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been justified had he been born in an eastern country. Precisely the same illustration which Beveridge brings to prove, that every one is obliged to examine into the grounds of his faith. Here we have, then, the acknowledgment of learned divines, that it is the duty of every member of the Church of England, to satisfy himself of the antecedents of faith ; that is, by his own personal examination, to satisfy himself, that the books proposed to him—that the books of Scripture-are really genuine productions of the authors whose names they bear; and that they have a right to enter into the canon of Scripture ; and they have acknowledged for this purpose, that a very long, and elaborate, and difficult disquisition is necessary, to examine them one by one, to review the claims of other books; and it is only by bringing an incon. testable chain of evidence in favour of each, that they can be satisfied of its genuineness and authenticity.
But this is an inferior and secondary preliminary, compared with the great inquiry as to the inspiration of the Scriptures. The Scriptures, the word of God, is inspired ; that is the common, the ordinary belief the true belief. But upon what grounds is this proved ? Is it a matter which demonstrates itself at once intuitively? If you wish to satisfy yourselves upon this point, take up the writings of any one of those authors who have entered upon the proofs of inspiration, and you will be astonished to find, the extreme difficulty they have in bringing any argument which would be satisfactory to an unbeliever. I will venture to say, that after having perused, with great attention and care, all that have fallen in my way by Protestant writers of eminence, on the subject of inspiration, I have not yet found one single argument which is not logically incorrect. I have not found one which, if I had not been convinced of inspiration upon better and higher grounds, that would have possibly led me to believe in it.
There are two classes of arguments only, whereby this can be demonstrated :-internal arguments from the book itself; external arguments from the testimony of others.
Internal arguments from the book itself. It is not fair to consider the sacred volume upon the principle-supposing individual examination -as composed of a whole. Each book must stand on different grounds from the other. To give you an instance: Learned Protestant divines, especially on the Continent, have excluded from the privilege of inspiration the writings of St. Luke and St. Mark, for this reason, that they say there are no grounds for inspiration in the Scriptures themselves, except the promise of divine assistance to the apostles; but these two were not apostles; they were not present when the promise was made. And if you extend this promise beyond the individuals present—beyond the apostles to whom it was immediately addressed-you have no further limitation; for if you allow them to go to the first successors
of the apostles, how will you prevent them stretching to the second, to the tbird, and consequently, to their latest successors? Therefore, if any arguments can be drawn for inspiration, internally so, from the characters of the individuals that produced the books, it is evident, that the different characters of the different writers must place the arguments regarding it on many different grounds, and each of them must proceed from individual examination--an examination surrounded with complicated difficulties. For, I would ask you, for instance, how you would demonstrate (I will not speak now of the books of the Old Testament, I will take that for granted, from the historical evidence, that our Saviour and his apostles received them, as sufficient to satisfy you with regard to them; but Christians are more particularly interested in the New Testament), how you would demonstrate, from internal facts, the inspiration of the second and third epistles of St. John, finding in them neither a prophecy, or any thing which could not bave been written by a very holy and pious man, without any aid whatsoever from inspiration. In some, indeed, of the epistles of St. Paul, you will find it exceedingly difficult to discover passages so decidedly proving a divine assistance in him who wrote them, as to satisfy you that they were inspired.
Now you must first of all have evidence, therefore, not merely that these epistles, for instance, were genuine, that they belong to the canon
—for the difficulty of that inquiry I have already shown you—but you must be made satisfied, also, that whatever St. Paul did write, whatever St. John did write, in any epistle whatsoever, that by the act of the writing it became a book of Scripture. Now we know there can be no doubt of it-in the first place, from passages in the epistles themselves, that some written by St. Paul were lost; and this is admitted by many very learned divines; and though disputed, perhaps, by some, as for instance, I believe, by the divine I quoted just now, Jeremiah Jones — though disputed by some, yet the admission by one shows that the rule cannot be admitted : so that the admission by any Protestant, or learned man, that a part of the epistles written by the apostles, is lost, is equivalent to a proof, that the very act of an apostle writing an epistle did not constitute inspiration, otherwise we should have lost a part of the inspired volume, otherwise our code would be imperfect, and the Scripture would not constitute all the code which God has inspired for the instruction of man.
Now, the difficulties, you must see, are very great, if you come to the internal, individual argument; and we are obliged, therefore, to have recourse to external testimony, and this, in short, is the ground upon which we must stand. But I will, before closing my remarks on the former method, just make one short observation, and that is, regarding an author whose name, perhaps, I shall have occasion to introduce, not
from any particular feeling, but simply because his works upon Scripture are the most popular, the most extensive, the most generally known in this country; and consequently, he may be fairly supposed to be considered, a tolerably safe guide by the thousands wbo trust in him. Mr. T. H. Horne, in his Introduction to the study of the Scriptures, has a very long, and a very elaborate chapter, entitled, “On the Inspi. ration of Scripture ;" and in it be proposes to demonstrate, the inspiration of the New Testament. What is the sum of all his arguments ? That true miracles are recorded in Scripture. True miracles are recorded in the writings of Josephus, for he relates the very miracles of the Old Testament. True miracles are recorded in Ecclesiastical History, and yet it is not proved, therefore, to be inspired. This rea. soning is by him enveloped in very considerable complication in sections, so that it is not easy, at the end, to discover the line of argument which conducts him through it; but as he does sum it up in the end, so it is manifest, that the wbole of his argument rests upon this--that the "Scripture contains true miracles, and therefore it is inspired. I leave it to yourselves to judge, how that can be considered a very satisfactory conclusion. The way would be to show you, that those persons who wrote these books, wrought miracles ; and not only so, not only that they wrought these miracles, but also, that they said that they were inspired ; and then you have a complete argument, because God works miracles to support their assertions. Give me the sanction of God's authority for what they say; and if they say they are inspired, then I must take it on their word, and I am satisfied with the argument. But show me a single passage in St. Paul, in St. Matthew, or in St. Mark, or in St. Luke, or even in St. John, in which they say they have written these words under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, or by the command of God, or from any other but human and secondary purposes. Unless you can show this, the evidence to their characters may prove that their accounts are true; may prove that all they have written is correct; but it will never prove the guidance of the Holy Ghost : and I will explain to you more clearly why.
