Изображения страниц

power. And, though many real Christians are not at all qualified to dispute with infidels, yet they are enabled, through this inward testimony, to obey the Gospel, and to suffer in its cause; and they can no more be convinced by reasonings and objections, that uninspired men wrote or invented the Bible, than they can be persuaded that man created the sun, whose light they behold, and by whose beams they are warmed and cheered.*

* For the materials of the preceding chapters I have been chiefly indebted to Lardner's Credibility of the Gospel History, &c.; Paley's Evidences of Christianity ; Macknight's Truth of the Gospel History; Olinthus Gregory's Letters on the Evidences of the Christian Religion ; Edwards on the Authority, Style, and Perfection of the Old and New Testament ; The first volume of the Rev. T. H. Horne's Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures ; Faber's Horæ Mosaicæ ; Bryant on the Divine Mission of Moses ; Scott's Essays ; Porteus on the Christian Revelation ; Townsend on the Character of Moses as an Historian; Watson's Apology ; Leslie's Short and Easy Method with the Deists, &c. : to which excellent works the Reader is referred for a full discussion of the various topics here introduced, and in some instances, for the proofs of several of the statements and facts, and also to the succeeding portion of this work, containing a more full detail of the evidence. Comprehensive Bible, General Introduction, pp. 55–66.









EVIDENCE OF THE GENUINENESS OF THE SCRIPTURES. 1. From their having been always received as genuine; evidence

of which is to be found in (1.) The earlier books being cited or alluded to by subsequent sacred writers ; particularly the Pentateuch by the subsequent writers of the Old Testament, (Jos. i. 7, 8. viii. 31. Jud. xi. 15..26. 1 Sa. x. 18, 19. xii. 8. xv. 2. 2 Ki. xvii. 26. 2 Ch. xvii. 9. xxxiv. 15, 21. Ezra vi. 18. Neh. xiii. 1. Ps. xix. 7..11. xl. 7, 8. lxxiv. 13..15. lxxvii. 15..20. lxxviii. 1..55. cv. cvi. 1..39. cxix. cxxxvi. 10..20. Dan. ix. 11..13. Mal. iv. 4.) and the Old Testament by the Apostles, (Mat. v. 27. xi. 13. xxii. 40. Mar. x. 3. xii. 26. Lu. x. 25. xvi. 16. xx. 42. xxiv. 25, 44. Jno. vii. 19. viii. 5. Ac. 1. 20. iii. 22. vii. 35..37. xxvi. 22. xxviii. 23. Rom. x. 5. 1 Co, ix. 9. 2 Co. iii. 7..15. 2 Ti. ii. 14.. 17. Heb. vii. 14. X. 28.)*

(2.) Of the Old Testament by the testimony of Jewish Translators and Writers. Such as the Translators of the Septuagint, Aquila, Theodotion, and Symmachus, the authors of the Syriac Version and the Targums, the Talmud, Jesus the son of Sirach, (in Ecclesiasticus,) Philo, (Vit. Mos. I. 11.), and Josephus, (Cont. Apion. l. 1. §. 8.) &c.t; for an account of whom see Introduction to Comprehensive Bible, pp. 72–78. To which might be added, the Samaritan Pentateuch; from which besides its value in a critical point of view, as serving to establish correct readings, we derive one of the most extraordinary and irrefragable arguments in support of the authenticity and integrity of the books of Moses ; for, though an irreconcilable enmity

• Comprehensive Bible, Introduction, p. 55.



subsisted between the Jews and Samaritans, and the latter were held in such abhorrence by the former, that they would have deemed it a profanation to transcribe any thing from the Holy Volume which contained all the articles of the Samaritan creed, yet the two copies of the Pentateuch, after the lapse of so many ages, agree in every thing essential.*

(3.) Of the New Testament, by quotations or allusions by a regular succession of Christian Writers ; such as the apostolic fathers, Barnabas, Clement, Hermas, Ignatius, and Polycarp, Papias, Justin Martyr, Tatian, Melito, Ireneus, Athenagoras, Theophilus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Eusebius, &c. &c.;t for an account of whom, see Comprehensive Bible, pp. 78–82.

