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blessed inhabitant shall no more say, 'I am sick.' Isa. xxxiii. and there all that love the Lord Jesus' shall shortly be. Are any of you tempted ? Blessed is the man that endureth temptation ; for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love him,' James i. Sure you need no other argument to be content, or, shall I say, to rejoice and be exceeding glad ? • My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him. Heb. xii. Be it in poverty or losses, in body or mind, in your own person or another’s, it is all appointed by God, and shall issue in your great benefit, if you are of the number of those that love him.

3d. Once more : since it is said that all things are freely given us in and together with Christ, let us give all diligence to make Our calling and election sure,' 2 Pet. 1. to know that we have an interest in him and his mediation; and then if I may borrow a common expression) we are made for ever. The Lord Jesus Christ, sent from God on a merciful errand to a lost world, did not come empty: no, he is fraught with all blessings, suitable to all persons, extending to all times, enduring to all eternity. O! make it your great care to know him and to please him: study his word, call upon his name, frequent his ordinances, observe his sayings, seek to know him as the only way to God, John xiv. the way to pardon, peace, and divine communion here, and to complete happiness hereafter. When once you can say, “My beloved is mine,' Sol. Song ii. I account all his interest my own, and I am his,' I have given myself up to him without reserve : you will, you must be happy. You will be interested in all his attributes and communicable perfections. His wisdom will be your high tower, his providence your constant shield, his love your continual solace. He will give his angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways. Ps. Ixxxi. In times of difficulty he will direct your counsels; in times of danger he will fill you with comfort, and • keep' you 'in perfect peace,' Isa. xxvi. when others quake for fear. He will bless your basket and your store, your substance and your families : your days shall happily pass in doing your Father's will, and receiving renewed tokens of his favour ; and at night you shall lie down, and your sleep shall be sweet. When afilictions befall you, (for these likewise are the fruits of love,) you shall see your God near at hand, 'a very present help in trouble, Ps. xlvi. you shall find your strength increased in proportion to your trial; you shall in due time be restored, as gold from the furnace, purified seven-fold, to praise your great Deliverer. Every thing you meet in life shall yield you profit ; and death, which puts a fatal period to the bope of the wicked ;

death, at whose name thousands turn pale, shall to you

be an entrance into a new and endless life. He who tasted death for you, Heb. . and sanctified it to you, shall lead and support you through that dark valley : you shall shut your eyes upon the things of time, to open them, the next moment, in the blissful presence of your reconciled God. You, that a minute before was surrounded by weeping, helpless friends, shall, in an instant, be transported and inspired to join in that glorious song, ' To him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests to God and his Father ; to him be glory and strength, for ever and ever. Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing,' Rev. v. Thus ' blessed shall the man be that fears the Lord,' Ps. cxxviii. Thus shall it be done (Esth. vi.) to him whom the King delighteth to honour.' Amen.

SERMON V.

ON SEARCHING THE SCRIPTURES.

Jous v. 39.

Search the Scriptures ; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are

they which testify of me.

The phrase in the Greek is ambiguous; and may be either rendered, according to our reading, as a command, search the Scriptures ; or else as simply affirming, ye do search the Scriptures. And as the words were spoken to the Scribes and Pharisees, who were exceedingly studious in the letter of the Scriptures, this may: perhaps, have been their first design. The difference is not inaterial; and either sense will afford us instruction. If we receive it as a command, we should consider it as given us by the Lord himself, whose disciples we profess to be; as bound on us by cur own acknowledgement, since in them we think, and say, we have cternal life ; and as absolutely necessary to be complied with, since it is these, and these only, testify of Christ, in the knowledge of whom our eternal life consists. If we should understand it in the latter sense, as spoken to the Scribes and Pharisees, it may give us a useful caution not to lay too much stress either

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on what we think or on what we do. For these persons we find had, in some respects, a right sentiment of the holy Scriptures : : they believed that in them there was eternal life : and, in a sense likewise, they made this an inducement to read, yea, to search them. but though they thus thought and thus acted ; and though the Scriptures, from the first page to the last, do testify of Christ; yet they could not understand or receive this testimony, but rejected the Messiah whom they professed to hope for, and took all their pains in searching the Scriptures to no purpose.

In what I am about to lay before you, I propose the following order : Ist, To mention a few requisites, without which it is impossible rightly to understand the Scriptures: 2d, To show how the Scriptures testify of Christ : 3d, To consider what the import of their testimony is : 4th, To press the practice of searching the Scripture, from the argument used in the text, which is equally applicable to us as to the Jews of old, that in them we think we have eternal life.'

