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CHRISTIANS MUST FREQUENT THE HOUSE OF GOD. 253
word that men shall speak they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
Obj. 9. Who can do with such strictness ?
Ans. Who has any certainty of getting to heaven without it? The Lord Jesus says, Strive, agonize, to enter in at the strait gate; for many will seek to enter in and shall not be able.
§ 10. Many persons neglect the public duties of the Lord's day, under the pretence that they read the Scriptures or other good books at home; but this is only one of those pitiful delusions by which multitudes delude themselves into eternal ruin. On this subject God has given a plain and express command : “Let us consider one another, to provoke unto love, and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.". The services of God's house are by no means designed merely to communicate instruction, with which we were before unacquainted. This, it is true, especially with respect to those who are unacquainted with the gospel, is of unspeakable moment; but with respect to the disciples of Christ, their principal design is to give opportunities for social devotion, and to strengthen and revive every religious disposition and feeling. When the blessed Jesus tabernacled below, he united in public worship, and saints and angels in heaven are described as joining in the most solemn acts of united devotion. Hence you may see the folly of the excuse for neglecting the house of God, I do not go because I can get as much instruction by reading at home. The object of public worship is not merely to gain instruction. Did the Lord Jesus Christ need instruction? Do angels in heaven need it ? Yet he on earth united in the public worship of God, and they do so in glory. To forsake God's house is rebellion against God's command, Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together. It is a rejection of his blessings. It manifests disbelief or contempt of Christ's promise, Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Do you believe him thus present with his assembled disciples ? and will you neglect to be present with them ? Christians assemble for prayer, for praise, to hear the word of life, and to commemorate
(6) Heb. x. 24, 25.
254 CHRISTIANS MUST IMPROVE THE SABBATH.. the dying love of Christ. Which of these should be neglected ? Yet all must, by those who forsake assembling with his people.
Watch against this mischievous practice, and whatever others do, improve your sabbaths. This practice deprives the soul of benefits it might enjoy, and prevents its growth in grace. If the Christian were in a good state, this would sink him to a bad one; if in a bad one, sink him to a worse. It throws a stumbling-block in the way of others, and often leads to total apostasy. Then what a long and dreadful list of evils follow : hopes disappointed, vows broken, faith shipwrecked, expectations blasted, heaven lost, and the soul ruined.
Improve your sabbaths. Forsake not regular assembling with the children of God; but keep in sight the day that fast approaches, the day when all excuses for neglect will appear frivolous indeed; when all the guilt of broken sabbaths must be answered for, and all the mischiefs felt: the day when all these means shall end; when broken sabbaths shall too late be lamented. But if your sabbaths are loved and improved, the day, when the worship of earth shall be ex. changed for the worship of heaven, the praises of time for those of eternity, and when, instead of the sabbaths which are so soon gone for ever, a day of blessedness shall dawn that never more shall end.
ON PRIZING AND SEARCHING THE SCRIPTURES.
MOST important help in the way to eternal life, is
the regular and devout perusal of the sacred Seriptures.
The Bible is an inestimable treasure, and of all books
THE BIBLE THE CHRISTIAN'S GUIDE.
255 should be your chief and most beloved companion. It is to the disciples of Jesus a light for their feet, å lamp for their paths.
To search the Scriptures is an express Christian duty.
“ Let the word of Christ dwell in you RICHLY, with all wisdom.a" “ Search the Scriptures."6 You are commanded not merely to read the Scriptures, but to read them with such attention that your mind may be amply stored with their di. vine instructions. The precept, “Search the Scriptures," is peculiarly emphatic, it signifies to search them as a miner searches a mine for jewels or for gold ; thus dig into the sacred mine, and search for the precious treasures it contains.
With respect to the doctrines and duties of religion, make the word of God your sole guide, and reject all human traditions.
The Lord Jesus taught his disciples how to treat human traditions on religious subjects, when he condemned a regard to those of the elders.c « To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." The doctrines of the Bible are the doctrines you are to believe. The duties enjoined in the Bible are the duties you are to practise; and all the additions which the traditions of men or human authority make, are not worth a rush ; and often become the occasions of sin, when men reject the commandment of God to keep their own tradition.
