Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

the appearance of inconsistency; yet the exact coincidences plainly perceptible among them,—not only in their grand, primary, and general objects, which are written as with the beams of the sun, but in particular subjects comprehended in their plan, and even in particular words and expressions, (though they evidently borrowed nothing from one another) —is truly astonishing; and cannot be accounted for on any rational principles, without admitting that they all wrote * as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,'—that all their writings were indited under the influence of the same Spirit, and flowed from the same infallible Source,

6. The multitude of miracles, which only the infinite power of God could effect, wrought in confirmation of the divine mission of the writers of the Sacred Scriptures, afford us a most convincing proof of their inspiration. It has been already seen, that the narrations of these miracles were published very soon after the time, and at the places, in which they were said to have been wrought; that they were performed in the most conspicuous manner, before very great multitudes, enemies as well as friends; that they were of such a nature,-appealing to the very senses of men,- -as totally precluded the possibility of deception ; that public ceremonies were instituted in memory of several of them, which have been observed in all ages; that the reality of them, as faots, was admitted even by the most determined enemies of Divine revelation; that the witnesses, from whom we have received the accounts of them, were many in number, unanimous in their evidence, of unquestionable good sense, undoubted integrity, and unim. peachable veracity, who shewed the sincerity of their own conviction by acting under the uniform influence of the extraordinary works to which they bore witness, in opposition to all their former notions and prejudices, and in contradiction of every worldly honour, profit, or advantage, either for themselves or friends, and at last by laying down their lives in confirmation of the facts which they attested; and that vast multitudes of their contemporaries, men of almost all ages, tempers, and professions, were persuaded by them that they really were performed in the manner related, and gave the strongest testimony which was in their power of the firmness of their belief, by foregoing every worldly advantage, and suffering every temporal evil which was endured by the original witnesses. To this it may be added, that the number of the miracles is almost incalculable ; that they were all calculated to answer some great and benevolent end, every way worthy of the infinitely wise and beneficent Creator ; that they were wrought in attestation of nothing but what was agreeable to reason, so far as reason could apprehend it, and in confirmation of a religion the most holy, pure, and benevolent; and performed by persons of the greatest moral worth, and the most eminent patterns of every virtue. Now, admitting the reality of the miracles related in the Sacred Writings, (as every unprejudiced mind must be constrained to do,) and rationally believing, that the Supreme Being, the God of truth, wisdom, and goodness, can never give his testimony to falsehood, it irresistibly follows that the Scriptures are, as they unequivocally claim to be, the Word of God, written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

7. The astonishing and miraculous preservation of the Scriptures from being either lost or corrupted, is an overwhelming instance of God's providential care, and a constant sanction and confirmation of their truth and Divine authority, continued by Him in all ages of the church. While the histories of mighty empires, and innumerable volumes of philosophy and literature, in the preservation of which the admiration and care of all mankind seemed to conspire, have been lost and forgotten in the lapse of time, the Sacred Scriptures, though far more ancient, and though hated and opposed by Satan and his agents in all ages, who sought with the deadliest hatred to cause their very memory to perish from among men, have come down to our own time entire and genuine, free from every material error, God, for their preservation, ordered an original copy to be deposited in the holy of holies, (Deut. xxxi. 26.) appointed the careful and frequent reading of them both in public and private ; and that every Hebrew monarch should write out a copy for his own use, (Deut. xvii. 18.) With astonishing kindness and wisdom has he made the various contending parties who had access to the Scriptures,-such as the Jews and Israelites, the Jews and Samaritans, the Pharisees and Sadducees, the Jews and Christians, and the various sects and parties of Christians,--mutual checks upon each other for almost three thousand years, that they might not be able either to extirpate or corrupt any part of them ; and by quickly multiplying the copies both of the original and translations, as well as the readers of the Scriptures, he rendered it absolutely impossible to falsify them in any thing important, without causing the corruption to start up in every copy dispersed through the world, and in the minds of almost every reader-than which supposition nothing can be more absurd and monstrous. By what tremendous judgments did he restrain and punish Antiochus Epiphanes, the Syro-grecian king, Dioclesian the Roman emperor, and others, who attempted to destroy the Sacred Scriptures in order to extirpate the Jewish or Christian religion! And he has bestowed amazing support and consolation on such as have risked or parted with their lives rather than deny the dictates of Scripture, or in the least contribute to their destruction or misinterpretation. During the profanation of Antiochus, (1 Mac. i. 56, 57.) whoever was found with the book of the law was put to death, and every copy that could be found burned with fire; and Dioclesian, after the most barbarous havoc of the Christians, issued an edict commanding them, on pain of death under the most cruel forms, to deliver up their Bibles: though many complied with this sanguinary edict, yet the greater part disregarded it; and notwithstanding these and numberless other calamities, the Sacred Volumes have survived pure and uncorrupted to the present day, and doubtless will exist as long as there is a church in the world, till the end of time and the consummation of all things-a monument of God's unceasing and providential care, and an unquestionable attestation of their inspiration and Divine authority

