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BEFORE I proceed to the next proposition, I would make some few remarks, by way of improvement, upon what has been said under this.
I. From what has been said, we may strongly argue, that Jesus of Nazareth is indeed the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world; and so that the Christian religion is the true religion, seeing that Christ is the very person so evidently pointed at, in all the great dispensations of Divine Providence, from the fall of man, and was so undoubtedly in so many instances foretold from age to age, and shadowed forth in a vast variety of types and figures. If we seriously consider the course of things from the beginning, and observe the motions of all the great wheels of Providence from one age to another, we shall discern that they all tend'hitherThey are all as so many lines, whose course, if it be observed and accurately followed, it will be found that every one centres here. It is šo very plain in many things, that it would argue stupidity to deny it. This therefore is undeniable, that this person is a divine person, sent from God, that came into the world with his commission and authority, to do his work, and to declare his mind. The great Governor of the world, in all his great works before and since the flood, to Jews and Gentiles, down to the time of Christ's birth, has declared it. It cannot be any vain imagination, but a plain and evident truth, that that pere son that was born at Bethlehem, and dwelt at Nazareth, and at Capernaum, and was crucified without the gates of Jerusa: lem, must be the great Messiah, or anointed of God. And blessed are all they that believe in, and confess him ; and miserable are all that deny him. This shews the unreasonableness of the Deists, who deny revealed religion, and of the Jews, who deny that this Jesus is the Messiah foretold and promised to their fathers.
Here it may be some persons may be ready to object, and say,
That it may be, some subtle, cunning men contrived this kistory, and these prophecies, so that they should all point to
Jesus Christ on purpose to confirm it, that he is the Messiah. To such it may be replied, How could such a thing be contrived by cunning men to point to Jesus Christ, long before he ever was born? How could they know that ever any such person would be born? And how could their craft and subtilty help them to foresee and point at an event that was to come to pass many ages afterwards ? For no fact can be more evident, than that the Jews had those writings long before Christ was born ; as they have them still in greät veneration, wherever they are, in all their dispersions through the world ; and they would never have received such a contrivance from Christians; to point to and confirm Jesus to be the Messiah, whom they always denied to be the Messiah ; and much less would they have been made to believe that they always had had those books in their hands, when they were first made and imposed upon them.
II. What has been said, affords a strong argument for the divine authority of the books of the Old Testament, from that admirable harmony there is in them, whereby they all point to the same thing. For we may see by what has been said, how all the parts of the Old Testament, though written by so many different penmen, and in ages distant one from another, do all harmonize one with another ; all agree in one, and all centre in the same thing, and that a future thing ; an event which it was impossible any one of them should know but by divine revelation, even the future coming of Christ. This is most evident and manifest in them, as appears by what has been said.
Now, if the Old Testament was not inspired by God, what account can be given of such an agreement ? For if these books were only human writings, written without any divine direction, then none of these penmen knew that there would come such a person as Jesus Christ into the world ; his coming was only a mere figment of their own brain : And if so, how happened it, that this figment of theirs came to pass ? How came a vain imagination of theirs, which they foretold without any manner of ground for their prediction, to be so exactly fulfilled? And especially how did they come all to agree VOL. II.
in it, all pointing exactly to the same thing, though many of them lived so many hundred years distant one from another ?
This admirable consent and agreement in a future event, is therefore a clear and certain evidence of the divine authority of those writings.
