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subject, be careful and judicious in the use of commentaries. I am supposing that in the Teacher's own or the school library, or kept by the clergyman himself, for lending, some helps of this kind are at hand. But even the best must be used with great caution. They should be ever considered, as they are in reality, human and uninspired treatises, (this applies to all, both ancient and modern,) and of secondary value; while those of good men are consulted and referred to, esteemed and respected, they must not be put in the place of, they must not precede our own diligent and careful study of the inspired record. The rules laid down will assist you in forming a judgment for yourselves on the doctrines and duties of God's Word. These works may be then brought in to illustrate, confirm, or otherwise explain these Scripture views; and in many respects they will be found valuable and instructive. But let your first labour be expended in that Word itself. Let your knowledge be extracted first of all from its sacred pages. Let your first draughts of truth be drawn from the fountain-source, and quaffed at the fountain-head. Here, only, is the stream pure and unmingled. But all other channels, though drawn from the fountain, are human and artificial; and some taint of human corruption, infirmity, and error, even in the best, mingles with and tinges the pure waters of truth. The place which commentators should hold in our system is well described by Mr. Bridges, in the following remarks, which, though originally intended for students in the ministry, I think Well applies to the case of Teachers generally: “It is most important to remember that the service or disservice of commentaries wholly depends upon the place which they occupy in the system. Let them not be discarded as utterly useless; for many of them comprise the labours of men who had a far deeper insight into the word of God, than those who despise them are generally likely to attain. But let them not be placed before the Word, nor be consulted (habitually at least) until the mind has been well stored with the study of God's own book. Professor Campbell speaks most admirably upon this point: 'I would not have you at first (says he) recur to any
them. Do not mistake me, as though I meant to signify that there is no good to be had from commentaries. I am far from judging thus of the commentaries in general, any more than of systems. But neither are proper for the beginner, whose object it is impartially to search out the mind of the Spirit, and not to imbibe the scheme of any dogmatist
.. The only assistances I would recommend, are those in which there can be no tendency to warp your judgment.'
Among those commentaries which seem to be the best suited for purposes of consultation, Mr. Scott's may, I think, be placed first. And if this valuable work be not within every
Teacher's reach, there are few clergymen of parishes, who, if they possess it, would not be willing to lend it. Matthew Henry's, again, may be mentioned, as well as the Tract Society's. And for the New Testament, Doddridge's "Family Expositor" will be found to answer every purpose. And as a little work on a portion of the same, Barnes’ "Notes on the Gospels.” But with this last, as also the Tract Society's commentary, I have but a very slight personal acquaintance. But there are many points connected with the study of the Scriptures, in which commentaries are indispensible, and should be made a complete vade mecum. These points, are oriental and foreign customs alluded to-practices followed among the people of Palestine, historical incidents of other countries introduced in the narrative, facts of chronology, and so forth. Short explanations of these points are absolutely necessary to a right apprehension of the sacred textAnd where we have ourselves no personal knowledge of them, a reference to competent authorities can alone elucidate their meaning. As for instance, could a person understand how the woman, that was a sinner, (Luke vii.) could possibly stand at Christ's feet behind him, and begin to wash his feet with tears, unless he was made acquainted with the mode of reclining at meals, usual in eastern countries, as described by authors ? Calmet's “Dictionary of the Bible,” which is now published in a cheap form, in one large volume, will supply every need in this respect. Brown's
* Christian Ministry, p. 55.
“Dictionary” will also be found useful. Or if these cannot be attained, a book of Travels in the Holy Land will often furnish abundant information. As an illustration of many hundreds of passages of Scripture in this way, “The Church of Scotland's Mission to the Jews" will be found very interesting. And no Teacher, let me add, in conclusion, will ever regret bestowing minute attention on such matters as these, when they come in his way. His class will improve with his increase of knowledge, and feel grateful for the explanations he adduces to those minor difficulties. And while he keeps their minds fixed primarily on the most important points, these little digressions and deviations will be found at once both pleasing and refreshing.
My mind has of late been much occupied on the subject of prayer, a privilege of which we do not sufficiently understand the value. I would affectionately urge on Teachers the all-important duty. “ Be instant in prayer, as the Psalmist says; pour out your
hearts before him.” In him all fulness dwells. There is not a want but can be abundantly satisfied, not a desire but can be fulfilled, not a difficulty but can be removed; the weakest may by that means be made strong; even Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees. Why, then, should we be so slack in seeking the fulfilment of that promise: “ Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full”? Do we forget that it is only through the Spirit of God that we can overcome all the enemies of our salvation ; can obtain the victory over the devil, the world, and the flesh; and can subdue our corruptions ? that it is only the Spirit of God which can sanctify us? and how is that Spirit to be obtained, but by pleading the promises of Christ at the footstool of the throne of grace? Let us seek it there, and we shall be sure to find it.
