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We are not, however, required, in it is of the writings of St. Paul, and of addressing a protestant assembly, to these alone, that the assertion is made, expose, at any length, the falsehood of we may infer naturally, from the rethat doctrine of popery to which we mainder of the passage, that the aposhave referred. We introduced its men- tle intended to imply that difficulties tion, simply because its advocates en- are scattered through the whole of the deavor to uphold it by our text. They Scriptures, so that it is a general charjust give a new witness to the truth of acteristic of the Bible, that there are the text. They show, that, like the in it some things hard to be underrest of the Scriptures, this verse may stood." be perverted. The very passage which Now it is upon this characteristicdeclares that all Scripture may be a characteristic, you observe, not imawrested, has itself been wrested to gined by ourselves, because often unthe worst and most pernicious of pur- able to bring out all the force of a pasposes. So that, as if in verification sage, but fastened on the Scriptures by of the statement of St. Peter, when the Scriptures themselves—that we dethat statement became part of the sire to turn your attention. We have be. Bible, it was seized upon by the "un- fore us a feature of revelation, drawn by learned and unstable," and wrenched revelation itself, and not sketched by from its original bearings.

human surmise or discovery. And it But we desire, on the present oce seems to us that this feature deserves casion, to bring before you what we our very closest examination, and that count important considerations, sug- from such examination we may look gested by the announcement that there to derive lessons of more than ordi. are difficulties in Scripture. We have nary worth. We take into our hands the decision of an inspired writer, that the Bible, and receive it as a commuin the volume of inspiration there nication of God's will, made, in past "are some things hard to be under- ages, to his creatures. And we know stood.” We lay great stress on the that, occupying, as all men do, the fact, that it is an inspired writer who same level of helplessness and destitugives this decision. The Bible attests tion, so that the adventitious circumthe difficulties of the Bible. If we stances of rank and education bring knew the Bible to be difficult, only as with them no differences in moral finding it difficult, we might be incli- position, it cannot be the design of ned to suppose it luminous to others, the Almighty, that superior talent, or though obscure to ourselves. We superior learning, should be essential should not so thoroughly understand to the obtaining due acquaintance with that the difficulties, which one man revelation. There can be no fairer meets with in the study of Scripture, expectation than that the Bible will be are not simply produced by his intel- intelligible to every capacity, and that lectual inferiority to another-no, nor it will not, either in matter or manby his moral or spiritual inferiority- ner, adapt itself to one class in prebut are, in a great degree, inherent in ference to another. And when, with the subject examined, so that no equip- all this antecedent idea that revelament of learning and prayer will alto- tion will condescend to the very gether secure their removal. The as- meanest understanding, we find, as it sertion of our text may be called an were on the covers of the book, the unqualified assertion. The proof, that description that there are in it “things there are "things hard to be under- hard to be understood," we may, at stood," does not lie in the fact, that first, feel something of surprise that these things are wrested by "the un- difficulty should occur where we had learned and unstable :” for then, by looked for simplicity. And undoubt. parity of reason, we should make St. edly, however fair the expectation just Peter declare that all Scripture is mentioned, the Bible is, in some sen"hard to be understood.” The asser- ses, a harder book for the uneducated tion is independent on what follows, man than for the educated. So far as and shows the existence of difficulties, human instrumentality is concerned, whether or no they gave occasion to the great mass of a population must perversions of the Bible. And though be indebted to a few learned men for any acquaintance whatsoever with the which makes these things comparaScriptures. Never let learning be tively easy to be understood. They made of small account in reference must remain hard, ay, and equally to religion, when, without learning, a hard, whatever the literary advantages kingdom must remain virtually with of a student; otherwise the whole out a revelation. If there were no statement of our text becomes uninlearning in a land, or if that learn- telligible. The "unlearned,” in short, ing were not brought to bear on trans- are also " the unstable :" it is not lations of Scripture, how could one out the want of earthly scholarship which of a thousand know any thing of the makes the difficulties, it is the want Bible? Those who would dispense of inoral steadfastness which occawith literature in a priesthood, under- sions the wresting. We have nomine a nation's great rampart against thing, therefore, to do, in commenting heathenism. And just as the unlearn- on the words of St. Peter, with diffied are thus, at the very outset, de culties which may be caused by a dependent altogether on the learned, it fective, and removed by a liberal eduis not to be denied that the learned cation. The difficulties must be diffi. man will possess always a superiority culties of subject. The things which over the unlearned, and that he has are handled, and which are hard to an apparatus at his disposal, which the be understood,” must, in themselves, other has not, for overcoming much be deep and mysterious, and not such that is difficult in Scripture.

