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not of equal importance; and some part is more suitable to the experience, condition, and trials of a christian, than another. This should be attended to with care; and by attending to the first rule, that is, by reading the Bible regularly through, he will be better acquainted with its various parts, and in a time of trial, will instantly have recourse to them.
Many Christians never read their Bible through, because, not reading it regularly, they know not which part they read last, or have read most. There are in the Old Testament 929 chapters, and in the New Testament 260 chapters, in all, 1189 chapters in the Book of God. If a Christian reads three chapters a day, he reads the whole Bible in a year, except 94 chapters, which may very pleasantly be read on Sabbath days, in order, so as to read the Bible through regularly once a-year; besides reading particular parts as they suit the state of the reader's mind. Surely, Christians, it be hoves you to read the whole of God's mind. Especially since ** all Scripture was given by inspiration of God, and is profitable unto doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God might be perfect, thoroughly furnished for every good work." If all of it is divinely inspired, if all of it is profitable,-who am I,-who art thou, to slight a part of God's mind, as if you could do without it? This is one way of taking from the words of His book; count the cost of such a conduct, christian, if thou art able. If thou art slighting some part of God's mind, be assured, a dying bed will alter thy views and feelings.
And what objection can a christian have to regularity, in reading God's word? Will he say, this is very formal work? What! is order formality, which thy mind abhors? What! is spirituality confined to a confused manner of thinking, reading, and praying? I think those are guilty of mere formality in reading the Scriptures, who read them most negligently, and most rarely. Christian, you have no objection to order in thy business, thy meals, and thy rest; and art thou the less rich and prosperous, or healthy? And are the concerns of eternity alone, the things which may, nay must be attended to without method?
But do not mistake me; I do not mean to substitute this in the place of Christ, nor of any other duty. No; beware lest you be found at this work, in the spirit of a poor woman who, on her dying bed, uttered these words, "Well, I thank God I have read the Bible through, now I shall be saved." Blind soul! She had read but "understood not." There are others who read and understand, but rest in the reading and knowledge of the Bible; and being able to quote Scripture on every occasion, they excite the admiration of fools, which swells them with mere conceit of the safety of their state, while they set up for critics upon all persons and performers but themselves, and their own actions. When I hear such persons
quoting verses of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelations, I hear "parables in the mouth of fools." My mind is hurt, is disgusted, and I exclaim with Solomon, "Excellent speech becometh not a fool." I am ready to imagine I hear the devil quoting Scripture again, and to suspect the design. Who can bear to hear a person under the reign of pride, pompously repeating God's words? When, perhaps, malice and covetousness are rooted in his heart, overreaching manifest in his dealings, and a disposition to promote his own dominion over the consciences and conduct of others, is his ultimate end in reading and repeating the Scriptures.
The neglect of a constant attention to the Bible is attended with many serious evils to the Christian. It prevents his growth in faith. What is he to believe? The word of God. How can this be, if he does not read it? It is the "word of faith," and faith must live upon its testimonies. If a man is negligent of his Bible, he is either weak in faith, or strong in presumption. Often the former; he is not settled, having no particular warrant for his faith at hand. He doubts, and wavers. Many things, of which he might be certain, he is not able to prove, however important They may be true, and he hopes they are, but is not sure. He has not scriptural evidence at hand to determine his mind. It also affects a man's COMFORT greatly. In relation to doctrines, he takes certain things for divine truths: but, perhaps, cannot prove them. And if an advocate of error should deny the truth of what he believes, advance things opposite to them, and bring a few scriptures, as apparent proofs of his errors; this negligent Christian would find his mind unsettled, uncertain and unhappy. Satan would seize the opportunity of confirming his errors, and weakening his faith in the truth. His mind, not being "girt about with truth," lies open to the assaults of bad men and angels. Whereas, if he were "mighty in the scriptures," he could establish the truth, when denied, and confute an error when asserted for truth. He would "take fast hold of instruction, nor let it go; but keep it as his life." Such a conduct leaves a Christian low in comfort, and frequently perplexed with the PROVIDENCE of God. Some of God's actions seem against him, in which he would take comfort, if those Scriptures were at hand, which explain the very Providence he stumbles at. God's action seems to contradict his word, because the action is seen, but the word of God which explains it, is not seen. In relation to the Christian's EXPERIENCE, his comfort is affected by his ignorance of the Bible. He would not so often be foiled by Satan, nor discouraged by his internal conflicts, if he were better acquainted with the Bible, which is "a history in miniature of the heart of man." He would there find, that his experience was not scriptural, but that it accorded with the word of God, and the experience of the saints of God. Much perplexity about his CONDUCT, also would be avoided. The Christian meets with many trying cases in life. He knows not which course to take. If he
walks with doubt of being right, he is committing sin and sowing misery. Perhaps, many portions of God's word would ease and determine his mind, if he knew where to find them, but through a neglect of this Book, he has no "light to his feet, nor lamp to his paths."
No. CXLVII.-THE LAST ENEMY CONQUERED.
DEATH is the christian's last enemy, and a very formidable one he is. But whatever could conspire to render death terrible to human nature, was experienced by Jesus Christ, in his own death. Every unpardoned sinner, dying in his sins, knows what death is. Such a person understands the word death. But it is only one death, one complicated death that he dies. His soul is separated from his body, both from God, and cursed with " tribulation and wrath." But the death which Christ died, was-millions of deaths in one. And though he did not die the second death, in the manner the wicked do, by entering into hell, yet hell entered into him. The extent of his sufferings was beyond what any ever did feel, or ever can. The Lord's-supper exhibits this truth to the mind of every believer. He commemorates that awful event, with emotions of grief, surprise, and gladness. It is not to a Saviour, merely tried and fainting, afflicted and tempted, that he is directed to behold. It is not to hold forth the poverty, or the sickness of Christ, but to show forth the Lord's Death!"-Come see the place where the Lord died! The certainty of his death is there preached to our eyes; we see him bleeding to death. And whose death are we met to remember? It is not the death of a mere man, or a mere martyr, but the Lord's death! This increases the mystery, he was a person of spotless innocence, and a person of such dignity, that all the inhabitants of heaven feel his reign, and pay him homage. The glory of his person, the perfections of his character, the nature, extent, and design of his sufferings, are the objects of our contemplation, when we eat bread and drink wine in remembrance of Christ.
"Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus." Heb. vi. 20. Mark the grand object of a Christian's attention, “even Jesus!" His hope reaches to heaven! Say, worldly minds, when did your expectations reach so high? Do they not rather dwell among objects of sense? Take, then, the favour of men, the wealth of misers, the post of honour, and the pleasures of time, I will lift up my thoughts" I will set my affections on things above" your highest aims. If a man of carnal mind lifts his thoughts to heaven, he has a carnal conception of its nature, and supposes he shall come there of course. He views heaven as a place of freedom from the trials of life, and conceives he shall enjoy his ease there. But the believer's hope is more noble, determinate, and cheering, “even
Jesus!" in whom he sees all the grace and love of the Father, and of the Saviour. A Christian has no idea of a heaven where Christ, and God in him, is not enjoyed. Yes, scoffing world, even Jesus, is the object of our hope, our joy, our boast! That Jesus whom you despise, we follow as our
FORERUNNER.This is the character our hope fixes on. He ran the race set before him. He is gone first. He has left our world, and entered into his glory. But even as a forerunner, he
acts as a
SAVIOUR, or why is he still called Jesus? Wherever he is, whatever character he bears, whatever office he may discharge, in each, in all, he ever acts the part of a Saviour to his people, in every condition of this life. How suitable a character! how compassionate an heart! how able to discharge the office he sustains. Now mark the
END of his entrance within the vale, "for us." For us! for whom? for all who have fled to Jesus as their refuge from the guilt, the reign, and the curse of sin.
Let not the fearful heart say, surely! not for me! Why not? Art thou a sinner, unworthy and self-condemned? And art thou looking to Christ as thy portion and pattern? Then be of good cheer! he entered for thee. If he did not enter for you, why do you love him, follow him, lament your ingratitude to him, and confide entirely in him? Art thou poor?-So was he. Art thou tempted?-So was he. And yet he entered heaven, and so shalt thou, as surely as Christ has entered for us-for our security and happiness. He has
1st. Taken possession of heaven in our nature, and in our name. He is gone to take possession of the "many mansions," and to "prepare a place for us."-John xiv. 1, 2. He makes all things ready for our admittance. He has gone before, and has notified our coming.
2dly. In taking possession of his own glory, he intends it for them.-John xvii. 24; Rev. iii. 21; and,
3dly. He manages our concerns, pleads for us his own finished work, and for our " abundant entrance at the proper season." He "now appears in the presence of God FOR US."-Heb. xxiv. For us! Here lies the joyful emphasis, for us. For us he lives, and reigns, and pleads.
St. Paul does not say my, but our forerunner; which should blow up the feeble spark of love, one to another; not merely as men, as relations, but as Christians, interested in Jesus as a forerunner! Yes! my fellow heir, he is gone before me, and before you. We shall both follow him, live with him, and rejoice in the sight of each other's happiness!
Let us also follow Christ, in this view. And consider that there is no public or private duty in which we engage, nor any trial we may
be called to endure, but, in it, we are following Jesus, and running nearer to the end of our course; we shall soon overtake Jesus! Righteous man! hold on thy way, as Jesus did, and it will issue at last in the place which he keeps ready to receive you.
How necessary the exercise of faith, to our enjoyment of Jesus, in this character. He has left the world, and the opening heavens having received him, have closed again, and conceal him from our sight. He is on the other side of the heavens, which, like a veil, conceal his glory from us: but the Word reveals him as managing our affairs in life, and death, and providing for our entrance, at the moment of our departure from the body, and from the world: may our souls realize this scene by believing, and in proportion to the strength of our faith, shall we feel this truth. If we could look through the clouds, and see with our eyes, Jesus in this character, and the place he has provided for us, how would it affect us? Just as the declaration of it does, when we believe it. Faith is mental sight here.
And should not this reconcile us to death? Jesus is in heaven; but how came he there? He went through the valley of the shadow of death. So must we. And are we unwilling to follow him? Why should we? We shall go the same way, to the same place where Jesus is, and he who has secured the mansions, as the purchase of his blood, and raised our hopes towards it by the grace of his spirit, will not fail to secure our passage, our admission, and our possession of it, as the fruit of his INTERCESSION. All the penal agonies of death Jesus endured. Death fastened his sting in Christ, and left it there. When we die, we shall find death nothing more than a sleep. Believe this, thou child of light: believe it, and exclaim as truly as the author of the words did falsely-"Surely, the bitterness of death is past."
Guilt, like the dregs of any liquor, at the bottom of the vessel, often lies concealed at the bottom of the heart. While all things without are pleasant and agreeable, we may overlook, and for a a time forget our state within; like the liquor in a bottle, which looks clear until it is shaken, but then thickens in every part of the bottle; so we, when tossed by some sudden trial, find the dregs of guilt, rise, and overspread the mind with confusion, restlessness and gloom.
No. CXLVIII. YOUNG PREACHERS.
It is a usual method with young preachers, to address the passions more than the understanding of their hearers. They wish, at almost all events, to comfort their hearers. This springs from a thirst for popularity, which leads them too often, beyond the bounds of truth.