« FöregåendeFortsätt »
cise that they may be called translations, entirely accord with our Hebrew Bibles.
The books of the Old Testament have been always allowed, in every age and by every sect of the Hebrew Church, to be the genuine works of those persons to whom they are usually ascribed; and they have also been, universally and exclusively, without any addition or exception, considered by the Jews as written under the immediate influence of the Divine Spirit. Those who were contemporaries with the respective writers of these books, had the clearest evidence, that they acted and spoke by the authority of God himself; and this testimony transmitted to all succeeding ages, was in many cases strengthened and confirmed by the gradual fulfilment of predictions contained in their writings. "We have not," says Josephus, "myriads of books which differ from each other, but only twenty-two books, which comprehend the history of all past time, and are justly believed to be divine. And of these, five are the works of Moses; which contain the laws, and an account of things from the creation of man to the death of Moses: this period falls but a little short of 3000 years. And from the death of Moses to the reign of Artaxerxes, who succeeded Xerxes as king of Persia, the prophets after Moses wrote the transactions
of their own times in thirteen books; and the four remaining books contain hymns to God and precepts for the conduct of human life. And from Artaxerxes to the present-time there is a continuation of writings, but they are not thought deserving of the same credit, because there was not a clear succession of prophets. But what confidence we have in our own writings is manifest from hence; that after so long a lapse of time no one has dared to add to them, or to diminish from them, or to alter any thing in them; for it is implanted in the nature of all Jews, immediately from their birth, to consider these books as the oracles of God, to adhere to them, and if occasion should require, cheerfully to die for their sake (2)." The Jews of the present day, dispersed all over the world, demonstrate the sincerity of their belief in the Authenticity of the Scriptures, by their inflexible adherence to the Law, and by the anxious expectation with which they wait for the accomplishment of the prophecies. "Blindness has happened to them" only "in part (a);" and the constancy, with which they have endured persecution, and suffered hardships, rather than renounce the commands of their lawgiver, fully
(z) Jos. cont. Ap. lib. 1. sect. 8, edit. Huds. p. 1333, (a) Rom. c. II. v. 25.
proves their firm conviction that these books were divinely inspired, and that they remain uninjured by time and transcription. Handed down, untainted by suspicion, from Moses to the present generation, they are naturally objects of their unshaken confidence and attachment-but suppose the case reversed-destroy the grounds of their faith, by admitting the possibility of the corruption of their Scriptures, and their whole history becomes utterly inexplicable. "A book of this nature," says Dr. Jenkin, speaking of the Bible, "which is so much the antientest in the world, being constantly received as a divine revelation, carries great evidence with it that it is authentic for the first revelation is to be the criterion of all that follow; and God would not suffer the antientest book of Religion in the world to pass all along under the notion and title of a revelation, without causing some discovery to be made of the imposture, if there were any in it; much less would he preserve it by a particular and signal providence for so many ages. It is a great argument for the truth of the Scriptures, that they have stood the test, and received the approbation of so many ages, and still retain their authority, though so many ill men in all ages have made it their endeavour to disprove them; but it is a still farther evidence in behalf of them,
them, that God has been pleased to shew so remarkable a providence in their preservation (b)."
But the most decisive proof of the Authenticity and Inspiration of the antient Scriptures is derived from the New Testament. The Saviour of the World himself, even he who came expressly "from the Father of Truth to bear witness to the truth," in the last instructions which he gave to his apostles just before his ascension, said, "These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me (c)." Our Lord, by thus adopting the common division of the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, which comprehended all the Hebrew Scriptures, ratified the canon of the Old Testament as it was received by the Jews; and by declaring that those books contained prophecies which must be fulfilled, he established their divine Inspiration, since God alone can enable men to foretel future events. At another time Christ told the Jews, that they made "the word of God of none effect through their traditions (d)." By thus calling the written rules
(b) Reas. & Cert. of the Christian Religion.
(c) Luke, c. 24. v. 44. (d) Mark, c. 7. v. 13.
which the Jews had received for the conduct of their lives, "the Word of God," he declared that the Hebrew Scriptures proceeded from God himself. Upon many other occasions Christ referred to the antient Scriptures as books of divine authority; and both he and his apostles constantly endeavoured to prove that "Jesus was the Messiah" foretold in the writings of the Prophets. St. Paul bears strong testimony to the divine authority of the Jewish Scriptures, when he says to Timothy, "From a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus (e)" this passage incontestably proves the importance of the antient Scriptures, and the connection between the Mosaic and Christian dispensations;—and in the next verse the apostle expressly declares the Inspiration of Scripture; "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God." To the same effect St. Luke says, that "God spake by the mouth of his holy prophets (ƒ)." And St. Peter tells us, that " prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (g)." In addition to these passages, which refer to the antient Scriptures collectively,
(f) Luke, c. I. v. 70.
(e) 2 Tim. c. 3. v. 15. (g) 2 Pet. c. 1. v. 21.