Изображения страниц

logy, as mentioned or referred to in the Scriptures, are coincident with those stated by the most ancient and creditable writers extant.

Such are the principal evidences, both external and internal, direct and collateral, of the authenticity and credibility of the Sacred Scriptures; and when the uumber, variety, and extraordinary nature of many of them are considered, it is impossible not to come to the conclusion, that the Sacred Writings contain a true relation of matters of fact as they really happened. If such a combination of evidence is not sufficient to satisfy every inquirer into truth, it is utterly impossible that any event, which passed in former times, and which we did not see with our own eyes, can ever be proved to have happened, by any degree of testimony whatever.


On the Inspiration of the Sacred Scriptures.

BUT further, the Scriptures are not merely entitled to be received as perfectly authentic and credible, but also as containing the revealed will of God; in other words, as divinely inspired writings. By inspiration is meant such a complete and immediate communication, by the Holy Spirit, to the minds of the sacred writers, of those things which could not have been otherwise known; and such an effectual superintendance and guidance, as to those particulars concerning which they might otherwise obtain information; as was amply sufficient to enable them to communicate religious knowledge to others, without any error or mistake, which could in the least affect any of the doctrines or precepts contained in their writings, or mislead any person, who considered them as a divine and infallible standard of truth and duty. Every sentence, in this view, must be considered as the sure testimony of God,' in that sense in

which it is proposed as truth. Facts occurred, and words were spoken, as to the import of them, and the instruction contained in them, exactly as they are here recorded; but the morality of words and actions, recorded merely as done and spoken, must be judged of by the doctrinal and preceptive parts of the same book. The sacred writers, indeed, wrote in such language as their different talents, tempers, educations, habits, and associations suggested, or rendered natural to them; but the Holy Spirit so entirely superintended them, when writing, as to exclude every error, and every unsuitable expression, and to guide them to all those which best suited their several subjects; they are the voice, but the Divine Spirit is the SPEAKER. Now, that the Sacred Writings are thus inspired, we have abundant evidence of various kinds, amounting to a moral demonstration. For,

1. The sacred writers themselves expressly claim Divine inspiration; and unhesitatingly and unequivocally assert that the Scriptures are the Word of God. All the prophets, in the Old Testament, speak most decidedly of themselves, and their predecessors, as declaring not their own words, but the word of God. They propose things, not as matters for consideration, but for adoption: they do not leave us the alternative of receiving or rejecting: they do not present us with their own thoughts, but exclaim, Thus saith the LORD, and on that ground claim our assent. The Apostles, and writers of the New Testament, also speak respecting the prophets of the Old Testament,' as holy men of God, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.' (2 Pet. i. 19-21; Heb. i. 1, 2.) These writings are expressly affirmed to be the Oracles of God;' (Rom. iii. 2.) and it is declared that 'all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.' (2 Tim. iii. 16, 17.) Our Saviour himself ex

ble Word of God, and of divine authority. The sacred writers of the New Testament also adopt language, which, in its most obvious meaning, claims the attention of their readers to their own instructions as to the Word of God; and they also thus attest and sanction one another's writings in the most unequivocal manner. Now, admitting the veracity of the writers, (which, we have seen, is absolutely unimpeachable,) we must admit that the Scriptures are the inspired and infallible word of God. If they were wise men, (and every man must perceive that they were neither ignorant nor void of sense,) they could not have been deluded into the imagination that they, their predecessors, and contemporaries, were inspired; and, if they were good men, (as they certainly must have been, for bad men, if they could, would not have written a book which so awfully condemned themselves,) they would not have thus confidently asserted their own inspiration, and sanctioned that of each other, unless they had been inspired; they would not have ascribed their own inventions to inspiration, especially as such forgeries are so severely reprobated in every part of them. Consequently the Bible must be the word of God, inspired by Him, and thus given to man.

2. A great many wise and good men, through many generations, of various nations, and in different countries, have agreed in receiving the Bible as a Divine revelation. The Jews have unquestionably in all ages acknowledged the Scriptures of the Old Testament as the word of God; and Christians from the earliest ages to the present time, have not been less backward in testifying their belief in the inspiration of both the Old and New Testament. Many of them have been distinguished for piety, erudition, penetration, and impartiality in judging of men and things. With infinite labour and patient investigation, they detected the impostures by which their contemporaries were duped; but the same assiduous examination confirmed them in believing the Bible to be the word of God; and induced them, living and dying, to recommend it to all others, as the source of

all true wisdom, hope, and consolation. Now, although this does not amount to a demonstration, yet it is a strong presumptive proof, of the inspiration of the Scriptures; and it must be allowed to be a consideration of vast importance, that the whole company of those who 'worshipped the living God in spirit and in truth,' including those who laid down. their lives as a testimony of their unshaken belief, and who were the most pious, holy, and useful men in every age, have unanimously concurred in handing them down to us as a divine revelation, and have very little differed about the books which form that sacred deposit.

3. The matter contained in the Scriptures requires a Divine inspiration. Setting aside, for a moment, the prediction of future events, and the excellency of its doctrines and morality, and merely admitting the veracity of the sacred writers, (which we have every reason to do) we must admit that much of the information contained in the Bible absolutely required a Divine revelation. The history of the creation, part of that of the flood, &c. as related in the Scriptures, could have been known to God alone. Mysteries relative to a Trinity of persons in the Godhead,--the nature and perfections of God,-the covenant of grace, the incarnation of the Son of God, his mediatorial offices, and redemption through his blood,—justification, adoption, sanctification, and eternal blessedness in him, and the offices of the Holy Spirit the Comforter,-these, and many others of a like nature, God only could either comprehend or discover. Mysteries, therefore, in the Scriptures, rather confirm than invalidate their inspiration for a book, claiming to be a revelation from God, and yet devoid of mystery, would, by this very circumstance, confute itself. Incomprehensibility is inseparable from God and his works, even in the most inconsiderable, such, for instance, as the growth of a blade of grass. The mysteries of the Scriptures are sublime, interesting, and useful: they display the Divine perfections; lay a foundation for our hope; and inculcate

is incomprehensible must be mysterious; but it may be intelligible as far as it is revealed; and though it be connected with things above our reason, it may imply nothing contrary to it. Hence, it may be confidently inferred, from these matters contained in the Scriptures, that they were given by inspiration of God.

4. The scheme of doctrine and morality contained in the Bible is so exalted, pure, and benevolent, that God alone could either devise or appoint it. In the Scriptures alone, and in such books as make them their basis, is the infinite God introduced as speaking in a manner worthy of himself, with simplicity, majesty, and authority. His character, as there delineated, comprises all possible excellence, without any intermixture; his laws and ordinances accord with his perfections; his works and dispensations exhibit them; and all his dealings with his creatures bear the stamp of infinite wisdom, power, justice, purity, truth, goodness, and mercy, harmoniously displayed. While the Supreme Being is thus described as possessed of every perfection, unbounded and incomprehensible in his essence and nature, and as the Creator, Governor, and Benefactor of his creatures, the Scriptures represent man in a lapsed state, a rebellious and fallen being, alienated from God and goodness, averse by nature to all that is good and amiable, and prone to every thing that is sinful and hateful, and consequently exposed to the eternal wrath of God. The Scriptures, however, do not leave us in this wretched state; but they propose an adequate remedy for all our diseases, and an ample supply for all our wants. They shew us how to be delivered from the dominion and awful consequences of sin, and how human nature may be truly improved and perfected, through the obedience, death, and mediation, of the only begotten Son of God, by receiving him as made of God unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption—as an effectual root and principle of holiness; and by walking in him by faith, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and living soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world,


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »