For whatever things were written aforetime were written for our learning…
The book of nature obscured by the Fall. Philosophy from it could not find out God. The Scriptures given to reveal Him. Let us consider —
I. THE GRAND DESIGN OF THE SCRIPTURE.
1. For the communication of knowledge of
(3) The invisible world.
2. For our comfort in every state of mind and condition of life.
3. For our hope. The hope of eternal life, founded on true faith as a solid foundation. Knowledge, consolation, and hope constitute the things for which we should look.
II. THE DISPOSITIONS WITH WHICH WE SHOULD READ THEM.
(1) The mind should be free from vain and worldly thoughts and disordered passions.
(2) The most convenient seasons should be chosen to answer this end.
(3) To secure attention, we should consider it is God who speaks.
(4) Read with deliberation.
(5) Not read too long a time. Historical books an exception.
2. Frequently, regularly, and diligently, they should be read. This will —
(1) Give familiarity.
(2) Enable us to meditate on them.
(3) Increase our relish for them.
(4) Enlarge and confirm our knowledge.Thus, as we take food for nourishment every day, so shall the soul receive its proper aliment which will nourish it unto life eternal.
3. With judgment and discrimination.
(1) Distinguish what is God's Word. Malachi quotes a speech of the wicked, "It is in vain to serve God, and what profit is it that we have kept His ordinances?" St. Paul quotes the Epicureans, "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die." Job's friends were wrong, and "God was wroth with them because they had not spoken the thing that was right."(2) Put no forced construction on any part that will contradict other portions. As — "The Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart." "Christ has delivered us from the law." "No man liveth and sinneth not." "By the deeds of the law no flesh living can be justified.'' "God cannot tempt any man" to evil. "We are under the law to Christ." "He that is born of God doth not commit sin." Faith must produce the fruit of good works.
(3) Consider the speaker; the characters spoken to; the occasion; the allusion; the end; the connection; the meaning in similar passages. Instance of mistake, St. Paul's advice against marriage in 1 Corinthians 7, whereas he only speaks in reference to a peculiar time of persecution (ver. 26).
(4) Above all, the improvement must be observed. "These things are written that ye might believe." Also St. James, "If any man be a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like unto a man," etc.
4. We must read them with faith and submission.
(1) Receive them as if we saw everything with our eyes, or heard God speak.
(2) Avoid vain reasonings, needless curiosity, and rash inquiries, which often terminate in doubt and infidelity.
(3) We must receive precepts and promises, commands and threatenings, however contrary to our passions.
5. We must read them with piety and prayer.
(1) Pious intention, a love of truth, a disposition to believe and obey. "An honest and good heart, which hears the word and keeps it, and brings forth fruit with patience."(2) Prayer before reading, accompanying it, and ending. This disposition will make us attentive, diligent, discriminating, thoughtful, and faithful.
Parallel VersesKJV: For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.