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The happy influence of practical holiness on attaining religious knowledge, is in perfect harmony and consistency with the high hope which God has given us of Divine teaching. Holiness is itself one gracious and principal effect of heavenly instruction; hence David prays,
Teach me to do thy will, for thou art my God: thy Spirit is good ; lead me into the land of uprightness, Psalm cxlii. 10. And hence St. Paul describes Christians as taught of God to love one another. !". In Bishop Taylor's valuable sermon, preached to the University of Dublin, showing by what means scholars may become most learned and useful, 1 he observés, 4: In this inquiry I must take one thing for a a præcog. nitum, that every good man is Beodidaktos, he is taught of God; and indeed unless he teach us, we shall make but ill scholars ourselves, and worse guides to others. Nemo potest Deum scire, nisi a Deo doceatur; no one can know God unless he be taught of God, said Irenæus.?
We allow and press, as has been seen, the importance of human studies. In the forcible words of Melancthon, the scripture cannot be understood theologically unless it be first understood grammatically.' But things subordinate are not opposed to that to which they are subordinate.
1 See his Works, vol. vi. 367.
Human sciences are to be learned from human authors, and by human instruction or research. Astronomy, navigation, geography, anatomy, and the like, except in peculiar circumstances (Exod. xxxi. 3.), are to be acquired with that general assistance and blessing of God which is common to all ; but there is a peculiarity about the study of divinity, answering to its unspeakable magnitude and importance ; we need, in addition to all human instruction, divine teaching. Divinity is taught by God himself, both as it regards its principles in his word, and their right reception in the understanding, and their full influence on the heart.1 It is the more needful to dwell on this subject, as there is nothing that we are naturally more prone to overlook; and yet the whole of a happy result of faithful and diligent study depends entirely on our attaining this aid, and being a partaker of this blessing. No directions can at all ultimately and savingly profit us, but as the Divine Spirit gives them life and efficacy.
The testimony of Scripture is delightfully distinct and decisive on this point. Let any candid mind consider such passages as occur so repeatedly in the 119th Psalm ; for instance, verses 12, 18, 27, 33, 66, 73, 124, 125, 135, 144; or Psalm xxv, 4, 5, 8, 9; or the promise of the Holy Spirit (Luke xi. 13.); or of wisdom from above (James i. 5, 17, 18.) : let him bear in mind that the petitions for divine teaching are offered up by persons in possession of the inspired word ; and the promises made to men of certain dispositions (Psalm xxv. 9.); and we see not how it is possible to avoid the conclusion that the scriptures do very decidedly and explicitly lead us to the full hope that, in addition to the inspired word, and to give us a dne understanding of it, God is ready to bestow, on those that ask, divine teaching; a teaching without which we cannot truly know and receive sacred truth ; but by the aid of which we shall be taught his statutes so as to become wise unto salvation.
1 The Author has at some length stated his views on this subject, in chap. iii. of the Scripture Help, as it regards the study of the scriptures; and in chap. v. of the Christian Hearer, as regards the hearing of the word. But the supreme importance of this part of divine truth justifies its distinct consideration as it regards the study of religious Books in general.
May we ever have that humility of mind which led John the Baptist to say, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven, John iii. 27. Thence come all our light and all our honour, all our usefulness and all our happiness.
This divine teaching is peculiarly promised under the gospel dispensation ; all thy children shall be taught of the Lord, Isa. liv. 13. It is the superior excellence of the new beyond the old covenant, that God has promised that all truly interested in it, from the least to the greatest, shall have divine illumination. They shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. It is true that spiritual blessings come by hearing, but only as 'God in his sovereign love gives the increase. It is true that there are different degrees of knowledge, and that due means must be used to increase our knowledge (1 John ii. 21.); yet it is perfectly clear that Christians in general have a teaching beyond and superior to man's teaching ; seeing St. John says to all, Ye need not that any man teach you ; but, as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him, 1 John îi. 27.
Nothing can be more important than such promises. Amidst the countless variety of opinions, formed even by those who study the sacred records, amidst the multitude of religious controversies of every kind, amidst the bustle and distractions of the various occupations of life, pressing on our immediate attention for our necessary maintenance, or for our continued wel. fare, o how great the necessity of an infallible Teacher !
Yes; urge the Romanists: and such a teacher we present you in our church; a human, yet an abiding and an infallible guide. Alas! all pretences to a human guide of this character are disproved, not only as God has never promised such a teacher, but as those by whom the claim has been advanced, whether they be popes or councils, have maintained and promulgated perfectly opposite opinions.
Even teachers rendered infallible under a divine inspiration, and generally allowed to be such, could not wholly prevent different opinions respecting important truths.
We see this in the Apostolic age. The apostles were living, they were the authors of the Christian books, they were divinely inspired, yet even in their day there was a Diotrephes, there were evil men and seducers, there were many false teachers. There was no want of light and evidence as to truth, but the want of a sanctified heart to receive it; so that even apostolic authority could not prevent heresy.
The actual state of man sufficiently accounts for this. Man is a fallen creature, with many sinful dispositions, full of pride and vanity, seeking distinction
and self-elevation. Christianity meets and opposes every sin. While men's deeds are evil, they will try in every way to change a standard which thwarts every corruption; or to make that very standard a means of earthly and individual glory. These things neces, sarily produce great differences, and show the need and importance of a teaching beyond man's, which shall change the inner man, renew the heart, and dispose our minds to attend to, and duly receive and comprehend, spiritual and eternal things.
The distinction of the whole human race into two classes, the righteous and the wicked, illustrates this subject. Dr. Buchanan, preaching at Cambridge, and speaking of the present as an æra of light, which he proves by the efforts now making to spread the gospel, says, • It is of vast consequence to the purity and per: petuity of our church, that those students who are preparing to enter it, should have just views on this subject. There is one fact which ought frequently to be illustrated to them, as being the foundation on which they are to form a judgment on this and other parts of the divine dispensation. It is the following,
• It is an undoubted truth, constantly asserted by scripture, and demonstrated by experience, that there have ever been two descriptions of persons
in the Church. They are denominated by our Saviour, the children of light and the children of this world ; and again, the children of the wicked and the children of the kingdom, Matt. xiii. 38. These different terms originate entirely from our receiving that illumination which God, who cannot lie, has promised to give them that ask him. For if a man supplicate the Father of Lights for his good and perfect gift, with a humble and believing spirit, he will soon be sensible