« PreviousContinue »
the people, if the passages referred and appealed to, were merely the private opinion of some venerable men of former ages, but not the infallible word of God. And his appointment of the apostles, and his giving them the power of the keys, of opening and shutting the kingdom of heaven;* must imply, that in their writings, and in those which they sanctioned, his doctrine and religion might be found unmixed and genuine. Indeed, if it cannot be found there, where are we to look for it? These considerations shew, that he himself has attested the divine inspiration of both the Old and the New Testament.
An argument, comprising so many and important transactions, cannot here be fully discussed; but a few specimens may not improperly be annexed, of the manner in which the author supposes that the position might be maintained, with great effect, by any man who had talents and leisure for such an attempt.
When the divine Redeemer was tempted by the devil, he selected all the texts, with which, as by the sword of the Spirit,' he put the enemy to flight, from one of the Books of Moses. Does he then quote these books as the words of man? Surely not. He says repeatedly, “It is written.” And had any one inquired, Where? Would he not have answered, "In the word of God?”—In his sermon on the mount he continually refers to the law given by Moses; declaring that “till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled;" for he came not to destroy the law, ... but to fulfil." Now who can deny that our Lord came to fulfil the types of the ceremonial law, and the requirements of the moral law? And who can imagine, that the Son of God was manifested, thus to honor any institutions of mere human authority?-Yet many learned writers speak of the laws of Moses, as if they had originated with him.
The Pharisees and Scribes in general maintained, that JEHOVAH spake by Moses, and that his writings were the word of God: but does our Lord ever so much as intimate that this opinion was unwarranted, or held in too absolute and unrestricted a manner?|| Nay, when he saw good to expose the traditions of the elders, he charges them with rejecting and making void the commandment of God by their traditions:" but where was that commandment of God to be found, except in the books of Moses? for he expressly referred to the fifth commandment. -Again, when the Pharisees proposed a question to him respecting divorces, he referred them to the Mosaic history of the creation, and to the original institution of marriage; saying, “Have ye never read, that He which made them at the beginning, made them male and female?" Does not this method of appealing to these records imply an express attestation to the indisputable truth of them? And does not that attestation amount to a declaration, that they were written by divine inspiration?
Who was intended by the Householder, that inclosed the vineyard of Israel, but JEHOVAH? By whom did he inclose it, but by Moses? What Moses enacted and performed, was done in the name and by the authority of JEHOVAH: and can his writings be treated as the word of man, by any who consider the testimony of Christ as "the word of God?''T
The Sadducees proposed a case to Jesus, which they imagined inconsistent with the resurrection of the dead: but he decisively answered, “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God;" and he then referred them to the Books of Moses, as a confutation of their error. But did the Son of God in reality appeal to the writings of an uninspired man? or did he not appeal to the oracles of God? This however is not all; for he says expressly, "Have ye not read, that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, &c.?"-What Moses recorded was spoken by God.**
On another occasion he inculcated a regard to the Scribes and Pharisees, as sitting in Moses's seat, that is, teaching according to his law; though, at other times, he exposed their instructions, when, following their own traditions, they disannulled that law: what could this mean, but that the one was a divine revelation, the other a mere human invention?tt
In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, (if indeed it be a parable,) our Lord introduces Abraham saying to the rich man concerning bis brethren, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them:" and again, “If they believe not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead."11-But would he have thus called the attention of his hearers, and of all through revolving ages who read his words, to the writings of Moses, if any part of them had been erroneous and the mere opinion of a fallible man?- It is worthy of notice, that our Lord also expressly attested the truth of the Mosaic history, in some particulars which have not been most implicitly credited, in their evident and literal import: I mean the account given by Moses of the universal deluge, and Noah's preservation in the ark while all else were drownedl; and of the destruction of Sodom by fire and brimstone from heaven, with the sudden and awful doom of Lot's wife.lu
When discoursing with Nicodemus, he referred to the Mosaic history of the brazen serpent, in such a manner as both attested the typical import of that transaction, and the reality of the miracle recorded by Moseg.*
* Notes, Matt. 16:18_-20.
Matt. 4:1-11. 4 Notes, Mall. 15:1-14. Mark 7:1-9. ár Notre Matt. 22-23 -33 0.31 ft Note, Matt. 23:1-4.
