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that if infidels were put upon the defensive a little more frequently, they would have much less time to be creeping, with poisoned arrows, around the outworks of Christianity. Let them point out, in the belief of the gospel, any thing like the contradictions and absurdities involved in a profession of infidelity, and it shall be renounced as unworthy the countenance of a rational being.
INSPIRATION OF THE SCRIPTURES, AND CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS.
THE external evidences of Christianity, as a system of faith divinely revealed, we consider to have been closed with the lecture next preceding the last. On that subject we shall offer no additional argument. But there remains one very important matter of inquiry.
Christianity and the Scriptures are essentially associated. Without the latter, we should not have received the former. But however inseparable in the use of their benefits, they are quite distinct in the proof of their infallible origin. It is one thing to show that the doctrines taught in the Scriptures are divine, and another, that the books containing those doctrines are divine. The former, we think, has been fully established. The latter has not yet been attempted. We have proved that the books of Scripture are authentic and credible, the works of the authors whose names they bear, and correct narratives of such matters of fact as they profess to relate. But were we to stop here, we should leave the Bible on a level, in point of authority, with many other books of the Christian religion which contain the truth, and, so far as we can judge, contain nothing
else, and yet have no pretension to any other than a human origin. In this case, we should have no ultimate and sure appeal for either doctrine or duty; a door would be open for all manner of interference, on the part of "man's wisdom," for the perversion and corruption of the truth; the most essential features of the gospel, on the easy plea that the apostles being men may sometimes have misunderstood their Master, would be accessible to the most ruinous suspicions of overstatement or misconception.
We have need not only of a divine system of religion, but of a divine Teacher of that system. The latter was possessed by the apostles in the person of Christ, while he continued with them; and subsequently in the special presence and guidance of the Holy Ghost, whom the Saviour promised as a Comforter to lead them into all truth. In place of the privileges thus possessed, what remains to which may confidently be referred every question of religious doctrine and duty, and by which our minds may be safely led to the whole truth as it is in Jesus? Are the Scriptures infallible? in other words, are they divine? Have they been "given by inspiration of God?" This bring us at once to the main point of the present lecture, THE INSPIRATION OF THE SCRIPTURES-a subject which, however eminently important, has had so much done, preparatory to its consideration, in our previous lectures, that it need not occupy at present a large portion of your time.
The distinct proposition to which your attention is called, I would express partly in the language of
St. Peter: The Scriptures came not by the will of man; but holy men of God wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost; or in the words of St. Paul, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God."
By inspiration is understood, "such a 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 superintendency as to those particulars concerning which they might otherwise obtain information, as sufficed absolutely to preserve them from every degree of error in all things 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."
This definition is perfectly consistent with what a critic would regard as a fault of style in a book of Scripture; or a philosopher, as scientifically inaccurate; or a rhetorician, as a departure from the rules of rhetorical writing. It is entirely compatible with the evident fact of the several authors having written in such various idioms and styles as their respective talents, habits, associations, or circumstances rendered most easy and natural; while, at the same time, it places all the sacred writers, however various their modes and minds, on the same footing of divine authority, and gives to all portions of the Bible an equal claim to be received as the oracles of God. Thus, over the just interpretation of each single verse, is written, infallibility.
In examining into the degree of authority to be
attached to the Scriptures, we are favored with a very direct appeal. We may go to the Scriptures themselves. Having already established their credibility, we have a full warrant to depend on them for a true statement of the words of the Saviour and his apostles. Having established also the fundamental doctrine, that the Saviour and his apostles were divinely sent and attested, we have a right to rely implicitly on their words, as truth divinely sealed and certified. Our way, therefore, is plain. We must search the Scriptures for any words of the Lord Jesus and of his apostles concerning the subject before us. We have but one question to answer: Does the New Testa ment bear witness that the several books composing the Bible were treated or represented by the Saviour or his apostles as divinely inspired? This determined in the affirmative, the inspiration of the Scriptures is decided, until the whole argument of the preceding lectures shall be proved inconclusive. Let us divide the question, and begin our inquiry with,
I. THE OLD TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES.
1. It is undeniable that the Saviour and his apostles regarded the Old Testament with at least as much reverence as did the Jews in their day. They reproved the latter for many errors of doctrine and of practice; for mutilating the Scriptures by false interpretations, and for making them of none effect through their traditions; but nowhere do we read the least insinuation of their having censured the Jews for paying too much respect to the Scriptures, or for allowing them too much authority. On the contrary,