Let us consider this matter in our relation as Teachers. Of what avail is it that we gather around us the children
of our class, and tell them of the love of God; warn them of hell; and set before them the glories of heaven? tell them of all that Christ has done and suffered for them? Of what avail, I say, is all this, if the blessing of God does not rest upon the words spoken ? Have ye never read : “ Paul may plant, and Apollos water, but it is God only-who can give the increase”?
O my dear fellow-labourers, let me most earnestly beg you to pray more for your children. Oh! remember that every child in your class has an immortal soul: its time here may be short. Oh! seek to bring it into the fold of the Good Shepherd. Jesus loves the lambs of his flock: bring yours to him, and crave a blessing for them. Say, as Jacob, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.”
A CONSTANT READER.
NOTICES OF BOOKS.
Questions on the Articles of Religion, with Scripture
Proofs. Intended chiefly for the Upper Classes in Schools after they have been fully instructed in the Church Catechism. Compiled by a Minister of the Church of England. London: Whittaker.
We can confidently recommend this little manual as a valuable help in Schools. Instruction for the Ignorant: a Catechism. By BUN
YAN. London: Nelson.
This is a really useful Catechism, which cannot be in too general use.
LESSONS FROM SCRIPTURE.
FIRST SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY. GENESIS xxiv. 1—28.—Abraham seeks a wife for Isaac. QUESTIONS.-Verse 1. Was Abraham old at this time? How old, about, was he?–140 years. (Comp. xxi. 5. with xxv. 20.) Had Abraham's condition been prosperous ? Who are they (David says) that are thus blessed ? (Ps. i. 1, 3.)-V. 2. Whom did Abraham speak to about the matter he had in hand? Can you tell who this servant was? (xv. 2.)-V.4. What did he wish him to do? Why would he not have a wife for Isaac from among the Canaanites?-Because they were wicked idolaters. Where was the servant to go to? Where was Abraham's country? (Acts vii. 2.)—Vv.5, 8. If the woman would not follow him, was Isaac to go to her?-V.7. Did Abraham think that God would guide his servant? Why was Isaac not to return to Mesopotamia ?-V. 10. Which way did the servant journey? What was the name of Nahor's city ? (xxvii. 43.) Who was Nahor ? (xi. 27.)-V. 11. What time did Eliezer arrive at the city ?-V. 12. What does he do before going further? Was it good to ask for God's blessing on his undertaking ? What does St. Paul tell us about praying to God ? (Phil. iv. 6.)-V. 14. What sign of God prospering him did he ask ?-V. 15. What maiden came to the well just then? What relation was Rebekah to Abraham? Did she come before he had finished praying ? What does this shew ? (See Is. lxv. 24.)-V. 16. What had Rebekah come to the well for ? —Vv. 18, 19. When the servant asked her for drink, according to his prayer, was she willing to give it?-V. 21. What was passing in his mind at this time? Had he any reason to expect that God would make it successful? (Prov. ii. 6.)—V. 22. What did he place upon Rebekah ? Why did he give her these trinkets? -To shew that he believed her to be the person God had chosen for him. Would it have been right for him to doubt, after his prayer? (Matt. xxi. 22.)—V.23. What did he further enquire of the maiden ?-V. 24. Whose daughter was she ?-V. 26. Why did the servant worship the Lord after she had told him ?—Her being of the same family as Abraham was another proof that God had led him. (See 27.) Had his master charged him to fetch wife from bis kindred ? (verse 4.) Does not all this shew us that God orders the ways of his people? (Ps. xxxvii. 23.)
GLOSSARY.-V. 2. There seems little doubt that this was Eliezer mentioned. (xv.)—V. 18. My lord. She could see he was a great person by the large train of camels that was with him, &c.—V. 21. To wit, to know ; in other places, we may express it by namely. (See 1 Kings xiii. 23.)—V. 22. Earring, (margin,) jewel for the forehead. (See verse 47.)-V. 25. Provender, provisions.
GENERAL REMARK.—“ In all thy ways acknowledge him” is the advice given us by Solomon. Abraham's servant acted up to it in this instance. When he had reached Haran he would not go on with his business until he had asked God to direct him, in a special earnest prayer.
“ And he shall direct thy paths” is the promise attached to those who follow the advice. God directed Eliezer's