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perforin until the day of Jesus Christ a'—and that he will not forsake the work of his own hands b. With these, and a thousand other kind and gracious words, does the book of God minister consolation to the young convert.
And then, as to Christians in the course of their profession, it were endless to enumerate the various sources of comfort it opens to their view. Are they in poverty ? it brings them to the gate of divine beneficence, and assures them they shall not only receive alms sufficient for their support, but that God will supply all their need, according to his riches in glory by Jesus Christ c. It describes Providence in the character of a tender parent ever watchful over his offspring, and anxiously careful that they want no needful good thing.--Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things d-Be content with such things as ye have, for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee €.—Are they in worldly perplexity ? it bids them ask wisdom of God, who giveth liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given them f.
Do they languish on beds of sickness? it assures them that God will make all their bed for them in their sickness g, that he puts their tears in his bottle h, and that their groaning is not hid from him i. It reminds them of the pains and sorrows their incarnate Saviour once endured, and of his tender feeling with them even now in his exalted state h. It leads their views forward to the healthful and pleasant fields of paradise, where the inhabitants shall no more say they are sick, and from whence pain and sorrow and crying shall be for ever excluded l.
Do they follow their dear friends and relations to their graves, and there take a final leave of them? It shews them Christ standing as it were by them, mingling his tears with theirs, pointing to the blissful regions whither the departed spirit is gone, and giving his angels charge of its precious remains, till he shall come again, and raise the vile body, and fashion it like unto his ou'n most glorious body m.
a Phil. i. 6.
b Psal. cxxxviii. 8.
c Phil. iv. 19.
Are they assaulted with temptations sore and long? Do troops of foes, subtle, fierce, and powerful, encompass them on every side? Do their fears rise high, and does the event appear to them doubtful if not fatal? This blessed book provides armour for them, armour made in heaven, sent down by a kind angel for their use, and to be girded on by their Captain the Prince of peace—the shield, the flaming shield, of divine faith—the bright helmet of celestial hope and the firm, the well tempered breastplate of righteousness. It puts itself into their hand, and bids them take this the sword of the Spirit, and with it deal vengeance on all their foes a. It assures them that Christ their Leader has overcome sin, the world, death, and the powers of darkness; and that, through him that loves them, they shall be more than conquerors 0.
Are they called forth to great and arduous services, to which they feel themselves unequal ? This book bids them be of good cheer, assuring them that the grace of God shall be sufficient for them c, that as their day their strength shall be d, and that their vigour, shall be renewed like the eagle's e-every exertion shall be accompanied with a degree of pleasure-and their labours, however painful now shall be crowned with the rewards of heaven hereafter.-But I forbear. Read this book, Christian, with an attentive and believing eye, and you will find comfort, divine comfort, in its doctrines and promises, in its histories and examples at all times; but especially in seasons of temptation, and when he who first indited it is pleased to accompany it with the mighty energy of his grace. These are wells of consolation—the distant streams of the river that makes glad the city of God—the healing beams of the Sun of righteousness—the bread of God that strengthens the heart—and the wine that cheers them who are of a sorrowful spirit.—To proceed,
4. Another important use of God's word is to renew the affections. I must here only suggest a few general hints on which you will meditate at your leisure.
By the light in which the Bible placés sin on the one hand, and holiness on the other; by the estimate it gives of all sublunary things; by the sublime truths it reveals concerning God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the soul, death, and a future state; by its pure precepts, and exceeding great and precious promises; by its noble motives and blessed examples; all pressing on our mental sight, accompanied with the mighty and generous influence of divine grace, it raises, refines, and sublimates the affections. It gives a new bias to the soul, a new spring to the passions, a new bent to the inclinations. That is now conscientiously dreaded, which before was accounted at most a little evil. That is anxiously coveted, which before was considered as of no value. That is loved, which was once hated. That is admired, which formerly had no charms to attract. That is delighted in which the other day was most irksome. This word of God, thus received into the heart, sheds a sacred perfume through the soul, like that which filled the room when, Mary brake her alabaster box of ointment, and poured it on the head of her divine master. Once more, As the Bible enlightens, convinces, comforts, and renews, so,
c 2 Cor. xii. 9.
a Eph. vi. 13-17. .d Deut. xxxiii. 25.
b Rom. viii. 37.
