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ment and the point out the completion of prophecies-or to shew, how the types of the law were fulfilled. Of this mode of ream soning we find abundant instances among the sacred writers in the epistle to the Hebrews especially.

Thus then inspiration seems to have been necessary to direct the apostles in what was hitherto unknown : but human reason seemed sufficient to enable them to apply what had been already inspired

II. Let us then now see, how this rule, which guided the apostles, appears applicable to us--or in what way we are to speak what the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

In the first place, I think, it plainly appears, we have no reason to expect immediate direction from what the Holy Ghost teacheth. To wait for desultory illapses of the spirit to lead us into truth, seems to have little countenance from scripture ; unless indeed we apply to 'ourselves such

passages, as by the fairest rules of interpretation can apply only to the apostles. And surely the greatest caution is necessary in settling a


point, point, which, if it be an error, tends to confirm all other errors. When a man reasons himself into a mistake, 'he may reason himself out of it again. But when a man discards reason, and substitutes in its 'room a divine instructor, every enthusiastic notion becomes then immediately stamped with the character of divine truth. The strange effects of such wildness we have often seen.

As far, indeed, as a holy life is concerned, we are assured every where in Scripture, that unless the endeavours of man are assisted by the Holy Spirit of God, which dwells within him, and to whose divine admonitions he ought ever to listen, he can do nothing. Here the divine aid is necessary. Man, as a moral agent, with all the mis. chiefs of the fall about him, stands certainly in need of support.

But the investigation of truth is a different af. fair. It was not so much his understanding, that was disturbed ; as his will and affections.Wretched man! he knew what was right; but could not practise it. To rectify his knowledge, enough had been done : inspired truth was on record; and he had a rule given him to understand it. Farther aid would have rendered that


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rule unnecessary; and the expectation of any such aid, enthusiastic.

It is true, indeed, the pious Christian will read his Bible with the best effect : and in this sense, no doubt, the Holy Spirit may be said to assist him in understanding the truth of Scripture : for he who does the will of God, will know of the doctrine whether it be of God. But this is still only the application of Scripture to the rectifying of his affections. To understand it as a system of truth, the rule given us to compare spiritual things with spiritual, seems abundantly sufficient. The New Testament is to us precisely in the state, in which the Old Testament was to the apostles. It is inspiration recorded. If farther inspiration be necessary, a written record is more than is necessary.- It seems therefore fully sufficient for the understanding of Scripture, to take it into our hands; and, in the spirit of sincerity, and piety, to compare one part with another; or with a general view of the whole. This seems, in the apostle's idea, the only key to the Scriptures.

But now, it must be confessed, that a variety of causes have introduced difficulties into these sacred records; and, of course, into the mode of investigation. Ancient customs not well un


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derstood-ancient modes of speaking, not conformable to our own--ancient errors, generated in times of ignorance-modern prejudices, and opinions, grafted on texts of Scripture misapplied have united with other causes in disfigur. ing the plain and simple truths of the Gospel.

Why God suffered this blot, as some may call it, in the sacred record of truth, we know not. Yet humbly tracing the reason of it in the analogy of his other works, we may refer it to the general law of a state of trial. Every thing here bears the marks of the fall. In our moral pursuits we are exercised with various difficulties : why not in the pursuit of religious truth? In both we may be assisted, if we apply the proper means. the Spirit of God will direct our endeavours : in the other, the great scriptural rule of comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

The honest application of this rule, without doubt, would remove at least all the material difficulties of Scripture. But instead of solving them in this way, we too often endeavour to adjust them by the words of man's wisdom. Hence arise all the disputes, that have divided the church.


In one,

The opinions which have occasioned them, however varied, run commonly in two great channels--that of enthusiasm, and that of libertinism. The enthusiast reads his Bible too literally: the libertine (I use the word in its less offensive sense,) too laxly. The one utterly discards reason : the other thinks nothing but reason worth attending to. The enthusiast loves a mystery, because he does not understand it: the libertine allows nothing to be a mystery ; what he does not understand, he rejects. Let us, in an instance or two, apply our great scriptural rule to them both.

With regard to the jarring doctrine of faith, and works, it can never surely be settled by the literal application of a few scattered passages of St. Paul : but one should imagine it might easily be settled by comparing such passages with other parts of Scripture ; and still more by an appeal to the whole scheme of Christianity. The very first book of the Bible shews us, that the Gospel was meant to restore us to that purity of life, which we had originally lost. This indeed seems to be the leading point of Christianity; the word of God every where exhorting us to cleanse our


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