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setting our affections on things above, where Christ is, and mortifying, through the Holy Spirit, every sinful and corrupt affection. We are taught to love the Lord our God with all our heart and all our soul; to love our neighbours as ourselves; to fulfil perfectly the particular duties of every relative station; to lay aside all malice, envy, hatred, revenge, and other malevolent dispositions or passions; to love our enemies; to render good for evil, blessing for cursing; and to pray for them who despitefully use us. These laws of universal purity and benevolence are prescribed with an authority proper only to God, and extended to such a compass and degree as God alone can demand; and those sins are forbidden which God alone could either observe or prohibit. The most powerful motives to duty, and dissuasives from vice, are wisely proposed and powerfully urged; motives drawn from the nature and perfections, the promises and threatenings, the mercies and judgments of God, particularly from his overflowing benevolence and mercy in the work of our redemption, and from advantages and disadvantages temporal, spiritual, and eternal. And, while the most excellent means of directing and exciting to the exercise of piety and virtue are established in the most excellent forms and authoritative manner, the most perfect and engaging patterns of holiness and virtue are set before us in the example of our Redeemer, and of God as reconciled in Him, and reconciling the world to himself. Now, all these things were written at a time when all the rest of the world, even the wisest, and most learned, and most celebrated nations of the earth, were sunk in the grossest ignorance of God and religion; were worshipping idols and brute beasts, indulging themselves in the most abominable vices, living in envy, hatred, and strife, hateful, and hating one another. It is a most singular circumstance, that a people in a remote, obscure corner of the world, far inferior to several heathen nations in learning, in philosophy, in genius, in science, and in all the polite arts, should yet be so infinitely their superiors in their ideas of a Supreme Being, and of every thing
for on any other supposition than that of their having been instructed in these things by God himself, or by persons commissioned and inspired by him; that is, of their having been really favoured with those Divine revelations which are recorded in the sacred books of the Old and New Testaments. Indeed, both the doctrines and morality of the Sacred Scriptures infinitely transcend the abilities of the penmen, if they were not inspired. Men of the best education, far less men of no education, could not of themselves form such exalted schemes of religion, piety, and virtue; and wicked men, as they must have been if they were impostors, would not publish and prosecute such a scheme of mystery, holiness, and morality.
5. The harmony of the sacred writers fully demonstrates that they wrote by the inspiration of the Spirit of God. Other historians continually differ from each other: the errors of the former writers are constantly criticised and corrected by the later; and it even frequently happens that contemporary writers contradict each other in relating a fact that happened in their own time and within the sphere of their own knowledge. Should an equal number of contemporaries, of the same country, education, habits, profession, natural disposition, and rank in life, associating together as a distinct company, concur in writing a book on religious subjects of even less extent than that of the Bible, each furnishing his proportion without comparing notes, the attentive reader would easily discover among them considerable diversity of opinion. But the writers of the Scriptures succeeded each other during a period of nearly sixteen hundred years; some of them were princes or priests, others shepherds or fishermen; their natural abilities, education, habits, and occupations were exceedingly dissimilar; they wrote laws, history, prophecy, odes, devotional exercises, proverbs, parables, doctrines, and controversy, and each had his distinct department; yet they all exactly agree in the exhibition of the perfections, works, truths, and will of God; of the nature, situation, and obligations of
man; of sin and salvation; of this world and the next; and in short in all things connected with our duty, safety, interest, and comfort, and in the whole of the religion which they have promulged: they all were evidently of the same judgment, aimed to establish the same principles, and applied them to the same practical purposes. One part of Scripture is so intimately connected with, and tends so powerfully to the establishment of another, that one part cannot be reasonably received without receiving the whole; and the more carefully it is examined, and the more diligently it is compared, (for which purpose the Marginal References afford great facility,) the more evident will it appear, that every part, like the stones in an arch, supports, and receives support from the rest, and that they unitedly constitute one grand and glorious whole. In both the Old and New Testaments, the subsequent books, or succeeding parts of the same book, are connected with the preceding, as the narrative either of the execution of a plan, or the fulfilment of a prediction. If we receive the history, we must also receive the prediction; if we admit the prediction, we must also admit the history. Every where the same facts are supposed, related, or prepared for; the same doctrines of a gracious redemption through Jesus Christ exhibited or supposed to be true; the same rules or exemplifications of piety and virtue; the same motives and inducements to the performance of duty; the same promises of mercy, and threatenings of just misery to persons, societies, or nations, without a single contradiction. Apparent inconsistencies may indeed perplex the superficial reader; but they vanish before an accurate and persevering investigation; nor could any charge of disagreement among the sacred writers ever be substantiated; for it could only be said that they related the same facts with different circumstances, which are perfectly reconcileable, and that they gave instructions suited to the persons they addressed, according to various circumstances of time, place, and manner, without systematically shewing their harmony with other parts of divine truth. They did
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 facts, 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,