We must labour to understand the mind of God concerning our salvation as revealed in the Scriptures.It will keep us from error (Matthew 22:29) and make us wise unto salvation and more holy. The Lord by His Spirit will make the Scriptures profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, and make you perfect by this (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
James Fergusson (1621-1667) exhorts us, especially if we have any time and leisure, to study the Word more. Do not read “superficially” he counsels. Instead read “conscientiously, attentively and devoutly”. Make use of any help you can get from the labours of others to increase “solid knowledge and sanctifying grace”.
Fergusson was so committed to this work that he began afresh when he lost all of his previous papers. He says that “a great part of my time and life in a manner lost with them. Despite this, he began once again. He was encouraged “the remembrance of what sweetness I tasted in that study” as well as the great benefit that rewarded the labour. This ought to be a further encouragement for us to study and search the Scriptures more in order to discover the same sweetness.
Edmund Calamy speaks of the exceptional special gift that George Hutcheson (1615-1674) also possessed. He was able briefly but fully to give the meaning of a text. Yet he could also “gather suitable, proper, and profitable observations out of it for the help of weak Christians”. This description could easily apply to David Dickson, Alexander Nisbet and many others.
We could have few more helpful and reliable guides for the journey than these ministers of the Second Reformation. The Covenanters produced many simple and practical commentaries on the Bible for everyone. They were brief, plain, practical and above all affordable. They get to the heart of what the Bible means but also to the heart of the reader in a richly devotional way.
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