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[Ess. v. of so much care and attention among that people, was universally considered by them to be of divine origin and authority. The reverence with which the early Jews regarded the Hebrew Scriptures was evinced, not only by the titles which they applied to them, such as “the books of holiness," “ the holy thing of the Lord,” but also by certain practices of a ceremonial nature. It was their custom to kiss the Bible on opening and shutting it, and ever to place it at the top of all other books ; nor was it considered lawful to have recourse to it with unwashen hands: see Leusden, Philol. Hebr., diss. i, sect. 1. Philo, the Jewish philosopher, who was cotemporary with Christ, and was deeply versed in the books of the Old Testament, styles them, in various parts of his works, the sacred writings, the oracle of God; and in his numerous quotations from both the historical and prophetical parts of the Bible, he very generally notices the divine authority of that which he cites. Josephus also, in his work against Apion, has written on this important subject, in very decisive terms: “These writings,” he says, in speaking of the Hebrew Scriptures, "contain an account of all time, and are justly held to be divine. It is proved, by experience, in what degree we have faith in the writings which belong to us; for, although so long a period has now elapsed since they were composed, no one has been so daring as to add any thing to them, or to take any thing away from them. But, it is a common principle, imbibed by all the Jews from their very birth, to consider them as the doctrines of God, to abide by them, and, if need be, willingly to die for them:" lib. i, cap. 8.
That the sentiments thus prevalent among the early Jews respecting the divine authority of the Old Testament were correct, appears from the testimony of Jesus Christ and his apostles—a testimony which
Testimony of Jesus Christ. relates to so plain a subject, which is so worked into the Gospel narrative, and which is so frequently and variously given, that its validity cannot be reasonably disputed by any persons who have already admitted that the New Testament is genuine and authentic, and that Christianity is the religion of God. The declarations of Jesus Christ, in reference to such a point, must be fully admitted to be true by all who acknowledge his divine mission; and, with regard to the apostles, without any consideration, in the present stage of our argument, of the fact of their inspiration, it is only reasonable to conclude, that they derived their doctrine on the subject from that celestial teacher, to whose service they were entirely devoted.
Our Lord, in his discourses, and the evangelists and apostles, in their writings, have made frequent mention of the Scriptures; and it must be evident, to every attentive reader of the New Testament, that, when they employed this term, they did not refer to writings in general, but solely to that particular collection of writings which was held sacred by the Jews, and which, by way of pre-eminence, was so denominated.
Now, from the manner in which they quoted from the Scriptures, it is easy to perceive that Jesus and his disciples fully coincided with the Jews, to whom, for the most part, they addressed themselves, respecting the divine authority of these sacred books. On various occasions, and more especially when his own person, character, and history, were the subjects of discussion, the Lord Jesus was accustomed to appeal to the contents of the Old Testament, as affording an unquestionable evidence of the truth. It was the Scriptures, he declared, which testified of himself: John v, 39. “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you,” said he to his disciples, "that all things must be fulfilled which were
Testimony of Jesus Christ [Ess. v. written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures:” Luke xxiv, 44, 45; see also Matt. xxi, 42. xxvi, 54, &c. Not only, indeed, did our Lord elucidate, by the declarations of the Old Testament, the events which were then occurring, but sometimes he described the events themselves, as happening for the very purpose that the Scriptures might be fulfilled : see John xv, 25, xvii, 12; comp. Matt. viii, 17, &c. Nor was it merely to the statements of the Old Testament, respecting himself, that Jesus appealed as prophetically true, and therefore of divine origin. There were occasions on which he cited Scripture, as the decisive authority, in reference to other points of doctrinal or practical importance. Thus, when discoursing with the Sadducees on the subject of a future life, he traced their error of opinion to their ignorance of Scripture, and then confuted them by citing a passage from the book of Exodus: Matt. xxii, 32. Again, when the Jews accused him of blasphemy, because he said he was the Son of God, he silenced their cavils by an appeal to the Sacred Volume, and added an emphatic and most important declaration:“ The Scripture cannot be broken :" John x, 34, 35; see also Mark xi, 17; Luke x, 26.
The apostles and evangelists, in their method of citing from the Old Testament, have closely followed the example of their divine Master. Thus, when writing on the nature and importance of faith, Paul thus rests his argument on the authority of Holy Writ: “For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness; Rom. iv, 3. So the apostle Peter, after enforcing the necessity of coming to Jesus Christ, as to a living stone, adds, “Wherefore also is it contained in the
87 Scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner-stone,” &c., 1 Pet. ii, 6; and James, when describing the origin of wars and fightings—the lusts or evil passions of men-confirms his proposition by similar evidence: "Do ye think the Scripture saith in vain, 'The Spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy:'”iv, 5; comp. Acts xviii, 28; Rom. ix, 17, xi, 8, &c.
Upon all these and many other similar passages in the Gospels and Epistles, it is necessary to make two observations. First, that, in thus quoting from the Old Testament, Jesus Christ and his apostles made no invidious distinctions respecting the particular books of which it was composed. The historical and the prophetical parts of the Bible were alike the object of their deference, the standard of their doctrine; and although, in most of the instances in which they made mention of the Scriptures, they had in their view particular passages of the Bible, there is reason to believe that they adduced these passages as decisive, not because they flowed from the pen of any particular author, but because they formed a part of that class of writings—that sacred and unalterable collection—to which, by way of distinction, was applied the name of “Scripture." Secondly, we can scarcely fail to remark, that, like Christians in the present day, they appealed to the Scriptures as to a source of certain information, a paramount indisputable authority, on all subjects connected with religious truth ; nor could such an appeal have arisen from any thing short of a full admission that these holy books were really of divine origin, or given by inspiration of God.
That such was, in fact, the impression under which their appeal was made, is confirmed by apostolic testimony, of a yet more positive nature.
When speaking of the prophets who wrote the Old Testament,
Declaration of Paul. [Ess. v. Peter declares that it was the Spirit of Christ within them which testified of the future coming of our Lord : 1 Pet. i, 11 ; and again he says, that “these holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost: 2 Pet.i, 21. In the Epistle to the Hebrews, the words of David and Jeremiah are cited, without any express reference to those writers, simply as the words of the Holy Ghost: chap iii, 7, x, 15. But it is the second Epistle of Paul to Timothy which presents to us the most important passage, in reference to the present subject
-a passage luminous in itself, and, when considered in connexion with the collateral evidence already stated, completely convincing on the point in question. “But continue thou,” says the apostle to his son in truth, "in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that 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. All Scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works : ” 2 Tim. iii, 14–17.
It has been observed, that the latter part of this passage is capable of being otherwise rendered, “Every writing, given by inspiration of God, is also profitable,” &c. Now, if we adopt this translation, (which I would submit does not so properly represent the Greek as the version commonly received) the passage will still afford a clear evidence of the divine origin of Scripture. It is surely undeniable that, by
every writing given by inspiration of God,” (if such can be deemed the right version of his words) the apostle intended to express all those writings which, in the preceding verse, he denominated the Holy Scrip