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1. The Holy Bible has been embraced by good men, in all ages, as a revelation from heaven. The word Bible signifies The Book: and it is so called by way of eminence, because it is the book of books, with which no other can be compared ; the book of God, given by him to mortals, to show them his will, and teach them the way to heaven. It is said to be His book, as being inspired by Him; every thought therein contained being suggested by Him to those that wrote it. Now, it certainly concerns mankind to know whether the Bible be the book of God or not.
2. It must be acknowledged that we stand in need of a Divine revelation; and it seems probable that the hopes which men have entertained of receiving one, were founded upon some intimation given by God, in the early ages of the world, that he would reveal himself more fully in after times. It is true, many have made pretensions to inspiratiɔn who have been proved to the world to be impostors. But these false pretences rather induce us to believe there may be some revelation really Divine; for persons do not use to counterfeit things which never had an existence; as none would coin bad money, if there never had been good. All honest men, who compare pretended revelations with this book, will find them to be defective, inconsistent, and palpably false and absurd.
3. It must be owned that these pretended revelations, and, indeed, all other books, are far less ancient than some of the sacred writings; yet other books, in many instances, confirm the historical parts of Scripture.
4. The Bible is remarkable for its consistency; and as Dryden, an eminent English poet, observes,
" Whence but from heaven should men unskill'd in arts,
In different ages born, in different parts,
5. The Bible is proved to be of Divine authority both by the goodness of its doctrines and by the moral character of its penmen.
The doctrines are heavenly, and the men appear evidently to have been inspired of God. The very style is so sublime and majestic, that no human eloquence can climb such heights. Every part of it is, when rightly understood, consistent and harmonious, pure and holy; and concurs in one grand end—the glory of the great Creator, inost remarkably secured by the gospel plan of redemption. A Saviour is revealed worthy of all acceptation, through whose mediation and atoning sacrifice the chief of sioners may be pardoned, without casting the least dishonour on the holy law of God, or giving encouragemen! to future transgressions. God is glorified in the highest, while peace is proclaimed on earth, and Divine benevolence extended to guilty men. A blessed Sanctifier is also made known, to cleanse us from all our pollutions, and, renewing us in the spirit of our mind, to fit us for the eternal enjoyment of communion with God and the sweet society of all holy beings. And can such discoveries of deliverance from guilt and depravity have been the idle fancies of enthusiasts, or the device of lying impostors ?
6. It could never be the invention of human wisdom, unless it can be proved that contraries agree together : for its doctrines and precepts are quite opposite to the maxims of worldly wisdom, and, of course, to the depraved inclinations of fallen man; condemning the things wherein he chiefly delights, and recommending a happiness for which he has no relish, and of which he has no true perception. The carnal mind accounts
folly, and understands not the things of God, nor can any unregenerate man truly know them, because they are spiritually discerned. Worldly men slight the Bible, hate it, and oppose it. The sinner undervalues and scorns it more than any other book, because it contradicts his pride and condemns his sin. The wicked persecute them that love the Scriptures, and stigmatize them, and discover their enmity against them in every possible way; all which evidently shows the truth of the Bible. It is foretold us that
this would be the case, and we see it come to pass accordingly. All this proves, beyond a doubt, that this book was not the invention of men.
7. If men invented the Bible, what men were they? They must be either bad men or good men ; but the first could not contrive it. Bad men would never invent doctrines and precepts so contrary to their own inclinations and conduct; they would never make a book to tell the world that such men as themselves would be punished for ever in hell; and good men could never make a book out of their own heads, and then tell
that their lies were the counsels of the eternal God.
8. Moreover, God appears to be their Author, by the care he has taken of the Scriptures. His wonderful power and unbaffled skill have preserved them for so many ages, though men and devils have not omitted to try all the means they could to destroy these writings from off the face of the earth. All their efforts to overthrow them have been in vain ; neither their fraud nor their force could succeed, though they employed both so often against them.
