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The great importance of the facts mentioned in the fcrips it ftill more improbable, that the feveral authors fhould attempted to falfify, or have fucceeded in fuch an attempt. argument for the truth of the facts, which proves the geof the books at the fame time, as I fhall fhew below in a ropofition. However, the truth of the facts is inferred tly from their importance, if the genuineness of the fcriprevioufly allowed. The fame thing may be observed of the ber of particular circumftances of time, place, perfons, &c. in the fcriptures, and of the harmony of the books with 5, and with each other. Thefe are arguments both for the es of the books, and truth of the facts diftinctly confidered, arguments for deducing the truth from the genuineness. ed the arguments for the general truth of the hiftory of any ation, where regular records have been kept, are fo intertogether, and fupport each other in fuch a variety of ways, s extremely difficult to keep the ideas of them diftinct, not to e, and not to prove more than the exactnefs of method reone to prove: or, in other words, the inconfiftency of the y fuppofitions is fo great, that they can fcarce ftand long enough confuted. Let any one try this in the hiftory of France or id, Greece or Rome.

rthly, If the books of the Old and New Teftaments were writ

the perfons to whom they were afcribed above, i. e. if they nuine, the moral characters of these writers afford the strongest nce, that the facts afferted by them are true. Falfhoods and s of a common nature fhock the moral fenfe of common men, are rarely met with, except in perfons of abandoned characters: inconfiftent then must those of the moft glaring and impious are be with the highest moral characters! That fuch characters are to the facred writers appears from the writings themselves by an ernal evidence; but there is alfo ftrong external evidence in many es; and indeed this point is allowed in general by unbelievers. The terings which feveral of the writers underwent, both in life and ath, in atteftation of the facts delivered by them, is a particular gument in favour of these.

Fifthly, The arguments here alledged for proving the truth of the cripture hiftory from the genuineness of the books are as conclufive n refpect of the miraculous facts, as of the common ones. But befides this, we may obferve, that if we allow the genuineness of the books to be a fufficient evidence of the common facts mentioned in them, the miraculous facts must be allowed alfo, from their clofe connexion with the common ones. It is neceffary to admit both, or neither. It is not to be conceived, that Mofes fhould have delivered the Ifraelites from their flavery in Egypt, or conducted them through the wilderness for forty years, at all, in fuch manner as the common hiftory reprefents, unlefs we fuppofe the miraculous facts intermixed with it to be true alfo. In like manner, the fame of Chrift's miracles, the multitudes which followed him, the adherence of his difciples, the jealousy and hatred of the chief priests, scribes, and

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PROP. I.

THE GENUINENESS OF THE SCRIPTURES PROVES THE TRUTH OF THE PRINCIPAL FACTS CONTAINED IN THEM.

FOR, firft, It is very rare to meet with any genuine writings of the hiftorical kind, in which the principal facts are not true; unless where both the motives which engaged the author to falfify, and the circumftances which gave fome plaufibility to the fiction, are apparent: neither of which can be alledged in the prefent cafe with any colour of reafon. Where the writer of a 'hiftory appears to the world as fuch, not only his moral fenfe, but his regard to his character and his intereft, are strong motives not to falfify in notorious matters; he must therefore have ftronger motives from the oppofite quarter, and alfo a favourable conjuncture of circumftances, before he can attempt this.

Secondly, As this is rare in general, so it is much more rare where the writer treats of things that happened in his own time, and under his own cognizance or direction, and communicates his hiftory to perfons under the fame circumftances. All which may be faid of the writers of the fcripture hiftory.

That this, and the following arguments, may be applied with more eafe and clearnefs, I will here, in one view, refer the books of the Old and New Teftaments to their proper authors. I fuppofe then, that the Pentateuch confifts of the writings of Mofes, put together by Samuel, with a very few additions; that the books of Jofhua and Judges were in like manner collected by him; and the book of Ruth, with the firft part of the book of Samuel, written by him; that the latter part of the first book of Samuel, and the fecond book, were written by the prophets who fucceeded Samuel, fuppofe Nathan and Gad; that the books of Kings and Chronicles are extracts from the records of the fucceeding prophets concerning their own times, and from the public genealogical Tables, made by Ezra; that the books of Ezra and Nehemiah are collections of like records, fome written by Ezra and Nehemiah, and fome by their predeceffors; that the book of Efther was written by fome eminent Jew, in or near the times of the tranfaction there recorded, perhaps Mordecai; the book of Job by a Jew of an uncertain time; the Pfalms by David, and other picus perfons; the books of Proverbs and Canticles by Solomon; the book of Ecclefiaftes by Solomon, or perhaps by a Jew of latter times, speaking in his perfon, but not with an intention to make him pafs for the author; the prophecies by the prophets whofe names they bear; and the books of the New Teftament by the perfons to whom they are ufually afcribed. There are many interval evidences, and in the cafe of the New Teftament many external evidences alfo, by which these books may be fhewn to belong to the authors here named. Or, if there be any doubts, they are merely of a critical nature, and do not at all affect the genuineness of the books, nor alter the application of thefe arguments, or not materially. Thus, if the epiftle to the Hebrews be fuppofed written, not by St. Paul, but by Clement or Barnabas, or any other of their contemporaries, the evidence therein given to the miracles performed by Christ and his followers will not be at all invalidated thereby.