Note, Matt. 5:17,18.
|| Notes, Joha 5:46 -4. 9:27-34. 1 Matt. 21:33_-46. Mark 12:1--12. Luke 20:9-18. It Luke 16-27–31. U Matt. 24:37-39. Luke 17:26 -32 1 Luke 4:23-27. it Luke 24:44. Acts 1:20. 13:33. tt Ps. 8:2. Matt. 21:15, 16. I'!! Notes, Ps. 110:1. Matt. 22:41–46. Mark 12:35-37
On another occasion, probably before the Sanhedrim, our Lord says to the Jews, “Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me, for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings how shall ye believe my words?"--Hence we may infer, that an intelligent belief of the words of Moses necessarily leads to faith in Christ; and that it could not be expected, that the Jews, who did not believe the testimony of Moses in this particular, would believe in him of whom he spake. Let this suffice, in respect of the Books of Moses.
It may be proper also to adduce a few specimens, respecting the other parts of the Old Testament. When the Pharisees condemned the disciples for rubbing the ears of corn on the sabbath-day, our Lord said unto them, "Have ye not read what David did?” “Have ye not read so much as this, what David did?"I and directly referred also to the law in the same sentence. Now this surely authorizes us to conclude, that he regarded both the law and the Books of Samuel, as equally the word of God.”_-In like manner he called the attention of his hearers to the history of the queen of Sheba, as of undoubted authority; and this is recorded both in the Books of the Kings and in the Chronicles.
When he anticipated the objection of the Nazarenes, by referring them to the conduct of the Lord in sending Elijah to Zarephath, to a Zidonian woman, rather than to any of the widows in Israel; and in cleansing Naaman the Syrian, by Elisha, rather than any of the lepers in Israel; he not only authenticated the historical records of those facts as genuine, but attested the miracles recorded in them; which, admitted in their full extent, can never be separated from the divine inspiration of those who wrought them. It should also be observed, that our Lord never referred to any writings in this manner, except those received by the Jews as the word of God; he opposed oral traditions, and has not once quoted the Books of the Apocrypha, some of which were then extant. It may therefore be fairly inferred, that he expressly designed to confirm the opinion of the Jews on that subject, by his repeated attestations, and to establish exclusively the divine inspiration of their sacred books.
JEHOVAH had given commandment by Moses, that the people should offer sacrifices, ex clusively at the place which he should appoint: and Joshua after his death, by divine direction, as the Jews supposed, placed the tabernacle at Shiloh, where it continued till the ark was taken by the Pnilistines. Afterwards David removed the ark to Jerusalem, and Solomon built the temple on mount Zion, which was from that time regarded as exclusively the place appointed by God for sacrifice.-A large proportion of the Old Testament, from the Books of Moses to the end of it, relates to this tabernacle and temple; to the sins of the people in offering sacrifice elsewhere, or in hypocritically attending on the ordinances there administered; to the judgments of God upon them for these sins; to the destruction of the temple by the Chaldeans; to the rebuilding of it by Zerubbabel; and to events of a similar nature. These things are so interwoven with the historical records of the Old Testament; that to deny the divine authority, by which Joshua separated Shiloh, and David appointed mount Zion, as the exclusive place for offering sacrifice, according to the command given by Moses, would tend to invalidate the whole narrative; as it would imply, that the Lord inflicted tremendous judgments on the nation, merely for violating the appointments of uninspired men.-The Samaritans indeed argued, that men ought to worship" on mount Gerizim, and not at Jerusalem: but our Lord declared to the woman of Samaria, that the Samaritans “knew not what they worshipped; for salvation was of the Jews."** Now, who can doubt, that this declaration of Jesus Christ, and his own constant attendance on the worship performed at Jerusalem, fully attest the divine inspiration of those books, in which the appointment of this place and the building of the temple are recorded, as having been done by the directions and command of God himself?
Let us also very briefly consider our Lord's testimony to the writings of the Prophets, and to the Book of Psalms. The Psalms are indeed ascribed to different writers; but it is evident that they constituted a book of the Scriptures among the Jews at that time, as they no'y do:ft so that a quotation from that book, as the word of God, without adding any limitation, is in fact an attestation of the whole.
When the children in the temple cried, “Hosanna to the Son of David;" the chief priests said to Jesus, "Hearest thou not what these say?" To which he answered, “Yea: have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?”ft Did not this attest the words of David, as the language of inspiration, and of prophecy?
On another occasion he demanded of the Pharisees, "how David in Spirit," or, “by the Holy Ghost," "called the Messiah, Lord:"?|||| which is equivalent to David's declaration
Note, John 3:14.15. Notes, John 5:39–47. Matt. 12:1-5. Luke 6:3,4. | Lev, 24:5--9. 1 Sam. 21146 $ 1 Kings 10 1-13. 2 Chr. 9:1-12. Note, Matt. 12:41,42.
** John 4:20-22
soncerning himself; “The Spirit of God spake by me, and his word was in my tongue."* And accordingly our Lord, after his resurrection, declared that "all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms concerning him."-But why must this have been, except as the writings referred to were inspired by God himself? Could there be any necessity, that the words of fallible men, however wise and good, should be fulfilled, in such extraordinary events, as the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ?
Referring to a passage, in the Psalms,f he asks, “Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came; and the Scripture cannot be broken, &c.''|| Who called the magistrates gods, but Jehovah? And why could not the Scripture be broken, but because it is "the word of God?”
I shall only, in a general way, refer the reader, to some of our Lord's attestations to several of the Prophets, whose writings form a part of our Scriptures. The texts referred to are surely a sufficient attestation to the prophecy of Isaiah. When our Lord says, "Well did Esaias prophecy of you;” could he mean any thing less than St. Paul did, in saying, “Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet?''T—Christ gives similar attestations to the prophecy of Daniel:** and to Hosea. He also expressly attests the history contained in the book of Jonah, which is often treated very irreverently.If He evidently refers to the words of Micah, in predicting the persecutions, to which his disciples would be subjected.|||| And he explicitly attests the prophecy of Malachi.99 Seyeral others of the prophets are quoted by the evangelists: but none are here adduced, except those who are mentioned by our Lord himself, in a manner attesting the divine inspiration of the writers, or their language, as the word of God.”
It only remains to mention his attestation to the Scriptures in general, and to the division of them which was received at that time, into “the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms." Thus he says to the Scribes, "Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The Stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the Head of the corner?''TT And when he adds, " Therefore I say unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof;" he evidently shews, that he quoted the passage as the word of God, which “cannot be broken."-"How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” and again, “All this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled."***
Would we know more particularly what Scriptures he meant? Let us hear his words to the apostles: “All things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms concerning me."Itt
The words of our Lord are very remarkable; “Search,” says he, “the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me.”Itt Now what could the Jews suppose Jesus to mean by “the Scriptures,” but the books which they had been accustomed to distinguish by that appellation? They had thought, that in these the way of eternal life was to be found; these testified of Jesus as the Messiah; and yet they rejected him, without whom they could not obtain eternal life - This one testimony confirms indubitably the divine revelation of the whole Old Testament, as it stood at that time, to all who truly believe the words of Christ: but, reversing his conclusion in another case, we may fairly say to men who call themselves Christians, 'If ye believe not his words, how can ye believe the writings of the Old Testament?
When the Jews went about to stone him, because he had said, “I and my Father are One;" he quoted a passage from the Psalms, adding, “The Scripture cannot be broken.”IU. But what can we understand by the Scripture,” in this connexion, but the canonical books of the Old Testament as then received by the Jews? And who can deny this to be a complete authentication of them, as the unfailing word of the unchangeable God? Indeed all those passages, in which Christ speaks of his sufferings, death, and resurrection, with the various circumstances connected with them, as what “must be," with reference to the types and prophecies of the Old Testament, prove, as far as men regard his testimony, that not one tittle of those sacred records could pass away, till the whole had received its full accomplishment: for which no other satisfactory reason can possibly be given, than this, that the whole is a divine revelation; "for the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
But, should it be granted that our Lord's own words demonstrate the whole Old Testament to be given by inspiration from God," as far as men reverence and believe his testimony; yet it may still be asked, Does it follow, that the books of the New Testament admit of the same kind of proof from the words of Christ himself?—Let us briefly examine this subject also. It is not indeed practicable to adduce so large a body of evidence, as has been brought in the former case; nor is it necessary: yet I apprehend that the argument may in a short compass be made very conclusive. When Peter confessed Jesus to be “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” He answered, “I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”-Peter had spoken in the name of the other apostles, as well as in his own; and it is generally allowed, that the answer included them also: indeed this appears by other passages of similar import, in which they were all addressed.*
Note, 2 Sam. 23:1,2. Luke 24:44–46. I Ps. 82:1,6,7. || Note, John 10:32-39. Matt. 13:13_15, 16:7-9. 21:13. Mark 7:6,7. Luke 4:17--21. 1 Acts 28:25.
