The truths of the gospel reveal a method of salvation every way honorable to God and his righteous government, and every way suitable to our necessities. The ground, the substance, and the spirit of the glad tidings sent from heaven to a lost world are, that Jesus Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures. The apostle Paul was determined, as a minister, to know nothing save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. (1 Cor. 2:2) This theme, and the truths connected with it, engrossed all his thoughts. He dwelt so much upon these subjects that it might appear as if he knew nothing else, and as if nothing else were, comparatively speaking, worthy of his attention.
When our Lord, after his resurrection, honored his disciples with his company in their journey to Emmaus, he began at Moses and all the prophets, and expounded to them in all the Scriptures, the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:27) Did they hear the Divine truths he advanced with indifference? Far from it. These truths were precious to their souls, as appears from their own animated expressions; "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked with us by the way, and opened to us the Scriptures?" (Luke 24:32)
The word of Christ in general is precious to those that believe. The coin of Caesar bore his image and superscription, so the Divine word bears the image of Christ, and consequently must be dear to those who love him. They revere that sacred injunction, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom, that ye may be able also to admonish one another." (Col. 3:16)
David, the king of Israel, made while living, this public declaration, and left it, when he died, to be observed by all succeeding generations, that the word of God was better to him than thousands of gold and silver; that it was sweeter to him than honey, or the honey-comb; and that it was his meditation all the day. If he tasted so much sweetness in the least valuable part of the Divine word, how much richer is the feast to us in these latter days! Since the gospel is now added to the law; the Lord has put his last hand to the work, has "sealed up the sum, and rendered it full of wisdom and perfect in beauty." (Ezekiel 28:12)
The divine Redeemer cannot, in this world, be seen face to face. This is the felicity of the heavenly state. But in his holy word, as in a glass, we behold his glory. The lineaments of his beauty are here drawn by a divine pencil. The Bible must consequently be a precious book in the estimation of every Christian.
This inestimable book unfolds to our view the path of peace, the way everlasting. We here learn how the guilty may be pardoned, in perfect consistency with the honor of infinite holiness; how God can be just, and the justifier of the ungodly, (Rom. 4:5) who, in themselves deserve everlasting condemnation. We are indebted to this sacred volume for all the light that ever chased the glooms of doubts, or cheered the bosom of despondency; for all that gives confidence to faith, energy to hope, ardency to love, or fervor to devotion; for whatever can tranquillize the mind in life, or administer consolation at the last hour. We have here the doctrine which is according to godliness; we have here the words of everlasting life.
"The volume of my Father's grace
Does all my grief assuage;
Here I behold my Saviour's face,
Almost in ev'ry page.
The general design of this divine book is, to establish the soul in believing the testimony which God has given concerning his Son Jesus Christ, (1 John 5:10) to direct it in doing his will, and to comfort it in all the sufferings and afflictions attendant on the present state. The sacred volume therefore insists much on faith, obedience, and patience. The first is certainly the ground-work of the other two.
Holy men of God, whose sentiments and experiences are here left upon record, have given us the most magnificent eulogiums of this word. They represent it as a source of felicity. They tell us, that it converts and restores the soul; that it gives wisdom to the simple; that it is more to be desired than the riches treasures, or the sweetest enjoyments this world can afford; that it is adapted to instruct, to correct, to comfort, and to render the man of God perfect. They assure us, that these are not mere fancies, destitute of sense and truth; the inspired witnesses unitedly testify, that they themselves have known the power of the divine word by their own experience; that when they have made it the subject of their attentive meditation, they have been "satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and have rejoiced in it more than they that find great spoil." (Ps. 63:5; Ps. 119:62)
To expatiate on the several doctrines contained in the Bible, and to point out the preciousness of each, is not my present design. It may suffice to say, that they all center in Christ Jesus, and are all valuable in the estimation of his people on that account. Does this precious book speak of the love of God, the source of all good to man? It is in Christ Jesus. Does it unfold the ancient counsels of infinite wisdom and grace? They are the eternal purposes of the Father in Christ Jesus our Lord. Does it speak of redemption? It is by his blood.--Of justification? It is through his righteousness.--Of conversion? We are called by his grace.--Of regeneration? We are quickened together with Christ.--Of adoption? We are the children of God, by faith in Jesus Christ.--Of perseverance? Because he lives, we shall live also.--Of eternal glory? It is the gift of God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
How divinely excellent are those sacred truths! With what sovereign efficacy do they operate upon the mind and heart, when accompanied by the agency of the blessed Spirit! How powerfully do they awaken repentance, and melt the soul into holy sorrow! In what an illustrious light do they represent the majesty and the grace of the blessed God, and how do they command our humble adoration! How do they display the wonders of his wisdom, and the riches of his mercy in Christ Jesus, to produce faith, and attract desire and love! What a blessed foundation do they lay for an infinite variety of devout inferences, and pathetic admonitions, suited to every case! These divine truths relieve the soul under every distress; that by patience and comfort of the Scriptures we may have hope towards God. The believer lives on the divine variety of salutary and transporting objects set before him in the sacred pages. Here he finds the fountains of life set open, every stream flowing with holiness and consolation. It is his prevailing desire, that all his affections may be under the command and influence of the divine word, that while it affords him intense delight, it may animate him to active zeal in the practice of everything which it enjoins, teaching him to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, while he looks for the blessed hope, in that which is to come. (Titus 2:12,13)
A certain martyr, who was condemned to die for his inviolable adherence to the doctrines of Scripture, gave this expressive testimony, in his last moments, of his regard for that divine book. Being arrived at the stake, and having composed himself for suffering, he took his final leave of all below, in these affecting words, 'Farewell sun and moon! Farewell all the beauties of creation, and all the comforts of life! Farewell my honored friends! Farewell my beloved relations! And farewell thou precious book of God!'