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pally through the Hands of Mofes and the Prophets; of Jesus Christ and his Disciples ; together with great Numbers of most importanț Consequences from thence resulting. Both Parts of this Book are credibly affirmed to be written by Persons, who must in the main have known the Truth or Falsehood of what they say: none of whom have given Grounds to suspect their Veracity; but many, the strongest possible Grounds to rely on it. They fupport the Authority of the Doctrines and Precepts delivered there by express Prophecies and public Miracles, recounted there also: which Prophecies have, most of them, undeniably been since fulfilled, nor do any appear to have failed; and which Miracles, though they could never have been acknowledged if they had not been real, were, so far as we can learn, denied by no one, either at the Time when they were said to be done, or long after. On the contrary, the Old Testament hath always been admitted, as true and genuine, by the whole Jewish nation: and the Pentateuch in particular, used as the Law of their Country; though it appoints more Things than one to be done, fo utterly and visibly contrary to human Policy, that they must proceed from Him,
whose extraordinary Providence alone could make them practicable with Safety; and others, too contrary to human Inclinations, for Men to have chosen, without being sure that God required them. And as to the Writers of the New Testament, it is still more certain, that their Works were published near the Time and in the Places, where they affirm the. Events, which they relate, came to pass : that they agree surprisingly well, though in general they were unlearned Persons, and plainly had not concerted their Story together : that they led pious and virtuous Lives : that they were willing to suffer Death for the Sake of their Tertimony. And accordingly the whole Christian Church from its Rise embraced their Narrations with a Faith, which neither Artifice nor Perfecue tion were able to overturn, or keep it from prevailing throughout the World, though contrary to the favourite Notions and vicious Defires of all Mankind: which alone is a Proof, that the Facts related in them, even the most miracudous, were previously known to be true; and the Doctrines the same, which had been already taught by the Apostles : elfe Jews, Heathens and Christians must have exclaimed against the Authors, as Publishers of Falsehoods, and they could never have obtained Credit. Some few of their Books indeed, (but such as taught no one Article that is not in the others, nor denied any one that is) were questioned in some Congregations for a good while, perhaps with more Caution than needed: but were then put on a Level with the rest. Neither Testament is pretended to be disproved, but both are confirmed, as far as could be ex: pected, by such Heathen Records as are extant: and if either had been confuted formerly by any, that are now lost, it must have funk; which hath not been the Case. Each of them furnishes powerful internal Evidence in Favour of itself : each adds manifold Strength to the other: and no Writings whatever stand on the Credit of such numerous and decisive Attestations. i . Were we therefore to consider them merely as Compositions of excellent Men, well in; formed, and faithfully informing Us, in the best Manner they could, of what it most concerns us to know, we must allow them to be a most valuable Blessing; a Treasure unspeakably sue perior to all the other Remains of Antiquity. But this is much too low an Esteem of them : they were written moreover under the especial B 3
Direction of Heaven, and that for an End no less important, than a full Supply of our fpiritual Wants. These two Points the Apostle asferts plainly in the Text: and I shall endeavour to confirm and improve his Affertions, by Thewing, in some Discourses upon it,
I. That all Scripture is of Divine Authority.
II. That it completely answers every Putpose of Religion.
III. That we ought to read and study it diligently.
IV. How we may do this to the best Effect.
I. That all Scripture is of divine Authority, or, in St. Paul's Language, given by Inspiration of God: a Position extreinely requisite to be understood in its true Sense, and established on its proper Foundation. For some have held it to signify, that every Sentence and Word was dictated froin above: and consequently have made Room, without intending it, for as many plausible Objections, as there are Appearances of any Thing, which in respect of Clearness, Elegance, Order, Strength, exceeds not human Power, or falls beneath absolute Perfection. Others, especially of late Years, partly to guard against this Danger, and partly to excufe Notions of their own, which are contrary to Scripture, have imagined, that being infpired meant little more (at least in Relation to the Historical and Doctrinal Books)than being indued with a large Measure of general pious Intention : so that, continuing to call themselves Christians, and professing a high Respect for the sacred Writers as good Men, they have thought themselves justified in doubting, or even disbelieving, almost as much as they please, of what the Scriptures teach.
To state therefore and defend the Sense of the Text, I Ihall begin with explaining the Terms. The Word, here translated Scripture, denotes frequently in other Authors any Writing whatever. Whence fome ancient Versions render the Original thus : Every Writing, given by Inspiration of God, is profitable, and so forth : leaving it undetermined, which are so given. But always, in the Gospels and Epistles, it de. notes that Collection of Writings, which the Church acknowledged for its Rule of Life and Manners. When our Apostle sent this Epistle to Timothy, several Parts of the New Testament were not published, and scarce any had spread very far: so that he must by Scripture mean chiefly, if not solely, the Old Testament, But the Books of the New, from their first Ap
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