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highly worthy the Almighty to reveal; and the Words of those who preached thofe Doctrines, were all along confirm'd by Signs following.
3. ANOTHER Argument to prove the Divine Authority of the Holy Scriptures, is the concurrent Teftimony of all Ages. A well attefted Hiftory, is as ftrong an Evidence of Truth, as Things declared and transacted at a distance, are capable of receiving; and in Human Affairs it never fails of its Weight and Credit: In like manner it hath pleased the Almighty, to vouchsafe us the fame fort of Evidence in Sacred Matters, as we think fufficient in common Life: It can be as well prov'd, as Human Teftimony can prove any thing, that the Books of the Holy Scriptures were written by the Authors whofe Name they bear; at the Times when; and with the Circumftances, under which they are fupposed to be written; That the Facts recorded in them were true; That the Writers bore the Marks of Divine Miffion; That they were reputed infpired Writers by thofe among whom they lived; That their Works were immediately receiv'd
into the Canon of Scripture; and have been handed down to us thro' intermediate Ages, with all poffible Fidelity and Exactness.
THESE Arguments of Prophecies, Miracles, and Human Teftimony, may be call'd external Arguments; because they do not immediately arife from the Subftance of the Scriptures themselves; and from these Arguments we must conclude, that if there be Faith in Man, if there be Power and Wisdom in God, they all concur to evince the Divine Authority of thofe Sacred Writings.
4. The Substance of them does likewife moft powerfully, and affectingly conclude for their Heavenly Origin.
THE Excellency of thefe Sacred Writings will indeed more particularly fall in with the two other Heads we proposed to treat of from thefe Words, viz. The Usefulness and Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures. But it may here be mention'd, that those bright and exalted Truths which are there declared, Those glorious Hopes of Eternal Happiness with which they enrich thofe enlivening Sentiments of VirC 2
tue and Holiness with which they inspire That admirable Harmony and Connection which run thro' the Whole; tho' the Parts were compofed by different Perfons, at different Times, and on different Occafions, are all of them pregnant Proofs, that, however they are the Writings of Men, they are nevertheless the Dictates of God himself. Time would fail us, were we diftinctly to mention their unaffected Simplicity of Narration; their majestick Plainnefs of Stile; their piercing Force of Inftruction, they being quick and powerful, fharper than any two-edged Sword; their heavenly Weight of Dotrine; their lovely Syftem of Faith and Holinefs; the bleffed Tendencies they have to promote God's Glory and Man's Happiness; the Awe and Veneration they imprefs on their very Adverfaries; the bright Influences they have on the Lives of those who obey the Precepts of them : These and numberless other Inftances of this fort, are such strong and affecting Indications of Heavenly Truth, fuch clear and direct Stroaks of Divinity itself, as put them, not only above the Sufpicion
of Falfhood, but likewife above the Poffibility of human Invention and Compofure.
BUT the two other Heads of Difcourfe will allow us to infift upon these Articles more particularly. From what has been faid, I would briefly make this one Remark, viz. That the Divine Authority of the Holy Scriptures, fhould engage us to conceive and treat of those Sacred Writings, under Terms of the greatest Regard and Deference. The Prophane indeed themselves are ready enough to acknowledge them to be useful Writings, inafmuch as they prefcribe to Mankind the moft pure and perfect Leffons of Holy Living; but this is a Conceffion we are in no wife to be contented with, efpecially fince we can fo fully and manifeftly trace up their Heavenly Origin; for take away the Notion of their being divinely inspired, and they immediately lofe all their Obligations; Let the Inftructions therein contain'd, be never fo wifely calculated, they will come upon us without any Force and Authority, and the ObferC 3
vance or Neglect of them will become Matter of entire Indifferency; nay, take away the Notion of their being divinely infpir'd, and they will not only fall below the Character of good and useful Writings, but must be univerfally esteem'd the most wicked and grofs Imposture that was ever put upon Mankind: To afcribe to the Almighty a Piece of mere human Compofition, to counterfeit the Seals of Heavenly Miffion, and to ufurp the Marks of Divine Authority, are Acts of Blafphemy, which would fix a Brand of Abomination and Abhorrence upon the Inftruments of fuch Collufion and Prophanenefs, let the Subftance of the Writings themselves, be never fo excellent. So that in treating with our Adverfaries upon this Article, tho' the Substance of the Holy Scriptures be one boafted Argument of their Worth and Excellency; yet we ought, as little as poffible, to take them in any View separate from their Divine Authority; because that ftamps a Dignity upon them, which muft confound all Gainfaycrs, and raife in the Mind of feri