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render them of benefit to the individuals who peruse them. These were the Scriptures on which David meditated day and night, which he hid in his heart, and on which when he reflected, his heart burned within him, and he spake with his tongue.
II. We have stated the origin of the Scripture of God, and, of course, of the historical writings, We proceed to mention its uses.
1. "It is profitable for doctrine." The word doc tor means one learned in science, and himself a teacher of it. It follows that the corresponding word doctrine must mean the elements of a science or the act of teaching. Now the Old Testament is profitable, bes cause it furnishes the basis of instruction in righteousness. From it we learn the innocence and the fall of man, and the means of his recovery, and in it we are furnished with many and memorable examples of men who "out of weakness were made strong" by the might of the God of Jacob. Human wisdom has affected to teach man all that it concerned him to know, but wo be to him who comes short, or goes beyond, the holy communications of this book; and, though to us they are abundantly more ample and enlarged than they were to the Israelites, yet they had "a light in a dark place." We have no knowledge of God and of ourselves beyond what hath been revealed from on high, and it is really melancholy and affecting to think of the earnest and unsuccessful efforts which the most enlightened of heathen nations have made to acquire such a knowledge. And it is doubly affecting to think of the presumption and crime of those men in our own day who would be "wise above that which is written, and who affect to teach what is widely different from that
which Scripture describes. It (to the comparative exclusion of every other thing) is "profitable for doctrine" for it contains the only truth unmixed with error, the basis on which we may rest, the guide we may securely follow.
2. It is "profitable for reproof," that is, for the detection and exposure of error-for explaining wherein it consists and what is its blame. In this point of light the historical Scriptures are passingly useful. In the history of the fall and corruption of man they trace sin to its source in the heart, and to its origin in paradise. In the lives of the patriarchs, their every error and their every excellence is a reproach to us. We have fallen into their errors, and we have done so in the neglect of a higher and a brighter dispensation; and our sin is, in proportion, more offensive. These Scriptures furnish us with the reason and the measure of reproof; they explain to us what is offensive to God, and thus teach us to bow down under his mighty hand. The sin of the elders exposes ours; their faith, by which they "obtained a good report," is a reproach to our unbelief; their heavenly walk and conversation throw ours into the shade.
3. It is "profitable for correction." It were a small benefit to have errors exposed, if they were not corrected. It were a task as ungrateful as it would be unprofitable, to convince a man he was far gone from original righteousness, that he had very far wandered from the right way, if you were not prepared to reclaim his wanderings. How ungracious would it be for a man who finds his brother straying over the pathless desert without a guide, and amidst storm and darkness, to tell him that he has missed his path, unless he should direct him how to retrace the way by which he has
strayed long before. How cruel would it be for a mariner, who finds his brother driven on the ocean far from land, his compass lost, and without a chart to guide him through the trackless deep, to do no more than tell him he has missed his course; and, having told the unpleasant tidings, to bear away and leave him in his wretchedness and wandering. But Scripture not only exposes, it also corrects our errors; it finds us wandering, by a constant progression, from the living God; it reveals to us our condition, it corrects our errors; it leads us back again; we return unto Zion, weeping as as we go. It sheds a light by which a path, otherwise not to be discovered, that leads into the right way, may be discovered. The lapse of Adam; the folly of the children of Seth; the sin of Cain; the devotion of Abel; the prevarication of Abram; the elevated faith of the father of the faithful; the treachery of Jacob; the constancy of Joseph; all are circumstances that tend either to correct the errors they expose, or to recommend the virtues they describe. Many a lesson of incalculable value, on the subject of sin and penitence, may be gathered from the Old Testament histories.
4. It is "profitable for instruction in righteousness." Scripture not only forms our opinions when they are right, it not only exposes our wanderings, and reclaims our errors, but moreover instructs the reclaimed wanderer in what is holy and acceptable to God. How much this was needed, appears from the false ideas entertained of righteousness wherever Scripture was not. Among the Greeks and Romans, ambition, though it spread its conquests at the expense of sufferings intense and wide, was held to be praiseworthy: pride, though it swelled and corrupted the heart, was
esteemed to be laudable: indulgence, though it trampled on the restraints of temperance and purity, was looked upon as venial imprudence. Such was the instruction in righteousness which was afforded by the wisest of unenlightened men; for they thought no crime of rapine and of blood might not be excused by a patriotic desire to exalt one's country, though with the ruin of peaceful and surrounding states. Of this Cato's "Delenda est Carthago" is a memorable proof; and stands in gloomy contrast with the divine injunction, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself;" and with the lovely exemplification of this precept in the conduct of the good Samaritan. Now Scripture, in its historical details, is a teacher of righteousness. The justice of God is taught in the exclusion of Adam from paradise; his goodness, in the original provision made for his restoration to happiness; his grace and love, in the contemplated and typified sacrifice for sin; the character of acceptable worship, in the rejection of Cain and the approbation of Abel; the divine condescension and the nature of communion, in Enoch's life and translation; the nature, the power, and purity of faith, in the character of Abraham.
III. The object for which Scripture was inspired. "That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." We might at first be led to imagine, that, as this epistle was primarily designed for the use of a minister of the gospel, this clause had an exclusive reference to certain attainments more eminently qualifying for the discharge of his highly important duties, which, by diligent study of the Old Testament, were within his reach. And we do not mean to deny that such a sense may be fairly affixed to the passage. While we make this admis
sion, however, we cannot concede that this passage belongs exclusively to ministers of the truth. Private Christians need to be made "perfect" and to be "throughly furnished." The perfection here in ques tion seems to us to be that of knowledge in all matters which respect doctrine, reproof, instruction, and correc tion. And knowledge, as it is itself a means to an end, is greatly to be desired.
"Some have not the knowledge of God, I speak this to your shame," 1 Cor. xv, 34. 66 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them," John xiii, 17, in which passage knowledge is spoken of as being indispensable to performance. The study of Scripture, and such acquisitions therein as are here specified, give tability to our religious principles, steadiness to our experience, and consistency to our conduct; and perhaps, one reason, and the most important of many, why we have so little of all these is, that we do not use the appointed means; but it is to our shame, that when God hath revealed himself to man, we should be so little alive to the importance of receiving what revelation contains.
"That we may be throughly furnished." But for the discoveries and examples of faith, man, with the best intentions of doing what was right, would often be at a loss how to proceed. We cannot err for want of light, for we are "throughly," that is, abundantly "furnished." For this reason, we have the history of one patriarch after another, of one great event and then of another; we have "line upon line, precept upon precept," that the truth which does not strike in one example may fix attention in another, and that none may fail of the benefit which these histories were intended to convey.