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prophecy and miracle, and in a word, that, after having at sundry times and in divers manners spoken in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, he hath in these last days spoken unto us by his son.
We therefore, my brethren, whatever others may do, cannot possibly rest satisfied in our present conclusions. We cannot but feel ourselves impelled to ask, what was the message, so marvellously introduced, and how far we are ourselves concerned in it. This accordingly is the next point, which presents itself to our inquiry; and may that gracious God, whose name is holy, enable us to decide it rightly!
First it is necessary to determine, what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God, which is revealed for our guidance. This may be done in few words, when once we have ascertained, what is our safe and certain standard of appeal.
Now it has appeared from what has been already said to you, that the book of the old and new testaments, which we call the bible, contains a history of many miracles, which
mark the interposition of God, and many predictions also, the fulfilment of which demonstrates their divine original. If, intermingled with these miracles so as to be authenticated by them, if, intermingled with these predictions, and incapable without violence of being altogether detached from them, we meet with a vast collection of precepts also, either professing to be delivered by our blessed saviour himself or his immediate apostles, or else preceded by the solemn annunciation—' Thus saith the lord, God”, with what consistency can we receive the miracles, believe the prophecies, and yet reject the commandments ? This is a compendious proof, that the precepts of the bible are our rule of duty. But it is a proof, the force of which is not easy to be resisted. For it has been already shewn, that the greatest and most important miracles, related in the bible, such for instance as the passage of the Red sea, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, cannot but be true. It has been shewn likewise, that many of the pro. phecies, contained in the bible, were indisputably written long before the events, which
they profess to foreshew, and consequently dictated by him, unto whom alone are all things known from the beginning of the creation. The precepts therefore must proceed
same author, who wrought the miracles, and gave the predictions.
It would be long to go through the several books of the bible, and prove the genuineness and inspiration of each.
This however may be done; for it has been done: and it is fit, that those of you, who have leisure, should examine it for yourselves. In the mean time, if the books of the new testament be as old as they profess to be, and have been generally received by christians, as the authentic record of their religion, and if the books of the old testament be also as old as they pretend to be, and have been uniformly received by the Jews, as the authentic record of their religion, both which positions are undeniable, you have in this single consideration an adequate and satisfactory proof, that the whole bible came from God.
Moreover, that the testimony of God pervades the bible, and that the humblest of its
authors writes with the authority, because he writes under the inspiration of the supreme creator and governor himself, may be made plain by the declarations of one of the number, declarations so positive and so unambiguous, that the writer must be either a convicted impostor, or a delegate of the almighty. Saint Paul, speaking of the whole collection of writings, which constituted the old testament, says~ All scripture is given by inspiration of God,'—; and, to shew further, that such inspiration is not confined to the old testament, that remarkable convert, whose language concerning his own personal character is— I am • the least of the apostles, that am not worthy ' to be called an apostle'-, yet claims for himself, when writing to the churches, the same plenary inspiration, which he ascribes to the whole of scripture ; for he says, * The things, that I write unto you, are the commandments of the Lord.'
Declarations to the same effect might be cited from various parts of scripture, as particularly, where the apostle, Peter, declares in plain terms, that holy men of God spake,
as they were moved by the holy ghost, and where he expressly classes the epistles of saint Paul to the churches with the other scriptures.
But the entire force of the argument, which would shew, that the whole contents of the bible, both the miracles it records, the prophecies it contains, and the precepts it conveys, are from God, has not yet been put forth. It has been contended, that the divinity of the miracles and of the prophecies necessarily involves the divine origin and authority of the precepts, which are intermingled with them. It may now be shewn, that many of the miracles and many of the prophecies were actually dependent upon the precepts, the performance of the miracles being caused by a violation of the precepts, and the fulfilment of the prophecies made in direct terms contingent upon the observance or infringement of them. Thus all the preternatural plagues of Egypt were inflicted, because Pharaoh refused to obey the declared will of the lord. Thus too, when Korah and his company had rebelled against a divine appointment, the miracle, by which they were punished, was