« FöregåendeFortsätt »
leaving them in their blindness. “If our gospel be hid, it is hid from” such. The holy scriptures do indeed possess excellencies of style and composition, which will be admired as long as true taste and pure moral feeling shall continue in the world; yet we are to study them not for the excellence of their language, but that we may be wise unto salvation.
And though the bible is not like an artificial chain of reasoning, which depends on the soundness of every link; though each part contains in itself the revealed truth of God; yet the various parts throw light upon each other, and what seems doubtful and obscure in one place, will be clearly expressed in another. In regard to what may seem blemishes, you are to view it as one whole. Who would judge of a temple, from some defect in a single stone? Who would deny that a stately tree is a beautiful object, and a noble production of nature, because some small branch may be withered, or some of its leaves be in disorder? And yet he is no wiser who stumbles on little inaceuracies of the sacred volume, and disregards the grand design. While detecting a faded leaf, he is insensible to all the profusion of nature's charms. Great evils and unhappy divisions among Christians, have arisen from construing particular passages in a sense different from the general tenor and design of the sacred volume. On any doubtful passage, the bible at large is the best commentary. The marginal references in our English bibles, are of use in understanding many passages. From good commentators also, and good sermons, much may be learned. But still better is a humble, sincere and praying heart. From those who hunger and thirst after righteousness; who are honestly disposed to receive instruction, and diligently
seek that they may find, truth will not long be withholden. Seek thus and you shall find; what seems dark or doubtful, will be cleared to your view; difficulties will be removed, and objections obviated; “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
And more especially should you regard what our text more immediately proposes. “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, (says an apostle) that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man;" that you may so answer a fool as both to escape and rebuke his folly. Let your conversation be ever so conducted as neither to say any thing contrary to divine wisdom, nor to countenance such foolishness in others. It is a great thing and difficult to govern the tongue. The meekest of men was once so provoked by fools, 6 that he spake unadvisedly with his lips,” and to his own hurt. Our Saviour has in this, as in all other things, given us a perfect example. “When he was reviled he reviled not again.” To the most malicious adversaries, and to the most artful and ensnaring questions, he returned such wise answers, and so rebuked their folly, that 6. they held their peace, and durst not from that time ask him any more (such) questions.” Sometimes it is most wise to be silent, especially when good words will be as pearls cast before swine. This did our Lord on some few occasions. There was a time when the psalmist « held his tongue and said nothing; he kept silence, even from good discourse; but it was a pain and grief unto him.” It must, to a good man, ever be painful to be in a situation where good dis course will have no good effect.
In most cases, however, something profitable may be said, if it be wisely adapted to the occasion.
“ Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil, he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not,” in the one sense, answer him according to his folly; he durst not o bring against him a railing accusation ;' but in the other sense of our text, he did so answer him; for he 66 said, The Lord rebuke thee." And so much at least it is often expedient to say, that folly may be put to shame. We must “ leave off wrath, and let go displeasure," and never partake of the folly of any discourse. If the name of God be profaned; if religion be ridiculed ; if sacred things are lightly treated, or, what is a very common thing, if the frailties, or mistakes of religious men are made the subject of sport and laughter, you should be careful not to join in the merriment, nor give countenance to any such like profaneness. Never join in any laugh at the expense of religion ; nor in any levity or indecent mirth. We are to live soberly, as well as righteously.
But to avoid evil is not the whole of our duty; we must also, with wisdom and discretion, oppose it. Manifest, on all suitable occasions, your decided disapprobation of whatever is vain, and foolish, and sinful. Do it also, according to the wisdom given you, in such manner as shall have the best effect; in such manner, as to make men ashamed of their impiety, and afraid to offend God.
That at all times, and in all places, we may have wisdom so to speak, and so to refrain, as to suppress ungodliness, and promote the fear of God, and the salvation of men, the Lord mercifully grant through Jesus Christ. Amen.