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cerned, was evidently to prove them inspired with a knowledge of the divine will concerning the salvation of men, and sent to declare it to their fellow-men. Independently of this great purpose, their supernatural powers were of no other use, except to amuse and astonish mankind.
In exact accordance with this scheme, St. Paul, in 1 Cor xi. asserts directly the inspiration of himself and his companions in the ininistry, and in the fourteenth chapter declares the superiority of it to all other supernatural endowments for the edification of the church. To one,' he says, 'is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another, the word of knowledge ; by the same Spirit. To another, faith; to another, gifts of healing ; to another, to the working of miracles; to another, the discerning of spirits,' or doctrines. In the 31st verse he directs them to covet earnestly the best gifts.' In the 39th verse of the xivth chapter, he says, Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy,' that is, to declare the will of God by inspiration, and forbid not to speak with tongues. Greater,' he
says, ' is he that prophesieth, than he that speaketh with tongues.' And again, . Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine ?' All these are only different words to express that inspiration by which they either originally received, or unerringly understood, proposed, explained, or enforced, divine truth. Without this, he declares expressly, that he should not profit the church in its spiritual concerns at all. Accordingly, after having directed them to covet earnestly the best gifts,' he farther directs them to cover the
ift of prophesying, and not forbid speaking with tongues :' as much as to say, covet to receive from God, by revelation, divine truth, and the gifts of unerringly explaining, declaring, and enforcing it to others, as being things of supreme importance and usefulness; at the same time, forbid not to speak with tongues, as being an endowment really, though very subordinately, useful.
From these passages I think it is unanswerably evident, that a revelation, such as Dr. Priestley, without meaning, calls particular, existed in a standing manner in the minds of the apostles and their companions ; in the latter, to direct them in their preaching; in the former, for the same purpose, and
the still more important one of committing the word of God to writing, for the instruction of all succeeding generations. So extensive and common was this revelation, as to be made the proper subject of a system of directions from St. Paul to the Corinthian church; a thing wholly inexplicable, if this fact had not existed.
From these observations it is plain, that without inspiration all the other supernatural endowments of the apostles must, if given, have been given to no valuable end; that, on the contrary, they would only have served to establish falsehood and delusion; and that, unless they were inspired, it may certainly be concluded that they were in no other respect supernaturally endowed. Their inspiration, therefore, was absolutely necessary to prove their commission to be from God.
If it had not been made evident that the Apostles were commissioned from God, this fact must, I think, have been fatal to the cause of Christianity. In this case, although we might have acknowledged Christ to be a divine missionary; yet we should naturally and unanswerably have said, What authority did these men possess to transmit his instructions and precepts to us? What proof have we that they understood them, remembered them, or expressed them with correctness and certainty? Why are we bound to regard what they have said, any more than the numerous gospels written by others ? Christ wrote nothing. Had he intended to require our faith and obedience to his precepts, be would undoubtedly have taken effectual care that we should receive them in such a manner, and from such persons, as would assure us that they were his, and only his.
To us, it ought to be observed, the inspiration of the apostles furnishes a proof that they were commissioned from God, which is additional to the proofs given to those who heard them preach. In their writings they have left on record a number of important prophecies. Several of these have been remarkably fulfilled, and others are daily receiving their fulfilment. In the fulfilment of these prophecies we have a direct proof of their inspiration, and consequently of their divine commission, which is immoveable, and which could not, in the same degree, be discerned by their contemporaries.
4. Because many preachers were necessary for such an extensive establishment of the church as that which actually took place, the great body of whom needed, for a time, to sustain the same character.
On this subject it will not be necessary to dwell. If the preceding arguments be allowed to prove the point for which they were alleged, it will undoubtedly be also conceded, that inspiration was as necessary for some, at least, of those who preached in one place, as for any who preached in another. It may, perhaps, be objected, that this is proving too much, and alleging inspiration in a wider extent than has hitherto been pretended.
To prevent any misconceptions on this point, I will state my own views of this subject a little more particularly than have hitherto done. The inspiration of the apostles I suppose to have consisted in the following things :
(1.) That they received immediately from God every part of the Christian dispensation which they did not know by other means.
(2.) That in the same manner they were furnished with a foreknowledge of future events.
