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If there be a God, who governs all things in perfect rectitude; then it must be the duty of every intelligent creature to yield unconditional submission to his will. The will of the creature ought always to bow to the will of the Creator. Not one of the creatures of God has a right to say unto him, what doest thou? Unreserved submission is a duty, which grows out of absolute dependence. And since all men, without exception, are entirely dependent upon God, they are under indispensable obligation to submit to him in all things, without the least murmur or complaint. If we acknowledge the existence of God, we must, in order to be consistent, cordially resign all our interests, for time and eternity, to his supreme disposal. Once more,
All, who believe the existence and moral rectitude of the Deity, are obliged to believe the doctrine of future rewards and punishments. A Being, who loves righteousness and hates iniquity, cannot look upon the conduct of free, moral agents, with an eye of indifference. He must be either pleased or displeased with all their moral conduct. If they act agreeably to that moral faculty, which he hath implanted in their breasts, they will meet with his approbation; but if they violate the dictates of conscience, and do those things, which they know to be wrong, they will incur his just displeasure. The moral rectitude of the Supreme Being lays mankind under moral obligation to obey him; and at the same time, gives them just ground to expect, that he will finally call them to an account for all their actions, and treat them according to their respective characters, by rewarding the righteous, and punishing the wicked.
These, and many other disagreeable truths necessarily result from the essential perfections of the great Creator; and, therefore, it is of no avail to deny the
truth and divinity of the Scriptures, in order to get clear from the hard sayings and disagreeable doctrines of Christ and his Apostles. No man, under the light of the gospel, can really believe the existence, and love the character of God, and yet disbelieve and reject the doctrines of divine revelation.
5. If there be a God, then all his reasonable creatures are bound to be religious. The natural and moral attributes of the Deity are the primary ground of all religious duties and affections. And so long as God continues to possess supreme power, wisdom, and goodness, these great and amiable attributes will lay all mankind under indispensable obligations to love, revere, obey and worship their Creator. Our capacity to know God obliges us to glorify him as God. And hence we must cease to be reasonable creatures, before we can cease to be under obligation to adore and worship Him, in whom we live, and move, and have our being. O come, then, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; and give unto him the glory, which his great and amiable character deserves. Amen.
THE PLENARY INSPIRATION OF THE SCRIPTURES.
2 PETER i, 21.
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
SOME able writers in favor of divine revelation, have ventured to compound the matter with Infidels, and given up the inspiration of some parts of Scripture, for the sake of maintaining the inspiration of the rest. This looks like carrying candor and condescention too far, and betraying the cause, which they mean to defend. It is not to be expected, that unbelievers will be satisfied with their partial concessions; but will continue their demands, until they allow them to place the whole Bible upon a level with the writings of uninspired men. There seems, however, to be no occasion for the least yielding on the part of believers, if they can only make it appear, that so long as the sacred Penmen were employed in writing the books of the Old and New Testament, they were constantly moved and guided by the Holy Ghost. And this, it must be allowed, is expressly asserted in the words of our text. "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." It appears from the preceding verses, that the Apostle is here speaking of Scripture in general; and therefore his real meaning must be, that the Holy Ghost was the supreme Agent, and holy men were but mere in
struments, in writing the Word of God. Agreeably to this construction of the text, it will be the business of the ensuing discourse to make it appear,
That the book, which we emphatically call the Bible, was written by the inspiration of suggestion.
I shall, first, explain the meaning of this general proposition; and, then, offer several considerations to establish the truth of it.
Let us, in the first place, inquire what is to be understood by the inspiration of suggestion. Some suppose, there are three kinds of inspiration; which they distinguish from each other, by calling the first, the inspiration of Superintendency; the second, the inspiration of Elevation; and the third, the inspiration of Suggestion.
The inspiration of Superintendency is supposed to be such a divine control over the sacred Penmen, as left all their rational powers in their natural state: but yet constantly preserved them from writing any thing false or absurd.
The inspiration of Elevation is supposed to be a certain divine impulse upon the minds of the sacred Wri ters, which warmed their imaginations, and raised all their natural faculties to an unusual degree of vigor and activity.
And there can be no doubt but the inspiration of Suggestion took place, "when the natural faculties of the sacred Penmen were superseded, and God spake directly to their minds, making such discoveries to them, as they could not have otherwise obtained, and dictating the very words in which such discoveries were to be communicated."
It was this last and highest kind of inspiration, which, we suppose, God was pleased to afford those holy men, whom he employed in writing the books of
the Old and New Testament. He not only directed them to write, but, at the same time, suggested what to write; so that according to the literal sense of the text, they wrote exactly as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Now, the truth of this observation will appear, if we consider,
1. It was necessary, that the sacred Penmen should be conscious of divine inspiration, all the while they were writing. It was not sufficient for them barely to know, that they began to write under the influence of the Spirit; but it was equally necessary for them to know, how long the Spirit continued to move upon their minds. For nothing short of a constant realiz ing sense of his motion and direction, could give them full assurance, that what they wrote was the infallible word of God, which they might honestly present to the world, under the sanction of divine authority. must be supposed, therefore, that they were actually conscious of some kind of inspiration, every moment while they were writing. But it is difficult to conceive, how they could be conscious of the inspiration of Superintendency, which suggests neither thoughts nor words. And it is no less difficult to conceive, how they could be conscious of the inspiration of Elevation, which only assists the natural powers of the mind to operate in their natural way. Whereas it is easy to conceive, how they could be conscious of the inspiration of Suggestion. For this must have constantly and powerfully governed all their thoughts and words, just so long as it continued to operate. And whatever they wrote under the immediate and sensible influence of such a divine impulse, they might safely and confidently offer to the world, as a divine revelation. Hence it is natural to conclude, that they enjoyed, and were conscious of enjoying the suggesting influ