Obrazy na stronie

IV. The divine authority of scripture may be further pros ved from the scope and design of the whole, which is to give all glory to God.

[ocr errors]

whence it was, that the nations, who were most tenacious of ancient customs, reckoned the time by nights. Anaragoras affirmed, that all things ere regulated by the supreme mind : Aratus, that the stars were made by God; Virgil, from the Greeks, that Life was infused into things by the Spirit of God; Hesiod, Homer, and Callimachus, that man was formed of clay; lastly, Maximus Tyrius asserts, that it was a constant tradition received by all nations, that there was one supreme God, the cause of all things. And we learn from Josephus, Philo, Tibullus, Clemens Alexandrinus, and Lucian, (for I need not mention the Hebrews) that the memory of the seven days' work was preserved, not only among the Greeks and Italians, by honouring the seventh day; but also amongst the Celtæ and Indians, who all measured the time by weeks; as we learn from Philostratus, Dion Cassiua, and Justin Martyr ; and also the most ancient names of the day. The Egyptians tell us, that at first men led their lives in great simplicity, their bodies being naked, whence arose the poet's fiction of the Golden Age, famoas among the Indians, as Strabo remarks. Maimonides takes notice, that the history of Adam, of Eve, of the tree, and of the serpent; was extant among the idolatrous Indians in his time: and there are many witnesses in our age, who testify that the same is still to be found amongst the heathen dwelling in Peru, and the Philippine islands, people belonging to the same India, the name of Adam amongst the Brachnians; and and that it was reckoned six thousand years since the creation of the world, by those of Siam. Berosus in his history of Chaldea, Manethos in his of Egypt, Hierom in his of Phænicia, Histæus, Ilecatæus, Hillanicus in theirs of Greece, and Heslod among the Poets; all assert that the lives of those who descended from the first men, were almost a thousand years in length; which is the less incredible, because the historians of many nations (particularly Pausanias and Philostratus amongst the Greeks, and Pliny amongst the Romans) relate, that men's bodies, upon opening their sepulchres, were found to be much larger in old time. And Catullus, after many of the Greeks, relates that divine visions were made to men before their great and manifold crimes did, as it were, hinder God, and those Spirits that attend him, froin holding any correspondence with men. We almost every where, in the Greek and Latin historians, meet with the savage life of the Giants, mentioned by Moses. And it is very remarkable concerning the deluge, that the memory of almost all nations ends in the history of it, even those nations which were unknown till our forefathers discovered them : so that Varro calls all shat the unknown time. And all those things which we read in the poets, wrap ped up in fables (a Liberty they allow themselves) are delivered by the ancient writers according to truts and reality ; that is, agreeable to Moses, as you may see in Berosus's llistory of Chaldea, Abydenus's of Assyria, who mentions the dove that was sent out of the ark; and in Plutarch from the Greeks, and in Lucian, who says, that in Hierapolis of Syria, there was remaining a most ancient history of the ark, and of the preserving a few not only of mankind, but also of other liv. ing creatures. The same history was extant also in Molo and in Nicolaus DamasCCNUS ; which latter names the ark, which we also find in the history of Deucalion in Apollodorus ; and many Spaniariis affirm, that in seteral parts of America, as Cuba, Jlechoacana, Nicaraga, is preserved the memory of the deluge, the saving alive of animals, especially the raven and dove; and the deluge itself in that part called Golden Castile. That remark of Pliny's; that Joppa was built before the Flood, discovers what part of the earth men inhabited before the Flood. The place where the ark rested after the deluge on the Gordyæan mountains, is evident from the constant tradition of the Armenians from all past ages, down to this very day. Japhet, the father of the Europeans; and from him Jon, or, as they formerly pronounced it, Javon of the Greeks, and Hammon of the Africans, are names to be seen in Moses, and Josephus and others observe the like footsteps in the names of other places and nations. And which of the poets is it, in which we do not find mention made of the attempt to climb the heavens ? Diodorus Siculus,

[ocr errors]

It may be observed, concerning the scripture, that the adsancing the divine perfections, and debasing the creature, is the great end designed by God in giving it; and we find that whatever doctrine is laid down therein, this end is still pursued, Now scripture-doctrines are designed to advance the glory of God, either directly or by consequence.

