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The authenticity of the facred Scriptures demonstrated from their apparent Excellency.
2 PETER I. 21.
HOLY MEN OF GOD SPAKE AS THEY WERE MOVED BY THE HOLY GHOST.
HOEVER seriously reflects on the general depravity. of human nature, will eafily perceive how highly requifite it was that mankind fhould be frequently reminded to follow those things which tend to their real interest and welfare, which, had our first parents remained stedfast, as they were at first created, they would ardently have coveted, and as earnestly have pursued. But fince their unhappy fall, our understandings are darkened, and our wills most shamefully eftranged from God; and as this was the fatal though natural refult of their tranfgreffion; the whole human species must from that time have continued in the most deplorable state of darkness and ignorance, had not the ever-indulgent ruler of the universe been graciously pleased to aid and affist the weakness of our capacities, and to transmit to us his facred scriptures for our instruction in the only fure way to recover those inestimable bleffings, which we had so unhappily forfeited: VOL. III. R but
but notwithstanding this inexpreffible condefcenfion, this transcendent goodness of the Almighty, there are fome fo incureably licentious, as still strenuously to affert, that the fcriptures are nothing more than compofitions of learned and ingenious men, and by no means the operations of the divine Spirit. We shall therefore make it the business of the fubfequent difcourfe to develop the weakness and folly of fuch an affertion, and demonftrate to you, that the HOLY MEN OF GOD SPAKE, AS THEY WERE MOVED BY THE HOLY GHOST.-To begin then with the ftyle and manner in which the facred fcriptures are delivered.
He that is converfant in the literary labours of mankind may obferve, that there are two very different modes of writing in use among them. The first is easy and familiar, like that between friend and friend, where they endeavour to convince each other by ftrong and fubftantial reafons only, as being fenfible, that fuch are the most probable, if not the only means of answering the end propofed. The other affumes the air of majesty, and is principally made use of by kings and potentates, who, on account of their elevated fituation expect to be believed on their bare authority; imagine that their dignity must command a due obfervance of their words; and look upon it as an act of too much condefcenfion to offer reasons for the performance of fuch orders as they judge requifite to be obeyed.-In human fciences, the fame method is in a great measure preserved. The phyfician expects to be believed by his patient, without affigning reafons for what he prescribes; and the tutor by his pupil, even in such points, as the latter might with decency difpute with his companions. Shall not this rule then, with much more justice, take place in matters of divinity, which furpass not only the understanding of learners, but the skill of the most profound theologifts themselves. In philofophy likewise the profeffors thereof gradually ascend from such things as are evidently known, to others more obfcure and uncertain; and from first prin
ciples to draw conclufions. All which plainly intimates, that men, even by nature, are confcious to themselves, that they are wont to be believed no further than they can make proof of what they affert, though the point be never fo trivial and infignificant; and therefore, they are fenfible how defervedly they fhould be neglected, should they imagine their fayings to be of any weight or authority in matters of a divine nature. Since this then is the usual method of writing and speaking among men; and fince the compilers of the facred fcriptures were indifputably men of deep penetration and clear understandings; had they expreffed their own fentiments only, they would, doubtlefs, have obferved the fame mode as the generality of mankind did; but as their commiffion was from above, they looked upon themselves as ambaffadors from heaven, and delivered their credentials accordingly. The divine Inspirer of the facred penmen expects to be believed on his mere authority, even in fuch points of doctrine, as exceed both the natural belief of those who hear them, and the understanding of all those who attempt to difcourfe upon them. "God, fay you, created the heavens and the "earth; and man is fallen from his original state of innocence through fin :"—but who will credit fuch affertions on human testimonies unsupported by a voice from heaven? The great Author of the facred oracles commandeth them to be believed:-he speaks with authority therefore, and not with the art of persuasion. Moreover, no one of a common underftanding will expect to be believed upon his bare word, except in such things as lie within his own power and his own knowledge. Whoever then, in things fupernatural, we mean in matters concerning God and man's eternal falvation, expects to be believed upon his own fimple authority; yea and to be more believed without, than others with the strongest evidence, must needs be the prince, and father of the universe, and not man. How gloriously is this ftate and grandeur preserved throughout the whole body of the facred fcriptures? Where will
There are many books of morality, written by pagan authors, which contain, indeed, a great variety of excellent and useful instructions for the regulation of our conduct :—but in what manner do they proceed against vice, or deal with virtue ?-Why, they define;-they diftinguish;-they difpute; and if they offend the known laws of logick are afraid of being cenfured. The laws of God are delivered in more peremptory terms," HE THAT STEALETH "SHALL PAY FOURFOLD. HE THAT KILLETH, SHALL BE "PUNISHED WITH DEATH."-Is not this as much as to say, that the fanction of holy writ depends entirely on the power of its author; and that all human compofitions rely altogether on their own proof?-In short, our speech for the generality extendeth no further than our power; for which reason, the tutor speaketh after another manner than the pupil, the prince than the subject; and the judge than the council at the bar. What manner of book then must that be, which speaketh to all men alike; to kings as to subjects.; to old as to young; to learned as to unlearned? That furmounteth the capacity not only of the one, but the other alfo ?-That neither entreats nor perfuades any one, but peremptorily bids, or prohibits all mankind? In what other writings do we read of such never ceafing punishments, and fuch everlasting rewards?-And, if every one delivers himself according to his ability, from whence is this fpeech derived, which prefumeth to make fuch declarations, but from