Category Archives: An Introduction to the Right Understanding of the Oracles of God

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John Brown’s Self-Interpreting Bible (1859)

from The Self-Interpreting Bible, 1859 edition, by Rev. John Brown of Haddington. “An Introduction to the Right Understanding of the Oracles of God,” chapter 2, “Of Rules for Understanding the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.”

3. We must earnestly study to reduce all our Scriptural knowledge to practice. Not any number of the best rules can make an apprentice to understand his business so much as a considerable practice therein. When serious contemplation of Scripture and experimental feeling and practice of it meet together, true Scriptural knowledge must needs be greatly enlarged and sweetened. The man that doth Christ’s will, he shall know of his doctrine whether it be of God. If God’s commandments be ever with us, and be kept by us, they will render us wiser than our enemies, wiser than the ancients, or even our teachers.

Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.

John 7:16-17 NIV

Your commands are always with me

    and make me wiser than my enemies.

I have more insight than all my teachers,

    for I meditate on your statutes.

I have more understanding than the elders,

    for I obey your precepts.

Psalm 119:98-100 NIV

Humility, Prayer, Study and Meditation

Title Page to Brown's Self-Interpreting Bible

Title Page to Brown’s Self-Interpreting Bible

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). (Punctuation and Scripture references have been modernized).

Chapter II


  1. Let us labor, in much fervent prayer and supplication, for the powerful influence and inhabitation of the Holy Ghost (who perfectly understands the Scriptures, and indited and appointed them for our spiritual edification,) that he may effectually interpret and apply them to our heart. He is the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ; He it is who searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God:–He is the Anointing, that is Truth, and teacheth all things. He can enlighten our eyes, and make us to know things freely given us of God, and to see wondrous things out of God’s law; can make us by the Scriptures,–wiser than our teachers—wise unto salvation (Ephesians 1:17-18; 3:16-19; 1 Corinthians 2:10, 12; 1 John 2:20, 27; Psalm 119:18, 96-109; 2 Timothy 3:15-17).
  1. Being renewed in the spirit of our minds, and having in us the mind of Christ, we ought, under a deep sense of God’s presence and authority in the Scripture, earnestly, and with much self-denial, to search the Scriptures, by much serious reading and meditation thereon; chiefly that we may spiritually know the mind, behold the glory, and feel the effectual power of God therein, in order to our faith in, and obedience to them. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: it is the man who feareth God to whom he will teach his way, and reveal the secrets of his covenant;–it is the man who hat the Spirit of Christ, the mind of Christ–who hath seen the Lord, and tasted that he is gracious—the man who hath had his eyes opened, that can discern, judge of, and understand the matter or manner of Scripture revelations (1 John 2: 20, 27; Psalm 25:12, 14; 1 Corinthians 2:14-16; John 14:21-23; Luke 24:45; Psalm 114:18). A deep sense of our ignorance, and of our absolute need of Scripture influence, must animate us to the earnest study of knowledge. He, who thinks that of himself he knows divine things to any purpose, knoweth nothing as he ought to know—only with the lowly is wisdom. God, who resisteth the proud, giveth grace to the humble: the meek will he guide in judgment; the meek will he teach his way. The mysteries of the kingdom he hides from the self-conceited, wise, and prudent; and reveals them unto babes (1 Corinthians 8:2; Proverbs 11:2; James 4:6; Psalm 25:9; Matthew 13:11; 11:25). Scarcely can anything then more effectually to blind the mind, and harden the heart, than the searching of the Scriptures in a philosophical manner, regarding merely or chiefly the rational sense of the passage. Hence multitudes of preachers, who daily study the Scriptures for the sake of their external performances, are of all men the most ignorant how Christ’s words are spirit and life. The god of this world blinds their minds; so that hearing many things, they never open their eyes; and seeing many things, they never behold one truth, or the subject thereof, in its glory (Isaiah 6:9-10; 42:18-19; 56:9; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

“Heart knowledge” of Scripture’s Self-Attesting Evidences Persuades of Its Divine Inspiration and Authority

Brown's Self-Interpreting Bible (1859 edition)

Brown’s Self-Interpreting Bible (1859 edition)

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).

X. Though the above arguments are sufficient to silence gainsayers, and to produce a rational conviction that the Scriptures are of divine original and authority, it is only the effectual application of them to our mind, conscience, and heart, in their SELF-EVIDENCEING DIVINE LIGHT and POWER, which can produce a cordial and saving persuasion that they are indeed the word of God. But, when thus applied, this word brings along with it such light, such authority, and such sanctifying and comforting power, that there is no shutting our eyes nor hardening our hearts against it; no possibility of continuing stupid and concerned under it: but the whole faculties of our soul are necessarily affected with it, as indeed marked with divine evidence, and attended with almighty power; 1 Thes. 1:5; 2:13; John 6:63.

