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visible appearance of age or decay, for almost six thousand years. The earth produces a variety of things for food and drink; and of others for medicine, for the continuance of health, and restoration of it. The certain and constant revo. lutions of u
summer and winter, seed-time and harvest ;" as well as night and day, cold and heat, cannot be attributed to any thing else than the superintendency of the divine Being
The fifth argument may be taken from the uncommon he. roic actions, prodigies, wonders, and miraculous things done in the world ; which cannot be thought to be done without a superior and divine influence. Heroic actions, such as that of Shamgar, who fought with and killed six hundred Philistines with an ox.goad : and of Sampson, who slew a thousand of them with the jaw-bone of an ass. If scripture is only regarded as a common history, these merit our notice and credit, as any of the relations in profane history ; in which are recorded the magnanimous actions of heroes, kings, and generals of armies; their wonderful successes, and amazing con. quests; all which can never be supposed to be done without superior power, and the overruling, influencing providence of the divine Being. The miracles of Moses and the prophets, and of Christ and his apostles, were not done to prove a divine Being; yet they necessarily suppose one, by whose power alone they are performed.
The sixth argument may be formed from the prophecies of contingent future events, and the exact fulfilment of them. Instances of which there are many in the sacred writings ; prophecies which relate both to particular persons and to whole kingdoms and states ; which have had their exact accomplishment. Divination is said to be confirmed by the consent of all nations. If there is a foretelling of future things, which certainly come to pass, there must be a God; since none but an omniscient Being can, with certainty, forete. what shall come to pass.
T'he seventh argument may be urged from the fears of men, and the tortures of a guilty conscience, and the dread of
a future state. Some are terribly affrighted at thunder and lightening, as Caligula, the Roman emperor, used to be, who, at such times, would hide himself in, or under, his bed ; and yet this man set himself up for a god. Many have been so terrified in their consciences on account of sin, that they could get no rest any where, or by any means: as Cain, under the terrors of an evil consciace, fancied that “every one that found him would slay him :” and those wicked traitors, Catiline and Jugurtha; Tiberius and Nero. Now, what do all these fears and tortures of conscience arise from, but from the guilt of sin, and a sense of a divine Being; who is above men, and will call them to an account for their sins, and take ven. geance on them?
The eighth and last argument shall be taken from the judg. ments in the world; not only famine, sword, pestilence, earthquakes, &c. but such that have been inflicted on wicked men, atheistical persons, perjured ones, blasphemers, and the like. The universal flood-he burning of Sodom and Gomorrahthe awful instances of Herod being smitten by an angel; and of Ananias and Sapphira, being struck dead; are instances of judgments. The same, or a like kind, have occurred in all agesand countries. Who now can hear or read such awful judgmenis, and disbelieve the Being of God?
OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES.
BY the Scriptures, I understand the books of the Old and of the New Testament. These books are commonly called Canonical Scripture, because they have always been received by the church into the canon, or rule of faith. These are the books which the apostle calls, all Scripture, or the whole of Scrip.
said by him to be given by inspiration of God.
I shall, I. Observe the divine authority of the Scriptures, or shew, that they are from God, or inspired by him; they lay in a
claim to a divine original ; and the claim is just, as will be
The Prophets frequently introduce their prophecies and discourses, by saying, The word of the Lord came to them; and with a, Thus saith the Lord, Isa, j. 10. Jer. ii. 1, 2. And our Lord expressly calls the scripture the word of God, John
Before I proceed any further, in the proof of the divi. nity of the sacred Scriptures, I shall premise the following things:
1. That when we say that the Scriptures are the word of God, or that this word is of God; we do not mean that it was all spoken with an articulate voice by him; or written immediately by the finger of God. The penmen wrote as they were directed, dictated, and inspired by him, and “spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
II. Not all that is contained in the scriptures is of God. Some are the words of others ; yea, some are the speeches of Satan. There are also speecives of bad men, as of Cain, Pha. roah, and others, ordered to be written, to discover the more the corruption of human nature : and even of good men, as of Moses, David, Jonah, and particularly the friends of Job. In the writings and discourses of the apostle Paul, are several quotations out of heathen authors; one out of Aratus, when he was discoursing before the wise men at Athens; as certain, says he, of your own prets have said, for we are also his offspring, Acts xvii. 28. Another out of Menander; Evil communications corrupt good manners, 1 Cor. xv. 33. And another out of Epimenides, a poet of Crete, a testimony of his against the Cre. tians, who said they were, always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.
