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he has assumed, or make the literary character the mere road to honour, or the literary exercises of the mind a mere amusement in his vacant hours. In a man it is an excellent and honourable thing to enter upon the arduous path of knowledge, were it only as a means of obviating that listless vacuity of thought which drives so many down the broad and slippery ways of gaming or intemperance. In a gentleman it is a praise to be a sound scholar, a profound philosopher, or even a musician, a painter, or a poet; and to labour merely for the advancement of the science which he loves. But a Clergyman must have different impressions. Poetry and philosophy, and languages and history, and every other part of human knowledge he may cultivate, if he like; but it must not be so much for the sake of excellency in the accuracy and extent of what he acquires, as in the propriety and usefulness of what he learns, and its application to the support of Christianity, and the more general propagation of piety and truth. What the servant of Christ gains in literature and science, he must theologically direct to religious ends. When Bishop Watson was placed in a more conspicuous station in our establishment, he was called upon to renounce his chymical enquiries. Interesting as was the subject, and eminent as had been his success, he heard and gave beed to the call, and he did well; not because chymistry
is inconsistent with theology, but because, when pursued as a science and for itself, it is not theology, but philosophy. Nor did he, nor will any minister of religion lose, by a similar renunciation, his station and his dignity in the republic of letters. I know of nothing which so adorns and recommends the philosopher, as to find him not labouring merely in the vain curiosity to know, but, in the substantial effort to turn his knowledge to the comfort or improvement of his fellowcreatures : and in this merit the occupation of the theologian pre-eminently excels. For he takes not only the temporary, but the everlasting comfort; not only the intellectual, but the moral and religious improvement of man for his object. Theology, therefore, is the most dignified of all other sciences, because it essentially consists in the right use and proper application of them all. It is in fact, to use the happy remark of Locke, nothing less than the direction of all knowledge to its true end, the glory of the eternal God, and the eternal welfare of the human race.
EXISTENCE OF SCRIPTURE DIFFICULTIES
2 PETER III. 16.
“In which are some things hard to be understood.”
ENUMERATED in my last Discourse a variety of causes to whose combined operation, or separate influence, the origin of Scripture Difficulties might be satisfactorily traced; and I endeavoured to shew that when the Bible is considered as a mere human composition, the existence of its difficulties is not only a natural, but an unavoidable and unobjectionable circumstance. So far, therefore, the unbeliever has no more right to complain of the obscurity of the Bible than of any other ancient work. From its character, had it been no more than the work of man, combined with the manner and place and period of its composition, the languages in which it speaks, the matter to which it refers, and the comprehensive brevity with which it is drawn up, “things hard to be understood”
would have been one of its necessary accompaniments: and if they appear to be more numerous or more important in the Bible than in other writings, the excess may be attributed to a superior degree of antiquity, to the more incomprehensible sublimity of its contents, and to its having, for very obvious reasons, been more minutely and jealously searched than is usual with books of a secular kind.
But however clearly we may have accounted for the origin of difficulties in the Bible as the work of man, we have not yet justified their appearance in it as, what it is in truth, the Word of God. The Scriptures, by claiming to be a divine revelation, claim to be something more than a mere human composition, and are justly believed by every sound Christian to differ from every ordinary production of the human mind in this important particular, that they were “given by inspiration of God.” Whether this difference ought to have made any considerable difference in the intelligibility of their contents; whether, and how far the inspiration of God ought to have precluded the presence, altered the nature, or modified the extent of Scripture Difficulties, falls, in order, therefore, under our notice as the second subject of enquiry. Having in the former
a 2 Tim. jii. 16.
Discourse delineated the causes of difficulties, we must proceed, in the present and following Lecture, to examine whether their existence be consistent with the character of the Bible as an inspired work.
To guard, however, against any misapprehension in the discussion of this point, it may
be necessary previously to remark, that the possibility of an entire freedom from difficulties in any inspired production, is not at all the matter in debate. Readily and thankfully do we confess that with the Almighty, from whom inspiration proceeds, dwelleth the fulness of all wisdom, both human and divine, and that he knoweth what is in man, and that with him all things are possible. To the mind and power of the Almighty, therefore, it would have been as easy to have poured the light of revelation into the understandings both of the intelligent and illiterate in every successive generation of mankind, as it was, at the creation, to make the sun to shine with equal clearness both upon the just and upon the unjust, in every successive clime which that luminary enlivens with the daily visitation of his beains. But was it expedient, or would it have been right so to do? This is the real point at issue ; for though God can do all things in the mightiness of his strength, yet are there many things