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ness and sovereignty of God. The wisdom displayed in the writings of Solomon, corresponds with the exalted character which he bears in scripture ; and far exceeds what in his circumstances he could be supposed to have acquired by natural means. This superiority is acknowledged by a celebrated author, who hath pleaded the cause of infidelity with insidious eloquence. Having quoted these words, « Vanity of vanities ; all is vanity,” as the words of Solomon, he subjoins," If the Ecclesiastes be truly a work of Solomon, and not, like Prior's poem, a pious and moral composition of more recent times, in his name, and on the subject of his repentance. The latter is the opinion of the learned and free-spirited Grotius ; and indeed the Ecclesiastes and the Proverbs display a larger compass of thought and experience than seem to belong either to a Jew or a king."* The suspicion, founded on their intrinsic excellence, that they are the works of some other person of a different rank and nation, is proved to be destitute of any foundation, by the unanimous testimony of past ages ; and as we certainly know that they were written by Solomon, we may convert this concession of an enemy into an argument for their heavenly origin..
| CHAP. VI. Proofs of the Inspiration of the Scriptures in
s ... general. . BESIDES the proofs of the inspiration of the “ scriptures in the preceding chapters, there are
some arguments of a more general nature, which
it would be unwise to overlook, not only because nothing should be omitted, which is calculated to confirm our faith and arm us against the assaults of infidelity ; but because they are sufficient, independently of every other consideration, to be. get a strong conviction in our minds. They turn chiefly on the internal evidences of the divinity of the scriptures, arising from the sentiments contained in them, the spirit which they breathe, and the effects which they produce on the soul of man. Different kinds of evidence affect persons of different dispositions. Some are most pleased with a ch ain of reasoning which bears a resemblance to the demonstrations of science ; while to others, that evidence is more agreeable, which is addressed to the moral principles and feelings of the heart. Some demand external proofs of the truth of reve. lation ; others fix their attention principally on the arguments arising from its genius and tendency, It is by means of both kinds of evidence that we may expect such a persuasion of the inspiration of the scriptures to be produced, as shall rise superior to the sophistry and the sarcasms of unbelievers. The impression which miracles and prophecy have made upon our minds, will become still deeper, when we perceive, that the revelation which they attest, has unequivocal characters of divinity stamped upon it, which shew it to be worthy of all acceptation.
Of the six arguments which I propose to illustrate in this chapter, five are drawn from the scriptures themselves; while the last infers their inspiration from the care which providence hath exercised about them.
I. The inspiration of the scriptures may be proved from their sublimity. .
By terming them sublime, I do not mean that they are written in pompous language. This, indeed, is the idea which some form of sublimity ; but they betray the wretchedness of their taste, and their complete ignorance of the subject. Sublim. ity lies not in the expression, so much as in the sentiment. It is the elevation of the thoughts; and, in every true example of this kind, it is the subject which raises the style, not the style which gives dignity to the subject. A passage may be sublime, which is composed in the most simple and artless manner. No technical forms of composition are employed in the scriptures; no rhetorical flights are introduced; no attempt is made by the writers to communicate splendour or majesty to their discourses, by means of artificial decorations, and yet they as far transcend the highest efforts of human eloquence, as the sky adorned with millions of stars surpasses the puny imitations of it by the ingenuity of mortals. '
When we cast our eyes over the scriptures, we perceive in them an extent and sublimity of conception, which make the works of the boldest and most comprehensive genius appear mean and grovelling. The ideas, held out by the sacred writers, of God and his perfections, of the dependence of all creatures upon him as the Author of their existence, of his power over all nature, the fiercest elements of which yield unresisting obedience to his will, of his universal government, of the designs of his providence, and of the issue of his administrations, are perfectly original, immediately recommend themselves to our reason, and by their magnificence convince us, that it was from a higher
source than reason that they flowed. The unassisted human mind is not capable of thinking so nobly on divine things. We debase the loftiest of all subjects by the meanness of our sentiments, and the flatness and insipidity of our language. A system, therefore, which displays such elevation of thought, and is so agreeable to our best conceptions of God, may well be supposed to have emanated from him. self, who alone can enable the stammering tongues of mortals to speak of him in a manner worthy of his infinite dignity.
If we turn our attention to particular instances of sublimity, they are so numerous, that it is difficult to make a selection. Can any thing be more sublime than the account of the creation given by Moses? There is no attempt made to astonish the imagination by an elaborate description; but if I may speak so, Omnipotence is exhibited to our view naked and unadorned. The Almighty speaks, and it is done ; he commands, and it stands fast. God said, “ Let there be light, and there was light."* A heathen writer hath quoted this passage, as an instance of the sublime ; and I will venture to aşsert, that a more noble example of it could not have been furnished by all the poets, historians, and orators, whose writings he had perused.t What can be compared with the followitg description of the power of God over the universe ? “ Who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospe red ? which removeth the mountains, and they know not? which overturneth them in his anger; which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars
* Gen. i. 3.
† Vid. Longin. de Sublimitate, Sect. ix.
thereof tremble : which commandeth the sun and it shineth not, and sealeth up the stars ; which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea ; which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south; which doth great things past finding out, yea, and wonders without number."* Nothing can be conceived more calculated to fill our minds with astonishment and awe, than this representation of the greatness of Jehovah: “Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand ? and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance ? Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding? Behold the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance : behold he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt-offering. All nation's before him are as nothing, and they are counted to him less than nothing and vanity. It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers ; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in ; that bringeth the princes to noug ht; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.”+ In all these instances the language is
ob. ix. 4
Isa. xl. 12-17. 22, 23.