Page images
PDF
EPUB

liant, without any mixture of darkness. The perspicuity of Holy Writ is as remarkable as its other qualities. It manifests itself without difficulty. Its pure doctrine has no need of elaborate proofs, reasonings, or study. It enters, through the power of the Spirit, into the inind, and discovers itself by its own brightness. It seizes the conscience, and silences the vain cavils of passion. Other books are debased by obscure and confused sentiments and positions ; this is pure and luminous, in all essential points, as heaven itself.

Nor is this all. It is next spoken of as ETERNAL. The laws of men are mutable. Even the ceremonial law, though divinely revealed, yet being designed only for a time, was abolished when Christ appeared. But the word of God, in all its main and essential characters, as leading to the habitual fear of his name, endureth for ever.

The obligations of revealed truth are perpetual. They vary not with times and circumstances. The blessings of it, the rewards, the effects are unchangeable. The moral precepts of God are immutable. The life proposed by the Gospel, and the redemption wbich it reveals, are eternal. Heaven in which it terminates will know no end. He that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

These, then, are the properties of the sacred Scriptures; and they all combine to impress

upon us the AUTHORITY of divine truth.

The several expressions to which we have advertedlaw, testimony, statutes, commandments, fear, judgments, -all tend to enforce on us a most reverential sense of the importance and weight of Holy Scripture. It is not a vain thing. Religion is not a matter left to our choice. The Sacred Writings are not to be perverted or rejected at our pleasure. They come with a divine commission, and speak to us in the name of God.

But properties of themselves are of little moment, unless they appear in correspondent effects.

Let us proceed then to consider,

II. THE SURPRISING EFFECTS WHICH THE WORD OF GOD PRODUCES.

It produces conversion, wisdom, joy, illumination, and fear.

IT CONVERTS THE SOUL. “ The word of God," says a Prelate of our Church,“ is perfectly adapted to convert, restore, and bring back the soul from error to truth, from sin to righteousness, from sickness to health, from death to life, as it convinces of sin, holds forth the Saviour, is a means of grace and a rule of conduct." The first thing which man needs as a fallen creature, is an entire conversion of the soul. This the Sacred Scripture, by the power

of the Holy Spirit, is able to effect. It begins, where our necessities begin, with the heart, and brings it back directly to God. It proclaims the holy law which condemns every transgression. It displays the depravity of our nature. It exhibits the astonishing scheme of redemption in the death of the incarnate Saviour; and then invites us to repent and be converted, that our sins may be blotted out. Thus men are actually turned from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God. They are pricked to the heart under the sense of their guilt and danger, and cry out in anguish, What shall we do? They then hear the invitations of mercy in the Gospel; obey these invitations; and believe on the name of Jesus Christ, They confess and forsake their sins, that they may find mercy. Thus, by the grace of God attending the Holy Scriptures, a radical change is effected, in the thoughts, desires, affections, pursuits, and conduct of men, who were before wicked and worldly; and they begin to hate sin, to believe in Christ, to love God, to love their neighbour, and to live a life of holiness, spirituality, prayer, humility, and good works.

But the Bible not only thus acts upon the heart of man generally, but it acts thus in the case of the most simple and ignorant. It is said to' MAKE

The ignorant and unlearned, who are most exposed to delu

WISE THE SIMPLE.

sion, and for whom the writings of philosophers and moralists are little adapted, by receiving humbly the word of God, become wise unto salvation. They learn their sinfulness; they learn to repent; they learn the way of salvation in Christ Jesus; they discover the source of strength and grace; they learn to lead a holy life. Such learning is real wisdom. It regards the highest interests and the highest duties of man. It chooses the noblest end, and pursues it by the best means.

However confined the mind or limited the acquirements of the true penitent, the entrance of God's word giveth light, it giveth understanding to the simple,--to those whom human reason would bewilder in error and uncertainty. Pride is not the way to knowledge: he who loves the Bible understands it: faith is the most sure science of inan.

I am far from intending to insinuate that the aid of human learning, and of a sound and wellordered criticism, is not important to every Christian who has the opportunity of making such acquisitions. Much less would I be understood to say that thiş aid is not essential to the right understanding of many difficult passages of Scripture, and to the right explication of it by the ministers of the church of God. But I mean distinctly to assert, that, as to the broad and commanding lessons and topies of Scripture, the most unlettered and simple may

become wise unto salvation, as well as the best informed and most learned ; that to the

poor

the Gospel is preached; nay, that it frequently pleases God to hide these things from the wisé and prudent, and to reveal them unto babes.

After conversion, naturally follows joy. The statutes of the Lord, it is said, are right, REJOICING THE HEART. For he who knows a Saviour has a claim to joy. He may well rejoice in the mercy which has been displayed to him. He may well rejoice in the gift of righteousness, in the peace of forgiveness, in the blessedness of reconciliation. There is a joy in all the commands and promises and ways of his Saviour ; a joy of dependence, of expectation, and of obedience. If a man is not really converted by the Holy Scriptures, he will live, as it were, on the mere surface of the Gospel, and of course will find no scriptural joy. But the penitent discovers in the Scriptures a constant theme of delight; and in this he indulges in proportion to his real attainments in true religion.

For the sincere student of the Bible will advance in knowledge, as well as joy. The commandment of the Lord, it is added, is pure,

It not only makes the simple practically wise, but it furnishes him with an understanding of spiritual things. When the heart has been set right as to the main points of salvation, the judgment still requires

ENLIGHTENING THE EYES.

« EelmineJätka »