This is the eighth part of a 12-post series from Jonathan Edwards’ (1703-1758) sermon on Hebrews 5:12, titled The Importance and Advantage of a Thorough Knowledge of Divine Truth. The first part covered Edwards’ definition of divinity (theology), the second focused on what kind of knowledge is included in divinity, the third considered the usefulness and necessity of knowing divinity, the fourth discussed knowledge in divinity as the chief end of man’s faculty of understanding, the fifth asserted that there is nothing more worthy to be studied than divinity, the sixth declared why divinity is of infinite importance to all people, and the seventh argued for the infinite worth of divinity based on God’s great works of revelation. Now we turn to his discussion of the necessity of studying the Bible:
The necessity of studying the Bible.
It may be argued from the abundance of the instructions which God hath given us, from the largeness of that book which God hath given to teach us divinity, and from the great variety that is therein contained. Much was taught by Moses of old, which we have transmitted down to us; after that, other books were from time to time added; much is taught us by David and Solomon; and many and excellent are the instructions communicated by the prophets: yet God did not think all this enough, but after this sent Christ and his apostles, by whom there is added a great and excellent treasure to that holy book, which is to be our rule in the study of this important subject.
This book was written for the use of all; all are directed to search the Scriptures. John 5:39, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they that testify of me”; and Isaiah 34:16, “Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read.” They that read and understand are pronounced blessed. Revelation 1:3, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that understand the words of this prophecy.” If this be true of that particular book of the Revelation, much more is it true of the Bible in general. Nor is it to be believed that God would have given instructions in such abundance, if he had intended that receiving instruction should be only a by-concern with us.
It is to be considered, that all those abundant instructions which are contained in the Scriptures were written that they might be understood; otherwise they are not instructions. That which is not given that the learner may understand it, is not given for the learner’s instruction; and unless we endeavor to grow in the knowledge of divinity, a very great part of those instructions will to us be in vain; for we can receive benefit by no more of the Scriptures than we understand, no more than if they were locked up in an unknown tongue. We have reason to bless God that he hath given us such various and plentiful instruction in his Word; but we shall be hypocritical in so doing, if we, after all, content ourselves with but little of this instruction.
When God hath opened a very large treasure before us, for the supply of our wants, and we thank him that he hath given us so much; if at the same time we be willing to remain destitute of the greatest part of it, because we are too lazy to gather it, this will not show the sincerity of our thankfulness. We are now under much greater advantages to acquire knowledge in divinity, than the people of God were of old; because since that time, the canon of Scripture is much increased. But if we be negligent of our advantages, we may be never the better for them, and may remain with as little knowledge as they.