« السابقةمتابعة »
could possibly be an atheist. For, in every sacred page, the true God is made manifest.
4. Had there been no God, it is very certain, considering the natural disposition of the human heart, that no man would ever have believed in a God. The whole human race, in all generations, would have been atheists; and this on just and rational ground. For, in this case, there would not bave been a single argument, of any weight, to prove the existence of a God. Error is, in no measure, supported by rational argument. If there be no God, then all the seeming arguments which have been produced, and which can be produced, to prove the being of a God, are but mere sophistry. And since mankind are so strongly bent on atheism, as to say in their hearts, 6 There is no God ;” and so subtile and ingenious, as they are found to be, to evade the evidence of his existence; we may be certain, that if there were no God, no man would be in the least danger of believing, obeying or trusting in any god whatever. Of sinful men it is said, “ God is not in all their thoughts ;" and " they do not like to retain God in their knowledge." What then could induce mankind, without the most forcible evidence, to believe in the existence of a God ?
5. We are therefore led to conclude, that the almost universal belief in one or more Gods, by men of all characters, and of all ages, is a strong proof of the being of a God. Traditions, and maxims in religion, however vague and fabulous, have their foundation in some important realities. Mere fictions grow out of certain matters of fact : so that the most corrupt and idolatrous notions of the Deity as well as the most rational and correct, serve as a proof of the being of a God.
Having found abundant evidence of the being of a God, who is the first cause of all things ; the Almighty Creator and Governor of the universe, who is the Father of our spirits, and the former of our bodies ; in whose hand our breath is, and whose are all our ways; we are
THE INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES.
led to realize the importance of glorifying him as God. Such is the stupidity and atheism of the human heart, that mankind in general, are very little influenced by the consideration, or even by the belief of the existence of a God. They even dare to blaspheme his sacred name. 5 In works they deny him, being abominable and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.”
It is certainly rational, and highly important, that those who have believed in God, should be careful, not only to maintain good works; but also to worship him, and glorify his name. 66 A son honoreth his father, and a servant bis master. If I then be a father, where is mine honor ? and if I be a master, where is my fear ? saith the Lord of hosts." Doubtless the Most High God, who is the possessor of heaven and earth, acts with a supreme regard to his own honor and glory; and with a suitable regard to the welfare of his rational creatures. Doubtless, Judge of all the earth doth right." With great reason
opriety, therefore, does he demand of all his rational creatures, their tribute of honor and glory. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory, forever and ever.--Amen.
The inspiration of the Holy Scriptures.
In the foregoing Essay, we have attended to the first, and the fundamental article in the system of divine truth. Evidence has been given of the existence of a supreme, eternal, and immutable being, who is called God. And, that we may be the more abundantly furnished with arguments, in the discussion and proof of all the following articles of the system, it is proposed, in the next place, to prove the divine inspiration of the Holy scriptures.
That mankind, on many accounts, stand in very great need of a revelation from God, is generally granted, by those who are favored with the holy scriptures ; and has been granted, by many of the most candid and inquisitive, even among the heathen. The wisest of men, in every age and nation, have found by experience, and, in their writings, have frankly acknowledged, that, without a clear and infallible revelation from God, no man, in this sinful and benighted state, can know his character and will ; nor can any man know his own state and character. Such is the ignorance of mankind, because of the blind. ness of their hearts, that not one can be found, who is able, by the light of nature, to suggest a ground of hope for sinners. It is impossible for man to decide, by his own reasonings, whether God can, on any ground, be propitious to the guilty. Or indeed, whether there is, or is not, a future and eternal state of reward and punishment. Untaught of God, the sober and reflecting part of mankind must, of necessity, be in a state of great darkness, doubt and despondency. Well may they despairingly cry,“ Who will shew us any good ” who can give us any light, on subjects infinitely important ? At the same time,
We observe, that there is an impression on the minds of mankind in general, that the Deity is good ; that he is kind and merciful : and that he is willing to enlighten and instruct his rational creatures.
