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of 120 years.
was 150 years, and his son Isaac 50, when Shem, the son of Noah, who was 97 years at the time of the flood, died. The
year after Joseph interpreted Pharaoh's dream, and was promoted in Egypt, Isaac died. Moses was born 64 years after the death of Joseph, and lived to the
age Thus, in a period of 858 years, from the flood to the first command for committing the revelations of God to writing, four persons only, namely, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, and the father of Moses, were necessary
to preserve and convey to their generations respectively, God's revealed will. now the life of man was shortened, and the number of the race was increased, tradition became dangerous, and therefore God's revelations were, in future, committed to writing
Of these written revelations, or as they are called by the apostle, “ oracles of God'," the Jewish nation became the preservers. They are comprised in that part of our Bibles which are called the Old Testament, beginning with Genesis, and ending with the prophecies of Malachi. These are call
b Rom. iii. 2.
ed in the text, “ The Scriptures,” that is, the writings, namely, of God; or those works which were written by men inspired by his Spirit. The same name the Lord Jesus gave to them, when, in one of his addresses, he exhorted the Jews, “ Search the Scriptures'.” Though the apostle thus refers to the writings of the Old Testament in the text, yet Peter' calls the writings of this apostle by the appropriate name of “ Scrip“ tures.” Following his example, we cannot err in assuming this as a truth, that the New Testament, being composed by men divinely inspired, constitutes equally with the Old, the writings of God.
These Scriptures, in the enlarged sense, were written for the learning, that is, the instruction of the children of men in those matters which pertain to their best and eternal interest, their chief good. Here they are taught the way in which they can regain the original uprightness of their nature, in which consists their chief good. After this they have in all ages eagerly and perseveringly sought, cherishing the secret hope that they would ultimately find it. Hence, in all ages,
John v. 39.
1 2 Pet. iii. 16.
among all men, you find forms of religious worship established, and pretensions to revelation from heaven, believed and honoured by a prompt obedience to their requisitions. But though hope has been cherished in the human breast, and its promised good sought for by the human race, none know what it is, or have ever experienced its enjoyment, save they who have embraced the seed of the woman, Christ the Saviour. He is the chief among ten thousand, and the hope of glory to all who know him. Such characters the apostle is addressing in the text, assuring them, that in a particular manner,
“ whatsoever was written afore“ time, was written for their learning, that
they through patience and comfort of the
Scriptures might have hope.” Though the text thus has a special reference to believers, yet it may be used as affording instruction to unbelievers also. Thus extensively understood, without adverting to the connexion, it unfolds to our attention these two truths :
I. That in the Scriptures alone man can find real hope, a hope that shall not make him ashamed.
II. That in the Scriptures alone, man, when he has found real hope, can find the means requisite for preserving and invigorating it unto the end.
The consideration of these topics will not only prove that the Scriptures are for our learning, but also
for introducing to your attention the design of our present meeting
1. In the Scriptures alone -man can find real hope, a hope which “ maketh not 66 ashamed.”
Hope is the expectation of some future good, real or supposed. To be such, so as to prevent disappointment, the nature of that which is really good, must be understood. Nothing deserves to be called a real good, to an intelligent being, which does not accord with his original constitution. It must, therefore, first of all, restore to him his uprightness, and then aid him in
preserving that uprightness. In no other way can his intelligent nature be made a blessing to him ; for intellect of the highest kind, abstracted from uprightness, only qualifies a being for greater wickedness, and there
e Rom. v. 5.
fore prepares him for greater misery. Devils are standing monuments of this truth in its full extent. Sinful men experience only a part of its truth; for during life they cherish a hope which the first promise ori- ' ginated in the human family. Still, amidst all the delusive charms of the hope which animates their bosoms, anxious and fearful doubts arise, which break the enchantment. The understanding, so long as it is darkened, cannot by all its powers, however gigantic, , quiet the heart which is oppressed with a consciousness of guilt. Man's intellectual faculties
devise a thousand expedients for obtaining the chief good, but all prove abortive. They may, with all the triumph which accompanies success, say to the heart, Lo! here is your hope! or, Lo! there is your hope! But the heart, knowing its own sorrows, replies, " Miserable comforters are ye!" In all earthly objects, it finds not the good after which it pants. That good the heart can never enjoy till the understanding becomes acquainted with it. After examining the pretensions of numerous pursuits and numerous enjoyments, that noble and leading