8. The prophecies contained in the Sacred Scriptures, and fulfilling to this day, which form a species of perpetual miracles, challenging the investigation of men of every age, fully demonstrate that they are divinely inspired. Almost every historical passage of the Bible is a narrative of something antecedently foretold ; and the New Testament is little else than a relation of the fulfilment of the predictions and types of the Old Testament, relative to Jesus Christ and his church. According to the prophecies in these books, the latest of which was delivered 1700 years ago, and some of them 3000

years ago, the descendants of Shem and Japheth are 'ruling' and ' enlarged,' and the wretched descendants of Ham are still the servants of servants, (Gen. ix. 25, 27.):-the posterity of Ishmael have 'multiplied exceedingly,' and become a great nation' in the Arabians ; yet living like 'wild men,' and shifting from place to place in the wilderness, their hand against every man, and every man's hand against them,' and still •

dwelling,' an independent and free people, in the presence of all their brethren,' and in the presence of all their enemies, (Gen. xvi. 10..12. xvii. 20.);—the family of Esau has become extinct, cut off for ever,' so that there is none' remaining of the house of Esau,' (Je. xlix. 17, &c. Eze. xxv. 12, &c. Joel iïi. 19. Am. i. 11, &c. Ob. 10, 18, &c.) ;-the sceptre has departed from Judah,' (Gen. xlix. 10.), though the Jews still dwell alone, and are not reckoned among the nations, while the remembrance of Amalek is utterly put out from under heaven,’ (Nu. xxiii. 9. xxiv. 20.);—Nineveh is so completely destroyed, that the place thereof cannot be known, (Na. I..III.);—Babylon has been swept with the besom of destruction, and is made 'a desolation for ever, a possession for the bittern

tonishment and hissing, without an inhabitant,' (Isa. XIII. XIV.) ;-Tyre has become like the top of a rock, a place for fishers to spread their nets upon,' (Eze. xxvi. 4, 5.);Egypt, 'a base kingdom, the basest of the kingdoms,' still tributary and subject to strangers, so that it has never been able to exalt itself above the nations,' (Eze. xxix. 14, 15) --the fourth and last of the four great empires, which was greater and more powerful than any of the former, has been divided into ten lesser kingdoms; and among them has arisen a power with a triple crown diverse from the first,' with a mouth speaking very great things,' and with 'a look more stout than his fellows, speaking great things against the Most High, wearing out the saints of the Most High, and changing times and laws,' which did • cast down the truth to the ground, and prosper, and practise, and destroy the holy people, not regarding the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god,' but “honouring the god of forces,' or Mauzzim, gods-protectors, and causing the priests of Mauzzim to rule over many, and divide the land for gain,' (Da. xi. 37..39.). Jerusalem has been destroyed, with all the circumstances related in the Evangelists, and the Jews have been ‘led away into all nations, and Jerusalem trodden down by the Gentiles,' through a long series of ages, (Lu. xxi. 24.) ;--for their infidelity and disobedience to their great Prophet like unto Moses, they have been 'plucked from off their own land, and removed into all the kingdoms of the earth, and scattered among the heathen, among the nations, among all people, from one end of the earth even to the other,' sifted

among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve,' have been 'left few in number among the heathen,' have . pined away in their iniquity in their enemies' lands,' have become an astonishment, a proverb, and a by-word among all nations,' 'a reproach, a taunt, and a curse,' have found among

these nations no ease, and the sole of their foot has had no rest; but the Lord has given them a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind, and sent a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies, so

6

« EdellinenJatka »