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We can never be happy, but as we live in obedience to God: and how can we obey his commands, if we do not take pains to know what they are, from his Own Word?
9. Revelation, then, is to be received as the only guide to heaven. It is, indeed, a pole-star, to direct our course; under whose guidance we may safely pass through the waves of this troublesome world, till we arrive at the haven of eternal rest.
Let us acknowledge, with the deepest gratitude, the goodness of our Heavenly Father, in revealing himself to such unworthy creatures, whom he might have visited with wrathful indignation. The bestowment of so inestimable a gift demands suitable acknowledgments. We shall best discharge our obligations to God, by studying attentively the Sacred Book which he has put into our hands, in order to translate us" from darkness into his marvellous light." In proportion as we are swayed by its sublime truths, we shall advance in wisdom and righteousness; our knowledge of heavenly things will increase; and our hope of future glory be supported by the possession of present peace*.
* Rom. v. 1—6.
ON THE INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES.
2 Timothy iii. 16, 17. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. "To inspire, literally signifies, to breathe upon, or to animate by supernatural infusion." This simple view of its meaning will enable us to ascertain, with greater
precision, in what sense inspiration is to be taken, when used in reference to the Sacred Writings.
By the inspiration of the Sacred Writers, is to be understood that divine influence of the Holy Ghost upon their minds, through which they became acquainted with the will of God, and with doctrines and precepts, which neither they themselves nor others could ever have had any knowledge of by natural means; and, also, such a complete superintendence with regard to those matters of fact which they record on the testimony of credible witnesses, or from their own observation, as to exclude error and misrepresentation from the historical statements contained in their writings. Consequently, the sentiments taught in the Scriptures ought to be implicitly received,as the sure testimony of God, who cannot lie."
Some of those reasons shall now be offered, which have led many of the wisest men, in every age, to submit to the authority of the Bible, as a book divinely inspired for the instruction of the world in righteousness.
1. The evidence arising from miracles furnishes convincing proof, both of the inspiration of the Bible, and of the Divine mission of those by whom they were wrought, who were empowered by God to perform them, in attestation of the truths they were. commanded to teach.
Now, miracles which bear true marks of authenticity, such as those mentioned in Scripture, may be regarded as demonstrative proofs in favour of the revelation which they are intended to support: and as none but á Divine Power is capable of working real miracles, we should consider those which have been performed in confirmation of the Christian Reli* See Douglas's Criterion of Miracles.
gion as so many vouchers to attest the truth: unless we can imagine it to be possible that God would lend his assistance for the establishment of falsehood, which is too impious a thought to be entertained for a single moment. I shall just glance at some of the most eminent miracles recorded in the Word of God. The plagues inflicted upon the Egyptians for refusing to liberate the Israelites from a most grievous bondage'; the destruction of Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea, whilst the chosen people passed safely through, with the waters piled on each side of them; the abundant supply of water from the rock, and of manna every morning for forty years; the pillar of a cloud to guide them by day, and of fire by night; together with various interpositions in behalf of God's people; manifestly prove the Writings of Moses to be genuine, and that he acted under a Divine commission. These miracles were openly performed in the sight of the whole Jewish nation, who were competent witnesses of what they saw, and could never have been persuaded to believe the truth of what appeared doubtful, or had never happened. Besides, Moses appealed to these miracles in confirmation of his authority, as well as the care which God took of his people". But he would not have ventured on this appeal, if they had never been wrought; because the Jews could have so easily confronted him with the imposture.
The same conclusion may be safely drawn from the slightest examination of the miracles performed by Christ and his Apostles. The sustaining of several thousands of men and women with a few small loaves and fishes, whilst so large a surplus of frag
Exod. vii. viii, ix. x. xi. xii,
J ib. xvii.
↳ Deut. iv.
ments remained'; the raising of the dead from the grave; the giving of sight to the blind', speech to the dumb", and hearing to the deaf"; the removal of the most incurable diseases, by a word, touch, and other means, in themselves utterly inadequate °; and, lastly, his own resurrection and subsequent ascension into heaven, are incontestible proofs of the truth of the Inspired Writings, and of the integrity of those who penned them. These miracles come to us attested by the most unexceptionable witnesses: they were not done secretly, or in a corner, like the lying wonders of impostors; but openly, in the presence of multitudes, whose united testimony is free from the least suspicion. They were publicly avouched at the time, with every material circumstance attending them. The names of the persons who were healed, and the places in which they were wrought, are mentioned; so that if they had been false or spurious, it was in the power of the enemies of Christianity to have disproved them; but they never denied the miracles, though they wickedly ascribed the performance of them to the agency of Satan.
2. The exact accomplishment of several remarkable prophecies, many ages after they were delivered, proves, beyond a reasonable doubt, the inspiration of the Scriptures, in which they are found. Some of these predictions have been long fulfilled; others are hourly fulfilling: some relate to events more connected with our own times; and the rest look, for their completion, to periods which may yet be considerably remote.
"The fulfilment of prophecy is a constant exhibition of miracles which demonstrate the truth of the
Mark vi. 37-44. * John xi. 1-46.
'ib. ix. 1-41. • Mat. viii. 13-17.
Divine Word, and make a direct appeal to our understandings and senses: they court the most rigid scrutiny, and cannot fail to produce conviction on all who properly consider them."
The destruction of the Altar at Bethel, with the idolatrous Priests who conducted its worship, bý Josiah, a long while after the judgment was denounced; the capture of Babylon, with the principal circumstances attending the siege of that city, and the mention of the conqueror's name; the desolation of Nineveh'; the humiliation of Egypt, which became the basest of the kingdoms, and which has never since been able to exalt itself among the nations'; the existence of the Jews as a distinct people, scattered abroad throughout the earth; the unshaken respect paid by them to the rites of the Mosaic economy, and to the several books of the Old Testament, which they venerate as the Oracles of God delivered to their progenitors; decidedly vouch for the antiquity and veracity of those writings.
The prophecies in the Old Testament which refer to the birth, life, kingdom, sufferings, death, resurrection, and exaltation of our blessed Saviour, when compared with the complete fulfilment in the New, evince, to a demonstration, that they were written by inspiration of God, whose prerogative it is "to declare the things that shall be hereafter."
The predictions of Christ and his Apostles equally demand our attention.
The destruction of Jerusalem, and the calamities brought upon it by the Roman armies'; the rapid progress of the Gospel, in spite of all the opposition
2 Kings xxiii. 15—21.
PI Kings xiii. 1, 2.