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by these witnesses, but an authority of a different kind, which, to a certain extent, is antecedent to it in our minds. Nor should the fact that this authority is merely human stumble any person ; for not only human authority, but even the slightest human authority, is sometimes regarded as a most valid evidence, if that which is testified is of such a nature that none but an individual of the most degraded and worthless character can attempt imposition respecting it; which may certainly be affirmed with regard to this testimony of the sacred writers. For they assert--what? That they are divinely inspired; and this fact they uniformly press upon you, when they require you to give credit to their word as to the word of God. It is impossible that a more impious falsehood than this could be invented, if it be a falsehood-a falsehood with which none could be chargeable but a contemner of God and all religion, to whom the abuse of the most holy name of God, for the purpose of propagating his own delusions, is sport and a jest. It must therefore be maintained, either that this is the character of the prophets and apostles, or that they speak the truth when they declare that they are divinely inspired; there can be no other supposition.

There is no room for the allegation that these illiterate men did not know that the pretence of a divine revelation was so heinous a crime;—for there are no writers who more uniformly inculcate truth; who more frequently condemn falsehood, or seem more strongly to detest it; who inveigh with greater vehemence against false prophets, and impostors of every kind, as reprobate men who are under the dominion of the devil, the father of lies. How impious, nay, how shameless, then must these writers have been, if the whole of their religion was a mere imposition—nothing but fraud and deceit; in the dissemination of which they constantly employed the divine name -not without the most awful contempt of it!

But if we refuse to believe their testimony, we must suppose not only that they were men of the greatest shamelessness and impiety, but that they were impious for nothing, expecting no advantage to themselves from such awful impiety. There are persons who will venture to incur the displeasure of God, that they may secure the favour of men; and others displease both God, and men, for the sake of some signal advantage, or glory, or enjoyment to themselves. But these men, we must suppose, if we affirm that they were deceivers, knowingly and volun. tarily drew down upon themselves the anger of God, and of almost all mankind, in order that they might become the most miserable of men; and sought no other reward of their wickedness, than a life destitute of every kind of comfort and happiness, perpetual poverty, the reproaches and contempt of mankind, daily dangers, torture, and even death. We must suppose that every one of them, without exception, most obstinately persevered, in spite of all opposition, in their impiety; and did not cease, to whatever sufferings they might be subjected, to propagate throughout the world this false religion which they had invented, and blasphemously to represent God himself as the author of their falsehoods. We must suppose that they were impostors so callous as to preserve, at all times, an unparalleled hope in God, a hope of eternal life, by the prospect of which they pretended to be sustained under all their afflictions. We must suppose that these impious and practised deceivers dared to expect from God a reward after death for their impositions, and to say, “ If in this life only we have hope in God, we are of all men the most miserable;" nay, to counterfeit this hope, not by words only, but by deeds, and by any extraordinary patience, and even joy in the severest affictions. In a word, we must suppose, that not a single individual, but many, were guilty of this incredible impietyshall I call it?—or madness; and that none of them, either by their language or their conduct, ever disclosed the impious imposture.

From these remarks, it thus appears how easy the testimony of the sacred writers make the proof of the divinity of Scripture to us. For that they may obtain credit with us, it is not necessary to prove that they were men more than human; weare not bound to demonstrate that they possessed supereminent piety, or ertraordinary integrity and candour; we have only to show that they were not the worst of men, nay, that they were not caraway

with a strange and unheard of species of impiety; in a word, that they were not monsters of men, such as never were on the earth. This conviction, however limited it may seem, if it only exist, is sufficient to secure to them a divine authority; for when they affirm that they are divinely inspired, either they were such persons as we have just described, or they speak the truth; there is no medium.

If any one should imagine that they perhaps boasted of a divine inspiration from an ambitious desire of glory, he must not only suppose that this thirst for glory was so outrageous, that in the hope of obtaining it, and it alone, they exposed themselves to the indignation both of God and of men, industriously rendered themselves most miserable, and endured with


the greatest constancy the severest sufferings to which man can be subjected; but he must also suppose that this frantic desire of glory took possession of men of the lowest rank, fishermen and artizans, who were brought up in perpetual poverty; that not one or two, but many, were at the same time seized with this phrenzy; that these simple men were nevertheless such accomplished dissemblers, as not only not to betray this extravagant passion-which of all affections is concealed with the greatest difficulty—but, on the contrary, in all their words and actions, perpetually to display the greatest humility--to reject ultroneously the highest honours when offered to them—to bear with incredible patience the contempt, the ridicule, and the reproaches of almost the whole worldand, in a word, to propagate in the world a religion, the glory of whose discovery they ascribe not to themselves, but to another-a religion which reduces all men, how great soever they may be, to nothing, and attributes all glory to God alone.

