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endowments conferred on those Jewish believers. An impostor, pretending to be furnished with the power of working miracles; might impose upon a staring, ignorant multitude; by some juggling tricks ; but if he should tell the same multitude, credulous and undiscerning as they are, that he had imparted that power to them, every man's consciousness would give the lie to the pretence. Finding, then, that Paul speaks to the members of some christian churches as possessing, and exercising, and even, in some instances, abusing supernatural gifts; and that his epistles were, notwithstanding such language, received not only as the letters of a man in his senses, but as divinely inspired, we have the most complete evidence, that such extraordinary powers were really enjoyed. Had the Corinthians, or the Galatians known, that the gift of miracles or of tongues had been communicated to no person in their societies, they would have treated him and his writings with derision. But now it being manifest that miraculous gifts were common in the primitive church, we perceive a good reason, why the writings of the apostles were then received, and should still be regarded by us, as divine. There cannot be a surer evidence that a person is invested with a commission from heaven, or a clearer attestation of the truth and authority of his instructions, than his being empowered to communicate to his adherents the same supernatural qualifications, which have been bestowed on himself. The miraculous gifts were imparted by the ministry of the apostles; and were express testimonies, therefore, that their doctrine, whether spoken or written, was from God. They followed the reception of the gospel, preached
by these ambassadors of Christ ; and were usually given by the imposition of their hands.* . By this, and the preceding argument, we are furnished with the most decisive evidence, that the christian scriptures, at the time when they were published, were recognised by God as exhibiting a revelation of his will ; and in submitting to them, therefore, as the rule of our faith, we follow no cunningly devised fable.
THE arguments, in the last chapter, respected the external evidence of the inspiration of the New Testament. In this chapter, I shall consider the internal proof of the same point, which may be collected from its contents. And, surely, it is no less manifest, that a book hath been drawn up by supernatural assistance, when its sentiments and composition transcend the known abilities of the writer, and are eyen superior to every thing human, than when such - works are performed by him as shew, that he enjoys the presence, and acts by the authority of God.
III. The books of the New Testament could not have contained such things as they do contain, if the writers had not been inspired. We appeal to the writings themselves for evidence that they are not, and could not be the productions of the persons, to whom they are ascribed, nor indeed of any mortal whatever. The argument for their inspiration, des
: * Acts viïi. 14-17. xix. 6.
rived from their matter, comprehends these particulars,—the character of Christ,—the system of doctrine,-and the prophecies found in them.
1. The character of Christ, drawn by the writers of the New Testament, may be considered in the first place.
To us who have been accustomed to read and hear descriptions of it from our earliest years, his character is perfectly familiar ; and on that account makes a less powerful impression on our minds. But let us suppose a man, for the first time, to open the New Testament, and peruse the account given of our Saviour by the evangelists. It is beyond doubt, that he would be filled with astonishment at a character so different from all that he had ever witnessed, all that he had ever heard of, all that the human imagination, so fertile in forming new combinations, had ever portrayed. The idea of an incarnate God would strongly excite his attention ; and while, with a mixture of curiosity and awe, he contemplated an object at once so new and so grand, he would be surprised and pleased at the manner in which he is described. Had the character of Christ been a fiction of the sacred writers, a creature of their own fancy, they would have debased his divinity by attributing to him the passions and culpable weaknesses of mortals ; or they would have exalted his human nature too high by majestic and overpowering displays of his divinity. It would have been impossible for them to avoid either of these extremes. They would have been afraid, on the one hand, of rendering the truth of his godhead suspected, if they had assigned to him any of the peculiar properties of man ; and, on
the other, of giving ground to call in question his humanity, if they had represented him as possessed of the peculiar attributes of God. There was a difficulty in the case, from which the greatest dexterity could not have extricated them. But there is this singularity in his character, as drawn by the evangelists, that, while he is elevated above all men by the uniform dignity of his behaviour, the wisdom of his discourses, and his miracles, which shewed that all nature was obedient to his will; he is, at the same time exhibited as subject to the sinless infirmities of our nature, and influenced by its innocent passions. We see the unexpected and most cordial union of majesty and condescension, of the grandeur of a God, and the mild virtues and tender affections of a man. Such a character commands at once our reverence and our love, our homage and our confidence ; and is exactly suited to the idea of a person, who unites in himself two natures so different as the divine and the human. And the character is supported throughout in a great diversity of scenes, and on the most trying occasions, insomuch that, in whatever point of view we contemplate it, we perceive the most perfect accordance of all its parts.
While we necessarily admire this character, let us remember that it was drawn by persons confessedly illiterate ; by men of ordinary talents, who had never, it is probable, read any book but the Old Testament, and were perfectly ignorant of the art of composition. Whence, then, did they succeed so well in giving a description of an incarnate God; while, I will venture to assert, the most inventive and eloquent genius, if he had made the attempt, with no other assistance than what imagination supplied,. would have missed the happy medium, and have elevated him too high, or depressed him too low? How did they ever think of such a character at all, of which no model, nor even the faintest resemblance could be found in the history of mankind ? I know of only one answer to these questions, namely, that they actually saw such a character ; or, that Jesus Christ really appeared, and was such a person as they represent him to have been. As the very uncommon portrait, which they have drawn, is certain.' ly not a likeness of any individual, who lived in a former age, and possesses such features as convince us, that it could not be the work of fancy, we infer that they painted from the life.*
If, then, there was such a person as Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God in human nature, it may be confidently inferred, that his apostles were inspired, not only because he was able to give, but because he expressly promised to give them, the Holy Ghost. He who admits in general the account of our Saviour's life and character to be true, must, from a regard to consistency, admit the whole of it, and by consequence the promise of the mission of the Spirit, made to his disciples. Few, I believe, who allow the truth of the history, will dispute this inference from it; and, if we give credit to the evangelists in detailing the character of their Master, no reason can be assigned for calling in question their veracity, when they relate any of his sayings. It
* If it should be said, that they borrowed their ideas of his character from the Old Testament, it might be answered, that nothing is more improbable, than that their notions of the Messiah should have been so different from those of their countrymen, who read the same scriptures; and after all, the question would recur, From what source were the ideas of the writers of the Old Testament derived ?