5. And lastly, It guides the conduct of every sincere Christian.
Its use, in this view of it, might be pointed out in a great variety of important particulars. It is to the Christian the man of his counsel, to whom he resorts with every
difficult question, every case of conscience. This is the map to direct his journey—the compass by which he steers his vessel over the ocean of life. This is his companion in his solitary hours, his song in the house of his pilgrimage a. By this book he wishes to direct his conduct in all the duties of private, family, and public worship; in all his social intercourses and worldly businesses; in all his demeanour towards superiors and inferiors; in all the relations of a parent, a child, a brother, a friend, a master, and a servant. He takes this book, he kisses it, and devoutly prays, with the psalmist-Othat my ways were directed to keep thy statutes b !
Thus have we considered the various uses to which the word of God is to be applied. The improvement of this subject a Psal. cxix. 54.
6 Psal. cxix. 5.
must be deferred to a future opportunity. Permit me in the mean while to make two or three Reflections on what has now been said.
(1.) The view we have taken of the use and intent of the holy Scriptures, possesses us of a further evidence of their divinity.
No impartial person can deny that the Bible tends to promote the general interests of mankind, and to make individuals holy and happy. By whom then could it be written? Not by wicked men surely, whose character and views are in direct opposition to its doctrines and precepts. Nor by Satan the avowed enemy
both of God and man. To heaven therefore we must look for its author. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God. How plain and convincing this reasoning ! especially to those who not only read but enter into the spirit of the Scripture. You, Christians, having been enlightened, comforted, and in your measure sanctified by this blessed book, have the witness in yourselves, as the apostle John expresses it a. And in language similar to that of the Samaritans b you say, “Now we believe, not merely because of their saying who have read this book and received it, as divine, but because we have ourselves examined it, and are convinced by the united force of external and internal evidence that it is of God.” . (2.) Let me beseech you to be thankful to God for this inestimable gift.
Men may have the Bible in their hands without feeling any gratitude to God for it in their hearts. The reason is because they have never put it to its proper use, or having now and then glanced their eye upon it, are little profited by its instructions. But they who by their own happy experience have found the Bible to be what we have represented it, cannot be wholly strangers to the warm and pleasant feelings of a grateful heart. Do what you can, my friends, to promote those feelings. They will be pleasing to God and beneficial to yourselves. Think of your obligations not only to divine providence for putting the Scriptures into your hands, but to the Holy Spirit for setting them home on your hearts. How many a I John v. 10.
b John iv. 42.
have read this book with the utmost indifference, if not with disgust and contempt! to them it has proved a savour of death unto death a. Deplorable case ! Has it been otherwise with you? Has it enlightened, quickened, and comforted you? Give thanks unto God who causeth you to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge in your hearts b.
(3.) Go on to use the word of God with that attention and devotion which its excellence and utility, as well as its divine authority, demand.
You have found the heavenly manna and ate it, and it has been the joy and rejoicing of your hearts c. Of this rich and pleasant food there is a large supply. It is daily showered around your tents.
tents. Go out morning and evening and gather it up. And, Oh ! beware lest the abundance you enjoy and the ease with which you procure it, should prove the unhappy occasion of your treating it, like the perverse Israelites, as light bread. Partake of it with growing appetite and increasing delight. And let it ever be your concern to employ the strength you derive from it, in active exertions for the glory of God and the good of your fellow-creatures.
fellow-creatures. So may you hope ere long to arrive at the promised land, where instead of the manna on which you subsisted in the wilderness, you shall be fed with angel's food, and drink of rivers of pleasure that flow at the right hand of God for evermore. a 2 Cor. ii. 16. 6 Ver. 14.
c Jer, xv. 16.