as present intricacies which human But after all, when St. Peter speaks criticism may prevail to unravel. And of "things hard to be understood,” he that there are many of these things in cannot be considered as referring to the Bible will be questioned by none obscurities which human learning will who have given themselves to its dissipate. He certainly mentions the study. It were a waste of time to ad"unlearned” as wresting these diffi- duce instances of the difficulties. To culties, implying that the want of one be unacquainted with them is to be kind of learning produced the perver- unacquainted with Scripture; whilst sion. But, of course, he intends by to be surprised at their existence is to "unlearned” those who were not fully be surprised at what we may call untaught of the Spirit, and not those avoidable. It is this latter point which who were deficient in the acquire- chiefly requires illustration, though ments of the academy. There were there are others which must not be but few of the learned of the earth passed over in silence. We assume, amongst the apostles and their follow therefore, as matter-of-fact, that there ers; and it were absurd to imagine are in Scripture "things hard to be that all but those wrested the Scrip- understood.” We shall endeavor to tures to their destruction. And, there- show you, in the first place, that this fore, whilst we frankly allow that there fact was to be expected. We shall are difficulties in Holy Writ, for the then, in the second place, point out coping with which human learning the advantages which follow from the equips an individual-historical diffi- fact, and the dispositions which it culties, for example, grammatical, chro- should encourage. nological—we see, at once, that it can- And, first, we would show younot be to these St. Peter refers; since, though this point requires but brief exwhen he wrote, either those difficul- amination-ihat it was to be expected, ties had not come into existence, or that the Bible would contain re he himself was classed with the un- things hard to be understood.”

We learned,” if by "unlearned" were in- should like to be told what stamp of tended the men unenlightened by sci- inspiration there would be upon a Bience.

ble containing nothing " hard to be unWe thus assure ourselves, that, in derstood.” Is it not almost a self-evj. allowing "things hard to be under- dent proposition, that a revelation withstood” to find place in the volume of out difficulty could not be a revelation inspiration, God has dealt with man- of divinity? If there lie any thing of kind irrespectively of the differences that unmeasured separation, which we of rank. It cannot be human learning are all conscious there must lie, be.


