« הקודםהמשך »
making such inquiries; and a proper answer to them might be of considerable advantage: but a few hints must suffice on the present occasion. Such arrangements of texts, if they were carefully, judiciously, and impartially made, and attended with suitable notes and reflections, might probably be rendered extensively useful. For thus the several portions of scripture, which relate to any subject in theology, might be presented at once, or in regular succession, to the reader's consideration : and the various parts of the great system of revelation might be viewed in order, and an advantageous estimate made of their mutual connexion, dependence, harmony, subserviency, and proportion. In this manner, the discoveries of those, who have much leisure for, and have bestowed much pains in, such investigations, might be communicated in the simplest manner to such as have little time for these studies; or who want to have the food, as it were, of their minds ready prepared for them; and yet are not disposed to put human teaching in the place of the divine testimony, or to call any man master upon earth.
Moreover the attention of the serious student in divinity would thus be gradually and regularly led on, from one topic to another, through all the several parts of revelation; and be kept from dwelling almost wholly on a few particulars, to the exclusion or neglect of other subjects of equal authority and importance : whilst many things, from which numbers turn away in a kind of despair of being able to understand them, might with great brevity be rendered extremely clear to the most unlearned, as well as convincing to the most pre
judiced, by a process of argument to which scarcely any person could venture to object.
: This is however far more than can be expected from an arrangement of very short sentences, in such a publication as the present: but probably something of that kind on a larger scale will shortly be proposed to the public; especially with respect to the prophecies, and their accomplishments, and some of the most interesting subjects, about which mistakes are both common and fatal. In the mean time, it may suffice to observe in general, that the proper use of such texts for every day seems to be this—to furnish the mind with a subject for pious meditation and ejaculatory prayer in the intervals of business and conversation ; and whilst men are journeying alone; or when the work of their hands is mechanical, and does not require the immediate attention of their minds. If no precise subject be present to their thoughts on such occasions, the time may probably elapse before
be determined on; or vain imaginations may intrude, and prevent all profitable reflections: on which account many have found it useful to bave some important subject in readiness for these opportunities.
But it must also be allowed, that the practice is liable to many grievous abuses. Some persons read a detached text, with the reflections upon it, from books of this kind, instead of a portion of the holy scriptures before family worship: by which their children and servants are put off with abstracts and scraps of God's word, instead of being brought acquainted with the general tenor of it in regular order, and as explained by the context. It may be suspected, that the same practice prevails
even in the closets of many: by which the duty of searching the scriptures for heavenly wisdom, as the miner, or the miser, seeks for hid treasure, is greatly neglected. And the use of them in the social meetings of Christians has a tendency to prevent mutual improvement, by confining the mind to things that are already known. In many cases it is obvious that the texts are selected from those passages that seem to favour the sentiments of a party; or from the promises almost exclusively, without much discrimination of character, or method and regularity of arrangement: and this has a natural tendency to buoy up false confidence, to encourage a party spirit, or to induce an indolent and superficial kind of religion.—These hints may serve as a caution to the reader against what might prevent his edification : which is the whole design of them.
The public will be the proper judge of what is attempted in this publication. Some labour has been employed in endeavouring to give an impartial statement of the scripture doctrine, concerning the great subjects specified, in such order and method as may assist the reader to understand the whole system. No text has been adduced in any sense or connexion, but that which appeared to be the true one, according to the context: though brevity frequently required the quotation of incomplete texts, yet great care has been taken not to leave out any words which might lead to the least misapprehension of the subject: and, whilst in a few places, a word in the translation has been altered, to render the sense more perspicuous, (as, “ the basis of his throne,” for “the habitation of “his throne;") none has been admitted, where
the propriety of the change was doubtful. Moreover, such subjects have been selected as seemed most comprehensive; and they are so arranged as to give a sort of compendium of Christianity, according to the compiler's view of it.
Some readers may perhaps regard the following hints, in respect to the profitable use of the arrangement. Perhaps a repeated perusal of the whole would not be a bad introduction to the further consideration of its several parts: as it would give a general view of it. Then, at the beginning of each month, it may be proper to look over the arrangement of texts for that month; and every morning to consider the context of the verse, whence the scripture for the day is taken, to enlarge the reader's view of its meaning, and importance. Afterwards, as leisure may permit, the thoughts may recur to it as a stated subject of meditation, with ejaculatory petitions to the Lord, who alone can teach us to profit by any means.—This need not interfere with the stated reading of the scripture, either in the closet or the family; (as a few minutes will suffice, which may often be redeemed from the time spent at breakfast, &c;) and this method, steadily pursued through the course of the year, would probably lead many persons into a more enlarged view of the nature and excellency of Christianity, than they had before. If in this, or any other way,
this feeble attempt be made subservient to the good of one soul, or to the establishment, quickening, comfort, or fruitfulness of any disciple of the Lord Jesus, the end proposed by it will be completely answered.
SELECTION OF TEXTS, 1794.
1. THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD.
Jan. 1. Exod. iii. 14. I AM THAT I AM. 2. Isa. Ivii. 15. The high and lofty One that
inhabiteth eternity. 3. Gen. xvii. 1. I am the Almighty God,
walk before me. 4. Luke xviii. 27. The things that are im
possible with man are possible with God. 5. Rom. xi. 36. For of Him, and through
Him, and to Him are all things. 6. Is. xl. 25. To whom will ye liken me, or
shall I be equal, saith the Holy One? 7. Jam. i. 17. The Father of lights, with
whom is no variableness, or shadow of
turning. 8. 1 Tim. vi. 16. Whom no man hath seen,
or can see.
9. 1 Tim. i. 17. The King, eternal, immortal,
invisible, the only wise God. 10. Is. lxvi. 1. The heaven is my throne, and the earth is
from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from
thy presence ? 12. Jer. xxiii. 12. Do not I fill heaven and
earth, saith the Lord ? 13. Jer. xvii. 10. I the Lord search the heart;
I try the reins.