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spiritual man; and therefore by the natural man is understood every unregenerate man, even that has these truths revealed to him; for, says the apostle, “they are foolishness unto him.” Now, how can he judge them foolishness if they be not revealed? 2. Reason is not infallible, and therefore cannot be admitted judge in matters concerning our souls. Reason may be deceived. Rom. iii. 4. and is not this to shake the foundations of religion, and to pave a way to scepticism and atheism : Facept. That is not to be feared where sound reason is admitted judge. But what talk they of sound reason? The adversaries themselves will yield, that reason is unsound in the most part of men. We say, that it is not fully sound in the world; for even the best know but in part; darkness remains in some measure on the minds of all men. 3. Reason must be subject to the scripture, and submit itself to be judged by God speaking there, 2 Cor. x. 4, 5. “The weapons of our warfare are—mighty—to the pulling down of strong holds, casting down imaginations,—and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Matters of faith are above the sphere of reason; and therefore as sense is not admitted judge in those things that are above it, so neither reason in those things that are above it, 1 Tim. iii. 16. - 4. If reason were the supreme judge of controversies, then our faith should be built on ourselves, and the great reason why we believe any principle of religion would be, because it appears so and so to us; which is most absurd. The scripture teaches otherwise, 1 Thess. ii. 13. * Ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the word of God.” Most plainly does our Lord teach this, John v. 34, ‘ I receive not testimony from men; chap. v. 39. “Search the scriptures.’ Fourthly, The orthodox assert the supreme judge of controversies in religion to be the Holy Spirit speaking in the scriptures. This is proved by the following arguments. 1. In the Old and New Testament, the Lord still sends us to this judge. So that we may neither turn to the right hand nor left from what he there speaks, Deut. v. 32. & xvii. 11. ‘According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee;’ Is. viii. 20. “To the law and to the testimony,’ &c.; Luke xvi. 29. “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them; John v. 39. “Search the scriptures.” Some hereto refer that passage, Matth. xix. 28. ‘Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of lsrael.” In this sense it must be meant of the doctrine they taught, as dictated to them by the Holy Ghost. 2. It was the practice of Christ and his apostles to appeal to the Spirit speaking in the scriptures, Matth. iv. where Christ still answers Satan with that, “It is written.” And so while discoursing with the Sadducees about the resurrection, Matth. xxii. 31, 32. So also in John, chap. v. and x. and Luke xxiv. 44. And so did others, Acts xvii. 1 1. and xxvi. 22, 23. 2 Pet. i. 19. Acts xv. 15, 16. A careful examination of which passages I recommend to you for your establishment in the truth. 3. To the Spirit of God speaking in the scriptures, and to him only, agree those things that are requisite to constitute one the supreme Judge. (1.) We may certainly know that the sentence which he pronounces is true, for he is infallible, being God. (2.) We cannot appeal from him, for he is one above whom there is none. (3.) He is no respecter of persons, nor can be biassed in favour of one in preference to another. Having discussed the doctrinal part of this subject, I shall now conclude with two or three inferences. Inf 1. People then should diligently read and study the holy scriptures, in order to their knowing what to believe and what to do. As the scripture is the only rule and test of faith and obedience, let us accomplish a diligent search into it, that we may understand all matters to be believed and practised in order to our salvation, and reject every dictate and every precept, come from what quarter it will, if it be not taught us in the sacred records. We are not to believe any thing to be an article of faith, or a duty that we are to perform, unless it has the sanction of the Spirit of God in the written word, and be enjoined us by that infallible Judge. Let it then be our daily care and principal study to acquaint ourselves with the word of God, and draw from that infallible treasury all our knowledge as to faith and practice.
2. How dangerous must it be to maintain opinions and practices which are evinced to be contrary to the word of God? How hazardous must be the state of those who hold doctrines contrary to and eversive of the foundations of Christianity ? Many such doctrines are taught and propagated in our day; such as the tenets of Socinians and Arians, who degrade the Son of God to the rank of a mere creature, and deny his supreme Godhead and essential glory, and impugn his satisfaction; the Arminians, who overturn the doctrine of original sin, assert free will, and stickle for the resistibility of grace, and other things eversive of the doctrine of the Bible; and others who set up creeds, confessions, and covenants of human manufacture, in the place of the infallible oracles of truth.
3. How worthy of reproof are they who make no conscience of reading the scriptures? They seldom look into them, or at most only on a sabbath-day, without giving attention to what they read; and so are grossly ignorant of the first principles of religion.