tween ourselves and the Creator, is it | and, therefore, exclude those very tonot clear that God cannot be compre- pics on which, reason being insufficient, hensible by man; and that, therefore, revelation is required. We wish you to any professed revelation, which left be satisfied on the point, that Scriptuhim not incomprehensible, would be ral difficulties are not the result of obthereby its own witness to the false- scurity of style, of brevity of commubood of its pretensions? You ask a Bi- nication, or of a designed abstruseness ble which shall, in every part, be sim- in the method of argument. The diffiple and intelligible. But could such a culties lie simply in the mysteriousBible discourse to us of God, that Being ness of the subjects. There is no want who must remain, necessarily and for of simplicity of language when God is ever, a mystery to the very highest of described to us as always every where. created intelligences ? Could such a But who understands this? Can lanBible treat of purposes, which, extend- guage make this intelligible? Revelaing themselves over unlimited ages, tion assures us of the fact; reason, and embracing the universe within with all her stridings, cannot overtake their ranges, demand eternity for their that fact. But would you, therefore, development, and infinity for their the require that the omnipresence of Deity atre? Could such a Bible put forward should be shut out from revelation? any account of spiritual operations, There is a perfect precision and plainseeing that, whilst confined by the ness of speech, when the Bible distrammels of matter, the soul cannot courses on the Word being made flesh, fathom herself, but withdraws herself, and on the second person in the Trias it were, and shrinks from her own nity humbling himself to the being scrutiny ? Could such a Bible, in short, found in fashion as a man.” Phil. tell us any thing of our condition, whe- 2:8. But who can grapple with this ther by nature or grace ? Could it treat prodigy? Is the palpable impossibility of the entrance of evil; could it treat of explaining, or understanding it, at of the Incarnation; of Regeneration; all the result of deficiency of stateof a Resurrection; of an Immortality? ment? Who does not feel that the imIn reference to all these matters, there possibility lies in himself, and that the are in the Bible "things hard to be matter is unintelligible, because necesunderstood.” But it is not the manner sarily overpassing the sweep of his inin which they are handled which makes telligence ? He can receive the bare them "hard to be understood.” The fact; he cannot receive the explanasubject itself gives the difficulty. If tion. But shall we, on this account, you will not have the difficulty, you and just in order to have a Bible free cannot have the subject. You must from "things hard to be understood,” have a Revelation which shall say no require the Incarnation to be expunged thing on the nature of God, for that from revelation ? must remain inexplicable; nothing on We might argue in like manner with the soul, for that must remain inexpli- regard to every Scriptural difficulty. cable ; nothing on the processes and We account for the existence of these workings of grace, for these must re- difficulties mainly by the fact that we main inexplicable. You must have a are men, and, because men, finite in Revelation, which shall not only tell our capacities. We suppose not that you that such and such things are, but it would have been possible, by any which shall also explain to you how power of description or process of exthey are: their mode, their constitu- planation, to have made those things tion, their essence. And if this were which are now hard, easier to be unthe character of Revelation, it would derstood, unless the human faculties undoubtedly be so constructed as ne. had been amplified and strengthened, ver to overtask reason ; but it would, so that men had been carried up to a just as clearly, be kept within this higher rank of being. We can quite boundary only by being stripped of all believe that to an angel, endowed with on which we mainly need a Revelation. a nobler equipment of intellectual enA Revelation in which there shall be ergy, and unincumbered with a framenothing" hard to be understood,” must work of matter, there would be a far limit itself by the powers of reason, clearer idea conveyed by the revelation, that "there are three that bear that justice would loudly applaud the derecord in heaven, and these three are cision, that the alleged communication one," 1 John, 5:7, than is conveyed from heaven wanted the signs the most by such announcement to ourselves. elementary of so illustrious an origin. But it does not, therefore, follow that It can only be viewed as a necessary the doctrine of the Trinity might have consequence on the grandeur of the been made as comprehensible by us as subjects which form the matter of reby angels. Let there be only the same velation, that, with every endeavor at amount of revelation, and the angel simplicity of style and aptitude of illusmay know more than the man, because tration, the document contains stategifted with a keener and more vigor- ments which overmatch all but the ous understanding. And it is evident, faith of mankind. And, therefore, we therefore, that few things could have are bold to say that we glory in the less warranty than the supposition, difficulties of Scripture. We can inthat revelation might have been so deed desire, as well as those who would enlarged, that the knowledge of man turn these difficulties into occasion of would have reached to the measure of cavil and objection, to understand, with the knowledge of angels. We again a thorough accuracy, the registered say that there is no deficiency of re- truths, and to penetrate and explore velation, and that the difficulties which those solemn mysteries which crowd occur in the perusal of Scripture result the pages of inspiration. We can feel, from the majesty of the introduced whilst the volume of Holy Writ lies subjects, and the weakness of the fa- open before us, and facts are presented culties turned on their study. It is lit- which seem every way infinite--height, tle short of a contradiction in terms, to and breadth, and depth, and length, ali speak of a revelation free altogether defying the boldest journeyings of the from " things hard to be understood.” spirit—we can feel the quick pulse of And we are well persuaded, that, how- an eager wish to scale the mountain, ever disposed men may be to make the or fathom the abyss. But, at the same difficulties an objection to the Bible, time, we know, and we feel, that a Bible the absence of those difficulties would without difficulties were a firmament have been eagerly seized on as a proof without stars. We know, and we feel, of imposture. There would have been that a far-off land, enamelled, as we fairness in the objection-and scepti- believe it, with a loveliness which is cism would not have been slow in tri- not of this earth, and inhabited by a umphantly urging it--that a book, tenantry gloriously distinct from our which brought down the infinite to the own order of being, would not be level of the finite, must contain false the magnificent and richly-peopled dorepresentations, and deserve, therefore, main which it is, if its descriptions to be placed under the outlawry of the overpassed not the outlines of human world. We should have had reason tak- geography. We know, and we feel, ing up an opposite position, but one far that the Creator of all things, he who more tenable than she occupies when stretched out the heavens, and sprinkarguing from the difficulty, against the led them with worlds, could not be, livinity, of Scripture. Reason has sa- what we are assured that He is, inacgacity enough, if you remove the bias cessibly sublime and awfully great, if of the "evil heart of unbelief,” Heb. there could be given us a portrait of 8:12, to perceive the impossibility that his nature and properties, whose every

