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reverence and in fear, that it may be fruitful in us, and we receive it not in vain.
I. The Scriptures are the word of God. What title can there be of greater value? What may be said of them to make them of greater authority, than to say • The LORD hath spoken' by them ? that they not by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost ?!!!
At the word of proclamation of an earthly prince we stand
up and vail our bonnets, and give good heed to it. We are bound so to do; it is our duty. Such honour belongeth to the powers that are placed to rule over us : for “they are ordained of God; and whosoever resisteth them, resisteth the ordinance of God.'.
If we should have a revelation, and hear an angel speak unto us, how careful would we be to mark, and remember, and be able to declare the words of the angel !
Yet is an angel but a glorious creature, and not God. And what is a king ? Great and mighty, yet mortal and subject to death: his breath departeth, and his name shall perish. Both he and his word, his power and his puissance, shall have an end. But the word of the Gospel is not as the word of an earthly prince. It is of more majesty than the word of an angel. The apostle saith, “ If the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation, which at the first began to be preached by the LORD, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him ?”? GOD saith, by the prophet Isaiah : “My word shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”p And the same prophet saith: 66 The word of God shall stand for ever.
." And “ It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail,” saith our Saviour :r for it is the word of the living and almighty God, of the God of Hosts, which hath done whatsoever pleased him both in heaven and in earth.s
1 2 Pet. i. 21.
[Take off our hats; in token of respect.] n Rom. xiii. 1, 2. o Heb. i. 2, 3. p Isa. lv, 11. 9 Isa. xl. 8.
Lu. xvi. 17. s Ps. cxv. 3. CXXXV. 6.
By this word he maketh his will known. " I have not spoken of myself,” saith CHRIST; “but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak." And again,
“ If I had not come, and spoken unto them, they had : not had sin; but now they have no cloak for their sin.”u
• No man hath seen God at any time." He is invisible, no eye can reach unto him. “ The only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the FATHER, he hath declared him :'w he hath showed us “ the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need :"> he hath disclosed unto us the will of his Father:Y he hath left unto us, and ordained that we should hear, his holy word.
This word the angels and blessed spirits used when they came down from heaven to speak unto the people. When they came to the blessed Virgin, and to Joseph, and to others, they spake as it was written in the Prophets, and in the Scriptures of God: they thought not their own authority sufficient, but they took credit to their saying, and authority to their message, out of the word of God.
This word the Prophets vouched and alleged to the people. Albeit they were sanctified in their mothers' womb;' albeit God had endued them with his heavenly Spirit; although a seraphim came unto one of them and touched his mouth with a hot coal ja albeit he saw the LORD sitting upon a high throne;" yet they would not speak as of themselves, but only in the name of the LORD: for thus they used to say,
“ The LORD hath spoken;" 6. This is the word of the LORD;”. “ Hear what the LORD saith.” Saint Paul, albeit he was taken up into the third heaven, and into paradise, and heard words that are not lawful for man to utter, yet he wrote not his own words to the Churches of Rome, of Corinth, and Thessalonica, and of other places, but delivered them that which he had received, and taught them according to the Scriptures.
t John xii. 49.
John xv. 22.
1 Heb. iv. 16.
• 2 Cor. xii. 2, 4.
John i. 18.
Isa. vi. 6.
This word is the true manna ; it is the bread which came down from heaven ;' it is the key of the kingdom of heaven ; it is the savour of life unto life;f it is the power of God unto salvation. In it God showeth unto us his might, his wisdom; and his glory.
By it he will be known of us. By it he will be honoured of his creatures. Whatsoever truth is brought unto us contrary to the word of God, it is not truth, but falsehood and error.h Whatsoever honour done unto God, disagreeth from the honour required by his word, it is not honour unto God, but blasphemy. As Christ saith, “ In vain they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” By Isaiah God saith : “Who hath required this at your hand ?"! And by Jeremiah, “I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them, in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices : but this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people; and walk ye in all the ways which I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.' Again, “ What is the chaff to the wheat ? saith the LORD:"n • what are your dreams to be weighed with the truth of God? Search the Scriptures : in them ye shall learn to know me, and how you should worship me ; in them ye shall find everlasting life.' “ The words of the LORD are pure words, as silver tried in the furnace;" there is no filth nor dross remaining in them: they are the storehouse of wisdom, and of the knowledge of God; in respect whereof all the wisdom of this world is but vain and foolish.
Numa Pompilius, king of the Romans; Lycurgus, king of Lacedæmon; and Minos, king of Crete, were wise men, and of great government; they devised laws to rule the people, and bare them in hand that they were taught by revelation, that so their ordinances might win the more credit, and be established for ever.
• John v. 31-58.
? 2 Cor. ii. 16.
But where are they now? Where is Numa, Minos, or Lycurgus ? Where be their books ? What is become of their laws ?
They were unwise, and had no knowledge nor understanding of God; they and their laws are dead, and their names forgotten. But the law of God came from heaven indeed. God wrote it with his finger ; it is the fountain of all wisdom; and therefore it shall continue for ever, and never have an end.
Here let us behold the great power and work of God. When Moses received the law, God himself came down in person, with thousand thousands of angels : the air was darkened at his presence; the mount stood all covered with fire; the earth shook; the heavens thundered ;P the people stood afar off, and fled for fear, and said unto Moses, “ Speak thou with us and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”! This was the first proclaiming and publishing of the law ; such force and credit God gave to his word, and warranted himself to'be the LORD.
Since that time, so many thousand years are already passed. In the meantime, the people of Israel were oppressed by tyrants; were spoiled, and chased out of their country ; first, by Nebuchadnezzar into Babylon ; after that, by Antiochus into Syria ; and lastly, were as vagabonds driven from country to country. Their city Jerusalem was sacked ; their houses overthrown; their temple razed, and not a stone left upon a stone; their library destroyed ; their books burned; the tabernacle lost; the covenant broken: no vision, no revelation, no comfort for the people left; nor prophet, nor priest, nor any to speak in the name of the LORD.
In those times of decays, of sackings, of darkness, and of misery, what was done with the word of God? It was wickedly burnt by Jehoiakim, king of Juda :: and Antiochus burnt the books of the law, and cut them in pieces ;* no man durst be known to have them, and avouch the having : so thought they utterly to deface the glory of God, and abolish all remembrance of his laws. Then came the Pharisees : they drowned the word of God with their traditions ;t they took away the key of knowledge, and entered not in themselves, but forbade them that came in.“ After them came heretics; they denied some one part, and some another part of Scripture. They razed, blotted, corrupted, and altered the word of God: of the word of God they made it their own word; or, which is worse, they made it the word of the devil.
p Ex, xix.
9 Ex. xx. 19.
By the space of so many thousand years, the word of God passed by so many dangers of tyrants, of Pharisees, of heretics, of fire, and of sword, and yet continueth and standeth until this day, without altering or changing one letier.' This was a wonderful work of God, that having so many and so great enemies, and passing through so many and so great dangers, it yet continueth still, without adding or altering of any one sentence, or word, or letter. No creature was able to do this, it was God's work. He preserved it, that no tyrant should consume it, no tradition choke it; no heretic maliciously should corrupt it. For his name's sake, and for the elect's sake, he would not suffer it to perish; for in it God hath ordained a blessing for his people, and by it he maketh covenant with them for life everlasting. Tyrants, and Pharisees, and heretics, and the enemies of the cross of Christ, have an end; but the word of God hath no end. No force shall be able to decay it. The gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Cities shall fall; kingdoms shall come to nothing; empires shall fade away as the smoke; but the truth of
+ Mark vii. 13.
u Luke xi. 52. [It was the current opinion in the days of JEWELL, even among the most learned men, that the original text of the Scriptures
, of both the Old and New Testaments, had not undergone the most trifling alteration, from the lapse of time, or in the process of transcription.
The closer attention to every thing relative to the word of God which the Reformation introduced soon removed this error ; and before the middle of the seventeenth century few hesitated to acknowledge what the learned Erasmus had discovered in the beginning of the sixteenththat the integrity of revelation depended not on the infallibility of human copyists, but, while not one jot or tittle of its substance should pass away, the vehicles by which it is conveyed from generation to generation might be equally susceptible of injury and corruption as any other kind of records.--See Note i on page 280 of the standard Works, Vol. I. ]
w Matt. xvi. 18.