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VALUE OF THE BIBLE. $ 5. The Bible has been the instrument of producing all the true piety that has for many ages existed upon earth. Were the world deprived of the sun, light and heat and life would expire for want of its vivifying beams, and all would become one mass of barrenness and death. Were the world deprived of the Bible, it would soon present one deplorable scene of unmingled wickedness. Nothing would meet the eye but pollution and crime. Hell might exult in a complete conquest, and claim this world as a province of its own. Among the myriads of mankind not one heir of heaven would be found; but all thronging to destruction together, would rush from the darkness of spiritual night, to the darkness of eternal perdition. It may confidently be asserted, that no one who slights the Bible is virtuous; and that no one who loves it, feels its power on the heart, and conforms to its precepts, is vicious. "Infidels may rave at such assertions:- let them rave. They are monuments of the truth, which excites their indignation. They show what man is, when he slights the Bible.
Let it never be forgotten by you, that those Christians, whose piety has shone with the brightest lustre, whose hopes have been fullest of immortality, are those who have loved and valued most the word of God. It is related of De Renty, a French nobleman of most eminent piety, that he used every day on his knees to read three chapters in the word of God, On the other hand, how many Christians of even eminent piety, when leaving the world, have lamented their folly in not having studied the Scriptures more, and human writings less. " When Salmasius, who was one of the most consummate scholars of his time, came to the close of life, he saw cause to exclaim bitterly against himself. “Oh!" said he, • I have lost a world of time! time, the most precious thing in the world! whereof had I but one year more, it should be spent in David's Psalıns and Paul's Epistles ! Oh! sirs,' said he again to those about him, “mind the world less, and God more! When that eminent Christian, took it into his hand, out of curiosity to see what companion a man of letters had chosen-I have only one book,' said he, but that is the best.' "-Johnson's Lives of the Poets, vol. iv. John Locke, so distinguished as a philosopher, in the latter part of his life studied scarcely any thing but the word of God: and when asked which was the surest way for a young man to attain a knowledge of the Christian religion, he replied, “ Let him study the Holy Scriptures, especially the New Testament. Therein are contained the words of eternal life. It hath GOD for its author-SALVATION for its end--and TRUTH, without any mixture of error, for its matter."
* Simpson's Plea for Religion,
VALUE OF THE BIBLE.
259 James Hervey, who died in triumph, “ apprehended himself i to be near the close of life, with eternity full in view, he wrote
to a friend at a distance to tell him what were his sentiments in that awful situation. I have been too fond,' said he, of reading every thing valuable and elegant that has been penned in our language, and been peculiarly charmed with the historians, orators, and poets of antiquity : but were I to renew my studies, I would take my leave of those accomplished trifles : I would resign the delights of modern wits, amusement and eloquence, and devote my attention to the Scriptures of Truth. I would sit with much greater assiduity at my divine Master's feet, and desire to know nothing in comparison of Jesus Christ, and him crucified.''
$ 6. Consider the Scriptures as a message from God to you on the most momentous subjects. A new world is here presented to you. An amazing eternity appears to overwhelm the poor moments of time. Life is a span, and death is the way to an immense unmeasured life. Read the message of your God; the discoveries that it makes, it makes to you. To you it points out a second life; to you it unveils an eternal world. Your thoughts it leads beyond the grave. The judgment it discloses, is that at which you must appear. To you God in it reveals a Saviour and a heaven, the gift of redeeming love ;—or a hell, the dire desert of sin. To your view he presents the spirits of the just, washed in the blood of the Lamb, and triumphing in the fulness of joy, and bids you be not slothful, but a follower of them, who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
$7. What is there in human science compared with discoveries so important? What is there in the letters of friends, the dearest and the best beloved, compared with that book, which is an epistle from your God? What are those studies on which youth is so often employed, and much of manhood spent, compared with the knowledge of that book-that one book, which God has given ? that one book, which guides the soul to lasting peace ? that one book, which disperses the shadows, clouds, and darkness, that hang over the grave ? that one book, which directs those who love its truth, to glory and honour that will endure when “ stars and sun have lost their light ?"
There is one view in which the Scriptures are important
THE BIBLE A GUIDE TO ETERNAL LIFE.
