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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 of. fices 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,
setting our affections on things above, where Christ is, and mortifying, through the Holy Spirit, every sinful and corrupt affection. We are taught to love the Lord our God with all our heart and all our soul; to love our neighbours as ourselves; to fulfil perfectly the particular duties of every relative station ; to lay aside all malice, envy, hatred, revenge, and other malevolent dispositions or passions ; to love our enemies; to render good for evil, blessing for cursing ; and to pray for them who despitefully use us. These laws of universal purity and benevolence are prescribed with an authority proper only to God, and extended to such a compass and degree as God alone can demand ; and those sins are forbidden which God alone could either observe or prohibit. The most powerful motives to duty, and dissuasives from vice, are wisely proposed and powerfully urged; motives drawn from the nature and perfections, the promises and threatenings, the mercies and judgments of God, particularly from his overflowing benevolence and mercy in the work of our redemption, and from advantages and disadvantages temporal, spiritual, and eternal. And, while the most excellent means of directing and exciting to the exercise of piety and virtue are established in the most excellent forms and authoritative manner, the most perfect and engaging patterns of holiness and virtue are set before us in the example of our Redeemer, and of God as reconciled in Him, and reconciling the world to himself. Now, all these things were written at a time when all the rest of the world, even the wisest, and most learned, and most celebrated nations of the earth, were sunk in the grossest ignorance of God and religion; were worshipping idols and brute beasts, indulging themselves in the most abominable vices, living in envy, hatred, and strife, hateful, and hating one another. It is a most singular circumstance, that a people in a remote, obscure corner of the world, far inferior to several heathen nations in learning, in philosophy, in genius, in science, and in all the polite arts, should yet be so infinitely their superiors in their ideas of a Supreme Being, and of every thing for on any other supposition tħan that of their having been instructed in these things by God himself, or by persons commissioned and inspired by him ; that is, of their having been really favoured with those Divine revelations which are recorded in the sacred books of the Old and New Testaments. Indeed, both the doctrines and morality of the Sacred Scriptures infinitely transcend the abilities of the penmen, if they were not inspired. Men of the best education, far less men of no education, could not of themselves form such exalted schemes of religion, piety, and virtue ; and wicked men, as they must have been if they were impostors, would not publish and prosecute such a scheme of mystery, holiness, and morality.
5. The harmony of the sacred writers fully demonstrates that they wrote by the inspiration of the Spirit of God. Other historians continually differ from each other : the errors of the former writers are constantly criticised and corrected by the later; and it even frequently happens that contemporary writers contradict each other in relating a fact that happened in their own time and within the sphere of their own knowledge. Should an equal number of contemporaries, of the same country, education, habits, profession, natural disposition, and rank in life, associating together as a distinct company, concur in writing a book on religious subjects of even less extent than that of the Bible, each furnishing his proportion without comparing notes, the attentive reader would easily discover among them considerable diversity of opinion. But the writers of the Scriptures succeeded each other during a period of nearly sixteen hundred years; some of them were princes or priests, others shepherds or fishermen; their natural abilities, education, babits, and occupations were exceedingly dissimilar; they wrote laws, history, prophecy, odes, devotional exercises, proverbs, parables, doctrines, and controversy, and each had his distinct department; yet they all exactly agree in the exhibition of the perfections, works, truths, and will of God; of the nature, situation, and obligations of man ; of sin and salvation ; of this world and the next; and in short in all things connected with our duty, safety, interest, and comfort, and in the whole of the religion which they have promulged: they all were evidently of the same judgment, aimed to establish the same principles, and applied them to the same practical purposes. One part of Scripture is so intimately connected with, and tends so powerfully to the establishment of another, that one part cannot be reasonably received without receiving the whole ; and the more carefully it is examined, and the more diligently it is compared, (for which purpose the Marginal References afford great facility,) the more evident will it appear, that every part, like the stones in an arch, supports, and receives support from the rest, and that they unitedly constitute one grand and glorious whole. In both the Old and New Testaments, the subsequent books, or succeeding parts of the same book, are connected with the preceding, as the narrative either of the execution of a plan, or the fulfilment of a prediction. If we receive the history, we must also receive the prediction ; if we admit the prediction, we must also admit the bistory. Every where the same facts are supposed, related, or prepared for; the same doctrines of a gracious redemption through Jesus Christ exhibited or supposed to be true; the same rules or exemplifications of piety and virtue; the same motives and inducements to the performance of duty; the same promises of mercy, and threatenings of just misery to persons, societies, or nations, without a single contradiction. Apparent inconsistencies may indeed perplex the superficial reader ; but they vanish before an accurate and persevering investigation; nor could any charge of disagreement among the sacred writers ever be substantiated; for it could only be said that they related the same facts with different circumstances, which are perfectly reconcileable, and that they gave instructions suited to the persons they addressed, according to various circumstances of time, place, and manner, without systematically shewing their harmony with other parts of divine truth. They did