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labourer of St. Paul, that “from a child he “ had known the holy Scriptures, which " were able to make him wise unto salva“ tion, through faith which is in Christ " Jesus?"
Secondly, read them with humility; with an humble teachable disposition, with a readiness to submit your own reason to the teaching of God. Although all that is necessary to salvation in the Scriptures is plain enough for the unlearned to understand, so plain “ faring men, though fools,” though simple and of a slow understanding, “ shall not err “ therein y;" yet there are many parts of the Bible which present 'so much of difficulty, that the most learned men have not been able to agree upon their meaning. These difficulties are increased from the Scriptures having been written in foreign languages which haveceased to be spoken, and written in times and countries, the manners and customs of which were very different from our own. St. Peter, you know, says, that in St. Paul's Epistles “ are some things hard to “ be understood, which they that are ignos 2 Tim. iii. 15.
Isaiah xxxv. 8. .
“ rant and unstable,” (unstable, not steady in their religious principles,) " wrest as they s do also the other Scriptures unto their s own destruction?." If a man sits down to read the book of God with a proud conceit of his own abilities, of the powers of his own reason, he will be apt to give new and strange interpretations of his own to the words of Scripture; or perhaps to be led by seeming difficulties to reject the Bible altogether, and with it to give up all wellfounded hope of a future life. Humility, an humble teachable disposition, will prevent these evils. When St. Philip asked the Ethiopian Eunuch, “ Understandest " thou what thou readest?" the reply was, “ How can I, except some man should " guide mea?” Humility will dispose us in the study of the Scriptures to make use of the assistance which is offered to us b. A
z 2 Pet. iii. 16.
Acts viii. 30. I wish to take this opportunity of recommending to those who can afford it, the “Family Bible," lately published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. All human works have their imperfections; but the notes to the Family Bible have been selected and brought together with much care and labour, and comprise a rich store of most
sincere member of the Church of England, in particular, will not without great reason depart from the interpretation of the doctrines of Scripture which is given by that Church in her Articles and Prayer Book. The Articles and Prayer Book were framed with great care and pains by men richly furnished with all learning, human and divine; men, like Apollos, “ mighty in the
Scriptures,” in the languages in which they were originally written; men too, who were ready to give up, and many of whom actually did give up, every thing, even life itself, for the doctrines in them expressed. Next to the declared sense of the Church of England, an humble-minded member of that Church will be disposed to seek assistance in understanding the Scriptures from his spiritual Pastor, the minister of the parish in which he dwells, who is regularly appointed over him to watch for his soul.
Thirdly, read with attention. Many people, I fear, satisfy themselves with barely reading over a chapter or two of the Bible, without considering or endeavouring to imuseful information, and of strong and interesting incitements to practical piety.
press upon their minds what they read. Such careless reading is attended with little advantage. We must not be satisfied with simply reading or hearing the Scriptures, but must “mark, learn, and inwardly digest " them.” And we must not only digest them inwardly, but must practise them outwardly in our daily conversation and conduct. We must endeavour, by divine aid, to avoid whatever in thought, word, or deed, is contrary to the revealed will of God, and steadily to practise whatever the book of God commands. • In reading of “ God's word,” says the Homily of our Church, “ he not always most profiteth " that is most ready in turning of the book, “ or in saying of it without the book; but - he that is most turned into it, that is most “ inspired with the Holy Ghost, most in « his heart and life altered and changed into " that thing which he readeth : he that is
daily less and less proud, less wrathful, “ less covetous, and less desirous of worldly " and vain pleasures: he that ļaily forsaketh “ his old vicious life, increaseth in virtue more and more.” Lastly, read the Scriptures with earnest
prayer for divine assistance. We know that we can do nothing well without the help of the Holy Spirit, and we especially require the aid of that Spirit in reading the word of God. Our minds by nature are dark and blind, and stand in need of being enlightened by him who is the Father of lights. By nature we are sadly ignorant, and destitute of spiritual wisdom ; but“ if
any man lack wisdom,” says St. James, “ let him ask of God, who giveth to all “ men liberally, and upbraideth not."
Allow me, my friends, to hope that you will be diligent in searching the Scriptures, and attentive to the great truths which they contain. Those who are themselves unable to read, should embrace every opportunity of hearing them read by others, by their friends, their neighbours, or their children. All should be regular and attentive in listening to the sacred Scriptures in church.
Remember that God's word is intended to be a “ lantern unto your feet, and a light “ unto your path.” If you neglect it, you
c James i. 5.