« PreviousContinue »
convinced that the doctrines there are of importance, but he will own, that even those truths which require but few perusals to be understood, require many to be duly impressed; “our preposterously partial memories being but too rarely like quicksilver, in which nothing will sink but gold.” “ The word of God," he will say, “must not be as a passenger, or sparingly entertained in our minds, but must dwell there, and that richly; for that word which James pronounces to be “ able to save our souls,” he describes as a graff, which must not only be closely embraced by that wherein it is to fructify, but must continue there, to bring the stock and the graff, if I may so speak, to concorporate."*
Such a man, it is true, hears some persons complain of the obscurity of Scripture ; but all that obscurity of which they complain, to him has often appeared merely like a mist, which seems thicker at a distance than when you enter it. Many a time has he entered this prosperously, and found, to his joyful experience, that that which at a distance overawed him, was not intended to frustrate industry, but to check the presumptuous, or punish indolence. Nay, even as to profound obscurities, or the dazzling and sublime of Scripture, this daily reader says—" the apostle's motive to hospitality, · Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares,' will, without being overstretched, take in those texts of Scripture with which we are unacquainted. For in them we may easily, with Abraham and Lot, entertain greater guests than we are
aware of; and who, when their true condition appears, may recompense our entertainment of them, by showering down blessings upon us, and rescuing us from the
company and destiny of the wicked.” Great, alas! are the evils, and immense the loss, which have resulted from reading the Sacred Volume, during Family Worship, in a slovenly and irreverent manner, or even in the absence of such dispositions as have now been recommended ; and this must form my apology for dwelling on the subject so long : while, on the other hand, I feel the more disposed to enforce such reverent and grateful perusal of the Sacred Volume; and such disposedness to receive this word as the truth of God, which effectually worketh in all who believe; and such eager desire after discovering His mind there; from a deep persuasion that great and egregious ignorance still remains in the world, as to the precise meaning of the sacred text : because also, I am fully assured, that many a such devout daily reader might discover a ray of light, or a hidden beauty, which has hitherto escaped the searching eye of the deepest divine. No hurry of business, nor any lawful occupation of this transitory and uncertain life, can form any apology for one short historical or prophetical passage not being read in the morning, and one devotional or epistolary passage in the evening of the day.* And no business of life whatever need prevent such discovery as ought ever to be the object of every reader : nor when the humblest Christian comes daily with a degree of this thirst after truth, will any occupation be permitted to prevent him.
* I have said short, because this it may require to be with some Families during six days of the week. Besides, this will lead to reverent and deliberate reading, without which it cannot be expected that musing or meditation should ever take place afterwards. On Sabbath, however, there is no need for such limitation, The day is the Lord's; and in Judea of old, on that day the morning and evening sacrifice was, by divine appointment, doubled,
Certainly, it was not a man who had nothing else to do; nor was it a man sitting down deliberately, in a professional way, who once said, “O how love I thy law ! it is my meditation all the day," or every day. “ I have more understanding than all my teachers, for thy testimonies are my meditation: I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts."
* 66 When I first began attentively to read the Scriptures, and, according to my custom when I read books, whereof I have a promising expectation, to mark in the margin the passages that seemed to deserve a peculiar notice or reflection, I marked but here and there some verses in a chapter ; but when upon a greater familiarity with the idiotisms, or peculiarity of expression, the sense and the applicableness of Scripture, I came to survey it, I then, in some places, marked the whole chapter, and, in most others, left much fewer texts than before, unfurnished with some mark of reference. And whereas, at my entrance, I took even the choicest part of the Bible to be at best but like some Indian province, wherein, though mines and gems were more abundant than in other countries, yet were they but sparingly to be met with here and there. After a competent stay, my ensuing perusals presented it me, if not as a royal jewel made up of gold and precious stones, yet (which is more glorious) like Aaron's breast-plate-a sacred jewel—the particular instructions for which were given by God himself, and which, besides the various flaming gems, set in fine gold, and placed in a mysterious order, was ennobled by that Urim and Thummim, wherein God vouchsafed to reveal himself to mortals; and which was adorned with so much cunning work in gold, with blue, purple, scarlet, and fine-twined linen, that the contri. vance and workmanship lent a lustre to the glittering materials, without being obscured by them. This experiment keeps me from wondering to find in the inspired Poet's description of the man, to whom he attributes a blessedness, that his (chaphatz) delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night.' For the word other translations render voluntas and studium, ours has rendered delight. Indeed, the Hebrew will bear both senses, and seems there emphatically to signify, a study replenished with so much delight to the devout and intelligent prosecutors of it, that, like the hallelujahs of the blessed, it is at once a duty and a pleasure, an exercise and a recompense of piety. And, indeed, if God's blessing upon the devout Christian's study of that book do 6 open his eyes to discern the hidden wonders' contained in it, he should, and he will, in imitation of the Psalmist in the same Psalm, say of his God, 'I rejoice at thy word as one that findeth great spoil,' and am as satisfied as navigators that discover unknown countries. And I must confess, that, when sometimes, with the apostles in the mount, I contemplate Moses and Elias talking with Christ, I mean the Law and the Prophets symphonizing with the Gospel, I cannot but, resemblingly transported with a like motive, exclaim with Peter, It is good for me to be here; and I cease to think the Psalmist a hyperbolist, for comparing the transcendent sweetness of God's word to that inferior one of honey ; which is like it in nothing more than in that, of both their suavities, experience gives much more advantageous notions than descriptions can,”-Boyle.
Oh! were the Sacred Scriptures only thus daily read in Christian Families, the effects could not, in the nature of things, remain long hid; nor could these be long confined only to a blessing on the humble habitation of the righteous. Then would the low estimate, which, alas ! many entertain of the written word, be tenable no more: then, too, would the great value of this instrument-this means to an end ; for, after all that has been said, the Scriptures are only an instrument, and only a means to an end: but then would their true value and divine intent become both striking and most delightful: then would the Church begin to erect her head, and stand up, and shake herself from the dust of ages and generations: then would her members, not merely know how to behave themselves in the house of God, but then would the Church manifestly appear to be “ the Church of the living God;” nay, the very " pillar, and ground, or stay of the truth.”
Let not, then, any Christian Parent, however humble his lot, or even scanty his fare, be diverted from endeavouring to drink deeply of such dispositions towards this thrice-blessed Book. His own progress in discovering the mind of God, though it should be slow at first, will cheer him on his way;
and a disa covery, however small, will occasionally fill him with an admiration and joy akin to those which once animated our beloved brother Paul, when the very Spirit, by which he was writing at the moment, induced him to exclaim—“O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God ! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord ? or who hath been his counsellor? or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed to him again ?"*
“ In this passage,” says Dr Jebb, in his most interesting and valuable work, entitled, Sacred Literature, “ the continuity of the parallelism is maintained unbroken, and the style, both of thought and expression, is remarkable alike for elegance, animation, and profundity.” His translation is as follows: O the depth of the riches, and the wisdom, and the knowledge of God
How inscrutable are his judgments,
And it shall be given to him again?
O the depth of the riches, and the wisdom, and the knowledge of God!
The notion of depth, as a quality attributed alike to God's riches -and wisdom--and knowledge, is first expanded in the next couplet :
How inscrutable are his judgments,