Obrazy na stronie

since they evidently contain a system of holy laws and doctrines, and are perfectly offensive to the wicked heart; it is hardly supposeable, that they were written by wicked men, unless their minds were controlled by divine influence ; and, in this case, it amounts like the prophe

: ey of Balaam, to a divine revelation. Generally speaking, if not universally, when wicked men invent systems of religion, their systems, like their hearts, are corrupt and wicked systems. They are grounded in selfishness. On the whole, we see not how it was probable, or even possible, that a system of religion, evidently holy, could have been produced, without divine inspiration.

S. Another internal evidence of the divine inspiration of the scriptures is, that the whole system is harmonious. The variety of style and manner of writing, is an evidence that it was written by various hands, at different periods of the world, and under different forms of government. But however various the manner is, the matter is the same. In doctrines, laws, history, predictions, promises, threatnings, there is perfect harmony. Fifteen hundred years elapsed, while additions were made, by Moses and the prophets, and the Apostles of Christ, to the canon of scripture. The work was performed by about thirty different hands; and evidently, without any particular concert among themselves. Yet a perfect harmony runs through the whole. Old testament and new, look to the same great objects. They exhibit the same God, the same plan of atonement and forgiveness of sin, the same church, the same faith, the same heaven and hell. The points established by one of the writers, are estahlished by the others. Who can account for this wonderful harmony of the scriptures, but by the infallible guidance of divine inspiration ?

It has always been found impossible for any number of authors, aided only by human wisdom, to harmonize among themselves. Nor can the wisest of christians pert'ectly agree in their explanation of the scriptures. It is evident, from universal observation, that perfect harmony of sentiment, among blind and sinful men, cannot ex.

ist without the controlling influence of the Spirit of truth. 6 When he, the spirit of truth is come, he shall guide you into all the truth.”

4. Some of the most sublime and important subjects contained in the bible, could never have been suggested to the minds of mankind, without a revelation from God. For they are, and continue to be perfect mysteries. Who could have invented, and enforced on proud and sinful men, the doctrine of the Trinity in unity of the Godhead, as laying the only consistent foundation of the great work of redemption? Of all mysteries, this is one of the most sublime, and not the least important. It is a cardinal doctrine in the christian system. Who could have discovered, without a spirit of prophecy, that the Son of God, who is God manifest in the flesh, must suffer and die, to atone for the sins of the world ? 6 Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” Who but God ever revealed any thing, which, in its nature, was mysterious ? For instance, the resurrection of the dead, and the final judgment of the world. In the view of unbelievers, the resurrection is a subject of mockery and ridicule ; and so are all other mysteries. But, without a revelation from God, the most important subjects must have been, to this day, involved in profound mystery.

Very scanty indeed, are the bounds of human knowledge and comprehension ! It is evident, therefore, that, independent of a divine revelation, mankind can never attain to that knowledge of God, which is essential to the hope of final happiness.

5. It is no inconsiderable argument of the divine inspiration of the scriptures, that owing to the weight and

solemnity of the subjects, as well as to the manner in · which they are treated, they command attention. Other

books may be read with avidity, and with deserved admiration : but how soon do they become trite and uninteresting ! comparatively speaking, they take but little hold of the conscience, or the heart. 'l'he bible is

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

the book affording the most durable entertainment. It becomes more and more interesting, the more it is perused, even by those, whose hearts are opposed to its sentiments. There is a kind of solemn and irresistible charm in the sacred oracles, which arrests attention; and is frequently instrumental of melting the rocky heart. “ Is not thy word like fire, and like the hammer, that breaketh the rock in pieces ?”—“. The word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." These are the testimonies of scripture, expressing, however, what are well known matters of fact. Now therefore, is it not absurd to suppose, that the scriptures, which produce such astonishing and glorious effects, are a mere human invention ? Every attentive and candid mind, while reading the holy scriptures, feels an impression, which cannot be produced, by any other reading whatsoever. If therefore, the scriptures were the production of any mere man; he must have been far superior to any other man; and even to the angels of light. For the scriptures, doubtless, exhibit things which the angels desire to look into. Who then, and where is the man, that invented the holy scriptures ? and that had influence enough to make the most enlightened part of mankind believe, that they were the oracles of God ? and, as such, had been received and acknowledged, by a long line of ancestors ? And where is the man, who could attach to his own inventions, such an overwhelming influence, as to control the hearts of friends and foes ? The attention which the scriptures command, is a powerful evidence of their divine inspiration. The gospel of Christ is well said to be the power of God to salvation, to every one that believeth.