I say you must have recourse, therefore, to outward authority; that is to say, to the testimony of man. But how is this testimony to be obtained ? Here, again, there is considerable confusion occasionally introduced by writers on this subjeet. In the first place, there is a great difference between testimony to external, and testimony to internal facts. We require a very different chain, connecting the fact with the convic. tion of our minds, in the one case and in the other; that is to say, that St. Mark, that St. Matthew, that St. John wrote the gospels; that the gospels which they wrote are precisely those which now bear their names, was an open and a public fact, as much known to the individuals about them, as that such an architect erected such a building, and such
a well-known popular author published a certain book; and, therefore, for the writings of these men, I want no more authority than wbat I want for those of any profane author. I want nothing more than the notoriety, at the time they published their works, that they were the authors; and contemporary history, and historical literature tell me so. I believe it, because I believe, that in every ordinary instance, if you come to examine the grounds on which we receive the works of the ancients, you will find, that were any persons interested in denying them, they could deny them with more force than they could deny the New Testament. The infidel who would deny they were the books of those whose names they bear, upon the ground of there being no evidence of it till twenty or thirty years after, is answered ; because it so happens, that of some of the ancient authors, whose writings we implicitly admit, there is no evidence of their genuineness for even one hundred years, and yet no one doubts it; they are matters of public notoriety. But if you come to satisfy me of what passed in the minds of these authors when they wrote, I do not want, I cannot be satisfied with the argument of public notoriety; I must have the last link established between the farthest relater of the event, and him whose conscience alone can bear witness of the fact. If you tell me that such an architect erected such a building among the ruins of Rome, or if an ancient author tells me so, or if you tell me that such an architect erected this church, I believe you ; it is a fact so notorious, that every child in the city may know it. I do not question, I do not think it matter of inquiry ; but if you come to tell me, that the architect built this church, in consequence of a very peculiar dream he had, at a certain time, suggesting to him the idea of it, I must know if it is worth any thing, if I want to satisfy myself of it; I will not take it for granted; I must know it from him who bas erected it, and who is the person alone who can give testimony to the fact. You may believe who is the author of a book who published it, because it is public; but when you come to establish it by the extraordinary evidence of inspiration--that is, upon the fact of an internal secret communication which passed between the innermost soul of that man and the Holy Ghost~I want a link which will connect the historical chain with him whose conscience alone can afford the evidence.
Now, if you will examine the external evidence in favour of this inspiration of Scripture, you will find what has been authority with the church; but you will not find one announcement-not one-not in any case, in the whole book, of any individual whatever, telling you, that such a writer of that book said he was inspired. It is thus, therefore, that I want, to the external evidence of inspiration, that last link to which I have alluded.
Now, therefore, brethren, hitherto of what have I been treating? Of
nothing more than the preliminaries to being able to commence the study of Protestantism on its rule of faith. I have merely been laying before you some of the obstacles to even getting into your possession that book so authorized to be believed by you as the word of God. Such are the first preliminary difficulties, and yet, as I said before, it is the duty of every Protestant to believe in all that he does profess, because he has individually examined it in the word of God. And if, therefore, it his duty to be satisfied upon its own evidence that it is the word of God; if, in fine, it is necessary for him to go through a long, painful, tedious, a learned, an endless disquisition ; if, after all that disquisition is gone through, he cannot, on the most important point, that of inspiration, come to any satisfactory demonstration of it I ask you, can that rule, to approach which you have to pass so many complicated, and almost insuperable difficulties-can that be the rule which God gave to man, to be the guide and the instruction of the meanest, the poorest, the most illiterate, the most simple of his creatures ?
Such, then, is merely the difficulty of obtaining possession of the rule. But when the rule is obtained, coming now to speak of its application, is it not surrounded with equal, or even with greater difficulties than these?
We are to suppose, then, that God gave his holy word to be the only rule of faith to all men; it must be a rule, therefore, easy to be procured, easy to be understood. God himself must have made the necessary provision, that all men should have the rule, that they should be able to apply it. And what then does he do? He gives us a large volume written chiefly in two languages-one known to a small limited portion of the world only; he allows that language to become a dead tongue, so that innumerable difficulties and obscurities shall spring up regarding the meaning of almost every word used in it; be gives the other, also, in a tongue peculiar to a larger portion of the world, but a very small fragment of it, compared with the extent of those to whom the blessings of Christianity were intended to be communicated. And he gives it us, then, as the satisfactory and sufficient rule. He expects, therefore, in the first place, that it must be translated into all languages, that all men may have access to it; he means, in the second place, that it should be so distributed, that all men should have possession of it; and, in the third place, that it should be so easy that all men can use it. Are these the characteristics of that rule? Do you suppose that it is to be the rule to all men who believe in Christ; that consequently it has to be translated into every language? Now, perhaps you are not aware of the difficulties of this undertaking; you are not aware, that wherever the attempt, almost, has been made, it has in the first instance, failed; that, after repeated attempts, it still has proved unsatisfactory.