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Ess. v.]

New Testament. tures ; and it is equally certain that, by these latter expressions, he described the canon of writings received as divine by the Jews; that is to say, the Old Testament. Whether, therefore, we understand the apostle as making a direct assertion, or only as elucidating by an epithet his notion of Scripture, we plainly learn from him that the Old Testament was given by inspiration of God.

II. Let us now proceed to consider the question before us, as it relates to the New Testament.

Since every divine revelation, intended for permanent utility among men, so obviously requires a divine Scripture, and since it actually pleased God, as is proved by the testimony of Jesus Christ and his apostles, to substantiate the revelations recorded in the Old Testament, by placing the stamp of his own authority on the writings which compose it, little doubt can reasonably be entertained that the final and more important revelation was attended by the same advantage. If the dispensations of God, revealed to mankind under the law, which were chiefly of an introductory nature, required a Scripture, through which the account of them might be handed down from generation to generation, on the authority of God himself; how much more did the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which developed the completion of those dispensations, demand a similar security? Can we for a moment imagine that, in the one case, a divine Scripture would be granted, and, in the other, denied to mankind; or that the full discovery of divine truth would be exposed, in its delivery to the world, to that fatal admixture of human error and infirmity, from which the preparatory revelations were so effectually protected ?

The conclusion to which we are led by this obvious argument from analogy, respecting the divine authority of the New Testament, is confirmed by the posi

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Argument from Analogy. [Ess. v. tive evidence afforded us in its authentic narrative, that the apostles of Jesus Christ, who were the authors of the greater part of the volume, were directly inspired. When, during his own life and ministry, Jesus sent forth his apostles to preach and to work miracles in his name, he taught them that the spirit of their Father was to speak in them. “And ye shall be brought before governors and kings,” said the Saviour to them, “ for my sake for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak; for it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." Matt. x, 18-20. The promises of that divine influence, which was to form so distinguishing a feature of the Christian dispensation, were personally addressed to these highly-favoured servants of the Lord; and were unquestionably applicable to them, with an especial degree of force. “The comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you:” John xiv, 26.

“ Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high :” Luke xxiv, 49. Lastly, the event to which the expectation of the apostles was thus directed is so exactly described in the Book of Acts, that, even were we in possession of no collateral evidence of their inspiration, we could reasonably entertain no doubts on the subject. We read, that when they were assembled together on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Ghost descended, and rested upon them in the likeness of cloven tongues of fire. Immediately they were endued, in a plenary manner, with supernatural gifts: they spake in foreign languages, of which

Ess. v.]
Inspiration of the Apostles ;

91 they had till then been ignorant; and, with unparalleled success, they unfolded to the multitude the truths of the Gospel, under the positive and professed influence of direct inspiration: Acts ii, 1–11.

Now, it is evident that the apostles were thus inspired in order to the dissemination of religious truth: and it will be admitted that, for this purpose, their writings were of an importance at least equal to that of their preaching. Their preaching answered the great purposes of the day, and served for the introduction of Christianity into the world. Their writings were equally essential to its maintenance, and were the appointed means of conveying divine instruction to a long series of successive generations. It is certain, therefore, that the supernatural effusion of the Spirit was required for their writing still more, if possible, than for their preaching; and the declarations of the New testament, that it was actually directed to the latter object, afford a sufficient evidence (when the purpose of the gift is considered) that it was extended also to the former.

It was evidently on this ground that Paul and Peter commenced their Epistles, by declaring their apostleship--a declaration which the former was accustomed to strengthen by very emphatic additions:-" Called to be an apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God:” Rom. i, 1. “ An apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God:” 2 Cor. i, 1. Not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead :" Gal. i, 1. The obvious intention of the apostle, in making use of these expressions, was to magnify his office, and to evince that the doctrine which he was about to promulgate rested not upon his own authority, but upon that of the divine Master whom he served. Accordingly we find him, in other parts of his Epistles, declaring not merely that his

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Its Plenary Nature [Ess. v. preaching was "in demonstration of the Spirit and power," but that his writings also were of divine origin. “If any man," said he, “think himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord :" 1 Cor. xiv, 37.

Nor was the authority thus claimed by Paul, as attaching to the contents of his Epistles, higher than that which was attributed to them by his brethren. Account that the long-suffering of our Lord,” said the apostle Peter, “is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given unto him, hath written unto you; as also in all his Epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction:" 2 Pet. iii, 15, 16. From this passage we again learn that Paul wrote not according to his own mind, but according to the wisdom given to him; and further, that his Epistles formed a part of those sacred writings which were allowed to be of divine origin, and which, by way of preeminence, were denominated then, as they are now, the Scriptures. As it was with Paul, so unquestionably must it have been with the other apostles. Immediate inspiration was common to them all; and the sacred influence under which they wrote, as well as preached, was such as imparted to their genuine compositions an undoubted claim to be reckoned with the other Scriptures.

The inspiration of the apostles, it is to be remembered, was of no subordinate or secondary description.

That it was high in its degree, and plenary in its operation, may be concluded from a fact, of which we have already noticed the credibility, and which by Christians is universally admitted to be true-namely,

Ess. v.] Evinced by their Miracles.

93 that they were endued with the power of working miracles. “ So then after the Lord had spoken unto them,” (the apostles), says the evangelist Mark," he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following :" ch. xvi, 19, 20; comp. Heb. ii, 3, 4. Miracles wrought by a teacher of religion are allowed to be an unquestionable sign that the doctrine which he promulgates in connection with them is of divine authority. The Lord Jesus appealed to his own miracles, in proof that he was sent of his Father; and Christians are still unanimous in receiving them as a conclusive evidence of the same truth. Thus it was also with the apostles: the work of God confirmed the word of God; the signs and wonders which the Lord wrought by them afforded a sufficient and satisfactory proof that it was he also who inspired their doctrine, in whatsoever form that doctrine was communicated to mankind.

Thus far we have adverted solely to that major part of the New Testament which was written by the apostles. Does the same character of inspiration, it may be asked, attach to the remaining part of that volume; namely, to the writings of Mark and Luke?

From the testimony of Eusebius, who describes the Gospel of Luke, and the Acts of the Apostles, as “ two divinely-inspired books," — from that of the Council of Laodicea (A.D. 365), which included them, together with the Gospel of Mark, in the canon of Scripture,--and from some other documents of yet greater antiquity,--we learn, that these writings were received by the early Christian church as of an authority not inferior to that of the rest of the New Testament: Euseb. Hist. Eccles., lib. iii, 4; Lardner, 4to. ed. vol. ii, p. 414 ; Iren. adv. Hær. lib. iii, cap. 1.

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