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likewise heen dispersed, and it is not without great reluctance that the plan of Numbers has been given up. Paper has proved a material impediment; while the small type and crowded page of the former edition have by many been complained of, not only as uncomfortable to the reader, but as a real hindrance to the usefulness of the work.
The improvements in the present edition will, it is hoped, be deemed fully adequate to the advance in the price. Great pains have been bestowed in correcting the inaccuracies of the style, in rendering perspicuous such passages, as had been left rather obscure from regard to brevity, in giving energy to some arguments which had not been stated in their full force, and in placing several illustrations to greater advantage. Peculiar care has likewise been taken to render the Scriptural references and quotations accurate; and further proof from the sacred oracles has frequently been adduced in support of the conclusions which had been formed : a correct Index for the conveniency of the reader has also been annexed.
The work thus revised, the Author commends to the candour of the public, from which it hath already met with a favourable reception; and he earnestly begs the prayers of all pious Christians, for the divine blessing on this attempt, and on all his other feeble endeavours to spread the knowledge of the blessed gospel of God our Saviour, and to excite and direct believers to adorn that holy doctrine by their whole conduct and conversation.
March 29, 1798.
XIX. The subject continued,
On the Divine Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. It is manifest to all who seriously reflect on the powers and propensities of human nature, that we are formed capable of religion, and have an inward consciousness that we ought to worship some superior Being, on whom our safety and happiness depend: but at the same time, the state of the world, in all places where the Bible has not been known, unanswerably proves, that we are incapable of discovering for ourselves a religion, which is worthy of God, suited to our wants, and conducive to our true interest. The shortness of life also, and the reasonable persuasion that men in general entertain of a future state, concur to show that our grand concern lies in another world. Yet uncertainty and perplexity, nay, palpable error and absurdity, have ever incumbered men's reasonings and conjectures on these important subjects.--Even at Athens, Jehovah was “the unknown God.” (Acts xvii. 23.) And all beyond the grave was an unknown world.
The wisest of the Pagans, therefore, considered a revelation from the Deity to be exceedingly desirable, in order that bewildered mortals might learn the way, in which they could worship him with acceptance, and be happy ; and some of them entertained hopes, that such an inestimable favour would at length be vouchsafed. Indeed confused expectations of this kind have been common in the world; as it is manifest from the reception that hath been given to pretended revelations, which otherwise could not have obtained credit and currency.
Various impositions, in this important concern, have been detected by careful investigation : and there is but one book in the world, which so much as appears to be a
revelation from God. This has stood the test of
and undergone the most severe scrutiny; and the more it has beeirexamined by serious inquirers, the fuller conviction have they obtained of its divine authority. No one now ventures forth as an avowed, sober, and manly adversary, to dispute its claim in the open field of fair argument: yet few in comparison are practically convinced, that it is the unerring word of God; and an increasing number of objectors perplex themselves and others, by discovering supposed inconsistencies, or unimportant difficulties; or by setting up their own reasonings and imaginations in opposition to its doctrines, and making that disagreement a ground of hesitation or rejection. So that scepticism, and a partial, frivolous, disingenuous, carping infidelity, have become exceedingly common; the minds of young persons especially are poisoned by thein; great pains are taken to disseminate these cavils and objections, (though they have been solidly answered again and again ;) and those persons are treated as weak enthusiasts, or irrational bigots, who simply believe the Scriptures as the sure testimony of God.
It may, therefore, be seasonable, to state with all possible brevity, some of the most conclusive reasons, by which reflecting men have been induced to submit to the authority of the Bible, and to believe that it is a revelation from the God of Truth. By the divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, I mean, such an immediate and complete discovery by the Holy Spirit to the minds of the sacred peninen, of those things which could not have been otherwise known; and such an effectual superintendency, as to those matters which they might be informed of by other means, as entirely to preserve them from error in every particular, which could in the least affect any of the doctrines or commandments contained in their writings. Every proposition, therefore, is to be considered as the sure testimony of God, in that sense, according to which the sacred penmen proposed it as truth. Thus facts occurred, and words were spoken, as to the import of them, and the instruction to