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eyes, or, according to the original, to remove the veil from his eyes; Ps. 118: 18. and Paul prayed for this blessing for the Eph. 1: 16–20. 3: 16–19; for the Col. 2 : 2; and most earnestly do I pray, my dear Benjamin, that the Lord would take away every veil of darkness and prejudice, and give us more and more of the knowledge of himself, as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ, our blessed Immanuel.
10. Besides a proper frame of mind, we ought likewise to read the Scriptures with proper motives. These ought to be no others but to know and to do the will of God revealed in the Bible. Would it not be absurd in a man to read a treatise on husbandry with a view to learn navigation, or to seek the principles of trade and commerce in an essay on music? No less absurd is it to read the sacred Scriptures with any other motive, or for any other design, than that for which God gave them. Now, the design of God was, first, to give us such a knowledge of himself and his mind and will, that we might so know him as to believe, fear, love, trust, and obey him in all things. Deut. 29 : 29. Secondly, as a rule of duty both toward God and man. 2 Tim. 3 : 15– 17. Hence, saith David, “ Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in and by thy truth.” Ps. 86: 11. As a rule is of no benefit to the mechanic if he does not work by it, so the Bible is no benefit if it does not direct our conversation and conduct. The word must be “a light to our feet and a lamp to our path ;" not merely to please the eye, but to direct our way, walk, and conduct. Thirdly, To administer counsel, consolation, and hope in all our distresses and tribulations. Ps. 119 : 24, 92. Rom. 15 : 4. God hath laid up a sovereign balm for every wound, and a cordial for our fears. Now, we ought to make ourselves acquainted with them, that we may know where to find them in case of need. Lastly, God's design in giving us the Bible, is to give us infallible assurance of eternal life, with the
prospect and some foretaste of its glories. This is a great means of supporting us under afflictions, and of weaning us from sin,
the world, and the flesh. Blessed Savior, deeply impress these thoughts upon my heart, and let them have their salutary influence upon my life.
§ 11. Allow me to mention but one direction more to be observed in reading the Bible; viz. method. God has set us an example in observing order and proper method in all his proceedings. Nothing can be expected to succeed without it. And it is of great importance in searching the Scriptures. Be wise in your choice, as it respects time, matter, and quantity. The morning is peculiarly favorable for reading, meditation, and prayer. The Bible should be read daily. Those that read but seldom are continually at a loss what they are about. Prov. 7:1-4. With respect to matter. The whole Bible should be read in order from Genesis to Revelation; six or eight chapters at a time, to become acquainted with the connection of the different parts. But one part of the Bible should be read oftener than another. The historical parts once, the Psalms twice, the Epistles three times in the course of a year. With respect to quantity, there should be a regular time fixed for reading the Bible, in order, as has already been observed, and a time for selecting a small portion for study, meditation, and prayer. A diligent comparison of the different parts of Scripture will remove many difficulties and doubts, and will make the most important doctrines clear, instructive, and edifying. We ought, also, thankfully and faithfully to make use of the commentators, and other useful books, explanatory of the sacred Scriptures. I now close this subject, my dear brother, with the exhortation of my blessed Savior, originally addressed to our Jewish brethren : “Search the Scriptures; for in them
have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” John, 5 : 39. And may you
and I so read the sacred Scriptures, that, with our dying breath, we may be able to say with the prophet; “ Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.” Jer. 15 : 16.
THE CONTROVERSY BETWEEN
JEWS AND CHRISTIANS STATED.
The faith of a true Christian is the same as that of Moses
and the Prophets.
§ 1. I was duly favored with your letter. Its contents afforded me much pleasure, particularly your resolution to search the Scriptures. May you speedily find Him whom to know is life eternal. I will now proceed to show you that, in believing in Jesus Christ as the true Messiah, I have not departed from the religion of the Bible; nor does my creed differ from that of Moses and the prophets. The fundamental articles of my faith are as follows:
1. That there is but one God, but three distinct persons, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.
2. That God is the creator of the universe, and the preserver and governor of every creature.
3. That God created Adam and Eve in his own image and likeness, perfectly holy and happy; that he allowed them to eat of every tree in Paradise, but prohibited them from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, on penalty of death.
4. That our first parents broke this law or covenant, and thereby brought sin and misery upon themselves, and upon all their posterity.
5. That immediately after the fall or sin of our first pa rents, God promised the Redeemer of the world, and made from age to age, gradually, a clearer revelation of him, concerning the wonderful constitution of his person, the man.
ner of his life, the design of his mission, the union of his offices, the nature and design of his sufferings and death, his victory over death and the grave, &c.
6. That it is the work of the Holy Spirit to regenerate the sinner; to unite him to Christ by faith, and make him meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.
7. That as soon as the sinner is thus united to Christ, he is justified, adopted into God's family, and will be kept, by the power of God, through faith, unto the enjoyment of eternal glory.
8. That it is our duty to make the moral law, or ten commandments, the rule of our life.
9. That Jesus Christ will come again, first to reign a thousand years upon the earth, and then to raise the dead; to judge the world, to banish the wicked to endless misery, and to receive the righteous to endless felicity.
Each of these articles will be more fully stated and scripturally proved in our future correspondence.
No doubt, my brother, you are surprised at my statement, for you, as well as our beloved brethren in general, suppose that the difference between the Christian and the Jewish religion is very great. So did I once, and therefore stumbled and almost perished. The doctrine of the Trinity, the change of the Sabbath, the omission of festivals and other ceremonies, besides a variety of objections, had greatly prejudiced my mind against Christianity, until I searched the Scriptures, and the happy result I shall give you in successive letters; trusting to remove thereby every difficulty, and answer every objection that at present prevents you from acknowledging Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God, over all, God blessed for ever.
2. The first, and indeed the only point to be established is, whether the Messiah hath come or not; and if he has come, whether Jesus Christ was the promised Messiah or an impostor.
Our nction assert that the Messiah has not yet come, and that Jesus Christ was an impostor. Christians say, and I do believe, that the Messiah hath come at the time and manner promised, and that Jesus Christ is that Messiah. This is the only hinge on which the whole controversy between Jews and Christians turns.
3. To settle this all-important subject, (to convince the judgment, although the heart may still remain unchanged,) is, however, as easy as it is important. There is but one way to lead to a true decision, but that is a sure and infallible way. We must find out the characteristics by which the true Messiah was to be distinguished, and examine whether they all meet in Jesus Christ. If they do, it is our duty to receive him; if not, we are equally bound to reject him as an impostor and deceiver. Thus, suppose a person had left, in his will, a large and valuable estate to a certain individual; the testator died. A number of individuals present theinselves, each asserting himself to be the rightful heir, and claiming the estate. We are sure that one only can be the proper heir, and that all others must be mistaken; nay, it may be that neither is the heir, and we must wait for another. In such a case what method is to be adopted to find out the truth, and who is to be the judge? The thing is plain. Not the wise, the rich, the noble, &c. but those, and those only, who are appointed by, and possess the will of the testator, called the executors. If an individual be found who answers the whole description given in the will, he is to be declared the rightful heir, and all others are to be rejected as mistaken. If none answers the description, all are to be rejected, and the executors are to declare that the rightful heir is not yet come, and that they must wait for another. Thus we are to act with respect to the subject in hand. "God, at sundry times and in divers manners, spake, in time past, unto the fathers by the prophets,” concerning the Messiah, who is the sum and substance of the Old Testament. Of this Testament or will, our nation was appointed the executors; "for to them were committed the oracles of God.” They, therefore,