III. Hence we may learn what a weak and ignorant objection it is that some make against some parts of the Old Testament's being the word of God, that they consist so much of histories of the wars and civil transactions of the kings and people of the nation of the Jews. Some say, We find here among the books of a particular nation, histories which they kept of the state of their nation, from one age to another; histories of their kings and rulers, histories of their wars with the neighboring nations, and histories of the changes that happened from time to time in their state and government ; and . so we find that other nations used to keep histories of their public affairs, as well as they ; and why then should we think that these histories which the Jews kept are the word of Gods more than those of other people ? But what has been said, shows the folly and vanity of such an objection. For hereby it
appears that the case of these histories is very different from that of all other histories. This history alone gives us an account of the first original of all things ; and this history alone deduces things down in a wonderful series from that original, giving an idea of the grand scheme of divine providence, as tending to its great end. And together with the doctrines and prophecies contained in it, the same book gives a view of the whole series of the great events of divine providence, from the first original to the last end and consummation of all things, giving an excellent and glorious account of the wise and holy designs of the governor of the world in all.
No common history has such penmen as this history, which was all written by men who came with evident signs and testimonies of their being prophets of the most high God, immediately inspired.
And the histories that were written, as we have seen from what has been said under this proposition, do all contain those great events of Providence, by which it appears how God
has been carrying on the glorious divine work of redemption from age to age. Though they are histories, yet they are no less full of divine instruction, and of those things that show forth Christ, and his glorious gospel, than other parts of the holy scriptures, which are not historical.
To object against a book's being divine, merely because it is historical, is a poor objection ; just as if that could not be the word of God which gives an account of what is past ; or as though it were not reasonable to suppose that God, in a revelation he should give mankind, would give us any relation of the dispensations of his own providence. If it be so, it must be because his works are not worthy to be related; it must be because the scheme of his government, and series of his dispensations towards his church, and towards the world that he has made, whereby he has ordered and disposed it from age to age, is not worthy that any record should be kept of it.
The objection that is made, That it is a common thing for nations and kingdoms to write histories and keep records of their wars, and the revolutions that come to pass in their territories, is so far from being a weighty objection against the historical part of scripture, as though it were not the word of God, that it is a strong argument in favor of it. For if reason and the light of nature teaches all civilized nations to keep records of the events of their human government, and the series of their administrations, and to publish histories for the information of others ; how much more may we expect that God would give the world a record of the dispensations of his divine government, which doubtless is infinitely more worthy of an history for our information ? If wise kings have taken care that there should be good histories written of the nations over which they have reigned, shall we think it incredible, that Jesus Christ should take care that his church, which is his nation, his peculiar people, should have in their hands a cer. tain infallible history of their nation, and of his government of them ?
If it had not been for the history of the Old Testament, how wofully should we have been left in the dark about many things which the church of God needs to know ! How igno
rant should we have been of God's dealings towards mankind, and towards his church, from the beginning! And we should have been wholly in the dark about the creation of the world, the fall of man, the first rise and continued progress of the dis. pensations of grace towards fallen mankind ! And we should have known nothing how God at first set up a church in the world and how it was preserved ; after what manner he gove erned it from the beginning; how the light of the gospel first began to dawn in the world ; how it increased, and how things were preparing for the coming of Christ.
If we are Christians, we belong to that building of God that has been the subject of our discourse from this text : But if it had not been for the history of the Old Testament, we should never have known what was the first occasion of God's going about this building, and how the foundation of it was laid, at first, and how it has gone on from the beginning. The times of the history of the Old Testament are mostly times that no other history reaches up to ; and therefore, if God had not taken care to give and preserve an account of these things for us, we should have been wholly without them.
Those that object against the authority of the Old Testa ment history of the nation of the Jews, may as well make it an objection against Moses's account of the creation, that it is historical ; for in the other, we have an history of a work no less important, viz. the work of redemption. Yea, this is a far greater and more glorious work, as we observed before ; that if it be inquired which of the two works, the work of creation or the work of providence, is greatest; it must be answered the work of providence ; but the work of redemption is the greatest of the works of providence.
And let those who make this objection consider what part of the Old Testament history can be spared without making a great breach in that thread or series of events by which this glorious work has been carried on........... This leads me to observe, and
IV. That, from what has been said, we may see much of the wisdom of God in the composition of the scriptures of the Old Testament, i. e. in the parts of which it consists. By