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lieving Jews, for which St. Paul blamed him ; and as perhaps even Paul too did, when not knowing the High Priest, he reproved him so feverely, though deservedly'. But there was not the least Falsehood asserted by either : and the Behaviour of both turned to the Advantage of Christianity. Some have objected to the Inspiration of the latter, that in one Place he only faith, He thinks he hath the Spirit of God. But this ironical seeming Doubt was designed to imply the strongest Affirmation, and to put his Adversaries to Shame. They object also, that in the fame Chapter he distinguishes the Directions, which Christ had given in Person, from his own'. And He doth fo: but what is this more, than a most amiable Expression of Humility, and Respect to his dear Lord ? A few Persons have likewise apprehended, that when he faith to the Corinthians, We fall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed", and again to the Thessalonians, For this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord, that we which are alive, and remain unto the coming of the Lord, fall not prevent, go to Heaven before, those which are asleep"; he meant, that the general Resuri Afts xxiii. 2, &c.
1 Cor. vii. 40. + Cor. xii. 12. m Cor. xv. 51.
ni Thes. iv. 15.
h Gal. ii. 11, &c.
rection was to be in his Days, and thereforo erred. But plainly he did not : for in his second Epistle to the latter, written the same Year, he cautions them against misunderstanding, (as it seems they some of them had done,) what he said on that Head in his first : and mentions Things, which were to intervene between his own Days and the Resurrection, and must take
Time'. In other Epistles too, he speaks of his own dying, first as likely', then as certain to happen soon?. And therefore by We, in the Places objected, he meant only in general, We, or such of us, Christians : not designing to intimate, that He himself should be one of the Number. In this Sense he frequently uses both, We, and even, I, elsewhere, as many approved Authors have done in different Nations and Ages.
Objections have been raised against various Passages of holy Writ, besides the above-mentioned. Some have been thought hard to reconcile with the moral Attributes of God: some with each other. To examine them here particularly would be much too long. General Observations, capable, I hope, of removing or obviating the principal Difficulties, especially of 2 Theff. ii. i, &c. P Phil. i. 20.
9 2 Tim. iv. 6.
the former Sort, shall, God willing, be made in the Sequel of these Discourses.' But without doing that, it might be sufficient 'to say, that reasonable Answers have been already given to them : that many of them, which once appeared to be of the greatest Importance, have been fully shewn to be of none : from whence alone we may justly presume, that whatever is wanting to clear up the rest will be supplied in Time by the Blessing of God on the continued Labours of pious and learned Men: and that in the mean while, instead of thinking ill of the Scriptures, we ought to think humbly of ourselves, and be persuaded, that in these Points we do not understand them'.
Such, as were most eminent for Piety and Knowledge, and have enjoyed the greatest Advantages for judging of Scripture, have always esteemed it of divine Original. The Christians of the first and second Centuries, who must have known personally, whether the Books of the New Testament were authentic, who had been Companions of the Apostles and their immediate Succeffors, who must have been taught by Them, what Honour both Testaments deserved, and would have been restrained by Them from * This last is Justin Martyr's Rule, Dial. with Trypho, $65.
paying them too much, paid them the very highest. All, who came after, exalted them above the most valuable Compositions of the most early Fathers, by the strongest Expressions of peculiar Regard : and this Regard was universal. None but the absurdest and vileft of Heretics refuled, and that on the poorest Pretences, to be tried by their Authority. All others, whatever else they differed-in, agreed in acknowledging the Infallibility of the Bible, to which they were forced to attempt reconciling their Tenets, as well as they could. In later Days, we confess, Papists have spoken flightly of it, and Libertines much worse : both however for bad Reasons ; because it condemns the religious Notions and Practices of the former, and the irreligious ones of the latter. But all unprejudiced and serious Men, in Proportion to their natural Abilities, acquired Knowledge, and Attention to study it, have held it to this Day in Reverence: and in Proportion as that Reverence hath influenced their Hearts and Lives, have been Examples and Blessings to all around them.
Let us therefore walk in their Steps, and be heartily thankful; first, that God hath not left us (undeserving Wretches as..we are) to our
own Conjectures and Imaginations concerning what we are to believe and to do, to hope and to fear, but made gracious Discoveries of Himfelf, his Will and Purposes, to Mankind; then, that he hath not left these Discoveries to como down to us, and our Posterity, through the unçertain Conveyance of oral Tradition, which quickly fails, of of casual Writers, who might err in some Points neceffary, and pass by others unmentioned; but hath excited fit Persons to record his Truths ; exalted their Faculties, and strengthened their Memories, where it was needful; suggested to them many Things, watched over them in all. Let us receive their Communications with the utmost Respect, and read them with the utmost Care, as the Means of our Salvation : and if amidst a great deal, that is highly useful and incomparably excellent, we meet sometimes with Things, for which we are unable to account; let us indeed seek for Solutions diligently, and be willing to admit any fair, any possible one, rather than a Mistake in the sacred Writings : but though we should meet with no Solution, let us consider, that humble Faith becomes us much better, than haughty Contradiction ; modest Suspense, than cash Positiveness: for that God knows