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I. My first province is to shew in what respects the holy scripture is the book of the Lord. 1. The Lord is the subject-matter of that book, as the book of the wars of the Lord. It is the commendation of a book, that it treats of a noble subject; and this book treats of God, the great scope of it being to shew what God is, and what his will is. Hence we are commanded to “hold fast the form of sound words,’ 2 Tim. i. 13. If we would know God, and our duty to him, we must turn to this book and learn it. 2. The Lord is the author of it, 2 Tim. iii. 16. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.” And who was fit to make a book on that noble subject but himself? John i. 18. forecited. It is the product of his own unerring Spirit, and so his own book in a most proper sense. It is for this reason that it is called “the book of the Lord.” It is true, several hands were employed in the writing of it; but yet all and every part of it was from the Lord. (1.) The motion to write was from the Lord, by a particular impulse on the spirits of the holy penmen, which influenced them to the work, and carried them on it, 2 Pet. i. 21. ‘Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” Sometimes they had particular express calls, but they had always this motion powerfully determining and inclining them to the work. (2.) The matter of their writing was from him. He laid it to their hands, 2 Tim. iii. 16. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.” Some things were matters of pure revelation, that could not be known otherwise; such as things past, whereof there was no manner of record, things to come, things without the reach of mens knowledge, as the thoughts of others. These things they had by immediate suggestion. Some things they might have by other records, their own judgment, or memory. In these the Spirit of the Lord infallibly guided them what to chuse and refuse, strengthened their judgment and memories, so that they could not mistake, John xvi. 13. “The Spirit of truth— will guide you into all truth.” (3.) The very words they wrote were from him. The apostles spoke the very words of the Holy Ghost, and far more wrote so, 1 Cor. ii. 13. And therefore God is said to
speak by and in the holy penmen, 2 Sam. xxiii. 2. Luke i. 70. Acts i. 16. He did not give them the matter to put in their own words, but put the words in their hearts too, but in a manner suited to their native style. And truly it is hard to conceive how the inspiration of the holy scriptures could reach the end without it, seeing so much depends on the suitable expressing of matter. II. I proceed to shew, that the holy scripture is the book of the Lord. This is evident from many things, of which I shall only observe a few. 1. This book discovers what no mortal could ever have done, and nowise could be had but by divine revelation, as the history of the creation, what was done before man was on the earth, the sublime mysteries of the Trinity, of the incarnation of the Son of God, and the eternal counsels of God concerning man's salvation. 2. The perfect holiness of the doctrine. It commands all holiness, forbids all impurity in heart and life, under the pain of damnation: which shews it could neither be the work of men, being so far above their reach, and cross to their corrupt nature; nor of evil angels, being so opposite to Satan's kingdom; nor of good ones, who could never have put a cheat on the world, making their own words pass for God's. 3. The efficacy of the doctrine in its searching and convincing the conscience, Heb. iv. 12.; converting souls from their most beloved lusts, even when nothing can be expected from the world for such a change, Psal, xix. 7.5 rejoicing the heart under the deepest distresses, ver. 8. This is not from any virtue in the letters or syllables, but from the Spirit, whose instrument it is. 4. The miracles wherewith it has been confirmed. These were wrought to confirm the doctrine, Mat. ix. 6. These are God's seal, which he will never put to a lie. 5. Lastly, There is an inward sensation of this in the spirits of those that have their senses exercised. For it is not to be doubted, but as the works of God bear the marks of a divine hand, so his word also does. And while there are such manifest differences betwixt one voice and another of men, how can it be thought, but the voice of God has a peculiar signature on it? If that be not discerned by others, it is by his own people that know his voice. I shall now make a short improvement of this point.
