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ferfaken me? had it not been for the fake of expreffing his truft in God; nor would he have mentioned his thirst, but out of regard to divine revelation, and its accomplishment.
Our Lord has, all along, from first to laft, fhewn the highest respect to the word of God. With this fword he did combat and conquer Satan, when tempted by him in the wilderness. He always in the courfe of his miniftry appeals to it as the standard of religious truth, revealing the will of God, and explaining his difpenfations. He declares he came not to destroy fo much as one tittle of the Law or the Prophets, but to complete, vindicate, and illuftrate them; affuring us that as their original is Divine, their honours fhall be perpetual; and that, till heaven and earth pass away, and the whole frame of nature be diffolved, not one jot fhall pass, or perish, from the Law, or from Revelation, till all be fulfilled. John v. 39. He directs the Jews to search the Scriptures, as they rightly apprehended the doctrine of eternal life was contained in them, and as they teftified of him.
As his fufferings drew nearer, he frequently takes notice of the fulfilment of the Scriptures in the feveral steps and events which led to them. Matt. xxvi. 31, 54. John xiii. 18. xv. 25. That the Scriptures might be fulfilled in his fufferings and death, he would not allow his Difciples to rescue him out of the hands of those who came to seize him. Matt. xxvi. 53, 54. Had he prayed to the Father, he would have given him more than twelve legions of angels; but how then, says he, shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? And when upon the cross, he is not diverted from the fame important fubject, though in the midst of the most exquifite torments, and labouring under a violent drought. Regard to the Scriptures prevails in his mind, more than the fenfe of the greatest pain and anguifh; and not to relieve his thirst, but that the Scriptures might be fulfilled, he cried out, 1 thirst.
Thus our crucified Lord has fet the feal of his blood to the Divine authority, excellency, and certainty of the holy Scriptures. He came into the world, he laid down his life to accomplish what was fore-ordained, and foretold in the Scriptures. Now this evidently implies, that our Lord knew, and was perfuaded, the Scriptures are of Divine original, are the word, and declare to us the mind and will of God; confequently, that they contain difcoveries and inftructions of the highest and moft excellent nature; and that all things they predict muft, and moft certainly will, be accomplished.
It seems but an inconfiderable circumftance, that the Scriptures intimate they would give the Meffiah in his thirft vinegar to drink. This feems to be a fact of no great moment, nor do we know that it stood in connexion with any thing of confequence, and yet our Lord would not overlook it. He took care it fhould be punctually fulfilled. How much more then may we perfuade ourselves, that all the great promises, and all the predictions relating to matters of vaft importance, fhall be accomplished? The apparent infignificancy of vinegar being offered to Chrift on the crofs, adds great force to this argument. If a point, feemingly fo minute, was carefully attended to, and punctually difcharged, when the Redeemer was in extremity of pain and torture, how much more, now that he is entered into his joy, now that he is poffeffed of
the highest felicity and glory, now that he is invefted with the most extenfive power and dominion, how much more will he make good all that God has declared by the ancient Prophets in the Old Teftament, and all that he himself hath foretold and promifed in the New, relating to things of infinite moment! Exceeding great and precious promifes are given us of the Divine prefence, bleffing, and protection, through this world, which every upright mind may be affured will be fully made good.
How many magnificent predictions has our Lord, and his Apostles, delivered concerning the world that is to come-That he will raife us up again at the last day. And we shall certainly be raised out of our graves, and reftored to a life quite different from the prefent-That be will come in great power and glory to judge the world. And most affuredly he will fo come, and we fhall every one of us ftand before his tribunal to give an account of ourselves-To his faithful fervants he has promifed eternal life: and to all fuch, without fail, he will give eternal life.It is frequently foretold, that everlasting deftruction from the prefence of the Lord will be the dreadful lot of the impenitently wicked, and doubtless everlasting deftruction will be the dreadful lot of fuch.-Moft clearly he has made known his everlafting kingdom of glory, where his fincere followers fhall partake of his glory and felicity; and we may firmly believe and hope, this will be our happy condition, if we make it our prefent care to be his fincere followers. Thus has our benevolent Saviour afforded us, in his laft moments, a moft folid ground of hope towards God, and directed us abfolutely to depend upon all that the Scriptures reveal concerning our falvation.
CHA P. XLIII.
Chriftians ought to be thankful for the SCRIPTURES, and maintain a high Efteem for them.
"AVING, fo far as feems neceffary, confidered the use and importance of the holy Scriptures, I would now point out the propereft improvement of this interefting subject.
