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racy in the numerous copies of them taken before the invention of printing, could not have been expected, unless a miraculous interposition had constantly attended every transcriber of the sacred books. Nevertheless, so great is the agreement found among the existing manuscripts, in relation to all the doctrines, precepts and facts of the Bible, that it has excited the wonder of learned men, who have beheld in this particular, a striking illustration of the admirable providence of God.
Reflecting thus on the character of the sacred books, we find such abundant evidence of their supernatural origin as to banish all doubt from a serious mind. And it seems impossible to imagine what evidence could be afforded that would be more convincing and satisfactory than they possess, of their being given to us by the wisdom and influence of the Holy Spirit! The apostle, therefore, commending the word of God as essential to the sanctification of the Christian, by its transforming power upon its devout reader, says, “But we all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Cor. iii. 18.)
GENUINENESS AND AUTHENTICITY OF THE SCRIP
The Sacred books are genuine; not falsified or corrupted-The
manner of their preservation-Early copies and translationsTheir facts indicate their authenticity—Of the Old Testament -Of the New Testament–Substantially the same as delivered by the inspired writers.
READERS of the Holy Scriptures, satisfied as to their divine inspiration, will yet be led to consider whether the sacred books, as we possess them, are really the genuine writings of the inspired men of God. Have they been exchanged, or in any way corrupted and falsified ? These inquiries are altogether reasonable, and they deserve the most serious attention, as being vital in their importance regarding practical Christianity.
Divine revelation would have been seriously, or even fatally injured, if the sacred books had not been conveyed down to our times genuine and uncorrupted. But that they have been so preserved, we possess evidences the most conclusive and satisfactory. As to the original writings of Moses, or of the prophets, or of the apostles, it is not known or pretended that they are in existence. Their autographs may not have been preserved to our age, yet no intelligent scholar, acquainted with biblical antiquities, doubts the substantial agreement of the Holy Scriptures with the original manuscripts of the inspired pen'men.
In proof of the genuineness of the Old Testament books, we have the testimony of the Jews through successive ages. They exist now, both in Hebrew and in Greek, as they did in the time of our Saviour and his apostles ; the latter being a translation made by the Jews for the use of their descendants, after having settled in Egypt, by the command of Alexander the Great, to aid the Greeks in peopling his new cities, especially Alexandria. This translation was made nearly three hundred years before the advent of Christ. But before that event, notwithstanding the national violation of the laws of God, and the repeated reproofs, warnings and denunciations, uttered against the people, on account of their practical infidelity, their multiplied idolatries, and their abounding wickedness, they preserved the sacred books with the greatest reverence, as the Oracles of God.
Evidence of the most convincing kind as to the genuineness of these sacred books is found in the character and condition of the Jews. Many private families possessed them. But, as the Rev. T. Hartwell Horne states, “ If a Jew had forged any book of the Old Testament, he must have been impelled to so bold and dangerous an enterprise by some very powerful motive. It could not be national pride, for there is scarcely one of these books which does not severely censure the national manners. It could
not be love of fame, for that passion would have taught him to flatter and extol the national character; and the punishment, if detected, would have been infamy and death. The love of wealth would not produce such a forgery, for no wealth was to be gained by it. In fact, there was no motive to induce the Hebrews to corrupt the tradition relative to the original of these books. On the contrary, as they were held in the highest reverence and estimation by much the greater part of the people, they had the most powerful motives for transmitting the origin of these documents truly to their posterity.”*
Besides, the true knowledge of the original of these books could not easily be lost or corrupted among the Israelites, because the tribe of Levi was specially consecrated to the various services of God on behalf of the nation, and their duty was, in a particular manner, to watch over the sacred writings for their preservation. It should also be considered, that there never were wanting pious and distinguished men among the other tribes, either before, or during, or after the captivity of the nation in Babylon, who held these books in the highest veneration as the inspired Scriptures; they were prompted to this reverence and regard for the divine writings by being themselves descendants from the princes, judges and prophets, who were their honoured authors. And altogether the names of some of the sacred writers, of at least portions of these books, may have been lost in oblivion ; yet, as the Jews confess their ignorance, such con
* Introduction to the Scriptures, vol. i. 40, 41.
fession must be regarded as an evidence that they would not have received the books unless they had been transmitted by their ancestors as sacred and inspired ; while we have the clearest evidence that none of the books of the Old Testament were written at a later period than the close of the fifth century before the advent of Jesus Christ.
Numerous learned writers have treated this subject with great force of argument, showing that every variety of evidence which the nature of the case admits, is found in support of the claims of the Old Testament books. But for condensed information on this matter, the reader is referred to Horne's “ Introduction to the study of the Scriptures.”
Genuineness is affirmed, also, concerning the books of the New Testament, that they were written by the persons to whom they are attributed, and that they were published at or about the times of their several authors. Of these facts there exists abundant evidence, equally strong, or even more satisfactory.
These books were written by the Apostles of Christ, and their companions, on various occasions ; some of them addressed to the primitive churches, and others to distinguished individuals. And as they did not relate to private matters, but to the concerns of Christ and his gospel, copies of them were, therefore, made and published for the edification of the churches and individuals; they were further copied for the use of others, and carried by apostolie men as missionaries into many countries, where they were translated immediately into the