« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
the glory of God, in making us serviceable to ourselves and our fellow-creatures, in imitation of our blessed Lord and Saviour's example. He must reign in our affections; and we must shew our duty and allegiance to him by our actions. - Let us, then, give heed to these important matters, that we may not let them slip.” Let us guard against transgression, for fear of its punishment. Let us hold fast our obedience, in hopes of its reward. Let our hearts be softened, and our wills influenced by an extensive charity ; that we may be protected by Christ, and accepted of God, and finally be made partakers of eternal rest.
SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES.
JOHN V. 39.
Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life :
and they are they which testify of me.
The Holy Scriptures excel all other writings in the grandeur and importance of their subjects ,—and they differ from all others in this respect,—that amidst all their variety of style and date, they have one common spirit and purpose, and harmonize with each other in the most striking and admirable way. They are one professed and continued illustration of God's power and providence. The five books of Moses, for instance, relate partly to general history, and partly to the particular laws and institutions of the Jews; yet their pervading—their avowed object, is to represent Almighty God as the Creator and Preserver, the Governor and Judge of mankind. They celebrate his omnipotence, in having created the whole universe out of nothing,—his providence, in supplying his creatures with all things necessary to their support and well-being ;-his authority as Lord both of heaven and earth ;-his love of holiness and his detestation of sin,--the punishments which he justly awards to bad men,—the love and favour with which he regards the good. The other books of Scripture are either historical, as all of them are that occur in our translation from Deuteronomy to Job ; —or devotional, as the Psalms,-or doctrinal and moral, as the Proverbs and other writings of Solomon,
or prophetical, as those are which begin with Isaiah, and are continued to the end of the Old Testament. Yet the attributes of God, and his sovereignty in particular, are uniformly the main subject of them all. The same observation applies to the books of the New Testament, which are to us Christians a part of Scripture, though they are not included in our Saviour's admonition in the text; because, indeed, they were not then written. They also harmonize in spirit and in substance with the books of the Old Testament ; for they record the development of that great and consistent plan of religion, which, in the times of the more ancient Scriptures, was in an introductory, and for the most part, in a halfopened state. If we look into any other series of writings, whether ancient or modern, we shall find that, in general, their subjects are as different as their style. In some of them, religion may be the main topic ;-in others, it may be mentioned inci
dentally ;-and in others,—indeed, in most that are published in our days, it is altogether omitted :-and where it does occur in books written by different authors and at different times, we discover a variation of tenets and a general want of system. If we wish to make a religious use of our ordinary reading either in learned works, or in books of mere amusement, we must bring our religious principles with us ; for those can only be acquired from the Bible. There, we have a fund of instruction that will lead us to the knowledge of the Most High, and will point out to us a rule of conduct which is both safe and holy.
The reason is, that the Scriptures are the work of divine inspiration. Their Author is God himself,though, in point of verbal expression and of composition, they are the productions of men, -of men who were guided and moved by the Holy Ghost. The works of our great Creator are, amidst all their diversity, consistent and orderly as a whole: and the more they are studied, the more this is felt, with regard not only to the natural, but to the moral world. We have a pleasing instance of it even in the birds of the air. By attentively listening to that beautiful part of the creation, we find that greatly as their voices differ in compass and in sweetness, they are exquisitely attuned to each other ;--in their chorus there is no discord ; but every one of these feathered songsters forms a symphony with the rest. They are an emblem of that harmony which pervades the revealed word of God. Its doctrines, its reproofs, its
corrections, its instructions in righteousness, are profitable to us, and unite in displaying his glory, his power, and his love.
“In them,” said our Saviour to the malignant Jews, “ye
ye think that ye have eternal life ; and they are they which testify of me.” He rebukes their stubbornness, by turning their own principles against themselves ;-he insinuates, that as they recognized in the writings of the Old Testament, the great doctrine of life and immortality which he brought more clearly to light,—and of which, indeed, he was meritoriously the author,—they might also discover in those same writings a testification of his character, not less as the Son of God, than as the Son of man.
The immortality of the soul,--and a future state of rewards and punishments, -are the elementary doctrines implied in every system of religion :-indeed, they are essential to the very notion of religion. They are not, it is true, self-evident ; and yet they are entertained and cherished by mankind almost instinctively. For this reason, they are not so much dwelt upon, as taken for granted, in the Old Testament. We oftener find them alluded to, than expressly mentioned,--noticed by way of inference, more than by direct assertion. The phrase "sleeping with their fathers,” applied to the state of dead men, is to be taken not altogether as a figurative expression, but rather, as intimating that the souls of of the dead were not extinct. Besides, there is a word of frequent occurrence in the original Scrip