Henry Venn, 1763, and the Significance of Inward Introspection when Reading the Scripture

“Nearly allied to this careful meditation on the word of God is another important rule, which we must observe when we read any principal part of it; that is, to exact of ourselves correspondent affections and if we do not experience them, to lament and bewail the poverty and misery of our condition. For instance, when the character of God is before us; when we are reading such passages as describe him infinite in power, glorious in holiness, continually adored by the host of heaven, yet more tender and affectionate than any father to the faithful in Christ Jesus, and interesting himself in all the most minute circumstances that can affect the welfare of those that love him: to read such descriptions of God will be to very little purpose, unless we pause and ask ourselves;—whether we in this manner really behold the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God ;—whether we have such views of him who is thus represented, as to make him indeed our delight; as to satisfy us of his good and gracious intentions towards ourselves in particular, and to lead us with comfort to rely on him for all we want. In like manner, when we read the scripture representations of the glory, the offices, and the character of the Redeemer, with the inestimable promises he makes to them who trust in his name; little will it profit us unless we also at the same time search and try our souls, whether these representations make us eager to embrace a Savior thus altogether lovely; —unfeignedly thankful to God for this unspeakable gift ; —and able, without doubt or wavering, to yield ourselves up to his service, and to trust him as the guardian of our eternal interests. When we meet with Scripture assertions of the weakness, blindness, guilt, and depravity of fallen man; in vain shall we assent to them, because found in the book of God, if we do not trace each of these branches of natural corruption as they have discovered themselves in our behavior, and behold some remains of them still in ourselves. When the self-denying tempers of the faithful in Christ, their deliverance from the dominion of worldly hopes and fears, their unfeigned love to God and man, and their real imitation of Jesus in the abhorrence of all evil, is the subject before us; —in vain shall we read of these spiritual attainments, unless we examine in what degree the infinitely desirable transformation has taken place in our own hearts. Unless we thus read all Scripture with self-application, we shall do just enough to flatter and deceive ourselves that we are something, when we are nothing enough to make us imagine we have a great regard to Scripture, when in fact it has no weight at all with us to form our judgment, or to determine us in the grand object of our pursuit. It is our duty, therefore, not only to read the word of God with frequency; but like men in earnest, who know that everything is to be determined by its declarations;—like men who know that he only is blessed whom that word blesses; and that he is most assuredly cursed whom that word curses. It is our duty to labor and pray, that we may have the lively signatures of Scripture impressed in all our sentiments, breathing in all our desires, realized in all our conduct; so that all may see, and we ourselves most delightfully prove, that the word of the Lord is pure, converting our souls.”

Henry Venn, The Complete Duty of Man, or A System of Doctrinal and Practical Christianity designed for the use of families, 1763, Revised and Corrected by H. Venn, (New York: American Tract Society, 1838), 392-394.

Published by Dr. Peter Van Kleeck, Sr.

Dr. Peter William Van Kleeck, Sr. : B.A., Grand Rapids Baptist College, 1986; M.A.R., Westminster Theological Seminary, 1990; Th.M., Calvin Theological Seminary, 1998; D. Min, Bob Jones University, 2013. Dr. Van Kleeck was formerly the Director of the Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, Grand Rapids, MI, (1990-1994) lecturing, researching and writing in the defense of the Masoretic Hebrew text, Greek Received Text and King James Bible. His published works include, "Fundamentalism’s Folly?: A Bible Version Debate Case Study" (Grand Rapids: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1998); “We have seen the future and we are not in it,” Trinity Review, (Mar. 99); “Andrew Willet (1562-1621: Reformed Interpretation of Scripture,” The Banner of Truth, (Mar. 99); "A Primer for the Public Preaching of the Song of Songs" (Outskirts Press, 2015). Dr. Van Kleeck is the pastor of the Providence Baptist Church in Manassas, VA where he has ministered for the past twenty-one years. He is married to his wife of 43 years, Annette, and has three married sons, one daughter and eighteen grandchildren.

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