[ocr errors]

Strabo, Tacitus, Pliny, Solinus, speak of the burning of Sodom. Herodotus, Diodorus, Strabo, Philo Biblius, testify the ancient custom of Circumcision, which is confirmed by those nations descended from Abraham, not only Hebrews, but also Idumeans, İsmaelites, and others. The history of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, agreeable with Moses, was extant of old in Philo Biblius out of Sanchoniathon, in Berosus, Hecateus, Damascenus, Arta panus, Eupolemus, Demetrius, and partly in the ancient writers of the Orphic Verses; and something of it is still extant in Justin, out of Trogue Pompeius. By almost all which is related also the history of Moses, and his principal acts. The Orphic Verses expressly mention his being taken out of the water, and the two tables that were given him by God. To these we may add Polemon ; and several things about his coming out of Egypt, from the Egyptian writers, Menethe, Lysimachus, Cheremon. Neither can any pru. dent man think it at all credible, that Moses, who had so many enemies, not only of the Egyptians, but also of many other nations, as the Idumeans, Arabians, and Phænicians, would venture to relate any thing concerning the creation of the world, or the original of things, which could be confuted by more ancient wri. tings, or was contradictory to the ancient and received, opinions : or that he would relate any thing of matters in his own time, that could be confuted by the testi. mony of many persons then alive, Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, and Pliny, Tacitus, and after them Dionysius Longinus (concerning loftiness of Speech) make mention of Moser. Besides the Talmudists, Pliny and Apuleius, speak of Jamnes and Mambres, who resisted Moses in Egypt. Some things there are in other writings, and many things amongst the Pythagoreans, about the Law and Rites given by Moses, Strabo and Justin, out of Trogus, remarkably testify concerning the religion and righteousness of the ancient Jews : 60 that there seems to be no need of mentioning what is found, or has formerly been found of Joshua and others, agree. able to the Hebrew books; seeing, that whoever gives credit to Moses (which it is a shame for any one to refuse) cannot but believe those famous miracles done by the hand of God; which is the principal thing here aimed at. Now that the miracles of late date, such as those of Elija, Elisha, and others, should not be counterfeit, there is this further argument; that in those times Judea was become more known, and because of the difference of religion was hated by the neightours, who could very easily confute the first rise of a lie. The history of Jonah's being three days in the whale's belly is in Lycophron and Æneus Guzeus, only un. der the name of Herculus; to advance whose fame, every thing that was great and noble used to be related of him, as Tacitus observes. Certainly nothing but the manifest evidence of the history could compel Julian (who was as great an enemy to the Jews as to the Christians) to confess that there were some men inspi. red by the divine Spirit amongst the Jews, and that fhe descended from heaven, and consumed the sacrifices of Moses and Elas. And here it is worthy of obser vation, that there was not only very severe punishments threatened amongst the Hebrews, to any who should falsely assume the gift of prophecy, but very many kings, who by that means might have procured great authority to themselves, and many learned men, such as Esdras and others, dared not to assume this honour to themselves ; nay, some ages before Christ's time, nobody dared to do it. Much less could so many thousand people be imposed upon, in avouching a constant and public miracle, I mean that of the oracle, which sbined on the High Priest's breast, which is so firmly believed by all the Jews, to have remained till the destruction of the first temple, that their ancestors must of necessity be well assų. red of the truth of it.”


1. As to the former of these, the scripture abounds with instances, in which God is adored or set forth, as the object of adoration, that is, as having all divine perfections, and as doing every thing becoming himself as a God of glory: thus he is described herein, as the Lord most high and terrible, a great King over all the earth, Psal. xlvii. 2. and glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders, Exod. xv. 11. and as the true God, ihe living God, and an everlasting King, Jer. X. 10. and as the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments, Dan. ix. 4. and it is also said, Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty ; for all that is in the heaven, and in the earth is thine : thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as Head over all, 1 Chron. xxix. 11. These, and such-like adorable perfections, are not only occasionally ascribed to God in scripture, but every part thereof displays his glory in a manner so illustrious, as gives ground to conclude, that the great design of it is to raise in us becoming apprehensions of him, and to put us upon adoring and worshipping him as God.

2. It may, by a just consequence, be said to give all the glory to him, as it represents the emptiness, and even nothingness of all creatures, when compared with him, and hereby recommends him, as all in all : when it speaks of the best of creatures, as veiling their faces before him, as acknowledging themselves unworthy to behold his glory, and as deriving all their happiness from him ; and when it speaks of man as a sinful guilty creature, expecting all from him, and depending upon him for grace sufficient for him; and when it speaks of God, as the author and finisher of faith, in whom alone there is hope of obtaining mercy and forgiveness, grace here, and glory hereafter, and lays down this as the sum of all religion ; we must certainly conclude that its design is to give all glory to God.

