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accounted for, from the supposition of two original principles equally powerful, for then they would prevent one another from acting; so there would be neither good nor evil. But all these, will be treated more largely in the philosophical speculations on religion natural and revealed; the state of pagans, and all out of the church, (Acts x. 35. Jonah iii. 10.) the providential end of the different religions, or different modes of religion; the proper use of the Scriptures, and the sure rules of interpretation; the true state of the Hebrew language; shewing also that they are wretched philosophers who deny the Trinity, a resurrection, &c. The authenticity of the Mosaic writings, and their account of the creation, and the deluge, the origin also of the fabulous accounts of Egypt, East India, China, Babylon, &c. accounted for, with various other particulars.
The Jews are as strong an evidence of the divine original of the Mosaic dispensation, as the works of nature are of a Creator; that was the charter by which they got the promised land; and just as they observed or violated the conditions, they possessed it, or were deprived of it, as first by the Chaldeans, and secondly by the Romans, whose general, Titus, declared, that their me tropolis could not have been taken, if God had not given them up. He declared them exiles, by his Prophets, for 2000 prophetic years, until their final restoration at the Millennium by their conversion; that is the blessed period of piety, purity, unity, &c. in the latter ages, when there will be no wars-when the Jews, having been divinely taught the gospel, as Paul was, will return to their own land, and be the model of purity, and bond of union among Christians, who will have no unity till then, as there is no model since the apostolic times; primitive Christianity will then be revived. All mankind will become Christians in that golden period, under Messiah's blessed universal reign; all which Moses and the other prophets delineated in prophecy. Moses is also a most excellent philosopher, sublime orator, and poet. Longinus, a Greek pagan, on the Sublime, said, Moseshas the true sublime, Gen, i. 3, &c. His-history of Joseph, and the discovery to his brothers, far excel that of Ulysses to his son, in Homer, as Moses' Songs, Exod. xv. Deut. xxxii. do the most sublime odes of Pindar. There is no history, real, or romantic, so entertaining as the first book of Moses, but the gospels. Tho' there is classical Greek in the New Testament, yet as it is the accomplishment of the Old, the authors of it often use the phrascology, idioms, and figures of the Old; and as the narrations, discourses, and conversations in the gospels, &c. were managed in Hebrew, it is more necessary to the right understanding of the New Testament than the Greek in which it was written; for the authors of it, in referring to, or quoting from the Old, suppose their readers acquainted with the different senses of the Hebrew words, and of the voices of the Hebrew verbs, and
give the Greek words and verbs their different significations, taking them in any sense that the others have, quite different from their common acceptation in Greek authors. The want of attention to this, has caused many blunders in the Translations. The very learned and judicious Squire Spearman has demonstrated, in his Letters on the Septuagint and the Heathen Mythology (which he shews to be of Oriental origin, from Hebrew names, persons, and eastern events, and the prophetical, typical, patriarchal, and Jewish ritual greatly corrupted,) that the Oriental words in the New Testament are not Chaldaic or Syriac, as the Critics and Commentators generally alleged, mistaking the Hebrew words with Greek terminations, or variations for SyroChaldaic as in the Sept.; and that the Hebrew did not cease to be a living language after the Babylonish captivity, for Gorionides, a French Jew, wrote the Jewish History since the creation, in the twelfth century, in plain Hebrew, perhaps, the best for learning the language; the Samaritan letters were not the original Hebrew ones, for he shews the deception of the medals, whereby Dr. Prideaux, &c. were deceived. The Hebrew was from the beginning, still is, and will continue to the end a living language, and will be universal in the Millennium, and it is the language of heaven, Acts xxii. 2. xxvi. 14. The latest prophets wrote in pure Hebrew for universal use, some ages after the captivity, but the Syriac version is the most ancient, except the Hebrew one of Matthew, and the Epistle to the Hebrews, which are lost, and next to the Hebrew and Greek, is the best human aid to the sense of both the Old and New Testaments.
Man is so much a religious creature, that as Cicero, a pagan, the prince of the Roman philosophers, says, all nations have, or know they ought to have, some species of religious worship, or an object of adoration. Religion is distinguished into natural and revealed; the first is, or may be learned, or collected by men of science, from observing the display of the divine wisdom, power, and goodness, in the works of nature, Rom. i. 20. tho' it be an historical fact, that all the knowledge of God that has been in any part of the world, was from revelation, or tradition originally derived from it. Atheists and deists could not find God in his works and word without a guide, or science to discern the divine art, as Galen did in the anatomy of the human body. The light and law of nature in discovering truth, and binding to the practice of it, in duty to God and man, &c. would answer the end, if there were a natural power and means to apply it. Though the city were on fire, there is water enough in the great river to quench it, but there is no power nor means to apply it. The works of nature are a revelation of the Author, and his perfections to all nations, Psal. xix. The analogy of revealed religion to the constitution and course of nature, shews evidently that they have the same Author, Su
pernatural revelation is attested, first, by miracles or extraordinary actions, above the finite power of any creature to perform, as by speaking all languages, without learning them, these being the only immediate direct proof. Secondly, by the continual fulfilling of prophecies; to continue to the end of the world, standing miracles to all ages, as we will see in our progress, and as Sir Isaac and Bishop Newton, Bishop Sherlock, Bishop Hurd, Mr. Fraser, Mr. Bicheno, &c. on the prophecies fulfilled in history, have shewn with a summary of universal history. The third and essential or internal evidence of revelation, is, the goodness of the doctrine, and the excellency of the gospel plan, for God's glory, and man's happiness. The evidences of revelation, and of the moral obligations to virtue, are sufficient to convince those that are willing to be convinced; but not so irresist ible as to hinder the liberty of the will, or freedom of choice, else there would be no merit or demerit in virtue or vice, John xx. 25. The author having ascertained the authenticity of the Scriptures, he had no farther anxiety concerning the kind of doctrine, worship, government, or discipline they contain, being sure they were right, whatever they were, as being the dictates of infinite, unerring wisdom and goodness, therefore, he was only careful to know what they were. See Lord President Forbes' Thoughts on Religion, being a philosophical, demonstrative evidence of the divine origin of the Old Testament, and of the New Testament founded on it; and Lord Littleton on the conversion of Paul, being a demonstrative evidence of the divine original of Christianity; and Mr. Garthshore's admirable Synod Sermon, being a learned, laconic, demonstrative evidence of revelation, and Grotius on the truth of Christianity, and Lardner's and Paley's credibility, from Pagan and Jewish testimonies of the facts mentioned in scripture. He does not vouch for every sentiment in any author, and has now different views of some of his own things, published last century.
Though reason may perceive and judge of the exterior sense and the truth of the Scriptures, yet none will believe them stedfastly, or without danger of apostacy, to either infidelity or immorality in the time of temptation, John vii. 17.; or so as to be their support and comfort in the time of trial, as distress and death, without the comfortable experience of the truths and privileges they contain and exhibit; though to speak of these, to such as know them not, seem as strange as to speak of the beauty of colours, or of the sun's cheering light and refreshing warmth, to the blind and bénumbed, who never saw nor felt it, or of the harmony of musical sounds, to the deaf who can only speak and understand artificially; see the great Owen on the Spiritual Mind, Light, and Sense, &c. 1 Cor. i. 23. ii. 14. Rom. xv. 13. Phil. iv. 7. 1 Pet. i. 8. Psal. iv. 6, 7. Ephes. iv. 18, 19. where light in the understanding, leaves the affections behind,
in fervency, it ends in formality or infidelity; and where the affections outrun light, they heat the imagination, or produce enthusiasm, which is the source of self-deception, delusion, imposture, superstition, and idolatry, persecution, Gnostic Solifidian Antinomianism, the most subtle knavery, and the most delusive hypocrisy, spiritual pride, which is the image or temper of Satan, bitter bigotry, blind intemperate zeal, &c. it exceeds in impudence and art, or cunning, deceit, and dissimulation, 1 John iv. 1. 2 Cor. xi. 13. 2 Pet. ii. 1.; but there are several kinds of it, as the poetical, oratorical, polemical, political, &c.; and some kinds are mild and harmless. Dr. Cassaubon, on enthusiasm, relates, that Mahomed got an enthusiastic phrenzy in a fever, before he commenced prophet.-N. B. Next to the Saviour of the world, we are most indebted to the sacred Scriptures; they made the difference between the church and the world, which by all its wisdom knew not God, even in the most scientific parts thereof, Acts xvii. 23. Athens had been the school of the world of sciences 600 years before Paul. The Scriptures must be either from God or man, or satan; good men could not commit a forgery, Rom. iii. 8.; and they are against the plan, and condemn the conduct of the devil and bad men, who would not oppose their own plan, and condemn themselves, Matth. xii. 25—30. Infidels to obtain a false peace for a time, stifle and smother remorse of conscience, forcing themselves to believe a lie, and hiding that misery from themselves for a little which is coming upon them for ever; those who have experienced that truth and peace, would rather part with all the world's good things and suffer all its evils, yea, martyrdom in its most tormenting forms, than lose it, and could more easily disbelieve their senses, or want their necessary food, than disbelieve or be deprived of their souls' calm sunshine and that heartfelt joy, which nothing earthly gives nor can destroy, see Rom. viii. 9. and objective and subjective revelations in the Synopsis of various subjects. See the Evidences of Revelation more fully in the Philosophical Preliminary Dissertation.
