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« in certain parts of God's Word; it is indispensably
requisite to ascertain and familiarize those sacred " testimonies by which scriptural truths are confirmed. “ He who deserts these testimonies, at once so suita“ ble and perspicuous, in order to give the ampler
scope to the exercise of his own judgment, is unwor
thy of the student's imitation and regard. Let the “ Scriptures explain themselves: and let their genuine “ force and native emphasis be carefully collected from “ the grammatical signification of the words, &c. in 16 order that the sacred testimonies may carry with “ them their full weight. It is also proper to know, " in what manner, and on what principles, they are “ applied; as well when adduced to detect error, as " when they are cited to confirm truth.”—These re“marks are applicable to Doctrinal Reading likewise ; for which, see Part II. Chap 3. (e)
The Seat of a subject is—any place in the Scriptures where such subject is treated: whether professedly; or in subordination to another subject; or, especially, when it is regularly discussed and grounded by the obvious appointment of the Holy Spirit. This last may be termed its Proper Seat; and is that of which we, at present, chiefly speak. It should, how ever, be remarked, that the same subjects are thus treated, in more than one chapter and book of Scripture; and, hence, there is an evident difference even between the Proper Seats of the same subject. The
doctrine of Justification, for instance, is considered in the third chapter of Philippians, as in its Proper Seat; but the epistles to the Romans and Galatians, are, more eminently, the Seats of that doctrine.
The student will find it a beneficial practice, if he draw up, as he reads, for his own private use, an Index of Subjects digested according to their Proper Seats. To form such an Index, will not require much labour, and will certainly be productive of abundant advantage. Those which are prepared by others (as that of Tossanus, annexed to the version of Junius and Tremellius,) do not so forcibly affect the memory. Young persons are not indeed capable of arranging such an Index with the requisite precision: they ought, on that account, to be assisted by a Master, at least in a few chapters, lest their time and labour should be unsuccessfully bestowed. (f)
The exercises of Discussion and Examination are better adapted to fix the seats of subjects in the mind, than any
other means whatever. Students do not indeed usually appreciate the important advantages which result from a perfect acquaintance with the Seats, and therefore do not cultivate this branch of study with a correspondent attention; but experience will demonstrate and enforce its claims.
VII. EXTERNAL CIRCUMSTANCES.
Such are MSS. editions ; versions ; the divisions made by
chapters, verses, and points ; accents; inscriptions; subscriptions, various readings; the Masora ; &c.--these may be emphatically denominated external. On such points, recourse may be had to the following works:-Walther's “ Officina Biblica ;' Kortholtus si de variis Scripturæ Sacræ Editionibus ;'' Scherertzius' “ Animadversiones Philologicæ in Codicem Veteris et Novi Testamenti ;" Fabricius' “ Partitiones Codicis Hebræi ;” and Father Richard Simon's « Critica Sacra Veteris et Novi Testamenti.”_It is, however, allowed, that these books contain exceptionable matter; and, among others, this is noticed by Majus, in several Latin Dissertations published at Frankfort in 1690; and also by Walton, in the preface to his Polyglott Bible. Many remarks to this effect
be likewise seen in the Critica Sacra” of Pfeiffer. (g)
Various things connected with History occur even in texts of Seripture: as the names of places and seasons; genealogies; various kinds of money, weights, and measures; phrases appropriated to peculiar antiquities, rites, laws, privileges, or to some condition of persons. Whatever, therefore, goes to explain such points, appertains to Historical Reading. Hence, Natural History, is, in no small degree, helpful to the biblical student; and on this ground, Franzius composed his “Historia Anamalium," and has been followed more at large by Bochart in his “ Hierozoicas."
The other learned works of the latter merit commendation. (h)
It is proper to remark, with regard to Historical reading, that it would be unwise, indeed, to prefer it, as it concerns the subjects which have been considered, the other branches of Scripture Reading; a position on which we shall speak more fully, in treating of the Order in which the Sacred Volume should be studied. To be immoderately anxious about things merely external, argues a great insensibility of the internal excellencies of the Holy Scriptures.--It should likewise be our concern, to guard against vainglory, in a business wherein the glory of God should be our only object.
There is also a necessity for the exercise of caution, lest a knowledge of external points render us less ardent and lively in reading the Word itself. How many are there who err in this respect, and feed contentedly on the husks, while those heavenly delights which flow from the Volume of Revelation remain untasted and unenjoyed.
Since the Letter is examined only for the sake of the Spirit of the Sacred Oracles, we should contemu whatever cannot be reduced to some useful purpose; and never give place to vain, unprofitable curiosity. He who protracts his advancement, by dwelling too long on things of secondary importance, is justly deemed unworthy of the divine wisdom which Scrip
ture inculcates. In this study, our estimate of other books is constantly to be formed, from the degree in which they assist us in attaining the proper object of the Bible itself.
There are some things which, from their peculiar nature, must be referred to following chapters; thus, the Scope and Argument are more accurately considered under Analytical Reading. They could not, however, be excluded from this chapter, because they are to be historically known, and appertain to any general comprehension of the things contained in Scripture; and yet they are not so known as in Analytical and Expository reading, where they will require a further investigation.
It is highly prejudicial to young students, to take up, at will, the works of many and various writers; since they want judgment to discriminate, skill to select, as well as practice and experience to read books with profit. During the first years of study, they should confine themselves within the limits prescribed by a Friend or Tutor. They should read little, but read that little well; they should prefer those works whose tendency is to lay a solid foundation, and peruse them in a sedate and attentive manner; never commencing any other book until the subject of the former be perfectly understood and digested. If these monitions be neglected, they may become sciolists, but never men of learning; sophists, but never truly