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seek to know from them what God has revealed of him. self: for it is of great consequence to have a right knowledge of God. Then let him seek to know what God says of sinful men,and diligentlyinquire,on his knees, how he can be reconciled to God, how his person and his services may be rendered acceptable him; how his heart may be renewed, and his coinmunion with God restored; how his name may be known to be written in heaven; and how he may be kept from falling, and presented at last before the throne of God with exceeding joy.
All these great things are to be learned from the Scriptures, and from no other book in the world. Without the Bible all is dark, all is erroneous and deceitful. Nothing else can satisfy the sincere inquirer after truth: but here we may find a satisfaction that no tongue can describe. Here we may obtain a full assurance of understanding, that these very important things are true; a full assurance of faith, that we are interested in them; and a full assurance of hope, that will make us not ashamed, because it will be instrumental in shedding abroad in our hearts the love of God, as an earnest or certain pledge of our future inheritance. This will be as the first-fruits of that harvest of eternal glory which those who love the Scriptures, and by them are made wise to salvation, through the faith of Christ Jesus, will one day read.
ON THE PROPHETICAL PARTS OF SCRIPTURE.
The prophetical part of Scripture is very valuable. St. Peter declares the word of Prophecy to be more
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sure than an audible voice from heaven; for a voice may deceive, but the vision of prophecy is true and no lie. Known to God are all his works, from the beginning of the creation; for God calleth the end from the beginning. He worketh all things after the counsel of his own will; this counsel being always present to the Divine mind, it was easy for him, by his Holy Spirit, to inspire men to record whatever part of it he thought proper to lay before his people.
There was only one grand object that the mind of God was set upon; which was the exhibition of Redemption by his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. This was the plan formed by the blessed Trinity, and perfected in the counsel of Heaven. The Holy Sciptures take up this scheme; and the whole design in them, as Jesus says, is to testify of Christ.
The Holy Spirit is very brief on the creation, and on the interval between that and the fall of man. The Divine Author hurries on, as it were, to bring on a declaration of God's design to save man. Accordingly, on the very evening of the first day of sin, the criminals were judged, and the prophetic epitome of the gloricus gospel was laid before the human sinners. In this prophecy the infinite mind and unbounded grace of God step over four thousand years, and present the Son of God and the son of perdition conflicting for the souls of men; the head of the serpent was at that time to be bruised by the almighty heel of the Messiah, the promised seed of the woman.
This prophecy was the parent seed, from which other prophecies sprung, successively discovering the great and gracious designs of God; which, in different
periods of time, were revealed to the prophets by the Holy Spirit; and begat faith, love, hope, and joy, in the hearts of God's people. By these means Abraham saw Christ's day, and was glad; and thus also the wor. thies, mentioned in Hebrews, chapter with, saw God's design afar off; were persuaded of the truth of them, and embraced them in love; and resolutely turned their eyes from this wilderness unto a better country.
The punctual accomplishment of Old Testament prophecies is an encouragement for us to expect the fulfilment of those respecting gospel times; and the preservation of the Jews, as a distinct people, is a living evidence that God remembers what he has said concerning them, viz.-"That the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and turn away ungodliness from Jacob."
The prophecies like the other parts of the Scriptures have a vast fulness in them, and admit of several gradations, or steps, before they arrive to their final issue. Thus, the first coming of Christ was included in the prophecies of the deliverance of Israel from Babylon; and his second coming is included in those prophecies which respect the destruction of Jerusalem; for neither the prophecies of vengeance against his enemies, or redemption to his people, will be fully accomplished until all enemies are under his feet, and all his friends with him in glory.
Forbidding appearances in the affairs of this world should not weaken our faith in the prophecies. If we consider how God has worked in former times, we shall be convinced that there is no ground for unbelief on that account. The deliverances from Egypt and Babylon, and the state of things at Christ's coming, were exceedingly forbidding; yet the deliverance from Egypt was on the self same day that God foretold:—the same may be said of the release from Babylon;-and our Lord was sent forth as God's Son in the fulness of time. From hence we may justly infer, that when the time, set of God, shall draw near, every unpromising appearance in the affairs of the world shall be removed. The man of sin shall be consumed by the spirit of God's mouth, and destroyed by the brightness of his coming; the Jews shall be converted, and be gathered to their own land; and the kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdoms of our God and his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever.
We may hope, that the late assembling together of so many ministers of the gospel, in London, of different denominations, for the purpose of deliberating on sending missionaries to preach the gospel to the heathen, will be a leading circumstance towards the accomplishment of the latter-day prophecies, of the general spreading of the knowledge of Christ. There was never before such a respectable convention of the ministers of Christ among us; they were also of different denoninations; but laid aside their prejudices, and were harmonious in the work. The Holy Spirit seemed to be poured out on this assembly, and their committees, and the subscriptions entered into, for the support of this undertaking, is a happy presage that some great event is drawing near; which the present convulsions in Europe, however impious, hostile, and bloody the agents may be, shall help forward, rather than hinder.
Psalm xxiii. 4. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow
of death, I will fear no eyil, &c. That there cannot be two hills without a valley between, is a rule that admits of no exception. “To apprehend the scenery in this scripture, we must conceive the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant as two mountains, between which lieth the Valley of the Shadow of Death, necessary to be passed by those who would go from one to the other. Over all that region of dreariness and desolation, extendeth the empire of the King of Terrors: and the believer alone feareth no evil, in his passage through it; because he is conducted by that "great Shepherd of the sheep, the Lord Jesus Christ, whom God brought again from the dead;”—and who can therefore shew him the path of life, through this dark vale. In all our dangers and distresses, but chiefly in our last and greatest need, let thy rod, the sceptre of thy kingdom, O Lord, protect us; and thy pastoral staff guide and support our steps, till, through the dreaded valley, we pass to the heavenly mountain, and join the multitude of the redeemed, which St. John saw, standing with the Lamb thereon.
Death cannot make my soul afraid,
If Christ be with me there;
And all the prospect fair.