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3. It is the oracles of God, Rom. iii. 2. This was the chief of the Jewish privileges, without which their temple, altar, &c. would have been but dumb signs. The Pagan world did highly reverence and prize the devil's oracles: but we have God's oracles, while we have the scriptures that manifest to us the secrets of heaven. And if we discern aright who speaks in them, we must say, The voice of God, and not of man. Here is what you may consult safely in all your doubts and darknesses; here is what will lead you into all truth. 4. It is the laws of heaven, Psal. xix. 7. The Lord and King of heaven is our great Lawgiver, and the laws are written in this book. It concerns us to study it. Hence we must prove our title to heaven, the blessed inheritance, or we will never obtain it. From hence the sentence of our justification must be drawn, else we are still in a state of wrath. Here is the rule we must follow, that we may please God here; and from this book shall the sentence of our absolution or condemnation be drawn at the great day. 5. It is Christ's testament and latter-will, 1 Cor. xi. 25. Our Lord has died, and he has left us this Bible as his testament; and that makes his children have such an affection to it. Herein he has left them his legacy, not only moveables, but the eternal inheritance; and his last will is now confirmed, that shall stand for ever without alteration. So all the believer's hopes are in this Bible, and this is the security he has for all the privileges he can lay claim to. This is his charter for heaven, the disposition by which he lays claim to the kingdom. And therefore, if ye have any interest in the testament, ye must needs not be slighters of it. 6. It is the sceptre of his kingdom, Psal. cx. 2. and it is a sceptre of righteousness. It is by this word he rules his church, and guides all his children in their way to the land that is far off. Wherever he hath a kingdom, he wields it; and the nations subjecting themselves to him, receive it. And where he rules in one's heart, it has place there too, Col. iii. 16. It is a golden sceptre of peace, stretched forth to rebels to win them by offering them peace; to fainting believers, to give them peace. And whosoever will not subject themselves to it, shall be broken with his rod of iron. . 7. It is the channel of influences, by which the communications of grace are made, and the waters of the sanctuary Vol. I. K
flow into the soul, Isa. lix. ult. The apostle appeals for this to the experience of the Galatians, chap. iii. 2. ‘Received ye the Spirit by the law, or by the hearing of faith?’ Is the elect soul regenerated: the word is the incorruptible seed, whereof the new creature is formed, 1 Pet. i. 23. Is faith begotten in the heart? it is by the word, Rom. x. 17. ‘Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Is the new creature to be nourished, strengthened, quickened, actuated, &c.? Christ is the fountain, faith the mouth of the soul, the word the pipes of conveyance, whereat faith must suck, as the child at the nipples. 8, Lastly, It is the price of blood even the blood of Christ, 1 Cor. xi. 25. Had not the personal Word become flesh, and therein died to purchase redemption for us, we had never seen this written word among us. For it is the book of the covenant which is founded on the blood of the Mediator. It is the grant and conveyance of the right to the favour of God, and all saving benefits to believers; for which there could have been no place had not Christ died. And they that slight it, will be found to tread under foot the blood of the covenant. Mot. 7. Consider the usefulness of the word. If we consider the Author, we may be sure of the usefulness of the work. The apostle tells us, that it alone is sufficient to make the man of God perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works, 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17. There is no case a soul can be in, but it is suitable to their case, that desire to make use of it. To commend it to you from its usefulness, I will say these eight things. 1. It is a treasure to the poor, and such are we all by nature, Rev. iii. 17. 2 Cor. iv. 7. Therefore the Lord bids us search the scriptures, in allusion to those that search in mines for silver and gold. If the poor soul search here, receiving the word by faith, he is made up. He shall find there the discharge of his debt, a new right and title to the mortgaged inheritance. This word of the Lord is a treasure, (1.) For worth. People make not treasures of any but valuable things. There is nothing in the scriptures but what is highly valuable. There are the eternal counsels of God touching our salvation; life and immortality brought to light; there are the purest precepts, the most
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awful threatenings, and the most precious promises, 2 Pet. i. 4, &c. (2.) For variety. In the scriptures shines the manifold wisdom of God. They that nauseate this book of the Lord, because they find not new things in it after some time perusing it, discover their senses not to be exercised to discern. For should we come to it ever so often, bringing fresh affections with us, we would find fresh entertainment there; as is evident by the glorious refreshment sometimes found in a word, that has been often gone over before without anything remarkable. And truly the saints shall never exhaust it while here; but as new discoveries are made in it in several es, so it will be to the end. (3.) For abundance. There is in it not only for the present, but for the time to come, Isa. xlii. 23. There is abundance of light, instruction, comfort, &c. and what is needful for the saints travelling heavenward, Psal. cxix. 162. And indeed it is the spoil to be gathered by us. Our Lord having fought the battle against death and devils, here the spoil lies