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sively let loose against the church of Christ in the terrible shapes of Jewish and Gentile persecution, yet did they not prevail against this sacred structure, founded on a rock, guarded as we believe by heaven itself, and therefore destined to be eternal.
The extraordinary and miraculous endowments conferred upon the apostles, till the evidences of christianity were sufficiently established, and Jesus known to be the true Messiah, being no longer necessary, are no longer continued to the church ; like the scaffolding of a palace made complete, they are taken down and removed. A diligent perusal of the scriptures is therefore to us the best substitute for the want of inspiration. The bible is emphatically styled the word of God : and the truths contained in it are infallible, and of divine authority. The sacred penmen spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and wrote under his immediate guidance and direction. So far as their natural faculties could be useful in the work, these faculties were no doubt properly employed; but the eye of God was constantly upon them; wherever their judgment was erroneous, he corrected them ; wherever the subject was above the reach of their understandings, he enlightened them; and wherever their recollection failed, or their knowledge was defective, the Spirit brought all things to their remembrance, and guided them into all truth.
Such is the divine origin of those authentic records from which we derive our knowledge of the Deity; and no person can examine the whole of the evidence of the truth of the old and new testaments, without finding it to be conclusive : modest men who have not considered the arguments for and against revelation, will be silent. If they cannot believe in Jesus, they will be extremely cautious on what ground they reject him. They will remember that Newton, whose mind burst forth from the fetters cast by nature upon our finite conceptions, examined the proofs of his divine mission, and was satisfied; that Locke, whose office it was to detect the errors of thinking, and direct into a proper train of reasoning, the devious mind of man, was in the highest sense of devotion and adoration a christian. That Milton, our
immortal bard, made the mysterious incarnation of his blessed Saviour, the grand conclusion of Paradise lost, the rest from his finished labours, and the ultimate hope, expectation, and glory of the world.
“ A Virgin is his Mother, but his Sire “ The Power of the most high-He shall ascend “ The Throne Hereditary, and bound his reign “ With Earth's wide bounds, his glory with the Heav'ns."
Nothing less than demonstration on the side of infidelity should induce any man to resist the weight that these venerable authors give in favor of the gospel. They were the ornaments of human nature, illustrious characters and enlightened scholars, whose lives were a transcript of piety, and whose works will remain till the last fire shall consume all learning. They investigated the pretensions of the gospel critically and minutely, the authenticity of its records, the completion of its prophecies, the sublimity of its doctrines, the purity of its precepts, and the arguments of its adversaries, and they were not only convinced of the justice of its claims, but they gloried in it as a most benevolent and Godlike scheme. It was their study in life, and their comfort and support in the moment of dissolution, when their souls left this tenement of clay, and fled to the resting place of the spirits of the just.
It is agreed by the most eminent divines, that the literal meaning of scripture is not to be deserted without the most urgent necessity. This is the fundamental principle of biblical interpretation ; a departure from which inevitably leads into all the excentricities of opinion, and the wildness of enthusiasm ; for when the literal exposition is rejected, no bounds can be set to the errors which may ensue,- in some cases a various reading is adopted, in others a conjectural alteration, which will at least neutralize a pungent passage, and stubborn must be the text which will not bend under one or other of these modes of treatment. Thus the scriptures cease to be the unerring rule of faith and manners, and by the dexterity of controversalists, and philosophical commentators, a fancied support is wrested from them to systems not only absurd, but productive of mischiefs the most deplorable.
In the following treatise I propose to prove the Divinity of Christ, from his Preexistent state, his Incarnation and Atonement, and from a full conviction of the absolute necessity of conforming to the rule I have now laid down, namely, that of adhering strictly to the plain and obvious sense of scripture testimony, I shall quote those texts only, which in the mind of every candid reader fairly shew, that Jesus of Nazareth, who took upon himself the nature of man, was essentially partaker of the Divine Nature also, being (as an apostle hath distinctly stated it) “ the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person,