Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

II. The inspiration of the Scriptures may be conclusively determined from THEIR HOLINESS AND PURITY.

When you look into the Bible, you see holiness and purity its great characteristics.

bears on every page “ Holiness the Lord." When it speaks of God it represents him as the greatest and holiest Being in the universe, and extols his character as above all praise, When it speaks of man, it speaks of his primitive integrity with approbation, and of his subsequent apostacy and sinfulness, with pity and abhorrence. Every where it draws a discrimination between holiness and sin, between good men and bad, and in such a way as to leave the impression, that in the Writer's view, the difference is awfully wide, and the consequences of it everlasting.

The precepts of the Bible are all holy. They begin by requiring holiness in the thoughts and affections; then in the words; then in the conduct. The Scriptures require nothing less than perfect holinessUniversal, uniform, persevering holiness alone will bear a comparison with this unerring standard. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.” This is its first and great Commandment. You open the Bible, and you find yourself in the presence of God. Him you are directed to worship in spirit and in truth; to exalt him above every rival; to enthrone him in your heart; to give him all honour and praise; to delight in his character; to be thankful for his mereies ; to be submissive to his will; to rejoice in his government; to serve him with the whole heart, and to be assimilated to his moral image. And the second Command is like unto the first : " Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Here every grace and virtue are required, and every anamiable and unkind affection and action are forbidden. Every act of purity, justice, honesty, and benevolence is required; every act of impurity, injustice, hatred, and selfishness is forbidden. Every thing that can render man honourable and useful is enjoined; every thing that can render him mean, base, and injurious is forbidden. All that can diffuse peace and happiness in his own bosom and throughout the world is required; all that can rob him of peace and joy within, and diffuse disaster and calamity without is forbidden. All that can assimilate a creature of yesterday to his Maket, and prepare him for the family and fellowship of angels is prescribed; all that can render him deformed and odious,--that can sever the bonds of moral union, and fit him to be the companion of foul and miserable fiends, and the eternal outcast from God and holiness, is prohibited. This law of love tolerates no vice, and patronizes every virtue. No liberty is here allowed to sinful passions and propensities; but every corrupt principle, every lurking

[ocr errors]

source of sin is discountenanced and condemned. To every relation and condition of life the Bible extends the authority of its pure precepts, and prescribes the duties which, in all their diversified circumstances, men are bound to perform : while with unyielding severity, it frowns on every appearance of evil.

Nor are the peculiar doctrines and instructions of the Bible less holy than its moral precepts. The person and atonement of Jesus Christ the forgiveness of sins through faith in his blood—the gratuitous justifi. cation only of penitent and reformed sinners—the office and operations of the Holy Spirit in the regeneration and sanctification of the soulthe love of Christ as the constraining motive to holy obedience-the death and final resurrection of the body-the day of judgment—the retributions of eternity-all announce the immaculate purity and holiness of the Bible.

This too is the character of all its institutions, all its privileges, all its peculiar ordinances, and all its examples. In its legitimate bearings every thing the Scriptures require and teach, every motive by which the Bible excites our fears or stimulates our hopes, is an expression of that comprehensive injunction, “Be ye holy, for I am holy."

Now is such a book the work of man? Who of all the descendants of Adam is the author of such a volume ? All that we know of en represents them either as basely polluted and sinful, or painfully imper. fect and depraved in their best estate. Was such a volume ever invented by the depraved mind of mortals? Is it possible that such a system of moral precepts, and such a system of doctrines, so excellent, só perfectly holy, should not have originated from a purer and more exalted Source? If the Bible be a human production, it is the production either of good men or bad. It cannot be of good men, because such men would not deceive the world by a fábrication. It cannot be of bad men ; for they would never have thought of such a system of morals and instruction; or if they had thought of it, they never would have given birth to a system of perfect holiness and purest piety. Falsehood and immorality they might have enjoined, as the authors of false religions all have done; but truth and purity, such truth and purity as the Bible reveals, come from a far different source. Infidels have found no other way of replying to this argument, than by preposterously denying the purity and holiness of the Scriptures. But our appeal is to the Bible itself. “ I speak as unto wise men'; judge ye what I say." We also remark,

III. Another argument in favour of the inspiration of the Scriptures may be deduced from theIR PERFECT HARMONY.

There is a perfect harmony in all the varied contents of this book. There is a perfect harmony in its history, in its doctrines, and in its duties. Every writer agrees with himself, and all agree with one another and with facts.

The Scriptures were composed, not in a single age, but in the progress of sixteen hundred years; a period during which the views and opinions of men were in a state of great fluctuation; and yet the views. and opinions here introduced are ever the same.

They were not written by one man, but by a great variety of menmen in different classes of human society, men imbued with different prejudices, men of science, and unleltered men; and yet perfect harmony and consistency pervade all their writings.

They all wrote upon subjects also, upon which men are peculiarly prone to disagree,-the subjects of religion. No writings could have been more liable to inconsistencies; and yet no one of them controverts the statements or opinions of another.

Most of the writers were entirely unacquainted with each other, and entirely unknown to each other; and yet in sentiment, in design, in every thing essential to harmony, there are the same facts, the same principles, the same grand object. If the writers of the sacred books then were not under the divine direction, whence this unexampled harmony?

