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let this teach us, in whatever state we are, mon expression) we are made for ever. The therewith to be content. Our heavenly Fa- Lord Jesus Christ, sent from God on a merther knoweth what we have need of before ciful errand to a lost world, did not come we ask him, Matth. vi. The earth is his, and empty: no; he is fraught with all blessings, the fulness thereof;(Psal. xxiv.) and his good- suitable to all persons, extending to all times, ness is equal to his power, a proof of which enduring to all eternity. () make it your we have in the text. He has already given great care to know him and to please him; us more than ten thousand worlds. Are you study his word, call upon his name, frequent poor? Be satisfied with the Lord's appoint- his ordinances, observe his sayings, seek to ment. It were as easy to him to give you know him as the only way to God; (John xiv.) large estates as to supply you with the bread the way to pardon, peace, and divine comyou eat, or to continue your breath in your munion here, and to complete happiness herenostrils: but he sees poverty best for you; after. When once you can say, “My Behe sees prosperity might prove your ruin; loved is mine," (Song ii.) I account all his intherefore he has appointed you the honour of terest my own; "and I am his,” I have given being in this respect contormable to your myself up to him without reserve,-you will, Lord, who when on earth had not where to you must be happy. You will be interested lay his head, Matth. viii. Have any of you in all his attributes and communicable perlost a dear friend or relative, in whose life fections. His wisdom will be your high you thought your own lives bound up? Be tower, his providence your constant shield, still, and know that he is God, Psal. xlvi. It his love your continual solace. “ He will was he who gave you that friend; his blessing give his angels charge over you, to keep you made your friend a comfort to you; and in all your ways,” Psal. xci. In times of though the stream is now cut off the foun- difficulty he will direct your counsels; in tain is still full. Be not like a wild bull in times of danger he will fill you with comfort, a net; the Lord has many ways to turn your and “ keep you in perfect peace,” (Isa. xxvi.) mourning into joy. Are any of you sick? when others quake for fear. He will bless Think how the compassionate Jesus healed your basket and your store, your substance diseases with a word, in the days of his fesh. and your families: your days shall happily Has he not the same power now as then? pass in doing your Father's will
, and receivHas he not the same love? Has he, in his ing renewed tokens of his favour; and at exalted state, forgot his poor languisting night you shall lie down, and your sleep shall members here below? No, verily: he still be sweet. When afHictions befall you (for retains his sympathy; he is touched with a these likewise are the fruits of love,) you shall feeling of our infirmities; he knows our see your God near at hand, “ a very present frame; he remembers we are but dust, Psal. help in trouble; (Psal. xlvi.) you shall find ciii
. It is because sickness is better for you your strength increased in proportion to your than health, that he thus visits you. He dealt trial; you shall in due time be restored, as in the same manner with Lazarus, whom he gold from the furnace, purified sevenfold, to loved, John xi. Resign yourselves, there- praise your great deliverer. Every thing you fore, to his wisdom, and repose in his love. meet in life shall yield you profit ; and death, There is a land where the blessed inhabitant / which puts a fatal period to the hope of the shall no more say, “I am sick;" (Isa. xxxiii.) wicked; death, at whose name thousands turn and there all that love the Lord Jesus shall pale, shall to you be an entrance into a new shortly be. Are any of you tempted ? “ Bless- and endless life. He who tasted death for ed is the man that endureth temptation; for you, (Ileb. ii.) and sanctified it to you, shall when he is tried, he shall receive the crown lead and support you through that dark valof life, which the Lord has promised to them ley: you shall shut your eyes upon the things that love him," James i. Sure, you need no of time, to open them the next moment in other argument to be content, shall I say, or the blissful presence of your reconciled God. to rejoice and be exceeding glad ? “My son, You that a minute before were surrounded despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, by weeping, helpless friends, shall, in an innor faint when thou art rebuked of him," stant, be transported and inspired to join that Heb. xii. Be it in poverty or losses, in body glorious song, “ To him who loved us, and or mind, in your own person or another's, it washed us from our sins in his own blood, is all appointed by God, and shall issue in and hath nade us priests and kings to God your great benefit, if you are of the number and his Father; to him be glory and strength of those that love him.
for ever and ever. Worthy is the Lamb that 3d, Once more, since it is said that all was slain, to receive power and riches, and things are freely given us in and together wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, with Christ, let us give all diligence to make and blessing," Rev. v. Thus “ blessed shall our calling and election sure;” (2 Pet. i.) to the man be that fears the Lord," Psal. cxxviii. know that we have an interest in him and his “ 'Thus shall it be done to him whom the mediation; and then (if I may borrow a com- King delighiteth to honour,” Esth. vi. Amen.