Now let us consider the force of this argument, or how the general scope and design of scripture, to give all glory to God, proves its divine authority. Had it been the invention and contrivance of men, or if the writers thereof had pretended they had received it by inspiration from God, and it had not been so, then the great design thereof would have been to advance themselves; and they would certainly have laid down such a scheme of religion therein, as is agreeable to the corrupt appetites and inclinations of men, or would tend to indulge and dispense with sin, and not such an one as sets forth the holiness of God, and his infinite displeasure against it.

And as for salvation, the penmen of scripture, had they not been inspired, would certainly have represented it as very easy

[ocr errors]

to be attained, and not as a work of such difficulty as it really is ; and they would also have propagated such a religion, as supposes the creature not dependent on, or beholden to God for this salvation, and then the scripture would have detracted from his glory; but since, on the other hand, its general design is to give him the glory due to his name, this is a convincing evidence of its divine original.

From the general design of scripture, as being to give all glory to God, we may infer,

(i.) That whenever we read the word of God, we ought to have this great design in view, and so not consider it barely as an historical narrative of things done, but should observe how the glory of the divine perfections is set forth, that hereby we may be induced to ascribe greatness to God, and admire him for all the discoveries which he makes of himself therein.

(2.) The scriptures' general design should be a rule to us in the whole of our conversation, wherein we ought to give all glory to God : whatever we receive or expect from him, or whatever duty we engage in, let us act as those, that not only take the scripture for our rule, but its general scope and design for our example.

(3.) Whatsoever doctrines are pretended to be deduced from, or to contain the sense of scripture, which, notwithstanding, tend to depreciate the divine perfections, these are to be rejected, as contrary to its general scope and design.

V. Another argument may be taken from the character of the penmen of scripture; and here let them be supposed to be either good men, or bad : if good men, then they could not give themselves such a liberty to impose upon the world, and pretend that they received that from God, which they did not; and if they were bad men, they neither could nor would have laid down such doctrines, as centre in, lead the soul to God, and tend to promote self-denial, and advance his glory in all things ; since this is to suppose the worst of men to have the best ends, which we can never do; for, as our Saviour says, Matt. vii. 16. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles ? He is speaking of false prophets, who were to be known by their fruits; wicked men will have bad designs, or are like the corrupt tree, which bringeth forth evil fruit. But, on the other hand, if persons deliver that which carries in it such internal evidence of divine truth, and have such a noble design in view, as the securing the honour of God, and promoting his interest in the world, these must certainly be approved of by him, and concluded to be good men ; and if so, then they would not impose a fallacy on the world, or say that the scripture was given by divine inspiration, when they knew it to be otherwise.

If the scriptures are not the word of God, then the poimen thereof have miserably deceived, not a small number of credulous people, but the whole Christian world, among whom we must allow that many were judicious, and such as would not easily suffer themselves to be imposed on; to which we may add, that others to whom the gospel was preached, were exasperated enemies to those that preached it, and particularly to these inspired penmen of scripture, and greatly prejudiced against their doctrine, and therefore would use all possible endeavours to detect the fallacy, if there had been any ; so that it was morally impossible for them to deceive the world in this instance, or make them believe that the scriptures were the word of God, if there had not been the strongest evidence to convince them of it, which they could not withstand or gainsay.

But, that we may enter a little further into the character of the penmen of scripture, let it be observed,

1. That they could not be charged by their enemies with immoral practices, or notorious crimes, which might weaken the credit of the truths they delivered: they were, indeed, compassed about withdike infirmities with other men; for it is not to be supposed, that, because they were inspired, therefore they were perfectly free from sin ; since that does not necessarily follow from their having this privilege conferred upon them; yet their enemies themselves could find no great blemishes in their character, which might justly prejudice them against their writings, or that might render them unfit to be employed in this great work of transmitting the mind of God to the world.

2. They appear to be men of great integrity, not declining to discover and aggravate their own faults, as well as the sins of others. Thus Moses, though a man of great meekness, as to his general character, discovers his own failing, in repining, and being uneasy, because of the untoward and turbulent spie rit of the people, over whom he was appointed a governor, when he represents himself as complaining to God; Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant ? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me? Have I conceived all this people ? Have I begot, ten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom? Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people ? I am not able to bear this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight; and let me not see mine own wretchedness, Numb. xi. 11–15. This was certainly a very great blemish in the character of this excellent man; but he does not attempt to conceal it; nor does he omit to mention his backwardness to comply with the call of God, to deliver

« PoprzedniaDalej »