9. What awful judgments have fallen on persecutors ! Listen to the dying groans of king Antiochus, who, after persecuting the Jews, and burning their sacred writings, expired in the most horrid torments, confessing the just vengeance of the Most High. See the emperor Dioclesian, who committed the Christian Scriptures to the flames, forced to abdicate his throne, become a private subject, and die a miserable death. But the Bible is still wonderfully preserved, and remains to the confusion of sceptics and unbelievers.
10. It must have been God, and not man, who thus defended it. The New Testament, which contains the religion of Jesus, forbids that we propagate it by the sword, like the Koran of Mahomet; princes and potentates have done their utmost to destroy it; yet, behold, it has not only survived its enemies, but has triumphed amidst the fiercest and most violent opposition. 11. It has raised believers above the fear of death, and
made them rejoice in martyrdom. One of their number has exclaimed in the fire, “ Behold, this is to me as a bed of roses !” Thousands have yielded their bodies to the devouring flames, and to tortures unspeakable and innumerable. The same zeal and courage have been discovered in each sex, in every age, rank, and degree. Tell me, could any thing less than almighty power thus support them in such an hour of extremity ?
12. The Christian religion, like a heavenly seed sown by God himself, has grown the faster from its being moistened by the blood of martyrs : it has even been the case, that the executioner employed one day in putting others to death for Christ's sake, has been so convinced, by their example, as to become a martyr in the same cause on the morrow.
13. Moreover, if men did counterfeit God's hand, how has it happened that no one has discovered the cheat? What motive could induce men to practise such impositions, where they saw reproach, imprisonment, torture, and death, their only reward ? Would no one repent and disclose the scheme, even when he found all the world against him ? Could liars and hypocrites write a book so pure and holy, and endure all manner of hardships in defence of it? Had they the art to seem so honest, to make their story appear so artless, their scheme so divine, and confirm it all by lives which no one could justly censure, while they themselves did not believe their story, but knew it was a fiction of their own contriving?
14. Even the character and conduct of Judas Iscariot furnish a strong argument for the truth of the gospel. How came it to pass, that he first betrayed his Master, and was then stung with remorse, so as to put an end to his own life by hanging himself? How came he thus to own himself guilty of the vilest sin, when, if Jesus had been an impostor, he knew that he had done an act of justice to the world, in freeing it from him ; for, if Jesus was not really what he professed to be, he deserved all that Judas was the means of bringing upon him, and even more. Now if there had been any base plot and bad design, any kind of imposture in the case, Judas—who had so long lived with Christ, was intrusted with the bag, which shows that he was not treated with any reserve, and was acquainted with the private life of Christ-must certainly have known; and, if he had known of any blemish, he ought to have told it, and doubtless would. Duty to God, to his own character, and to the world, obliged him to it. But his silence in this respect gives the loudest witness to Christ's innocence, and his awful death proves the Divine authority of Jesus.
15. With farther reference to the moral character of Jesus, I would ask, Was it possible for him to appear so holy and so free from all taint of evil; could he go up and down the land of Judea, enduring want and reproach, discovering a solicitous and unremitted attention to the welfare of mankind, by healing their bodies, and instructing their minds ; and yet, at the same time, he (what nevertheless he must have been, unless he were the Messiah) the worst impostor in the world ?
16. Christ and his apostles (as well as many of the Old Testament writers) confirmed their doctrine by working miracles, or by performing wonderful works, beyond the common laws of nature. Now these miracles, whether real or pretended, were often wrought before a large concourse of spectators; and was it possible there could be any juggle in the case, when a multitude of witnesses saw the dead raised from the cold prison of the grave? Thousands of spectators, who were professed enemies to the cause of Christ, owned that notable miracles were performed, Acts iv. 16, that the lame were made to walk, the blind to see, the dumb to speak. These enemies could neither deny the fact, nor find out the deception, though they were present at the time. How was this? Could it be all delusion? Or, if it was real, would God let his omnipotence subserve the designs of impostors ?
17. The inspiration and Divine authority of the Bible are confirmed by the fulfilment of prophecies, recorded both in the Old Testament and in the New. Could men or devils