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companions; do not willingly and unnecessarily join yourself to the wicked. Be not easily drawn into argument with those who only want to display their own infidelity. It is our duty to give a solid answer to a real inquirer, for the truth's sake; it is not our duty to attempt to meet every cavil of the captious. Simply confess your Saviour by your testimony and conduct, and your character will in the result be the best evidence of your principles.
It is well to be acquainted with these dangers, that we may watch against them. Humility and the fear of the Lord, a praying spirit and a single eye, will keep a man in the right path. The Lord will watch over those who confide in Him, and His Spirit will guide them unto all truth.
I cannot close this chapter better than in the devout words of Ambrose Serle, from his Horæ Solitariæ, a work full of fine devotional feeling: “O thou believer! pray to be emptied more and more of thyself, of thy carnal will, and of all unsanctified knowledge, that thou mayest be filled with Jesus, and with that wisdom which leadeth to the contemplation of God, and to the everlasting enjoyment of him. Neither much nor little human knowledge will hurt thee, if it be thus subordinate in thy soul to that which is divine. Learning is a useful servant, but must never be the master. Let it follow thee to Christ, and not lead thee from him. If thou art rightly taught, thou wilt see the shallowness of all human erudition, and how little that deserves the name of science which mortals are proud to know. Thou wilt learn the most difficult and abstruse subject in the world, which no man ever could learn without divine instruction; even thine own IGNORANCE-a branch of knowledge which men
upright mind. Such a mind readily embraces it, while on the other hand a proud and worldly mind pollutes or rejects it. The ambitious desire an occasion of finding fault with views which they dislike, and God, who designs to discriminate men's character by His own truth, lets them have occasion of stumbling in abundance, and they stumble perhaps for ever. But those very offences on which they stumble, lead the upright to a more close waiting on God, till they attain the truth. As the best food is unplesant to a disordered stomach, and hurts the health, and the brightest light is painful to weak and diseased eyes, and injures the sight, so if our minds be carnal and impure, the purest truths will only offend and irritate our bad passions. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Let a man have real sanctification, which, Archbishop Usher says, “is nothing less than for a man to be brought to an entire resignation of his will to the will of God, and to live in the offering up of his soul continually in the flames of love as a whole burnt offering to Christ,' and he has the best preparation for profitable study. We would then recommend the student often to examine his motives for studying, and the state of his mind. 1
* Questions for Self-Examination, chiefly extracted from an old
Writer. What is my great design in giving myself to study, and what is my daily view and purpose in pursuing it?
Have I entirely given up myself to our Lord Jesus Christ, to serve him unreservedly and supremely?
Do I every day seek direction and blessing from God in all my studies ?
In labouring after knowledge in human sciences, do I always make the service of Christ my supreme design?
Do I pursue my studies daily as one that must give account of my time and of all my advantages ?
2. ESPECIALLY SEEK REAL HUMILITY. Cultivate a humble spirit in all your studies. Humility,' one of the Fathers observes, is like the violet which grows low on the ground, hangs the head downward, hides itself with its own leaves, and were it not that its fragrance betrays it to the observation of others, would choose to live and die in its own pleasing obscurity.' The highest archangel is the most prostrate before the throne of God, and the nearest approaches to him are marked, as we see in Abraham, Job, Isaiah, and Paul, by the deepest humility. Do not affect to have universal knowledge: it is out of the question for any human being. The range of knowledge is so vast we can but know in part. Do not attempt to fathom things that are inscrutable to mortal eyes : some seem to consider themselves obliged to know and determine all that comes before them; an
How many hours have I this day spent in study, or for the pursuit of knowledge, allowing for the great maxim, that to pray well is to study well ?
Do I pursue practical divinity as well as the knowledge of doctrines and controversies?
Am I solicitous that my soul may grow in grace by every increasing degree of Christian knowledge ?
Do I choose my company by their seriousness, as well as by their ingenuity and learning ?
Do I take constant care to avoid all company which may be dangerous to my morals or to my studies ?
Have I been in any company where I have received good myself, or done good to others ?
Have i indulged myself in any thing so as to put my mind out of frame for evening worship?
Have I suffered any thing to carry away my heart from God, so as to make me neglect devotion, or perform it in a slight or careless manner?
Do I watch against all evil appetites and passions, and endeavour to subdue them early, that I may learn by my own experience, and teach others by my own example?
Am I ever seeking the spiritual good of all around me?
ingenuous confession of ignorance, where we are ignorant, is true wisdom as well as honesty. The same spirit will lead you not to boast of or display your acquirements, for self-exaltation and vain glory, and to have the mere reputation of learning. All kinds of studies duly improved will promote humility, so that the most wise and learned may be, like the divine Saviour, most truly meek and lowly of heart. The experience of the Christian exceedingly promotes this: once he might think himself wise, and strong, and good, but his innumerable mistakes, and errors, and corruptions, have laid him, when more advanced, in the very
dust before God. Humility has been a distinguishing feature in the character of all those who were at the same time eminently pious and learned. Nay, the greatest men in science have ever been the humblest. Sir Isaac Newton, when some one expressed their admiration of his discoveries, replied, Alas! I am only like a child picking up pebbles on the shore of the great ocean of truth.' 3. DRAW YOUR RELIGIOUS PRINCIPLES SIMPLY God. In reading many
books there is great danger of being corrupted from the simplicity of pure religion. Heresies have generally sprung from men of superior talents and unsanctified learning, who would not be in subjection to the plain declarations of scripture. The Apostle gives a rule, Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy. Let all your sentiments on religious subjects be taken from, and be subject to the Bible, and taken not from a few partially extracted passages, but from an enlarged view of the whole, and a comparison of the different parts of truth one with another. No religious truth is essential, but what is plainly asserted, or may be
easily deduced from the Holy Scriptures. All things, then, that human writers assert, must be proved by this test, and received and rejected as they are conformable or not to the only infallible standard. Bishop Pilkington, in his Exposition on Haggai, published in 1560, says, Let the world take heed, for if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the pit. This miserable common excuse, which is so often in their mouths, shall not excuse them when they say, Thus we are taught-our ghostly fathers say somand our fathers before us have so believed : Christ says, ye shall both fall into the pit. Believe no doctrine that teaches to go to heaven other than by Christ freely; or which is not written and contained in the Bible, for that only is the perfect word of God, and which only teaches true salvation. The old maxim is very true and important. ' a good textuary, is a good theologian.' The ancients possessed not the compass to guide them in their voyages, and could not tell where they were unless they saw the stars ; blessed be God, we have not only the mariners compass within the ship, to guide our course across the deep, but the more important compass of the word of God within the church to guide us in our voyage to heaven. We must keep a constant eye on this compass, if we would sail in a straight course. The reformers (in Edward the Sixth's Primer) taught the whole nation
• Let me neither follow my own will, nor the fancies of other men, neither let me be beguiled with the masque of old customs, long usages, father's decrees, ancient laws, nor any thing that fighteth with thy holy ordinances, and blessed commandment, but faithfully believe, and stedfastly confess that to be true godliness which is learned in thy Holy Bible,