4. Religion, if it be of the right sort, will be practical religion. A blind obedience, or ignorant obedience, to some of the duties of religion is no better than bodily exercise, which profiteth little. All right obedience flows from a principle of faith in the heart. True faith will always be productive of, and accompanied with good works. And it is in vain for men to say they have religion, unless they abound in all the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ unto the praise and glory of God. Let us then shew our faith by our works, in having a respect unto all the commands of God, and doing whatsoever he has injoined us in his word.
THE SCRIPTURES THE BOOK OF THE LORD, AND THE DILIGENT STUDY AND SEARCH THEREOF RECOMMENDED AND URGED.
Is AIAH xxxiv. 16.—Seek ye out of the book of the Iord, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: jor my mouth it hath commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them.
AVING considered the divine authority of the holy scriptures, and their scope, I come now to recommend unto you the diligent study and search of these sacred oracles, from the text now read. In the former part of this chapter, there are most terrible threatenings denounced against the enemies of God and his church, which receive not their full accomplishment till the last day, as appears from ver. 4, 10. In the text there is the confirmation of the whole. And therein we have, 1. An intimation that all shall be accomplished according to the word. Wherein two things are to be observed. (1.) The study of the word required. Where we may notice, (1.) The honourable epithet given to it, The book of the Lord. Thus the holy scripture is called, as being of divine original and authority, God himself being the author of it. It is true, that in Isaiah's days, even the canon of of the Old Testament was not completed, some of the historical books, and of the prophetical too, not being then written. But the body of the doctrine of the word was comprised in the law, or five books of Moses; and what was afterwards written, was but a building on that foundation, by enlargement, explication, and application. And this prophecy looking as far as the end of the world, the Spirit of God might here have an eye to the complete canon of the Old and New Testament. [2.] The study of it recommended, Seek out of it. The word signifies to inquire, search, seek out; and imports diligence and earnestness in consulting a thing to learn from it. And so it is emphatically pointed, to denote a vehemency and intenseness of spirit in the study. It does in a great measure answer that word, Acts xvii. 11—Searched the scriptures. We are not only to seek from it, but out of it, or, as the Hebrew signifies, from in it, or, as in the Greek, to it, and seek jrom it.  The way to study, read it. Do not satisfy yourselves to hear it, but read it with your own eyes. For the eye makes ordinarily deeper impression than the ear. (2.) The accomplishment in the most minute circumstance. [1..] Whereas the Lord had named a great many horrible creatures that should possess the dwellings of his enemies, none of them shall fail, they small all be there. [2.] Whereas he had said they should have their mates, that so their kinds might be continued there, none of them shall want their mate for that purpose. 2. The confirmation or reason of this accomplishment
according to the word. And it hath two parts, namely, that he has spoke the one, and will effectuate the other. (1.) Himself has spoke the word: My mouth it hath commanded. His truth is engaged for its accomplishment. He has commanded, not these creatures, but the word or book, as Psal. cv. 8.-The word he commanded : and God is said to command his word, for that he gives it as a lawgiver, of supreme authority. And so this answers to the first part of the intimation. (2.) He will effectuate the thing in accomplishment of the word: His Spirit will gather these creatures. So his power is engaged to make it forthcoming. There seems to be here a remarkable change of the persons. But I am mistaken if the mouth of the Lord be not one of the names of Christ in the scripture : Thus, Isa. lxii. 2.- Thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name.” Jer. xxiii. 16. “They speak—not out of the mouth of the Lord.” Compare John i. 18. “No man hath seen God at any time: the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.’ Heb. i. 1, 2. ‘God who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.” And so the words run very plainly and exactly according to the original, For my mouth he hath commanded, and his Spirit it hath gathered them. Two doctrines naturally arise from the words, viz. . DocT.I. “The holy scripture is the book of the Lord.” Doct. II. “The scripture is a book to be read, carefully, and diligently searched, consulted, and sought into.” As it is the last of these doctrines I mainly intend to discourse from, I shall be very brief in the illustration of the first : and though some things to be spoken upon it interfere with what has been already delivered, I hope it will tend to your establishment in the truth, and the more endear the holy scripture to you. Doct. I. “The holy scripture is the book of the Lord.” All I intend upon this head is to shew, I. In what respects the holy scripture is the book of the Lord. II. That it is so. III. Make a short improvement. Wol. I. H