to be gathered by us that remained at home when the fight Was. (4.) Lastly, For closeness. This word contains the wisdom of God in a mystery. It is a hid book to most of the world, and indeed a sealed book to those that remain in their natural blindness. Nor can we get into the treasure without the illumination of the same Spirit which dictated it, 1 Cor. ii. 10. There is a path here which the vulture's eye hath not seen, which the carnal eye cannot take up, ver, 14. Therefore have we need to seek diligently, and pray, as Psal. cxix. 18. ‘ Open thou mine eyes, that I may see wondrous things out of thy law.” 2. It is life to the dead: “The words that I speak unto you (says Christ), they are spirit, and they are life, John vi. 63. We are naturally dead in sins; but the word is the means of spiritual life. It is the ordinary means of conversion, Psal. xix. 7. “The law of the Lord—converteth the soul;’ and of regeneration, 1 Pet. i. 23. ‘Being born again of incorruptible seed by the word of God.” By it the soul is persuaded into the covenant, and brought to embrace Jesus Christ. For thereby the Spirit is communicated to the elect of God. Thus it is of use to bring sinners home to God, from under the power of darkness to the kingdom of his dear Son. * K 2
3. It is light to the blind, Psal. xix. 8. “The command
ment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.” It is a convincing light, to discover one's state to him, and so to rouse up the soul from its natural security. It pierces the heart as an arrow, and makes the careless sinner stand and consider his way: for it freely tells every one his faults, Jam. i. 25. And while the child of God travels through a dark world, it serves to light him the way, 2 Pet. i. 19.— a light shining in a dark place;’ and lets him see how to set down every step. Hence David says, “ Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path,” Psal. cxix. 105.
4. It is awakening to those that are asleep, Cant. vii. 9. It is the voice of God which is full of majesty, to awaken the sleepy Christian to the exercise of grace. For as it is the means of begetting grace in the heart, so it is also the means of actuating and quickening thereof, Psal. cxix. 50. * Thy word hath quickened me.’ Here the Christian may hear the alarm sound to rise up and be doing. Here are the precious promises as cords of love to draw, and the awful threatenings to set idlers to work.
5. It is a sword to the Christian soldier, Eph. vi. 17. “The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Whoever has a mind for heaven must fight his way to it; for none get the crown but the conquerors, Rev. iii. 21. They must go through many temptations, from the devil, the world, and the flesh; and the word is the sword for resisting of them. It is an offensive and defensive weapon. We see how our Lord Jesus wielded it, Mat. iv. 4, 7. “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.—It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’ And whatever be our temptations, if we be well versed in the word, we may from thence bring answers to them all.
6. It is a counsellor to those who are in straits, doubts, and difficulties, Psal. cxix. 24. ‘Thy testimonies are—my counsellors.” Many a time the children of God, when tossed with doubts and fears, have found a quiet harbour there; and have got their way cleared to them there, when they knew not what to do. And no doubt, if we were more exercised unto godliness, and looking to the Lord in our straits, we would make more use of the Bible, as the oracles of Heaven.
7. It is a comforter to those that are cast down, Psal. cxix. 49, 50. “Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.’. The way to heaven lies through many tribulations, and afflictions are the trodden path to glory. But the Lord has left his people the Bible as a cordial to support them under all their pressures from within and without. And indeed the sap of the word, and the sweetness of the promises, are never more lively relished, than when the people of God are exercised under af. flictions. . Then does that heavenly fountain flow most plentifully, when, created streams being dried up, the soul goes for all to the Lord. To sum up all in one word, 8. Lastly, It is a cure for all diseases of the soul, Prov. iv. 22. “My words are—health to all their flesh.” There is no malady that a soul is under, but there is a suitable remedy for it in the word, 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17. frequently quoted above, being adapted by infinite wisdom to the case of poor sinners. By it the simple may be made wise, the weak strengthened, the staggering confirmed, the hard heart melted, the shut heart opened, &c. it being the means the Spirit makes use of for these and all other such purposes. Mot. 8. Consider the honourable epithets given to the scriptures. Amongst which I name only three. 1. The scriptures of truth, Dan. x. 21. Men may wrest the scriptures to patronise their errors, but the whole word of God is most pure truth. Here are no mistakes, no weakmesses, that adhere to all human composures. Here we may receive all that is taught us without hesitation. The hearers of men, or readers of their works, are divided into four sorts: Some like spunges, that suck up all, both good and bad : Some like sand glasses, who, what they receive at the one ear let go at the other : Some like a strainer, that lets all the good pass through, but keeps the dregs: Some like the sieve, that keeps the good grain, and lets through what is not worth. These last are only to be approved; but in the reading of the word we must be as the first sort. 2. Holy scriptures, 2 Tim. iii. 15. They are the word of a holy God, from whom nothing can come but what is holy. It consists of holy commands, holy promises, holy threatenings, instructions, directions, &c. And holy hearts will love and reverence them for that very reason.