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the arguments which fhew, that the writings of fuch men ought to be confidered as divine. those perfons, the inspiration of their books was acknowledged; and does it not unavoidably follow, that they had been fpectators of their miracles? The reception of the books in fuch circumftances amounts to a public and express declaration on the part of the most unexceptionable jndges, that the writers had claimed no power, of which they had not shown themselves to be poffeffed.
There is yet another view which may be ta-ken of this argument. Not only do the apoftles affirm that they had wrought miracles in the prefence of thofe to whom they wrote; but they fpeak to them as themselves poffeffed of miraculous gifts. The reader may confult the twelfth, and the fourteenth chapter of the firft epiftle to the Corinthians. The fame writer fignifies to the Galatians, that they had received the "Spirit" by the hearing of faith, probably meaning his miraculous gifts *; and he warns the Hebrews against rejecting the gospel, which had been confirmed to them by miracles and " gifts
*Gal iii. 2.
of the Holy Ghost *." An impoftor pretending to be endowed with the power of working miracles, might impose upon a staring ignorant multitude, by fome juggling tricks; but if he should tell the fame multitude, credulous and undiscerning as they are, that he had imparted the fame power to them, every man's confcioufnefs would give the lie to the pretence. Finding, then, that Paul talks to the members of fome Chriftian churches as poffeffing, and exercising, and even, in fome inftances, abufing fupernatural gifts; and that his epistles were, notwithstanding such language, received not only as the letters of a man in his fenfes, but as divinely inspired, we have the most complete evidence, that fuch extraordinary powers were really enjoyed. Had the Corinthians, or the Galatians known, that the gift of miracles, or of tongues had been communicated to none in their focieties, they would have treated him and his writings with derifion. But now it being manifeft that miraculous gifts were common in the primitive church, we perceive a fufficient reafon, why the writings of the apoftles were then received, and fhould ftill be regarded
Heb. ii. 3, 4
regarded by us as divine. The miraculous gifts were imparted by their miniftry; and were exprefs teftimonies, therefore, that their doctrine, whether spoken or written, was from God. They followed the reception of the gofpel preached by thefe ambaffadors of Chrift; and were ufu. ally given by the impofition of their hands *.
By this, and the preceding argument, we are furnished with the moft decifive evidence, that the Chriftian Scriptures, at the time when they were published, were recognized by God as exhibiting a revelation of his will; and in fubmitting to them, therefore, as the rule of our faith, we follow no cunningly devifed fable.
*Acts viii. 14,---17. xix. 6.
CHA P. IV.
THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
THE arguments, in the last chapter, respected, the external evidence of the infpiration of the New Testament. In this chapter, I fhall confider the internal proof of the fame point, which may be collected from its contents. And, furely, it is no lefs manifeft, that a book hath been drawn up by fupernatural affiftance, when its fentiments and compofition transcend the known abilities of the writer, and are even fuperior to every thing human, than when fuch works are performed by him as fhew that he enjoys the prefence, and acts by the authority of God.
III. The books of the New Teftament could not have contained fuch things as they do contain, if the writers had not been infpired. We appeal to the writings themfelves for evidence that they,
are not, and could not be the production of the perfons, to whom they are afcribed, nor indeed of any mortal whatever. The argument for their inspiration, derived from their matter, comprehends thefe particulars, the character of Chrift, the fyftem of doctrine,-and the prophecies found in them.
1. The character of Chrift, drawn by the writers of the New Teftament, may be confidered in the first place.
To us who have been accustomed to read and hear defcriptions of it from our earlieft years, his character is perfectly familiar. But let us fuppofe a man, for the firf time, to open the New Teftament, and perufe the account given of our Saviour by the evangelifts. It is beyond doubt, that he would be filled with aftonifhment at a character. fo different from all that he had ever witnessed, all that he had ever heard of, all that the human imagination, fo fertile in forming new combinations, had ever pourtrayed. The idea of an incarnate God would frike him as perfectly new; and he would be no lefs furprifed at the delineation of his conduct. Had the character of Chrift been a fiction of the fa