May the Lord imprint these truths, so well expressed by Charles Bridges, on the heart of every Gospel minister:
“The book of God is indeed the living voice of the Spirit. To be intent therefore upon the study of it, must result in a clear apprehension of the mind of God. Hence the maxim—’ Bonus textuarius, bonus Theologus.’ Most beautifully does Witsius set out the value of this primary Ministerial qualification—” mighty in the Scriptures.” ‘ Let the Theologian ascend from the lower school of natural study, to the higher department of Scripture, and, sitting at the feet of God as his teacher, learn from his mouth the hidden mysteries of salvation, which ” eye hath not seen, nor ear heard; which none of the princes of this world knew;” which the most accurate reason cannot search out; which the heavenly chorus of angels, though always beholding the face of God, ” desire to look into.” In the hidden book of Scripture, and no where else, are opened the secrets of the more sacred wisdom. Whatever is not drawn from them—whatever is not built upon them—whatever does not most exactly accord with them—however it may recommend itself by the appearance of the most sublime wisdom, or rest upon ancient tradition, consent of learned men, or the weight of plausible argument—is vain, futile, and, in short, a very lie. ” To the law and to the testimony. If any one speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Let the Theologian delight in these sacred oracles: let him exercise himself in them day and night; let him meditate on them; let him live in them ; let him derive all his wisdom from them; let him compare all his thoughts with them; let him embrace nothing in religion which he does not find here. Let him not bind his faith to a man— not to a Prophet—not to an Apostle—not even to an Angel himself, as if the dictum of either man or angel were to be the rule of faith. Let his whole ground of faith be in God alone. For it is a Divine, not a human faith, which we learn and teach; so pure that it can rest upon no ground but the authority of God, who is never false, and never can deceive. The attentive study of the Scriptures has a sort of constraining power. It fills the mind with the most splendid form of heavenly truth, which it teaches with purity, solidity, certainty, and without the least mixture of error. It soothes the mind with an inexpressible sweetness; it satisfies the sacred hunger and thirst for knowledge with flowing rivers of honey and butter; it penetrates into the innermost heart with irresistible influence; it imprints its own testimony so firmly upon the mind, that the believing soul rests upon it with the same security, as if it had been carried up into the third heaven, and heard it from God’s own mouth; it touches all the affections, and breathes the sweetest fragrance of holiness upon the pious reader, even though he may not perhaps comprehend the full extent of his reading. We can scarcely say, how strongly we are opposed to that preposterous method of study, which, alas ! too much prevails among us—of forming our views of Divine things from human writings, and afterwards supporting them by Scripture authorities, the result either of our own inquiry, or adduced by others too rashly, and without further examination or bearing upon the subject; when we ought to draw our views of Divine truths immediately from the Scriptures themselves, and to make no other use of human writings, than as indices marking those places in the chief points of Theology, from which we may be instructed in the mind of the Lord.’ This exquisite Master of Theology proceeds in the same strain to remark the importance of the Student giving himself up to the inward teaching of the Holy Spirit, as the only mean of obtaining a spiritual and saving acquaintance with the rule of faith; ‘ it being needful that he that is a disciple of Scripture should also be a disciple of the Spirit’ (Bridges, The Christian Ministry, pp. 58-60).