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to the other Prophets by dreams and visions--and in the fulness of time by his only begotten Son. Which gracious discoveries must needs have been very powerful and convincing with those persons to whom they were communicated, under the immediate testimony of mighty signs and wonders ; and we may flatter ourselves that had we lived in the days of the Prophets, we should have readily believed whatsoever they delivered, without doubt or scruple. Yet let no one think that the want of such evidence takes off from the reafonableness, or will excuse the deficiency, of our faith. The advantage is pronounced to be on our side : “ Bleffed are they (faid our Lord) who have not seen and yet have believed.” It is true, Moses is dead, and the Prophets are dead; neither do our old men dream dreams, nor our young men see visions ; miracles have ceased, and God in the "form of a servant dwells no more with
men on the earth. Still, the all-wise Governor of the World hath taken especial care that we also, upon whom the latter days are come, should not be destitute of sufficient proof, nor of any rational incitement to work out our salvation. He hath favoured us with the most authentic Records of his moral Government and providential Dispensations ; of such infinite importance, and so divinely penned, that whoever reads may “ find rest to his foul.” For as “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;” so the Holy Scriptures also come to us, indited by the same divine Spirit; written aforetime, and preserved for our learning, that we “ through patience and comfort of them might have hope.”This is an anchor to the Christian both sure and stedfast.
.. The weakness of Man, joined with the 'malice of Satan, would in course of time have easily corrupted the revealed will of God, had it relied on the uncertainty of oral tradition : True Revelation had been long since rendered fabulous, and counterfeit traditions passed for au. thentic. But the sacred writings were neither liable to such corruption, neither have they suffered it ; being still fully possessed of every degree of evidence, that the nature of things will pofsibly admit of. So truly may our Blessed Saviour be said in this respect also to be with us alway, in that we have at this day as powerful motives to faith and obedience, as they had, who heard his sermons and who saw his works.
But now-If the Holy Scripture be a standing declaration of the divine will ; given unto us that we might know the certainty of those things which are
written ; written; and, as St. John testifies, “ that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, and that believing we might have life through his name;" it must be the undoubted privilege as well as indispensable duty of every individual (who hath it in his power) to read, learn, and inwardly digest those spiritual truths, which so nearly concern him, and on which his eternal happiness dea pends. —This indeed is a point so agree-, able to reason, and to the express commandment of God, both under the law, of Moses, and under the gospel of Christ, as to want no enlargement before a Protestant audience. I proceed therefore to offer a few considerations respecting a right performance of the duty itself.
It is an old complaint that no book was ever so well written, but through ill will, or misconstruction, it hath been undervalued; and so it fares with the R 4
Holy Bible—the Book of Life. Some from the matter, others from the style, method, or on some other account, either charge it with falfhood, or think contemptuously of it; and many perhaps merely because it is cheap and common; like the Children of Israel, who loathed their Manna. Notwithstanding, whoover with pious and upright intention peruses the sacred volumes, will be obliged to confess with Holy David, that “ The law of the Lord is an undefiled " law, converting the soul ; that the “ 'testimony of the Lord is sure, and “ giveth wisdom unto the simple; that “ the statutes of the Lord are right, and “ rejoice the heart; that the command« ment of the Lord is pure, and giveth “ light unto the eyes; that the fear of “ the Lord is clean, and endureth for “ ever ; that the judgments of the Lord " are true, and righteous altogether.”