ON SEARCHING THE SCRIPTURES.
After the destruction of Jerusalem, and the death of Gedaliah, the people that were left intreated the prophet to inquire of the Lord
for them, concerning their intended removal Search the scriptures, for in them ye think into Egypt. Their request was fair: “ That
ye have eternal life, and they are they the Lord thy God may show us the way which testify of me.—John v. 39. wherein we may walk, and the thing that we
may do." Their engagement was very solemn: The phrase in the Greek is ambiguous, and“ • The Lord be a true and faithful witness bemay be either rendered, according to our tween us, if we do not even according to all reading, as a command, search the scriptures; things for the which the Lord thy God shall or else as simply affirming, ye do search the send to us. Whether it be good, or whether scriptures. And as the words were spoken it be evil, we will obey the voice of the Lord to the Scribes and Pharisees, who were ex- our God, to whom we send thee." But their ceedingly studious in the letter of the scrip- hypocrisy was most detestable. The Lord, tures, this may perhaps have been their first who seeth the inmost purposes of the soul, design. The difference is not material; and could not be put off with their fair pretences. either sense will afford us instruction. If we He sent them in answer an express prohibireceive it as a command, we should consider tion to go into Egypt; assuring them that his it as given by the Lord himself, whose disci- curse should follow them, and that there they ples we profess to be, as bound on us by our should certainly perish. Yet they went, and own acknowledgment, since in them we verified what the prophet had told them: think and say we have eternal life; and as “For ye dissembled in your hearts, when you absolutely necessary to be complied with, sent me to the Lord your God, saying, Pray since it is these, and these only, which testify for us unto the Lord our God, and according of Christ, in the knowledge of whom our to all that the Lord our God shall say, so deeternal life consists. If we should understand clare unto us, and we will do it.” Then they it in the latter sense, as spoken to the Scribes spoke out, and like themselves, when they and Pharisees, it may give us a useful cau- told him, “As for the word which thou hast tion not to lay too much stress either on what spoken unto us, in the name of the Lord, we we think or on what we do. For these per- will not hearken unto thee, but we will cersons, we find, had in some respects a right tainly do whatever thing goeth forth out of sentiment of the holy scriptures: they be our own mouth.” None of us dare speak lieved that in them there was eternal life; thus in express terms; but if we bring our and, in a sense likewise, they made this an preconceived opinions or purposes, not in orinducement to read, yea, to search them. der to examine them strictly by the test of But though they thus thought and thus acted, scripture, but to find or wrest some passages and though the scriptures, from the first page in the word of God to countenance or justify to the last, do testify of Christ, yet they could ourselves; if our desire is not simply to be not understand or receive this testimony, but led in the very way of God's commandments; rejected the Messiah whom they professed to if we are not really willing to discover every hope for, and took all their pains in searching error and evil that may be in us, in order to the scriptures to no purpose,
forsake them,—we closely imitate these deIn what I am about to lay before you, I ceitful, obstinate, insolent Jews, be our prepropose the following order: 1st, y To men- tences ever so fair, and are liable to the like tion a few requisites, without which it is im- dreadful judgment for our hypocrisy ; the possible rightly to understand the scriptures: curse of God upon our devices here, and the 2d, To show how the scriptures testify of portion of his enemies hereafter. Christ: 3d, To consider what the import of Where this sincerity is wanting, every thing their testimony is: 4th, To press the practice is wrong; neither praying, nor hearing, nor of searching the scriptures, from the argu- reading, can profit. T'he scriptures abound. inent used in the text, which is equally ap- with the severest threatenings against those plicable to us as to the Jews of old, that in who presume to mock the all-seeing God. I them we think we have eternal life. shall only produce one passage, from Ezekiel
I. The first requisite I shall mention is xiv. 5. “Son of man, these men have set Sincerity; I mean a real desire to be in- up their idols in their hearts, and put the structed by the scriptures, and to subinit both stumbling-block of iniquity before their faces: our sentiments and our practices to be con- should I be inquired of at all by them trolled and directed by what we read there. Every man of the house of Israel that setteth Without this, our reading and searching will up his idols in his heart, and putteth the only issue in our greater condemnation, and stumbling-block of iniquity before his face, bring us under the heavy doom of the servant and cometh to the prophet, I the Lord will that knew his master's will and did it not. answer him that cometh, according to the A remarkable instance of this we have in the multitude of his idols." I say not this, that I 420 and two following chapters of Jeremiah. would have any que throw aside the arti
