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count for the existence of things in any other way. It is impossible that any thing should exist, if there be not some being who exists necessarily and eternally. But let it be supposed that this eternal and necessarily existent being is not self-active, is destitute of all power of action, we are where we were, as to any poss sible account for the existence of things. For if this self-exist. ent being be without a power of action in and of himself, it is manifest such an existence can contribute nothing towards an explication of the original of all things. Because a being who has not a power of action can do nothing, and, therefore, cannot be the author of any thing. Such a being could never be the cause of other things, for an inactive or inefficient cause cannot be said to be any cause at all. That which is inert cannot do any thing for doing always supposes activity. So that to imagine an eternal, self-existent, inactive being, can signify no more to, wards accounting for the existence of all other things, than if it were imagined that there is no self-existent being whatsoever. It appears, therefore, from the present existence of things, that the only eternal, uncaused, independent, self-existent being must be indued with a power of action in and of himself.. .....
There is no relief from the force of this reasoning, but by supposing all things were eternal and necessary as they now are, which is nothing less than supposing that all the things we see are eter, nal, that I am eternal, and each of you eternal, which surely would be folly, madness and absurdity in the extreme.
Upon the whole, we conclude on the most certain grounds, that there is a God, nay, we are obliged to yield to this conclusion, or to renounce our reason, our senses, and even our own existence. Every thing about us, and in us, forces this conclusion upon us in the most irresistable manner.
Let us now, as rational creatures, set our hearts to the consideration of this most important matter. Let this great truth, God is, attend us at all times, in all places, and in all our transactions
of every kind. Let us remember, that if we act as if there were no God, we have our reason and conscience against us, so that we shall be without excuse. If the heathen shall be without excuse, much more will this be our case. If, in our practice, we forget there is a God, our reason at last will be a swift witness against us. As. God exists and is the author of all things, there can be no room to doubt, that he takes notice of, and is the supreme governor of all, and will finally bring all to an account for their conduct. Let this reflection dwell on our minds, and let us live and act as persons who believe the same.
As there is a God, his rational creatures ought to love him with a supreme affection. He is worthy of their most exalted esteem, devotion and reverence. Therefore, let us give hiin our whole hearts, and delight in him as our chief end. Let us fear before. him, let us fear to sin, knowing that he is infinite in power, and will punish all iniquity. It is of the highest importance, that we serve him with faithfulness, with sincerity, integrity and uprightness of mind ; that we acknowledge our absolute dependence upon him, and worship him in purity of heart. Let it be ever remembered by us, that “ He that cometh to God must believe that he « is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek “him.”
SERMON 11. THE DIVINITY OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES PROVED.
II. TIMOTHY II. 16. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God. THE truth and certainty of the Holy Scriptures being a reve. lation from God, for the instruction of mankind in faith and prac. tice, when properly established, must be a matter of the highest importance. Every christian ought to have sufficient reasons to support and comfort his own mind respecting this great reality, and ought to possess some arguments for the refutation or si. lencing of gainsayers and unbelievers. The truth of the scriptures being a revelation from heaven, may be proved from a great variety of topics ; from the purity of the matter, the holiness of their tendency, the dignity of their style, the consistency of all their parts, the blessedness of their effects, and the design of the whole, to shew forth the excellencies of all the divine perfections, to display the glory of God, especially the fullness and exceeding riches of heavenly grace and mercy, in the recovery of a lost and ruined world, to holiness and eternal felicity. But tlic two principal arguments on which the scriptures, as the inspiration of God, most certainly rest, are miracles and the fulfilment of prophecies. Miracles are abundantly sufficient to administer conviction to the minds of them who are present or behold them, of the truth of the doctrine delivered, and the divine commission and authority of those who performed the same. We are ready to suppose if we had been present, and seen the miracles wrought by Moses,
Elijah, Christ and the Apostles, we should surely have believed ; but we know that many who saw those stupendous works, remained still in unbelief. So, if these wonders were performed again, in the presence of the world, it is highly probable it would be as it was then, many would attribute them to wrong causes, many would not believe them. We have these matters handed down to us in the most uncorrupted record, and established by irrefra. gable testimony-yet, what multitudes continue unbelievers ? But, that the eternal God might leave mankind absolutely without excuse for their infidelity, he has confirmed his revelation by predictions of future events, and the exact and perfect accomplishment thereof. And these predictions were made from the earliest times, and have been fulflled in all periods of the world, and are fulflling at this day, and will be fulfilling throughout all future ages. These things fully demonstrate the prescience of God, and åre standing monuments to every generation, of the divinity of the holy scriptures. But if the predictions and the accomplishment of the events foretold, be stated before men with such cleare Tess of evidence, that they cannot be denied or evaded, then in fidelity objects, that the history was written after the fulfllment of the prophecy, and thus, instead of proving divine truth, proves the basest wickedness, and the grossest imposture. If the predictions of events which are yet to come to pass, be retailed to them, they reject their possible fulfillment as foolish and absurd. When predictions, which have beeu delivered hundreds and thousands of years ago, are represented to them as facts now accomplishing, as realities now exhibiting before the world, as events now obvious to the eyes and understanding of all, infidels are here non-plused, stunned and confounded, and although they cannot ahswer, they remain, generally, obstinately unconvinced. For thorough-paced infidels have, in all ages, with a very few excep tions, tehjained infidels still. But frequently, to bring forward the arguments in favour of our holy religion, to show its divine authority, is of the greatest benefit for the comfort and congrmais
tion of christians in the truth, and for the conviction of the wao vering and doubting.
It is impossible to enter into extensive reasoning on this head, in the limits of a contracted sermon, therefore, I shall omit all the arguments drawn from the possibility and necessity of a revelation, and from the nature, advantages, and moral goodness of the scriptures themselves, as also from miracles, the certainty of their having been performed and rightly established to us by infallible testimony. I must also omit many arguments taken from the fulfillment of prophecy, and confine myself only to three instances of it, one of which has been already fulfilled, and the other two are now fulfilling before the world in the present day, and are standing miracles of heaven, monuments visible to all, of the divine inspiration of the scriptures.
The first instance of prophecy, and its exact and astonishing accomplishment to which I shall lead your attention, is, the predictions respecting the birth, life, doctrines, sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
It was predicted by the prophet Isaiah, that he should be born of a virgin. *“ A virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and “ shall call his name Emmanuel,” which was literally accomplished, when the virgin Mary brought forth her son Jesus. Attend to the history of this matter, given us by St. Matthew. 7" That “ which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall “ bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he “shall save the people from their sins. They shall call him Ema “ manuel, which being interpreted, is God with us."
The prophet Micah foretold the place of his birth. $“ Thou “ Bethlehem Ephratah, though theu be little among the thou“sands of Judah, yet out of thee shall come forth unto me that “is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of
* Is. vii. 14. + Mat. i. 20, 21, 23. Alic. q. 2.