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of Christianity, it lies upon unbelievers who boast of their sagacity to shew.-But we must now go on to our fifth Proposition,
5. “ That the fact of their having been inspired was universally acknowledged by the primitive Christians, and has continued to be admitted to the present time.”
As to the primitive Christians, I might mention the testimonies of Clemens Romanus, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Irenæus, and many others.' Several of them, and particularly Origen, and Tertullian, speak of the inspiration of Scripture and of the veneration in which it was on that account held, as a matter in which all were unanimous. And that this idea of the New Testament has obtained through all succeeding ages to the present time, is a fact so well known that no pains need to be taken to prove
it. That infidels who consider the whole of the Christian religion as a cunningly devised fable, deny the divine inspiration of the New Testament is admitted. But of those who allow the truth of the gospel history, and yet object to its being written by divine inspiration, the number is very small if indeed there are any such. And although there are others who yield this claim to the gospels but deny it to the epistles, or at least consider the writers of them as not always under that kind of superintending influence which was necessary to secure them from error; though, I say, there may be some, yet it is to be hoped there are not many, of this description. The evil however, it is to be feared, is increasing: approaches of an alarming nature have been made towards it. But a recollection of the reasoning of this and the two former discourses, will I persuade myself convince you, that if inspiration be not admitted, in the extent, and at the same time under the restrictions that have been represented, it will be difficult to prove that it existed at all. And you cannot but be sensible that if one part of the New Testament is to be considered as inspired, and another as a mere human production, the whole must cease to be an infallible test; unless a clear line could be authoritatively drawn between the one and the other, which would require a further revelation from heaven.-But to return to our argument,
The fact, as it has been stated, of general consent is hardly to be accounted for, if the doctrine of inspiration were without ground to support it. But if the proofs we have adduced in favour of it are clear and demonstrative, this fact of general consent is no other than might naturally be expected.-But there remains one further proposition to be considered, and that is,
6. And lastly, “ That there are in the New Testament evident internal characters of divine inspiration."
The simplicity of its narrations, the sublimity of its doctrines, the purity of its morals, its efficacy to the noblest and most important purposes on the hearts of thousands, and the daily fulfilment of its predictions before our eyes, all concur, in the most striking manner, to confirm the proofs which have been laid before you of its divine authority. These particulars we cannot now enter into; they must be referred to the next discourse, wherein we are to consider THE VARIOUS USE OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES. And in treating on this subject we shall have an opportunity of appealing for the truth of what. we have been establishing, not only to the enlightened reasonings of your minds, Christians, but to the devout feelingsof your hearts.
It will now be said, You have proved the New Testament to be inspired: but how does it appear,
SECONDLY, That the Old Testament scriptures were inspired?
My reply to this question will be short, but no less clear and demonstrative. If then the New Testament every where
proceeds on this principle of the divine authority of the Old, and if our Saviour and his apostles clearly and fully assert it, there can be no reasonable doubt of the matter. But this is the fact.
The Jews, it is well known, had the highest veneration for their Scriptures as inspired by God. Our Lord confirms the fact by commanding them to search the Scriptures, affirming that they testified of him, and that Moses wrote of him a. He frequently referred in his discourses to the Old Testament scriptures, ever speaking of them with the greatest reverence. In the synagogue at Nazareth he read a passage out of the prophecy of Isaiah, and then assured his hearers that this Scripture was that day fulfilled in their ears a. When he reminds the Jews of David's having called the Messiah Lord, he tells them that he did this in the Spirit b. After his resurrection in his conversation with the disciples in their way to Emmaus, beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures, the things concerning himself c. And afterwards he reminds others of his disciples, that he had told them, while he was yet with them, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms concerning him d.
a John x. 39, 46.
