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only so far as they conform to this rule : “ Be ye followers of me,' saith Paul, . even as I also am of Christ. 1 Cor. xi. 1,
Here, likewise, we must guard against two common errors; lest, in the first place, our carnal nature and depraved reason, which are propense to evil, should mistake vice for virtue ; and, in the second, lest we should pay that regard to external excellences, and hold them up to that imitation, which are due rather to the internal habit of our minds. Rom. xv. 3.
We ought frequently to read some book of scripture which inculcates the foundations of faitb and practice with peculiar force and perspicuity, and studiously endeavour to render ourselves as much as possible conformed to it. Such are the gospel and epistles of John. This is not however enjoined, to the exclusion of other and perhaps better plans.
In the commencement of practical reading, the student should attend to the following remarks.
1. We are not to apply all things at once, but successively; lest our minds should be overwhelmed with the abundance of matter.
2. Application should commence with the more easy books and passages, in which the understanding is not liable to be fatigued by any difficulties in the sense, nor to be agitated by consequent doubts. When a proficiency has been made, recourse may be had to those which are more abstruse.
3. Application is to be instituted, not that we may have matter for discourse, but for practice.
The continuation of practical application should occupy the whole of our lives. It is assisted partly by our own industry, which would, however, be inef
ficient without grace; and, partly, by the help of divine grace, which is continually poured out in larger measures on their hearts, who receive the seed of the word, as into good ground. We are bound, on our parts, to use diligent prayer, and constant meditation; to institute perpetual collations of scripture ; to be instant in our attention to what passes in others and ourselves; and to exercise a vigilant observation of our own state of mind. Equally essential with these important particulars, is conversation with those who have made greater advances in spiritual knowledge; and the cultivation of inward peace; of which, the more we possess, the more we shall enter into the true meaning of scripture.
Many other things there are, which experience will readily suggest to the minds of those who are intent on the application of divine truth. God, in his infinite mercy to his children, imparts to them the internal operation of his Spirit, at other seasons than when engaged in reading his word. As he blesses the seed sown in the earth, and causes it to strike root, to flourish, and to bear abundant fruit; so does he incessantly nourish the incorruptible seed of his word, with the richest out-pourings of his grace. He likewise permits the mind to be exercised with trials, internal and external : and, by all these means, the practical application of scripture is much assisted.
The application of the sacred oracles to others, whether in public or private, is attended with less trouble and more confidence after sufficient care and devotion have been used in the duty of selfapplication ; because no other way of salvation is to be exhibited to them, than that by which we expect to be saved. It however supposes in those who exercise it, not a vain prarience, but a holy zeal for the conversion of souls; the spirit of experience and discretion; a knowledge of the state of the church; and that all the admonitions given, spring from faith and love. The Lord help us so to interpret scripture, both to ourselves and others!
FROM “ CHRIST THE SUM AND SUBSTANCE OF ALL
THE HOLY SCRIPTURES,” &c.
1. “Who is the sum and substance of the whole Sacred
That Christ is the sum and substance of all the Holy Seriptures, all do indeed confess; but there are few who understand the meaning of these words ; fewer labour much to find out this substance, and know in what manner to make their inquiry; the fewest of all are those who advance so far in it, as truly to eat of this kernel, or substance, and use it for the nourishment and support of their inward man.
Since therefore this is of all others our greatest concern, it is fit the reader of the Holy Scriptures should in the first place be admonished, not to stick in the rind of their external history, letter, and words; but that he ought to seek Christ himself, as the kernel (or substance) of the Holy Scriptures, and to seek Him in such a manner that he may certainly find Him, and satisfy his soul with Him.
This is that “ truth in the inward parts, and wisdom in the hidden part,' (Psalm li. 6,) which is
not acquired by loading the memory only with the various interpretations and opinions of learned men, nor the most acute researches of a natural understanding: nor does it consist in bare knowledge ; but is rather first founded in the most ardent desire and faithful solicitude of rescuing one's soul from destruction. It creates a change of the heart into the divine nature and temper ; (John i. 12, 13. 2 Cor. iii. 18. 2 Pet. i. 4,) and declares its bigb and heavenly dignity by its divine light, operation, and real virtue and efficacy; great peace, continual joy, purity of heart, sweet union with God, communion in and with God, and the spiritual and heavenly exercise of love, (whereby whatsoever good redounds to the soul from God, diffuses itself to all others without distinction)-by all these, I say, it declares its bigh and divine dignity.
This wisdom far surpasseth all human wisdom; as life is preferable to death, light to darkness, substance to a shadow. For in this wisdom alone is truth, light, and life. The most celebrated arts of all learned men, compared with this, are smoke. Hence the scripture saith, (Jer. ix. 23. 1 Cor. i. 31,) • Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom.'
This wisdom is learnt in the school of the Holy Spirit. Unless God himself perform the office of a teacher, not even the first foundation of it can be laid. For Christ says, (John vi. 44, 45,) · No man can come to me, except the Father, wbich hath sent me, draw him:' And again, . It is written in the prophets, ' And they shall be all taught of God: every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.'
In this school, no mortal perfectly and sufficiently