But the testimony of the sacred writers will receive additional weight from a consideration of the nature of those things which they assert they have learned from the Holy Spirit. If, perchance, a very young man says or writes things which far surpass his capacity, we instantly suspect that he has received them from some person more learned than himself; and if he admits that he has derived them from his teacher, with whose mental constitution they exactly correspond, we have no doubt that he speaks the truth. In precisely the same way we may argue respecting the sacred writers. They write what transcends the capacity of men, nothing equal to which is to be found in the books of the most celebrated philosophers, as we have proved in the proper place; or, if this should be questioned, they at least write what transcends the capacity of such men as they were, of illiterate men, artizans and fishermen: they write concerning God and divine things, concerning the chief good of man, concerning the proper government of the life, what many wise and learned men, what in fact almost the whole world have not hesitated greatly to prefer to all that has been published respecting these subjects by men of the highest talents. Who then may not here justly demand, Whence have men, so contemptible in appearance, derived such wisdom? When, therefore, they affirm that they received these noble sentiments from God-from his Spirit, none who perceives that the things which they say are most worthy of God, and who sees, moreover, that they had no intercourse with the wise and the learned, will refuse to believe them.

It is, in the last place, also worthy of notice in these testimonies of the sacred writers regarding themselves, that when they claim divine inspiration they are not solicitous to prove it in any way to those to whom they are writing; they do not artfully insinuate it; they do not laboriously demonstrate it; but they simply affirm it as a thing placed beyond all doubt. What! Does an individual when he proclaims himself divinely inspired, so easily obtain so much credit that a simple assertion of it is all that is necessary? Whence, then, the great confidence of these writers in proclaiming so extraordinary a thing concerning themselves?' Whence their assurance of the faith of those to whom they speak or write? Is it the case with them, as it generally is with those who are firmly persuaded of their own opinion, that they do not think of proving it when they propose it to others, though perhaps it stands in need of proof, because they do not think that it can be called in question ? Do they assert this with so much confidence because they are well aware that, by the eminent holiness of their life, by their actions, which are more than human, by their divine constancy in suffering, by the efficacy of their doctrine itself, and by other marks of a divine mission, they have already obtained for themselves, in the minds of their hearers, that divine authority which they so confidently claim, and which, in all that they say, they so constantly keep in view? Or is this the ground of their confidence, that as they know that they are the instruments whom God wills to make use of in the conversion of others, they do not doubt that God himself will secure to what they preach a divine authority in the minds of those whom he wills to convert, so that they need not spend time unnecessarily in demonstrating it? Whichever of these opinions is adopted, it will greatly strengthen our faith in the sacred writers.

If any one, seeing that he cannot in any manner suspect imposture in the sacred writers, simple, good, and candid men, when they so confidently assert that they are divinely inspired, should nevertheless maintain that they deceived themselves before they imposed on others, and falsely believed their own inspiration, he must also suppose them to have been completely frantic and bereft of reason-a suspicion which, unless he were himself insane, he would lay aside as soon as he read their writings. For who are they who must be supposed to be such? Those who have philosophised concerning the most difficult subjects—concerning God, his works, the worship of the Deity, the origin of this universe, the state of the soul after death, the various duties of man, the chief good, and innumerable

other matters, with more wisdom than Plato, Aristotle, and all the philosophers; whose whole life as well as doctrine breathed a kind of divine prudence, which was always consistent with itself; in whom might be observed, what was not observed in any philosophers, a union of all virtues conjoined with an extraordinary modesty, nay, with a certain new species of modesty, which they denominate humility;—he, in a word, must suppose those to be insane who have thoroughly purified religion from every trifling and absurd superstition; who alone taught men, at a time when all nations displayed the greatest folly in the worship of their gods, to present to God “ a reasonable service." The apostles, I am aware, were sometimes accused of madness; but the more than Socratic moderation with which they bore the reproach, is itself an evidence that they were any thing but insane. Let us consider attentively the conduct of Paul. With what modesty, with what calmness, with what wisdom does he reply to Festus, who, in the presence of Agrippa, had accused him of madness. “ I am not mad,” says he,

most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. For the King Agrippa knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely; for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? Iknow that thou believest.” This not only is the language of a sound mind, but there is so much power in it that I do not wonder that Agrippa could not refrain from exclaiming, “ Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian!” And how divine was the reply of Paul to that exclamation! “I would to God that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost and altogether such as I am, except these bonds." # What, Festus? Do you still suppose that Paul is beside himself?

Finally, if we would suppose that these men who so confidently assert that they are inspired of God were insane, we must maintain that not one individual only, but that I know not how many persons at the same time laboured under precisely the same kind of phrenzy; we must maintain that not they alone who have asserted this respecting themselves, but those also who so easily gave credit to these fanatics, were insane; and thus all those whom the prophets, whom the apostles, whether by speech or writing, gained over to their sentiments, that is, many myriads of men, many nations must be charged with the most silly credulousness, as persons who gave credit to madmen as men divine, and so firmly gave credit to

Acts xxvi. 25–29.

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