Divine Inspiration Evidenced by the Exact Fulfillment of the Types and Predictions of Scripture

Reverend John Brown of Haddington

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).

IX. Nothing more clearly demonstrates the divine authority of the Scriptures than the exact fulfillment of the typical and verbal predictions therein exhibited, in the most circumstantial manner, hundreds or thousands of years before that fulfillment took place, or there was the smallest appearance of it. Predictions (especially as above circumstantiated) necessarily imply a looking with certainty through an infinity of possible events, and seeing and determining what shall certainly happen, and what not. Such foresight and determination can only take place in the omniscient and almighty Governor of the world, who alone can declare the end from the beginning.—To mark the all-seeing JEHOVAH, the author of Scripture, its pages are crowded with predictions, the exact fulfilment of which is recorded in the inspired and other histories written since the events took place. Almost every historical passage in our Bible is a narrative of something antecedently foretold. The New Testament is little else than a representation of the fulfilment of the types and predictions of the Old, relative to Jesus Christ and his gospel church. Nay, the histories of churches and nations, from the beginning to the end of the world, do, to a judicious observer, represent little more than the fulfilment of Scripture predictions, as to the families of Adam and Noah; the Canaanites, Amalekites, Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, Philistines, Egyptians, Ethiopians, Syrians, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Saracens, Tartars including Goths, Huns, and Turks; and especially the Jews, Jesus Christ, the New Testament church, and Antichrist; as shall be hereafter manifested. This proof, drawn from the fulfilment of predictions, increases in evidence more and more as that fulfilment takes place, and is observed. The dispersion and misery of the Jewish nation, so long continued, or so often repeated; the progress and continuance of the gospel among the Gentiles; the long continued dominion of the popes, and the partial revolt from it at the Reformation; the past and present condition of the Turkish empire; the present state of Assyria, Chaldea, Arabia, Phenicia (sic), Canaan, Egypt, &c., in exact correspondence to Scripture predictions, are standing testimonies of the divine original of our Bibles, no less conclusive and striking than if we had miracles wrought every day.

Divine Inspiration Evidenced by the Miracles of Scripture

Lithograph of the Reverend John Brown of Haddington
Lithograph of the Reverend John Brown of Haddington

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).

VII. Multitudes of MIRACLES, which only the infinite power of God could effect, have been wrought for the confirmation of the doctrines and facts mentioned in the Scriptures, and for evincing the divine mission of the principal publishers thereof. The wisdom and goodness of God required him, especially when in the days of Moses and Christ he was establishing a new form of worship, to mark the important declarations of his will with some distinguishing characteristics, awakening to consideration. Nothing appears more proper for this end than a series of uncontrolled miracles, which no power could check, and which supported nothing but what was agreeable to reason, so far as it could conceive of it. Neither reason not experience can admit that the infinite wisdom and goodness of God could permit one, much less multitudes of uncontrolled miracles wrought in confirmation of the Scriptures have every favorable circumstance that could be wished. Their number was almost beyond reckoning, and all of them calculated to answer some great and benevolent end. According to the nature of the broken law, many of those wrought by Moses, Elijah, and Elisha, were tremendous and dreadful. According to the nature of the gospel which they published, the miracles wrought by Jesus Christ and his apostles were generally of a benevolent nature and tendency. Moreover most of the miracles mentioned in Scripture were performed in so public a manner that both friends and foes had the fullest access to a thorough examination of their nature and certainty. Most of them were wrought when the concurrent circumstances of Providence loudly called mankind to observe and examine them. Most of them—as the passage of the Hebrews through the Red Sea and through Jordan; the forty years’ sustenance of the people in the Arabian desert, by manna from heaven, and water from a rock; the stoppage or retrograde motion of the sun; the feeding of thousands with a few loaves and fishes; and the raising of dead persons—were of such a nature, that nothing less than absurdity itself can suppose the senses of the witnesses to have been deceived, or that any power less than divine could have produced them. Besides, all these miracles were wrought in confirmation of a religion the most holy, pure, and benevolent; and most of them by persons who were eminent patterns of virtue. And that such miracles were wrought, is in part attested by the inveterate enemies thereof, whether Jews or heathen.

An Introduction to the Right Understanding of the Oracles of God by Rev. John Brown of Haddington.

