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First. You ought to read it as the dictates of Inspiration. You do not, perhaps, deny, or question this; but you ought actually and frequently to impress the mind with it; that when you open these pages, you may say, "I will hear what God the Lord will speak.' Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth." The Apostle admonishes the Hebrews not to turn away from him that speaketh from heaven. He does not say, who spake-but, who speaketh. The address is to be considered as immediate. It is so to us, as well as to those who originally heard it. Had it been just written, it could have had no more authority, and have been no more deserving of attention, than now. How much depends upon this advice! For as we receive the Word, so shall we be affected by it. If we regard it as false, it will produce no result. If as human, it will influence as human. But if divine, it will operate divinely. Hence, says the Apostle, to the Thessalonians: "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe."

Secondly. Let him that readeth, understand. The Eunuch, returning from Jerusalem in his chariot, was reading; and reading even the Prophecies of Isaiah; but Philip said to him, "Understandest thou what thou readest?" To know the meaning of the Scriptures, it is a good thing to read on, till we come to the end of a paragraph or subject, regardless of the divisions in chapters and verses. These breaks are useful, and they are generally made in their proper places; but not always: in consequence of which, the sense is injured or darkened, by the writer's closing before he has finished; or commencing something in the middle of the argument.-Neither should we lay too much stress on a particular word or phrase; but be guided by the natural current of the passage;



{ and endeavour always to apprehend what is the present design of the Sacred Writer. Here good common sense will often do more than the learned affectations of expositors, who frequently elude the solution of a difficult text; and throw doubts into a clear one. While we ought to avail ourselves of every assistance from the labours of others; and, above all, to exercise our own minds; we must be humble in our inquiries, and feel and acknowledge our need of Divine guidance, to lead us into all truth. "Open thou mine eyes, that I may see wondrous things out of thy law." So prayed David-and so must we "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." Thus the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err: and without this, the scholar and the genius will for ever go astray. The great impediment to divine knowledge is the state of the heart: and as soon as we are made deeply sensible of our need of what the Gospel is designed to afford; and willing to be saved in the Lord's own way; and to walk so as to please him every thing opens easily and delightfully; and the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. But this can only be obtained from "the Spirit of truth."

Thirdly. We should read with a view to selfapplication. Instead of thinking of others—which is too frequently the case; we should think of ourselves; inquiring how it bears upon our own character and condition; and how, as Lord Bacon says, it comes home to our own businesses and bosoms. If I read a threatening-"O my soul, do I stand exposed to this danger?" If I read a promiseMay I claim this blessing?" If I read a reproof or a commendation-"Am I censured by the one? or encouraged by the other?" "Lord, what wilt


thou have me to do?"

Fourthly. We should read with a determination

to reduce what we read to experience and practice. The design of all the instruction contained in the Scripture is to bear upon the conscience and the life. The doctrine is not only according to grace, but according to godliness. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. This is the way to increase with all the increase of God. To him that hath shall be given, and he shall have more abundantly. If a man do his will he shall know of his doctrine. We may apply to reading, what the apostle James has said of hearing: "But be ye doers of the word, and not readers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a reader of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful reader, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed."

Nov. 2.-" His time in the flesh." 1 Peter iv. 2. "FLESH" is not to be taken, here, morally; but physically. It is not here used to signify our corruption, but our present existence-as when Paul says, The life that I now live " in the flesh," I live by the faith of the Son of God. It intends, therefore, our life while in the body. For we shall not be in it always -a period is approaching when the dust shall return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

Our "time" in the flesh varies in circumstances, with regard to individuals. But it has four general characters applicable to all the human race.

First. It is checquered. The young may look forward and view life in the fascinations of hope; and the aged may look back, and more congenially dwell on the gloomy, than on the cheerful: and the same man, in the hour of present impression, may feel himself too much elated, or too much depressed with his condition-but the truth is the same. It is neither a paradisaical, nor a wilderness scene. It is neither entirely dark, or light; but intermingled sunshine and shade. Who ever found life so smooth, as to have no roughness? And who ever had sickness, without ease? or sorrow, without comfort? And who is now authorized to say, To-morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant? Or, Mine eye shall no more see good?

Secondly. It is short. And short, not only as to eternity, and the ages of men before the Flood; but absolutely short. The general duration is threescore years and ten. But much of this is nothing as to the superior purposes of our being. We do not mean business: this may not only be rendered consistent with religion, but is made, by a Christian who abides with God in his calling, a part of it. But there is the weakness of infancy, and the childhood of age. There are the deductions of needful sleep, and allowed recreation, and unavoidable intercourse. It is often also cut short. How

few reach seventy! And those who do, commonly look in vain to find any of the associates of their youth or maturity. Every thing expressive of brevity is seized by the Sacred Writers to hold forth the brevity of our time in the flesh-a flower; a flood; a tale; a dream; a vapour; a ship before the wind; an eagle pouncing on his prey-There is but a step between us and death.

Thirdly. It is uncertain. How can it be otherwise, when we consider the diseases and accidents to which we are continually exposed? and the feebleness of our frame? and the number and delicacy 3 B


of the organs of which the body is composed? Sixty times every minute, as our pulse tells us, the question is asked, whether we shall live or die. The fool in the Gospel said, I have much goods laid up for many years; soul, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry: but that very night his soul was required of him. Persons just ready to enter connected life, have been called from marriage rites to attend funeral solemnities. The owners have been just ready to take possession of a new mansion, but have been carried to their long home. And the tra veller, starting for his journey, has gone the way of all the earth.

But fourthly. It is important. Yea, all-important, by reason of its relation to another, and an eternal state. It is not only an introduction to this statebut a preparation for it. It is influentially connected with it, as the sowing with the harvest. Our thoughts, words, and actions, are the seed; and whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. The present is the only season of obtaining justification and renovation: a title to heaven, and a meetness for it. Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation. The same will apply to our doing good, as well as to our gaining good. Our time in the flesh is the only season in which we can glorify God, and serve our generation! What a treasure then is life! And how concerned should we be to work while it is day, seeing the night cometh wherein no man can work! In this one article, the saints below are more privileged than the saints above: and we are persuaded, that those who have entered their rest would be willing, were it the pleasure of God, to come down and re-enter this vale of tears, to have the opportunities of usefulness we enjoy-who can be candid towards those who differ from us; forgive injuries; visit and relieve the afflicted; spread the Gospel; teach the ignorant; save souls from death, and hide a multitude of sins. "Whatsoever

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