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this fact, he feels that his deliberation is at an end. His neighbours may devise schemes of evasion, and contrive various means to elude the effect of every clause which comes , near to their own interest; but the rectitude of his judgment, and the integrity of his conscience, will not permit him to follow their example. Such men, he clearly perceives, forfeit the character of good and orderly subjects, and are therefore justly exposed to the penalties of disobedience.
So, if a man acknowledge the authority of Him, by whom the holy Scriptures are given, it is the part and province of a rightjudgment to prove all things, by consulting the Scriptures themselves, by seriously weighing and examining the important contents of those sacred records. And the necessity of performing this duty with diligence and sincerity must appear, when we consider that many who, in general terms, readily acknowledge the truth and sacred authority of the Old and New Testament, have greatly erred, either through ignorance of their main design, or the perverse application of particular pas
sages. An apostle of our Lord has declared, that, in the Epistles of St. Paul, there are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction. (2 Pet. iii. 16.) Here we are taught that the Scriptures have their difficulties ; that, without serious attention and singleness of heart, they may be misunderstood and perverted; and that this perversion of the Scriptures is a matter of no common moment --- since they who thus misuse the word of God, which was designed for their salvation, even while they acknowledge its general authority, and presume that it has decided in their favour, make it the instrument of their own destruction.
It is, therefore, the part of a right judgment to ascertain, by diligent and impartial inquiry, what God has revealed and commanded, and what he has not. And this exercise of reason is expressly enjoined in the Scriptures themselves.
Thus, Isaiah says—To the law, and to the testimony : if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isaiah, viii. 10.) And again-Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read. (xxxiv. 6.)
Our Lord gives this instruction to the Jews
Search the Scriptures: for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me. (John, v. 39.) It was not sufficient, then, that the truth of the Scriptures should be generally acknowledged ; they were also to be examined with diligence, that their testimony might be distinctly ascertained. Accordingly, when the doctrine of Christianity was first proposed to the men of Berea, they are commended as being more noble or generous than those of Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind—with an openness to conviction-and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts, xvii. 11.) It is, therefore, a lawful and necessary exercise of reason, to examine and identify the contents of the Holy Scripture. Thus far the operation of human judgment properly extends; but beyond this it has no right to deliberate. The word of God is sacred. It must be received intire and uncontaminated. Wherefore Moses, in the last book of the law,
where he recapitulates the ordinances of God with their awful sanctions, gives this charge to the Israelites-Ye shall not add unto the word which I command
neither shall ye diminish ought from it; may keep the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you. (Deut.iv. 2.) And again—What thing soever I command you, observe to do it; thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. (Chap. xii. 32.) As he had said in another place-Ye shall observe to do as the Lord your God hath commanded you. Ye shall not turn aside to the right hand, or to the left. Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that ye may live. (Chap. v. 52, 33.) St. John likewise, in that book, and that very chapter, which closes the canon of Scripture,
of Scripture, testifies unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man should add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book; and if any man shall take away from the word of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the
things which are written in this book. (Rev. xxii. 18, 19.)
These books must, then, be received without addition, diminution, or perversion: and it must be the province of a right judgment to resolve, that, as the other books of Scripture are stamped with the same divine authority, this rule must be extended to the whole : and so it is repeatedly declared. God says to JoshuaObserve to do according to all the law, which Moses, my servant, commanded thee ; turn not from it to the right hand or to the left. (Josh. i. 7.) Agur testifies, in the book of Proverbs Every word of God is pure ; he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Wherefore this prohibition follows -Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. (Prov. xxx. 5, 6.) Our Lord reproves the Jews, because they had made the commandment of God of none effect, by their traditions; and declares, that in vain do they worship God, teaching, for doctrines, the commandments of men. (Mat. xv. 6, 9.)
In another place, he cites against them a sacred truth, which they themselves