« AnteriorContinuar »
CHA P. V.
THE INSPIRATION OF THE OLD TESTA
WHEN the Son of God expired without the gates of Jerufalem, the end was accomplished, for which the Jews had been feparated from the other nations, and the law of Mofes had been given. Their ritual, therefore, loft all its force; and the observance of it was rendered impracticable, by the destruction of their temple, and their difperfion over the face of the earth. But the Jewish Scriptures did not become useless, and their authority was not abrogated, when the nation, of which they contain the history and the laws, ceased to exift in its political and ecclefiaftical capacity. We still revere them as authentic records of those difpenfations which were introductory to the gofpel; and we receive them as
a part of the rule of faith and manners, the obligation of which is perpetual.
It must be acknowledged, indeed, that the Scriptures of the New Testament are more adapted to our circumftances, than thofe of the Old in general are; and that the former excel the latter in feveral refpects. Every work of God is good; but as he is a wife and free agent, he does not always work to the utmost of his power. One work, therefore, may be comparatively better than another, though he who is infinite in perfection be the author of both; and confequently one portion of revelation may furpass another in the importance of its matter, the clearness of its doctrines, and the rich and animating difplays of divine grace which it affords. The gofpel may excel the law, as the law was more glorious than the patriarchal difpenfation. Yet afcribing, as we do, the fame original to the law and to the gofpel, to the writings of the prophets and to thofe of the apoftles, we affign to both an equal rank in the facred canon; and we seek from both inftruction with respect to the conduct of life and the falvation of our fouls. I know of none, by whom the infpiration of the Old Teftament
hath been denied, while that of the New was ad mitted, except fome ancient heretics, who feem indeed to have been delirious fanatics; and who affirmed, that the God of the Jews was an evil being, and that Mofes and the prophets were his minifters *.
In entering on the proof of the inspiration of the facred books, I obferved, that though their natural order required us to begin with those of the Old Testament, yet a confiderable advantage would be afterwards found to refult from first afcertaining the inspiration of the Chriftian Scriptures. The advantage is this, that, if the New Teftament be once proved to be infpired, the infpiration of the Old Testament must be admitted without farther proof, because its books are explicitly recognized in the former as divine. Nothing more, then, can now be reafonably demanded of us than to fhow, that the New Testa
* Of these the moft noted were the Manicheans, fo called from Manes, or Manichæus the founder of the fect. It appears that they likewife rejected fome books of the New Testament. Mofheim's Hift. Cent. iii. Chap. 5. Similar notions were vented
by other heretical fects.
ment, of the inspiration of which we are already convinced, gives its fanction to the Old,
I may begin with obferving, that the New Teftament is founded on the Old, proceeds on the fuppofition of its divinity, and profeffes to be an accomplishment of the plan laid down in its prophecies and typical inftitutions. "Mofes truly faid unto the fathers, A Prophet fhall the Lord your God raife up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him fhall ye hear in all things whatsoever he fhail fay unto you. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel, and thofe that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days." It might be remarked, that when we fee an extenfive and complex plan executed, at the distance of many ages, even in its minuteft parts, by the agency of perfons, too, many of whom were totally unacquainted with it, while nothing was farther from the intention of the rest than to contribute to its accomplishment, we must pronounce the book, in which it is detailed, to have been dictated by the Spirit of prophecy. But another opportunity will occur of introducing and illuftrating this argument.
*Acts iii. 22. 24