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to different churches and to particular individuals, contain many admirable rules and directions to the primitive converts; many affecting exhortations, expostulations, and reproofs; many explanations and illustrations of the doctrines delivered by our Lord ; together with constant references to facts, circumstances, and events recorded in the Gospels and the Acts; in which we perceive such striking, yet evidently such unpremeditated and undesigned coincidences and agreements between the narratives and the epistles, as form one most conclusive argument for the truth, authenticity, and genuineness of both *. The sacred volume concludes with the Revelation of St. John, which, under the form of visions, and various symbolical representations, presents to us a prophetic history of the Christian religion in future times, and the various changes, vicissitudes, and revolutions it was to undergo in * See the Horae Paulinae of Dr. Paley.
in different ages and countries to the end of the world”. Is it possible now to conceive a nobler, a more comprehensive, a more useful scheme of instruction than this ; in which the uniformity and variety, so happily blended together, give it an inexpressible beauty, and the whole composition plainly proves its author to be divine * “The Bible is not indeed (as a great writer observes+) a plan of religion delineated with minute accuracy, to instruct men as in something altogether new, or to excite a vain admiration and applause; but it is somewhat unspeakably more great and noble, comprehending (as we have seen) in the grandest and most magnificent * A fuller and more detailed account of the contents of the several Books of Scripture may be found in Mr. Gray's Key to the Old Testament, Bp. Percy's to the New, and the Bishop of Lincoln's late excellent work on the Elements of Christian Theology. That part of it which relates to the Scriptures has been lately reprinted, for the accommodation of the public at large, in a duodecimo volume, which I particularly
recommend to the attention of my readers. + Archbishop Secker, V. vi.
nificent order, along with every essential of that plan, the various dispensations of God to mankind, from the formation of this earth to the consummation of all things. Other books may afford as much entertainment and much instruction ; may gratify our curiosity, may delight our imagination, may improve our understandings, may calm our passions, may exalt our sentiments, may even improve our hearts. But they have not, they cannot have that authority in what they affirm, in what they require, in what they promise and threaten, that the Scriptures have. There is a peculiar weight and energy in them, which is not to be found in any other writings. Their denunciations are more awful, their convictions stronger, their consolations more powerful, their counsels more authentic, their warnings more alarming, their expostulations more penetrating. There are passages in them throughout so sublime, so pathetic, full of such energy and force upon the heart and conscience, yet withC 2 Olit
out the least appearance of labour and study for that purpose ; indeed the design of the whole is so noble, so well suited to the sad condition of human kind; the morals have in them such purity and dignity; the doctrines, so many of them above reason, yet so perfectly reconcileable with it; the expression is so majestic, yet familiarized with such easy simplicity, that the more we read and study these writings with pious dispositions and judicious attention, the more we shall see and feel of the hand of God in them.*.” But
* That accomplished scholar and distinguished writer, the late Sir William Jones, chief justice of Bengal, at the end of his Bible wrote the following note; which, coming from a man of his profound erudition, and perfect knowledge of the oriental languages, customs, and manners, must be considered as a most powerful testimony, not only to the sublimity, but to the divine inspiration of the Sacred Writings:
“I have (says he) regularly and attentively read these Holy Scriptures, and am of opinion, that this volume, independently of its divine origin, contains more true sublimity, more exquisite beauty, more pure morality, more important history, and finer strains both of poetry and eloquence, than can be collected
that which stamps upon them the highest value, that which renders them, strictly speaking, inestimable, and distinguishes them from all other books in the world, is this, that they, and they only, “ contain the words of eternal life”.” In this respect, every other book, even the noblest compositions of man, must fail us; they cannot give us that which we most want, and what is of infinitely more importance to us than all other things put together,
ETERNAL LIFE. This we must look for no where but in Scripture. It is there, and there only, that we are informed, from authority, of the
* John vi. 68.
collected from all other books, in whatever age or language they may have been composed.
“ The two parts, of which the Scriptures consist, are connected by a chain of compositions, which bear no resemblance, in form or style, to any that can be produced from the stores of Grecian, Persian, or even Arabian learning: the antiquity of those compositions no man doubts; and the unstrained application of them to events long subsequent to their publication, is a solid ground of belief that they are genuine predictions, and consequently inspired.”