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not he that is most clear in his ideas, most accurate in his conceptions, or most refined in his speculations, nor he whose head is most philosophically or geometrically turned, that is the most profitable reader of holy scripture; but he who is most inspired with the Holy Ghost, and whose heart and life are most changed into that which he readeth. Without the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, all our human wisdom and science, will no more enable us savingly to understand the scriptures, than to create a new world. "Man's human and worldly wisdom and science, "(as saith the same Homily,) is not needful to the "understanding of scripture, but the revelation of "the Holy Ghost, who inspireth the true meaning "unto them, that with humility and diligence search "therefor." Now, do you think our Reformers were enthusiasts? Why then are you ready to call those enthusiasts who speak of the inspiration of the Holy Ghost? How do you expect to understand the scriptures? You are here taught, that it is not all your skill in arts and sciences will help you to a right understanding thereof; but it is the revelation of the Holy Ghost, and his inspiration, that must advance you to this high attainment. And note, by inspiration here, we do not mean any new power to write a new scripture, but only to understand the ancient writings of the Old and New Testament aright to all intents and purposes of salvation. This is what our Church prays for in the Collect for the second Sunday in Advent; "Blessed Lord, who hast caused all

holy scriptures to be written for our learning,

grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, “mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by "patience and comfort of thy holy word we may em

brace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of ever"lasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour "Jesus Christ." And have we not all reason to join in such a prayer?

The scriptures are very clear and express in this particular. Thus saith the holy Psalmist, Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law, cxix. 18. The inspired author, from a sense of the weakness of his own understanding, and the sublimity of divine mysteries, breaks out into this devout petition. He prays God to open his eyes, that he might behold the wonders of the divine book; implying, that without this heavenly illumination he could not understand it. The case is the same with us; unless the Spirit of grace enlightens our dark minds, we cannot savingly discern the mysteries of the kingdom of God. The same divine writer speaks to the same purpose, ver. 12. Blessed art thou, O Lord, teach me thy statutes; where we see the holy man of God first blesses the Lord for past and present manifestations of his grace, and then prays for further revelations and discoveries, teach me thy statutes; i. e. give me the inward teaching of thy Spirit, whereby I may have a clear view of the doctrines, precepts, and privileges contained in thy holy word. And this petition is repeated, ver. 26. 33. 64. 68. 124. 135. which shows how earnest the Psalmist was in

this his request. And when we have a sense of the need of this divine teaching, we shall be ceaseless and importunate in our supplications to God, that he would afford us the guidance of his infallible Spirit to conduct us in all our sacred researches.

We are informed in Luke, xxiv. 45. that our Saviour opened the understanding of his disciples that they might understand the scriptures; which shows us that they could not have understood them, unless the blessed Jesus had thus opened their understanding. Now then it may be asked, can we understand the scriptures without having our understanding opened in the same manner? Have we not as much need of this spiritual illumination as the apostles had? Or do we think we can understand the scriptures without it, though they could not? If men are thus conceited of their own wisdom and abilities, may not God justly leave them to the guidance of their natural intellects, to walk on in the darkness of their own hearts, to blackness of darkness for ever? How earnestly, therefore, should we call upon God to do the same thing in our hearts, which he did in the hearts of his disciples for otherwise we shall never understand the scriptures to any saving purpose. The time when our Lord Jesus thus opened their understanding is remarkable: for first, they had before this been sent out to preach ;* they must then, there

* Luke. ix. 1, 2.

fore, have had some knowledge of Christ and his offices; yet now after his resurrection the blessed Jesus opens their understanding, i. e. gives them a fresh display of his grace and mediatorship. The most aged ministers, the most advanced believers, receive an augmentation of spiritual light and wisdom. All our knowledge is finite, and so is capable of perpetual addition and increase. Secondly, this opening of their understanding was before the plenary effusion of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, Acts, ii. and, therefore, cannot mean any extraordinary donation of the Spirit peculiar to the apostles only, but must signify such a communication thereof, as all experienced christians are endowed with. Accordingly, when it is said the Lord opened Lydia's heart, Acts, xvi. 14. the very same Greek word* is there used, which the divine evangelist here makes use of. When Lydia's heart was opened, she attended to the things which were spoken by Paul, and God opened her heart for this very end and purpose. Had not the Lord opened her heart, she would have remained in blindness and ignorance for ever. And till the same gracious Lord opens our hearts, as he did faithful Lydia's, we shall never savingly attend to things eternal and divine.

The Apostle Paul prays for the Ephesians, that the eyes of their understanding might be enlightened,

* Διήνοιξε.

Eph. i. 18. and chap. v. ver. 8. saith he, Fe were sometime darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord. Darkness and light are abstract terms, and so denote to us the extreme misery of a natural, and the extreme felicity of a regenerate state. They also acquaint us with the diametrical opposition of these two states. Christ is called the light of the Gentiles, Isa. xlii. 6. xlix. 6. Luke, ii. 32. Acts, xiii. 48. He calls himself the light of the world, John, viii. 12. ix. 5. He was sent to open the blind eyes, Isa. xlii. 7. To give light to them that sit in darkness, Luke, i. 79. and recovering of sight to the blind, Luke, iv. 18. So the Apostle Paul was sent to the Gentiles to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, Acts, xxvi. 18. 2 Cor. iv. 6. saith he, God who commandeth light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts. All which I allege, (and much more might be alleged,) to show the total darkness of men in their natural condition, and the absolute necessity of the enlightening grace of God.

Experience is the mother of all knowledge, natural and spiritual, and this doctrine is confirmed by the experience of all saints. The scriptures are full of instances of a divine light and power attending the word. When St. Paul was converted, the light that shined around about him was but an emblem of the internal irradiation of his mind by the Holy Ghost. When our Saviour called Simon and Andrew, James and John, they heard, besides the outward call of his voice, the inward call of his Spirit; otherwise they

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