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fear his frown; or that we can discover the way of peace and happiness without his instruction. Nothing, therefore, can be more expressive of ingratitude, rebellion, and alienation from God, than the general neglect of the Bible, which prevails among those that profess to believe it to be his word. Does He speak from Heaven to us sinners, about the way of eternal salvation, and shall we refuse to hear his gracious words? Does He give us a book to guide us to happiness in this world and for ever, and shall we not study it? Does He make known to us mortals those glories which angels adore with unceasing rapture, and shall we turn away with contemptuous aversion? Has He provided for us sinners such a redemption, as sinless “angels desire to look into;” and shall we think the subject unworthy of notice? Who can pretend to justify such conduct? Yet how much more pains do lawyers, physicians, and other students, who desire to excel in their professions, bestow in poring over voluminous authors, than men called christians do in searching the Scriptures : Yea, how many give a decided preference to amusing and ingenious trifles, or political discussions, (not to say publications suited to corrupt their principles and morals,) above the sacred word of God! They would be ashamed not to have read some admired or popular author, though the work perhaps be wholly useless, if not worse; yet they remain year after year, unacquainted with the holy Scriptures —“Surely in vain is the word “of the Lord given to them; the pen of the “scribes is in vain ''” It cannot be necessary, in such a compendious Essay, to show particularly, how the study of the Scriptures is inculcated in every part of the sacred volume. Let the more attentive reader turn to what Moses said to Israel,” what the Psalmist teaches,” and Solomon,” and what is contained in many passages of the New Testament.” Indeed the apostles and evangelists always reasoned from the Scriptures of the Old Testament; appealed to them, and supposed the Jews to be acquainted with them; and in their writings assure us, “These things were written that we might be“lieve that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; “ and that believing we might have life through “ his name?” The case then is plain, that our obligation to search the Scriptures is indispensable; and that it is a duty of the greatest importance. I'very person who allows them to be the infallible word of God, must be convicted in his own conscience of acting in an unreasonable and criminal manner, if he do not diligently study them; and the negligence of most men in this great concern, mani
'Jer. viii. 8, 9. * Deut. vi. 6–0 xi. 18–20. 3 Ps, i. xix. cxix. 4 Prov. ii. 1–6. 5 John v. 39, 40. Acts xvii. 11. 2 Tim. iii, 15–17.
* John xx. 31.
festly proves that they are not fully satisfied that the Bible was given by inspiration from God, and that it reveals the only way of peace and salvation. We do not urge men to believe without evidence; but we call upon them humbly and seriously to examine the proofs afforded them, that the Scriptures are the word of God: and then to bestow pains to learn the religion contained in them, and to compare the doctrine we propose, with that unerring standard from which we profess to have learned it. Nor can we doubt, but they, who will not comply with such requisitions, will be left without excuse at the day of final retribution, whatever excuses or pretences they may make at present. It may therefore be useful to give a few directions to those who are convinced of their duty in this particular; and desire to attend to it with profit to themselves, or those placed under their care.
I. Eramine the whole of the sacred Scriptures.— I do not mean, that the same degree of attention and time should be employed about every part of the Bible; some things are but more remotely useful to us; some are easily understood and applied: others require close and frequent investigation; whilst the obscurity of some passages renders them less adapted to the edification of unlearned readers. Yet every part of the sacred oracles has its use, and throws light upon the rest: and as preachers very properly make their appeal to the Scriptures in support of their doctrines; so their hearers cannot well judge how far their arguments are conclusive, unless they have a competent acquaintance with the whole of them. Nor is the Bible so large a book, but that even they who have not much leisure, may, in process of time, get a general acquaintance with every part of it, if they bestow a measure of diligence proportioned to the value of the acquisition; and as “all Scripture is “given by inspiration of God, and is profitable “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for in“struction in righteousness; that the man of God “may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all “good works;” so every word demands a measure of our attention. It is, therefore, a very great hindrance to edification, when serious persons rest satisfied with tevt-books, and abstracts from Scripture, or with a few favourite passages that are continually resorted to, whilst the rest of God's word is little regarded; and above all, those parts are neglected, which teach men the particulars of the christian temper, and of those duties in which they are most deficient. It has been found very useful by many, to divide the Bible into two or three parts, and to read a portion from each of them in order, in the morning, at noon, and in the evening, as people have leisure and opportunity: allowing more time to the New Testament, and to devotional parts of the Old; and reading these, wholly or principally, on the Lord's day, and on other seasons set apart for religion. This plan, pursued for a few years, will produce a familiar acquaintance with every part of Scripture. Singing the praises of God indeed very properly forms a part of family-worship, when time will permit: yet reading the Scriptures in course, (with a few exceptions, at the discretion of the person who officiates,) is a most excellent method of preparing the minds of children and servants for profiting by publick instruction, as well as for giving them a comprehensive view of our holy religion; and should therefore by no means be neglected.
It is also very advantageous to ministers and others who have much leisure, to vary their manner of reading: at some times going through a larger portion, with a more general regard to the scope of the sacred writer; at others minutely examining every word and sentence in a smaller portion, its connexion with the context, and its coincidence with other parts of the Scripture; and marking carefully the harmony and mutual subserviency of every part of divine truth; the proportion of one part to another; the distinct parts of which the whole consists; and the way in which the several subjects are stated, handled, arranged, and expressed.
II. Search the Scriptures daily.—Divine truth is