nances of God, especially his public worship. quisitions and criticisms that stop short of These are the means which God has appoint- this, that do not amend the heart, as well as ed, in which he has commanded us to wait, furnish the head, are empty and dangerous, and where he is often pleased to be found, at least to ourselves, whatever use they may even by those who seek him not. But I would be of to others. An experience of this caused intreat such persons seriously to consider the a learned critic and eminent commentator, dreadful condition they would be in, if death (Grotius,) to confess, towards the close of his should surprise them in such a state of insin- | life, Ah! vitam prorsus perdidi, laboriose cerity as renders their very prayers and sa- nihil agendo! “Alas! I have wasted my life jo crifices “an abomination to the Lord," and much labour to no purpose !" But, on the con.. perverts those things which are designed trary, when we are diligent and studious, that for their advantage into an occasion of their we may be better acquainted with the divine falling
precepis and promises, and better inclined to A second thing necessary is Diligence. observe and trust them, then we may hope for This, with the former, is finely described in happy success; for, “ blessed is the man whose the book of Proverbs. “My son, if thou wilt delight is in the law of the Lord, and who receive my words, and hide my command- meditates therein day and night: for he shall ment within thee; so that thou incline thine be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, ear to wisdom, and apply thine heart to un- which bringeth forth its fruit in due season; derstanding: yea, if thou criest after know- his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever ledge, and liftest up thy voice for understand- he doth" under this influence “shall prosper," ing; if thou seekest her as silver, and search- Psal. i. Thus God bas promised, and thus est for her as hid treasures: then shalt thou many have found it, and been enabled to adopt understand the fear of the Lord, and find the the words of David, “Thou, through thy comknowledge of God," Prov. ii. The wisdom mandments, hast made me wiser than my of God, in which we are concerned, is con- enemies, for they are ever with me: I have tained in his word. The best understanding more understanding than all my teachers, for is to keep his commandments: (Psal. cxi.) thy testimonies are my meditation," Psal. but as we cannot keep them unless we know cxix. them, neither can we know them without a Humility is a third thing very necessary to diligent inquiry. The word which is render- a profitable perusal of the scriptures. God ed search, spouvaw, is borrowed from the practice giveth his grace to the humble," James iv. of miners: it implies two things, to dig, and He will guide the meek in judgment, he to examine. First, with much labour they will enlighten the simple in his way,” Psal. pierce the earth to a considerable depth; and xxv. The proud he resisteth, *vtorzopitar, he when they have thus found a vein of precious draws up against him; he prepares himself, ore, they then break and sift it, and suffer no as it were, with his whole force to oppose his part to escape their notice. Thus must we progress. A most formidable expression ! If join frequent assiduous reading, with a close God only leaves us to ourselves, we are all and awakened meditation; comparing spiri- | ignorance and darkness; and what must be tual things with spiritual, carefully taking the dreadful case of those against whom he notice of the circumstances, occasion, and ap- appears in arms? This has been a principal plication of what we read; being assured, source of those various and opposite heresies that there is a treasure of truth and happiness and mistakes, which are the reproach of our under our hands, if we have but skill to dis holy profession, that vain man, though born cover and improve it. Only let us be mind- a mere “wild ass's colt,” (Job xi.) has underfiul that we have the same views in reading taken, by his own strength and wisdom, to the scriptures, that God has in revealing them decide authoritatively on the meaning of to us, which the apostle thus enumerates :— scripture, without being aware of the igno “ All scripture," or the whole scripture, a 20: rance, prejudice, and weakness which influYp*sr, " is given by inspiration of God, and is ences his judgment in religious matters, with profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for cor- out knowing the utter inability of the natural rection, for instruction in righteousness; that man to discern the things of God, and withthe man of God may be perfect, thoroughly out attending to those means the scriptures furnished to every good work,” 2 Tim. iii. themselves have appointed for the redress of And elsewhere it is said to be able to make these evils. But would we not lose our time us “ wise unto salvation.” How absurd would and pains; would we wish not to be misled it be for a man to read a treatise of husband ourselves, or not to mislead others ? Let us ry with a design of learning navigation, or to aim at a humble spirit: let us reflect much seek the principles of trade and commerce in on the majesty and grandeur of the God we an essay on music! No less absurd is it to serve: let us adore his condescension in for read or study the scriptures with any other vouring us with a revelation of his will: let view than to receive its doctrines, submit to us learn to consider the word of God, and the its reproofs, and obey its precepts, that we wisdom of God, as terms of the same import: may be made a wise unto salvation." All dis-in a word, let us study to know ourselves,
our sinfulness and ignorance; then we shall | earnestly than those who understand nothing no longer read the scriptures with indiffer- but their mother-tongue; I make no scruple ence or prepossession, but with the greatest to affirm, that all his apparatus of knowledge reverence and attention, and with the most only tends to lead him so much the farther enlarged expectation.
