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THE EXCELLENCY OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES,
PSALM XIX. 7-10. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the
soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord' is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever ; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to. be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the
HERE are two methods which God is pleased to employ in the instruction of mankind. He teaches them by the works of creation, and by the words of Holy Scripture. . The heavens declare the glory of God; and man, if he had
not fallen, would have continued to understand this language. The book of revelation might then have been unnecessary.
But man as a sinner has no ear to listen to the voice of God in his works ; and it is only by the revealed' words of Scripture, that he can find the way of pardon and holiness. The Psalmist, accordingly, after he had spoken magnificently, in the preceding verses, of the display of the divine perfections in the works of creation and providence, makes a sudden transition in the text to the book of revelation, and extols it far above them. The abruptness of this transition, when considered in connexion with the commendations bestowed on the inspired volume, seems to point out the insufficiency of the instructions of nature, and the necessity and excellency of a revelation from God.
The subject, then, which we have now to consider is, the excellency of the Sacred Scriptures.
In explaining this, I shall have to point out, the properties, the efficacy, and the value of the word of God.
I. WE MUST NOTICE THE EXCELLENT PROPERTIES OF THE WORD OF GOD.
AS A LAW IT IS PERFECT. The revelation of God, which is his law in the most extensive sense of the term, is complete and entire. It
has no flaw nor defect. It contains every thing necessary for our salvation. Nature declares the glory of God only in a general manner; and even this instruction is to us now become obscure and imperfect. It was suited to man in his state of innocence; but it cannot show him his danger as a transgressor, or point out any certain method of pardon, or give him any sure hope of felicity. But the law of God is. perfect. Nothing can be added to it, nothing taken from it. It embraces every part of truth. Not indeed every part, absolutely speaking; but every part which God has seen it right to reveal. It comprehends all our duty, and all our consolation ; all that is necessary to make us happy and holy; all that regards the doctrine of pardon and the way of peace. It reveals the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
The writings of the heathen philosophers contain a few mutilated principles and some fine sentiments; but they are incomplete as a rule, and grossly defective as to their principles of action. The Bible alone is perfect, beginning with the statement of man's sinfulness and guilt, discovering to us a stupendous atonement for sin, revealing a Spirit of grace and holiness, laying down a complete rule of life, and connecting with these a history of the creation, fall, and redemption of mankind. It is all given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine,
for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
But further, AS A TESTIMONY, THE WORD OF GOD is spoken of as sure. Considered as the solemn witness and attestation of God to all those truths which concern man's everlasting salvation, it is sure. It comes with a force and authority to the conscience. The former property denoted the completeness, this the solidity and firmness, if I may be allowed the expression, of the instructions of God in the Scriptures. They are faithful. They are like solid ground on which your foot stands fast, and where you may take a firm step. The authenticity and divine inspiration of the Bible being established by accumulated evidence, all its contents are to be entirely depended on. Whatever doubts we may have as to the opinions or writings of the best of men, we can have none with regard to the words of the Holy Ghost. They are a sure direction as to the principles of truth, and a sure guide in the way of duty
It is added, that THE STATUTES OF THE LORD ARE RIGHT. The statutes and judgments of the divine law are altogether right, true, clean, and righteous. (Ver. 8 and 9.) The equity and holiness of them equal their completeness and certainty. They are in all respects true and just and excellent. There is nothing harsh, nothing
defiling, nothing erroneous, nothing arbitrary in them. They have not only authority, but goodness on their side. We may not in all points be able to perceive the reasons of the divine declarations. It would be surprising if we could. But shall we not believe that the Judge of all the earth doth right? Shall we not adore what we cannot comprehend? Shall we not esteem all God's precepts concerning all things to be right? Though obscurity rest on some part of the words and judgments of the Almighty; yet shall we not acknowledge, that they are in themselves undoubtedly true and righteous altogether; conceived in eternal wisdom, founded on eternal truth, strictly barmonizing with the unchangeable principles of good and evil, precisely and in every respect that which they ought to be? And as to the leading features of the moral government of God, as to the stupendous mercies of redemption and the offers and terms of salvation, there is no enlightened mind but must at once discover their rectitude and excellency. They are clean from all dross or alloy; they are free from all error ; they are completely true and righteous.
It is a further property of the word of God, that, As A COMMANDMENT, IT IS PURE. The Bible is a clear and perspicuous rule of duty. Like the light of the sun (to wbich the word rendered pure may allude), it is lucid and bril