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carefully any one watches and scrutinizes all the motives, intentions, imaginations, and desires of his own heart, for a length of time; the clearer will it appear to him, that the scriptures give a far more just account of his disposition and character, than he himself could have done. In short, it is capable of the fullest proof, that man is such a being, and the world in such a state, as the Bible describes : yet multiplied facts, constant observation, and reiterated experience, are insufficient to convince us of it, till we first learn it from these ancient records; and then, comparing all that passes within and around us, with what we there read, we become more and more acquainted with our own hearts, and established in the belief of the divine origin of the Bible.
The mysteries contained in scripture rather confirm than invalidate this conclusion: for a pretended revelation without mystery would confute itself. Incomprehensibility is inseparable from God, and from all his works, even the most inconsiderable; as the growth of a blade of grass. The mysteries of the scriptures are sublime, interesting, and useful : they display the divine perfections ; lay a foundation for our hope ; and inculcate humility, reverence, love, and gratitude. What is incomprehensible must be mysterious ; but it may be intelligible as far as revealed : and, though it be connected with things above our reason, it may imply nothing contrary to it. So that, in all respects, the contents of the Bible are suited to convince the serious enquirer, that it is the word of God.
VI. The tendency of the scriptures constitutes another unanswerable proof. Did all men believe and obey the Bible as a divine revelation, to what conduct would it lead them ? and what would be the effect on society ? Surely, repentance and renunciation of all vice and immorality, joined with the spiritual worship of God in his ordinances, faith in his mercy and truth through the mediation of his Son, and all the fruits of the Holy Spirit, as visible in the life of every true believer, would form such characters, and produce such effects, as the world has never yet witnessed. Men would then universally do justice, speak truth, shew mercy, exercise mutual forgiveness, follow after peace, bridle their appetites and passions, and lead sober, righteous, and godly lives. Murders, wars, bitter contentions, cruel oppressions, and unrestrained licentiousness, would no more desolate the world, and fill it with misery; but righteousness, goodness, and truth would bless the earth with a felicity exceeding all our present conceptions. This is, no doubt, the direct tendency of the scriptural doctrines, precepts, motives, and promises: nothing is wanting to remedy the state of the world, and to fit men for the worship and felicity of heaven, but that they should believe and obey the Bible. And, if
many enormous crimes have been committed under colour of zeal for Christianity ; this only proves the depravity of man's heart: for the scripture, soberly understood, most expressly forbids such practices ; and men do not act thus, because they duly regard the Bible, but because they will not believe and obey it.
The tendency of these principles is exhibited in the characters there delineated; while the con
sistency between the doctrines and precepts of scripture, and the actions of men recorded in it, implies another argument of its divine origin. The conduct of ungodly men, as there related, entirely accords with the abstract account given of human · nature: and it appears that believers conducted themselves exactly in that manner which the principles of the Bible might have led us to expect. They had “ like passions” with other men ; but they were habitually restrained and regulated by the fear and love of God, and by other holy affections. Their general behaviour was good, but not perfect; and sometimes their natural proneness to evil broke out, and made way for deeper humiliation and bitter repentance : so that they appear constantly to have perceived their need of forgiveness and divine assistance; to have expected their felicity from the rich mercy of God'; and, instead of abusing that consideration, to have deduced from it motives for gratitude, zeal, patience, meekness, and love of mankind.
But one character is exhibited, in the simplest and most unaffected manner, which is perfection itself. Philosophers, orators, and poets, in their several ways, have bestowed immense pains to delineate a faultless character; and they have given us complete models of their own estimate of excellence, and sufficient proof that they laboured the point to the utmost of their ability. But the four evangelists, whose divine inspiration is now frequently doubted on the most frivolous pretences, without seeming to think of it, have done that of which all other writers have failed. They have presented a perfect human character, by recording
facts, without making any comments on them, or shewing the least ingenuity in the arrangement of them. They have given the history of one, whose
spirit, words, and actions were in every particular 'what they ought to be; who always did the very thing that was proper, and in the best manner imaginable; who never once deviated from the ‘most consummate wisdom, purity, benevolence,
compassion, meekness, humility, fortitude, patience, piety, zeal, or any other excellency; and “who in no instance let one virtue or holy dis'position entrench on another, but exercised them ‘all in entire harmony, and exact proportion.' “This subject challenges investigation, and sets in
fidelity at defiance. Either these four men ex'ceeded in genius and capacity all other writers who ever lived; or they wrote under the guidance of divine inspiration ; for without labour or affectation they have performed what has baffled all others, who have set themselves purposely to ac'complish it. This is a fact which cannot be denied. No perfect character is elsewhere delineated; and probably no mere man could have drawn one, or would have 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,
'The Author's answer to Paine's Age of Reason.
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 scriptures evince their divine origin. 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 “ pa
tiently 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;" while those 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 themselves. 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 re