astray; and that a plain honest ploughman, I shall mention but one thing more upon who reads no book but his Bible, and has no this head, which is as necessary in itself as teacher but the God to whom he prays in any of the preceding, and likewise necessary secret, stands abundantiy fairer for the atin order to obtain them, and that is Prayer. tainment of true skill in divinity. But hapSincerity, diligence, and humility, are the py he, who by faith and prayer can realize gifts of God; the blessing we seek in the ex- the divine presence always with him! who is ercise of them is in his hand; and he has pro- sincere in his intentions, diligent in the use mised to bestow all good things, even “his of means, diffident of himself, yet full of trust Holy Spirit, upon those who ask him." and hope, that God, whom he desires to serve, Prayer is indeed the best half of our busi- will lead and guide him in the paths of peace ness while upon earth, and that which gives and righteousness for his mercies' sake, Psal. spirit and efficacy to all the rest. Prayer is xxxi. Those things which are necessary for not only our immediate duty, but the highest him to know, shall be made so plain, that he dignity, the richest privilege we are capable shall not mistake them; and those things of receiving on this side eternity; and the with which he is not so immediately concernneglect of it implies the deepest guilt, and ed, shall at least teach bim humility; teach includes the heaviest punishment. A stran- him to adore the depths of divine wisdom, ger to prayer, is equally a stranger to God and and to long for that happy hour, when all to happiness, " like a wave of the sea, driven that is imperfect shall be done away; when with the wind and tossed," James i. Are we shall no more see in part, but shall know any of you, my friends, unacquainted with even as we are known, 1 Cor. xiii. prayer? Then are you without God in the II. I proceed to the second thing proposed : world, without a guide in prosperity, without To show how the scriptures testify of Christ. resource in distress, without true comfort in In general, it may be said, that he is the life, and while you continue so, without hope main design and subject, both of the whole in death. But, especially, you are utterly scripture, and of each particular book. This unqualified to search the scriptures. There will be easily allowed of the New Testament, is a veil upon the mind and heart of every but it is not so obvious with regard to several man, (as the apostle assures us, 2 Cor. iii.) so parts of the Old: I hope, therefore, it will that he can neither see nor embrace heavenly not be unacceptable to those who love the truths, till this impediment is removed :—the word of God, if I consider this point some means of this is prayer. Therefore David says, thing at large, and help them to discover the “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold Lord Jesus Christ in almost every page of the wondrous things out of thy law.” (Psal. cxix.) Bible. This will be a new inducement to He knew there were wonderful things con- them to search the scriptures, when they shall tained in the law, but confesses himself inca- perceive that many passages which they were pable of discerning them till the Lord should accustomed to read with indifference, as interpose. This he has promised to do in hardly able to discern any wisdom or meanbehalf of all who call upon him. But those ing in them, do directly testify of Christ. who seek not assistance from God, can find What is expressed in the Old Testament it no where else : " for every good and per- (for of this I am now to speak) concerning fect gift is from above, and cometh down from Christ, may be reduced to three heads-prothe Father of lights," who hath said, “If any phecies, types, and ceremonies. To open and man lack wisdom, let him ask of God,” trace these in their proper extent, would reJames i. A critical knowledge of the origi- quire voiumes; but it is only a hint of each nal languages, a skill in the customs and that the bounds of our present meeting will manners of the ancients, and acquaintance permit me to offer. with the Greek and Roman classics, a perusal The first glimmering of light which dawn. of councils, fathers, scholiasts, and commen- ed upon a lost world was that promise (for I tators, a readiness in the subtleties of logical consider the promises as a branch of pro disputation ;—these, in their proper place phecy) which God (who, in the midst of judgand subserviency, may be of considerable use ment, remembers mercy) made to the woman, to clear, illustrate, or enforce the doctrines that her seed should bruise the serpent's head, of scripture: but unless they are governed Gen. iii. This was absolute and general, by a temper of humility and prayer; unless giving hopes of a recovery, but no informathe man that possesses them accounts them tion of person, time, or place: but the path altogether as nothing, without that assistance of this just one was as the light, which shinof the Spirit of God which is promised to eth more and more to the perfect day, Prov. guide believers into all truth; unless he iv. In the time of Noah, the hope and deseeks and prays for this guidance no less sire of all nations was restrained to the line
