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the Bible is both a more excellent and perfect gift in itself, and more completely and immediately the gift of God, than according to the opposite system.

Men are accustomed to value a book, in proportion not merely to its intrinsic worth and utility, but also to the esteem that it cherished for its author. The works of Plato, Cicero, Homer, Virgil, and some other mortal men, celebrated for genius, wit, erudition, or eloquence, have been prized, in a manner, beyond all bounds. In what estimation, then, should we hold the Scriptures as truly and wholly the book of Him who is the adorable source of all intelligence? Whatever gratitude may be felt for this Volume by those who consider it as almost entirely the work of human writers, composed under a general superintendence of the Spirit, those who conscientiously receive it as, both in its sentiments and words, and uniformly in all its various parts, a Divine work, must naturally entertain more vivid impressions of the value of the blessing, and a more lively sense of obligation to that gracious and condescending God, who has himself, by the instrumentality of men as his rational organs, thus spoken in his holiness; and who deigns still to address us in the Scriptures in the same accents of authority and mercy, in which he spoke of old at those sundry times when Prophets and Apostles received the suggestions of the Spirit, or heard an audible voice from heaven.

III. This doctrine serves also to produce a peculiarly deep veneration for the sacred Scriptures.

A profound reverence for Scripture is often mentioned as a distinguishing characteristic of the truly godly, and a characteristic highly conducive to their felicity and honour. Of the man who meditates with delight on the law of the Lord, and who keeps aloof from the ungodly and the scornful that treat its sacred lessons with ridicule, it is said, “ He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season.

“ To this man will I look,” says that Jehovah who claims heaven for his throne, and the earth for his footstool, “even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word."

Now that the doctrine we assert, is peculiarly calculated to promote that profound veneration for the Scriptures which God is thus pleased to behold with his marked approbation, is abundantly clear. The person who views the Seriptures as but partially and occasionally inspired, can hardly be supposed to Ps. i. 1-3.

† Is. Ixvi. 1, 2.

feel the same holy awe for them in his inmost soul, or to treat them habitually with the same practical reverence, that are naturally felt and assiduously cherished by the man who regards them as written completely and invariably by inspiration of the Spirit of God. With what reverence and godly fear did Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles listen to the voice of God, when immediately addressed to them in heavenly visions and revelations! - Moses hid his face,” we read, “ for he was afraid to look upon God.” It is with a veneration somewhat similar that the Christian, impressed with that divine inspiration which dignifies every book and every page of the Holy Scriptures, hearkens to the dictates of eternal wisdom. The more direct and continual, the recognised agency of God in inditing them, the Christian feels not only the more lively emotions of gratitude, but the more profound impressions of reverence

. The holy veneration cherished in his bosom, too, will exercise a salutary influence on his temper and conduct, in whatever capacity he acts with reference to the Scriptures, and to whatever use he applies them.

Is he a Translator of the Scriptures? In attempting to turn them from the original into living tongues, he will proceed with a sacred awe on his spirit. With the fidelity of a HENRY MARTYN, formerly mentioned, he will study the meaning and admire the beauty of every word, and conscientiously endeavour to express its true sense; neither disfiguring his version by an extreme literality, nor indulging in paraphrastic elegancies, unworthy of a faithful translator.

Again, is he a public Teacher of God's Word ? He will consider the clear and faithful exposition of the Scriptures a most important part of his work. His veneration for a book, completely inspired, will fortify him against the suggestions of indolence and levity. That he may be capable of expounding the sacred oracles in a correct and edifying manner, he will study them in the original languages, will compare Scripture with Scripture, and will avail himself discreetly of the assistance which the lexicon, the concordance, and other human helps within his reach, can supply. Above all, he will not forget to implore, with humility and earnestness, the gracious aids of that Spirit of Wisdom by whom the Scriptures were indited, and whose illuminating influence is promised to those who sincerely endeavour to understand his mind.

The Christian sometimes finds himself called to vindicate the truths of religion with the tongue or the pen, in opposition to those by whom they are denied or perverted. On those oecasions, the veneration we speak of will happily serve to repress that vanity and arrogance, that bitterness and wrath, and all those unhallowed arts, which are incident to human nature amidst the agitation of controversy. It will tend, in particular, to preserve him from “ handling the word of God deceitfully.” He will take heed lest, from zeal and precipitance, from partiality for his own views, or from a wish to mortify and glory over his opponent, he treat any inspired sayings lightly, or put constructions upon them which they cannot naturally bear, and which cannot endure the test of impartial inquiry. The forced applications and unnatural interpretations of Scripture, into which even truly good men have been often betrayed by the spirit of controversy, both in ancient and modern times, and the injuries done to the cause of truth itself by the unfair means used to advance it, present a subject of mournful reflection to the enlightened and the candid. “You may take notice of this,” says Martin LUTHER, “in the most eminent theologians, in Augustin and Bernard, and even in the more ancient fathers, Cyprian and Tertullian, that in their public discourses they handle the Scripture perfectly right, but are very apt to pervert it in their controversial writings."*