** Matt. 24:15. Mark 13:14.
Hos. 6:6. Matt. 9:13. 12:7. 11 Matt. 12:39-41. 16:4. Luke 11:2932. Il Mic. 7:6. Matt.10:35,36.
8 Mal. 3:1. Matt. 11:10,&c. Luke 7:27.Mal. 4 5.6. Matt. 17:10-12. Mark 9:11-13.
111 Ps. 118:22,23. Matt. 21:42,43.
*** Matt. 26:54-66. Itt Luke 24:27,44-46.
tt. Jobo 5:39,40,
H01 John 10:34,35.
If it be allowed that this absolute promise was given exclusively to the apostles; we must next inquire, how they could exercise this power of binding or loosing, especially after their decease, except by their doctrine? and where must the church or the world look for that doctrine, if not in their writings? Should we suppose, that the exercise of this exclusive authority was confined to the short time of their continuance on earth; then the church has ever since been left destitute of any rule, either for censures or absolutions, even of a declarative nature; and also of all criteria for the discrimination of true Christians from other men, either for the purpose of self-examination, or for the regulation of our conduct towards the household of faith,” and the world around us. But if this promise was not exclusively made to the apostles, nor the authority given by it intended to be exercised according to their doctrine; the consequence must be, either that there are in every age, ministers of religion possessed of this absolute power of bind ing and loosing; or that the words of Christ have not received their accomplishment. And, as it does not seem to accord with the prevailing sentiments of this age, to invest ministers, of any kind or description, with such an infallible and decisive authority; we may, I apprehend, be allowed to conclude, that the promise was made exclusively to the apostles; and was fulfilled, when they were inspired by the Holy Spirit to deliver that doctrine to the church, according to which the state of all men, in respect of acceptance or condemnation, is and will be finally decided. If this be allowed, it will inevitably fol low, that our Lord's express testimony proves that their writings are a divine revelation; for in them especially they delivered to the church what they received from the Lord; and these have been, and will be to all subsequent generations, exclusively “the doctrine of Christ.'
On the night before his crucifixion, our blessed Savior repeatedly promised to send to his apostles, “the Spirit of Truth, who should guide them into all Truth," and "shew them things to come;" who should "teach them all things, and bring all things to their remembrance whatsoever he had said unto them,” and who should receive of his and shew it to them.” There is a subordinate sense, in which these promises are, in a measure, accomplished to all true Christians: but the persons, who advance doubts respecting the divine authority of the books contained in the New Testament, will scarcely deny that they are addressed in a far superior sense, to the apostles and those immediately connected with them. Now the Spirit was given to them, as well as to others, “to profit withal:” and it is undeniable, that genuine Christianity, without unremitted miracles, could be delivered down to future ages for the profit of mankind, only by writings, in which it should be stated without error or corrupt mixture, and preserved as a sacred deposit in the church from generation to generation. What then could the Holy Spirit, promised in this energetic language to the apostles, be so rationally supposed to do for them, as to guide their minds by an immediate superintending inspiration, when they dictated those writings, by which it was evidently the design of Providence that the doctrine of Christ should be perpetuated in the church? Indeed, either they did deliver to mankind the doctrine of their Lord and Master, pure and uncorrupted, or they did not: if they did not, the revelation, which God made of himself by his well-beloved Son, has answered very little purpose; as no man, without a new revelation properly so called, can or ever could distinguish the truths of Christ from the errors of the apostles: but if they did deliver their doctrine pure and uncorrupted to mankind; why should we maintain, that they were preserved from error when preaching the gospel, in which one generation of men alone was immediately concerned; and yet left to fall into errors in their writings, in which all future ages and nations were most deeply interested? If when they were brought before governors for a testimony to them, it was not they that spoke, but the Holy Spirit who spake by them;f we may surely conclude, that what they wrote for a testimony to all future ages and nations, was arranged under the same efficacious teaching and superintendency.
