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' sets infidelity at defiance. Either these four
men exceeded, in genius and capacity, all other ' writers who ever lived; or they wrote under the
guidance of divine inspiration : for, without la'bour or affectation they have performed what has * baffled all others, who have set themselves. pur' posely to accomplish it." This is a fact which cannot be denied. No perfect character is eisewhere delineated, and probably no mere man could have drawn, or even thought of such a character as that of Jesus. And this, I apprehend, with the entire agreement of the four Evangelists respecting it, demonstrates that they wrote under: the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
It has often been observed, that Satan would? never have influenced men to write the Bible; for then he would have been “ divided against him“ self:” wicked men would not have penned a book, which so awfully condemns their whole conduct: and good men would never have ascribed their own inventions to divine inspiration; especially as such forgeries are most severely reprobated in every part of it.--But indeed; it is a work as much exceeding every effort of mere man, as the sun surpasses those scanty. illuminations, by which his splendour is imitated, or his absence : supplied.
VII. The actual effects produced by the ScripThe author's Answer to Paine's Age of Reason, Vol. III p. 441.
tutës evince their divine original. These are indeed far from being equal to their tendency; because, through human depravity, the gospel is not generally or fully believed and obeyed: yet they are very considerable; and we may assert that even at present there are many thousands, who have been reclaimed from a profane and immoral life, to sobriety, equity, truth, and piety, and to a good behaviour in relative life, by attending to the sacred Scriptures. Having been “made “ free from sin, and become the servants of God,
they have their fruit unto holiness ;” and after “patiently continuing in well doing,” and cheerfully bearing various afflictions, they joyfully meet death, being supported by the hope of “ eternal “ life as the gift of God through Jesus Christ:” whilst they, who best know them, are most convinced, that they have been rendered wiser, holier, and happier, by believing the Bible; and that there is a reality in religion, though various interests and passions may keep them from duly embracing it. There are indeed enthusiasts; but they become such, by forsaking the old rule of faith and duty, for some new fancy: and there are hypocrites; but they attest the reality and excellency of religion, by deeming it worth their while to counterfeit it.
VIII. Brevity is so connected with fulness in the Scriptures, that they are a treasure of divine
knowledge which can never be exhausted. The things, which are absolutely necessary to salvation, are few, simple, and obvious to the meanest capacity, provided it be accompanied with a humble teachable disposition: but the most learned, acute, and diligent student cannot, in the longest life, obtain an entire knowledge of this one volume. The deeper he works the mine, the richer and more abundant he finds the ore; new light continually beams from this source of heavenly knowledge, to direct his conduct, and illustrate the works of God and the ways of men; and he will at last leave the world confessing, that the more he studied the Scriptures, the fuller conviction he had of his own ignorance and of their inestimable value.
IX. Lastly, “ He that believeth hath the wit“ ness in himself.” The discoveries which he has made by the light of the Scripture; the experience he has had, that the Lord fulfils its promises to those who trust in them; the abiding effects produced by attending to it, on his own judgment, dispositions, and affections; and the earnests of heaven which he has enjoyed in commụnion with God, put the matter beyond all doubt. And though many believers are not qua-, lified to dispute against infidels, they are enabled, through this inward testimony, to obey, and suffer for the gospel: and they can no more be con:
vinced by reasonings and objections, that men invented the Bible, than they can be persuaded that men created the sun, while they behold its light and are cheered by its beams.
And now, if an objector could fully invalidate one half, or two thirds, of these arguments, (to which many more might easily be added,) the remainder would be abundantly sufficient. Nay, perhaps any one of them so far decides the ques. . tion, that were there no other proof of the Bible being the word of God, a man could not reject it, without acting in opposition to those dictates of common sense, which direct bis conduct in his secular affairs. But in reality, I have a confidence that not one of these proofs can be fairly answered; at least it has never yet been done: and the combined force of the whole is so great, that the objections, by which men cavil against the truth, only resemble the foaming waves dashing against the deep-rooted rock, which has for ages defied their unavailing fury.
Yet though these can effect nothing more, they may beat off the poor shipwrecked mariner, who was about to ascend it, in hopes of deliverance from impending destruction.
The consequences of our present conduct are, according to the Bible, so momentous, that if there were only a bare possibility of the truth of the Scriptures, it would be madness to run the risk of rejecting them, for the sake of gaining the
whole world: what then is it, when we have such unanswerable demonstrations that they are the word of God and cannot reasonably doubt of it for a moment, to disobey the commands and neglect the salvation revealed in it, for the veriest trifle that can be proposed ? Especially as it may be shewn, that (besides the eternal consequences) the firm belief of the scriptures, and that conscientious obedience which true faith always produces, will render a man happier in this present life, even amidst trials and self-denying services, than he could be made by all the pomp, pleasure,
, wealth, power, and honour, which the world can bestow.