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the new Testament, together with the old Testament, was always received by Christians as the revealed word of God.
To this we may add the testimony of the holy Spirit.
There are many things in these sacred writ- . ings foretold, which history assures us, are long since accomplished ; many prophecies in the old Testament were fulfilled long before the gospel was revealed to us; many predictions were verified by the gospel, and many things foreshewn in the gospel, have sizce come to pass : and some more, it is still expected by the faithful, will be fully accomplished in due time.
But, says the deist, how am I to be assured of the truth of all this? It is a sufficient answer to him, that we have as great certainty of their truth, as we have of the truth of any other history. He might say, with as much propriety, he will not believe there were such persons as Oliver Cromwel, or Queen Elizabeth, because he fears he may be imposed upon. And, if he should say so, would you not think him destitute of common sense ?* Why then should
* None can demonstrate to me, that there is such an island in America as Jamaica; yet, upon the testimony of credible persons, and authors who have written of it, I am as free from all doubt concerning it, as from doubting of the clearest mathematical demonstration. So that this is to be entertained as a firm principle, by all those who pretend to be certain of any thing at all, that when any thing is proved by as good arguments as that thing is capable of, and we have as great assurance that it is, as we could possibly have supposing it were, we ought not in reason to make any doubt of The existence of that thing.
we scruple to give our assent to the sacred writings, upon as good evidence as we liave for the truth of any other history?
Indeed, we have a stronger evidence in their favour, than we have for the truth of any other writings; since it has not been in the power of any man, no not even their greatest enemies, from the day they were first published to this very day, to prove one single fact to be erroneous or false : and we have profane history to testify, that those memorable events which are recorded in the sacred scriptures, did not happen in a corner, but were well known to all the world. This is what I mean by the testimony of the holy Spirit; as none but an allseeing God can declare future events. I come now as was proposed, in the
Second place, to shew that the scriptures, by their own intrinsic excellence, confirm their. divinity.
As there never has been any body of laws so admirably contrived to enforce virtue, and discountenance vice, as those contained in the gospel, it is reasonable to conclude that they are undoubtedly a true revelation of the will of God, and are the result of infinite knowledge, and profound wisdom. This will appear more clear, when we take a particular and distinct survey of them.
Thus the doctrines are so pure, so sublime, and spiritual, as plainly to demonstrate, that no human creature could ever reveal them; so mysterious, so perfectly holy, that we must be convinced they never could be the .product of the fallible understanding of a mere man; they are so profound, that the angels of heaven earnestly pry, and desire to look into them.
What a wonderful mystery is the ever blessed Trinity ; the unspotted conception and incarnation of the blessed Jesus; his humbling himself to stoop to the infirmities of human nature; his meritorious passion, suffering, and death upon the cross for lost sinners; his glorious resurrection from the dead, and triumphant ascension into heaven; his future coming to judge the world, when all nations shall be summoned before him to answer for their actions, and receive their just reward ! For God hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness. Acts xvii, 31.
These are things greatly out of the reach of human reason to conceive; and their truth cannot be destroyed by the malice of the devil, their greatest enemy.
Again ; When we examine the practical part of the gospel, and find what precepts it propounds for the government of our lives and actions, we must be more fully convinced of its divinity ; because every precept in it tends to rectify the errors of mankind, and promote their happiness. And is not this worthy of the Divine Being?
The lawgivers of Greece and Rome nerer! laid down any systym of laws equal to those in the new Testament; not even Moses himself
among the Jews. For though the precepts of the Gospel have their foundation in the moral law, or ten commandments, yet they add greater light and dignity to it; they improve morality to a much higher pitch than ever it was taught in any of the academies of Greece, or synagogues of the Jews. It restrains our most inward thoughts, as well as our outward actions.
Solon nor Lycurgus, the lawgivers of Greece; Numa, of Rome; even Moses among the Jews, never taught their disciples that heart-revenge was murder; that a wanton glance was adultery, and that a man might be criminal in his heart without proceeding to the outward act.
But in the gospel, we learn better things. There is not a precept in it but commands virtue, or forbids 'vice, 'even in the least degree imaginable. This will appear very plain to those who make the holy scripture their study; and not only so, but when read with an honest and good heart, it will produce its good effects on their minds and practice.
To conclude this particular, had we not the evidence of miracles to confirm its divinity, yet such is the exalted tendency of its precepts, that that alone is sufficient to convince us, that it came from an infinitely wise and good Being.
Again; If we look into the nature of the rewards and punishments mentioned in scripture, we shall find that they are the most suitable, the most powerful inducements to a rational creature, diligently to practise the duties it commands, and avoid those vices it forbids.
The all-wise and supreme God, who persectly understands the nature and disposition of his creatures, has suited his sanctions the more effectually to work upon the prevailing passions of our nature, the hopes of a most glorious reward, or the fears of an eternity of punisliment.
What can be conceived more enticing and desirable, or more conducive to engage us to the practice of virtue, than the hopes and assurance of a blessed reward in the regions of the blessed ? And what can be a more effectual motive to deter us from sin than the fear and certainty of future punishment with the devil and his angels ?
If any thing can allay the heats and disorders of a distempered soul, it must be the comfortable reliance upon the promises of God in Christ Jesus; and the want of these was the great defect of all religions, 'till the revelation of the gospel. of Christ : therefore St. Paul may well certify us, in the words of the text, that the gospel which he preached was not after mun, for he neither received it of man, neither was he taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
For let any man consider the state of the heathen world. Could they, by the dim light of nature, attain to the knowledge of a future state, and the rewards and punishments consequent upon it ? No they could not. 'Tis true the more knowing sort of them did think that their