of Shem, (Gen. ix.) and afterwards more ex- ry. So, in the latter sense, the ark of Noah, pressly to the family of Abraham: when this the rainbow, the manna, the brazen serpent, divided into two branches, God, to show that the cities of refuge, were so many emblems his purpose is of himself, and that he will do pointing out the nature, necessity, means, as pleaseth him with his own, set aside the and security of that salvation which the Mes elder, and confirmed to Jacob, the younger, siah was to establish for his people. Nor are " that in his seed all the families of ihe earth these fanciful allusions of our own making, should be blessed," Gen. xxviii. Jacob had but warranted and taught in scripture, and twelve sons, which made a still more expli- easily proved from thence, would time percit restriction necessary. Accordingly, the mit; for indeed, there is not one of these perpatriarch, before his death, declared that this sons or things which I have named, but would high privilege, of perpetuating the line of the furnish matter for a long discourse, if closely Messiah, was fixed in the tribe of Judah, considered in this view, as typical of the pro(Gen. xlix.) and the time of his advent was mised Redeemer. obscurely marked out, by the promise “ that The like may be said of the Levitical cerethe sceptre should not depart from Judah till monies. The law of Moses is, in this sense, the Shiloh came.” The last personal limita- a happy schoolmaster to lead us unto Christ: tion was to David, (1 Chron. xvii.) that of his (Gal. iii.) and it may be proved beyond confamily God would raise up the King, who tradiction, that in these the gospel was preachshould reign for ever, and over all. Suc- ed of old to all those Israelites indeed, whose ceeding prophets gradually foretold the tiine, hearts were right with God, and whose unplace, and circumstances of his birth, the ac- derstandings were enlightened by his Spirit. tions of his life, the tenor of his doctrine, the The ark of the covenant, the mercy-seat, the success he inet with, and the cause, design, tabernacle, the incense, the altar, the offer. and manner of his sufferings and death; in ings, the high-priest with his ornaments and short, to almost every thing that we read in garments, the laws relating to the leprosy, the gospel, we may annex the observation that the Nazarite, and the redemption of lands; the evangelists have made upon a few in- all these, and many more, which I have not stances, (in order, as it may be presumed, to time to mention, have a deep and important direct us in searching out the rest) " then meaning beyond their outward appearance; was fulfilled that which was spoken by the each, in their place, pojnted to the Lamb of prophets.”. From them we learn, that the God who was to take away the sins of the Messiah should be born of a virgin, in Beth- world, (John i.) derived their efficacy from lehem of Judah, four hundred and ninety him, and received their full accomplishment years after the commandment given to re- in him. build Jerusalem; that he should begin his Thus the Old and New Testaments do muministry in Galilee; that he should be de- tually illustrate each other; nor can either be spised and rejected of men, betrayed by one well understood singly. The Old Testament, of his disciples, sold for thirty pieces of sil- in histories, types, prophecies, and ceremo ver, with which money the potters field should nies, strongly delineates him, who, in the be afterwards purchased! “that he should be fulness of time, was to come into the world cut off, but not for himself;" and that his to effect a reconciliation between God and death should be followed by the sudden and man. The New Testament shows that all total ruin of the Jewish government. Tocom- these characters and circumstances were acpare these promises and prophecies, among tually fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth; and that themselves, and with their exact accomplish- it was he of whom “ Moses in the law, and ment recorded in the New Testament,—this the prophets did write;" and that we are not alone would engage us in a close and profit to look for another. able search into the scriptures, and would af We read in Genesis, (chap. xxi.) that Abraford us the most convincing proofs of their ham had two sons,—Isaac, the child of the divine original and excellence.
promise, the son of his old age, by his wife The types of Christ in the Old Testament Sarah,—and Ishmael, born some years before, may be considered as two-fold, personal and of Hagar, the handmaid and servant of Sarelative. The former describing under the rah; and that the latter, with his mother, vail of history, his character and offices as were cast out of the family. The occasion considered in himself; the latter teaching some would think trivial, namely, the anger under a variety of metaphors, the advantages and jealousy of Sarah, because Ishmael had those who believe in him should receive from mocked her son ; but when it was grievous him. Thus Adam, Enoch, Melchizedek, to Abraham to put them away upon so slight Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Samp- a ground, God himself interposed and comson, David, Solomon, and others, were in dif- manded him to comply with her desire. Hlad ferent respects types or figures of Christ. we heard no more of this, it is likely we Some more immediately represented his per- should have considered it as a piece of fa son; others prefigured his humiliation; others mily-history, of no very great importance but referred to his exaltation, dominion, and glo- to those who were immediately concerned in