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by nature sadly ignorant; and by the same nature are sadly disposed to evil, strongly inclined to such a line of conduct, such tempers, and affections, of which misery must be the consequence.' To rescue us from this state, the word of God was given
It was given to shew us the way that we should walk in, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. It points out to us him to whom all the Scriptures bear witness, him who is the great Author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him. If then the Scriptures are able to make us wise unto salvation; if they furnish a sa tisfactory answer to the anxious question, what shall I do to be saved; surely we act like the enemies of our own souls as if we did not wish to save them if we refuse to have recourse to this storehouse of saving knowledge, if we neglect to search the Scriptures.
After asserting in general that the Scriptúres are able to make us wise unto salvation, St. Paul in the next verse proceeds to point out more particularly the beneficial effects of the knowledge of them, in order to this great end,
They are profitable,” he tells
us, “for doctrine, for reproof, for correc“ tion, for instruction in righteousness.” They are profitable for doctrine; for teaching us all that it is important for us to know. They lead us to the knowledge of God, and of ourselves. They teach us that the world was at first called into being by the voice of the Almighty; that man was created innocent and upright, but that he fell from his innocence, and by his fall entailed sin and death upon all his posterity. They teach us the method adopted by an all-merciful God to rescue us from this lost state, and instruct us, that was by man came “ death, by man came also the resurrection 5 of the dead: that as in Adam all die, even “so in Christ shall all be made alive..." They farther make known to us the great doctrines, of the satisfaction made for sin by the death of the Son of God; of the renovation of our natures by the Holy Spirit; and all other things which a Christian ought to know and believe for his soul's health. In the most comprehensive sense of the word, therefore, they are profitable for doctrine. They are profitable also for reproof. The word which is here translated reproof, means also conviction or re. futation of error. When left to himself, man. is not only ignorant of what is true, but too frequently ready to embrace that which is false. There is perhaps hardly any imagination however vain, hardly any error how. ever gross, which has not been adopted and upheld as true at some period of the world. When compared with the truth of the Scripture, all these errors fall to the ground. Errors in opinion have a natural tendency to produce a faulty and vicious practice. Reproof of every bad practice, of every sinful habit, comes most profitably from the holy Scriptures; for they form a standard, by which every work is to be, tried, whether it be good or whether it be evil; and their reproofs are enforced by the threatening of eternal suffering.
3 2 Tim. iii. 16. h 1 Cor. xv. 21, 22.
But the word of God will not only serve. to reprove what is wrong in practice, but to correct it, or set it right. It is profitable for correction. When a man is going on, in a way that leads to destruction, with out considering or being aware of it, it is some advantage to be told that he is
wrong ; but this information will but fill him with apprehensions, and perhaps de spair, unless at the same time the right way is pointed out to him. This is the work of the holy Scriptures. When anyone has contracted a sinful habit, they not only “re" prove him, and set before him the things " that he hath done,” but also correct him, or set him right; "they will guide his “ feet in the way of peace," and teach him the true and right way to happiness.
The Scriptures are indeed " profitable « for instruction in righteousness," in every sense of the expression. They point out to ús the righteousness of living, which God commands; the sober, righteous, and godly disposition and conduct, which he enjoins; and, above all, they direct us to him, who for our sakes fulfilled all righteousness, and through faith in whose atonement and mediation we are accounted righteous in the sight of God.
In another passage, St. Paul, speaking of the same Scriptures, says, " whatsoever “ things were written aforetime, were writ“ ten for our learning, that we through “patience and comfort of the Scriptures
might have hopei." The Scriptures do indeed furnish the strongest ground for comfort and consolation in every sorrow. If we are depressed by poverty, and by anxious fears lest we or our families should be left utterly destitute, the Scriptures direct us to cast all our “ care upon him « who careth for us;" upon him who feedeth the fowls of heaven, and clotheth the lilies of the field, and will much more take care of the children of men. If we are mourning the death of those we love, the Scriptures tell us, that “ blessed are the “dead that die in the Lord'," that our departed friends have but passed before us on the journey of life; and they bid us not to sorrow like men that have no hope. If we are cast down by the sense of our numberless sins, and are overwhelmed with the dread of the divine displeasure, the Scriptures here also furnish us the strongest ground of consolation and encouragement. They guide our thoughts to him, who died that we might live; they tell us, that “ though our sins be as scarlet,” yet if we i Rom. xv. 4.
ķMatt. vi. 28, &c. xiv. 13.