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EXTRACTING AND APPLYING PROFITABLY THE
MATTER OF A TEXT;
WITH AN EXAMPLE.
THE Scripture itself teaches us how this is to be done:
• Whatsoever things were written aforetime “ were written for our learning, that we through patience and « comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”
1 Cor. x. II. “ These things happened unto them for en“ samples, and they are written for our admonition.”
2 Tim. iii. 16. “ 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."
Hence we learn for what purposes the Scriptures are intended; and consequently, that they are to be used for “ doctrine," 'or teaching; for “reproof; for “correction ;" for “ instruction in righteousness; for « comfort,” and “ admonition.”
I. Ilpos didaoxahay, for DOCTRINE. The words teach, that we should always be ready to publish the truth of the Gospel. 2. Even though we should lose all' 'by fo doing. 3. Christ and his truth are above all that is in the world, even life itself. 4. That there is eternal punishment for those who are tempted to deny him. 5. That we need not fear, because God always hath us under his care, so that none can hurt us till he permits. 6. This we may be sure of, becaufe even the least things, the smallest of creatures, seemingly infignificant, have his regard ; much more II. Ipos emerxov, for ReprooF; i. e. confutation on conviction. 1. Of those who think it sufficient to believe with the heart, but palliate and diffemble with men, as times and interests serveas in perfecution" with the mouth confession is made unto sal. valion." 2. For the confutation of Epicureans, who remove God from the government of the world. 3. Of Stoics, who govern the world by fate. . 4. Against those who believe chance and fortune. 5. Those who hold only a general providenee, not descending to minute particulars. 6. Those who trust more to worldly helps, than to the power of God, which made and preserves even the hairs of our heads. 7. Those who cruelly or in. considerately destroy those creatures, which it is the care of God to preserve.
III. Ilpos taidelavớad vitæ morumque inftitutionem.-1. To have the true fear of God before our eyes : to meditate constantly on the torments prepared for those who deny Chrift; that we may amend our sinful lives. 2. That we may learn to despise worldly greatness, lest we lose our souls for the preservation of it-therefore to leave all for him and his glorious kingdom. 3. To think of the presence of God ready at hand to help-to implore his assistance, and be firmly persuaded our actions are governed and guided by him-that there is no danger from which he cannot secure or deliver us.
IV. Προς επανορθωσιν, CORRECTION. 1. Of the negligence of those who seek not by earnest prayer for that purė love of God which will enable them to part with life itself; and for that better sort of fear which is proper to children toward their parent—this to be done more especially in times of danger---that they may endure unto the end and be saved. 2. Of the blindness of such as do not see the care of God's providence in the government of the world. 3. Of the ingratiiude of those who do not constantly acknowledge it with thankfulness. 4. Of those who abuse any of the creatures of God. Thus we are corrected in our mistakes, and spurred on to attention and diligence.
V. Προς Παρακλησιν--for coMFORT. . Is it not a great consolation under trials and affictions, that God is not unmindful of us; that we and all our concerns are in the hands of him, who careth fót us; and so careth, that not an hair falls to the ground without him?
Let it be observed that all things in the Scriptures are to be brought home to the present state of the church, kingdom, town, parith, university, college, family, and to the heart of cach individual. The Scripture has something for every person, condition, situation, that ever was or ever shall be.
Those of parts and capacity, who desire to learn, find doctrines of heavenly philosophy-those who have erred in faith or practice, find sharp reproof-the simple and the humble, who aspire to no great heights, but are follicitous to live righteously, find instruction, waldean—those who know the truth but are dull and heavy, find exhortations and reproofs--those who are in sorrow and afflic. tion, find confolation--histories of that which is paft shew what is to be expected, and so serve aspos vylediæv, for warning and admonition of dangers and deliverances. See 1 Cor. x. II.
Doctrine promotes knowledge; reproof reclaims the wanderer, instruction sets forward in the path of life; correction calls finners to repentance; confolation raises the weak and afflicted to hope and gladness. Here is every thing that can be wanted to make the man of God perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work.
Lord teach our ignorance, reprove our errors, instruct us unto righteousness, quicken our sloth, comfort our forrows-thou are good and gracious; O teach us thy statutes.
ENTHUSIASM is the vice of a mind falsely supposing itself
under the immediate inspiration of God. It is above the use of ordinances; and has a near alliance with Schism, in which it commonly ends. It is the peculiar engine of the devil, by which he does most harm. His kingdom is best advanced, when he can pafs his delufions for the dictates of the Holy Ghost. He has many ways of tempting men to fin: but if any pleases him most, it is when he is taken for the spirit of God; as of old in the Heathen oracles.
2. The usual Causes of it. Enthusiasm is bred in these days from ignorance of the Scripture, and of Christian antiquity. The regular way to true piety is by knowledge, by the purifying of the heart by faith (Acts xv. 9.) and hearing the word of truth rightly divided. There is no real enthusiasm till we are taken off from the word, and have assumed some other principle of knowledge. Labour therefore in that, and never attempt to set up without it. They who know not the marks of the true fpirit, and would yet be doing great things in an extraordinary character, are in danger from the evil spirit ; who takes advantage of that zeal which is without knowledge, and turns it to his own purposes. Not understanding rightly the means of grace, or thinking them below their attention, they claim the grace of God without the means; which being contrary to his will, who has appointed both an inward and an outward religion, accommodated to the soul and body of man, it is not strange if they get something else instead of it. Negligence in Iome of the clergy of the church, and the want of disciplines gives offence to those who are too ready to seek it: in which case they run after some better way, and are easily made a prey of.
The Marks of Enthusiasm. It affects great and extraordinary fervours of devotion, above the measure of other men; and discourages the piety of sober Christians, as formal and lifeless. The proof of its pretensions being not in its fruits, but in its feelings, which are evidence only to the person himself; it refuses to be brought to a trial, and so is above conviction. Thus did the Montanists, when the Catholic bishops would have exorcised Maximilla. G. Keith accepted the repeated challenges of the Quakers, and would have met them at Turner's-hall ; but they shuffled and refused to come. They are not obliged to answer any thing; having an inward testimony that they are right, and all others wrong; and to question this, is to quench the spirit, and despise prophesyings: so it is impossible they should be reclaimed.
Enthusiasm rarely fails to betray great contempt of the priesthood, hierarchy, government, discipline, and succession of the church; and depreciates the church itself, as if nothing were meant by it but a building with stone-walls. It despises the neceffary labour of study. Forty years were requisite to form an Andrews; but an ordinary person, if a gifted enthusiast, shall be far beyond him in a few days. Hence schools and universities may be laid aside. The enthusiast has charity for every thing but the church; because the church only has the form of sound doc
with the history of truth and error from the beginning; and fo can bring to nothing their boasted sanctity and pretended reve. lations"; therefore they cannot speak of the church with patience, nor bear with a churchman.
The affectation of superior austerity, is a grand delusion, by which deceivers iinpose upon the simple. The Montanists, in the first centuries, despised the Catholics as a carnal people, because they themselves ostentatioully practised greater mortification and severity. As to convulsions, roarings, ravings, and falling senseless on the ground, &c. these ever were the marks of a dæmoniac, not of the spirit of Christ, which is first pure, then peaceable. Montanus therefore was reckoned possessed ; and the Quakers in this country had all the signs of it, as Mr. -Lellie has
* See Lehie's Warks, Vol. II, 2536