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a Zeal to be a cold Deceiver, with too SERM.III. much Senfe, Solidity, and Confistency to be an Enthufiaft.
Let us review the Ground, which we have already gained. Thofe Authors, according to the celebrated Maxim of Huetius, are genuine, that are quoted as fuch by Writers, in or next to the Times they were faid to write, and fo downwards, by fuc ceeding Ages, in an uninterrupted Series. If this Axiom be not granted, all Historical Evidence muft fall to the Ground: We may reject all ancient Hiftorians; for it is the only Evidence we have of their being authentic. But, befides this Evidence, which the Scriptures have in common with ancient Writers, they have an additional Enforce ment, which other Writers have not, viz. the Impoffibility that a Forgery, in a Matter of fuch vaft Confequence, fhould gain Footing throughout the Chriftian World, and be received with the profoundest Veneration, in all their religious Affemblies, when living near the Fountain Head, they could not want Opportunity and Power to detect it, if it had been fuch; and being expofed continually to Martyrdom, they could have no Interest to adhere to it, in Contradicti X 3
SERM.II on to their own Sentiments. The lefs In
tereft they had to receive the Books, as genuine, the more Evidence they would require.
The Scriptures have travelled to us with the Pasport of all former Ages, from their first fetting out into the World, down to the prefent Times. While the Apostles, and their immediate Succeffors, were living, it was too early to obtrude any forged Books upon the World with Succefs; because they both could, and undoubtedly would, have detected them. But after the Apoftles, and their immediate Succeffors, were dead, it was too late to impofe upon the World any fpurious Compofitions; because then the genuine Works were every where received; which could not in a Trice be Spirited away, and others, as it were by Inchantment, fubftituted in their Room, without any Notice taken,
In fhort, if Books which have all the unexceptionable Credentials, internal and external, of being genuine, that any ancient Record can have, be, after all, mere Forgeries; then we have nothing to do, but to commit to the Flames all paft Records, and to believe Nothing but what we fee.
But if this be impoffible; then the Scrip- SERM.III, tures, the Book of Grace; and the World, the Book of Nature; both compofed by the fame Hand, both having impreffed up on them the moft lively Traces of divine Goodness and Benevolence, will only perish together: And the Scriptures, the Groundwork and Pillar of our Faith, will last, till Faith be loft in Intuition.
Having proved the Genuineness of the Books of the New Teftament; I now proceed,
prove the Authors were divinely inspired.
By Infpiration I mean the Action of God upon Men's Minds, conveying Truths to them, and impreffing Sentiments upon them, in an extraordinary Manner.
The Poffibility of this admits of no Difputé. The Power of God, which enables us to communicate our Thoughts to one another, can alfo undoubtedly communicate his Thoughts to us; and make us as intimately conscious, that thofe Impreffions are made by him folely, as that any Impreffions are made upon us at all. It will be more material
SERM.III. material to ftate the Cafe, because there has been some Confufion on this Head.
We must distinguish between an Affistance of Direction, from the Holy Spirit ; and an Affiftance of immediate Suggestion. In relating Matters of Fact, of which the Apoftles were Eye-Witneffes, or in pointing out Things, whereof they had a previous and competent Knowledge; there the Affiftance of Direction from the Holy Spirit was only wanting, to guard them from any Error, at least any material Error; that they should not infert any Falfhood, or leave out any momentous Truth. But in Cafes, which were plainly above their Reach, fuch as clearly explaining, and ftrongly enforcing, a complete unerring Syftem of religious and moral Truths, as discovering thofe Sanctions, which Eye had not feen, nor Ear heard, nor had it entered into the Heart of Man to conceive; in revealing Myfteries, and declaring Things to come; an immediate Suggestion of the Holy Spirit was requifite to imprint thefe Truths upon their Minds, and to enable them to convey them to us: Their natural Abilities being unequal to the Tafk.....
We do not maintain, that every Word SERM.III or Sentence in the Holy Scriptures, was dictated immediately by God: St. Paul might falute the Brethren, and write for what he wanted from Troas, without any fupernatural Affiftance: For what Men know without any immediate Impulse from God; that they may certainly write, without any immediate Impulse from him. Nay, we may make a larger Conceffion, and allow, without any great Disadvantage to the Chriftian Cause, that there may be in Scripture fome few Inaccuracies, as to the Point of Language, and other unconcerning Niceties. For this will only prove, that, where there was no extraordinary Occafion to interpofe, God did not think fit to interpofe in an extraordinary Manner. All, that we contend for, is this; that in the doctrinal and prophetical Parts of Scripture, and whatever elfe was neceffary to be revealed; the Apoftles wrote from the immediate Suggestion of the Holy Spirit: And as to all other Things, that facred Perfon So far fuperintended and directed them, as to fecure them from Error: It not being confiftent with the Honour of God to fuffer thofe, who by Miracles proved a Mif