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knowledge tends, in consequence of the existence of difficulties, to the elucidation of Scripture, the cultivation even of the merely ornamental parts of learning is requisite to the defence of revelation, and consequently justifiable in a still larger extent than it would have otherwise been. The minutest branches of philosophy, and the most trivial recreations of the mind thus become important in a religious point of view. We are evidently, therefore, and deeply indebted to the difficulties of Scripture, because by making every species of knowledge subservient to the illustration and vindication of religious truth, they have dignified and sanctified, as it were, the scientific amusements of our leisure hours, and heightened the pleasure of studying the subordinate branches of literature, by teaching us that we may be usefully employed even in our intellectual relaxations.

2. If from the easy and ornamental we pass on to the more arduous, but more profitable, parts of knowledge, we shall find our reflections terminating in similar conclusions. All those branches of art and science which tend to promote the comforts of our present state of existence, would still have been necessary; and in all those studies which teach the means of being innocently happy ourselves, and preventing others from disturbing, more than can be avoided, the fulfilment of our wishes and wants, there would still bave been an importance and use, had there not been a single obscurity to be removed by the application of learning. But that necessity, importance, and use, would then have been proportionally less, because confined to the promotion of our temporary

welfare here. Thus the separation between the man of science and of piety, would have been far more decided than it now is. Had ordinary learning been but slightly connected with spiritual knowledge, the man of piety would have been far more apt than he now is to despise and neglect it, as of no use in giving him the understanding of his faith and duties; and the man of learning would, in return, have been far more apt than he now is, to contemn religion, as but little careful of the most important and dignified part of man’s nature, his rational soul and intellectual faculties. But as the case really stands, and in the face of such an undeniable call for learning to illuminate the dark places of revelation, though fanaticism, in her blindness, may, and has sometimes endeavoured to depreciate, she can never be successful in altogether banishing literature and science from the household of faith. Nor can philosophy, in her pride, though she may often with justice condemn the Christian individual, as having been an enemy to the progress of mental improvement, ever properly and fairly comprehend the Christian religion itself in the same rebuke. Christianity demands knowledge of every description for the elucidation and defence of its claims, and thus dignifies the children, the patrons, and the use of every form of human wisdom.

Such are the positive benefits of which we should have been deprived by the absence from the Scriptures of “things hard to be understood;" and such, consequently, are the grounds upon which I would rest the propriety and expediency of their presence, notwithstanding the inspiration of the work in which they are found. Whether these benefits may not be invalidated, or perhaps overbalanced, by corresponding disadvantages ; whether there be not reasons against the existence of Scripture Difficulties of greater weight than any which we have produced in their favour, remains to be considered in the next Discourse; in which I shall examine the objections which may be alleged against the statements here advanced, and endeavour to shew, from a comparison of the advantages with the inconveniences of “things hard to be understood,” that we should in reality have lost much, and gained but little, by their removal from the Bible.




2 Pet. III. 16.

" In which are some things hard to be understood."

As the cloud which drops fatness upon the earth, dims, at the same time, the brightness of the day, and brings an uncomfortable chillness on the air, notwithstanding the blessings it pours down; 80 the difficulties of Scripture, whatever may be the benefits which they confer, and however powerfully they may contribute by their existence to call forth the energies of the human mind, and by their elucidation, to increase and strengthen the Christian's faith, are yet undeniably attended with certain corresponding inconveniences, inasmuch as they both obscure the distinctness of the contents of revelation, and create a partial and transitory interruption to the faith of weak and unlearned and inconsiderate Christians.

Nor is it in these points alone that the obscurities of nature and of grace resemble each other. The manner in which they operate upon different individuals, or upon the same individuals under different states of feeling and in different circumstances, is also in many respects similar. The husbandman is delighted to behold the rain descend upon the earth, in the hope of having his fields refreshed and fertilized by the genial moisture: and not only does he willingly suffer the suspension of his labours, and his confinement at home, for the sake of the advantages which he expects ultimately to reap; but he actually rejoices in the storm, and turning away his thoughts from the sufferings of the houseless wanderer, looks upon the raging of the elements with an eye of the most grateful and unmingled satisfaction. The traveller, on the other hand, whose feelings are sensibly affected by the gloomy darkness of the day, and the comfortless, character which his journey in consequence assumes, forgets that the general interests of man are connected with the benefits of the fertilizing showers, and is apt to murmur at. every step, and to fix his repining meditations only upon the inconveniences to which he is personally subject. In the same exclusive and partial manner do men of different complexions contemplate in the Bible "things hard to be understood.” The sceptical

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