Demonstrative irresistable evidences of Revelation and Christianity to the impartial.
Atheists, deists, and others disbelieve and reject revelation and Christianity, imagining that there is no sufficient evidence or certainty, but only a bare probability of the Divine original thereof, but their scepticism is owing to their own culpable inattention or depravity, and the more opportunity there is to know the certainty of these things, the more dangerous is the neglect or lisbelief of them, John iii. 19-21. Heb. ii. 3, 4. they blindfold themselves to disbelieve, or believe, as their vicious passions, pride, prejudice, avarice, ambition, knavery, or villany, &c. dictate, believing with the will and not with the
understanding; yea, even contrary to the senses and facts, as transubstantiation, and as the Buchanites believed they would not die. The evidences of revelation are absolutely irresistable to all, whose minds are not perverted by the foresaid passions, or brutalized by voluptuousness, drunkenness, or debauchery, Eph. iv. 18, 19. 1 John ii. 15, 16. so that they cannot, or will not discern, as the blind cannot see the beauty of colours, in nature or art. Galen, a Pagan Greek philosopher, was an atheist till he dissected a human body, and then he saw the parts adapted to each other, as those of a clock or any machine; and writing on the use of the parts, he became so devout as to write a hymn on the Creator, and all physicians since, declare that it is impossible for an anatomist to be an atheist, if he really understands the structure and economy of the animal frame; and as the proof and efficacy of Christianity entirely depend on the resurrection of Christ, 1 Cor. xv. The English deists, the principal society of them in the world, pitched on Gilbert West, Esq. the principal man among them, to refute the evidences of it, but upon a thorough examination he found them irresistable, which he published without informing his brethren, till they got his book to read, which so disconcerted them that they never made a figure as a society afterwards. Paul was a man of the greatest parts and learning, in both the Greek Philosophy and Jewish Rabbinic Literature, and so the ablest judge, and the most zealous opposer of Christianity, so he did not become the most zealous propagator of it, and suffer so much in the cause without sufficient evidence. Lord Littleton on his conversion, shews that this is sufficient to convince any who are willing to see the truth, but errors of the head arise from those of the heart and life. See Farmer on the miracles, and Bishop Newton on the accomplishment of the prophe cies, shewing their irresistable evidence. J. B. Esq. an astronomer told me, he could no more doubt of the planets and comets being conducted by an invisible almighty power, or general providence over the world, (as well as a particular in every one's lot,) than of his own existence, as the animal machine also is. A. G. M. D. told me, he saw evidences of a Divine original in the Bible wherever he opened it, and the evidences of the Trinity, incarnation, atonement, &c. Rom. v. 19. are also irresistable to all who are willing to see the truth. Lord, President Forbes, on the sources of infidelity, calls our sceptics our modern madmen, they are most horrible liars, the greatest villains, thus to shut their eyes to the light, or hide that from themselves for a little which is coming on them for ever, lest it torment them before their time, to be for ever miserable for temporal pleasures, profits, honours, &c, and epicures, drunkards, debauchees, &c. are as unwilling to be convinced of the danger of their courses to health and life, and will not fear the evil till they feel it; pleasures and amusements reign, man's great delight, to trifle is to live agreeably, but is it then a trifle to, to die, can joys like