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needed explanation. The great truths, with regard to the redemption of the world the interceffion of Chrift—his atonement for fin-the conditions of acceptance—the universality of the christian religion—the motives it holds outthe purity it hath introduced into morals-the certainty of a future state and of a last judgment-were all, no doubt, strongly impressed on the minds of the apostles, and properly opened by immediate inspiration. In any of these great truths, 'mistakes were dangerous-memory was frail
-and there were yet no written records. At the same time such notices as were already on the records of inspirationthose divine truths contained in the books of the Old Testament-wanted no farther illustra. tion from the Holy Ghost. Here nothing more. seems to have been necessary, than the use of reason and common sense. And thus the apostle distinguishes between the things, which God had revealed by the Spirit ; and the act of comparing spiritual things with spiritual. The one he calls declaring the testimony of God: the other was plainly the exertion only of reason. Nothing more than the exertion of reason was necessary to prove the connection between the Old Testa
ment and the New-or to point out the com. pletion of prophecies
or to shew, how the types of the law were fulfilled. Of this mode of reasoning we find abundant instances among the sacred writers in the epistle to the Hebrews especially
Thus then inspiration seems to have been necessary to direct the apostles in what was hitherto unknown : but human reason feemed fufficient to enable them to apply what had been already inspired
II, Let us then now see, how this rule, which guided the apostles, appears applicable to us—or in what way we are to speak what the Holy Ghost teacþeth, comparing spiritual things with Spiritual.
In the first place, I think, it plainly appears, we have no reason to expect immediate direction from what the Holy Ghoft teacheth. To wait for defultory ¡llapses of the spirit to lead us into truth, seems to have little countenance from scripture ; unless indeed we apply to ourselves such passages, as by the fairest rules of interpret. ation can apply only to the apostles. And surely the greatest caution is necessary in settling a
point, which, if it be an error, tends to confirm all other errors. When a man reasons himself into a mistake, he may reason himself out of it again. But when a man discards reason, and fubftitutes in its room a divine instructor, every enthusiastic notion becomes then immediately stamped with the character of divine truth. The strange effects of such wildness we have often seen.
As far, indeed, as a holy life is concerned, we are assured every where in fcripture, that unless the endeavours of man are assisted by the Holy Spirit of God, which dwells within him, and to whose divine admonitions he ought ever to liften, he can do nothing. Here the divine aid is peeesfary. Man, as a moral agent, with all the mis. chiefs of the fall about him, stands certainly in need of support.
But the investigation of truth is a different affair. It was not so much his understanding, that was disturbed ; as his will and affections.Wretched man! he knew what was right; but could not practise it. To rectify his knowledge, euough had been done : inspired truth was on record; and he had a rule given him to under. stand it. Farther aid would have rendered that
rule unnecessary; and the expectation of any such aid, enthusiastic.
It is true, indeed, the pious Christian will read his Bible with the best effect : and in this sense, no doubt, the Holy Spirit may be said to allist him in understanding the truth of scripture : for he who does the will of God, will know of the doctrine, whether it be of God. But this is still only the application of scripture to the rectifying of his affections. To understand it as a System of truth, the rule given us to compare spiritual things with spiritual, seems abundantly sufficient. The New Testament is to us precisely in the state, in which the Old Testament was to the apostles. It is inspiration recorded. If farther inspiration be necessary, a written record is more than is neceffary.--It seems therefore fully sufficient for the understanding of scripture, to take it into our hands; and, in the spirit of sincerity, and piety, to compare one part with another ; or with a general view of the whole. This seems, in the apostle's idea, the only key to the scriptures. But now,
it must be confessed, that a variety of causes have introduced difficulties into these saered records; and, of course, into the mode of investigation. Ancient customs not well understood-ancient modes of speaking, not conformable to our own-ancient errors, generated in times of ignorance-modern prejudices, and opinions, grafted on texts of fcripture misapplied—have united with other causes in disfiguring the plain, and simple truths of the gospel. Why God suffered this blot, as some may
call it, in the sacred record of truth, we know not. Yet humbly tracing the reason of it in the analogy of his other works, we may refer it to the general law of a state of trial. Every thing here bears the marks of the fall. In our moral pursuits we are exercised with various difficulties : why not in the pursuit of religious truth? In both we may be affisted, if we apply the proper means. In one, the spirit of God will direct our endeavours : in the other, the great fcriptural rule of comparing Spiritual things with spiritual.
The honest application of this rule, without doubt, would remove at least all the material difficulties of scripture. But instead of folving them in this way, we too often endeavour to adjust them by the words of man's wisdom. Hence arise all the disputes, that have divided the church.