Divine Inspiration Evidenced by the Providential Preservation of the Holy Scriptures


Lithograph of the Reverend John Brown of Haddington

Lithograph of the Reverend John Brown of Haddington

VI. The providence of God has, in a most marvellous manner, PRESERVED the scriptures of the Old and New Testament from being lost or corrupted. While perhaps millions of other books, once of considerable fame in the world, and which no one sought to extirpate, are lost and forgotten, the Scriptures, though more early written, and though Satan and his agents unnumbered have hated them, and sought to cause their memory to perish from among men, or to corrupt them, still remain, and remain in their purity.

In great wisdom and kindness, God, for their preservation, ordered an original copy to be laid up in the Holy of Holies (Deuteronomy 31:26); and that every Hebrew king should write out a copy for himself (Deuteronomy 27:18); and appointed the careful and frequent reading of them, both in private and public. With astonishing kindness and wisdom has he made the contending parties who had access to the Scriptures–such as the Jews and Israelites, the Jews and Samaritans, the Pharisees and Sadducees, the Jews and Christians, and the various parties of Christians–MUTUAL CHECKS upon each other for almost three thousand years past, that they might not be able either to extirpate or to corrupt any part of them. When the Christians had almost utterly lost the knowledge of the Hebrew originals, God, by his providence, stirred up the Jewish rabbins to an uncommon labour for preserving them in their purity, by marking the number of letters, and how often each was repeated, in their Masoras.

By what tremendous judgments did he restrain and punish Antiochus Epiphanes, the Syro-Grecian king; Dioclesian, the Roman emperor; and others who attempted to destroy the copies of Scripture, in order to extirpate the Jewish or Christian religion! And he has bestowed amazing support and consolation on such as have risked or parted with their lives rather than deny the dictates of Scripture, or in the least contribute to their extirpation or misinterpretation.

By quickly multiplying the copies or the readers of the Scriptures, he rendered it impossible to corrupt them in anything important, without causing the corruption all at once to start up into every copy dispersed through the world, and into the memories of almost every reader;–than which nothing could be more absurd to suppose. Nay it is observable that of all the thousands of various readings which the learned have collected, not one in the least enervates any point of our faith or duty towards God or man.

Divine Inspiration Required by the Character of the Penmen of the Scriptures

Lithograph of the Reverend John Brown of Haddington

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).

V. The manifest CHARACTER OF THE PENMEN further evinces the divine original of the Scriptures.

They everywhere discover the utmost candour and disinterestedness: they everywhere candidly publish the infirmities, or even faults of themselves, their friends, and nation. None of them ever gained anything in this world by their work but trouble and vexation; and, according to their own principles, they could obtain nothing in the next but everlasting destruction, if they indulged themselves in any imposture.

The matter and mannerof their work infinitely transcended their abilities. Setting their predictions aside for a moment, how could men of the best education, and especially men of no education, form such exalted schemes of sense, piety, and virtue? Or how could wicked men, inspired by Satan, publish and prosecute such a scheme of mystery, holiness, and morality?

Such is the character of Jesus Christ, drawn by the four evangelists, with every mark of simplicity and candour, and in which ignominious suffering is made a leading article, that the delineation thereof—and that too by persons of no uncommon knowledge—without a real and exactly answerable model, would, to every unbiased free-thinker, appear more incredible and impossible than even the incarnation, obedience, and death of the Son of God, therein attested, however astonishing. (emphasis mine)

Divine Inspiration Required by the Manner, Scope and Harmony of the Scriptures

Self-Interpreting Bible (1859 edition), Rev. John Brown of Haddington, original editor

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).

II. The MANNER in which these subjects are exhibited in the Scriptures is evidently divine; –wise, condescending, and yet majestic. The discoveries have been gradual, as men stood in need of them or were in a proper condition to receive them (Gen. 3,9,12,17 & c.; Heb. 1:1). The principal points; as of God’s new-covenant grant of himself to sinful men; his full satisfaction in and with Christ as our Mediator; and the law of the ten commandments; were declared from heaven with uncommon solemnity (Mat. 3:17; 17:5; Ex. 20:1-18, &c.). And, while these and other similar truths are announced in a style the most plain and simple, there appears therein something astonishingly sublime and majestic. While the dictates are authorized with a THUS SAITH THE LORD, the very style, particularly in Scripture songs, Job, Psalms, Lamentations, and Isaiah, and in our Saviour’s discourses, &c., is at once surprisingly suited to the dignity of the Author, the nature of the subject, and the condition of the persons addressed.

