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profession, natural disposition, and rank in life, concur in writing a book on religious subjects as large as the Bible, each furnishing his portion, without comparing notes together; the attentive reader, whose mind had been long inured to such studies, would be able to discover some diversity of opinion among them. But the penmen of the scripture succeeded each other, during the term of fifteen hundred years: some of them were princes and priests, others shepherds and fishermen; their natural abilities, education, habits, and employments, were exceedingly dissimilar; they wrote laws, history, prophecy, odes, devotional exercises, proverbs, parables, doctrines, and controversy; and each man had his distinct department: yet they all exactly coincide in the exhibition which they give us of the perfections, works, truths, and will of God; of the nature, situation, and obligations of man; of sin and salvation; of this world and the next; and in short of all things connected with our duty, safety, interest, and comfort, and in the whole of the religion inculcated by them. They all were evidently of the same judgment; all aimed to establish the same principles, and applied them to the same practical purposes. Apparent inconsistencies will indeed perplex the superficial reader, but they will vanish upon a more accurate investigation; nor can any charge of disagreement, among the writers of the Bible, be substantiated : for it can only be said, that they related the same facts with different circumstances which are perfectly reconcileable; and that they gave instructions suited to the persons whom they addressed, without systematically shewing the harmony of them with other parts of divine truth. They wrote not by concert, and bestowed no pains to avoid the appearance of inconsistency: yet the exact coincidence, that is perceived among them by the diligent student, is most astonishing, and cannot be accounted for on any rational principles, without admitting that they wrote" as they were “ moved by the Holy Ghost.”
To this we may add, that the scriptural history accords, in a wonderful manner, with the most authentick records which remain, of the events, customs, and manners of the countries and ages to which it stands related. The rise and fall of empires, the revolutions that have taken place in the world, and the grand outlines of chronology, as mentioned or referred to in the scripturés, are coincident with those stated by the most approved ancient writers: whilst the palpable errors in these respects, detected in the apocryphal books, constitute one of the most decisive reasons for rejecting them as spurious. The history of the Bible is of far greater antiquity than any other records extant in the world: and it is remarkable, that in numerous instances it shows the real origin of those absurd fables, which disgrace and obscure all other histories of those remote times; which is no feeble proof, that it was derived from some surer source of information than human tradition.
III. The miracles, by which the writers of the Scriptures confirmed their divine mission to their contemporaries, afford us also a most convincing proof in this matter. The accounts of these miracles may be evidently shewn to have been pui). lished, very soon after the time, and at the places, in which they were said to have been wrought in the most conspicuous manner, and before vast multitudes, enemies as well as friends: yet
this publick challenge never called forth any man to deny that they were really performed; nor was an attempt of this kind ever made till long afterwards. Can any man of common sense think, that Moses and Aaron could possibly have persuaded the whole nation of Israel, that they had witnessed all the plagues of Egypt, passed through the Red Sea with the waters piled on each side of theni, gathered the manna every morning, and seen all the wonders recorded in their history, had no such events taken place? If then, that generation could not thus be imposed on, when could the belief of these extraordinary transactions be palmed upon the nation? Surely, it would liave been impossible in the next age, to persuade them that their fathers had seen and experienced such wonderful things, when they had never before heard a single word about them in all their lives; and when an appeal must have been made to them, that these were things well known among them! What credit could have been obtained to such a forgery at any subsequent period? It would have been absolutely necessary, in making this attempt, to persuade the people, that such traditions had always been current among them; that the memory of them had for ages been perpetuated by days and ordinances, observed by all the nation; and that their whole civil and religious establishment had thence originated : and could this possibly have been effected if they all knew that no such memorials and traditions had ever before been heard of among them? --The same might be shown concerning the other miracles recorded in Scripture; especially those of Christ and his apostles: and it might be made evident that the man, who denies that they were actually performed, must believe more wonderful things without any evidence, than those are which he rejects, though established by unanswerable proof. But brevity will only allow me to insist on one miTaculous event, viz. the resurrection of the Lord Jesus : for this being once proved, the substance of the whole Scripture is evinced to be a divine revelation. His doctrine and authority establish the authenticity of the Old Testament, and the witnesses of his resurrection wrote the New Testament.
tionable witnesses is sufficient to prove any fact, that is in its own nature credible: and the resurrection of a dead person, by Omnipotence, and for the most important purposes, cannot reasonably be deemed incredible. The ancient prophets had predicted the resurrection of the Messiah ;' and indeed every pre-intimation of his glorious and perpetual kingdum, when compared with the prophecies of his suffering and death, implied that he would rise again from the dead. His very eneunies knew, that he had foretold his own resurrection within three days, and they took precautions accordingly: yet the body was gone, and they could give no ratignal account what was become of it. The whole authority was vested in them, and their reputation was deeply concerned: yet they rather chose to bear the open charge of the basest murder and prevarication imaginable, than to excite
any further enquiry, by bringing either the soldiers who guarded the sepulchre, or the disciples who were said to have stolen the body, to a publick trial, though they had the latter in their custody. The eleven apostles (to whom a twelfth was soon added,) were a sufficient number of competent witnesses: being men of plain sense and blameless lives, they could not but identify the person of their Master whom they had so long attended; they unanimously testified, that they had received the fullest assurances of their senses to
i Ps. xvi, 10. Is. lið. 10--12.