Some indeed have held to the doctrine of two supreme beings, one good, and the other evil : one the author of all good, and the other the author of all evil. But this is generally, and justly considered as an absurdity. The general impression on the human mind is, that the Lord is good; and that he is disposed, in his own time and way, to enlighten the world, by an infallible divine revelation.
From these two considerations, that mankind stand in perishing need of instruction from God; and that He is kindly disposed to give them instruction, we have strong presumptive evidence, that there is, somewhere, an infallible revelation from God. But where is this revelation to be found ? Do we find it in the Alcorant No. In the
books of heathen mythology ? No. Where then, except in the bible, do we find a divine revelation ? Certainly no where at all.
It remains now to be proved distinctly, from various sources of argument, that the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God. The evidences of this important truth are various; and it is conceived, they are conclusive. The evidences to be adduced are external, and internal. As an external evi. dence, we may state,
1. The vast number and variety of miracles which have been wrought in the name, and by the power and authority of God; and expressly, for the confirmation of his word, and his truth.
A miracle is a supernatural work of God; or a work, by which the laws of nature, so called, are suspended or controuled. It is not only a work, which, like the works of creation and providence, exceeds all finite power and wisdom; but a work which counteracts the most common operations of divine power and wisdom. When the rod of Moses became a serpent, and was presently restored to a rod in his hand; a miracle was wrought. When, by stretching forth his rod, according to divine direction, Moses brought upon Egypt all the successive plagues, till the first-born of man and beast were destroyed ; and till their king and armies were overwhelmed in the red sea; and when the sea itself was divided, for the safe passage of the Israelites; and for their escape from the armies of Egypt; miracles were wrought. It is folly to allege, as some do, that these astonishing events were effected by the skill and power of magic. For the magicians themselves were sufferers in the plagues ; and they acknowledged the finger of God in the plague of lice. Now, is it possible to suppose, that all these things were the effect of magic, or of mere deception, and cunning craftiness ? For this is all that is meant by magic. Will any one imagine, that the pillar of cloud by day, and of fire by night, which was an infallible guide to Israel forty years in the wilderness; and which led them to the land of promise, was the effect of magic ? If all these were the
effects of magic; then the world is governed by magic. By this the people were furnished in the wilderness, with the daily supply of manna. By this the rock was cleft at Horeb, and the waters gushed out, and flowed by the side of their camp, in all that barren desart. If all these, and all other miraculous events have been produced by magic; then magic has created the world, and is the true God. Yet it is granted by all, that magic is a mere deception, and has been thus considered, in all
ages. But, certainly, something more than human deception, and cunning craftiness, was manifested in the miracles of Moses and the prophets.
Do any doubt the facts related, concerning the deliv. erance of Israel from Egyptian bondage, and their journey to the land of promise ? As well may they doubt the existence of such a nation as the Israelites. But the na.
n, with most of its peculiarities, still exists, though scattered and dispersed; and never was there a nation or people, more attentive to their records and genealogies. The facts related are indubitable. And, surely, none but the Almighty could perform these miraculous works. All were wrought to vindicate the authority of Moses, who was commissioned to deliver the people of Israel from Egyptian bondage. Under the same divine commission he wrote the books ascribed to him in the scriptures. Have we not then as great an assurance of the truth of these books of Moses, as the Israelites had of the truth of his declarations ?
Respecting all the miraculous works of which we have any account in the scriptures, it is to be considered, that they are displays of the supernatural power of God, for a confirmation of his word, and a vindication of his authority. Now is it not absurd, and inconsistent with the perfections of the Holy One of Israel, to suppose that He would perform miraculous works in support of falsehood and wickedness? Would he take measures to destroy his own holy kingdom? Or to destroy the confidence of his friends
It is well worthy of notice, that miracles have always been considered by the Jews, and perhaps by all but