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which relates to intelligent spirits, and the mind and purposes and will of the great Sovereign of all worlds respecting their present and final condition. The more we discover of these things in a right spirit, the more we shall abase ourselves in the dust before God, and admire and set forth the Divine glory through our life. We shall enter with all our hearts into the Apostle's conclusion of his survey of the Christian scheme, 0 the depth, Rom. xi. 33–36. and be prepared for those beautiful lessons of Christian godliness, with which he follows out that conclusion (Rom. xii).
We may lastly notice among the right uses of theology, A PREPARATION FOR OUR FINAL HAPPINESS. • We may reasonably suppose that all the endeavours which we employ upon earth to know God shall not be lost to us in heaven, and that they who in this world shall acquire the best knowledge of him will have, at their entrance into the habitations of glory, the qualities most requisite for seeing him as he is.' Divine knowledge is the very beginning of heaven. This is life eternal to know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. If inen perish for lack of knowledge, and for the abuse of knowledge, there is also a right use of knowledge by which our everlasting welfare may be furthered. The excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it. Eccles. vii. 12.
It teaches what no other science does, the state of things beyond the grave; it shows us the judgment to come, the woe of hell and the bliss of heaven; and directs us to a safe and satisfactory preparation for those eternal realities, that we may escape the eternal evil, and obtain the boundless and never ceasing good. All other knowledge has either this defect, that it relates only to this
life, or in its best aspect it is but subservient to divine knowledge. This it is that immediately and at once raises us above earthly things to higher and better regions, opens to us the gates of everlasting life, introduces us to the society of glorious spirits in the heavenly mansions, conducts us to the court of the King of kings, and never leaves us till it brings us to dwell before his throne for ever and ever. Giving thanks unto the Father, who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. Col. i. 9. In thy light shall we see light. Psalm Xxxvi. 9.
Such are some of the right uses of Theology. You will see that however some kinds of knowledge may be beneficial for common life, others beneficial and interesting to the mind, such as science, &c. this is not only more useful and interesting than any other, but also indispensably necessary for our present and everlasting happiness. Let us inquire then, whether we are thus improving our acquisitions in divine truth. Do they bring us nearer to God? do they open to us the Scriptures ? do they guard us against error ? do they make us humble ? do we find them means of grace? are we using them to advance the salvation of others and to glorify God ? are we by them becoming more meet for the heavenly inheritance ?
It is a sad and miserable mistake, to consider attainments merely as a ground of self-elevation, and thus to be puffed up with them; they should rather be viewed as a talent for which we are accountable, as a trust in the occupation of which we are bound to be faithful. In this view indeed we shall see that they increase our responsibility and enlarge our duties ; but blessed be God they also increase the power and the high privilege of doing good to others, as well as the means of enjoying good in our own happy experience.
Christian student, then, be not only diligent in acquiring divine knowledge, but be watchful to use and employ every acquisition for the divine glory. This will repay every sacrifice of vain pleasure, every indulgence of mere indolence, every conflict with worldly temptation. But never forget that for this profitable use of knowledge you especially need divine assistance. I am the Lord which teacheth thee to profit. Augustine observes, that the Prophet here mentions utility, and not subtilty, as the end of Divine teaching. The Apostle sums up what we have said in this prayer for his converts—That ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.
1 Do not satisfy yourself with the knowledge that is thrown in your way, but search for it in humility, diligence, faith, and prayer, in every field which the gracious Providence of God has opened to you. In such a day as this, excellent helps are within the reach of all. New and perhaps improved helps offer themselves almost every day. Do not be satisfied with a few helps in the way of books, which perhaps have lain by you for years past, and are now become old and wearisome, but consider it an obligation of Christian duty to some extent at least, to deny yourself both in money and time that you may avail yourself of those important advantages of increasing in the knowledge of God, in the perception of his glory, in the obedience to his will, and preparation for his kingdom.
JESUS CHRIST, THE CHIEF AND THE BEST TEACHER
OF HIS PEOPLE.
Having dwelt so much on human writings, the Author feels that it will be refreshing to himself, and he hopes to his readers, in the close of his work, to turn our minds from human writings to the great Teacher, who came from God himself, and lives for ever as the Counsellor of his church. May every heart be raised to him, who was foretold as the Prophet, like unto Moses, and who is still with his church as its Guide, and Leader, and Teacher. In the words of the martyred Ridley, ' Christ biddeth us to ask and we shall havę. Therefore, O heavenly Father, the author and fountain of all truth, the bottomless sea of all understanding ; send down, we beseech thee, thy Holy Spirit into our hearts, and lighten our understandings with the beams of thy heavenly grace. We ask thee this, O merciful Father, not in respect of our deserts, but for thy dear Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ's sake.'
When a human teacher reflects on his own ignorance and weakness, and the immense moment of right instruction in the things of God, it is an inexpressible consolation to his mind, to be able to refer all who listen to him to One who can supply every deficiency, and to assure them that none who follow Him shall fail of reaching at last the heavenly Mansions.
And delightful it is to the humble spirit of the true Christian, to receive all from this Divine Mediator. If he could do without divine teaching,
if he could by his own efforts, without the wisdom which comes from above, become truly wise unto salvation, his Saviour's plan pleases him better, he had rather receive the gift as he does now through a Mediator, for thus it becomes a token of divine love, and a consoling evidence of his Father's favour and kindness to him.
We have already, in the third chapter of this work, explained the general nature of divine teaching, we would now view the subject in its immediate connexion with our Lord's office as the Prophet and Teacher of his church.
We notice first his DiviNE APPOINTMENT to this office. It was foretold by Moses, The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren like unto me; unto him shall ye hearken. Isaiah in the name of Jehovah directs the attention of the church to him, Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my elect in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him : he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. In the fulness of time this great Prophet came, and in person declared, All things are delivered unto me of my Father, and no man knoweth the Son but the Father, neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him. When he had accomplished his work of redemption, and was risen to his original glory, he sent his Holy Spirit on his Apostles, filled them with divine wisdom, and called them to testify that he was the Prophet of whom Moses had spoken. (Acts iii. 22. vii. 37.) The Father appoints him to this office, and the Spirit endows him with all requisite gifts to fulfil it, (Isa. xi. 1-5.) and acts as his agent in carrying on his work, (John xvi. 7-15.) and the result of this