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measure, undecided. The Jews, and more especially their rulers, were evidently prejudiced against him, and rather disposed to oppose and persecute him, than to admit his claims. This prejudice and opposition had not, however, proceeded to the lengths to which it afterwards did; but only so far as to draw from our Lord a more full statement respecting his claims, and the several arguments which he was able to produce in support of them. We have heard what claims he advanced, we have considered his reasonings, we have surveyed and scrutinized the facts to which he referred, and we have now considered that testimony of Scripture to which our Lord last directed the attention of those whom he addressed. How then are we affected with regard to this important question, respecting eternal life, and that divine messenger who was sent to offer, who died to procure, and who was exalted to bestow a boon so unspeakably precious? Do we virtually symbolize with the Jew and the infidel, either refusing, because of the objections which are suggested to our understanding, or neglecting, because of the backwardness of our hearts, to "come to Christ that we may have life?"
If we entertain doubts respecting the fulness and conclusiveness of the Christian argument, have we given to it that deep and serious attention, by which alone we can be advancing to a
solid and abiding conviction? I cannot persuade myself that it can, in general, be necessary to enter on a large and laborious investigation of philosophical objections, and metaphysical reasonings, in order to attain a conviction sufficiently enlightened and rational; one upon which any thinking man will act, who remembers the shortness of life and the magnitude of the objects at stake, who considers the obvious force of the various reasons in favour of revealed religion, and the anxious scrutiny, both by friends and foes, which has not discovered the weakness, but shewn the strength of its evidence. Let us beware lest, after all, the truth be, that "we are not willing to come to Christ that we may have life;" because we are aware that he who will enter into life must keep the commandments, and that the narrow way that leadeth unto life is a way of holiness and self-denial. The defect is more generally in the will than in the understanding; and even when it appears to be in the understanding, it generally proceeds from that predominance of the will, enslaved by its affections and lusts, which is, in fact, the essence and operation of almost all the modifications of human depravity.
It is this unhappy slavery, this love of sin, of the world, and of our present interest, that operates, not only to produce infidelity, but many other errors, which deviate from the doctrine
according to godliness. I cannot but persuade myself, however, that a remedy is proposed in the text, which, if duly adopted, would be effectual, both as to errors in doctrine, and inconsistency in practice; which can make us both wise unto salvation, and also thoroughly furnished unto all good works."Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life." Our ignorance, or our crude, partial, and unsanctified, knowledge of the Scriptures, is the fruitful source of error. Do we desire that it should be otherewise with us? We must imitate the example of the Bereans; and the same effects will follow in us with respect to the whole range of Christian doctrine and duty, which were produced in them with respect to that fundamental truth of our religion, the Messiahship of Jesus. They received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so; and therefore many of them believed." Few comparatively, we trust, are they, who do not acknowledge them as the words of eternal life; who do not know that they testify of Jesus, as "the end of the law unto righteousness," and "as the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." We fear, however, that few do value and search them
• Acts xvii. 11, 12.
as such. Yet is there an expediency, almost amounting to a necessity, that both the preacher and the hearer of the Gospel should be well acquainted with these divine records. None doubt that "if any man speak, he must speak as the oracles of God;" and that from the discourses of our Lord, and the writings of his Apostles, he must learn, both the subject and the manner of Christian instruction. But a competent knowledge of the same Scriptures is also equally necessary to the Christian hearer. The allusions, reasonings, statements, and exhortations, of the preacher, will not otherwise be sufficiently intelligible and impressive. We fear, therefore, that the success of our ministrations is much less than it might be, if the word of God were more read in the family and in the closet. Our success would probably be far less than it is, if the reading of Holy Scripture were not so prominent a part of our public Service. For the knowledge and influence derived from that source we have, perhaps, more abundant cause to be thankful than we have yet been aware of. Yet how much greater would be our Christian edification, if the family altar, and the hour of retirement, could witness to our perusal of the Scriptures! From how many errors would this guard us, from how many temptations would it preserve us! How powerfully, though, perhaps, imperceptibly, would it dispose us to be
not willing only, but eager, and thankful, to come unto Christ, that we may have life!-Receive, then, and search the Scriptures, "not as the word of man, but, as they are in truth, the word of God, which effectually work also in them that believe." Value and obey them, as those who know the authority which they possess, and the obligations which rest upon yourselves. For you rightly "think that in them you have eternal life.”