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The habit of searching the Scriptures,—and is it not the direct command of our Lord and Master that we should search them ?-is so truly delightful, and brings with it so rich a reward, that to dwell for a moment upon the pleasure and the profit derivable from such an exercise ; of striving, under the aid of the Holy Spirit, whose blessed book the Bible is, to become acquainted with the things which belong to our present and everlasting peace, might, perhaps, seem unnecessary; almost as much so as if we were to spread a heap of treasure before a poor man, perishing of want, and then endeavour to persuade and intreat him to possess himself of it that he might buy bread and live: or as if we were to lead a wretched fellow-creature, fevered with thirst in an arid wilderness, to a spring of gushing water; and then stand by and explain to him the reviving properties of the stream, and argue upon the necessity and propriety of quenching his raging appetite.
But alas! no. The perceptions of the soul are darkened ; its faculties perverted, and its sensibility dead through the effect of sin. The Scriptures, indeed, are more precious than thousands of gold and silver ; are food to the hungry, and drink to the thirsty. They are the revelation of God's will to man-to man enveloped in ignorance and sunk in sin; pointing out his destiny and his duty; and even adapted and adequate to all his sorrows, wants, and infirmities;-making known all things pertaining to life and godliness ; time and eternity; grace and glory. Within sight of these “ wells of salvation;" for they are everywhere springing up, so that even in the wilderness waters break out and streams in the desert,” “ running in the dry places like a river,”-do we all daily stand. And there, too, does our blessed Saviour himself stand and invite us in the most affectionate terms to approach and drink. “And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come: and let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
What invitations are these ! how gracious, how unmerited ! and yet are we such self-satisfied, and self-sufficient, though blind and wretched creatures, that we suffer that “river, the streams whereof make glad the city of our God,” to run by us uninvitingly and in vain. What miserable infatuation !
Who knoweth what a day may bring forth ? Overflowing mercy now at our very lips,-anon not a single drop of water to cool the tormented tongue ! Our time here, how short! To what in the Scriptures is our life compared ? To "a tale that is told,”—“a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away,”—“ a shadow that declineth,”—“ grass that withereth,”—“ the Aower of the field.” “ Behold,” says David, “thou bast made my days as an hand-breadth ; and mine age is as nothing before thee : verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity.”
Men “ have eyes, but” then “they see not ; ears, but they hear not.” O that we went in prayer for the Spirit's teaching, without which we shall continue blind, aud ignorant, and helpless, all our days ; and that “ He who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, would shine in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ!” The Scriptures, applied by the Spirit of God, are able, not only to “make us wise unto salvation,” but to impart salvation itself; not only to enlighten the darkest mind, but to renovate the most depraved heart. Then would we, no longer “ hewing out for ourselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water,” go at once to the Fountain of Living Water—the Saviour who is waiting to be gracious, whilst the language of our hearts would be, “O Lord our God, other lords beside Thee have had dominion over us : but by Thee only will we make mention of Thy name. They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise : therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish.”
Reluctant no more, may we seek to apply our hearts unto wisdom,—that is, perform the rational part which creatures, circumstanced as we are, have to act,-prefer the soul to the body,—eternity to time ;—and flee for refuge to the Hope set before us in the Gospel, “ casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Sitting, like Mary of old, at the feet of Jesus, let us study with prayer and holy reverence the sacred pages of His blessed Word : there we shall learn all that He has done for our souls, and what He is still doing ; and, amidst the discovery, we shall gratefully surrender our whole hearts,—the best energies of our lives, to His service; still feeling that all we can give is too little for such wonderful mercy. When we have done all, we must still say, “ We are unprofitable servants !”
“ Come,” says He now by His recorded Word, what He spoke with His lips when on earth, “ Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Let us hear and obey the call; go, and He will take us by the hand, that He may lead us beside the still waters of salvation, and abundantly satisfy the longing desires of our souls. He is Faithfulness and Truth. His promises,--His, “ for whom are all things, and by whom are all things ;"_and are they not scattered in rich profusion over the pages of the Bible, like the stars on the face of the heavens ?—fail not, as thousands in all ages have been able to testify. “ I have taken,” said David, “ Thy testimonies as my heritage for ever ; for they are the rejoicing of my heart ;" “ more to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold ; sweeter also than honey and the honey-comb." "I found Thy words,” avowed Jeremiah, “ and I did eat them ; and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart.” “I can find no rest,” declared Chillingworth, speaking of the salvation of the Gospel, “ for the sole of my foot, but upon this Rock only.” “Looking,” Bilney the martyr, has told us, “ into the New Testament, by God's special providence I met with these words ;