Use I. For information. It informs us, that, 1. The scripture is the best of books. They who heard Christ, said, “Never man spake like this man;’ and they that see the true glory of the scriptures must own, never did any write like these writings. There we have the true picture of the great Author, in spotless holiness; there the revelation of his mind with respect to our salvation. Whatever other books there be in the world relating to our salvation; they are but dim tapers lighted at this burning lamp. 2. They are enemies to God that are enemies to the scriptures, whether in their principles, as Papists and others, or in their practices. For if men loved God, they would love his word, Psal. cxix. 97. And men, by their relish of the word, may know what case their souls are in. For according as they relish the scriptures, so is it with their souls. If they have lost the gust of them, it is evident that either they have no grace, or that it is not in exercise. 3. Wo to those whom the Bible condemns; and these are all wicked men and hypocrites, whatever their stations or professions be. But happy they whom it approves and justifies; and these are all the sincere seekers of God. Seek to be of the number of the latter, and then none of the woes denounced in God's word shall fall upon you. Use II. Of exhortation. 1. Let us highly prize this book for the sake of the Author. The Ephesians thought that they had good ground to be zealous for the image of Diana, because they fancied it fell down from Jupiter, Acts xix. 35. Your Bible is a book really come from God; let us be ashamed we do not prize it more, by using it diligently to the ends for which it was given the church. 2. Let us believe it in all the parts thereof; the commands, that we may study to conform ourselves to them; the promises, that we may thereby be encouraged to a holy life; and the threatenings, that we may be thereby deterred from sin. Alas! though we own it to be the word of God, that we are no more moved with it than if it were the word of man, and such a man as we give little credit to. For compare the lives of the most part with it they say, it is but idle tales. 3. Let us submit our souls to it, as to the oracles of the living God. He is the great Lawgiver, and in that book
he speaks; let us own his authority in his word, and submit to it as the rule of our faith and life, without disputing or opposing. 4. Lastly, Let us study to be well acquainted with it, and make it our business to search the scriptures. This brings me to the main thing I intend. Doct. II. “The scripture is a book to be read, carefully and diligently searched, consulted, and sought into,” If ye ask, by whom this is to be done? it is by all into whose hands, by the mercy of God, it comes. Some never had it, and so they will not be condemned for slighting of it, Rom. ii. 12. Magistrates are called to look to it, and be much conversant in it, Josh. i. 8. “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayst observe to do according to all that is written therein.” Deut. xvii. 18, 19. “And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book, out of that which is before the priests the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life; that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law, and these statutes, to do them.” Ministers are in a special manner called to the study of it, 1 Tim. iv. 13. ‘Give attendance to reading.’ 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17. * All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” But not they only are so commanded, but all others within the church, John v. 39. “Search the scriptures.” Deut, vi. 6, 7. “These words which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.’ In discoursing further from this point, I shall, I. Explain this seeking into the book of the Lord. II. Give the reasons of the doctrine. III. Make application. I. I am to explain this seeking into the book of the Lord. And here I will shew, 1. What is presupposed in this seeking. 2. What is the import of a studious inquiry into the scriptures.
FIRST, I am to shew what is presupposed in this seeking into the book of the Lord. It presupposes, 1. That man has lost his way, and needs direction to find it, Psal. cxix. 176. “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant.” Miserable man is bemisted in a vain world, which is a dark place, and has as much need of the scriptures to direct him, as one has of a light in darkness,” 2 Pet. i. 19. What a miserable case is that part of the world in that want the Bible : They are vain in their imaginations, and grope in the dark, but cannot find the way of salvation. In no better case are those to whom it has not come in power. 2. That man is in hazard of being led farther and farther wrong. This made the spouse say, ‘Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?” There is a subtle devil, a wicked world, corrupt lusts within one's own breast, to lead him out of the right way, that we had need to give over, and take this guide. There are many false lights in the world, which, if followed, will lead the traveller into a mire, and leave him there. 3. That men are slow of heart to understand the mind of God in his word. It will cost searching diligently ere we can take it up, John v. 39. Our eyes are dim to the things of God, our apprehensions dull, and our judgment is weak. And therefore, because the iron is blunt, we must put too the more strength. We lost the sharpness of our sight in spiritual things in Adam ; and our corrupt wills and carnal af. fections, that favour not the things of God, do more blind our judgments: and therefore it is a labour to us to find out what is necessary for our salvation. 4. That the book of the Lord has its difficulties, which are not to be easily solved. Therefore the Psalmist prays, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may see wondrous things out of thy law, Psal. cxix. 18. Philip asked the eunuch, “Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me?” There are depths there wherein an elephant may swim, and will exercise the largest capacities, with all the advantages they may be possessed of God in his holy providence has so ordered it, to stain the pride of all glory; to make his word the liker