111. Let it be observed, that not the matter of the scriptures only, but the very words in which they are written, are of God. This may be confirmed from the testimonies of the writers themselves: says David, one of the writers of the Old Testa. ment, The spirit of the Lord spake by me, and bis word was in my tongue, 2 Sam. xxiii. 2. And the apostle Paul speaks of himself, and other inspired apostles of the New Testament, Which things, says he, we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, 1 Cor. ii.
13. and it is the writing, or the word of God as written, that is by inspiration af God, 2 Tim. iii. 16. But then,
IV. This is to be understood of the scriptures, as in the original languages in which they were written, and not of translations. Let not any be uneasy in their minds about translations on this account, because they are not upon an equality with the original text, and especially about our own; when ever a set of men have been engaged in this work, as were in our nation, men well skilled in the languages, and partakers of the grace of God; of sound principles, and of integrity and faithfulness, having the fear of God before their eyes; they have never failed of producing a translation worthy of acceptation; and in which, though they have mistook some words and phrases, and erred in some lesser and lighter matters ; yet not so as to affect any momentous article of faith or practice; and therefore such translations as ours may be regarded as the rule of faith.
Here I cannot but observe the amazing ignorance and stupidity of some persons, who take it into their heads to decry learning and learned men; for what would they have done for a Bible, had it not been for them as instruments? Bless God, and be thankful that God has, in his providence, raised up
men to translate the Bible into the mother tongue of every nation, and particularly into ours.
1. From the subject-matter of them -1. In general there is nothing in them unworthy of God; nothing contrary to any of the perfections of his nature ; no falshood nor contradiction in them; nothing impious or impure, absurd or ridiculous in them; as in the Al-koran of Mahomet; or as in the Pagan treatises of their gods. 2. The things contained in the Scrip
are pure and holy: the holy Spirit dictated them, holy
spoke and wrote them, and they are justly called holy Scriptures, Rom. i. 2. and plainly shew they came from the holy God. Hence it is that there is in natural whose carn al minds are enmity to God, such a backwardness, yea, ana version to reading the Scriptures. 3. There are some things recorded in the Scriptures, which could never have
been known but by revelation from God himself; as particuJarly with respect to the creation of the world, and the original of mankind; the choice of men in Christ to everlasting salvation, the council held between the divine persors, concerning the salvation of man; all which could never have been known unless God himself had revealed them. 4. There are some things recorded in the Scriptures as future, which God only could foreknow would be, and foretel with certainty that they should be ; and which have accordingly come to pass, and proves the revalation to be of God. Some of them relate to particular persons, and contingent events; as Josiah, David, and Cyrus. Others relate to kingdoms and states, and what should befal them; as the Egyptians, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Assyrians, Babylonians, and others, especially the prophecies concerning Christ, are peculiarly worthy of notice. 5. There are some things in the Scriptures, which, though not contrary to reason, yet are above the capacity of men ever to have made a discovery of: as the Trinity of persons in the Godhead; &c. 6. The things contained in the scriptures, whether doctrines or facts, are harmonious; though delivered at sundry times, and in divers manners, as to historical facts, what seeming contradictions may be observed in any of them are easily reconciled, with a little care, diligence, and study, and even these instances are but few, and not very material; and which never affect any article of faith or practice: such care has divine providence taken of these peculiar and important writings.
11. The stile and manner in which the Scriptures are written, is a further evidence of their divine original ; the majesty in which they appear, the authoritative manner in which they are delivered; not asking, but demanding, attention and assent unto them ; the sublimity of the stile is such as exceeds all other writings : the book of job, and the prophecies of Isaiah are fraught with a rich treasure of divine elocution: it is remarkable that in some of the inspired writers, who have been bred
up in a rustic manner, are found some of the most grand images, and lively picturesques, and highest fights of language, as in Amos the herdman, chap. iv. 13. and ix. 2. 6.