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PROOFS OF THE INSPIRATION OF THE SCRIP TURES IN GENERAL.
BESIDES the proofs of the infpiration of the Scriptures in the preceding chapters, there are fome arguments of a more general nature, which it would be unwife to overlook, not only because nothing should be omitted, which is calculated to confirm our faith, and arm us against the asfaults of infidelity; but because they are fufficient, independently of every other confideration, to beget a strong conviction in our minds. They turn chiefly on the internal evidences of the divinity of the Scriptures, arifing from the fentiments contained in them, the spirit which they breathe, and the effects which they produce on the foul of man. Different kinds of evidence af
fect persons of different difpofitions. Some are most pleased with a chain of reasoning which bears a refemblance to the demonftrations of fcience; while to others that evidence is more agreeable, which is addreffed to the moral principles and feelings of the heart. Some demand external proofs of the truth of revelation; others fix their attention principally on the arguments arifing from its genius and tendency. It is by means of both kinds of evidence that we may expect fuch a perfuafion of the infpiration of the Scriptures to be produced, as fhall rife fuperior to the fophiftry and the farcafms of unbelievers. The impreffion which miracles and prophecy have made upon our minds, will become ftill deeper, when we perceive, that the revelation which they atteft, has unequivocal characters of divinity ftamped upon it, which fhow it to be worthy of all acceptation.
Of the fix arguments which I propofe to illuftrate in this chapter, five are drawn from the Scriptures themselves; while the laft infers their infpiration from the care of Providence with refpect to them.
I. The infpiration of the Scriptures may be proved from their fublimity.
By terming them fublime, I do not mean that they are written in pompous language. This, indeed, is the idea which fome form of fublimity; but they betray the wretchedness of their tafte, and their complete ignorance of the subject. Sublimity lies not in the expreffion, so much as in the fentiment. It is the elevation of the thoughts; and it is the fubject which raifes the ftyle, not the ftyle which gives dignity to the fubject. Nay a paffage may be fublime, which is compo fed in the most fimple and artlefs manner. No terms of art are employed in the Scriptures; nó rhetorical flights are found in them; no attempt. is made by the writers to communicate fplendour or majefty to their difcourfes, by means of artificial decorations; and yet they as far tranfcend the highest efforts of human eloquence, as the sky adorned with millions of stars furpaffes the puny imitations of it by the ingenuity of
When we caft our eyes over the Scriptures, we perceive in them an extent and fublimity of conception, which make the works of the boldeft
and most comprehenfive genius appear mean and grovelling. The ideas, held out by the facred writers, of God and his perfections, of the dependence of all creatures upon him as the Author of their existence, of his power over all nature, whose fiercest elements yield unrefifting obedience to his will, of his univerfal government, of the defigns of his providence, and of the iffue of his administrations, are perfectly original, immediately recommend themfelves to our reafon, and by their magnificence convince us, that it was from a higher fource than reason that they flowed. The unaffifted human mind is not capable of thinking fo nobly on divine things. We debase the loftieft of all fubjects by the meannefs of our fentiments, and the flatnefs and infipidity of our language. A fyftem, therefore, which difplays fuch elevation of thought, and is so agreeable to our best conceptions of God, may well be fuppofed to have emanated from himself, who alone can enable the ftammering tongues of mortals to fpeak of him in a manner worthy of his infinite dignity.
If we turn our attention to particular inftances of fublimity, they are fo numerous, that it is dif
ficult to make a felection. Can any thing be more fublime than the account of the creation given by Mofes? There is no attempt made to aftonish the imagination by an elaborate defcription; but if I may speak fo, Omnipotence is exhibited to our view naked and unadorned. Almighty speaks, and it is done; he commands, and it ftands faft. God faid, "Let there be light, and there was light *." A heathen writer hath quoted this paffage, as an instance of the fublime; and I will venture to affert, that a more noble example of it could not have been furnished, by all the poets, hiftorians, and orators, whofe writings he had perused t. What can be compared with the following defcription of the power of God over the univerfe? "Who hath hardened himself against him, and hath profpered? which removeth the mountains, and they know not; which overturneth them in his anger; which fhaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble: which commandeth the fun and it fhineth not, and fealeth up the ftars; which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the fea; which maketh Ar&turus,
* Gen. i. 3.
† Vid. Longin. de Sublimitate, Sect. ix.