I. The first requisite I shall mention is Sincerity : I mean a real desire to be instructed by the Scripture, and to submit both our sentiments and our practices to be controlled and directed by what we read there. Without this, our reading and searching will only issue in our greater condemnation, and bring us under the heavy doom of the seryant that knew his master's will and did it not. A remarkable instance of this we have in the 42d and two following chapters of Jeremiah. After the destruction of Jerusalem, and the death of Gedaliah, the people that were left entreated the prophet to inquire of the Lord for them, concerning their intended removal into Egypt. Their request was fair : "That the Lord thy God may show us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do.' Their engagement was very solemn : "The Lord be a true and faithful witness between us, it we do not even according to all things for the which the Lord thy God shall send to us. Whether it be good, or whether it be evil, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God, to whom we send thee.' But their hypocrisy was most detestable. The Lord, who seeth the inmost purposes of the soul, could not be put off with their fair pretences. He sent them, in answer, an express prohibition to go into Egypt; assuring them that his curse should follow them, and that there they should certainly perish. Yet they went, and verified what the prophet had told them : 'For ye dissembled in your hearts, when ye sent me to the Lord your God, saying, pray for us unto the Lord our God, and according to all that the Lord our God shall say, so declare unto us and we will do it.' Then they spoke out, and, like themselves, when they

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told him, ' As for the word which thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee, but we will certainly do whatever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth.' None of us dare speak thus in express terms : but if we bring our preconceived opinions or purposes, not in order to examine them strictly by the test of Scripture, but to find or wrest some passages in the word of God to countenance or justify ourselves; if our desire is not simply to be led in the very way of God's commandments ; if we are not really willing to discover every error and evil that may be in us, in order to forsake them, we closely imitate these deceitful, obstinate, insolent Jews, be our pretences ever so fair; and are liable to the like dreadful judgment for our hypocrisy ; the curse of God upon our devices here, and the portion of his enemies hereafter.

Where this sincerity is wanting, every thing is wrong; neither praying, nor hearing, nor reading, can profit. The Scripture abounds with the severest threatenings against those who presume to mock the all-seeing God. I shall only produce one passage from Ezekiel xiv, 5. Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put the stumbling-block of iniquity before their faces : should I be inquired of at all by them? Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumbling-block of iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet, I, the Lord will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols.' I say not this that I would have any one throw aside the ordinances of God, especially his public worship. These are the means which God has appointed, in which he has commanded us to wait, and where he is often pleased to be found, even by those who seek bim not. But I would entreat such persons seriously to consider the dreadful condition they would be in, if death should surprise them in such a state of insincerity as renders their very prayers and sacrifices ' an abomination to the Lord,' and perverts those things which are designed for their advantage into an occasion of their falling.

A second thing necessary is Diligence. This, with the former, is finely described in the book of Proverbs. My son, if thoa wilt receive my words, and hide my commandment within thee; so that thou incline thine ear to wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding : yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and listest up thy voice for understanding: if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as hid treasures : then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God,' Prov. ii. The wisdom of God, in which we are concerned, is contained in his word. The best understanding is to keep bis commandments,

Vol. II.

6

Psalm cxi. but we cannot keep them unless we know them, neither can we know them without a diligent inquiry. The word which is rendered search speuvaw, is borrowed from the practice of miners: it implies two things, to dig, and to examine. First, with much labour they pierce the earth to a considerable depth ; and when they have thus found a vein of precious ore, they break and sift it, and suffer no part to escape their notice. Thus must we join frequent assiduous reading with close and awakened meditation ; comparing spiritual things with spiritual, carefully taking notice of the circumstances, occasion, and application of what we read : being assured that there is a treasure of truth and happiness under our hands, if we have but skill to discover and improve it. Only let us be mindful that we have the same views in reading the Scripture that God has in revealing it to us; which the apostle thus enumerates: 'All Scripture, or the whole Scripture, cura ugaon, is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to every good work,' 2 Tim. üri. And elsewhere it is said to be able to make us wise unto salvation. How absurd would it be for a man to read a treatise of husbandry with a design of learning navigation, or to seek the principles of trade and commerce in an essay on music! No less absurd is it to read or study the Scriptures with any other view than to receive its doctrines, submit to its reproofs, and obey its precepts, that we may be made wise unto salvation.' All disquisitions and criticisms that stop short of this, that do not amend the heart as well as furnish the head, are empty and dangerous, at least to ourselves, whatever use they may be of to others. An experience of this caused a learned critic and emi. nent commentator (Grotius) to confess, towards the close of his life, Vitam prorsus perdidi, laboriose nihil agendo! Alas, I have wasted my life in much labour to no purpose! But, on the contrary, when we are diligent and studious, that we may be bet‘ter acquainted with the divine precepts and promises, and better inclined to observe and trust them, then we may hope for happy success; for, ' blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates therein day and night: for he shall be like a tree planted by rivers of waters, which bringeth forth its fruit in due season; his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth,' under this influence, shall prosper,' Psalm i. Thus God has promised, and thus many have found it, and been enabled to adopt the words of David, Thou, through thy commandments, hast made me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me: I have more understanding than all my teachers, fou thy testimonies are my meditation.' Ps. cxix,

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