« ZurückWeiter »
it not for the preventing and renewing grace of God. And as many of the persons, whose faults are related in the volume of inspiration, were men of infinitely more elevated piety than ourselves, we should learn from them, not only to "be not high-minded, but fear" (Rom. xi. 20.); but further, to avoid being rash in censuring the conduct of others.
The occasions of their declensions are likewise deserving of our attention, as well as the temptations to which they were exposed, and whether they did not neglect to watch over their thoughts, words, and actions, or trust too much to their own strength (as in the case of St. Peter's denial of Christ): what were the means that led to their penitence and recovery, and how they demeaned themselves after they had repented. By a due observation therefore of their words and actions, and of the frame and temper of their minds, so far as they are manifested by words and actions, we shall be better enabled to judge of our real progress in religious knowledge, than by those characters which are given of holy men in the Scriptures, without such observation of the tenor of their lives, and the frame of their minds.1
VII. In reading the promises and threatenings, the exhortations and admonitions, and other parts of Scripture, we should apply them to ourselves in such a manner, as if they had been personally addressed
For instance, are we reading any of the prophetic Sermons? Let us so read and consider them, and, as it were, realise to ourselves the times and persons when and to whom such prophetic discourses were delivered, as if they were our fellow-countrymen, fellow-citizens, &c. whom Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and other prophets rebuke in some chapters; while in others they labour to convince them of their sinful ways, and to convert them, or, in the event of their continuing disobedient, denounce the divine judgments against them.2 So, in all the precepts of Christian virtue recorded in Matt. v. vi. and vii. we should consider ourselves to be as nearly and particularly concerned, as if we had personally heard them delivered by Jesus Christ on the Mount.3 Independently, therefore, of the light which will thus be thrown upon the prophetic or other portions of Scripture, much practical instruction will be efficiently obtained; for, by this mode of reading the Scriptures, the promises addressed to others will encourage us, the denunciations against others will deter us from the commission of sin, the exhortations delivered to others will excite us to the diligent performance of our duty, and, finally, admonitions to others will make us walk circumspectly. Thus will Saint
1 Lukin's Introduction to the Scriptures, p. 215. 12mo. London, 1669. 2 Franzii Tractatus de Interpretatione Sacrarum Scripturarum, Præf. p. 9. 3" This close application," says an excellent, but now neglected writer, "will render what we read operative and effective, which, without it, will be useless and insignificant. We may see an instance of it in David: who was not at all convinced of his own guilt by Nathan's parable; though the most apposite that was imaginable, till he roundly applied it, saying, Thou art the man. (2 Sam. xiii. 7.) And, unless we treat ourselves at the same rate, the Scriptures may fill our heads with high notions, nay, with many speculative truths, which yet amount to no more than the devil's theology (Jam. ii. 19.), and will as little advantage us." Lively Oracles, sect. viii. § 41.
Paul's comprehensive observations be fully realised; Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning (Rom. xv. 4.); and All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be made perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2. Tim. iii. 16, 17.)
VIII. The words of the passage selected for our private reading, after its import has been ascertained, may beneficially be summed up or comprised in very brief prayers, or ejaculations.1
The advantage resulting from this simple method, says Rambach, has been proved by many who have recommended it. A late learned divine of our own country,2 whom no one will suspect of even a tendency to enthusiasm, has confirmed this remark; observing, that if we pray over the substance of Scripture, with our Bible before us, it may impress the memory and heart more deeply, and may form us to copiousness and variety both of thought and expression in prayer. Should any references to the Scriptures be required, in confirmation of this statement, we would briefly notice that the following passages, among many others that might be cited, will, by addressing them to God, and by a slight change also in the person, become admirable petitions for divine teaching; viz. Col. i. 9, 10. — Eph. i. 17, 18, 19. - 1 Pet. ii. 1, 2. - The hundred and nineteenth Psalm contains numerous similar passages.
IX. In the practical reading of the Scriptures, all things are not to be applied at once, but gradually and successively; and this application must be made, not so much with the view of supplying us with materials for talking, as with matter for practice.
X. This practical reading and application must be diligently continued through life; and we may, with the assistance of divine grace, reasonably hope for success in it, if to reading, we add constant prayer and meditation on what we have read.
