Page images
PDF
EPUB

from enjoying that inward satisfaction of mind which arises from a fearless avowal of what they believe to be true; and they cut themselves off from that full assurance of faith which supports the mind in the dying hour. By it, the thoughtless of all classes and degrees, are encouraged to neglect their duty. By it, the sinner is induced, still more .eagerly, to pursue his vicious career. By it, the good are scandalized and the bad made -Worse. By it, the stedfast are grieved, and the wavering driven from their hope, and the sceptic aided in his jest, at the expense of piety and virtue. ! . s. ,'. Such, my brethren, are the lamentable effects of unreasonable doctrines in religion of a persecuting spirit amongst its professors of the indifference and insincerity of those who falsely pretend to support her cause. I do not profess indeed to have mentioned herein the greater part of those causes which militate against the full action and more rapid spread of religious truth, or which aid the growth of that spirit of unbelief which unhappily distinguishes the age in which we live. Yet enough, methinks, has been said to induce a more earnest, attention to the all-impor. tant subject: to convince: us of the necessity of inquiring what is truth ?!--not from motives of curiosity-not with the languor of indifference, predetermined, never, to pursue the subject to a favourable issue-not with the sneer of the sceptic, prejudiced against every thing, but what comes within the little circuit of the view which he may

porn differe hond of pecan be little free from P to all

have taken of the works and providence of Gods but, with the hope of ultimately attaining this great object of human desire, and of adhering to it through the whole course of our lives. sol. quote:

It is your duty, and mine, my brother, thus diligently to seek truththus constantly to abide by what we deem to be its precepts to follow it whithersoever it may guide our steps. And if in our progress through life we should happen to form different opinions, let us put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness,' and not fall out by the way,' There can be little doubt, that, if we endeavour to keep our minds free from preju. dice, and open to conviction, we shall attain to all truth, necessary for our real improvement and happiness, in this life, and for qualifying us to 'enter, with honour, upon that which is to come. At least, if we do not succeed in the discovery, to the extent of our wishes, the merit of having sought will be ours: and be it remembered, that men will not be condemned, merely for not having obtained possession of truth, but for not having pursued it with their whole heart. When we consider, morcover, how worthless all the things of this world are, in comparison of what will qualify us for acting our parts well, while we remain here, and for entering upon a new and better life hereafter,

surely, it behoves us to be diligent, while it is called to-day,' in the things which pertain to our everlasting salvation. A few years, only, must elapse, when you, and I, and all that are dear to us, will be mouldering in the grave. The inter

mediate space will pass like a dream, or like a tale that is told. "How much, therefore, is it our duty and our interest, to live, seeking, obeying, and supporting the truth :-how much resignation, and fortitude, and hope, will be derived to us in the trying hour of dissolution, from the reflection that we have not despised the precepts of truth-that we have not been indifferent to its cause—that we have not lived in vain!

51

II.—OF THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE

JEWISH SCRIPTURES.

Revelation essential to man's temporal and spiritual welfare.- Its advantages in several particulars pointed out.- Of the genuineness of the ancient scriptures. Objections to their genuineness considered. Reasons for ascribing the several books to their reputed authors. Difficulties necessarily attendant upon determining the authenticity of books of such high antiquity.—Not such as to warrant the indecent attacks of the unbeliever.--Authenticated by heathen testimony.“ 'Jewish testimony.- Internal evidence.--Of the canon of scripture.General review of several other species of evidence in favour of .the anthenticity of the Jewish scriptures.-Superiority of the scriptures as a history of the Creation, Delage, Origin of Nations, and the transactions of the early ages.--Objections to the Mosaical account of the Creation considered. --Objections to the Mosaical account of the Deluge considered. Objections of Geologists considered.--Agreement of the Jewish scriptures with the facts of both natural and civil bistory.--Objectior.s against certain relations in the scriptures considered.--Divinity of the scriptures proved from the fulfilment of the prophecies contained therein.—Divivity of the scriptores proved from the excellency of the doctrines and precepts contained therein. Compared with heathen morals and theology:--Consequent superiority of the moral and religious ,condition of the Jews.-The Jews afford perpetual evidence of the truth of their scriptures to all 'nations.—Essentially different from other'nations and tribes that have preserved their ancient institutions.—Chinese.- Hipdas.-Arabs.-

No advantage derived to the cause of unbelief by denying the more ancient part of the history of the Jews, and admitting the later part of the history of that people, which is almost equally miraculous.Defects observable in the scripture history vot such as to tarnish the lustre of i!s excellencies.-The Bible, with respect to much of its con,tents, the work of man, recording the deeds of men, and, therefore, necessarily interspersed with the history of much folly, imperfection, and crime.-Not to be judged in detached parts, but by its general tenore

It might, perhaps, be shown, that some extraordinary aid, equivalent to a revelation, was necessary to the welfare, if not to the prolonged existence, of the first human beings, on their coming from the hands of the Creator. For although man is a very superior being to the rest of the animal creation, and is enabled, much more effectually than they, to adopt means for securing the preservation, sustenance, and comfort of life, when under the guidance of an intellect, whose peculiar properties have been called forth by experience, discipline, and instruction of various kinds,-he would, nevertheless, be a weak destitute creature, in comparison with the lower animals, if this distinctive property of his nature had never received the impressions necessary to, make it available to the purposes for which it was bestowed. In the latter destitute condition, man must have been originally placed in the world, if some kind of extraordinary aid, sufficient to direct him to the means of securing his welfare, which is equivalent to a revelation, had not been granted him. For man is not, nor can we suppose him ever to have been, possessed of that property of the

« PreviousContinue »