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it into sixteen nearly equal parts, and then subdividing these parts into several hundreds of others of two or three lines in length. If now each of these little fragments should be read as if it contained a whole and complete meaning in itself, without any regard to the general subject of the letter, or any attention to the connexion in which it stands, could you wonder that the meaning of your correspondent should be found with difficulty ? Indeed can you think of any method of making à writer unintelligible more effectual than this ? Yet this is exactly what has been done with every part of the sacred writings. This is one reason why the followers of every sect are all able to quote passages of scripture, which appear to be in favour of opinions the most various and discordant. Indeed with such a mode of studying the scriptures it is only wonderful that the number of sects is so small; for there is no absurdity so great that it may not in this way find the appearance of sup port. When therefore

any opinion supported by a great number of texts of scripture, you are not merely to inquire whether they are actually copied from the Bible, but whether they have any such meaning in their original connexion as that which they are brought to support. In this way you will often find that writers who boast of the formidable array of scripture proofs which they bring for their peculiar opinions, and who even

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venture to identify them with the word of God itself, have really no other support for them from the Bible, than is given by the mere sound of the words which they use.

This subject well deserves to be more fully illustrated. I will merely remark that these observations are not intended to prove, that we are to make no use of the chapters and verses into which, of late years, the scriptures have been divided. When

you are reading merely to make the heart better, and to have trains of pious thoughts awakened, it may often be useful to read only small portions of scripture at a time. But when you are inquiring for the support which the Bible lends to any particular tenets, it is necessary that you should read, for instance, the letters of Paul, as

any other epistles. You should read all that relates to the same subject at once; attending to the whole design and drift of the writer; seeking to find the peculiar circumstances of the church to which it was originally addressed, and how far they are applicable to ourselves; remembering that every truth is consistent with every other truth. In this way, comparing scripture with scripture, using the best lights which God has given us, and above all asking his blessing on all we do, we need not fear that any thing important to salvation will remain doubtful or obscure to the humblest understanding. Some things may indeed remain which we cannot at present fully apprehend, but to these

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we may apply the direction of the son of Sirach. “ Seek not out those things which are too hard for thee, neither search the things that are above thy strength. But what is commanded thee, think upon with reverence ; for it is not needful for thee

2 to see with thine eyes the things, which are in secret. Be not curious in unnecessary matters; for more things are showed unto thee than men understand.”

I will add but one more observation, which is indispensable to be remembered by every one who hopes to understand the scriptures, and drink from them the sincere milk of the word. It is that you must bring to your study of the Bible, a serious, impartial, honest mind. This will give you the . best commentary on every doubtful passage, and without it you may wrest the plainest parts of the scriptures, as well as the most difficult, to your own destruction. We must bring to this study a deep

. conviction of its importance ; a recollection that it is for the truth which God himself has revealed, that we are inquiring ; and that each of us has a personal and eternal interest in this truth. Let us not examine religion as a curious theory which has no bearing on our own conduct; but as a system of truth by which our lives here are to be governed, and our conduct is to be judged hereafter at the bar of Christ. Let us not, as we read, inquire how this or that passage applies to our neighbour, but ask what it teaches to ourselves; what duty

does it point out to us, of what sin does it convince us, against what danger does it warn us, what change in our lives does it require of us? Let us bring to our inquiries a disposition to submit to the teaching and will of God. Let us lay aside all previous biasses, all preconceived opinions, all favourite prejudices, and inquire not what is orthodox, or what is liberal, but what is true. Let us come with humble, candid, docile minds and with the prayer of David upon our lips; “ Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes, and I shall keep it unto the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea I shall keep it with my whole heart. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments, for therein is





JOHN, v. 39.

Search the Scriptures.

In a recent discourse on the best mode of studying the scriptures, one rule was mentioned as of particular importance, and some farther illustrations of it were promised. The rule related to the necessity of attending to the subject of the different books of scripture, and the connexion in which each passage quoted from them stands; or in other words of regarding the general scope and tendency of all the sacred writings. The importance of observing this rule, in opposition to the common practice of considering each of the little fragments or verses into which these writings have been broken as a distinct and independent aphorism, was illustrated by several considerations.

In addition to what was then said we now remark, that if this division had been ever so carefully made, it would still have a tendency to de

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