Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

responsibilities, or from an accurate survey of the difficulties by which we are encompassed. It is good for the mariner to inspect the chart of his voyage before hiş departure, that not one rock, quicksand, or shoal may escape his vigilance, but that he may be prepared when they are nigh to steer safely and prosperously past them, And even should we be over depressed by the contemplation, or rendered over anxious by the anticipation, it is far better to be over watchful than too supine, over vigilant than to sleep too securely because ignorantly, too careful in shunning even the appearance of evil, than over reckless in encountering it. To be himself, then, first imbued with a sound and accurate knowledge of the leading principles of our religion, combined with an earnest desire and continual waiting for fuller instruction, which implies an appreciation of religion in the life, should be the great object of the Teacher.

I fear that we are often inclined to forget that such a knowledge requires mueh diligence to be expended on it. From somewhat the same notion as that by which most men are persuaded that they can compose religious poetry, because religion is the business of every man, its truths are considered to be so superficially exposed, as to be within the reach of all without toil or labour. Now, this idea is partly true, and partly false. The leading truth of the Gospel, without which a man cannot be saved, is so plainly and undisguisedly revealed, that even a wayfaring man shall not err therein; but to comprehend the full proportion of faith, the connection of truths with each other, so as to form one beautiful harmony, so as that each may fit into the rest without deformity or disproportion, to be able to fill up truthfully and clearly the outline of the Gospel, this demands a diligence of no ordinary kind. Besides, what may be in the thief on the cross full knowledge for him, may be in one whose life is devoted to the instruction of others, and teeming with religious advantages, utter nakedness. So plain indeed is the vision of God's word, as an old writer remarks, that he who runs may read; but, without doubt, he that stands still, and surveys it with leisure and attention, will enter more into its spirit, and be more It makes them more decided in religion. The disadvantage is, that you are tempted to have a busy Sunday. When a great part of the day is spent in public, you are tempted to neglect those private duties, by which it may be made a blessing to your souls. But it is a blessed work, and you need not be losers by it. Only take time in the morning for meditation and prayer; and, if possible devote Saturday evening to the same holy exercises.

HINTS ON THE INTERPRETATION OF THE

SCRIPTURES.

NO. 1.

The office of a Bible teacher, as the name itself imports, is to impart instruction to scholars on the doctrines of the Scriptures, which constitute Christianity, and on the duties, as they are gathered from the same source, which are incumbent on those who believe them; in other words, to draw continually from the information which his own resources contain, of the revealed will of God, as to what he would have us believe and do in the work of our salvation. The office of a teacher, did it embrace only secular topics, would be felt, if rightly viewed, to repose a great responsibility on him who undertakes it; but when it takes cognizance of our highest interests, and its topics are those the importance of which, either for good or evil, will be felt for ever, this responsibility must be felt to be infinitely increased. And the reflection as to our qualifications for the post we have taken, and the question whether we as teachers have ourselves that sound knowledge on religion which becomes it; whether our practice is such as to enable us to draw from our own experience maxims coinciding with the word of God for the edification of others in their Christian course; or whether we are not blind leaders of the blind-teachers of others, not having taught ourselves; such a reflection, and such a question, will often present themselves anxiously before the mind. We must not, however, shrink from being duly impressed with a sense of these

responsibilities, or from an accurate survey of the difficulties by which we are encompassed. It is good for the mariner to inspect the chart of his voyage before his departure, that not one rock, quicksand, or shoal may escape his vigilance, but that he may be prepared when they are nigh to steer safely and prosperously past them, And even should we be over depressed by the contem. plation, or rendered over anxious by the anticipation, it is far better to be over watchful than too supine, over vigilant than to sleep too securely because ignorantly, too careful in shunning even the appearance of evil, than over reckless in encountering it. To be himself, then, first imbued with a sound and accurate knowledge of the leading principles of our religion, combined with an earnest desire and continual waiting for fuller instruction, which implies an appreciation of religion in the life, should be the great object of the Teacher.