III. The manifest SCOPE of the Scriptures is to render sin loathsome and hated, and to promote holiness and virtue; to humble men, and reform them from their beloved lusts and sinful practices, and to exalt and glorify God to the highest. No good angel or man could dare to personate God in the manner of the Scriptures; nor could bad angels or men publish, and so warmly inculcate, what is so remarkably contrary to their own vicious inclinations and honour. It therefore remains that God alone must be the author and inditer of them.

IV. Notwithstanding the dictates of Scripture are so extremely contrary to the natural inclinations of mankind, and were published without any concert by various persons, of very different conditions, and in different ages and places, yet such is the marvellous HARMONY of all the parts, in their whole matter and scope, as irrefragably demonstrates that these penmen must all have been directed by the same Spirit of God. One part of our Bible is so connected with, and tends to the establishment of another, that we cannot reasonably receive any part without receiving the whole. In the New Testament we have the historical narrative of the fulfillment of the typical and verbal predictions of the Old. In both Testaments the subsequent books, or subsequent parts of a book, are connected with that which went before, as a narrative of the execution of a scheme begun, or of the fulfillment of a prophecy declared. If we receive the history, we must also receive the prediction. If we admit the prediction, we must believe the history. To a diligent searcher of the Scriptures, it cannot fail to occasion a most pleasant astonishment, to find everywhere the same facts supposed, related or prepared for; the same doctrines of a gracious redemption through Jesus Christ exhibited, or supposed to be true; the same rules or exemplifications of piety and virtue, and motives thereto; the same promises of mercy, or threatenings of just misery, to persons, societies, or nations, exhibited without a single contradiction. When there is an appearance of contradiction, it will be found that the different passages do not respect the same thing or person, in the same respect, and in the same circumstances of time, place, or manner; and so there is no contradiction at all.

Divine Inspiration Required by the Subject Matter of the Scriptures

John Brown’s Self-Interpreting Bible (1859)

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).

The Divine Inspiration of Scripture Demonstrated

Lithograph of the Reverend John Brown of Haddington

Here’s part two of my planned, looong series of consecutive excerpts from “An Introduction to the Right Understanding of the Oracles of God” from the Self-Interpreting Bible (1859 edition), edited by Rev. John Brown of Haddington. You’ll always be able to access each post in this series by clicking on the category “An Introduction to the Right Understanding of the Oracles of God” in the sidebar or at the bottom of any of the posts in this series.

While reason, then, plainly suggests the possibility, the desirableness, and the necessity of a revelation from God, adapted to our circumstances, the books of the Old and New Testament manifest themselves reasonable, credible, and divinely inspired: It is their DIVINE INSPIRATION (which indeed supposes them reasonable and credible) that we now attempt to demonstrate. In what manner the influence, by which the penmen of the Scriptures were directed, affected them, we pretend not fully to explain. It is enough for us to know, that thereby they were infallibly guided and determined to declare what they did not formerly know; to conceive properly of what they had formerly known; and to express their subject in terms absolutely just in themselves, and calculated to convey the truths represented to others. But so far we may conclude, that, while the penmen exercised their own reason and judgment (Ps. 45:1; Mark 12:36; Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1; 1 Pet. 1:11) the Holy Ghost:

(1) Effectually stirred them up to write (2 Pet. 1:21);

(2) Appointed to each his proper share or subject correspondent with his natural talents, and the necessities of the church in his time (Mat. 25:15; 2 Pet. 1:21);

(3) Enlightened their minds, and gave them a duly distinct view of the truths which they were to deliver (Jer. 1:11-16; 13:9-14; Ezek. 4:4-8; Dan. 10:1,14; 9:22-27; 8:15-19; 12:8; Amos 7:7,8; 8:2; Zec. 1:19, 21; 4:11-14; 5:6; John 16:13; Eph. 3:3,4; 1 Pet. 1:10,11). Perhaps this illumination was given all at once to Paul, when caught up to the third heaven, but was bestowed gradually on the other apostles (Mark 4:34; Luke 24:17,45; John 20:22; Acts 2:4; 10:9-15,28,34).

(4) He strengthened and refreshed their memories to recollect whatever they had seen or heard, which he judged proper to be inserted in their writings (Jer. 31:3; Luke 1:3; John 14:26).

(5) Amidst a multitude of facts, he directed them to write precisely what was proper for the edification of the church, and neither more nor less (John 20:30, 31; 21:25; Rom. 4:23, 24; 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:6-11).

(6) He excited in their minds such images and ideas as had been treasured up in their memories, and directed them to other ends and purposes than themselves would ever have done of their own accord. Thus, under inspiration, Amos draws his figures from herds, flocks, and fields; Paul makes use of his classical learning (Amos 1, 9; Acts 17:28; 1 Cor. 15:33; Tit. 1:2).