The evangelists, particularly Matthew, often quote passages from the Old Testament, and apply them to Christ, and to a variety of events as they arose. The Acts of the Apostles, have many and large references to those sacred books, as have also the Epistles. The apostle Paul speaks of them as the oracles of God e. He tells us in the text that all Scripture, meaning no doubt all the books that were then acknowledged to make up the canon of the Old Testament, was given by inspiration of God. The apostle Peter tells us, that of the salvation which the gospel reveals, the prophets enquired, and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should
Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow f.' And again,— No prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost g.'-From these and a multitude of other passages I might quote, it appears with all the evidence of meridian brightness, that the New Testament establishes the divine inspiration of the Old.
Thus have we proved, that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God. The conclusions to be drawn from this doctrine
come unto us.
d Ver. 44.
a Luke iv. 21. e Rom. iii. 2.
6 Matt. xxii. 43.
c Luke xxiv. 27.
are numerous and important, and will be the subject of future consideration. In the mean time let me entreat you-to consider well the evidence that has been laid before you-to yield the fullest assent to it--and to treat Scripture with that respect and veneration which its divine authority demands.
(1.) Consider well the evidence that has been laid before you of the divine inspiration of the holy Scriptures. . As to those who having taken the side of infidelity, will give themselves no further trouble upon the matter, let me tell you, Sirs, the contemptuous manner in which you thrust this great question from you, is a clear proof both of impiety and folly—of impiety, as it argues a base subjection to criminal passions-of folly, as it betrays a stupid inattention to your best interests. Think it not strange therefore, that I remind you
of the awful consequence of thus wilfully shutting your eyes against the evidence held up to your view. If you will not listen to the sober dictates of reason now, you must be content to endure the reproaches of conscience, when all attempts to silence its clamours will prove fruitless.
But there are men of another description, and these not a few, who taking it for granted that the Bible is an inspired book, consider all enquiry into the evidence of this great truth as unnecessary.
- We have been ever used, say they, to view the Scriptures in this light, it is the settled opinion of our religious connections, and the established doctrine of our country; we have therefore no doubts upon the matter. Why then all these pains to prove a plain and acknowledged fact ?" But alas ! how insensible are such people of this undeniable truth, that an assent to the Bible purely on these grounds is insufficient to the great purposes of religion. Their faith is not foundeů upon the testimony of God, but of man : and however they may suppose it to be genuine, yet if put to the trial by the sophistry of infidels, or the menaces of persecution, it would quickly fail them. Indeed the failure of these professing Christians in the substantial duties of piety and benevolence, and I might add the ill lives of some of them, puts it beyond a doubt that their faith is not divine, or such as in the sense of the Bible constitutes a real disciple of Christ. Do I speak to any here of this description ? Be assured, my friends, you never believed to any valuable purpose,
if you never doubted. It is high time to consider seriously on what ground your profession stands. Be not angry with us for taking pains to prove what you have always admitted, but never yet believed to the saving of your souls. A diligent enquiry into these things will, I hope, prove the mean of rousing you from your security, and of giving existence to such a persuasion of the divine authority of Scripture as will be productive of the most salutary effects.
There are others again, who though not acquainted with all the proofs that have been adduced of the inspiration of the Bible, yet upon a general view of them, accompanied with the evidence arising from the mighty influence of God's word on their hearts, have truly assented to its divine authority. Such we congratulate as real Christians. And such I am persuaded will readily fall in with our earnest entreaties, to consider attentively the reasoning of this discourse. If then upon a review of what has been said, the argument should strike us all as clear and demonstrative, let us, whatever may have been our opinion or character hitherto,
(2.) Yield a firm and cordial assent to the truth.
I am sensible the admitting Scripture to be the word of God, must be followed with painful consequences to those whose consciences convict them of their past guilt ; and there are none of us but must plead guilty at the tribunal of the great God. But this consideration should have no effect to pervert the judgment in its determination on a matter of fact; for that must remain the same be the consequence to us what it
may. And on the other hand, if the Bible were the mere invention of men, it would still be true that we have sinned and deserved the wrath of Almighty God. But it is to be considered, that however this book arraigns, convicts, and condemns every individual of the human race; it fails not at the same time to report the glad tidings of forgiveness to the greatest offender, who repents of his sins and believes in the Son of God. It casts down that it
wounds that it may heal, kills that it may make alive. If therefore the
may raise up,