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poses for which the Almighty designed it; luan the Holy Scriptures are not " able to make wise unto salvation, through faith in Christ Jesus." It is surprising that a Christian mind should entertain such a sentiment, in defiance of so many plain and positive declarations of scripture itself.
See with what caution the divine law was guarded from innovation under the Old Testament economy. Thus saith the Lord, by his servant Moses--Deut. iv. 2, “ Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it.” To his servant Joshua, he saith—Josh. i. 7, “ Only be thou strong, and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to the law which Moses, my ser. vant, commanded thee : turn not from it to the right hand or the left, that thou mayest prosper." “ The law of the Lord,” said David, “ is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.” “ Add thou not unto his words, saith the wise man, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”
See, too, with what caution the Christian revelation is guarded from the unhallowed interference of human authority. In matters of faith we are to “ call no man master; because one is our master, even Christ." The very design of the gospel was to lead us into the full knowledge and firm belief of those things that concern our eternal peace. “These things are written,” saith the evangelist John, “ that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, ye might have life through his name.” “ Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned, and hast been assured of,” saith Paul to Timothy, “knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto 'all good works.” And the canon of scripture is closed with these awful words of our Lord Jesus Christ" For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book-if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book; and if any shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life.”
You see then, that holy scripture has amply declared itself to be a sufficient and perfect rule in those things which concern our eternal salvation; and whosoever consults it with reverence and attention, will find that it is also a plain and
intelligible rule; so much so, that “he who runneth may read,” and understand. · It is not to be denied, that in scripture we shall find difficulties which we cannot solve, and depths which we are unable to fathom. But these do not belong to the essence of faith; the understanding of these is not necessary to salvation. If this were the case, how melancholy must our condition be!-and who might hope to be saved? We know, that we are required, in order to our salvation, to believe and obey the gospel ; but if the essential doctrines of the gospel were involved in obscurity, and beyond the reach of common understandings, how should Christians generally be able to acquire the knowledge of salvation ? Or where would be the obligation to belief or obedience? But, blessed be God, the circumstances of the case are far otherwise. In all things necessary, an honest mind will find little difficulty in scripture. Councils and fathers, and traditional creeds, have contributed much to throw an obscurity over the doctrine of the gospel, and to darken and disturb the minds of many sincere Christians. But those who attentively look into the perfect law of liberty—the gospel of Christ,and are resolved through divine grace, to " continue therein," and to take the principles of their faith from that pure source-will find, that, in those things which belong to their eternal peace, there is there no obscurity; and that the way of life is so plainly opened up, that “the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein.”
It is, therefore, made the bounden duty of all Christians to read and study the word of God for their own information, and not to put a blind and implicit trust in the representations of fallible men. Even when the inspired Apostles of Christ delivered his doctrine,“ in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” those who heard them were applauded for a searching the scriptures daily, whether these things were so." And accordingly, we find that Christians are every where exhorted, and commanded, to “ beware of false teachers;" to “believe not every spirit;" but to “ try the spirits, whether they be of God;" to prove all things, and hold fast that which is good.” And by what rule is this to be done ? Certainly not by the decrees and decisions of fallible men, but by the unerring and unchangeable rule of the word of God. And, that we may become sufficiently acquainted with that rule, and capable of applying it to good purpose, it is indispensably necessary that we study it with diligence and impartiality; and that we study it as a whole, not resting our faith on mere fragments of scripture, but on the broad basis of divine revelation.
Among the best helps to the study and understanding of holy scripture, I shall not refer you to commentators and expositors; still less, to the writings of avowed controversialists. I have seldom met with any of these, who do not more or less distort the scripture from its genuine meaning, and turn it aside to serve their own purposes. But I shall refer you to the three following rules, which are easily understood, and not impracticable to any one of common understanding, and an honest heart.
In the first place, be careful, in the study of scripture, to set your mind as free as the grace of God will enable you, from the influence of prepossession and prejudice, that you may be disposed to “receive the word with all readiness of mind.” For surely we ought not to come to the scriptures, merely with a view to receive confirmation in those doctrines which we have previously embraced; but with the sincere desire of learning, at large, what is “ the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us.” If this latter be indeed our design, then we shall take the entire word of God as our basis and rule ;-if the former, we are almost certain to acquiesce in a few broken and disjointed declarations.
In the second place, be careful, in the study of scripture, to discover the scope and intention of the speaker or writer whom you consult. And this, generally speaking, will not be found a difficult task-if you give due attention, not merely to the words of a particular passage, but also to what has introduced them, and what follows ; taking them in connexion with parallel passages of scripture, and “comparing spiritual