2 Timothy 3:16-17
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction…
I. HUMAN ABILITY HAS BEEN INADEQUATE TO THE PRODUCTION OF ANYTHING WHICH WOULD JUSTIFY US IN ATTRIBUTING TO IT THE PRODUCTION OF THE SCRIPTURES.
II. God having graciously resolved to recover the human race from the state into which they had fallen, and to this end having spoke in times long past to the fathers by the prophets, and in the latter days to the world, by His Son, IT IS REASONABLE TO SUPPOSE THAT, FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE GENERATIONS TO COME FOR EVER, HE WOULD CAUSE A RECORD TO BE MADE OF THE COMMUNICATIONS OF HIS WILL.
III. THE CONNECTION AND AGREEMENT OF THE SEVERAL PARTS OF THE SACRED VOLUME, INTIMATE STRONGLY ITS DIVINE INSPIRATION.
IV. TRADITION HAS ACCOMPANIED THE HOLY VOLUME IN ALL AGES AND PLACES OF ITS BEING, TESTIFYING ITS CLAIM TO BE CONSIDERED AS THE WORD OF GOD.
V. THE PROVIDENTIAL CARE OF GOD OVER THE HOLY SCRIPTURES MAY WELL LEAD US TO BELIEVE THAT THEY ARE HIS OFFSPRING.
VI. The completeness of the sacred writings, whereby I mean THEIR SUFFICIENCY AND PERFECTION AS A RULE OF FAITH AND CONDUCT; THEIR ADEQUATENESS TO OUR NECESSITIES IN THIS PRESENT STATE.
1. This we may clearly deduce from what has already been established. Being "given by inspiration of God," the Scriptures must be perfect for the purpose whereunto He sends them; and if they are finished, so that no further addition to them is to be expected, they must be perfect in all generations for ever, for the use of the children of men.
2. And this, if we now advert to the sacred writings, will be found to be really the case. Upon every subject of a religious or moral nature, concerning which mankind have been inquisitive, we may here find ample information. And concerning the conduct which is proper, in every situation in which mankind may be placed, we may here find explicit instruction.
3. But, it may be objected, if the Scriptures are thus complete, whence is it that so many to whom they are sent, are brought by them neither to right faith nor to right practice?
4. And this brings me to observe in illustration of the completeness of the sacred volume, that if any who have access to it are deficient in knowledge or virtue, the cause of the deficiency is altogether in themselves. The Law of the Lord is perfect; and His Spirit is ready to render His Word efficacious to every attentive and humble mind. But we must approach it with docility. It is owing to men's lusts and passions, to the pride of their minds, to the perverseness of their hearts, to the carnality and viciousness of their lives, that they do not all perceive the excellence and perfection of the Word of God, and find it a savour of life unto life to their souls.
VII. WE FIND OURSELVES IN POSSESSION OF A VOLUME, WONDERFULLY ADAPTED TO THE NECESSITIES OF OUR NATURE, and "given by inspiration of God." It becomes us to inquire, what is the object for which it is given?
1. And let me observe that it is for no purpose of benefit to the Almighty that the volume of His Word is given to our world. Neither our faith nor our obedience can profit the Most High.
2. I must also premise that whether any other beings than ourselves are interested in them, and whether their contents will be of utility to us in the other world, are questions which need not be discussed as essential to the inquiry we are about to consider. It is enough, in order to raise our estimation of them, to be assured that into the mysteries revealed to us the angels desire to look, and that by the dispensations of God to the Church on earth His manifold wisdom is made known to higher orders of beings. From the nature of things we may also be certain that those general principles of duty and virtue which have not respect to mutable stations and relations are the principles by which the conduct of perfect beings is regulated in all worlds.
3. But what I am now principally concerned to consider is the end or uses of the sacred volume to men, to whom it is given, in the present world. And this is nothing less than our recovery from the state of ignorance, sinfulness, and misery into which we are fallen, and our exaltation to the hope of eternal life. That I may more distinctly set before you the gracious design of the Almighty in giving us the volume of His Word, allow me more particularly to observe that it is the efficacious means of all those changes and graces by which the Christian character is formed and perfected. We are told, you know, that we must be born again in order to the knowledge and enjoyment of the kingdom of God. It is through the instrumentality of the Scriptures that this regeneration is accomplished. They are the seed of this new birth. Again: it is necessary that we should be sanctified and made holy in heart and life before we can enter into the kingdom of heaven. And the Holy Scriptures are the means by which the Spirit of God accomplishes this important part of our salvation. Further: it is required of us to grow in grace; and we have need to be constantly nourished in all goodness, if we would not relapse into our vile state, but advance to perfection in knowledge and virtue. The sacred writings are the granary from which this daily sustenance of our souls is to be obtained. They reveal the truths, they contain the virtues, they give efficacy to the ordinances, by which we are nourished into eternal life. Finally: it is necessary to our comfort, and to the full accomplishment of our deliverance from the miseries of our natural state, that we should have joy and peace in believing. And the reservoir of all spiritual joy is the Word of God — the gospel of our salvation.
VIII. From these truths THERE ARE SEVERAL INFERENCES of a very serious nature and great practical importance to which I must now ask your attentive consideration.
1. And from the views we have taken of the sacred volume we may perceive its claim to our highest estimation.
2. But if we value the Scriptures we shall also study them. The consequences of not reading the Holy Scriptures are of a more serious nature and greater in extent than you may suppose. It is to this, I apprehend, that we are to attribute, in a great measure, the total ignorance of religion in some and the decay of it in others. It is in this that we are to look for the cause of the instability of Christians. Here we may find the reason why error prevails. Here we may discover the source of fanaticism and of superstition. To this it is owing that the best seem unconscious of the degree of holiness to which they are called; and that all rest easy under imperfections of knowledge and deficiencies of virtue which a thorough acquaintance with the Scriptures would both reprove and correct.
3. In the course of our observations upon the Holy Scriptures, we have shown that God hath a merciful purpose in conferring them upon us, even to recover us from our ignorance, sinfulness, and misery, and exalt us to the hope of everlasting life. It behoves us, therefore, to inquire how far His desire and gracious intention have been accomplished in us? And this inquiry you will most safely answer, not by adverting to your occasional feelings and transient fervours, but by looking to your principles and your lives. Are you brought to a clear knowledge of the only true God, and of Jesus Christ whom He hath sent? Are those traits of excellence which are distinctly exemplified in the lives of the Scripture worthies, and which are all combined and perfected in the example of our blessed Lord, imitated by you in the several conditions and relations in which the Most High hath placed you? If, at the day of judgment, we shall be found, notwithstanding cur advantages, to have remained unchanged and unrenewed, the very heathens will rise up in judgment and condemn us.
4. On this solemn account I cannot forbear adding what is powerfully enforced by our subject, the importance of bringing to the oracles of truth, whenever we recur to them, becoming dispositions and conduct. Endeavour, if possible, to make it the standard by which you would regulate all your thoughts and actions.
5. The character of the sacred writings, and your privilege in possessing them, impose on you an obligation to extend the knowledge of them as far as you are able, and especially to make them the source from which you furnish your children with the principles and rules of life.
Parallel VersesKJV: All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: