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enables us to account for those divine revelation, to what conduct events which have appeared inex- would it lead them, and what would plicable to men in every age and be the effect on society? Surely the more carefully any one watches repentance, and renunciation of all and scrutinizes all the motives, in-vice and immorality, when connecttentions, imaginations, and desires ed with the spiritual worship of God of his heart, for a length of time; in his ordinances, faith in his mercy the clearer will it appear to him, and truth, through the mediation of that the penmen of the Scriptures his Son, and all the fruits of the give a far more just account of his Holy Spirit, as visible in the lives disposition and character, than he of every true believer, would form could have done of himself. In such characters, and produce such short, man is such a being, and the effects, as the world hath never yet world is in such a state, as they witnessed! Men would then unihave described: yet multiplied versally do justice, speak truth, facts, constant observation, and re-show mercy, exercise mutual foriterated experience, are insufficient giveness, follow after peace, bridle to convince us of it, till we first their appetites and passions, and learn it from the Bible: and then lead a sober, righteous, and godly comparing all that passes within life. Murders, wars, bitter contenand around us, with what we there tions, cruel oppressions, and unreread, we become more and more strained licentiousness, would no acquainted with our own hearts, more desolate the world, and fill it and established in the belief of its with misery; but righteousness, divine original. goodness, and truth, would bless
The mysteries contained in Scrip- the earth with a felicity exceeding ture rather confirm than invalidate all our present conceptions. This this conclusion: for a pretended is, no doubt, the direct tendency of revelation without mystery would the Scripture doctrines, precepts, confute itself. Incomprehensibility motives, and promises; nothing is is inseparable from God, and all his wanting to remedy the state of the works, even as low as the growth world, and fit men for the worship of a blade of grass; the mysteries and felicity of heaven, but that they of the Scriptures are sublime, inter- should believe and obey the Scripesting, and useful: they display the tures: and if many enormous crimes divine perfections, lay a foundation have been committed under colour for our hope, and inculcate humility, of zeal for Christianity, that only reverence, love, and gratitude. What proves the depravity of man's heart: is incomprehensible must be mys- for the Scripture, soberly underterious; but it may be intelligible stood, most expressly forbids such as far as revealed; and though it practices; and men do not act thus connect with things above our rea- because they duly regard it, but son, it may imply nothing contrary because they will not believe and to it. So that, in all respects, the obey it. contents of the Bible are suited to convince the serious inquirer, that it is the word of God.
The tendency of these principles is exhibited in the characters there delineated, whilst the consistency
VI. The tendency of the Scrip- between the truths and precepts of ture constitutes another proof of Scripture, and the actions of men this. Put the case, that all men recorded in it, implies another arbelieved and obeyed the Bible as a gument of its divine original. Un
godly men are characterized, and elsewhere delineated; and probably their actions are recited, according no mere man could have drawn one; to the abstract account given of no person would have thought of human nature; and believers are such a character as that of Jesus, represented as conducting them- yet no flaw or fault can be found in selves exactly in that manner, which it: this alone, I apprehend, and the principles of the Bible might their entire consistency in this rehave led us to expect. They had spect with each other, proves, that like passions with other men; but they wrote under the guidance of they were habitually restrained and the Holy Spirit.
regulated by the fear and love of It hath often been observed, that God, and other holy affections: Satan would never have influenced their general conduct was good, but men to write the Bible; for then not perfect; and sometimes their he would have been divided against natural proneness to evil broke out, himself; wicked men would not and made way for bitter repentance have penned a book, which so awfuland deeper humiliation; so that they ly condemned their whole conduct; appear constantly to have perceived and good men would never have their need of forgiveness and divine ascribed their own inventions to assistance; to have expected their divine inspiration; especially as felicity from the rich mercy of God; such forgeries are most severely reand instead of abusing that consi- probated in every part of it. But, deration, to have thence deduced indeed, it is a work as much exceedmotives for gratitude, zeal, patience, ing every effort of mere man, as meekness, and love to mankind. the sun surpasses those scanty illuBut one character is exhibited in minations by which his splendour is the simplest and most unaffected imitated, or his absence supplied. manner, which is perfection itself. VII. The actual effects produced Philosophers, orators, and poets, in by the Scriptures, evince their divine their several ways, have bestowed original. These are indeed far from immense pains to describe the cha- being equal to their tendency; beracter of some men, in such a man-cause, through human depravity, that no fault could be found in the gospel is not generally believed it and they have given us com- and obeyed; yet they are very conplete models of their own estimate siderable; and we may assert, that of excellency, and sufficient proof even at present, there are many that they laboured the point to the thousands, who have been reclaimed utmost of their ability. But the from a profane and immoral life, to four evangelists, whose divine in-sobriety, equity, truth, and piety, spiration is now frequently doubted and a good behaviour in relative on the most frivolous pretences, life, by attending to the sacred without seeming to think of it, have Scriptures. Having been "made done that which all other writers free from sin, and become the serhave failed in. They have shown vants of God, they have their fruit us a perfect character, by simply unto holiness;" and after patiently relating the words and actions of continuing in well doing, and cheerChrist; without making any com-fully bearing various afflictions, they ment on them, or showing the least joyfully meet death, being supported ingenuity in the arrangement of by the hope of eternal life, as the them. This is a fact which cannot gift of God through Jesus Christ:" be denied; no perfect character is whilst they, who best know them,
are most convinced, that they have all doubt: and though many bebeen rendered wiser, holier, and lievers are not qualified to dispute happier, by believing the Bible; against infidels, they are enabled, and that there is a reality in reli- through this inward testimony, to gion, though various interests and obey and suffer for the gospel; and passions keep them from duly em- they can no more be convinced by bracing it. There are indeed en- reasonings and objections, that men thusiasts also; but they become so, invented the Bible, than they can by forsaking the old rule of faith be persuaded that men created the and duty, for some new fancy: and sun, whose light they behold, and there are hypocrites; but they at- by whose beams they are cheered. test the reality and excellency of And now, if an objector could fully religion, by deeming it worth their invalidate one half, or two thirds of while to counterfeit it. these arguments (to which many VIII. Brevity is so connected more might easily be added), the with fulness in the Scriptures, that remainder would be abundantly sufthey are a treasure of divine know- ficient; nay, perhaps, any one of ledge, which can never be exhaust- them so far decides the question, ed. The things that are absolutely that were there no more proof of necessary to salvation are few, sim- the Bible's being the word of God, ple, and obvious to the meanest ca- a man could not reject it, without pacity, provided it be attended by acting contrary to those dictates of an humble, teachable disposition: common sense, which direct_his but the most learned, acute, and di- conduct in his secular affairs. But, ligent student, cannot in the longest in reality, I have a confidence that life obtain an entire knowledge of not one of them can be fairly anthis one volume. The deeper he swered; at least it has never yet works the mine, the richer and more been done: and the combined force abundant he finds the ore; new light of the whole is so great, that the continually beams from this source objections by which men cavil of heavenly knowledge, to direct his against the truth, only resemble conduct, and illustrate the works of the foaming waves dashing against God, and the ways of men; and he the deep rooted rock, which hath will at last leave the world confess- for ages defied their unavailing fury. ing, that the more he studied the But though these can effect nothing Scriptures, the greater sense he had more, they may beat off the poor of his own ignorance and of their shipwrecked mariner, who was about inestimable value. to ascend it, in hopes of deliverance
Lastly. "He that believeth hath from impending destruction. the witness in himself." The dis- The consequences of our present coveries which he hath made by conduct, according to the Scriptures, the light of the Scripture; the ex-are so vast, that if there were only perience he hath had that the Lord a bare possibility of their truth, it fulfils its promises to those who would be madness to run the risk trust in them; the abiding effects of rejecting them, for the sake of produced by attending to it, on his gaining the whole world. What judgment, dispositions, and affec- then is it, when we have such untions; and the earnests of heaven answerable demonstrations, that enjoyed by him in communion with they are the word of God, and canGod, according to the way re- not reasonably doubt of it for a vealed in it, put the matter beyond moment, to disobey the commands,
On the Importance of Revealed Truth; the Duty of Reading the Scriptures,