260 beyond all expression. They are the only guide to eternal life. When we contemplate an eternal state, the most mo. mentous concerns of a few vain years dwindle into insignificance. Health or sickness, pain or ease, liberty or slavery, life or death, appear the merest trifles, compared with those awful and amazing scenes, which await man beyond the grave. Then what is learning ? what valued human science ? What though we had a library, capacious as Great Britain ; what though we had a mind, vast enough to contain all the know. ledge of its countless volumes; yet how vain, when in a few short years all must be forgotten in the dust! How different that knowledge, which the word of God imparts! That ex. tends its blessings through eternity, and will diffuse unfading good, in ages so remote in the depths of eternity, that no human thought ever reached, no human calculation ever approached them. Or think of appearing in the presence of God-a deathless spirit, appearing to receive a doom that never can be changed! All the boasted wisdom of human science can afford you no aid in the awful prospect; but there is one book, one precious though oft neglected book, that discovers all we need to know. Should not that book be prized ? That book is the Bible. Other books are for time, but this for eternity! other knowledge amuses a few short moments here, this directs to never-ending good hereafter! Other wisdom pleases or profits for the transient day of life, this is the source of unfailing blessings for infinite periods beyond the hour when stars and sun shall cease to shine, and
rolling years shall cease to move." Other learning may gain the applause of a few frail creatures, whose applause must soon be hushed for ever by the hand of death; but divine knowledge will direct the soul to the raptures of eternal day, and insure the approbation of the King of kings, and the welcome congratulations of angelic myriads, in the presence of Him who is, and who was, and who is to come; the Eternal, the Almighty. Thus, as much as eternity excels time in importance, as much as an infinite life of bliss outweighs the advantages of a fleeting hour; so much the precious Bible excels in value all that orators, philosophers, historians, and poets ever wrote, all that human wisdom ever inspired, all that a vain world ever extolled.
ON THE LORD'S SUPPER.
§ 1. B
EFORE the Lord Jesus left this transitory world, he
instituted the sacred ordinance, in which to the end of time there was to be a commemoration of his dying love. Three of the evangelists
have recorded the institution of this important ordinance. The substance of their accounts when united into one, furnishes an impressive view of its obligation and design. “ And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, which is given for you : THIS DO IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME. " And he took the cup,
thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it: for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins;c and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God."d
After the holy Jesus had left this world, and returned to his eternal throne, he communicated by divine revelation to the sapostle Paul, an account of the institution and design of this ordinance.e * (a) Matt. xxvi. 26. (6) Luke xxi, 19. (c) Matt. xxvi. 27, 28. (d) Mark xiv. 23–25.
(e) 1 Cor. xi. 23-29. * The reader of the sacred volume, who makes that holy book his guide, may find in the brief scriptural statements respecting this holy ordinance, a sufficient antidote to the principal errors that have been broached respecting it. Popery maintains, that the wafer its priests offer, is the body and blood ot Christ, and has murdered myriads for rejecting this monstrous absurdity : the Scriptures declare, that it was bread which Jesus took and brake. Popery reserves the wine for its anti-christian priests, and withholds the cup from the people : Jesus said, Drink ye all of it; and his apostle describes the members of the Corinthian church, as drinking of the cup, as well as eating of the bread. No absurdity however can be too great, no abomination too vile, no superstition too heathenish, and no cruelty too atrocious, for popery, which the Scriptures represent as the mother of harlots and abominations, and which an able writer, Mr. Cecil, described as Satan's masterpiece.
MOTIVES FOR COMMEMORATING Can a Christian, who feels unspeakable obligations to the adorable Saviour, read these impressive portions of the word of God, and not perceive his duty, and the most powerful motives for obedience.
“Do this in remembrance of me." Can any command be more plain, more positive, more reasonable, or more im. portant ? Do this.—Attendance at the Lord's table is not a subject left to human choice; but to every disciple of Jesus his express and solemn command is-Do this. And the command has sanctions superior to those of even his other precepts. It was uttered almost by his dying lips. It was given the same night in which he was betrayed; and after his ascension was repeated in the revelation made to the apos tle Paul. To neglect this ordinance is thus far to reject the authority of the Lord of heaven, and to violate an express and positive command, enforced by the most solemn sanctions that even the word of God contains. If then you can neglect the Saviour's table, where is your faith, your love, your obedience ?
§ 2. When the design of this ordinance is considered, the subject is presented in a still more impressive light. On one hand, obedience is enforced by motives springing from its design, and pleasing in the extreme; on the other, disobedience appears peculiarly flagrant, because it resists all those charming and impressive motives. Behold the Son of God instituting this holy ordinance. The last night of his life has arrived. The traitor has gone out to betray him.-The bloody Nile agony of Gethsemane, and the horrors of the cross, are in sight
. tis He is about to interpose himself as a spotless victim, between an apostate world and offended justice. The intolerable load 3 of the sins
of countless millions is going to press him down, stiu with a weight which none but he could bear. All this is to be borne before another sun shall rise and set. He knows it, yet, full of heavenly love, forgets his own sorrows that he may minister to the comfort of his Aock. In that last awful night
, he broke the bread, and poured out the wine, and said, This spectable body of Christians, the followers of Barclay, reject the Lord's super argued from the importance which the Saviour, after his return to heaven, tion to St. Paul, who says, I have received of the Lord (not from fellow apostles) that which also 1 delivered to you. The perpetuity of the ordiname is demonstrated in the declaration, that in it the Lord's death is shown forta
till he comie.