We may evidently fee our obligation to be thankful for the Scriptures; they are the gift of God, and a great help to our understanding, and rational powers, in the best attainments. And as our natural light and faculties certainly demand our gratitude and thanks, that God has made us wifer than the fowls of heaven, and taught us more than the beasts of the earth; and as our joy and praise will be agreeable to our illumination, when in God's heavenly light we fhall fee glorious and eternal light; fo
the fuperior inftructions and difcoveries of revelation do challenge our fincere thanks to our wife and benevolent Father, who has employed his Spirit at fundry times, and divers manners, to pour knowledge and light into the darknefs of the nations, which otherwife would, in effect, have generally loft the ufe of intelligence; and that at length he has vifited us with the day-fpring from on high, a full difplay of his heavenly grace in the everlafting Gofpel.
Should we not maintain a juft, that is to fay, a very high esteem of the word of God? If it is true, that all Scripture is given by infpiration of God, and is profitable for the nobleft ends, for doctrine, for reproof, correction, inftruction in righteousness, then it is true that we cannot fet too high a value upon it. The things of this world, which are very imperfect and tranfitory, have, alas, too large a fhare of our hearts; but the holy Scriptures are a treafury of heavenly and everlasting riches, and it is but reafonable we fhould give them the preference to what we know is infinitely inferior in worth. And it is upon this ground that the wifest and best of men have reprefented them as the highest object of our delight and efteem. Pfalm xix. 7-10. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the foul; the testimony of the Lord is fure, making wife the fimple. The ftatutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. More to be defired are they than gold; yea, than much fine gold; fweeter also than honey, and the honey-comb. Pfalm cxix. 96, 97, 103. I have feen an end of all perfection; but thy commandment is exceeding broad. O, how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day. How sweet are thy words unto my tafte; yea, fweeter than honey to my mouth! And we may then only call ourselves happy, when we have attained the fame fentiments and tafte of the good word of God. Indeed I cannot fee that we ufe it as what it is, or antwer our Christian profeffion, if we do not treat it with great esteem and regard. To this purpofe let us
Not allow ourselves to think of it with indifference, or in any respect to treat it irreverently. The worth and infinite importance of the thing will not bear a cool and languid thought; and it is too facred and divině to admit of any degree of contempt. It is with fome reckoned a turn of wit to introduce Scripture phrafe into common converfation, and to provoke pleafantry by quoting the Bible. What is this but burlesquing the word of God, and raifing a laugh at the expence of the greatest bleffing of heaven? Such a profane levity will by degrees leffen the reverence we owe to Scripture, and deftroy all ferious regard to it; which is, in effect, to deftroy ourselves; and therefore fhould not only be carefully avoided, but with abhorrence detefted.
Guard your minds well against Deifm on the one hand, and Popery en the other. Both thefe agree in depreciating the Scriptures. The Deift will perfuade you revelation is unneceffary, and confequently that the Scripture is no revelation from God, but a fallacy and cheat, at first invented, and afterwards fupported, by thofe who find their account in it. He racks his invention to ftart any difficulty or objection, to prove that the Bible is not fufficient to the purpofes of revelation. And here, the Romanist joins him. They go indeed different ways; the one, as he pretends, to the mere religion of nature; and the other, in reality, to the authority of the church, and a living infallible guide upon earth. But
both start from the fame point, degrading the holy Scriptures; and I fear very much, they will meet and unite again in a few generations. For where Deiftical principles prevail in a family, the rifing generation muft grow up in great ignorance of revelation, and the true worship of God, and fo will be expofed to the artifice of the feducer, who lies in wait to deceive. For however men may refine in their speculations, and put a force upon the most common and obvious principles in their minds, yet certainly fuch is the general fenfe of mankind, when left free and unbiaffed, with regard to religion, that they eafily admit the belief of some fuperior invifible powers, and their intercourfe with this world; and being ignorant of the truth, are with little difficulty drawn into error.