Thirdly,

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Thirdly, The great importance of the facts mentioned in the fcriptures makes it still more improbable, that the feveral authors fhould either have attempted to falfify, or have fucceeded in such an attempt. This is an argument for the truth of the facts, which proves the genuineness of the books at the fame time, as I fhall fhew below in a diftinct propofition. However, the truth of the facts is inferred more directly from their importance, if the genuineness of the fcriptures be previoufly allowed. The fame thing may be obferved of the great number of particular circumstances of time, place, perfons, &c. mentioned in the fcriptures, and of the harmony of the books with themselves, and with each other. Thefe are arguments both for the genuineness of the books, and truth of the facts diftinctly confidered, and alfo arguments for deducing the truth from the genuineness. And indeed the arguments for the general truth of the hiftory of any age or nation, where regular records have been kept, are fo interwoven together, and fupport each other in fuch a variety of ways, that it is extremely difficult to keep the ideas of them diftinct, not to anticipate, and not to prove more than the exactnefs of method requires one to prove: or, in other words, the inconfiftency of the contrary fuppofitions is fo great, that they can fcarce ftand long enough to be confuted. Let any one try this in the hiftory of France or England, Greece or Rome.

Fourthly, If the books of the Old and New Teftaments were written by the perfons to whom they were afcribed above, i. e. if they be genuine, the moral characters of these writers afford the ftrongest affurance, that the facts afferted by them are true. Falfhoods and frauds of a common nature shock the moral fenfe of common men, and are rarely met with, except in perfons of abandoned characters: how inconfiftent then muft thofe of the most glaring and impious nature be with the highest moral characters! That fuch characters are due to the facred writers appears from the writings themfelves by an internal evidence; but there is alfo ftrong external evidence in many cafes; and indeed this point is allowed in general by unbelievers. The fufferings which feveral of the writers underwent, both in life and death, in atteftation of the facts delivered by them, is a particular argument in favour of these.

Fifthly, The arguments here alledged for proving the truth of the fcripture history from the genuineness of the books are as conclufive in respect of the miraculous facts, as of the common ones. But befides this, we may obferve, that if we allow the genuineness of the books to be a fufficient evidence of the common facts mentioned in them, the miraculous facts must be allowed alfo, from their clofe connexion with the common ones. It is neceffary to admit both, or neither. It is not to be conceived, that Mofes fhould have delivered the Ifraelites from their flavery in Egypt, or conducted them through the wilderness for forty years, at all, in fuch manner as the common hiftory reprefents, unless we fuppofe the miraculous facts intermixed with it to be true alfo. In like manner, the fame of Chrift's miracles, the multitudes which followed him, the adherence of his difciples, the jealoufy and hatred of the chief priests, fcribes, and Pharifees,

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Of the Truth of

Pharifees, with many other facts of a common nature, are impoffible to be accounted for, unlefs we allow that he did really work miracles. And the fame obfervations hold in general of the other parts of the fcripture hiftory.

Sixthly, There is even a particular argument in favour of the miraculous part of the fcripture hiftory, to be drawn from the reluctance of mankind to receive miraculous facts. It is true, that this reluctance is greater in fome ages and nations than in others; and probable reafons may be affigned why this reluctance was, in general, lefs in ancient times than in the prefent (which, however, are prefumptions that fome real miracles were then wrought): but it must always be confiderable from the very frame of the human mind, and would be particularly fo amongst the Jews at the time of Chrift's appearance, as they had then been without miracles for four hundred years, or more. Now this reluctance muft make both the writers and readers very much upon their guard; and if it be now one of the chief prejudices against revealed religion, as unbelievers unanimoufly affert, it is but reafonable to allow alfo, that it would be a strong check upon the publications of a miraculous hiftory at or near the time when the miracles were faid to be performed; i. e. it will be a ftrong confirmation of fuch an hiftory, if its genuineness be granted previously.

