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S E RM ON V.
2 Tim. iii. 16, 17. All Scripture is given by Inspiration of God: and is profitable for Do&trine, for Reproof, for Correction, for Instruction in Righteousness : that the Man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good Works.
T HAVE Thewn you, in several Discourses
on this Text, the Divine Authority of
Scripture, its complete Usefulness to all the Purposes of Religion, and the consequent Duty of reading it. Yet lill I am sensible an unhappy Objection may remain with too many, that they have tried, and do not experience this Usefulness; and why it should be their Duty to perfist in reading what they do not find attended with any good Effects, they cannot apprehend. But if they have not read as they Vol. VI.
ought, ought, their whole Argument falls to the Ground. Nothing is to be expected from the wrong Performance of any Duty: and therefore I proposed originally
IV. To give Directions for the right Pere formance of this.
Many proper ones, I hope, have been intimated to you not obfcurely, under the former Heads : Part of which however I Mall now repeat amongst others. For to say again the fame Things, to me is not grievous, and for you it is fafea.
That we should come to the Word of God with serious Minds; is a Requisite, that one fhould hardly have thought needful to mention, if there were not fome, who give little other Proof of ever having looked into it, than perverting the Expressions of it to ludicrous Purposes, and so extracting Poison from the Bread of Life. You need not be told, that such can receive no Improvement from it: but only be warned against suffering them to infect you with the same Diftemper: for to Men of a gay. and lively Turn it is often very catching. But reflect: Every Book in the World, of every Sort, may easily be turned into Matter of Die a Phil. iii: 1.
version, if People are resolved to Thew at any Rate, some thcir Ability, and others, (which is far the more usual Cafe) their Defite only, of being witty. But especially on facred Subjects, the Corruptness of Mens Hearts disposes them both to invent and receive such Kind of Entertainment with peculiar Eagerness: for this very Reason principally, that they know they ought not. And besides, the Old aud New Testament do lie somewhat opener tờ profane Abuse, than many other pious Compofitions, from the Difference of Stile and Manners in distant Ages and Countries, from the fcrupulous Exactness of our Tranlation, and the Changes in our Language, that have happened fince it was made. But surely there are krong Motives, of Religion, of Prudence, of common Decency, to restrain Men, from taking Such unfair Advantages, to so bad an End ; if this contemptible Affectation of appearing ina genious, by forcing a Laugh out of every Thing, did not fo effectually destroy, as it doth, all Regard to Rightness of Behaviour and true good Senfe. A Scorner feeketh Wisdom, and findeth it not : but Knowledge is easy to him, that cona fideretho. Prov. xiv. 6. It is wrongly translated, understandeth.
· Let us therefore never permit ourselves to make, either in Thought, at the Time of reading the Scripture, or in Discourse afterwards, a light and burlesque Application of any Text: for how little Harm soever we may intend, the Practice is plainly unfit and irreverent: besides that we are foon led on from small Freedoms to greater. And let us never be influenced to think ill or meanly of the least Part of God's Word from any such Applications made by others : for they prove nothing against Scripture, but much against those who invent or use them. Or if we find, that, notwithstanding, they do in Fact begin to make Impressions upon us, as they may imperceptibly, if we are not on the Watch ; let us avoid, as carefully, yet as inoffensively, as we can, the Company of those, who delight in such dangerous Conversation : according to Solomon's excellent Rule, Ceafe, my Son, to hear the Instruction, that caufeth to err from the Words of Knowledge. For as to any Hope of Good from arguing with them, no People upon Earth are so incapable of being convinced or filenced by Reason, as they that are conceited of a libertine Wit. And therefore, however entertaining their Talk may be c Prov. xix. 27.
otherwise, yet being essentially faulty in this Respect, let us consider it only in the strong, but just Light, in which Șt. Paul places the idle Discourse of some in his own Days, when he faith, But shun profane and vain Babblings: for. they will increase unto more Ungodliness; and their Word will eat, as doth a Canker d. They, whose Learning and Judgement and Taste and Worth are the most universally, acknowledged, have, in all Times down to our own, spoken and thought of the Bible with the highest Degree of honourable Regard. And it is no less absurd, than impious, to be hurried into despising and ridiculing it, either by the extravagant Flights of any Man's wild Fancy, or the graver Authority of Judges so evidently prejudiced, as the self-sufficient, or the diffolute, merely because they are grown of late more numerous and less modest. Let us at least observe a little first, what good Effects this new Kind of Wifdom produces in the Lives and Families of those, who are so fond of it; and wait a while to see, (if indeed it be not too visible already,) what Sort of Figure they themselves, and a Nation composed of them, or led by them, make and .. 2. Tim. ii. 16, 17... . .. .