(3.) That in things which they did otherwise know partially, the deficiences of their knowledge were in the same manner supplied.
(4.) That those things which they had once known, and which were parts of the Christian dispensation, were by divine power brought distinctly and fully to their remembrance.
(5.) That they were directed by the Holy Spirit to the selection of just such things, and such only, and to precisely such a manner of exhibiting them, as should be true, just, most useful to mankind, and most agreeable to the divine wisdom.
(6.) That each one was left so far to his own manner of writing or speaking, as that the style was strictly his own; and yet that the phraseology used by him in this very style was so directed and controlled by the Holy Spirit, as to lead him to the most exact and useful exhibition of divine truth ; his own words being, in this important sense, words not devised by human wisdom, but taught by the Holy Ghost : and,
(7.) That each inspired man was, as to his preaching or his writing, absolutely preserved from error.
All these particulars cannot be applied in the same degree, and some of them cannot be applied at all, to all the inspired preachers. But, in my own view, every such preacher enjoyed the benefits of inspiration so far as he needed them to enable him to preach the Gospel truly and usefully to mankind; so far as to preserve him from false narratives, erroneous doctrines, and unsound or useless precepts. That this was equally necessary for every preacher before the written canon furnished mankind with an unerring standard, with which they might compare the things which were preached to them, so as to determine their soundness or unsoundness, will, I suppose, be granted by all those who acknowledge the necessity of inspiration to any preacher.
5. Because it was necessary that Christ should appear to act and to controul the affairs of his church after his ascension.
The apostles preached, wrought miracles, spoke with tongues, and executed all the parts of their ministry under the authority, in the name, and by the power of Christ. • In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth I command thee to arise and walk.' • Æneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole.' • Christ, having received the promise of the Father, hath shed forth this, which ye see, and hear.' If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.' I can do all things through Christ strengthening me.' • Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ. This is the language which, in substance, the apostles use on every occasion when the subject comes into view. At the same time, they inform us that their commission was given them by Christ; and that in his name, and by his mission, and in no sense of themselves, they went forth to preach the Gospel, and to evince its divine origin by miracles. The power by which they acted in all their wonderful works, the wisdom which they preached, and the grace by which they were sanctified and sustained, they ascribe wholly to him. Beyond this, they declare, that while he resided in this world he promised them all these things, and that he continually and exactly fulfilled this promise. His presence with them on various occasions, whenever it was demanded by their circumstances, and his interference on their
behalf, whenever it was necessary, they testify in the amplest and most decisive manner. Thus, in every thing which they taught or did, he is the fountain whence every stream proceeded. He, according to their own declarations, is the agent, and they are merely instruments in his hand.
But this agency of Christ on earth after be had ascended to the heavens, is a most important, indispensable, and glorious part of his character; important and indispensable to mankind, and glorious to himself. Evidence is furnished by it to prove, that he is in all places, and beholds all things; that he is faithful to perform every thing which he has promised, and able to do every thing which Christians need; which no Unitarian, hitherto, has had sufficient ingemity to answer, or avoid. We see him actually exemplifying in his conduct all these things to his early followers, and are therefore certainly assured that, so far as our necessities require, he will substantially exhibit them to us. Christians in all ages succeeding that of the apostles, are here furnished with the strongest proofs, that he possesses all those attributes on which their hope may most securely repose, and the most lively incitements to centre in him their evangelical confidence.
6. Because the Gospel, in its present form, is far more useful to mankind than if it had been written by one person, on one occasion, and in one manner.
By the Gospel, here, I mean the whole New Testament. Christ, I acknowledge, could have written it, if he had pleased, in the very form, nay, in the very words, in which it is now written. But it would have been a plain and gross absurdity for Christ to have written a history, such as the Acts of the Apostles, or such as that of the events immediately preceding and succeeding his own death, concerning facts which had not yet happened ; or epistles to churches not yet in being, concerning business, duties, and dangers of which no vestige had hitherto appeared to have existed. It is not, therefore, irreverent or improper to say, that Christ could not, so far as we can conceive, have written the New Testament in its present form, without palpable improprieties interwoven in the very nature of the work.
In its present form, the Gospel is far more useful, than it would have been, if written in the manner which I have supposed, in many respects. It is in a much greater degree com