Imatges de pàgina

to neglect the means of profiting by the Bible itself.

But, since every aid that can be obtained, internal or external, is liable to misapplication; even these rules for “ di

viding the word of truth” and “ com“ paring spiritual things with spiritual," must be accompanied with certain cautions. Care is to be taken, not to confound seeming with real analogies ;—not to rely upon merely verbal resemblances, when the sense may require a different application ;-not to interpret what is parallel only in one respect, as if it were so in all;—not to give to any parallel passages so absolute a sway in our decisions, as to overrule the clear and evident meaning of the text under consideration ;-and, above all, not to suffer our eagerness in multiply. ing proofs of this kind, to betray us into a neglect of the immediate context of the passage in question, upon which its signification must principally depend.The simplest mode of proceeding is, indeed, the safest. Every difficult, or doubtful text is first to be considered by itself;—then,



with its context;--then, with other passages of Scripture parallel to it in any respect ;-and then, by the additional light of such extraneous illustrations as can be brought to it from the stores of human knowledge.

By due attention to these principles, accompanied with the great moral requisites already shewn to be indispensable, and with humble supplications to the throne of Grace for a blessing on his labours, the diligent inquirer after Scripture truth may confidently hope for success, The design of every portion of Holy Writ, its harmony with the rest, and the Divine perfection of the whole, will more and more fully be displayed. And thus will he be led, with increasing veneration and gratitude, to adore Him, to whom every Sacred Book bears witness and every Di. vine Dispensation led the way; -even HIM, who is “ Alpha and Omega, the « First and the Last?," - Jesus Christ, the

same yesterday, to day, and for ever?."!

% Rev. i. 2.

a Heb. xii. 8.


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Who also hath made us able ministers of the

New Testament ; not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter killeth, but the spirit

giveth life. IN suggesting rules to assist the ordinary reader of Scripture in the work of Interpretation, care is requisite, that we neither magnify nor diminish, beyond their just proportion, the difficulties to be encountered. From eithér extreme evil consequences may ensue: from the one, carelessness or presumption; from the other, blind submission to spiritual guides, or a morbid indisposition to rational inquiry. In either case also, encouragement will be given to the dissemination of error. Thus, in magnifying these difficulties, the Church of Rome finds an argument for withhold

ing the Word of Life from the greater portion of her members. In diminishing them, the Fanatic discovers a pretence for assuming the office of a sacred Teacher, without any previous instruction, any preparatory acquirements.

That the truth lies betwixt these extremes, they who are most conversant with the Scriptures will be the most ready to allow. They will perceive that the Bible, though often profound and mysterious in its subject, does, for the most part, propose its truths in terms adapted to general apprehension ; while, on the other hand, though it derives its authority purely from a Divine source, yet, in the exposition of it, it calls forth the exercise of the best faculties and attainments of the human mind. It is a mine of invaluable treasure; upon which the greater the labour and skill that are employed, the richer and more abundant will be the return. While, therefore, we give every encouragement to the humblest inquirer into spiritual truths ; we are bound to admonish the adventurous and uninstructed, that


no rash experiments may here be allowed. We are bound to warn him, that in this, beyond all other branches of knowledge, caution and sound judgment are requisite; that something may here be expected transcending the reach even of the most cultivated minds; and that, both as to the subject and the expression, many things may occasionally occur “ hard to be un

derstood a" by persons of inferior attainments.

The words of the text direct our attention to one important branch of Scripturecriticism, presenting difficulties of a peculiar kind; and which, though it been incidentally touched

in the

preceding inquiry, seems to call for distinct consideration.

St. Paul in this Epistle vindicates his authority as an inspired Teacher, against the cavils of those who endeavoured to sow dissension in the Church of Corinth. From the course of his argument it may be inferred, that the Judaizing converts were among his chief opponents. After a 2 Peter üi. 16.


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