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or to evade some disagreeable doctrine. The advocates for Arminianism, Arianism, Socinianism, and Universalism, have done great violence to Scripture in this way. Their systems of religion are so contrary to the plain and literal sense of the Bible, that they have found themselves under the disagreeable necessity of distorting and disjointing the Scriptures, in order to read them into their preconceived and preadopted schemes. But there is not, I believe, any essential or important doctrine of the Bible, which is to be found in such dark or doubtful texts only, as require a great deal of learning and criticism to explain. If any scheme of religious sentiments cannot be discovered and supported by plain and intelligible passages of Scripture, there is great reason to suspect the truth of it. If, for instance, no man can determine, that all men will be saved, without reading the New Testament through repeatedly and critically in the original language, there is great reason to doubt whether the doctrine of universal salvation, is really contained in the Bible. The most important doctrines of the gospel are so necessarily connected, and so repeatedly and plainly expressed, in different parts of Scripture, that all men of common knowledge, and of common honesty, may easily discover them. And every person ought to be very cautious how he adopts any religious sentiments, which seem to contradict the general current of Scripture, and which cannot be maintained, without denying, or explaining away, the plain and obvious meaning of many passages in the Bible.
2. If the divine Spirit suggested every word and thought to the holy Penmen; then it is not strange, that they did not understand their own writings. These the Apostle tells us, in our context, they did not understand. “Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified before hand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us, they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.” By this it appears, that the prophets did not understand those things, which they wrote under the immediate influence and suggestion of the Spirit of Christ. And it is easy to conceive, that the sacred Writers should be ignorant of many things, in their own writings, if they were not left to write according to their own natural and unassisted abilities. They might, by the aid of the Spirit, write precepts, predictions, promises, and threatenings, of whose im. port they were ignorant, that should be very intelligible and very useful, in future ages. They wrote not for themselves, but for others; not for present, but fu. ture times. And this affords an additional evidence of the plenary inspiration of all the sacred writings.
3. If the Bible was written under the Inspiration of Suggestion, then it is an infallible rule of faith, and the only standard, by which to try our religious sentiments. When we are in doubt about our own religious opinions, or the religious opinions of others, we ought to carry them to the Law and to the Testimony, and abide the divine decision. Those sentiments, which are agreeable to the Bible, are to be received as true; but those, which are neither found in the Bible, nor are agreeable to it, are to be rejected as false. There is no other standard of superior authority, to
which we can appeal. We may not appeal from Scripture to reason, if Scripture be the word of God. But if it be not, then we may, with propriety, appeal from Scripture to reason. Accordingly, we find, that those who deny the plenary Inspiration of the Bible, take the liberty of appealing from Scripture to reason. Dr. Priestley, Mr. Lindsay, and others, when they are pinched with Scripture arguments against their Socinian sentiments, appeal from the opinion of the Apostles, to the superior authority of Reason. They con. sider the New Testament writers as fallible men, who wrote their own sentiments honestly, but, who, being destitute of the Inspiration of Suggestion, might make mistakes in the most important doctrines of religion. And if it be allowed, that the prophets and the Apostles, did write the prophetical, historical, and doctrinal parts of the Bible, without the suggesting influences of the Spirit, then there is no more harm, nor impropriety, in appealing from their writings to reason, than in appealing from the writings of other men to that superior standard. But, if what we have endeavored to prove be true, that every word and sentiment in the Bible was immediately suggested to the sacred Penmen, by the Holy Ghost, then their writings are, strictly speaking, the word of God; and to appeal from their writings to reason, is the same as to appeal from God to man; which is absurd and criminal in the highest degree.
4. If holy men of old wrote as they were moved by God, then it is reasonable to expect, that the Bible should bear clear and strong marks of its divine Author. Every human composition bears marks of human imperfection. A divine composition, therefore, will as infallibly bear marks of divine perfection. Accordingly, when we look into the Bible, we
find the image and superscription of the Deity on every page. It displays all the perfections of God We see the power of God in the works of creation, providence and grace, which are ascribed to him. We see the wisdom of God in the great scheme of redemption which the Scriptures reveal. We see the boundless knowledge of God in the prophecies of future events, which could be foreknown and foretold, by no other than an omniscient Being. We see the holiness of God in the precepts and prohibitions and penalties, contained in the Bible. We see the future state of all moral beings clearly described, which none but the Supreme Being could either know or describe. The Bible, in short, contains those things, which we stand in the most need of knowing, and which God only could reveal to us. It has, therefore, every internal mark of its divine original and divine authority, which it is reasonable to expect, that a divine Revelation should bear on the face of it. We might as easily conceive, that a number of men should have created a new material and intellectual world, as that they should have devised, composed and propagated such a Book as the Bible, in which the character and designs of God are so clearly unfolded, and the final issue of things so clearly and justly revealed. As the Bible claims to be, so it proves itself to be, the word of God. For no other being or beings could, or would have written a Book so honorable to God, so dishonorable to men, and so agreeable to the relations which creatures bear to one another, and to their great Creator, and supreme Disposer. Those, therefore, who de. ny the divinity of the Scriptures, betray their weakness as well as wickedness.
5. If the Bible be the immediate Revelation of God's mind and will to men, then it is a most precious Book. Nothing can be more desirable and more important, than to know the mind and will of our Creator, our Sovereign and our Supreme Judge. It iscomparatively of little moment, whether we know the history of the world, the laws of nature, or the use of arts and sciences. All the books written upon these subjects are lighter than a feather,when put into the balance with the Bible. This book as far surpasses, in value, all other books, as our eternal interests surpass our temporal. No wonder, therefore, that a man after God's own heart, should so highly esteem his word. David says untó God, “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth. I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold. The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.” He gives the reasons of his high estimation of the word of God in the 19th Psalm. “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey, and the honey-comb." All who regard the glory of God, and the eternal interests of their own souls, must highly prize the Holy Scriptures, which have brought life and immortality to light, and which are able to make them wise unto salvation.
6. If the Bible contains the mind and will of God, then all, who enjoy it, may know, in this world, what will be their state in the next. It clearly describes both heaven and hell, and the terms upon which we may obtain the one, and escape the other. All penitent, submissive, and obedient believers, may find great and