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jour says :
understanding, no longer be necessary as “ a lamp to your feet and a light to your path, to guide you in the way everlasting ?” If you neglect daily and prayerfully to peruse the oracles of God, you will soon learn by sad experience, that the fervour of your first love will decline ; clouds and darkness will obscure your spiritual day; and, “ if the light that is in you become darkness, how great will be that darkness !"
That the habitual reading of the sacred Scripture is absolutely necessary to the Christian's growth in grace, is evident from the express declarations and commands of Scripture. Hear what our Sav
“ It is the Spirit that quickeneth ; the flesh profiteth nothing : The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” In the last very affectionate interview which he had with his disciples, he thus said, “ Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." And in the memorable prayer which he offered up soon after, is this petition addressed to his heavenly Father, “ Sanctify them through thy truth-thy word is truth.” The early converts to Christianity were urged by Saint Peter, “ as new-born babes, to desire the sincere milk of the word ;” and for what purpose ?—that they might grow thereby.” We have also this precept, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom :" and, to sum up all, the express declaration of an Apostle, that “ all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction,
for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
II. Under my second general head, I proposed to consider with what spirit it becomes us to search the Scriptures.
1. First, we should be fully persuaded that they are indeed the word of God, and that in them he as truly addresses us, as if we heard his voice speaking to us from heaven.—No one need want proof of the divinity of the Bible, who lives in this Christian land. The evidences of its inspiration are complete and overwhelming, and within the reach of even the most illiterate who will be at the pains to read them. Pious and ingenious writers have comprised these evidences in a small compass, and rendered them accessible to all.
And here I cannot but entreat parents to consider, how important it is that those children, whom God has committed to their care, should be early instructed in some of the most easy and familiar proofs of the truth of our holy religion. This will be the surest guard, under the blessing of God, "against the attacks of infidelity with which they may meet in their riper years. It will inspire them, especially such as are curious to inquire into the reason of things, with a sober and permanent reverence for the word of God, and will convince them how great must be the depravity, even of their youthful hearts, in resisting that truth which comes
so forcibly recommended to their understanding and conscience.
But to return; I observed, that, in searching the Scriptures, we should be fully persuaded that they are indeed the word of God. Now, without insisting on the external evidences of their truth, to which I have alluded, there is enough in the very pages of the New Testament to render all doubt and unbelief most criminal. Read them attentively. Compare their contents with your own hearts. Soon, unless pride and obstinacy darken the understanding-soon does the sinner, like Felix, tremble before the authority of Divine Truth. He is obliged to confess that the word of God is indeed “quick and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and that it is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” But your faith, my Christian brethren, stands on a still firmer foundation. You have, I trust, realized the fulfilment of the Saviour's promise—“ If any man will do his will, (the will of God) he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." You have proved the truth of His words, who spake as never man spake, by the experience of your own hearts. When you open, therefore, the pages of the sacred book, listen to the instruction of your Heavenly Father, with the most implicit confidence in his veracity, and with the full assurances that He, and not man, speaks to you in the record which he has placed in your hands. .
2. Secondly, We should search the Scriptures with a docile and humble spirit. If we have ever felt the gross moral darkness which sin has cast over our minds: if we are sensible how liable we are to err in forming just conceptions of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and of the way of salvation through Jesus Christ : if, in short, we are persuaded that God alone can teach us, what is our duty and our truest happiness; then shall we be prepared to sit as humble disciples at the feet of Jesus, and learn of him, who also was meek and lowly in heart. But with how different a temper do many, even those who are called Christians, often approach the sacred Oracles ! They rely on the strength of their own reason, and even pride themselves in having discovered truths, which perhaps God has seen fit entirely to conceal from the human mind. They reject, too, all that is mysterious, and would bring every thing to the level of their own understandings. They are almost unwilling to walk by Faith. Such, wise and prudent in their own conceit, have to fear lest God should hide from them the knowledge of Divine Truth, and reveal it unto babes,-unto those who are willing to be taught of God, and to rest the most implicit confidence upon “ Thus saith the Lord.”—Bear in mind, then, that in searching the Scriptures, as well as in the performance of every other duty,“ God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”
3. Thirdly, This search should be conducted with a prayerful spirit.-When our Saviour met the
eleven disciples at Jerusalem, just before his ascension, we are told that “ he opened their understandings, that they might understand the Scriptures." And Saint Paul tells the Ephesians, that be ceased not to make mention of them in his prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ the Father of glory, would give unto them the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, that the eyes of their understanding being enlightened, they might know what was the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” So necessary is the influence of the Spirit of God upon our minds, to enable us rightly to understand the word which he has dictated ! Always rely then on this heavenly Monitor for assistance. Supplicate the continual communication to your minds of his wisdom and grace, when you search the Scriptures ; and then you may rest assured that you will learn all truth necessary to salvation. For you have this encouragement and promise"If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shalt be given him.”
In improving our subject, let us attend briefly to the two following particulars.
First. If to search the Scriptures is important, because from them alone we can derive that knowledge which is essential to the welfare of our immortal souls: if they alone «furnish that spiritual food which is absolutely necessary to the Christian's