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others; but, deficient in that reverential receptivity to which the more majestic and mysterious truths of Christianity address themselves, his "Expositions of St Paul's Epistles" are cold, inadequate, and on many vital points utterly erroneous. At the same time, no English Protestant can ever forget the service rendered to the cause of religious liberty by his "Letters on Toleration," and every good man will rejoice to number amongst the sincere and growingly devout adherents of Christianity, the most distinguished name which Britain has contributed to the ranks of mental science.
Locke was born in the parish of Wrington, Somersetshire, Aug. 29, 1632. His "Essay concerning Human Understanding," was published in 1690. He died at Oates, in Essex, the residence of Sir Francis Masham, where he spent his last years, Nov. 8, 1704.
The Study of Scripture.
A LETTER TO THE REV. RICHARD KING.
OATES, 25th Aug. 1703. SIR,-You ask me, "What is the shortest and surest way for a young gentleman to attain a true knowledge of the Christian religion, in the full and just extent of it?" For so I understand your question; if I have mistaken in it, you must set me right. And to this I have a short and plain answer: Let him study the Holy Scripture, especially the New Testament. Therein are contained the words of Eternal Life. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter; so that it is a wonder to me how any one professing Christianity, that would seriously set himself to know his religion, should be in doubt where to employ his search, and lay out his pains for his information, when he knows a book where it is all contained
pure and entire, and whither, at last, every one must have recourse to verify that of it which he finds anywhere else.
TO THE SAME.
OATES, 27th September 1704.
DEAR SIR,-I am sorry to find that the question which was most material, and which my mind was most upon, was answered so little to your satisfaction that you are fain to ask it again. Since, therefore, you ask me a second time, What is the best method to study religion? I must ask you, What religion you mean? For if it be, as I understood you before, the Christian religion, in its full extent and purity, I can make you no other answer than what I did, viz., that the only way to attain a certain knowledge of that is the study of the Holy Scripture. And my reason is, because the Christian religion is a revelation from God Almighty, which is contained in the Bible; and so all the knowledge we can have of it must be derived from thence. But if you ask, Which is the best way to get the knowledge of the Romish, Lutheran, or reformed religion, of this or that particular Church? each whereof entitles itself to be the true Christian religion, with some kind of exclusion or diminution of the rest, that will not be hard to tell you. But then, it is plain that the books that best teach you any one of these, do most remove you from all the rest, and, in this way of studying, you pitch upon one as the right, before you know it to be so; whereas that choice should be the result of your study of the Christian religion in the Sacred Scriptures. And the method I have proposed would, I presume, bring you the surest way to that Church which, I imagine, you already think most conformable to the Word of God.
I find the letter you last honoured me with contains a new question, and that a very material one, viz., What is the best
way of interpreting the Sacred Scripture? taking interpreting to mean understanding. I think the best way for understanding the Scripture, or the New Testament-for of that the question will here be in the first place—is to read it assiduously and diligently, and, if it can be, in the original. I do not mean to read every day some certain number of chapters, as is usual, but to read it so as to study and consider, and not leave till you are satisfied that you have got the true meaning.
To this purpose it will be necessary to take the assistance of interpreters and commentators, such as those called "The Critics," and Pool's "Synopsis Criticorum," Dr Hammond on the New Testament, and Dr Whitby, &c.
I should not think it convenient to multiply books of this kind, were there any one that I could direct you to that was infallible. But you will not think it strange if I tell you that, after all, you must make use of your own judgment, when you consider that it is, and always will be, impossible to find an expositor whom you can blindfold rely upon, and cannot be mistaken in following. Such a resignation as that is due to the Holy Scriptures alone, which were dictated by the infallible Spirit of God.
One of the most delightful books which the seventeenth century has sent down to us, is "The Diary of John Evelyn," but which first saw the light in 1818. It brings us acquainted with a thorough English gentleman, remarkably intelligent and well-informed, a zealous member of the Church of England, opposed to the arbitrary measures of the Stuarts, but chivalrously loyal, exemplary in every relation, and earnestly and steadfastly pious. In his own day he published many books, the most celebrated of which was his "Sylva; or, Discourse of Forest Trees." The posthumous work from which our extract is taken is entitled "The History of Reli
gion." It was published for the first time in 1850. It gives a very favourable impression of the author's seriousness and good sense.
Evelyn was born at Wotton, in Surrey, October 31, 1620; and died February 27, 1706.*
The Style of the Holy Scriptures.
There are in Scripture depths in which the elephant may swim as well as the lamb may wade. Our blessed Saviour speaks in an easy, familiar style; His similes and parables are natural, and incomparably pertinent, to the reproof of forced expressions and criticisms, for which ostentatious wits value themselves. And, though not always according to the nicer rules of orators, yet is the sacred style no less majestical, Who amongst them all has reached the rapturous attitudes [altitudes?] of the prophet Isaiah, the first of St John's Gospel, the Psalms of David, the Songs of Moses and Deborah, Job, Canticles, and several of the sacred hymns; which, however they may seem in the vulgar translation, are, in their original, not only comparable to, but far transcending, the heathen pocsies, and, as to the loftiness of style, breathing of so divine and majestical, that Longinus the sophist himself is in admiration at that imperious word, "God said, Let there be light, and there was light!"
The matter is not made tedious by formal argument; yet it is convincing and irresistible. Nor do the repetitions, as in other writings, leave a nausea, but still the same relish and veneration. What can move the affections more than the his
*There is a copious memoir of Evelyn in Chalmers's "Biographical Dicticnary." There is hardly any greater desideratum in our literature than an English equivalent to the "Biographie Universelle." After the lapse of nearly half-a-century, there is still no rival to the copious and painstaking work of Chalmers.
STYLE OF SCRIPTURE.
tories of Joseph, the story of Ruth, the sacrifice of Jephthah's daughter, the friendship between Jonathan and David? What more passionate, and fuller set with rhetorical transitions, than the Lamentations of Jeremiah? What more moving and tender than the conduct of Mary Magdalene, the prayer of our departing Jesus, and the like?
As to variety of readings, transpositions, terms, synonyms, punctuations, they shew an unaffected richness without studied art. And such a magazine are the Scriptures upon all topics and subjects, as all the Platos, Ciceros, Senecas, historians, philosophers, and philologists furnish nothing more plentiful, more useful, and that fall into juster and more shining periods, upon all occasions whatever; adapted to convince, redargue, persuade, and instruct; not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in the demonstration of the Spirit, and in power; not in choice phrases and elaborate methods and structure of words, but with such light of conviction, depth of speculation, and, in the midst of all this plainness, such energy of operation, such sublimity of matter, as nothing can resist it.
There is in Holy Scriptures such access to the weak and feeble, comfort to the sorrowful, strong meat for men, milk for babes; such elevation and grandeur of mind, advancing the humanity of men to the height of bliss; in a word, it is what manna was to the Israelites-food delicious and accommodated to every man's taste. It is a deep well for depth, celestial for height. As it speaks of God, nothing is so sublime-as of men, nothing so humble; it is a bridle to restrain, a spur to incite, a sword to penetrate, salt to season, a lantern to our feet, and a light to our path. Critique and grammar have too often prejudiced the meaning of the true and genuine text. Men dare not cavil the laws and ordinances of princes, if they are so clear as to be understood, whilst the laws of God are a thousand times more perspicuous. And, were it otherwise, men could not be religious till they understood the