and neglect the salvation revealed much more intelligibly, if any such in it, for the veriest trifle that can distinction be deemed necessary. be proposed to us? Especially as it This, however, is obvious, that may be shown, that (besides the eter- many truths and precepts which nal consequences) the firm belief of, are found in the Bible, have been and conscientious obedience to the maintained by persons who were Scriptures, will render a man hap- ignorant of, or rejected that divine pier in this present life, even amidst revelation, or who chose not to own trials and self-denying services, than their obligations to it: and many any other man can be made, by all others, professing to receive the the pomp, pleasure, wealth, power, Scriptures as the word of God, asand honour, which the world can sent to some truths contained in bestow on him! them, not so much because they are revealed, as because they think that they may be proved by other arguments: whereas they reject, trines which are not thus evident neglect, or explain away those docto their own reason, or level with and the Manner in which it should be performed. their capacities. So that at last it comes to this, that they discard all As the Bible may be unanswerably that is deemed peculiar to revelaproved to be the word of God, we tion; and refuse to believe the tesshould reason from it as from self-timony of God, if reason will not evident principles, or demonstrated vouch for the truth of what he says. axioms; for " his testimony is sure, It may indeed be questioned, and giveth wisdom to the simple." whether those opinions which men Many parts of Scripture accord so confidently magnify as the oracles so well with the conclusions of our of reason, were not originally, withrational powers, when duly exer- out exception, borrowed from revecised, that either they might have lation, as far as there is any truth been known without revelation, or in them: and it is evident that they else men have mistaken the capa- cannot possess sufficient certainty, city of perceiving truth, for that of clearness, and authority to render discovering it. Hence various con- them efficacious principles of action, troversies have arisen about" natu- except as they are enforced by reral religion," which many suppose velation, and its awful sanctions. to be rather taken for granted, than And the wildest enthusiast never made known by revelation. But dreamed of a grosser absurdity, the term is ambiguous: for the than they maintain who suppose word natural includes the propen- that the only wise God hath given sities of our hearts, as well as the a revelation to man, confirmed by powers of our understandings; and miracles and prophecies, and estathe same truths which accord to blished in the world by the labours the latter, are often totally opposite and sufferings of his servants, and to the former: the Gentiles might the crucifixion of his well-beloved have known many things concern- Son; and that this revelation at ing God and his will, if they had last is found to contain nothing, but "liked to retain Him in their know-what we might have known as well ledge." So that "the religion of without it! Nay, that it is exwould express the idea pressed in such language, as hath
given occasion to those who have consequence what men believe, esmost implicitly believed and reve-pecially concerning those things rentially obeyed it, to maintain which are in any degree mystesentiments and adopt practices rious; and that none but narrow erroneous and evil in themselves, bigots and weak and ignorant people and of fatal consequence to man-lay any stress upon speculative opikind! nions. "He that believeth not,
We might therefore, a priori, have maketh God a liar," especially he expected, that a revelation from God that believeth not the testimony should illustrate, confirm, and en- which God hath given of his Son, force such things as seem more level and of eternal life bestowed on sinto our natural powers; and that it ners through him, (John iii. 12should make known to us many im- 21; 31-36; 1 John v. 9-12). portant matters, which we could This is the uniform doctrine of not have otherwise discovered, and Scripture; and to contradict it is which would be found exceedingly equivalent to a total rejection of different from our previous notions divine revelation. Can it be supand imaginations: seeing that our posed, that the prophets and aposcontracted views and limited capaci-tles were commissioned; and that ties are infinitely distant from the the Son of God was manifested in omniscience of God. So that it is the flesh, died on the cross, and rose most reasonable to conclude, that the from the dead, merely to inform doctrinal truths which more imme- mankind, that the Lord approved diately relate to the Divine nature, honesty, temperance, truth, and perfections, providence, and govern- kindness, and disapproved the conment; the invisible and eternal trary vices? Or that the unnumworld; and the mysteries of re-bered testimonies which the Scripdemption, &c., constitute by far tures contain, to the mysteries of the most important part of revela- the Divine Nature, the Person of tion; as discovering to us such the Redeemer, and the work of things" as no eye hath seen, nor redemption, &c., may, without any ear heard, neither have they ever criminality, be disbelieved, derided, entered into the heart of man to or reviled; provided men are moral conceive;" and yet they are essen- in their conduct towards one antially connected with our present other? Or that God is equally hope, worship, and duty, and with pleased with those that thus affront our future happiness or misery. his veracity, as with them who im
He therefore cannot, according plicitly submit to his teaching, and to the common use of language, be credit his testimony? If this be called a believer, who only holds the case, in what does the differthose doctrines which he deems the ence between the infidel and the dictates of reason, as well as of believer consist? All, except avowed revelation; whilst he rejects the atheists, will allow the propriety of testimony of God, whenever he many precepts, and the truth of deems it unreasonable: and we may some doctrines, coinciding with hence learn what judgment to form those contained in Scripture: but of those who affirm, without hesita- the infidel admits them as the diction, that the moral precepts and tates of reason, not as the testimony sanctions, with the more evident of God; and the pretended believer truths of the Bible, are the only im- rejects all, without hesitation, that portant part of it; that it is of little appears not to accord with the same