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the way ; walk ye in it. By reason of use, they have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Their perception of moral excellence is quick and penetrating ; and they seldom hesitate in what manner they ought to choose and act. Not the abstract precept only, but its exemplification, in the detail of numerous transactions, with which it is blended'; and by which its extent, when applied to actual life, is determined, “ teach and lead them in a plain path.”
3. The same means, by which the under. : standing is thus enlightened, tend also to sanctify the will and affections ; and to excite a cheerful and unreserved submission to the au- . thority of heaven. !,“ The law of the Lord is perfect, con yerting the soul :” It abounds with the most powerful incentives to, piety and virtue ; incentives, which, if duly understood and realized, would rouse the attention of the boldest ! transgressor, and impel him to “ flee from the wrath to come.”, Thousands, who now :
'walk in the way of their hearts, and in the sight of their eyes,” without " considering
that they do evil,” might be reclaimed from · vice and folly, would they be persuaded to
pause, and “ search the scriptures.” There
they would learn, that " for all these things God will bring them into judgment;" that “ he is of purer eye than to behold iniquity ;" and will “ by no means clear the guilty.” There too, to encourage their repentance and amendment, they would meet with “ exceeding great and precious promises” to the returning penitent; and whilst they traced the progress of others from darkness to light," and explored the history of divine condescension and grace, in the overtures of reconcilia. tion by Jesus Christ, they would discover the propriety and fitness of all his exactions, and be convinced that “his yoke is easy, and his burden light.” 'ir
Such, to say the least, is the frequent result of the process now described. By this process, many in every age of the church, have.. “ purified their souls,” and been“ born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." Every established christian can testify, that for his first impressions of seriousness, he is greatly indebted to his bible, and that by its daily. perusal and contemplation; he still continues to derive no inconsiderable part of that information and excitement, by ... ..1.10)
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which he is led to " walk worthy the vocation wherewith he is called.” 1 4. To these inestimable advantages, it may be added, that searching the scriptures tends to soothe the mind under the numerous disappointments, sufferings, and sorrows of life.
“Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning, that we, through patience and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope.” Here we are provided with cordials, suited to our condition, and adequate to our support, in the day of calamity ; cordials, abundantly capable of administering relief to the aching heart, and composure to the agitated spirits. The tender mer. cy of our heavenly Father is displayed, not only in the animating assurances of sufficient grace to those who “ cast their burdens on the Lord,” but in the actual communication of this grace to many of his ancient afflicted servants. Here, moreover, is clearly revealed the benevolent design of divine chastisements; and here we are taught the practicability of transforming present pain to future pleasure, and momentary grief to immortal joy.
At once consoled and quickened by ad. verting to these promises, examples, and counsels, not only the glorious company of mar.
tyrs, but innumerable others, in station's too obscure to be known to fame, have “rejoiced in tribulation,” and “reckoned the sufferings of this present time not worthy to be compared with the glory to be revealed in them.” Contrasted to these benefits, how forlorn is the state of those, who, ignorant of the book of God, have no resource in adversity ! With out one cheering word to direct their dubious steps, and enliven their dreary prospects, they fall a hopeless prey to sullen despondency, or passionate repinings!
III. May this contrast prepare our minds to attend, thirdly, to the obligation of search ing the scriptures. . . The light of nature“ points out an here. after, and intimates eternity to man.” It has been the prevailing opinion in every period and region of the earth, not only that the soul is to exist beyond the grave, but is there to be rewarded or punished, “ according to the deeds done in the body.” This opinion be. ing once conceded, it follows by fair deduc. tion, that no temporal interest can be of equal moment with the welfare of our immortal part. It therefore becomes a question of the first concern to all, “ what they shall do to.be saved ?". r oman i a
Now the bible professes to solve this in: quiry, and to “ teach the way of God in truth." In every age of the church, not a few, who were second to none in talent, learn. ing, and virtue, have studied and received it with a reverence, to which nothing short of a special revelation from heaven is entitled. Some respect is undeniably due to their de. cision and example ; but still more to the inherent importance of the subject. This alone entitles it to a serious, deliberate, and unbiassed examination. I say then, • 1. That though we even doubted the veracity of the scriptures, the same prudence, which is commonly practised, and always approved in other cases, would require us thoroughly to investigate their contents, and ascer tain the grounds of their claim to our assent and obedience.
In other cases, when any thing is proposed and recommended, as tending to meliorate our condition, though it be the result of mere conjecture, and afford but a slender prospect of the desired effect, we bring it to the test of reason; and if the principle appear well found. ed, we scruple not to make experiment of its operation. And is religion only of such tri. Ming consequence, as to be unworthy our atten.