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renewing grace, as does not depend on this laborious, learned, and argumentative evidence of the divine authority of the Bible, or of any particular book or verse in it!
“ Secondly, if we consider what bold assaults are sometimes made upon the faith of the unlearned Christian by the deists and unbelievers of our age, by disputing against the authority of the Scripture, by ridiculing the strange narratives and sublime doctrines of the Bible, by setting the seeming contradictions in a blasphemous light, and then demanding, “How can you prize, or how can you believe that this book is the word of God, or that the religion it teaches is divine ?' In such an hour of contest, how happy is the Christian that can say, Though I am not able to solve all the difficulties in the Bible, nor maintain the sacred authority of it against the cavils of wit and learning, yet I am well assured that the doctrines of this book are sacred, and the authority of them divine; for when I heard and received them, they changed my nature, they subdued my sinful appetites, they made a new creature of me, and raised me from death to life; they made me love God above all things, and gave me the lively and wellgrounded hope of his love. Therefore I cannot doubt but that the chief principles of this book are divine, though I cannot so well prove that the very words and syllables of it are so too; for it is the sense of Scripture, and not the mere letters of it, on which I build my hope. What if the Scripture should not be divine ? What if this gospel and the other epistles should not be written by inspiration? What if these should be merely the words of men, and not the very word of God ?
Though I cannot recollect all the arguments that prove Matthew, Mark, and Luke to be divine bistorians, or Peter and Paul to be inspired writers; yet the substance and chief sense of these gospels and their epistles must needs be divine; for it has begun the spiritual and eternal life in my soul; and this is my witness, or rather the witness of the Spirit of God within us, that Christ is the Son of God, the Saviour of sinners, and the religion that I profess and practise is safe and divine.
“ And though there are many and sufficient arguments drawn from criticism, history, and human learning, to prove the sacred authority of the Bible, and such as may give abundant satisfaction to an honest inquirer, and full satisfaction that it is the word of God; yet this is the chief evidence that the greatest part of Christians can ever attain of the divine original of the Holy Scripture itself, as well as the truth of the doctrines contained in it, namely, that they have found a holy and heavenly change passed upon them, by reading and hearing the propositions, the histories, the precepts, the promises, and the threatenings of this book; and thence they are wont to infer, that the God of truth would not attend a book, which was not agreeable to his mind, with such glorious instances of his own power and grace.
“I have dwelt the longer in showing that the inward witness is such a witness to the truth of the Christian religion as does not depend on the exact truth of letters and syllables, nor on the critical knowledge of the copies of the Bible, nor on this old manuscript or the other new translation, because every manuscript and every translation has enough of the gospel to save souls by it, and make a man a Christian; and because I think this point of great importance in our age, which has taken so many steps to heathenism and infidelity; for this argument or evidence will defend a Christian in the profession of the true religion, though he may not have skill enough to defend his Bible.
“Why do you believe in Jesus ?' asks the unbeliever. If you have this answer ready at hand, • I have found the efficacy and power of the gospel in my heart; this will be sufficient to answer every cavil.
“ The words of St. Paul to the Corinthians have a reference to our present subject. "Ye are mani. festly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us; written, not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.'”
Thus far Dr. Watts in his sermons on the “ Inward Witness to Christianity," where the reader will find a great deal of truly evangelical instruction. For my own part, I cannot but think this good man approached as nearly to Christian perfection as any mortal ever did in this sublunary state ; and therefore I consider him as a better interpreter of the Christian doctrines than the most learned critics, who, proud of their reason and their learning, despised or neglected the very life and soul of Christianity, the living everlasting gospel, the supernatural operation of Divine grace. And be it ever remembered, that Dr. Watts was a man who cultivated his reason with particular care, who studied the abstrusest sciences, and was as well qualified to become a verbal critic, or a logical dis
12 Cor. iii. 2, 3.
putant on the Scriptures, as the most learned among the doctors of the Sorbonne, or the greatest proficients in polemic divinity.
The opinion of Dr. Lucas, the celebrated author of a
Treatise on “ Happiness,” concerning the Evidence of Christianity arising from Divine Communication.
“ There is,” says Dr. Lucas,“ no great need of acquired learning in order to true illumination. Our Saviour did not exact of his disciples, as a necessary preparation for his doctrine, the knowledge of tongues, the history of times or of nature, logic, metaphysics, or the like. These indeed may be serviceable to many excellent ends : they may be great accomplishments of the mind, great ornaments, and very engaging entertainments of life. They may be, finally, very excellent and necessary instruments of, or introductions to several professions and employments: but as to religious perfection and happiness, to these they can never be indispensably necessary.
“ A man may be excellently, habitually good, without more languages than one; he may be fully persuaded of those great truths, that will render him master of his passions and independent of the world ; that will render him easy and useful in this life, and glorious in another, though he be no logician nor metaphysician.
“ The qualifications previously necessary to illumination are two or three moral ones, implied in that infant temper which our Saviour required in those who would be his disciples,,humility, impartiality, and a thirst and love of truth.
“ There is a knowledge which, like the summit of Pisgah, where Moses stood, shows us the land of Canaan, but does not bring us to it.
“ How does the power of darkness, at this moment, prevail amidst the light of the gospel ? Are men ignorant ? No: but their knowledge is not such as it ought to be; it is not the light of life.
“ The understanding does not always determine the will.
“ Though every honest man be not able to discover all the arguments on which his creed stands, he yet may discover enough; and what is more, he may have an inward, vital, sensible proof of them ; he may feel the power, the charms of holiness, experience its congruity and loveliness to the human soul, so as that he shall have no doubts or scruples. But besides this, there is a voice within, a divine Teacher and Instructor.
“Extraordinary natural parts are not necessary to illumination. The gospel takes no notice of them. Such is the beauty of holiness, that it requires rather a fine sensibility arising from purity of heart, than quickness of intellectual apprehension, to render us enamoured of it.”
A truth which involves the present and eternal happiness of human beings, cannot be placed in too great a variety of lights, or too repeatedly en