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BY JOHN DIC

A. M.

MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL IN SLATEFORD.

EDINBURGH:

PRINTED BY J. RITCHIE,

FOR OGLE AND AIKMAN; M. OGLE, GLASGOW;

AND R. OGLE, LONDON.

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319 D547es 1800

PREFA CE.

THE

HE infpiration of the holy Scriptures is a fubject, on which it is of great importance to form juft and accurate ideas. If they be the compofitions of men, who, though honeft, and upon the whole, well informed, were under no infallible affiftance and direction, they are not entitled to the fame reverence, as if they had been dictated by the Spirit of God; nor can we read them with the fame confidence in their counfels and inftructions. Their contents must be fubjected to a ftrict examination, and the truth of their doctrines must be afcertained by

other

That idea has become unfashionable; it is claffed with other opinions of our fathers, which are exploded as the fooleries of enthusiasm, and superstitious credulity; and he only is reckoned to think rationally on the fubject, who looks upon the facred books as partly human, and partly infpired; as a heterogeneous compound of the oracles of God, and the ftories and fentiments of men. There are even fome, by whom this par tial infpiration is denied, and the Scriptures are regarded as the writings of faithful, but fallible men, who had nothing to preferve them from error but the accura cy of their information, and the integrity of their hearts. The fpirit of infidelity is working among Chriftians themselves.

The infpiration of the Scriptures is a point which Chriftians are too generally chargeable with taking upon truft. Few of them ftudy the arguments by which it is evinced, and provide themselves with anfwers

anfwers to the objections which infidels oppofe to it. It is a doctrine which hath been received by tradition from their fathers, and which, upon their authority, the greater part believe to be true. We need not wonder, then, that, in a time of trial like the prefent, when the efforts of infidelity are unusually bold and vigorous,. there fhould be a great falling away among the profeffors of religion; nor can fuch. apoftacy be deplored on any other ground, than as it affects the immortal interefts of those who are involved in it. It is attended with no real lofs to the caufe of revelation, and it reflects no difhonour upon it: for of what advantage are numbers, if they be deftitute of principle; and what dif credit can arife to the Scriptures from the desertion of perfons, whofe attachment was lefs the effect of deliberate choice than of accident? There is no reafon for being alarmed, as if fuch an event portended a general defection. Raw,

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