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progress and triumph of their opinions. Their hand, to allude to the description of Ishmael, hath been against all ungodly men, who held the truth in unrighteousness; and it was natural, therefore, that the hands of all ungodly men should be against them. A book which pronounced the wisdom of the world to be folly, treated its most serious and important pursuits as childish and criminal, and branded with the odious name of vice its favourite indulgences, was likely to be proscribed with indignation, and persecuted with unrelenting revenge.

Amidst so many enemies, we could not have been surprised, if the Bible had shared the fate of many other books once venerated, and reputed divine which have long since disappeared. Surely, had it been a work of man, its memorial must have perished from the earth. But of its preservation amidst the dangers which threatened it, we ourselves are witnesses. With whatever earnestness multitudes may have wished to destroy a book, which thwarted their measures, and disturbed them in the practice of iniquity, few have been so daring as to lay their sacrilegious hands upon it; those who have been guilty of this audacious attempt, have been disappointed in their hopes, whether they aimed at its total destruction, or at the adulteration of its contents; and it remains to this day an object of veneration and dread to the very men, whose errors it condemns, and against whose evil ways it denounces the righteous vengeance of heaven. Notwithstanding the triumph of Arianism, we ştill meet with all those passages, which were ever alleged to prove the equality of the Son with the Father; and though for several ages Antichrist reign

ed in the plenitude of power, and enjoyed the most favourable opportunities, amidst the gross ignorance and unsuspecting credulity of mankind, to corrupt the scriptures, we are able from them alone, without the aid of the writings of the fathers, to convict the church of Rome of apostacy, and to prove its peculiar doctrines and usages to be false and superstitious. Not one jot or one tittle of revelation

hath perished.

The care, then, of Divine Providence with regard to the scriptures is manifest. We see the hand of God preserving them from all injury with incessant vigilance; and we infer, that they are a revelation of his will, and the only means, by which men can attain the true knowledge of his nature and counsels, and of the acceptable manner of serving him. The patronage which God hath afforded to this book is a testimony that he recognises it as his own. Had it been a human composition, providence would not have lent its aid to support its impious pretensions, and to make an imposture pass in the world as a genuine revelation from the Father of lights. "It is apparent," says an eminent divine," that God in all ages hath had a great regard unto it, and acted his power and care in its preservation. Were not the Bible what it pretends to be, there had been nothing more suitable to the nature of God, and more becoming Divine Providence, than long since to have blotted it out of the world. For to suffer a book to be in the world, from the beginning of times, falsely pretending his name and authority, seducing so great a portion of mankind into a per nicious and ruinous apostacy from him, as it must do, and doth, if it be not of a divine original, and

exposing inconceivable multitudes of the best, wisest, and soberest among them, unto all sorts of bloody miseries which they have undergone in the behalf of it, seems not so consonant unto that infinite goodness, wisdom, and care, wherewith this world is governed from above. But, on the contrary, whereas the malicious craft of Satan, and the prevalent power and rage of mankind hath combined, and been set at work, to the ruin and utter suppression of this book, proceeding sometimes so far as that there was no appearing way for its escape; yet, through the watchful care and providence of God, sometimes putting itself forth in miraculous instances, it hath been preserved unto this day, and shall be so to the consummation of all things."*

These are the general arguments, which I proposed to bring forward in favour of the inspiration of the scriptures. They are of sufficient strength to establish this point, independently of any other proof; but when added to the particular arguments advanced in support of the divinity of the Old and the New Testament, they compose a body of evidence, which cannot fail to remove the doubts of every candid inquirer, and to obtain his assent to the important truth, which it hath been the design of the foregoing chapters to illustrate and confirm.

CHAP. VII.

Objections against the Inspiration of the Scriptures.

BY the arguments in the preceding chapters, it may be expected, that a conviction of the divine authority of the scriptures will be produced in the

* Dr. Owen's Reason of Faith, page 29, 30.

mind of every unprejudiced and attentive reader. But though freedom from prejudice be indispensably requisite to an impartial investigation of any subject in debate, and there be no qualification of which infidels talk and boast so much, even insinuating, or boldly asserting, that they alone are possessed of it; yet there are no persons in the world more evidently under the influence of prepossession than they are, when any question relative to revelation is discussed. Their prejudices are of two kinds, and may be properly termed intellectual and moral. Certain preconceived notions concerning the divine character and administrations, and the perfection of the human understanding, which are incompatible with the revelation contained in the scriptures, and indeed, with the very idea of a revelation, determine them to reject it without taking time to ponder, with calmness and deliberation, the evidences in its favour. They think themselves authorized to treat the evidences as insufficient, without even waiting till they be laid before them; as a man may safely refuse to hear arguments against axioms, or self-evident principles, because he is sure that they must be sophistical. They do not examine whether their preconceived notions be true; but assuming their truth as incontrovertible, they pronounce the doctrine which contradicts them to be false, and by consequence, to be the offspring of ignorance or imposture. But these are not the only, nor perhaps the strongest prejudices, by which the minds of infidels are warped. Those which originate in the state of the heart, in its inclinations and affections, are the most pow erful, and contribute in an effectual, though imper

ceptible manner, to pervert the understanding. There are certain liberties in which men are naturally fond of indulging; mortifications for which they feel the utmost aversion and horror; pleasures on which they rush with an impetuosity, to which reason and prudence oppose their dictates in vain. If revelation restrain those liberties, enjoin those mortifications, condemn those pleasures, it is not surprising that it should meet with an unfriendly, reception. When it comes to claim the love and homage of the heart, it finds it pre-occupied. That infidels are naturally or constitutionally more depraved than other men, it would be foolish to assert, nor do I even believe that they are all licentious in their manners; but while the more sober part, who are comparatively few, are misled by the prejudices of the understanding, the conduct of a great majority discovers, that their hostility to the scriptures springs from the corrupt passions of their hearts. It is not difficult to divine, why the authority of a book, which inculcates the purest lessons of virtue, is called in question by the votaries of vice.

From the source of prejudice flow all the objections against revelation, which occur in the conversation and writings of infidels. Right reason has little, or rather no concern in suggesting them. Some of these objections it will now be proper to consider, because they frequently come in our way, and it is wise to have answers to them ready for the preservation of the peace of our own minds, and the defence and honour of the truth. Living in the midst of enemies, we should have our weapons always in our hands. The objections are of two

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