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Rom. 3. 1, 2. It is said in honor of that nation, that they "Are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, aud the glory, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the Father's, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen." Rom. 9. 4, 5. Notwithstanding the present infidelity of the Hebrew nation, in relation to the Christian religion, they highly venerate the Old Testament, and faithfully contend for its plenary inspiration.
Dr. Priestly has addressed a series of letters to the Jews, on account of the congeniality which he supposed to be between them and the Anti-Trinitarians, concerning the Unity of God in Person as well as essence:-but the hope of converting them to his views of the Old Testament, in relation to its being uninspired, might truly have been small. They have never embraced that opinion of their Scriptures; nor is there any probability that they ever will. The answer of their celebrated Rabbi, David Levi, to the letters that have been mentioned, confirms this remark.
The Jews have no dispute with us in regard to the plenary inspiration of their own Scriptures; and when they shall have the veil of unbelief removed from their eyes by divine grace, they will, undoubedly, have an equally strong faith in the entire inspiration of the NewTestament.
They put false constructions upon their Scriptures, to evade their evidence in favor of the Divinity of Christ's Person and mission; but they have never shown a disposition to deny the complete authority of the Old Testament, in relation to doctrine and duty. There is a wide difference, therefore, between them and the Anti-Trinitarians, who assume the Christian name. We have a hold of the Jews
in arguing, on the ground of their belief in the full inspiration of the Old Testament, from which our AntiTrinitarian opponents have broken loose. But their departure from the Scriptures, as a complete standard of divine truth, will be shown more fully in the sequel of this subject.
The great majority of the Christian world, fully agree with the Jews, in relation to the sacredness of the Old Testament, and their faith is equally strong, concerning the plenary inspiration of the New. This fact very fully appears from their public confessions of faith. It is needless to enter into the proof of this, by quotations from their numerous standards; for there is no probability that this statement will be denied. Whatever points of difference appear, among the various denominations of professing Christians, they are generally and happily agreed in this essential article of faith. It may be justly considered, therefore, as a fundamental principle in theology; and a dereliction from it, is a complete departure from all that which gives any claim to the Christian name. This assertion will readily be admitted as correct, by all the visible Churches of our Lord, in all parts of the earth. It is, therefore, made with unlimited confidence.
The denial of this, forms a strong resemblance-a near relation to avowed deists; and it lays a broad foundation for the adoption of their entire theory, in the progress of such a mode of investigation. This is a solemn reflection, and well calculated to alarm the mind of an immortal being-a being accountable to God. We have great reason to doubt the truth of such instructions, and to dread the influence of men, who are endeavoring, either openly or secretly, to unhinge our belief in the entire inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. This point must either be admitted, or else, to be consistent, we must deny that the Bible is of
any essential value; when, it is certainly announced that "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God." This is either true or false. If it is true, we are bound to believe it; but if not, the whole authority of the writings that are called sacred, is at once annihilated. Such a palpable falsehood must destroy forever the credibility of any testimony. It is incumbent on us to take heed how we are led by the reasonings of men, "who lie in wait to deceive;" and who are, "with good words and fair speeches," corrupting the religious principles " of the simple" and undesigning part of mankind. The general agreement of the Christian world, in relation to the complete inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, is a powerful evidence that this article of faith is true, and founded on irresistible and ample testimony. On this head, the agreement of the church has been as general, through the course of eighteen hundred years, as it is at the present day. A number of my hearers have solemnly assented to this article of the Christian faith, in the presence of God, angels and men. You, my brethren, have laid yourselves under high obligation to resist every temptation to give up this cardinal point in revealed religion.
We have reason to fear, lest some of the members of our families should be induced to renounce the Trinitarian doctrine, under the peculiar circumstances in which we are placed in providence. To guard ourselves and them also, from such a catastrophe, is a thing of the last importance. Whenever we set aside the complete inspiration of the Scriptures, and refuse to acknowledge them as an unerring standard of truth; we are entirely afloat in relation to doctrine, duty and hope. When this ground is taken, our own opinion is the only guide. This appears to be the case with many, who enjoy the means of being better ininformed. They profess to extend charity to all men,
whom they think sincere, let their religious principles be what they may. This is believing that people may honestly misunderstand the essential truths of the Bible-reject them all-yet be sincere, virtuous servants of the Lord, and profitable teachers of mankind. But if this is a correct sentiment, then, God ought to acknowledge to men, that his word is expressed in such an enigmatical manner, that he has not given them sufficient abilities to comprehend its meaning. This view of the case, is very inconsistent with the following divine injunctions, namely, "If any man speak, let him speak as the Oracles of God.” 1 Pet. 4. 11. "If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him. God speed, is partaker of his evil deeds." 2 John, 1. 10. "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." Gal. 1. 8. Such sayings are very impertinent and offensive, if the Scriptures are not the only test of doctrine and duty. If they are either obscure in their meaning, or destitute of divine authority, they cannot be sufficient to make us "wise unto salvation." The point under consideration may, therefore, be viewed as fairly and forever settled. AMEN.
To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
In the preceding discourse, it has been made to appear, that the Holy Scriptures are the only standard of decision on matters of faith and practice. In conformity with the order adopted, it is to be shown,
II. What the ways are, in which our opponents refuse to speak according to this rule. The Anti-Trinitarians, however, are not the only people who depart unwarrantably from this unerring standard. But there is no other sect that I know of, that take an equal liberty with the Scriptures; whose teachers bestow such unwearied pains, and employ such learning and talents, to rase them to the very foundation. I shall now endeavor to make a short and correct statement of the various ways they have adopted, to accomplish their designs. And,
1. They assert, that the following passages, relating to the doctrine of the Trinity, and the Deity of Christ, are interpolations; or, to use the words of the Rev. T. Lindsey, "False readings, or alterations of the words of Scripture, made with design, or through mistake, before the art of printing was invented."