6. Another internal evidence of the divine inspiration of the scriptures is, that the religion, founded on them alone, endures, and outlives all opposition. No book was ever hated and opposed so much as the bible; and yet none was ever so abundantly published and read by all classes of people. It endures the opposition of hea

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

then and infidels ; and is, at this day, rising in reputation, both in the christian and heathen world. Hundreds of men are employed as translators and printers of the scriptures, for the benefit of the destitute, and of the heathen. To facilitate the great work of evangelizing the world, bible societies are formed in every part of christendom. And they are, in a measure, favored, even by Catholics and Jews. All other forms of religion fail; but that of the bible is triumphant. The very existence, preservation, and rising estimation of the scriptures, can be owing to nothing short of divine power and influence. But it is absurd to suppose, that the Most High and Holy God would afford his special aid to protect and promote a forgery.

7. The candor, frankness, and impartiality of the writers of the bible are remarkable. They notice, without reserve, all the faults and imperfections of the church, and of the best characters which they describe. Some of the writers state their own faults, without the least palliation. Thus did Moses, and David, and Paul. Now is it possible to suppose, that impostors, or any but men of the most approved honesty and integrity, were the writers of the scriptures ? But if they were honest men, they were divinely inspired. For this was what they claimed. Their current style was, “ Thus saith the Lord.”

8. The bible illuminates this ignorant and benighted world ; and this proves that the author is divine. Most evidently is the bible a light' which shines in a dark place. That which we call the word of God, is “ a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path.” Does not every conscience testify, that there is more valuable light, of every kind, communicated from the scriptures, than from all other sources ! Are not the christian nations far more enlightened, both speculatively and spiritually, than the heathen and mahometan nations ? Is it not a fact, that as many of the heathen, as cordially receive and obey the scriptures, are by them, greatly enlightened ? Is it not a fact, that poor naked starving Hottentots, who had long dwelt in dens and caves of the earth, have been, of late, called out of their filthy dens and burrows, into

civilized life, by the joyful sound of the gospel ? And from these depths of darkness, where the name of a God has been scarcely known, have not a great number become the sober intelligent followers of Jesus Christ and have not even a goodly number become the preachers of his gospel ? Does not the bible have an illuminating effect upon the minds of mankind ? What other source of light can be compared with this ? Do any bring in competition with the scriptures, the light of human reason and philosophy? But who does not know, by long and sad'experience, that even these can never be cultivated to any advantage, without the aid of the bible, and the practice of the christian religion ? Expunge the scriptures, and the christian worship and ordinances from our colleges, and from all our literary institutions; and the whole foundation of literature and philosophy is undermined. Very little knowledge or instruction can be acquired, where the scriptures are discarded. They are, most evidently, the fountain of light and truth. Christ very justly claimed to be the light of the world : and wherever this light is extinguished, men grope in profound darkness and heathenism. But if the scriptures were a vile and wicked imposture; how could they be the light of the world?

9. The moral tendency and effects of the scriptures, prove clearly, that they are a divine revelation. " Good morals proceed only from good principles. There is an inseparable connection between truth in principle, and virtue in practice : also between error in principle, and wickedness in practice. If, therefore, the moral tendency and effects of the scriptures are found to be good ; if the laws and doctrines of the bible are found to be altogether salutary and beneficial to this sinful world ; who can object to their being of a divine original ? In this respect, deists in general, appear to be grossly inconsistent. For all, who possess a common share of candor, acknowledge the beneficial tendency and effects of the scriptures; and

of them are disposed to encourage and support the ministry of the gospel ; while they consider the whole bible as a system of cunningly devised


« PoprzedniaDalej »