As the word of God is thus in religion to be your sole guide, so you are required to add nothing to it, and from it to take nothing “ Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”e “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar."f
$ 2. To read the Scriptures profitably, read them with a docile and humble mind, and with a desire to receive spiritual instruction from them. “ As new-born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby."8 (a) Col. iii. 16.
(c) Mark vii. 549. (d) Isa, viii. 20.
(0) Prov. xxx. 5, 6,
(6) John v, 39.
VALUE OF THE BIBLE.
256 the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. God re sisteth the proud, and giveth grace unto the humble."h
To read the Scriptures profitably, guard against their sin and folly, who wrest the word of God, who reject its distinguishing doctrines because they are mysterious, and whose self-conceit and wicked pride, while they prevent them from learning of the Saviour, are leading them to perdition. “The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain." “ Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”j
To read the Scriptures profitably, always read them with prayer for divine instruction. “ They shall all be taught of
• If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
§ 3. Many are the inducements presented in the Scriptures for such devout attention to their sacred contents. They are in truth “ the word of God;"'m the word of Jehovah; « the oracles of God;" “ the word of Christ.” The truths revealed are spoken by God," who hath spoken to us by his Son."P “ For all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."! * The holy Scriptures are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith, which is in Christ Jesus.”
." They are “ the word of God's grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” “ Heaven and earth shall pass away," but Christ's “ words shall not pass away.
“ These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” Error springs from a neglect of the Scriptures.
ye not therefore err, because ye know not the Scriptures ?" They promote holiness and peace here, as well as lead to heaven hereafter. “ Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word. Through thy pre
Th) 1 Pet. v. 5. (i) 1 Cor. iii. 20. (1) Gal. i. 8. (k) Joun vi. 45.
(1) James i. 5. (m) 1 Thess. ii. 13.. (n) Rom, iii. 2. (0) Col. iii. 16. (p! Heb. i. 2. (9) 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17. (r) 2 Tim. iii. 15.
(s) Acts xx. 32. (t) Mark xiii, 31. (u) John xx. 31. (0) Mark xii. 84.
VALUE OF THE BIBLE.
257 cepts I get understanding : therefore I hate every false way."
“ The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul : the e testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple: the
statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and the honeycomb."* They whó improve this sacred book, shall enjoy in a peculiar degree their Creator's favour. “ Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; but to this man will I look, to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at ry word."y
$ 4. As you desire happiness, let the word of God be your ever dear delight. You cannot prize that blessed book sufficiently. Had it been brought you from heaven, in an angel's hand, it could not have been a more precious prize, or a surer guide to immortality. Suppose that but one in the world had
been blessed with this treasure, that salvation had been offered 1 to but one, and that this divine book had been sent to that
one, to guide him in his way to heaven, how would the rest of mankind have envied that one! Happy person to possess the promise of eternal life beyond the dark shades of death! and to see heavenly day dawning beyond the gloom of the grave! O had but one possessed this treasure, how would all besides have desired his lot! how would they have wished that the path to heaven were open to them also! How would multitudes have longed to enjoy, with the possessor of this single Bible, the sweet hope of immortality; and could that one have sold his treasure, how eagerly might all the monarchs of the
earth have contended_who should purchase the invaluable i good! O consider the Bible is as precious a treasure now, as it
would be if there were but one Bible in the world! As surely
* These ideas are not copied from Mr. Dudley's work on the Bible Society, but are extracted from a manuscript of the author's, written ten or twelve years before that work was published.
The justly celebrated Sir William Jones, one of the brightest geniuses and most distinguished scholars of the eighteenth century, observes, I have carefully and regularly perused these holy Scriptures, and am of opinion, that the volume, independently of its divine origin, contains more sublimity, purer morality, more important history, and finer strains of eloquence, than can be collected from ALL other books, in whatever language they may have been writ. ten.” It is related, that the eminent English poet Collins, in the latter part of his mortal career, " withdrew from study, and travelled with no other book than an English Testament, such as children carry to school. When a frienr'