Our Lord, just before his ascension, renewed and ratified his commission to the apostles: “All power,” says he, “is given unto me in heaven and earth: go ye, therefore, and teach
all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always even to the end of the world.” “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature: he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned."* Yet none, those alone excepted, to whom the apostles personally preached, can have any concern in this important declaration; unless the doctrine of Christ, delivered to the apostles, may be certainly found in their writings.-Our Lord just before his crucifixion intercedes for his whole future church in these words, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word:"7 and indeed all real Christians in every age have believed in him, not so much through the word of the ministers who preached to them, as through that of the apostles, by which their doctrine must be tried; from which, if sound, it is deduced, and to which it is properly their custom to make an unreserved appeal. In this sense St. Paul says, that believers are “built upon the foundation of the apostles and proph ets, Jesus Christ being the chief Corner Stone:” for the Old Testament written by the prophets, and the New Testament by the apostles, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit," contain that doctrine, which is the foundation of the faith and hope of the whole church, as resting on Christ, and united in him into an holy temple, "an habitation of God through the Spirit."
The several books of the New Testament were written by the apostles themselves, excepting the gospels of Mark and Luke, and the Acts of the Apostles: and these were penned by the attendants on the apostles, and under their immediate inspection, and consequently were equally authenticated by them, as if they had themselves written them. If any should object, that Paul was not one of those apostles, to whom Christ gave his express testimony, and yet he wrote a great part of the Epistles: it may be answered, first, that there is no alternative between denying all the facts recorded concerning him, and allowing his apostolical authority in its fullest extent, or that at least “he was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles:" and secondly, that Peter has attested his Epistles to be a part of the Scriptures, in these remarkable words, “Even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given unto him, hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction." If therefore, our Lord's own words authenticate the writings of the other apostles as a divine revelation; Peter, who in some respects might be called the chief of the apostles, authenticates by divine inspiration the writings of his beloved brother Paul.
Finaliy, the only portion of Scripture, of which our Lord can in any sense he called the Writer, is that which contains the epistles to the seven churches in Asia, which he dictated to the apostle John as his amanuensis. All his discourses (as well as his miracles, and the events of his life, death, resurrection, and ascension,) were written, not by himself, but by the evangelists, two of whom were not apostles. What greater assurance then have we, that they recorded faithfully his words, than that the apostles faithfully delivered his doctrine to mankind? If the evangelists were not inspired in recording his words, we are not infallibly sure, that he spoke what they ascribe to him; and why should we allow the divine inspiration of his historians, in recording his words; and yet doubt the divine inspiration of his apostles, in communicating his doctrine to the church and to the world? This opinion therefore is, in fact, both hostile to the whole of the sacred oracles, and at variance with itself.
The consequences of our present conduct, according to the Scriptures, are so inmense, that if there were only a bare possibility that these were divine truth, it would be madness to run the risk of rejecting them, for the sake of gaining the whole world. What then shall we think of those who having such unanswerable demonstrations of their being the word of God, that they cannot reasonably doubt of it for a moment, yet disobey the commands, and neglect the salvation, revealed in them, for the veriest trifle which can be proposed! Especially, as it may be shewn, that, (besides the eternal consequences,) the firm belief of the Scriptures, and the conscientious obedience which true faith always produces, will render a man far happier in this present life, even amidst trials and selfdenying services, than any other man can be made, by all the pomp, pleasure, wealth, power, and honor, which the world can bestow on him.
If these arguments, which certainly contain a complete moral demonstration of the divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, excite in any reader a greater attention to the sacred volume, and dispose him to read it with more strict impartiality, and larger expectations of improvement; if they induce any one, who has not hitherto turned his attention to the subject, to examine it carefully for himself; if they obviate the unhappy prei. udices, or confirm the wavering faith, of one individual; if they stir up any one to scele
Note, John 17:20,21. • Notes, Matt. 28:18-20. Mark 17:15, 16.
Note, Eph. 2:19–22. | Note, 2 Pet. 3:14 16. VOL. I.