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things with spiritual.” You will find that there is no safer or more satisfactory expositor of scripture, than scripture itself; and you may rest assured, that the Holy Spirit is his own best interpreter.
And in the third place, be careful in the study of scripture, with all humility and earnestness, to seek the blessing of God, and the guidance of his Holy Spirit, upon all your inquiries, and all your endeavours to become wiser and better; sincerely desirous to become acquainted with the will of God; unreservedly acquiescing in it when known, and truly resolved to yield yourselves thereunto, by the grace of God, both in faith and practice.
Whoever consulteth the holy scriptures according to these rules, will not be suffered to fall into any error in doctrine that shall endanger his salvation. For so long as we are distinctly instructed in the divine word," If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him:" so long as we have the express promise of our blessed Saviour, that “if any man shall do his will, he shall know of his doctrine:"-50 long as we have, from the same Saviour, the gracious assurance, that “our heavenly Father will surely give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.” would it be any thing less than blasphemy to suppose that the sincere, humble follower of Christ, who honestly seeks to know his Master's will, who diligently searches his holy word, and who searches it in a believing dependence on the Spirit of light and truth, should fail to obtain all knowledge, and all faith, necessary to the salvation of his soul ? Let no sentiment so derogatory to the wisdom, and the goodness, and the truth of God, ever find a resting place in our hearts.
From the views which have been laid down of the sufficiency and perfection of holy scripture, as the rule of Christian faith and practice, you will, I am persuaded, suffer the word of exhortation.
In the first place, then, be entreated, as you value the interests of truth, and the salvation of your own souls, to devote a due time and attention to the study of your Bible; and, turning away with merited neglect from all the decisions of human authority, to rest your Christian prin. ciples exclusively on the Christian scriptures. It was a sentiment worthy of the renowned Chillingworth, worthy of a Protestant Christian, that “ the Bible only is the religion of Protestants." It has never been well with the Christian world, since so many other standards of faith have been erected_used, as they too often are, for rallying points to some of the worst passions of human nature. And it is likely never to be as it ought to be with the Christian world, until in God's good time, these standards shall be laid aside, and replaced by the Bible ; for the Bible is the only true centre of Christian unity.
Be persuaded, my dear brethren, so far as relates to the principles and rules of your religion, to have recourse to your Bible only. The truth which is there disclosed, undoubtedly merits, and should engage, your most serious regards. And as all truth necessary to your faith and salvation is certainly to be found in the holy scriptures, you should make it matter of conscience, as it is of duty, to have your minds open to the evidence of gospel truth ; and always ready to embrace that truth, whatever prejudices, whatever difficulties, whatever temporal interests, may stand in the way..
You may be persuaded, that as the gospel presents all necessary truth to the mind, so the truth which it does present can do no injury to those who embrace it. The only. injury that can be sustained, with reference to gospel truth, must arise from refusing to embrace it; for which indeed there can be no apology whatsoever. The truth of the gospel will be so far from injuring you, that, on the contrary, it will be of the utmost importance and comfort to you. It will, under God, be the happy means of shielding you from the shafts of error, levelled at you from other quarters. It will contribute most effectually, through divine grace, to fortify both your understandings and your hearts against the wanderings and delusions of the mistaken enthusiast on the one
side, and against the tricks and insinuations of the designing impostor on the other.
Learn then, brethren, to value the holy scriptures, especially the New Testament, incomparably beyond all other books in the world; and labour to possess yourselves of the heavenly treasures it contains. Let it be the stay and comfort of your hearts to delight in the law of the Lord, and meditate therein day and night; and you will put little comparative value on the best writings of uninspired men. You will never once think of resting your faith, or any article of it, upon them. And here, I will offer you an advice, which is the result of experience, and will probably accord with your own. Do not keep your minds balancing and vacillating among books of controversial theology. I know none of them that I should much recommend to your attention. I know few of them that have any pretensions to fairness or candour. They keep the mind in suspense. They seldom lead to an honest decision, or a comfortable conviction. I fear they have no good effect on the heart, at best ; and it is notorious that they often gender strife, rather than minister to godly edifying. The world is too full of books of bitter controversy. It will be your wisdom to throw them aside, and turn to that blessed book, which has God for its author, which has truth for its contents, and which breathes the spirit of love in every line. Let that sacred - volume be your counsellor, your comforter, and the guide of your whole conduct. It will convince you of your ruined condition through sin. It will impart to you a just knowledge of the only Saviour. It will show you the redemption that is in Christ. It will lead you to lay hold on that redemption with all gratitude and gladness. It will teach you to walk as becometh the hope of the gospel, in all holiness and godly conversation. It will be the strength and the solace of your hearts, through all the trials and vicissitudes of the present life ; and it will at length, through the mercy of God, the merits of your Saviour, and the grace of the Holy Spirit, conduct you into those mansions of peace and rest, where there shall be fulness of joy and rejoicing, at God's right hand, for evermore.
And here I desire to offer you a farther counsel,—that, as the professing subjects of the Prince of Peace, you cultivate a spirit of peace on earth, and good will to all mankind. Whilst you reckon it your privilege and your duty to exercise the right of private judgment, in collecting your religion from the Bible; whilst you proceed upon the broad principle, “ that every man should be fully persuaded in his own mind,” and “stand fast in the precious liberty with which Christ hath made him free;"-you will, I trust, be ever ready to concede to others the same rights and privileges which you exercise for yourselves. Amidst the diversity of