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neither pleasure nor peace, till they return to the ways of wisdom. Let every young person, like Timothy, be made acquainted, “from a child, with the Holy Scriptures; for they are able to make him wise unto salvation, and are profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. By them he will be made perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works; and he will continue in the things, which he has learned, and been assured of, knowing whence he had learned them.'
Although, I trust, there is little need to convince you of these truths, yet I have thought fit " to stir up your minds by way of remembrance," that you may both be more assiduous in the study of Scripture yourselves; and encourage and assist others, especially the poor, to persevere in this holy practice, by exhortation, by gifts of the Holy Scriptures, and by contributing to societies, instituted for this most salutary and benevolent purpose. Thus may we all, rich and poor, old and
young, be continually “mindful of the words spoken of old by the holy prophets; and by the apostles, and by our Lord himself; and grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ."-Amen.
ON THE MOST PROFITABLE MODE OF READING
PSALM cxix. 105. “ Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
In discoursing on these words, I shall endeavour to explain what appears to me to be the most profitable mode of studying Scripture, so that it may be a “ lamp to our feet, and a light to our path.” I address myself neither to the sceptic nor the critic, neither to the frivolous nor the profane, neither to the enthusiastic nor the fanatic; but to serious Christians, firmly convinced of the fundamental facts and principles of revelation.
I speak to those, who are thoroughly assured, that the Almighty has exercised his providence in superintending the spiritual as well as the temporal concerns of mankind, from the beginning of the world; that he made himself known to the
Patriarchs, both before and after the flood; that he selected the descendants of Abraham as depositaries of divine truth; made them, by a special revelation and law, a peculiar people, for the preservation of the first principles of religion; and through them communicated to the whole world a full declaration of his will, a free dispensation of grace, and a promise of life eternal to all his faithful servants, by the mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Impressed with the sentiments, which these convictions should excite, a person of this description will study the records of these revelations with reverence.
He will, however, distinguish the history from the divine communication. He will see, that the narrative has been composed by fallible men, but under such direction and superintendence, that, though left to themselves, as to peculiarities of style, the relation of ordinary facts, and the insertion of occasional reflections, they hand down the revelation itself as it was actually made. He will see, that the Mosaical law, though intermingled with every incident in the history of the Jews, is always consistent with itself; and that the doctrine of Christ, though incorporated with the narrative of his life, and explained by so many unconnected witnesses, is always fundamentally the same. The Divine doctrine he will discriminate from the infirmities of the authors and the
actors; and will not impute to either revelation, the errors, follies or crimes of those, who take a part in civil transactions; much less will he be disposed to vindicate or excuse his own faults, by the example even of the most distinguished characters in sacred history. Thus he will avoid those occasions for captious criticism and profane mockery, which mislead so many, who involve themselves in discussions, to which their learning and talents are unequal, and render their perusal of Scripture not only unprofitable, but pernicious, by wresting the word of life to their own destruction.
One, who is ignorant of the original languages, must at once see the folly of spending his time in critical disquisitions. Were he even, in some degree, acquainted with them, he would be incapable of deciding on controversies, on which the most able and learned men differ, or doubt. On such questions, he may receive information from persons of ability and candour; but he must still be sensible, that, on those obscure points, his acceptance with God cannot possibly depend. All these considerations will shew him the absurdity of being a bigot or zealot for such doctrines; and will convince him, that these are not the subjects, that should occupy his time.
Were a person of ordinary acquirements to begin his Bible with a view to study those unprofitable questions, as they occur, he would find two or three chapters of Genesis sufficient to employ a great portion of his life. Considering the little time, that most men can bestow upon such studies, he would be far advanced in years, before he had made himself master of the various points, critical, philosophical, and theological, that have been started on the Creation, Fall and Deluge. He would be approaching the term of his life, or perhaps have passed it, before he had decided on the nature, person and office of Christ. Thus he would be justly obnoxious to the sarcasm levelled against the aged philosopher, who was lecturing on the search after truth: “ If this old man be only now inquiring after truth, when is he to practise it?”
When, on the other hand, the pious and practical Christian opens his Bible, the first thing, that catches his eye and arrests his attention, is, that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Some may make the account of the creation a subject of cavil; while others more truly contend, that it is consonant to our latest discoveries and most improved philosophy; but with neither of these is he at all concerned. His mind is filled with awe and admiration of the creative
power, wisdom and goodness of the Almighty, and with his own relation and obligations to the Supreme Being, so as to exclude every irreverent sentiment, or captious cavil.
Instead of being misled by the various critical