I fear that we are often inclined to forget that such a knowledge requires much diligence to be expended on it. From somewhat the same notion as that by which most men are persuaded that they can compose religious poetry, because religion is the business of every man, its truths are considered to be so superficially exposed, as to be within the reach of all without toil or labour. Now, this idea is partly true, and partly false. The leading truth of the Gospel, without which a man cannot be saved, is so plainly and undisguisedly revealed, that even a wayfaring man shall not err therein; but to comprehend the full proportion of faith, the connection of truths with each other, so as to form one beautiful harmony, so as that each may fit into the rest without deformity or disproportion, to be able to fill up truthfully and clearly the outline of the Gospel, this demands a diligence of no ordinary kind. Besides, what may be in the thief on the cross full knowledge for him, may be in one whose life is devoted to the instruction of others, and teeming with religious advantages, utter nakedness. So plain indeed is the vision of God's word, as an old writer remarks, that he who runs may read; but, without doubt, he that stands still, and surveys it with leisure and attention, will enter more into its spirit, and be more ravished with its beauty. The prize, moreover, of hea. venly wisdom is to be found, according to the Scriptures, only in an ardent search after it. If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures, then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord. On which Archbishop Leighton remarks, (Works, p. 512,) "Sit down upon thy knees, and dig for it; that is the best posture to fall aright upon the golden vein; and go deepest to know the mind of God in searching the Scriptures.”

Nor must it be thought that in thus expatiating on the need of Christian diligence we undervalue the assistance of God's Holy Spirit. Without his aid all our efforts, as far as the real improvement of ourselves and others is concerned, are useless; but such a diligence is quite consistent with an entire dependance on his heavenly guidance. For when he has promised the blessing to the diligent, we work because we believe, and depend on the belief, that he blesses such. “To get assurance regarding the foundations of the faith, and clear views of the truth itself, to have a prompt and secure command of Scripture, to possess a large acquaintance with the great salvation, and a minute acquaintance with all the details of Christian duty; all this needs no less diligence on our part, because God must give it, or we can never show it.” (Hamilton's “Life in Earnest,” 112.) It must be then exceedingly useful to be possessed of some guide (as our business lies mainly with the word of God) to a right interpretation of its various parts. It is proposed, therefore, in dependence upon his blessing who saith that to him that hath shall more be given, to lay down in some following papers those rules which are calculated to assist us in the general interpretation of the Scriptures, and I shall avoid as much as possible a subject which is indeed closely connected with it, but yet entirely distinct, verbal criticism, a subject which is well suited to the learned or the linguist, but which would evidently be greatly misplaced here. The need of such a guide, to add a word in the conclusion of this introduction, is too clear to require much proof. It will be a help in keeping us from error, when we see around us so many fanciful or wrong applications of the words of Scripture in support of the private opinions of men, and so many fundamental errors in large bodies, all which profess to derive their Creeds from the Bible. It will assist us in keeping a check upon ourselves, which is far from unnecessary, when we consider how prone we are to make the Scriptures square, as it were, with our preconceived notions and prejudices—instead of forming our religious opinions, or testing the truth of them already formed by the sacred text. Such a guide, moreover, will assist us in curbing an over ardent imagination, which is apt to throw out fancies not in accordance with the sober-minded spirit of the inspired record, and in strengthening the judgment in pursuit of truth. Let our motto then be, “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deut. xxix. 29.)

race.

PRAYER, THE ESPECIAL DUTY OF SABBATH.

SCHOOL TEACHERS. “ Crown all your labours with fervent and habitual prayer." It is important for you in all your exertions, to bear in mind the total and universal depravity of the human

By this I mean an entire destitution in the human heart by nature, of all spiritual affection, and holy propensities. In this view, every child that comes to your school is, till renewed by divine grace, totally depraved. To change this state of the mind, and produce a holy bias, to create a new disposition, to turn all the affections into a new channel, and cause them to flow towards God and heaven, is the work of the Omnipotent and Eternal Spirit; who, in the execution of his purposes, however, generally employs the instrumentality of man. Now, this view of the case must be ever before your mind; it must mingle with all your plans, and direct all your exertions. You must accurately understand the nature of the materials on which you have to work, and

« ElőzőTovább »