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of Lights, by fervent prayer and supplication, for light and guidance in his way. Those possessed of this engaging frame of spirit, are characterized in holy writ under the several epithets of the meek, the humble, and the lowly. As when we are told, that “God will guide the meek in judg
ment, and the meek he will teach his way.” God resisteth “ the proud, but giveth grace to the hum“ ble.” And though the Lord be “high, yet he “ hath respect to the lowly.” And in order to inculcate the necessity of this temper
every genuine disciple, our Lord hath said, “ Whosoever will “not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, “ shall not enter therein.” The apostle employs a still bolder figure, where he says, “ If any man
among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let “ him become a fool, that he may be wise.”
The third and last quality I shall mention, is patience. Nothing can more endanger our forming false conclusions in any study which we are prosecuting, than impatience and precipitancy in our advances. Our very zeal and ardour itself, which is a commendable quality in every laudable pursuit, is apt to mislead us, unless checked by this virtue as a bridle. In spiritual, as in secular matters, God requires of us the use of those means which he hath put in our power; and to serve as a motive to our obedience in this, he hath given us the promise of his spirit to assist us. Now all means operate gradually; time therefore is necessary, which requires patient and repeated application. And as to the promises which God hath graciously given for our encouragement, it is our duty in regard to this, as well as in regard to every
other promise, to wait patiently on him, in the persuasion, that he will not withhold what instruction is requisite, any more than other good things, from them who seek him. It was said by an heathen poet, Φρονειν οι ταχεις έκ ασφαλεις, Those who are in haste to know, seldom take the surest road. If this may be asserted in general, much more may it in the present case. The young student is so much exposed, both from what he hath occasion to see, and from what he hath occasion to hear, to have the opinions of others obtruded upon him, before he is in a capacity to decide, that it is not easy to resist giving perhaps too hasty an assent, when these opinions shall appear to be plausibly supported. Nay, sometimes his good qualities themselves, his candour, his confidence in the judgment of those who are older and wiser than himself, may betray him into this fault. But he ought to remember, that till he have acquired the first principles of the critical knowledge of the sacred idiom, he is not, in dubious matters, a competent judge either of plausibility or truth. The dogmatism of others, instead of engaging an easier assent, ought to render their opinions the more suspected. This patient cautiousness in judging will be also an excellent guard against his being seduced by an immoderate attachment either to antiquity or to novelty; extremes which are differently affected by different tempers. Some are more ready to adopt an opinion implicitly, because it is ancient; others, because it is new. faulty, though in my judgment the latter is the greater fault of the two. Errors
doubtless be very old; that there are many such, we know; but
truths in religion, natural, or revealed, cannot be entirely new. And even with regard to the explications that may be given of particular passages of scripture, it is always a shrewd presumption against them, if there is reason to believe that, in the course of so many centuries, they never occurred before. At the same time it must be owned on the other hand, that no prescription can be pleaded for any tenets whatever, in opposition to reason and to common sense. The great aim of scriptural knowledge is to clear the truth from that load of rubbish with which, in the track of ages,
it hath been in a great measure overwhelmed, through the continued decline of piety and good sense, and through the increase of barbarism, and the gradual introduction of a monstrous species of superstition, a heterogeneous and motley mixture of something of the form of christianity (whose name it dishonoured) with the beggarly elements of the Jews, and the idolatrous fopperies of the Pagans, whence hath resulted a general character of more inveterate malignity, than either Judaism or Paganism of any form ever manifested. And notwithstanding the inestimable advantages which we derive from the reformation, and the revival of letters in Europe, we have reason still to talk of the state of religion in our day, and the tincture it retains of Romish corruption and the Romish spirit, in much the same way as Horace did of the state of civilization in his,
In longum tamen ævum Manserunt, hodieque manent vestigia Rome. So much for the most essential characters of up
right intention, modest diffidence, and patient perseverance, with which our study of holy writ ought to be accompanied.
The next thing I should consider is, the manner in which we ought to prosecute this study, that we may most effectually attain the end.
When I was on the subject of the Jewish history, I observed the propriety of accompanying the reading of this, as we have it in the Old Testament, with the perusal of those uninspired writers of antiquity, whose subject bore any relation to that recorded in the sacred text; and particularly I recommended the careful reading of Josephus the Jewish historian. I observed the propriety of parcelling out the history into periods, and accustoming yourselves to compose abstracts of them severally as you proceed, which will tend at once greatly to increase your knowledge of scripture, to improve your memory, and to produce very useful habits both of reflection and of composition. I must now add, that as one great view is to habituate you to the scripture idiom, you ought not to satisfy yourselves with reading the Bible in the vulgar translation, but ought regularly to have recourse to the original. Though you should prescribe yourselves but a small portion every day, if you can but persevere in the practice, you will improve very sensibly, and find the task at last grow very easy. The portion of the Old Testament which you first read in Hebrew, I would have you next carefully peruse in Greek in the septuagint translation. Nothing can be of greater consequence for forming the young student to a thorough apprehension of the style of the New Testament. And it may
worth his while to remark the most considerable differences in these two principal exemplars of the Old. When he is puzzled as to the literal or gram
may recur to some other translation either into Latin or any modern language which he happens to understand. This, for the beginner, is a much better method, than to recur to commentators. To canvass the reasonings of the latter belongs to maturer age, and is proper only for those, who, to adopt the style of the apostle, have, by reason of use, their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. A point of great moment, in my eyes, and which I cannot sufficiently inculcate, is ever to give scope to the student's own reflections, and not (as is the too common method) to preclude all reflection of his own, by perpetually obtruding upon him the reflections of others. He must not conceive study to be purely the furnishing of his memory, but much more the sharpening of his attention, the exercising of his judgment, and the acquiring a habit of considering every subject that comes under his review, carefully and impartially on every side. When the young student is possessed of a natural good taste and quickness of discernment, it were a pity, not to put him into that tract, which might qualify him in time for being an expositor to himself, and to leave him in the power of the first he happens to meet with, or at least of that commentator who has the knack of setting off opinions in the most plausible manner*.
* As a specimen of the manner of study above recommended, and as an instance of its advantages, it may not be improper to subjoin a criticism of Dr. Campbell's on a passage in the epistle