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The presumptuous claim of the Romish Church to the infallible interpretation of the Word is denied, and the right of private judgement in the interpretation of it asserted; the question considered is declared to relate to the method by which we attain to a right perception of the mind of God in Scripture, and this method is described as twofold:— I. Through a principal efficient cause; and, II. Auxiliary means, internal and external, appointed of God, chap. i.
I. The Holy, Spirit is represented as the efficient cause, and an inquiry follows:— 1. Into the evidence of the work of the Spirit in the communication of spiritual understanding; — various testimonies from Scripture are adduced, involving a minute discussion of Ps. cxix. 18, 2 Cor. iii. 13–18, Isa. xxv. 7, Luke xxiv. 44, 45, Eph. i. 17–19, Hos. xiv. 9, ii.; John xvi. 13, 1 1 John ii. 20, 27, Eph. iv. 14, Job xxxvi. 22, John vi. 45, iii.; and, 2. Into the especial nature of the Spirit’s work in enlightening us into a knowledge of the mind of God in Scripture. Its nature is first considered by a reference to several scriptural expressions descriptive of it, such as “opening the eyes,” “translating out of darkness into light,” “giving understanding,” “teaching,” and “shining into our hearts,” iv. As preparatory to what follows in explanation of the Spirit’s work in enlightening the mind, a digression is introduced on the causes of spiritual ignorance, which are classified into three divisions:— the natural vanity of the depraved mind; the working of corrupt affections; and the deceitful influence of Satan. The way in which the Spirit operates directly on our minds for the removal of all those causes of spiritual ignorance, by communicating spiritual light, purging from corrupt affections, and implanting spiritual habits and principles, is explained, v. His work for the production of the same effect by means of Scripture itself next comes under review; and under this head three points in regard, (1.) To the arrangement, (2.) The subject-matter of Scripture, and (3.) Difficulties in Scripture, are considered. (1.) On the first of these points, advantages are exhibited as resulting from the want of formal system in revelation; the ministry of the gospel is felt to be of value, faith and obedience are brought into special exercise and search into the whole of Scripture is rendered necessary (2.) the subject-matter of revelation is proved to contain all things requisite for faith and practise. (3.) The difficulties in Scripture include, first, things “hard to be understood,” and secondly, things “hard to be interpreted.” Rules for the management of these difficulties are supplied, vi.
II. As to the means for the understanding of Scripture, two kinds are specified:— 1. Such as are general and necessary, as the reading of Scripture; and, 2. Such as are expedient and conducive to the improvement of it. And the latter are threefold:— (1.) Spiritual means, such as prayer, susceptibiity of gracious impressions, practical obedience, desire for progress in knowledge, and attention to the ordinances of worship, vii.; (2.) Disciplinary, skill in the original languages of Scripture, acquaintance with history, geography, and chronology, and expertness in reasoning, viii.; and, (3.) Ecclesiastical, under which the deference due to catholic tradition, the consent of the fathers, and pious authorship, is estimated, ix. — Ed.
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