(4.) From their genuineness never having been impugned by Jewish or heathen adversaries, or heretics ; such as Celsus, Porphyry, the Emperor Julian, the Cerinthians, Ebionites, Novatians, Donatists, Manicheans, Arians, Marcion, Noëtus, Marcellus, &c. f

For a more detailed account of the genuineness of each of the Sacred Writings, see the Introductions to the several books in the Comprehensive Bible.

2. From the language and style of writing in the Old and New

Testament; as (1.) Their diversity of style proving them to be the work of various authors; which the following evidence will amply evince :

The style of Isaiah has been universally admired as the most perfect model of elegance and sublimity; and as distinguished for all the magnificence, and for all the sweetness of the Hebrew language. "Isaiah,' says Bp. Lowth, “the first of the prophets, both in order and dignity, abounds in such transcendent excellencies, that he may be properly said to afford the most perfect model of the prophetic poetry. He is at once elegant and sublime, forcible and ornamental; he unites energy with copiousness, and dignity with variety. In his sentiments, there is extraordinary elevation and majesty ; in his imagery, the utmost propriety, elegance, dignity, and diversity; in his language, uncommon beauty and energy; and, notwithstanding the obscurity of his subjects, a surprising degree of clearness and simplicity: To these we may add, there is such sweetness in the poetical composition of his sentences, whether it proceed from art or genius, that if the Hebrew poetry at present is possessed of any remains of its native grace and harmony, we shall chiefly find them in the writings of Isaiah ; so that the saying of Ezekiel may justly be applied to this prophet:

Thou art the confirmed exemplar of measures,
Full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.

Ezek. xxviii. 12. Isaiah also greatly excels in all the graces of method, order, connection, and arrangement; though, in asserting this, we must not forget the nature of

the prophetic impulse, which bears away the mind with irresistible violence, and frequently in rapid transitions from near to remote objects, from human to divine: we must likewise be careful in remarking the limits of particular predictions, since, as they are now extant, they are often improperly connected, without any marks of discrimination, which injudicious arrangement, on some occasions, creates almost insuperable difficulties.' But, though the variety of his images, and the warmth of his expressions, characterise him as unequalled in eloquence; and though the marks of a cultivated mind are stamped in every page of his book; yet these are almost eclipsed by the splendour of his inspired knowledge. In the delivery of his prophecies and instructions, he utters his enraptured strains with an elevation and majesty that unhallowed lips could never attain ; and, from the grand exordium in the first chapter to the concluding description of the Gospel, to “be brought forth in wonders, and to terminate in the dispensation of eternity, there is one continued display of inspired wisdom, revealing its oracles and precepts for the instruction and salvation of man. *

The character of JEREMIAH, as a writer, is thus ably drawn by Bp. Lowth : 'Jeremiah is by no means wanting either in elegance or sublimity, although, generally speaking, inferior to Isaiah in both. St. Jerome has objected to him a certain rusticity in his diction; of which, I must confess, I do not discover the smallest trace. His thoughts, indeed, are somewhat less elevated, and he is commonly more copious and diffuse in his sentences : but the reason of this may be, that he is mostly taken up with the gentler passions of grief and pity, for the expressing of which he has a peculiar talent. This is most evident in the Lamentations, where those passions altogether predominate ; but it is often visible also in his Prophecies; in the former part of the book more especially, which is principally poetical. The middle parts are, for the most part, historical : but the last part, consisting of six chapters, is entirely poetical ; and contains several oracles distinctly marked, in which this Prophet falls very little short of the loftiest style of Isaiah.' His images are, in general, perhaps less lofty, and his expressions less dignified, than those of some others of the sacred writers; but the character of his work, which breathes a tenderness of sorrow calculated to awaken and interest the milder affections, led him to reject the majestic and declamatory tone in which the prophetic censures and denunciations were sometimes conveyed. The holy zeal of the Prophet is, however, often excited to a very vigorous and overwhelming eloquence, in inveighing against the audacity with which the Jews gloried in their abominations; and his descriptions, especially the last six chapters, have all the vivid colouring that might be expected from a painter of contemporary scenes. The historical part, which chiefly relates to his own conduct, and the completion of those predictions which he had delivered, is characterised by much simplicity of style; and possesses some marks of antiquity that ascertain the date of its composition. Thus the months are reckoned by

* Comprehensive Bible, Concluding Remarks to Isaiah.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »