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the food of the soul, which wants its nourishment as often as the body does. That day must have been mispent, in which no part of the Scriptures has been read or meditated on. We should, therefore, redeem time from indolence, recreation, useless visits, 'trifling conversation, and inordinate attention to secular affairs, for this employment: and then no lawful business would prevent any one from finding a little leisure, morning and evening at least, for reading some portion of the Scriptures; which would furnish the mind with subjects for meditation when not necessarily engrossed about other matters, to the exclusion of vain thoughts and polluting imaginations. The more habitual this practice becomes, the greater pleasure will it afford; and even the old christian will not think that his knowledge renders it supérfluous, or seek an excuse for omitting it; but will apply to it, as a heathful person craves and relishes his food.-1 would especially enforce it upon the consciences of the young, not to let any day begin or end, without some time spent in studying the Bible: this will become in a short time a most useful habit; and if they be abridged of a little sleep by this practice, their bodies will not be injured and their minds will be improved by it.-It may also be observed, that hearing sermons, reading religious books, or joining in pious discourse, will often mislead, and seldom profit, those who do not compare the whole
with the sacred Scriptures, by
by“ daily searching them, to know whether things are so or not."
IIL. Read the Bible with the express purpose of appropriating the information communicated by it from God to man.—When we have humbly and attentively considered and ascertained the meaning of
any proposition ; we should implicitly believe it, how contrary soever it may be to our former opinion, or that of others in reputation for visdom. We ought to reverence the authority, omniscience, veracity, and faithfulness of the Lord, who speaks to us in his word: not doubting the truth or importance of any of his instructions, but studying the meaning of them in docility and patience. Thus deriving wisdom and knowledge from the source, through the appointed medium, we shall grow more learned in divine things, than any teachers or aged students who lean to their own understandings:' even as the bosom-friend of the prince, who learns his secrets from his own lips, will know more of his designs, than any conjectural politicians can do, though of far superior sagacity and abilities.
IV. Use helps in searching the Scriptures, but do not depend on them.--The labours of pious men, who have spent their lives in studying and elucidating the sacred oracles, may be very profitable
1 Ps. cxix. 98-100,
to those who either have less leisure or ability, or are newly engaged in such researches; as an experienced guide may be to those who are strangers to the road: and it savours greatly of self-sufficiency to undervalue either commentators or other writers on divine things. Yet all men are fallible, and we should call no man father upon earth: it must, therefore, be proper to compare all their elucidations, or inferences, with the Scriptures themselves. Above all it behoves us, “ to ask “ wisdom of God ;” and to beg of him to give us the Holy Spirit, to remove from our minds every prejudice and carnal affection, and whatever may close them against any part of revealed truth, or indispose them to receive the illumination of leaven; as the vitiated eye cannot make a proper use of the light of the sun.
He alone who inspired the Scriptures, can help us to urderstand them: and if we search them, independence on his teaching, and in the spirit of fervent prayer, “ will lead us into all truth,” as far as it is requisite for our safety, peace, and duty. It may
here to caution the reader against fanciful interpretations, which surprise and amuse, but mislead men from the practical meaning of Scripture: and against those who pretend to modernize divine truth; not choosing to “speak “ according to the oracles of God,” but as they -suppose the apostles would have spoken, if they had possessed the advantage of modern improve
ments: a supposition just as wise, as to attempt improving the light of the sun, by modern discoveries in astronomy! In short, every text has its proper meaning as it stands related to the context; and its proper application to us: these we should seriously investigate, with fervent prayer for divine teaching; without presuming to add to, alter, or deduct from, the revealed will of God.'
V. Lastly, we should search the Scriptures as the navigator consults his chart, and makes his observations, that he may discover where he is, and what course he must steer:
as any one looks into. a glass, that he may both know what manner of man he is, and learn to adjust what is unbecoming: or as an heir reads his father's will, and the inventory of his effects and estates, that he may know what the inheritance is, and the nature of the tenure by which he must possess it. We should accompany our reading with impartial selfexamination ; both in respect of our knowledge, judgment, dispositions, affections, motives, words, and actions, in every particular, at present, and in times past; that we may learn the state and wants of our souls ;-and with self-application, as the persons spoken to, in every instruction, precept, sanction, counsel, warning, invitation, or promise, according to our state, character, conduct, and circumstances: pausing to enquire, whether
we understand what we have read, and what we have learned from it; that, beseeching the Lord to pardon what is past, and to help us for the future, we may, without delay or reserve, begin to practise what we know, waiting for further light in such matters, as still continue doubtful or obscure to us.—It would be easy to multiply directions: but the Scriptures thus studied are “ able “ to make us wise unto salvation, by faith in Jesus « Christ."