And, upon the whole, we may certainly conclude, that the principal facts, both common and miraculous, mentioned in the fcriptures, must be true, if their genuineness be allowed. The objection againft all miraculous facts will be confidered below, after the other arguments for the truth of the fcripture miracles have been alledged.

The converfe of this propofition is also true; i. e. If the principal facts mentioned in the fcriptures be true, they must be genuine writings. And though this converfe propofition may, at firft fight, appear to be of little importance for the establishment of Chriftianity, inafmuch as the genuineness of the fcriptures is only made use of as a medium whereby to prove the truth of the facts mentioned in them, yet it will be found otherwife upon farther examination. For there are many evidences for the truth of particular facts mentioned in the fcriptures; fuch, for inftance, as thofe taken from natural history, and the contemporary profane hiftory, which no-ways prefuppofe, but, on the contrary, prove the genuineness of the fcriptures; and this genuineness, thus proved, may, by the arguments alledged under this propofition, be extended to infer the truth of the reft of the facts: which is not to argue in a circle, and to prove the truth of the fcripture-history from its truth; but to prove the truth of thofe facts which are not attefted by natural or civil hiftory, from those which are, by the medium of the genuineness of the fcriptures.

PROP. II.

THE GENUINENESS OE THE SCRIPTURES PROVES THEIR DIVINE

AUTHORITY.

THE truth of this propofition, as it refpects the book of Daniel, feems to have been acknowledged by Porphyry, inasmuch as he could

no-ways

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no-ways invalidate the divine authority of this book, implied by the accomplishment of the prophecies therein delivered, but by afferting that they were written after the event, i. e. were forgeries. But the fame thing holds of many of the other books of the Old and New Teftaments, many of them having unquestionable evidences of the divine foreknowledge, if they be allowed genuine. I referve the prophetical evidences to be difcuffed hereafter, and therefore fhall only fuggeft the following inftances here, in order to illuftrate the propofition; viz. Mofes's prophecy concerning the captivity of the Ifraelites, of a ftate not yet erected; Ifaiah's concerning Cyrus; Jeremiah's concerning the duration of the Babylonifh captivity; Chrift's concerning the deftruction of Jerufalem, and the captivity that was to follow; St. John's concerning the great corruption of the Chriftian church; and Daniel's concerning the fourth empire in its declenfion; which laft was extant in Porphyry's time at leaft, before the event which it fo fitly reprefents.

The fame thing follows from the fublimity and excellence of the doctrines contained in the fcriptures. Thefe no-ways fuit the fuppofed authors, i. e. the ages when they lived, their educations or occupations; and therefore, if they were the real authors, there is a neceffity of admitting the divine affiftance.

The converfe of this propofition, viz. that the divine authority of the fcriptures infers their genuineness, will, I fuppofe, be readily acknowledged by all. And it may be used for the fame purposes as the converse of the laft. For there are feveral evidences for the divine authority of the fcriptures, which are direct and immediate, and prior to the confideration both of their genuineness, and of the truth of the facts contained in them. Of this kind is the character of Chrift, as it may be collected from his difcourfes and actions related in the gofpels. The great and manifest superiority of this to all other characters, real and fictitious, proves, at once, his divine miffion, exclufively of all other confiderations. Suppofe now the genuineness of St. Luke's Gospel to be deduced in this way, the genuineness of the Acts of the Apoftles may be deduced from it, and of St. Paul's Epiftles from the Acts, by the ufual critical methods. And when the genuineness of the Acts of the Apostles, and of St. Paul's Epiftles, is thus deduced, the truth of the facts mentioned in them will follow from it by the laft propofition; and their divine authority by this.

PROP. III.

THE TRUTH OF THE PRINCIPAL FACTS CONTAINED IN THE SCRIP

TURES PROVES THEIR DIVINE AUTHORITY.

THIS propofition may be proved two ways; firft, exclufively of the evidences of natural religion, fuch as thofe delivered in the last chapter; and, fecondly, from the previous establishment of the great truths of natural religion. And, firft,

It is evident, that the great power, knowledge, and benevolence, which appeared in Chrift, the prophets, and apoftles, according to the fcripture accounts, do, as it were, command affent and fubmiffion from all those who receive these accounts as historical truths; and that, though

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