« FöregåendeFortsätt »
with inconsiderate keenness. He discovered, and the more he examined the scriptures, the more he was convinced that the system which they teach is, in all its leading points, that which is commonly termed Calvinism ; and of which a distinct sum, mary is contained in the confessions of faith adopted by the church of Scotland. Such was the revolution of sentiment which Mr. Coutts experienced; and such the means, as stated by himself, by which it was effected. “ I went to England,'? said he, “with sentiments little differing from those of the mo* dern Socinians, in all their latitude. By having no other “ guide in my subsequent studies but the bible, and by endea
vouring implicitly to follow it, I learned to think as I now “ do." The pious reader will probably remark the coincidence of the case of Mr. Coutts, with that of the Rev. Thomas Scott, as described by himself in his interesting publication, " The 6 Force of Truth.” This coincidence Mr. Coutts himself remarked with pleasure, “ Read Scott's Force of Truth, and 'you will see exactly what passed in my mind."
How strongly do these instances inculcate a most obvious, yet there is reason to fear, a much neglected truth that the study of the scriptures is of prime importance in the study of divinity ? Let those who are engaged in this study, bear in mind that the bible alone is the unerring rule of faith ; that, therefore, it is from thence, in the first place, that their opinions and their systems are to be derived ; that, however useful other writings, studies, or instructions may be, they are to be regarded as only subservient to the study of the divine record ; that this is not to be tried by them, but they by it; and that nothing can be more preposterous than endeavouring to force scripture into a conformity with opinions previously adopted, or found elsewhere, instead of submitting to receive all our opinions, and all our views of revealed truth, from the word of God alone.
In this second edition there will be found an additional Sermon of the author's, inserted at the conclusion, in the room of the one preached on the occasion of his death, which ap: peared at the end of the former edition.
FELLOWSHIP WITH THE FATHER AND WITH THE SON.
PSALM Lxxvii. 19.-Thy way is in' the sea, and thy path in the great waters; and thy footsteps are not known.
The knowledge of man is confined within bounds so narrow, that little else, besides the dereliction of prejudice and self-conceit, is necessary to convince us of our ignorance. Whether we contemplate the operations of nature, the conduct of providence, or the dispensations of grace, scenes are opened too extensive for our limited faculties to comprehend: and we are necessarily, led to feel, and compelled to acknowledge, the immense disproportion between the magnitude of the objects, and the capacity of the human mind. This humiliating truth all admit in speculation; but few act upon it in practice. “ Vain man would be wise, though he be « born as the wild ass's colt :'* and what he cannot comprehend, he censures as unreasonable.
* Job xi, 12.
There is a propriety and beauty in the conduct of the sacred writers, when they treat of subjects too high for man, which we cannot sufficiently admire. They invariably pursue their discussions, in the removal of objections, and the assignment of reasons, as far as the human understanding can really reach; but they presume no farther: and conclude their argumentation, by a statement of the ignorance of man, and an appeal to the incomprehensibility of the works and ways of God. The advocates for judaism objected to christianity, that it was inconsistent with the wisdom, goodness, and immutability of God: because it represented him as forsaking the peculiar people, whom he so long had cherished; and as admitting the imperfection of the law and dispensation, which he himself had given. Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, vindicates the gospel from their objections, by a series of
powerful reasons, drawn from the nature of God, from the ordinary tenor of his providence, from the express declarations of his purpose in ancient prophecy, and from the pressing necessities of mankind. But, lest some scruple might still remain, some obstacle to belief be yet unremoved, he concludes his reasoning, and silences every objection, by reminding them of the incomprehensibility of the wisdom of God. “ How unsearchable are his. “ judgments;* and his ways past finding out!” Job was so hardly pressed by his friends, who insisted that great sufferings are an evidence of great sins, that he long perplexed himself in endeavours to give a satisfactory account why God had so severe
* Rom. xi. 33