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to continue; and assures him, that from them he would derive a knowledge of the most important truths: for, says he in the text
* All Scripture is given by inspiration, &c.' From these words of the Apostle, we learn
First. The Origin and Excellency of the Holy Scriptures.
Second. The Design with which they were composed.
1. We have their Origin and Excellency. All Scripture is given, &c. -righteousness.' Thus we learn that the • High and Lofty One, who inhabiteth eternity,' beholding with compassion the ignorance of the children of men, and desirous to save them from the destruction into which they were madly plunging, condescended to impart such a knowledge of divine things, accompanied with a code of heavenly instructions, as should render them wise unto eternal salvation. This sublime information is comprised in that precious volume, which, on account of its pre-eminence over all others, is called • The Book, (for such is the meaning of the word Bible) The Word of Truth,” “The Word of God.'. Though written by the pen of mortals, its sacred contents were dictated by the Eternal Spirit; and, consequently, nothing can be found therein but what is strictly true, and worthy of all acceptation; nothing, therefore, but what merits the most implicit belief, the most thankful reception, and most attentive perusal. Many, various, and weighty, are the evidences by which this high character of the Scriptures may be sustained, a few of which will be briefly noticed.
First, then, human ability has never been able to form any thing which would justify us in attributing to it the composition of the Scriptures. In their account of the creation, the origin, and future destination of man; in their view of God, his nature, character, and government; in their revelation of the way in which he has provided pardon and deliverance for fallen men; in the surprising predictions they contain, relative to future events, many of which have been so minutely fulfilled; in the purity of their moral instructions; in their admirable adaption to the condition of human nature, and their wonderful operation upon the heart and life: in all these particulars, and in many more that might be enumerated, they as far surpass the most exalted human performance, as the glorious luminary of day outshines the glimmering taper. The best productions of human ability bear evident marks of their earthly origin; while the Holy Scriptures intrinsically demonstrate the truth of the Apostle's assertion, that they are given by Inspiration of God.'
Other proofs of the Inspiration of the Bible arise from an inquiry into the moral character of the sacred penmen, as well as from an examination of the doctrines which they taught, the miracles they performed, and the prophecies they delivered
Upon the strictest scrutiny, we find them men of tried integrity, pious, and virtuous, living in the fear of God, and in good will and affection to their fellow mortals. Now, can we for a moment suppose, that characters like these w guilty of such wickedness, such daring blasphemy, as pretending to divine communications which they had never received ? Would they dare to brave the vengeance of heaven by ascribing to the Almighty God the things which they well knew were merely their own fabrications ? Is it probable that men, whose works breathe the inost exalted sentiments of virtue and charity, would be so cruel to the human race as wilfully to mislead them in matters of such vital imporiance, and persuade them to stake their eternal interests on a series of vile impositions and falsehoods; and, moreover, all this without the most distant prospect of gain to themselves? In fact, so far were they from reaping any worldly advantages from their system, that most of them suffered a cruel death on account of it, and sealed their testimony with their blood. Nothing, then, can be more unreasonable, more glaringly absurd, than to suppose holy and benevolent men (as the sacred writers unquestionably, were) guilty of such conduct, the abominable impiety of which is equalled only by its barbarous inhumanity, and abject folly. We may, therefore, safely conclude, that they delivered, as a divine revelation, nothing but what they actually received from above; and that as they were too pious and benevolent to deceive others so they possessed too much selfcomposure and good sense, either to deceive themselves, or to allow others to impose upon them.
Again, if we enquire into the doctrines taught by the Prophets, and the Apostles, the sacred precepts with which their writings are replete, we find them incomparably more sublime, holy, and refined, than any that were before promulgated even by the wisest of the ancient sages and philosophers. Their obvious tendency is to glorify God, and promote the holiness and felicity of man. Doctrines, such as these, would never have been propagated by persons who were wicked enough to impose their own inventions on the
world as a revelation from God. Nothing short of absolute madness could have induced wicked men to deliver laws which condemned even the smallest approach to such impiety, and gave the perpetrators of it no hope of ever escaping the wrathful indignation of an omnipotent God.
Lastly, we appeal to the stupendous miracles which they wrought, and the wonderful prophecies which they uttered. These alone form an irresistible proof of the divine inspiration of the sacred writers. By nothing short of the almighty power of God could they have been enabled, so wonderfully, to suspend the laws of nature, counteract her operations, and, by a word or a touch, heal the most inveterate diseases, or re-animate the putrifying corpse. Only by the Inspiration of the Most High could they have drawn aside the veil which conceals from mortal eye the secrets of futurity, and so minutely foretell that variety of events which have since received the most literal accomplishment. These actions being altogether beyond the power of man, could be effected only by the interposition of the Supreme Being, and consequently impress the sacred records with the most indubitable marks of divine authority.
Many other particulars might be adduced, which bear strong collateral testimony to the truth of the Gospel --such as the wonderful agreement of its various parts—its almost miraculous preservation through so many ages of bigotry and superstition, during which nothing was left undone to effect its extirpation-its rapid promulgation through the world in defiance of kings and rulers, who were leagued in violent opposition against it, and who adopted the most cruel expedients to check its progress--the astonishing constancy displayed by its first propagators when exposed
to those dreadful persecutions that were excited against them in consequence of their attachment to it—and the supernatural courage with which they endured the most exquisite torments that the ingenuity of sanguinary men could devise to shake their resolution-and, lastly, the conformity of the historical facts, mentioned or referred to in it, with the state of things in those times as represented by other independent accounts. But we will not dwell upon these points, presuming enough has been said to demonstrate its divine origin, and to prove, in spite of all the cavils of infidelity, that instead of being. 'a cunningly devised fable, it is a faithful testimony, worthy of universal acceptation; and when cordially believed, the power of God unto salvation.'
As we thus find ourselves in possession of a collection of divinely-inspired writings, which are so admirably adapted to our several necessities, it behoves us to enquire
II. With what Design they were composed: for what end God condescended to supply us with so many excellent rules of faith and conduct. We learn from the text, that this gracious communica, tion was made, that mankind might be recovered from the ignorance, sin, and misery, into which they were fallen, and exalted to the hope of eternal life; that they might be instructed in that faith and holiness which are indispensable to the enjoyment of the kingdom of heaven. For this purpose, God has given us his holy word, which, as the Apostle says, 'is profitable for doctrine, &c. that the man of God may be made perfect, &c.' Herein, we find revealed all that is needful for us to know; every important doctrine is laid down with the greatest precision; and every erroneous opinion reproved and refuted by the most convincing