Infidels we know have denied that this harmony exists. But the unfounded charge has been abundantly refuted by the critical investigation and faithful research of the abettors of divine inspiration. If we consider the different sources from which the inspired writers drew their narratives; the different designs which they had in the composition of them; the facility with which names and numbers are altered by imperfect readings; the omission of some events by one writer and the insertion of them by another; the different methods of computing time, which on close examination will be found to be perfectly consistent; the ambiguity of particular passages of which more ample illustration is to be found elsewhere; the use of the same word or term in different senses in different paragraphs;—we shall find that the detached passages on which infidels have laid so much stress, afford no ground for impugning the consistency of the Sacred Writers. The al. leged contradictions, though at first glance apparent, are found on examination not real. Nor is there a single instance that does not admit of a rational solution. It would indeed require patience to illustrate passages seemingly at variance. The late Bishop Horné remarks, " Many and painful are the researches, usually necessary to be made

for settling points of this kind. Pertness and ignorance may ask a question in three lines, which it will cost learning and ingenuity thirty pages to answer. When this is done, the same question shall be triumphantly asked again the next year, as if nothing had ever been written upon the subject. And as people in general, for one reason or other, like short objections better than long answers, in this mode of disputation, the odds must ever be against us; and we must be content-with those for our friends, who have honesty and erudition, candour and patience, to study both sides of the question.

After all that has been written on this subject, we are justified in saying that the harmony of the inspired writings is inexplicable upon any other supposition than that they are of divine original. You find the penmen of the Sacred Volume, whatever be their subject, all expressing the same thing. When they speak of God; when they speak of man ; when they speak of holiness and sin, of redemption by Christ Jesus, and of the operations of the Holy Spirit, of heaven and of hell; there is no discrepancy,--but one grand design, one undivided scheme of truth, and duty, and retribution runs through the whole. However the sacred writers may vary in the manner and extent of their illustrations, they are all perfectly congruous. It is impossible this harmony could have been the result of any preconcerted plan; and if they did not speak under the influence of the same Spirit, how is this harmony to be accounted for? In the writings of what two uninspired men do you discover such wonderful consistency upon so nice and interesting a subject? You see the various schemes of human philosophy, the boasted treatises of natural religion, are one thing to-day, and another thing to-morrow. They vary with the wisdom, or the folly, or caprice of their authors, and change with every passing century and every revolution of public manners. But the Bible is ever the same. Not one principle of it is at war with another. The light which beams from its pages may have different degrees of brightness, but it all emanates from the same glorious Fountain ; and wherever its rays are condensed and combined, they present the image of Him, who is himself Light, and in whom is no darkness at all. But, we observe in the next place,

IV. THE BIBLE IS THE MOST INEXHAUSTED, EXHAUSTLESS Book.

There is no book in any language, or of any age, that in this respect can be compared with the Bible. It is what its name denotes it to be, the Book of all books. The Bible is more inexhaustible than all other books, in as much as the uncreated intelligence is more inexhaustible than the intelligence of creatures. The extent, number, variety, and importance of the subjects which it treats; the weighi and pertinence of its instructions, and the illimitable prospects it opens to

the mind, give it a pre-eminence in an intellectual view, unulterably beyond all other books that ever were written. It is truly a book of wonders. Its fulness is like that of the rising and full-orbed sun. The more you gaze at its unclouded splendour, and the more its emanating effulgence is diffused, the more do its resources appear unwasted and unwasting.

The Scriptures have taught all that men know concerning morals and religion. There is no article of faith, and no moral duty known by men, which is capable of being clearly illustrated and satisfactorily proved, which is not either expressly declared, or fairly and unquestionably implied in the Scriptures. The deep treasures of the Bible have exhausted many a vigorous and capacious mind; but there is no mind so vigorous and capacious as to have exhausted the Bible. There are men who have read and studiea this volume most thoroughly and intensely, and who, the more they have read and studied it, have the more been charmed with its clearness and simplicity--wbo, at the same time, have been, at every step of their progress, more and more deeply convinced that it is a fathomless profound of light and knowledge. There are men who have made the Scriptures the object of their investigation for half a century, and who have examined every chapter and every paragraph, fifty or an hundred times; and who, with every fresh perusal, have discovered new thought and new causes for admiration and joy. The Bible has been read and studied, in all ages of the world, a thousand fold more than

any

other book. It has occupied the time and thought of men of the profoundest intellect, and of the most unwearied and patient research. What years and ages have passed away in the study of the Scriptures! What multitudes of individuals have been occupied in this elevated investigation ! Reflect on the number now existing in different countries, faithfully devoting their time and talents to the study of the Bible; survey the immense libraries that have been written in defence and illustration of its truths; and though in every effort you shall see some new light elicited, you shall stand amazed to hear all confess that so much remains to be illustrated, The more deeply men have been absorbed in their contemplations upon the Bible, the more thorough has been their conviction of its illimitable

And it has been a conviction which has uniformly grown with their acquaintance with the Scriptures; which has never been diminished even by all the honesty, and prayer, and humility which they have brought to the research.

Now we maintain this is one of the grand peculiarities of the Bible. It is literally exhaustless; which cannot be affirmed of any other book. There is no book, except this, which a few careful readings of a sound

resources.

« ElőzőTovább »