« PreviousContinue »
John, xv. 5.
Without me ye can do nothing.
THE study of Scripture is necessary to every believer, for it is the Christian's duty; but it is more particularly necessary to the Minister of Christ:—as a divine, it is from thence he ought to derive his knowledge;' as an orator, his language; as a pastor, his feelings and opinions.
I. THE SACRED BOOKS SHOULD FORM THE PRINCIPAL STUDY
CHRISTIAN TEACHER: in order to be convinced of this, you need only reflect upon the sources and the object of the science which he professes.
* Discourse addressed to the Students in Theology, at Geneva, November, 1827.
In those books is that science contained. Presented to every individual of the human race as a general blessing, they were specially confided to the divine, with an obligation thoroughly to extract their contents. When“ holy men of God spake in old time as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” they did not say to men : In order to know God, study nature, or consult the wise; but, Thus saith the Lord! It is in the oracles they delivered, that we must look for truth, and consequently for theology. Wóe to the successor of the Apostles, to the continuator of their labours, to the depositary of their revelation, should he neglect to go to them in search of his doctrine! From them proceed the light, the energy, the authority, with which he should be endued. In vain might he expect to supply that neglect by studying the works of other teachers, limited and fallible as himself his labours would never possess the same value, nor be followed by the same effects. His knowledge 'must be drawn from the fountain, and by his own labour. It is thus only, that his acquaintance with religion will become
accurate and extensive; it is thus only that he will accomplish his task, and be faithful to his duty. Let him, then, again and again peruse the Sacred Scriptures; let him meditate them without ceasing; let him compare
parts with the whole, the various books, the various writers, the various ages, the various dispensations ; let him endeavour to master every idea, and trace every allusion; and at least, if, as I am all along supposing, he pursue his object with zeal and intelligence, and upon fixed methodical principles-he will soon be rewarded by views at once novel, rich, and extensive, and by a solid and practical acquaintance with divinity. In that field-if the expression may be permitted is his treasure laid up: labour alone can draw it forth.
But this is not all : if the theological student confine himself to human sources of thought, whether in books or in his own bosom, his ideas, however forcible, however noble they may be, will partake of the imperfections of their origin, and will never form a faultless system. If, however, he has recourse to Scrip