to be revealed to man; or as if he purposely discovered those matters, which it would have been better for mankind never to have known ? And since it is
evident that the Lord has, in the Bible, required the belief of certain doctrines as absolutely necessary to salvation ;* to insinuate that these doctrines are either false, doubtful, or of no value, must involve in it the grossest and most affronting blasphemy imaginable.
We do not indeed maintain that all the truths of revelation are of equal importance, because they are not stated in Scripture to be so: but none can be wholly unimportant, and we are not always competent to decide upon their comparative value. Some things are more obvious than others; and such, as are more hard to be understood, are not so well adapted to those “ who are unstable, and " unlearned” in the school of Christ: yet we are not authorized to reject, or even to doubt, any of them. We may indeed demur as to the doctrines revealed in them, whilst in humble reverent teachableness, we wait for clearer light upon the subject: and we must remain for some time in partial ignorance or error, because we cannot at once become acquainted with all scriptural truths, even when we have a disposition implicitly to believe them. There are some things which relate to the very life and essence of true religion, while others are rather necessary to our stability, comfort, and holy conduct: these we must by no means reject, or treat with indifference; but it is possible, that, to the last, we may be mistaken or ignorant about
some of them, and yet be found among the heirs of salvation.
The importance of revealed truth may be shown in another way; as it is the seed or principle in the soul, from which all inward or real holiness proceeds. Our Lord prays, “ Sanctify them by
thy truth, thy word is truth."" And the apostle says, “ beholding as in a glass,” (namely the doctrine of Christ) “ the glory of the Lord, “we are changed into the same image.2" And again “ Without controversy great is the mystery " of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh.” This doctrine was, in the judgment of the Apostle, " the great mystery of godliness ;” and indeed all the holy dispositions and affections towards God, all the genuine spiritual worship, all the willing obedience of filial love, and all the cheerful acquiescence in the divine will, and affiance on the divine truth and mercy, which have been found in the world since the fall of man, have arisen from a proper perception of this great truth, and the doctrines connected with it. Spirituality or supreme valuation of the holy excellence of spiritual things, and a disposition to seek pleasure and satisfaction in religion, is intimately connected with a believing dependence on the promised influences of the Holy Spirit: and that view of the worth of the soul, the evil of sin, the justice and mercy of God, the vanity of the world, and the John xyii. 17-19
2 2 Cor. iii. 18. iv. 3--6.
believer's obligations to a Saviour “who loved “ him, and redeemed him to God with his blood,” which the doctrine of the cross communicates, is essentially necessary to deep repentance, genuine humility, gratitude, patience, meekness, forgiveness of injuries, love of enemies, and other parts of the christian temper and character. Without this, a proud morality, and a task and
form of godliness, comprise the sum total of man's religion; except as he is brought under those impressions and lead. ings, which will in time influence him to embrace " the truth as it is in Jesus.” This will appear more fully, and be proved more at large, in the subsequent Essays.—The importance of revealed truth, therefore, may be evidently perceived, both from the authority of him who speaks to us in the Scripture; from the various methods he has taken to confirm the words of his servants; and from the tendency and efficacy of sound doctrine to produce spiritual affections and holy obedience.
We grant indeed that the doctrines of Scripture may be received by a dead faith into the understanding as true, whilst the heart does not embrace them as good; and then they will “ be held in un“righteousness.” But a real and living belief of them is the proper root of true holiness. By regeneration the heart is prepared for thus receiving the truth, which then becomes the principle of progressive sanctification: “a whited sepulchre” is the emblem of all that can be attained to, where
Creator; that we neither value his 40 this is proudly rejected or treated with indifference: and every man's spirituality, piety, humility, and enlarged, disinterested, unostentatious, philanthropy, will bear proportion to the degree in which he knows and cordially embraces the great doctrines of the Bible.
It must, therefore, be evident, that every person to whom the Scriptures are sent, ought to study them, and acquaint himself with their contents. For if God, in compassion to our ignorance and love to our souls, as well as in regard to the honour of his own name and government, has given us a book, penned under the inspiration of his Holy Spirit; and if the truths revealed in it be of the greatest importance; it must be most reasonable, that we should bestow pains to acquire the knowledge of them. Whether we consider the Scriptures as a revelation which the Lord hath made to us of himself, that we may know, worship, and glorify him; or of his law and government, that we may submit to and obey him, and learn our true condition as sinners; or of his mercy and salvation, that we may find acceptance with him ; or of the privileges of his children in this life and that which is to come: in every view of the subjeçt, the duty of " searching then” must be manifest. Nor can we neglect it, without avowing that we despise the knowledge of God and of họavenly things; that we do not desire