The following continues a series of excerpts from “An Introduction to the Right Understanding of the Oracles of God,” by the Rev. John Brown of Haddington, as published in his Self-Intepreting Bible (1859 edition).
I. The subject MATTER of them requires a divine inspiration. The history of the creation, and part of that of the flood, &c., therein related, were known only to God. Mysteries relative to the Trinity of persons in the Godhead; the covenant of grace; the incarnation of the Son of God; his undertaking, offices, and states, and our union with him; justification, adoption, sanctification, spiritual comfort, and eternal blessedness, in him, are therein declared;–which God only could comprehend or discover.
The scheme of religion therein prescribed is so pure and benevolent, that God alone could devise or appoint it. While it represents the Most High as everywhere present—as infinitely perfect, powerful, wise, and good—holy, just, and true—an infinitely gracious lover of righteousness, and hater of iniquity,–as our bountiful Creator and Preserver, and as the infinitely merciful Redeemer of our souls, by the obedience and death of his only begotten Son,–it requires us to know, believe in, and revere him with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength, as our Father, Friend, Husband, Saviour, and Portion in Christ; and confidently to depend on him, and ask from him whatever we need in time or eternity; and to obey him in all that he commands, as children whom he hath begotten again to a lively hope, and established as the heirs of his everlasting inheritance.
We are here taught how human nature may be truly improved and perfected, by our receiving Jesus Christ as made of God unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,–as an effectual principle and root of true holiness;–and by our walking in him by faith, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and living soberly, righteously, and godly, patiently, contentedly, and cheerfully,–setting our affections upon things above, where Christ is, and through the Spirit mortifying every sinful and selfish inclination. We are taught to love our neighbours as ourselves, perfectly fulfilling the particular duties of every relative station; and to lay aside all malice, envy, hatred, revenge, or other malevolent dispositions or passions; to love our enemies; to render good for evil, blessing for cursing; and to pray for them that despitefully use us. These laws of universal purity and benevolence are prescribed with an authority proper only to God, and extended to such a compass and degree as God alone can demand: and those sins are forbidden which God alone can observe or prohibit.
The most powerful motives to duty, and dissuasives from vice, are here most wisely proposed, and powerfully urged; motives drawn from the nature, the promises, the threatenings, the mercies, and the judgments of God; particularly from his kindness in the work of our redemption, and his new-covenant relations to us in Christ; and from advantages or disadvantages, temporal, spiritual, and eternal. And, while the most excellent means of directing and exciting to, and of exercising piety and virtue, are established on the most prudent forms and authoritative manner, the most perfect and engaging patterns of holiness and virtue are set before us in the example of Jesus Christ our Redeemer, and of God as reconciled in him, and reconciling the world to himself (Ex. 21:1-17; Lev. 18-20; Deut. 4-25; Mat. 5—7; Rom. 6:12—15; Gal. 5-6; Eph. 4—6; Col. 3:4; 1 Thes. 5; Tit. 2; Jam. 1-5; 1 Pet. 1-5; 2 Pet. 1; 1 John 1—5, &c., &c).