Prayer, says Saint Bernard, enlightens meditation, and by meditation, prayer is rendered more ardent.3 With these, we are further to conjoin a perpetual comparison of the sacred writings; daily observation of what takes place in ourselves, as well what we learn from the experience of others; a strict and vigilant self-examination; together with frequent conversation with men of learning and piety,
1 Professor Franck has given several examples of the practice here recommended, in the "Brevis Institutio," at the end of his Prælectiones Hermeneuticæ. Similar examples are also extant in the well known and useful little tract, entitled "Plain Directions for reading the Holy Scriptures," published by the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge.
2 Dr. Doddridge, Works, vol. i. p. 360.
3 Oratio et meditatio conjunctione necessaria sibi ad invicem copulantur. Et per orationem illuminatur meditatio, et in meditatione exardescit oratio. Opera, tom. v. p. 260. No. 2. In p. 156. No. 56. of the same volume, Saint Bernard has the following apposite observations on this topic. -"Nemo repente fit summus: Ascendendo, non volando, apprehenditur summitas scale. Ascendamus igitur, duobus veluti pedibus, Meditatione et Oratione. Meditatio siquidem docet, quid desit Oratio, ne desit, obtinet. Illa viam ostendit, ista deducit. Meditatione denique agnoscimus imminentia nobis pericula: Oratione evadimus, præstante Domino Nostro Jesu Christo."
who have made greater progress in saving knowledge; and, lastly,. the diligent cultivation of internal peace.1
Other observations might be offered: but the preceding hints, if duly considered and acted upon, will make "neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Pet. i. 8.) And if, to some of his readers, the author should appear to have dilated too much on so obvious a topic, its importance must be his apology. Whatever relates to the confirmation of our faith, the improvement of our morals, or the elevation of our affections, ought not to be treated lightly or with indifference. To borrow a remark of the eminently learned Dr. Waterland, with a trifling variation,— while moral or spiritual uses or improvements are raised upon texts of Scripture, for the purposes of practical edification, (whether such spiritual uses were really intended by the sacred penman or not,) if the words be but aptly accommodated to them, and pertinently and soberly applied, and the analogy of faith be preserved, a good end will be answered, and the true doctrine at least will be kept, if not a true interpretation.
1 The subjects briefly noticed in this paragraph, are discussed more at length by Franzius, in the preface (pp. 9-11.) to his Tractatus Theologicus de Interpretatione Scripturæ Sacre,
ACCOUNT OF THE PRINCIPAL HEBREW AND CHALDEE GRAMMARS.
[Referred to in Page 10. of this Volume.]
Hebrew Grammars with Points.
(1.) IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.
1. AN Easy Entrance into the Sacred Language, containing the necessary rules of Hebrew Grammar in English: with the Original Text of several chapters, select verses and useful histories, translated verbatim and analysed. Likewise some select pieces of Hebrew Poetry. By the Rev. Cornelius Bayley. London, 1782. 8vo.
This "Grammar may be very useful. Its rules, though concise, are perspicuous; the analysis and the examples illustrate their principles, and tend to facilitate the study of the Hebrew." Monthly Review (O. S.) vol. lxviii. p. 190. This Grammar has lately been reprinted.
2. The Scholar's Instructor; an Hebrew Grammar, by Israel Lyons. Cambridge, 1735; 1757, 2d edit.; 1810, 3d edit. revised by й
3. Hebrew Grammar, with the principal rules compiled from some of the most considerable Hebrew Grammars. By Thomas Yeates. London, 1812. 8vo.
These two Grammars have long been in use in different academies, as well as in the universities; and are recommended by their brevity. Mr. Yeates's Grammar is an improvement of one composed by Dr. Ashwort, and printed at Cambridge
4. A Hebrew Grammar for the use of the Students of the University of Dublin. By the Rev. Gerald Fitzgerald, D. D. Hebrew Professor in [the] said University. Dublin, 1799. 8vo.
"A plain, easy, and useful introduction to the Hebrew Tongue, in English, for the use of students in our universities, and particularly in the university of Dublin." Monthly Review (N. S.) vol. xxxiv. p. 151. The author has pursued an intermediate method between adopting all the masoretic notes and rejecting them altogether; viz. by retaining the vowel points and such of the accents as are most distinguishable and useful, and omitting all the other accents (the number of which is considerable,) which he deems wholly unnecessary in the present state of the Hebrew language.
5. Elements of the Hebrew Language, Part I. Orthography. With notes and a vocabulary for the use of Schools and Beginners. By Hyman Hurwitz. London, 1807. 8vo.
The author is a respectable Jewish teacher: the second part does not appear to have been published. See an account of this work in the Monthly Review (N. S.) vol. Iviii. p. 431.