In whatever way the Christian makes use of the Bible, his reverence for this sacred and venerable book should appear. It is not in a thoughtless and indevout state of mind, but with great composure and solemnity, that he peruses its hallowed pages in the presence of his family, or amidst the retirements of the closet. Nor does he in any form apply its sentiments or phrases, but under becoming impressions of the majesty of its Author, and the importance of its lessons, Whether he refer to it in speech or in writing, on grave occasions or amid the familiarities of easy conversation, his allusions, he is aware, should be uniformly expressed in a style and manner that breathe unfeigned veneration. To introduce the stories or the language of Scripture for the purpose of promoting hilarity and mirth in the social circle, is a practice which he can neither allow in himself nor countenance in others. Nothing is more grievously offensive to his ears than the profane conversation of those who prostitute the word of the eternal God, in subservience to that “ foolish talking and jesting, which is not convenient.” And is it not evident, that this practical veneration for Scripture may be expected, in a higher and more decided tone, from the man who devoutly believes its complete inspi

Quoted from Milner's Church History, vol. v. p. 385.

ration, than from him who regards it as but slightly or partially inspired ?

IV. Another important advantage attending the belief of this doctrine is, that it will determine us firmly to abide by the Scriptures as our only supreme and infallible standard.

The paramount authority of the Sacred Oracles, though explicitly asserted, as has been shown, by the inspired writers themselves, does not pass undisputed; and that homage to which they possess an exclusive and inalienable title, has been paid to various other guides and standards. The writings of the fathers, the decrees of councils, the enactments of states, the mandates of princes, the vagaries of oral tradition, have all, in their several turns and degrees, been exalted to a place of authority over the judgment and conscience, inconsistent with the submission due to the Scriptures. For a long series of ages, dark and dreary, “ all the world wondered after the beast;"* and even to this day the adherents of the papal system ascribe the power of infallibly determining articles of faith and modes of worship and practice, either to the Pope, or to the “ Holy Catholic Church." In latter times, some boast of inward illuminations and impressions from the Spirit, which they are bound implicitly to follow, how unwarranted soever by the prescriptions of the Bible; whilst a still more numerous assemblage unite in adoring human Reason as the sovereign guide and dictator, according to whose decision the doctrines of Scripture must be received or rejected.

To withstand the pretensions of all these imposing competitors with the Sacred Volume, and to adhere inviolably to this divine rule, as the only supreme and infallible standard, is, without question, a necessary and an interesting duty. “ They have rejected the word of the Lord,” says the Prophet; “ and what wisdom is in them?”ť It is recorded to the lasting honour of the Christians at Berea, that they manifested a superior nobleness of spirit, “ in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily whether those things were so.”! But whether the assertors of Partial, or the advocates of Plenary Inspiration, hold the more favourable attitude for maintaining a resolute adherence to the Scriptures, as the only supreme and infallible rule of faith and practice, it cannot be difficult to determine.

Let men imbibe the notion that the Bible is but partially inspired; that Prophets and Apostles received from the Spirit

Rev. xiii, 3. † Jer. viji. 9. † Acts xvii. 11.

their sentiments, but very rarely their expressions; that even their sentiments are not always inspired; that they frequently wrote from their own previous knowledge and reflection, or from human information, under a slight and general superintendence; and that in points not very material, or not of a moral and religious nature, they were left in some instances to trifle or to commit mistakes— what is the natural and necessary consequence? By this very notion they do virtually, or rather expressly, renounce the Bible as an infallible standard, and reduce themselves to the necessity of adopting another rule of faith, or else a variety of rules. They are now prepared, as fashion, inclination, or caprice may direct them, to surrender their faith to the guidance of human authority, as exercised by fathers, councils, states, princes, or popes; to follow the glimmerings of an imaginary light within; or to obey the suggestions of a proud understanding, conceited of its own reason. But when men conscientiously regard the Scriptures as fully and verbally inspired by the Spirit of God, they cannot but feel themselves placed under indispensable obligations to be absolutely and universally subject to their sovereign authority. Whatever respect they may entertain for the wise and the good; whatever deference they feel disposed to show to their superiors in Church or State, conformably to the rank assigned them in Providence; and whatever legitimate use they desire to make of those intellectual capacities which God has bestowed on themselves—it is their fervent wish that none be permitted to usurp the Divine prerogative, and that every thought be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

The opinions of others, and their own speculations, are sacrificed with equal alacrity at the shrine of revelation; and they strive to keep in remembrance these sacred maxims: “ One is your Master, even Christ;" “ We ought to obey God rather than men.'

V. In connection with what has just been mentioned, we may add, further, that the cordial belief of Plenary Inspiration will preserve us from perverting the Scriptures to support any preconceived theory or favourite sentiment.

A great partiality for their own opinions is natural to men; and whatever views they have long held, particularly if these views be very flattering to their pride, or exactly suited to their carnal apprehensions, they are extremely unwilling to abandon them. Antecedent notions, the most gratuitous and

* Mat xxiii. 8-Acts v. 29.

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