od should be searched out and com- feature might be sketched by a huprehended by man. And if, therefore, man pencil, whose every characteristic reason sat in judgment on a professed scanned by a human vision. We know, revelation of the Almighty, and found and we feel, that the vast business of that it gave no account of the Deity, our redemption, arranged in the counbut one, in every respect, easy and in- cils of the far-back eternity, and acted telligible, so that God described himself out amid the wondering and throbbings as removed not, either in essence or of the universe, could not bave been properties, from the ken of humanity, it that stupendous transaction which gave can scarcely be questioned that she God glory by giving sinners safety, if would give down as her verdict, and the inspired account brought its dimensions within the compass of a human fore, to the more distinct exposition of arithmetic, or defined its issues by the the advantages which follow, and the lines of a human demarcation. And, dispositions which should be encourtherefore, do we also know and feel aged by, the fact which has passed unthat it is a witness to the inspiration der review. We see, at once, from the of the Bible, that, when this Bible statement of St. Peter, that effects, to would furnish us with notices of the all appearance disastrous, are produced unseen world hereafter to be traversed, by the difficulties of Scripture. The or when it would turn thought on the unlearned and unstable” wrest these Omnipotent, or when it would open up difficulties to "their own destruction;" the scheme of the restoration of the and, therefore, though we have proved fallen; then, with much that is beanti. these difficulties unavoidable, by what fully simple, and which the wayfaring process of reasoning can they be provman can read and understand, there ed advantageous ? Now, if we have are mingled dark intimations, and preg. carried you along with us through our nant hints, and undeveloped statements, foregoing argument, you are already before which the weak and the master- furnished with one answer to this inful must alike do the homage of a reve- quiry. We have shown you that the rent and uncalculating submission. We absence of difficulties would go far tocould not rise up from the perusal of wards proving the Scriptures uninspirSeripture with a deep conviction that ed; and we need not remark that there it is the word of the living God, if we must be a use for difficulties, if essenhad found no occasions on which rea- tial to the complete witness for the son was required to humble herself be truth of christianity. But there are fore giant-like truth, and implicit faith other advantages which must, on no has been the only act which came with account, be overlooked. We only wish in our range of moral achievement. it premised, that, though the difficulties We do not indeed say—for the saying of Scripture-as, for example, those would carry absurdity on its forefront parts which involve predestination—that we believe a document in- are wrested by many "to their own despired, because, in part, incomprehen- struction,” the “unlearned and unstasible. But if a document profess to be ble” would have equally perished, had inspired ; and if it treat of subjects no difficulties whatsoever existed. As which we can prove beforehand to be the case indeed now stands, the "things above and beyond the stretchings of our hard to be understood ” are the stumintellect; then, we do say that the find bling-blocks over which they fall, and, ing nothing in such a document to baf- falling, are destroyed. But they would fle the understanding would be a proof have stumbled on the plain ground as the most conclusive, that what alleges well as on the rough : there being no itself divine deserves rejection as a for- more certain truth in theology, than gery. And whilst, therefore, we see that the cause of stumbling is the ingoing forward on all sides the accumu. ternal feebleness, and not the external lation of the evidences of christianity, impediment. A man may perish, ostenand history and science are bringing sibly through abuse of the doctrine of their stores and emptying them at the election. He may say, I am elect, and, feet of our religion, and the very wrath therefore, shall be saved, though I conof the adversary, being the accomplish- tinue in sin. Thus he wrests election, ment of prophecy, is proving that we and that too to his own certain defollow no " cunningly devised fables ;" struction. But would he not have per2 Pet. 1 : 16; we feel that it was so ished had he found no such doctrine to much to be expected, yea, rather that wrest? Ay, that he would ; as fatally, it was altogether so unavoidable, that a and as finally. It is the love of sin, the revelation would, in many parts, be ob-determination to live in sin, which descure, that we take as the last link in stroys him. And though, whilst giving the chain of a lengthened and irrefraga- the reins to his lusts, he attempts to ble demonstration, that there are in the derive from election a quietus and exBible "things hard to be understood." cuse, can you think that he would be

But we trench on the second division at a loss to find them elsewhere, if of our subject, and will proceed, there there were no doctrine of election

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