Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

to those who either have less leisure or ability; or are newly engaged in such researches; as an experienced guide may be to those who are strangers to the road: and it savours greatly of self-sufficiency to undervalue either commentators or other writers on divine things. Yet all men are fallible, and we should call no man father upon earth: it must, therefore, be proper to compare all their elucidations, or inferences, with the Scriptures themselves. Above all it behoves us, “ to ask

, “ wisdom of God;" and to beg of him to give us the Holy Spirit, to remove from our minds every prejudice and carnal affection, and whatever may close them against any part of revealed truth, or indispose them to receive the illumination of heaven; as the vitiated eye cannot make a proper use

a of the light of the sun. He alone who inspired the Scriptures, can help us to urderstand them: and if we search them, in dependence on his teaching, and in the spirit of fervent

prayer,

“ He “ will lead us into all truth,” as far as it is requisite for our safety, peace, and duty. It

here to caution the reader against fanciful interpretations, which surprise and amuse, but mislead men from the practical meaning of Scripture: and against those who pretend to modernize divine truth; not choosing to “speak “ according to the oracles of God,” but as they -suppose the apostles would have spoken, if they had possessed the advantage of modern improve

proper

may be

ments: a supposition just as wise, as to attempt improving the light of the sun, by modern discoveries in astronomy! In short, every text has its proper meaning as it stands related to the context; and its proper application to us : these we should seriously investigate, with fervent prayer for divine teaching; without presuming to add to, alter, or deduct from, the revealed will of God.'

V. Lastly, we should search the Scriptures as the navigator consults his chart, and makes his observations, that he may discover where he is, and

, what course he must steer:

as any one looks into. a glass, that he may both know what manner of man he is, and learn to adjust what is unbecoming: or as an heir reads his father's will, and the inventory of his effects and estates, that he may know what the inheritance is, and the nature of the tenure by which he must possess it. We should accompany our reading with impartial selfexamination ; both in respect of our knowledge, judgment, dispositions, affections, motives, words, and actions, in every particular, at present, and in times past; that we may learn the state and wants of our souls ;-and with self-application, as the persons spoken to, in every instruction, precept, sanction, counsel, warning, invitation, or promise, according to our state, character, conduct, and circumstances : pausing to enquire, whether

[blocks in formation]

we understand what we have read, and what we have learned from it; that, beseeching the Lord to pardon what is past, and to help us for the future, we may, without delay or reserve, begin to practise what we know, waiting for further light in such matters, as still continue doubtful or obscure to us.-It would be easy to multiply directions : but the Scriptures thus studied are “able “ to make us wise unto salvation, by faith in Jesus " Christ."

ESSAY III.

On the Scriptural Character of God..

Every attentive and intelligent student of the

VERY Bible will perceive, that to preserve or recover man from idolatry, by instructing him in the

, character and perfections of the one living and true God, and the way in which he would be worshipped and served, was, in some respects, the principal end for which revelation was vouchsafed. The jealous care of Jehovah to distinguish between himself and every idol, and to secure the glory to himself without allowing any' of it to be given to another; with the terrible denunciations pronounced against idolaters, and the severe judgments executed upon them, must attract the notice of all who are conversant with the sacred oracles, and convince every impartial person that idolatry is the greatest of all sins, atheism alone excepted.

Yet in this, as in other things, the “ wisdom " of man, which is foolishness with God,” has led numbers to adopt a contrary opinion: so that,

66

1

whilst an elegant and admired poet has employed his fascinating ingenuity to persuade the inhabitants of a christian country, that God is worshipped with equal acceptance, “ by saint, by savage, “ and by sage,” or whether he be called “ Jeho

vah, Jove, or Lord,'” (in which connexion Lord may signify Baal;) it is also become a fashionable principle of modern rational divinity, that all such distinctions are inmaterial, and all religions very much alike, if men be only sincere in their way. Indeed, numbers seem to think that what they call bigotry, though wholly free from intolerance or persecution, is worse than any mental errors, even in respect of the object of religious worship! and that candour and liberality of sentiment are more important virtues, than the supreme love and spiritual adoration of Jehovah, as distinguished from all false Gods.

But who does not perceive, that this principle if carried to its obvious consequences, amounts to a rejection of the Bible, or at least puts it on the same footing with the Theogonia of Hesiod, or the Koran of Mahomet? Who can avoid seeing, that it imputes bigotry and a contracted mind to the prophets and apostles, and to every approved character of holy writ, without excepting our Lord himself? Nay, will it not follow from it, that Jehovah wrought many stupendous miracles to no manner of purpose ? For we must not only

'Pope's universal prayer.

« PoprzedniaDalej »