(7) He immediately suggested and imprinted on their minds such things as could not be known by reason, observation or information, but were matters of pure revelation (Is. 46:9, 10; 41:22,23; 45:21) whether they respected doctrines (1 Tim. 3:16), or facts past or future (Gen. 1:2,3; Lev. 26 &c).

(8) He so superintended every particular writer, as to render him infallible in his matter, words, and arrangement; and by his superintending influence, made them all in connexion so to write, as to render the whole Scripture, at any given period, a sufficient infallible rule to direct men to true holiness and everlasting happiness (Deut. 8:4; Ps. 1:2; 19:7-11; 119:105; Mat. 22:29; Luke 16:29,31; John 5:39; Rom. 15:4; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; 2 Pet. 1:19). Many of the sentences recorded in Scripture are not inspired in themselves, being the words of Satan or of wicked men; but the Scripture report relative to these expressions is directed by divine inspiration. –That our books of the Old and New Testament, the APOCRYPHAL TRACTS being excluded from both, are of an INFALLIBLE and DIVINE original, is thus evident.

Rev. John Brown on the Inabilities of Natural Reason

John Brown’s Self-Interpreting Bible (1859)

The recent unpleasantness regarding Rob Bell’s rejection of orthodox thinking and teaching is sparking a concerted effort among my fellow Reformed bloggers and other online ministries to raise awareness that evangelicalism has been in decline for many years, and it is only accelerating. Bible believing Christians need to get back to the basics of what it means to believe the Bible.

To that end, I will begin a new series of excerpts from my antiquarian Self-Interpreting Bible, by the Rev. John Brown of Haddington, Scotland. One of his numerous helps in highlighting the Bible’s self-attestation to it’s inspiration as well as its self-interpretation, is an essay entitled, “An Introduction to the Right Understanding of the Oracles of God.” Chapter one of this lengthy introduction is called, “Of the Divine Authority of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament.”

In this chapter, Rev. Brown begins by demonstrating that there are some things which natural reason is unable to accomplish on its own. Such things are impossible to it without the aid of divine revelation. This fact is often something that even the most devout believer of the Bible forgets, and in such cases, the faith and practice of the church are undermined. Such is undoubtedly the case in the present controversy that has been sparked by natural reason in the form of Rob Bell’s postmodern liberalism.

No man, who is an unbiased free-thinker, can soberly hearken to the dictates of his natural reason, and seriously ponder the absurd and contradictory principles and practices which have been or are prevalent among mankind, without perceiving that the light, or even the law of nature, is altogether insufficient to direct us to true holiness, or lasting happiness, in our present lapsed condition.

It can give us no plain, distinct, convincing, pleasant, powerful, and lasting ideas of God. It cannot direct us in the right manner of worshipping him with due love, resignation, humility, self-denial, zeal, wisdom, sincerity, and fervent desire of the eternal enjoyment of him. It cannot show us our true happiness, which is suited to our highest powers, which may always be enjoyed without shame, suspicion, fear, or dread of loss or danger, and which will in every situation support and comfort us.

It can discover no true system of morality, perfect in its rules, means, and motives. It can discover no effectual incitements to virtue, drawn from the excellency and presence of God the law-giver, from the authority of his law, or from his discovering a proper regard to it in rewarding virtue and punishing vice. It cannot manifest in a striking manner the certainty, excellence, pleasure, and allurement of virtue in our heart, which will ripen us to that proper pitch of religion and virtue in our heart, which will ripen us for the full and immediate enjoyment of God. It cannot show us one perfect example of virtue, either among learned or unlearned heathens; nor give us any promise of God’s assisting us in the study of it.

It can discover no certainty that God will pardon our sins;

no proper atonement;

no actually pardoned sinner;

no happy soul, praising God for his pardoning mercy;

no spiritual worship, appointed by God for rebellious sinners;

no purpose, promise, perfection, or name of God, that his honour, or is intended in his patient bearing with sinners on earth;

nor does it afford any divine proclamation of pardon, nor even any incitement to us to forgive our injurers;

and, in fine, it cannot effectually sanctify our heart, nor produce that bent of will and affection, that inward peace with God, that sufficiency of light and strength from God, or that solid hope of eternal happiness, which is necessary to produce true holiness and virtue.

It cannot support us under heavy and bitter afflictions, by showing us God’s fatherly care of us, his promises to us, or his making all things to work together for our good; nor can it comfort us against death by certain views of his love to us, and providing everlasting life and happiness for us.

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