Page images

The account of the death of Moses, at the end of Deuteronomy, was probably added by Joshua or Samuel, to complete the history of Moses, in those books that were written by bim ; and is a circumstance, which no reasonable man, who is acquainted with literary publications, would make a ground of objection to the authenticity of any book.

Nor are the objections to the truth of the matters related in the Holy Scriptures, of more weight than those alleged against their authenticity. They arise from some apparent inconsistencies of one part with another, and from a supposed difference, in some instances, from other histories.

In most cases, the inconsistencies objected are only in appearance; they may be, and indeed have been, removed by a critical examination of the subjects; and if we admit a few to have arisen from incorrectness in transcribers or translators, surely no wise man would consider such a circumstance as a reasonable ground, for rejecting even writings much less authenticated than these. As to the few yariations from other writers, if they cannot otherwise be re

conciled, a fair consideration of the probability, which of them had the best means of information, will, I believe, give a clear preference to the Sacred historian. But the Scriptures are, in general, found to be well supported by other authors; and it is worthy of observation, that the completion of prophecies recorded in various parts of holy writ, is confirmed by profane historians of good credit, who, it must be admitted, could have no inducement to give any unfair testimony in their favour.*

That some verbal difficulties should occur in a collection of books, which were written from more than one thousand seven hundred, to upwards of three thousand years ago, and which contain a history of above fourthousand years, is what may reasonably be expected; but that writings of such antiquity should come down to us so perfect as they appear to be, is cause of admiration; and, considering their interesting importance, of gratitude and praise.

Having, I hope, sufficiently obviated the most plausible objections, that are made against the truth and credibility of the Scriptures, the next circumstance to be considered is their Inspiration ; by which I understand, that the writers or compilers were influenced by the Holy Spirit in communicating these writings. A considerable part of them, are given as express communications from the Almighty, to his servants and prophets: this, if we admit the truth of the relation, determines a large proportion of the Bible to be an immediate revelation, which is more, as to the degree, than is necessarily iinplied by the term inspiration.

* For the truth of these assertions, see Grotius on the Truth of the Christian Religion, Book I. Sect. 16 ; Newton on the Frophecies; and Tomline on the Study of the Bible.

The reasons for considering these writings, as being given under that Divine influence which is called inspiration, are the following:

1.-The characters of the writers, all of whom, that we can ascertain, were men eminently endowed with Divine gifts; and who appear to have drawn up these writings for the use and edification of the church of God; in doing which we may reasonably conclude, that his assistance would be sought for and afforded.

2.-The character of Ezra, who, besides being the writer of at least one book, collected the various writings of the Old Testament, with the exception of two or three books not then written.* His character, gifts, and motives, all lead us to the same conclusion as before ; with this addition, that as the occasion, or the authors of some part of these writings, are not clearly ascertained, Ezra's compilation, under Divine influence, gives an additional sanction to these books.

3.-The testimony of the apostle Paul, who says: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and † is profitable for doctrine,” &c.

* These are Nehemiah and Malachi, and perhaps Esther, with part of Chronicles. They are generally supposed to have been added by Simon the Just.

+ I am aware, that some persons endeavour to set aside the force of this passage, by stating that one Greek manuscript omits the

soby in English and, and that some ancient Versions have no word equivalent to it; by which they would give a different meaning to the passage.

In answer to this, it may be observed :

1.--That for one Greek manuscript which wants the mai, or and, there are great numbers which have it; and that one is neither so ancient, nor of so good credit as most of the others, in the opinion of many critics. Now, to set all other manu. scripts aside, and prefer a single and less authenticated reading, with two or three translations, which, though they may

When we consider the opportunities and abilities of the apostle, for judging in such a case, (to say nothing of his own inspiration,) his

be ancient, can by no means be considered of equal validity with so many copies in the original tongue, would be an exercise of criticism, which nothing but a partial predilection to a preconceived opinion would adopt. Would these critics admit such arguments in favour of the authenticity of I John, v. 7?

2.- The context requires a sepse, which implies that the apostle considered that all which he had just called the Holy Scriptures were inspired. Ancient commentators, even those who have made use of the versions which have not the and, still consider the passage as implying, that the whole Scripture was Divinely inspired. So that, supposing (what however is not admitted) that the na was not in the original, the sense is still the same. For the more clear elucidation of the subject, let us read the whole passage, as these objectors would render it: “ From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture (or every writing) given by Inspiration of God, is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."

Now, every one that reads this passage impartially, and considers the construction of the sentences correctly, must, I apprehend, admit, that the Holy Scriptures, mentioned in the beginning of the paragraph, are included in the general observations respecting “ All scripture given by inspiration," or

All scriptures given by inspiration," only alluded to - The holy scriptures” mentioned just before. In either case

that “s

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »