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sition, of acquired Way of thinking, every where fublime, or easy, or elegant, of me. thodical, or copious,' or concife. But God hath most wisely made it all Things to all Men": hath furnished it with the clearest and most mysterious, the loftiest and most familiar, the clofest and most diffuse, the beft connected and the abruptest Passages, all perfectly suited to his gracious Purposes : and it is monstrous Perverfeness in Us, to make each his own Capzcity the Measure of the whole; reckon every
Thing, that happens to rise above us, unintelligible ; every Thing, that condescends to those beneath us, contemptible; and so on.
But then farther we ought to consider, that the latest Books of the Bible are near 1700 Years old, the earliest many Ages older til: both Parts of it written in Languages, that have long been out of common Use; and the firft in one, of which we have no other Remains approaching towards its Antiquity; and which therefore, were it ever fo accurate and beautiful originally, is incapable of being perfectly understood at present. Now these Things, and, what must accompany them, a great Diverfity of Customs, and Modes of speaking, from ours, di Cor. ix. 22
without defeating, or obftru&ing, the general Design of Scripture, must of Necessity obfcure the Beauty, and even the Meaning, of particular Places; and prevent in fome Measure its appearing to Us what it is in itself. The same is the Case of the ancient fine Writers among the Heathens. Yet none of Them was ever de spised on that Account by Men of Judgement: but they are studied and illuftrated, and their latent Excellencies pointed out with the greater Care; and perhaps the more admired, for being lefs obvious: and large Allowances are made for those Perfections, which must have been formerly visible, but are no longer fo. Now surely we ought to judge of Seripture with equal Fairness and Regard.
Besides, as all ancient Books in the World have suffered more or less by the Negligence of Transcribers, and the Injuries of Time, yet without the Lofs, or any considerable Diminution, of their Usefulness by it; fo may the Bible, It is much better guarded against wilful Corruptions, and even casual Mistakes, in material Points, than any other old Record, by the valt Multitude of Copies, taken early, dispersed every where, read in public, weighed in private, quoted in Sermons, Conversations, Books, and
remaining in the Hands of all different Sects of Christians, who would of Course watch one another to prevent any Attempts of making Alterations. Accordingly we find, and have great Cause to adore Providence for it, that neither daring the long Reign of Popery hath any Text been changed, whatever may have been tried, tò favour their Tenets, nor do the various Readings of the Manuscripts or Translations of any Church upon Earth, affect any single Fundamental of Faith or Practice. But still even small Errors in copying may have rendered Pasfages of less Moment, (for in these they would be likelier to escape Observation) defective, harth, contrary to Grammar, inexplicable ; may have broken Connexions, that once were plain ; raised seeming Inconsistences, where at first there were none; but particularly may have altered Names, and increased or leffened Numbers, which in all Books are very apt to suffer by transcribing. And the various Difad. vantages, under which any Parts of Scripture may be justly supposed to lie, from such Accidents as these, must in all Equity be charged, not on itfelf, but on the blameable Carelessness of Mankind. God was not obliged to work Miracles to prevent them: but we are obliged
to honour duly whatever comes from him, though we cannot enjoy it in its original Perfection. Length of Time hath not diminished at all in any Thing effential, nor very considetably in any Thing else, the Usefulness of the facred Writings : which, I hope, hath now been satisfactorily proved and vindicated.
But the Text asserts them, not only to be useful, but completely useful: that, by their Means, the Man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good Works : the Minister of the Gospel fully provided with what he is to preach, the Believer with what he is to learn. I cannot enlarge on this point, and surely I need not: for the Proof is short, and the Objections easily obviated without naming them. If the Scriptures are inspired, what they say of, themselves is true; and they say they are sufficient to Salvation, plainly in the Text and ellewhere, and imply it throughout. The Old Testament was sufficient in its Time : how can we doubt, but the New is now? How can we imagine, that in a Volume of such Bulk written by different Persons all under the Direction of God, professedly for instructing Mankind in Religion, and containing so many Discourses of Christ and his Apostles for that Purpose, any • Vol. VI. G
Thing necessary is omitted ? Besides, we can know no more of Christianity with Certainty by any other Way, than we know' by this. Oral Instruction would answer the End very well for a Time, and did so: and therefore St. Paul very properly directs the Thessalonians to hold the Traditions, which they had been taught, whether by Word, or by his Epiftlet. But Things, delivered by Word of Mouth only, are soon loft or changed ; and false and mis. chievous Traditions rise up instead of the true ; as the Jewish Church had then experienced : and therefore the Christian Covenant was put in Writing by the first Publishers of it, as the preceding was by Moses. The Christian Writers, who succeeded the Apostles, were confessedly fallible, and consequently unworthy of equal Regard with them : nor did they attempt to make any Additions to the Rule of Faith and Manners, comprehended in the Bible. On the contrary, they held, as we do, that all essential Articles are to be found there : and so did the following Ages too: till at Length the Rulers of the Church of Rome, having set up Notions and Practices, which the Scripture did not warfant, were obliged to pretend, (but very falsely) iz Theff. ii. 15.