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awakening words; " He that despised Moses's law died without mercy under two or three witnesses; of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace," Heb. x. 28, 29. Our merciful Lord and Saviour himself has declared, "He that believeth not shall be damned!" Mark xvi. 16.
CH. VI.-THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE BIBLE. We have the most ample and satisfactory proofs that the books of the Bible are authentic and genuine. The scriptures of the Old Testament were collected and completed under the scrupulous care of inspired prophets. The singular providence of God is evident in the translation of the Old Testament into Greek, nearly three hundred years before the birth of Christ, for the benefit of the Jews who were living in countries where that language was used. The testimony which our Saviour bore to the Old Testament used by the Jews in Judea, and the quotations which the New Testament writers have made from its several books, generally from the Greek translation, confirm what has been already said on the antiquity of the Bible, and prove its authenticity. This will appear in a much stronger point of view when we consider the Jews as the keepers of this Old Testamenttheir own sacred volume, which contains the most extraordinary predictions concerning the infidelity of their nation, and the rise, progress, and extensive prevalence of christianity, their still existing and remaining the irreconcilable enemies of its claims, and that their enmity should also be foretold.
That all the books which convey to us the history of the events of the New Testament were written and immediately published, by persons living at the time of the things mentioned, and whose names they bear, is most fully proved. 1. By an unbroken series of christian
authors reaching from the days of the apostles, down to the present time. 2. By the concurrent and well-informed belief of all denominations of christians. 3. By the unreserved acknowledgment of the most learned and intelligent enemies of christianity.
That the books we possess under the titles of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, were written by the persons whose names they bear, cannot be doubted by any wellinformed and candid mind: because, from the time of their first publication, they have been uniformly attributed to them by all christian writers. That all the facts related in these writings, and all the accounts given of our Saviour's actions and sayings are strictly true, we have the most substantial grounds for believing. Matthew and John were two of our Lord's apostles; his constant attendants throughout the whole of his ministry; eye-witnesses of the facts, and ear-witnesses of the discourses which they relate. Mark and Luke were not of the twelve apostles; but they were contemporaries and associates with the apostles, and living in habits of friendship and intercourse with those who had been present at the transactions which they record. Many suppose that Luke was one of the seventy disciples who were ordained by our Lord to preach his gospel; and if so, his personal knowledge of Christ must have been almost equal to that of the twelve apostles. However, if not one of the seventy, he was the constant companion of Paul for many years, and well knew the things concerning which he wrote. In the beginning of his gospel, therefore, Luke declares his intimate acquaintance with his subject. "Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word: it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightest know the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been instructed, Luke i. 1-4.
Luke being also the author of the Acts of the Apostles, we have for the writers of these five books, men who had the most accurate knowledge of the things which they relate, either from their own personal observation, or by means of immediate communication with those who saw and heard every thing recorded. They could not, therefore, have been themselves deceived; nor had they any inducement or inclination to deceive others. They were men of honesty, simplicity, eminent integrity, and amiable candour, which are qualities singularly manifest in all their writings; and their greatest enemies have never attempted to cast the least stain upon the purity of their characters. It was not possible for them to gain anything by false statements; and the doctrines which they published, they themselves at length ratified with their own blood.
But, besides all these qualifications, to compose those writings which contain the gospel of our salvation, they were moved, not only by a benevolent regard for the souls of men, but by the sovereign influences of the Holy Spirit; and his gracious and infallible directions secured them from every possible error and mistake, in writing books adapted for the edification and sanctification of all nations, and for all succeeding generations.
The same effectual inspiration of the Holy Spirit influenced the apostles, in writing the epistles to the newlyfounded churches, agreeably to the promises of their Master, Christ. About the commencement of the second century, copies of most of the New Testament books were collected into one volume. At first, indeed, for want of full information, the epistles and gospels being in the care of different and distant churches, and as several books, falsely attributed to the apostles, were published, and widely circulated, some of the churches hesitated about receiving the epistle to the Hebrews, the second epistle of Peter, the second and third epistles of John, the epistle of Jude, and the book of the Revelation. A scrupulous investigation of their claims was therefore instituted; and after a rigorous examination, it appeared evidently clear that they were the inspired
productions of the apostles of Christ; and, therefore, they were admitted by consent of all the churches, as of equal authority with the other parts of the New Testa
As to the preservation of the sacred books down to our times, it is certain, that although the original copies may have been lost, the books of the New Testament have been preserved without any material alteration, much less corruption; and that they are, in all essential matters, the same as they came from the nanas of their authors. In taking copies of these books by writing, from time to time, as the art of printing was then unknown, some letters, syllables, or even words, may have been omitted, altered, or even changed in some manuscripts but no important doctrine, precept, or passage of history, has been designedly or fraudulently corrupted. This would have been impossible: because, as soon as the original writings were published, great numbers of copies were immediately taken, carried by the evangelical missionaries wherever they went, and sent to the different churches: they were soon translated into foreign languages, and conveyed into the most distant countries: they were constantly read in the christian assemblies, diligently perused by many private christians, some of whom had whole books by heart; they were quoted by numerous writers, and appealed to, as the inspired standard of doctrine, by various sects, who differed from each other, some on important points; and, consequently, they were jealously watchful against the least attempt, either to falsify or to alter the word of divine revelation.
"Who can imagine that God, who sent his Son to declare this doctrine, and his apostles, by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, to indite and speak it, and by so many miracles confirmed it to the world, should suffer any wicked persons to corrupt and alter any of those terms on which the happiness of mankind depends? It is absurd to say that God repented of his good will and kindness to mankind, in vouchsafing the gospel to them; or that he so far maligned the good of future
generations, that he suffered wicked men to rob them of all the good intended to them by this declaration of his holy will." Dr. Whitby.
That there should be differences found to exist in the manuscripts of the Holy Scriptures, cannot be surprising to any one, who recollects that before the invention of printing, in the fifteenth century, copies of all books were made by transcribers; some of whom were ignorant, rash, or careless, though skilful in the art of writing. These persons were not supernaturally guarded against the possibility of error; and a mistake in one copy would necessarily be propagated through all that were taken from it; each of which copies might likewise have peculiar faults of its own: so that various, or different readings, would be thus increased in proportion to the number of transcripts that were made. Besides actual oversights, transcribers might have occasioned various readings, by substituting, through ignorance, one letter, or even word, in place of another: or being inattentive, they might have omitted a line or period. In these different ways, it is very natural to expect, reckoning all the little diversities of single words, syllables, and letters, that many thousands of various readings should be discovered, in collating several hundred manuscripts of the whole Scriptures.
The manuscripts of the sacred books are found in every ancient library in all parts of the christian world; and amount in number to several thousands. About five hundred have been actually examined and compared by learned men with extraordinary care. Many of them were evidently transcribed as early as the eighth, seventh, sixth, and even the fourth centuries. Thus we are car ried up to very near the times of the apostles, and the promulgation of the inspired writings. The prodigious number of these manuscripts, the remote countries whence they have been collected, and the identity of their contents with the quotations which the fathers of different ages have made, demonstrate the authenticity of the New Testament. It has been, indeed, asserted by learned men, that if the New Testament were lost, its