This makes me apprehend that the prefent fpread of Deifm will, in a few ages, produce a large increase of Popery among us. Not to fay, that Popish feminaries, where they cannot directly promote the cause of the church of ROME, are allowed and inftructed to do it in this indirect way. For confufion and ignorance of any kind is a proper ground for them to work upon. But this by the bye. My defign is to guard you against those who would raife fcruples and prejudices in your minds againit revelation. And without defcending to particulars, you may be very fure of this one thing, that whoever cavil against the Scriptures are ftrangers to them. They object and take upon themfelves to judge in a matter in which they are no ways qualified to be judges; in a matter which they neither understand, nor, in their prefent way of thinking, ever intend to understand. For, whatever airs fuch may give themfelves, or what femblance or fhow foever they make of knowledge and wisdom, thefe men have never ftudied the Scriptures; nor, generally speaking, have they learning or capacity to enter into their deep and abftrufe parts. Had they ever foberly and seriously studied the Scriptures, they muft of neceffity have found fo many, and fuch evident marks of a Divine Spirit, fuch glorious difplays of the wifdom, power, and truth of God, as would have taught them to think more modeftly of what is doubtful and ob
When did you ever hear of any name, illuftrious for learning and wifdom, that ever difputed the Divine original and authority of Scripture? Did ever a BOYLE, a NEWTON, or a LoCKE, queftion the Divine original or truth of Scripture? No. These men, of the most eminent attainments
The famous SELDEN, one of the most eminent philofophers, and most learned men of his time; who had taken a diligent furvey of antiquity, and what knowledge was confiderable amongst Jews, Heathens, and Christians, and read as much, perhaps, as any man ever read; towards the end of his days, declared to Arch-Bishop USHER,
"That notwithstanding he had been fo laborious in his enquiries, and "curious in his collections; and had poffeffed himfelf of a treafury of books "and manufcripts, upon all ancient fubjects; yet he could reft his foul on none "Save the Scriptures. And above all, that paffage gave him the most fatisfac“tion, Titus ii. 11-14. as comprising the nature, end, and reward of true "religion.
"THE grace of God, that bringeth falvation, hath appeared to all men.
attainments in wisdom and knowledge, held the Scriptures in the highest veneration and efteem, as a revelation from God; and by their excellent comments have acknowledged the Divine authority even of the most abftrufe and difficult parts. No. The cavillers againft Scripture are men of an inferior class, who want, and are no ways folicitous to gain, the qualifications needful to render them in any degree fit or competent judges. It is enough for fuch to pick up a small collection of fcruples, to ease themselves of the trouble of thought or study, and at the fame time to give a plaufible appearance of both. But with men of judgment, fuch muft ftand in a very ridiculous light. To a judicious phyfician, how filly and contemptible muft a perfon be, who, though no ways fkilled in the science, fhould take upon him perpetually to cenfure, vilify, and condemn a BOER HAVE, or a SYDENHAM, the greateft mafters in the art of medicine!
Perhaps you may fay-Are there not real difficulties in the Scriptures? And will not difficulties naturally and unavoidably produce objections? I answer-There are difficulties in the Scriptures; and difficulties are
"TEACHING us, that denying ungodliness, and worldly lufts, we should live "foberly, righteously, and godly, in this prefent world.
"LOOKING for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearance of the great "God, and our Saviour Jefus Chrift.
"Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and "purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
SIR CHRISTOPHER HATTON, a great statesman, a little before his death, advised his relations to be serious in fearching after the will of God in his holy word; for, faid he
"It is defervedly accounted a piece of excellent knowledge to understand "the laws of the land, and the customs of a man's country; how much more, "to know the ftatutes of heaven, and the laws of eternity, thofe immutable "and eternal laws of juftice and righteoufnefs! to know the will and plea"fure of the great Monarch and univerfal King! I have feen an end of all perfection, but thy commandment is exceeding broad. Whatever other knowledge a man may be endowed withal, could he by a vaft and imperious mind, and a heart as large as the fand upon the fea-fhore, command all "the knowledge of art and nature, of words and things; and yet not know "the Author of his being, and the Preferver of his life, his Sovereign and
his Judge, his fureft Refuge in trouble, his best Friend or worst Enemy, "the Support of his life and the Hope of his death, his future Happiness
and his Portion for ever; he doth but go down to hell with a great deal "of wisdom."
MR. LOCKE, alfo juftly esteemed one of the greatest mafters of reason, and a philofopher of the greatest freedom of thought, at the clofe of his life, thus advised an intimate friend.
"Study the holy Scriptures, efpecially the New Teftament; therein are "contained the words of eternal life. It hath God for its author, falvation "for its end, and truth without any mixture of error for its matter." Poft. humous Works, p. 344.
And to the fame effect, a wifer fill in the fame fituation, SOLOMON. T fear God, and keep his commandments, (in order to which, it is neceffary that we read and study them) is the whole of man. For God fhall bring every work into judgment, with every fecret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. Ecclef. xii. 13, 14.