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of this doctrine, but on an experimental question like that of justification, he rather covers it with obscurity, than places it in scriptural light. Grotius excelled in classical literature, in his rights of war and peace, in his truth of Christianity ; but we cannot go along with him in his views of the gospel of the grace
of God. We should learn to pray much, not only for heavenly wisdom to discern the truth, but also to apply the gifts which God has bestowed upon us in that channel, that may do most good. It is a happy manifestation of the right application of acquirements, when an author's later publications are manifestly more spiritual, evangelical, and heavenly-minded than his earlier ones ; and you see in his course the path of the just as the shining light, shining more and more unto the perfect day. Owen's Meditations on the Glory of Christ, and Baxter's Dying Thoughts, furnish specimens of this maturity of Christian light and love. Knowledge is rightly improved when it becomes a
The Apostle prays for believers, Grace and peace be multiplied unto you, through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord. That knowledge is most useful which has most tended to purify and rectify our affections and conduct, which has brought us nearest to Christ in deep humiliation and earnest longings for his salvation. The knowledge of which we speak has this direct tendency in all
its parts; under the gracious influence of the Holy 1, Spirit it quickens and sanctifies. The Christian will thus very advantageously study books of practical piety, and holy and experimental works, and thereby his various graces will be fostered and advanced. As it has pleased God to accompany the preaching of his
MEANS OF GRACE.
ministers with the power of his Spirit, so also Christian instruction, when reduced to writing, and read in private, is attended with the similar Divine influences, and truly nourishes the soul with heavenly manna. It is the high and eminent use then of theology, not merely to fill the head with notions, but to 'edify the heart; to be a grand means of holiness, and a main instrument of the Divine mercy for transforming the soul, and renewing it in knowledge after the image of God. Sanctify them through thy truth. There is not a truth of sound theology, but it has a sanctifying tendency. The words of David, Psalm xix. 7-11. are very full on this point. Christian Reader, · Be not satisfied with how much thou knowest ; but see what effeet the knowledge which thou hast attained has upon thy heart and life ?'. The mark of true discipleship is love. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples ; not that ye have talents and learning, but that ye love one another.
Knowledge is farther useful to GUIDE US IN DIFFICULTIES. Perplexing cases often arise, and the same errors, having their origin in the natural blindness of the heart, are frequently revived under fresh
In these and other difficulties, the former experience of the servants of Christ, and an enlarged scriptural knowledge will furnish much help to guide us aright. When Christian love abounds in all knowledge and in all judgment, we shall approve things that are excellent, and shall be sincere, and without offence. Solomon asserts, that the wisdom of the prudent is to direct his way. Prov. xiv. 8. Nor is there any wisdom so important as to be wise unto salvation, nor anyi prudence greater than that which leads us to attend supremely to the one thing needful. A wise Christian
who has taken a large survey of the church, and of the various parts of divinity, has many advantages for speedily forming a judgment on dubious cases, and marking the true limits of every case.
Again, it is eminently useful when it is employed TO ADVANCE THE SALVATION OUR FELLOW CREATURES. Next to being wise to our own salvation is that wisdom which he possesses who winneth souls, Prov. xi. 30. The figure of an intelligent Christian and Christian teacher, is that (Matt. xiii. 52.) of a well furnished householder; not a miser hoarding his treasures, but bringing them out. It is the invariable character of the Divine economy that no man is blessed for himself, but as a vehicle of communication of blessings to others. Abraham was blessed that he might be a blessing (Gen. xii. 2). So the Jews, Psalm lxvii. 1, 2. Talents are given, not to be carefully hid, but diligently traded with, for the good of others. Compare the parable of the talents with the solemn account of the day of reckoning, Matt. xxv. 14-46. Many are the advantages which the intelligent Christian possesses. He has an overflowing spring within of life-giving waters, the streams of which
diffuse themselves, and spread fertility all around. In the varied intercourse of man with his fellow men, he has always a treasury of the best kind, and may bring out of that treasury things new and old. In the social circle, as iron sharpeneth iron, so especially such a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. With his family, the hus. band dwells with the wife according to knowledge, he trains up his children in the
way they should
and he benefits his servants by domestic instruction. In his walks with his associates, by the sick beds of the afflicted, among the cottages of the poor, and with the
children of the Sunday school, what means the instructed Christian has of promoting their best, even their everlasting good! He stops the contagion of error and vice, and he infuses the counteracting prina ciples, the very elements of truth and goodness. Then are we using knowledge, then are we not merely preparing to live, but really living, when we are guiding the humble inquirer, relieving the afflicted conscience, checking the progress of sin and infidelity, and exciting all around us to holiness and usefulness. In teaching we are taught. Well do we improve knowledge, when we follow the Apostle's advice to Timothy, Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. The immense importance of this application of knowledge may be seen in the instance of Luther. Dr. Chalmers observes that, “ through the medium of the press and by virtue of scholarship alone, Luther bore with greater weight, than did all his coadjutors, on the living history of the world; and, after all, it was from the cell of studious contemplation, from the silent depository of a musing and meditative spirit, there came forth the strongest and most widely felt impulse on the mechanism of human society.'
Its most just application, however, is enabling us TO GLORIFY God. Every thing is really of use, as it tends to promote this great end of our being. The creature best fulfils the end of its creation, when it most exalts the Creator. This then is the chief scope of religious knowledge. That it tends to this may seen not only in the uses already pointed out, but also in its enabling us to discern the divine glory in the truths and ways of God, and thus to declare and illustrate, defend and maintain that glory in all our inter
course with our fellow creatures. David first prays, Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth, unite
And then adds, I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart, I will glorify thy name for evermore, The doctrine of crucified Saviour, for instance, is to the Greek foolish, ness, and to the Jew a stumbling-block, but to the instructed Christian, it is the wisdom of God, and the power of God. God shines in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. When our minds are illuminated with heavenly light, we discern something of the wisdom and the glory of this divine scheme of mercy, and we are able for ourselves to behold and rejoice in this glory, and then with all earnestness and affection to declare it to others. When Nebuchadnezzar was brought to the knowledge of himself and his God, he addressed all nations, saying, Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise, and extol, and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment. God is most dishonoured where ignorance most prevails. The want of knowledge brings in idolatry (Isa. xly. 20.) and every evil work (Psalm xiy. 4), Fruitfulness glorifies God, (John xv. 8), and all spiritual bless. ings abound through the knowledge of God, and Christ (2 Pet. i. 2,3). As the angelic host have the greatest knowledge, so is their knowledge wholly used to glorify the Divine Being, and their song for ever is, Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might be unto our God, for ever and ever. Even the knowledge of the creature and of earthly things may, as we see in the works of Boyle, and Ray, and Derham, be used to the manifestation of the Divine wisdom and glory; and much more should that