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prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues which are written in this book; and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." Rev. 22. 18, 19.
This is an alarming declaration, and peculiarly calculated to guard us from thinking meanly of the Divine Oracles, or attempting to deny their entire inspiration. But, if that is given up, it can be no great crime to take from them such passages as we may deem unreasonable. Disbelieving some parts of Scripture, and teaching others to do the same, is really taking from the book of God. When once any part of its authority is seriously shaken, it must fail in having much effect on the human mind. We should, therefore, be exceedingly cautious in our conclusions, relative to any passage which is found in that sacred volume.
No text should be rejected as spurious, unless there is positive evidence of the thing, or because we find it opposite to the grand doctrines of the Bible. We cannot but see, from the passages that have been quoted, that the Scriptures do claim for themselves a complete inspiration and dominion over the belief of man. Every point that is proved by express Scripture, or by fair implication, must. be considered as divine truth. Those who refuse to bę convinced by such testimony, may be justly viewed as rejecting the counsel of God, "and of judging themselves unworthy of everlasting life." Acts 13. 46. This is an alarming situation.
But to the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures, it is objected that St. Paul says in one of his epistles, "But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment." 1
Cor. 7. 6. The ingenious and elegant R. Wardlaw has offered some cogent arguments to prove the apostle's inspiration in this case. It is not, however, necessary to argue that point now. Those who wish to enquire into it, are referred to that author.
But allowing that St. Paul denies his being inspired in the case that has been mentioned; it proves his belief in the full inspiration of all the other Scriptures. If this is an exception, there is particular notice given of it. If any other part of the Bible was uninspired, we should, undoubtedly, be made acquainted with it likewise. The very text, therefore, that is brought forward as an objection, is a powerful evidence that the holy Scriptures are a complete standard, or "Test of truth." In my own mind, there is no doubt of the apostle's inspiration in the case in question. A fixed standard of doctrine and duty, is absolutely needed; and that must be either Reason or the written Word. We do not wish to condemn reason, but we must pronounce it incompetent to decide on many things, that are necessary for us to know, in relation to eternal salvation. This has been sufficiently proved and illustrated.
3. The Holy Scriptures have been received, in all ages, by the Church, as an unerring standard of doctrine and duty.
The Jews have always manifested a high veneration for the Scriptures of the Old Testament, and they have been peculiarly careful, from time immemorial, to preserve them either from being lost or corrupted. The martyr Stephen says, They "received the lively Oracles to give unto us." Acts 7. 38. In answer to the question, "What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there in circumcision?" St. Paul replies, "Much every way: chiefly because that unto them were committed the Oracles of God."
Rom. 3. 1, 2. It is said in honor of that nation, that they "Are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and 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,