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God, for their preservation, ordered an original copy to be deposited in the holy of holies, (Deut. xxxi. 26.) appointed the careful and frequent reading of them both in public and private ; and that every Hebrew monarch should write out a copy for his own use, (Deut. xvii. 18.) With astonishing kindness and wisdom has he made the various contending parties who had access to the Scriptures, such as the Jews and Israelites, the Jews and Samaritans, the Pharisees and Sadducees, the Jews and Christians, and the various sects and parties of Christians,-mutual checks upon each other for almost three thousand years, that they might not be able either to extirpate or corrupt any part of them; and by quickly multiplying the copies both of the original and translations, as well as the readers of the Scriptures, he rendered it absolutely impossible to falsify them in any thing important, without causing the corruption to start up in every copy dispersed through the world, and in the minds of almost every reader-than which supposition nothing can be more absurd and monstrous. By what tremendous judgments did he restrain and punish Antiochus Epiphanes, the Syro-grecian king, Dioclesian the Roman emperor, and others, who attempted to destroy the Sacred Scriptures in order to extirpate the Jewish or Christian religion! And he has bestowed amazing support and consolation on such as have risked or parted with their lives rather than deny the dictates of Scripture, or in the least contribute to their destruction or misinterpretation. During the profanation of Antiochus, (1 Mac. i. 56, 57.) whoever was found with the book of the law was put to death, and every copy that could be found burned with fire ; and Dioclesian, after the most barbarous havoc of the Christians, issued an edict commanding them, on pain of death under the most cruel forms, to deliver up their Bibles : though many complied with this sanguinary edict, yet the greater part disregarded it; and notwithstanding these and numberless other calamities, the Sacred Volumes have survived pure and uncorrupted to the present day, and doubtless will exist as long as there is a church in the world
till the end of time and the consummation of all things—a monument of God's unceasing and providential care, and an unquestionable attestation of their inspiration and Divine authority.
8. The prophecies contained in the Sacred Scriptures, and fulfilling to this day, which form a species of perpetual miracles, challenging the investigation of men of every age, fully demonstrate that they are divinely inspired. -Almost every historical passage of the Bible is a narrative of something antecedently foretold ; and the New Testament is little else than a relation of the fulfilment of the predictions and types of the Old Testament, relative to Jesus Christ and his church. According to the prophecies in these books, the latest of which was delivered 1700 years ago, and some of them 3000 years ago, the descendants of Shem and Japheth are 'ruling' and 'enlarged,' and the wretched descendants of Ham are still the servants of servants, (Gen. ix. 25, 27.):—the posterity of Ishmael have ‘multiplied exceedingly,' and become a great nation' in the Arabians ; yet living like 'wild men,' and shifting from place to place in the wilderness, their hand against every man, and every man's hand against them, and still dwelling,' an independent and free people, in the presence of all their brethren,' and in the presence of all their enemies, (Gen. xvi. 10..12. xvii. 20.);—the family of Esau has become extinct, 'cut off for ever,' so that there is none' remaining of the house of Esau,' (Je. xlix. 17, &c. Eze. xxv. 12, &c. Joel iii. 19. Am. i. 11, &c. Ob. 10, 18, &c.);—the sceptre has departed from Judah,' (Gen. xlix. 10.), though the Jews still dwell alone, and are not reckoned among the nations, while the remembrance of Amalek is utterly put out from under heaven,' (Nu. xxiii. 9. xxiv. 20.);—Nineveh is so completely destroyed, that the place thereof cannot be known, (Na. I..III.) ;-Babylon has been ,swept with the besom of destruction, and is made a desolation for ever, a possession for the bittern tonishment and hissing, without an inhabitant,' (Isa. XIII. XIV.);–Tyre has become like the top of a rock, a place for fishers to spread their nets upon,' (Eze. xxvi. 4, 5.);Egypt, a base kingdom, the basest of the kingdoms,' still tributary and subject to strangers, so that it has never been able to exalt itself above the nations,' (Eze. xxix. 14, 15) --the fourth and last of the four great empires, which was greater and more powerful than any of the former, has been divided into ten lesser kingdoms; and among them has arisen a power with a triple crown diverse from the first,' with a mouth speaking very great things, and with 'a look more stout than his fellows, speaking great things against the Most High, wearing out the saints of the Most High, and changing times and laws, which did ‘cast down the truth to the ground, and prosper, and practise, and destroy the holy people, not regarding the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god,' but 'honouring the god of forces,' or Mauzzim, gods-protectors, and causing the priests of Mauzzim 'to rule over many, and divide the land for gain,' (Da. xi. 37..39.). Jerusalem has been destroyed, with all the circumstances related in the Evangelists, and the Jews have been led away into all nations, and Jerusalem trodden down by the Gentiles,' through a long series of ages, (Lu. xxi. 24.);-for their infidelity and disobedience to their great Prophet like unto Moses, they have been 'plucked from off their own land, and removed into all the kingdoms of the earth, and scattered among the heathen, among the nations, among all people, from one end of the earth even to the other,' sifted
among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve,' have been left few in number among the heathen,' have ‘pined away in their iniquity in their enemies' lands,' have become an astonishment, a proverb, and a by-word among all nations,' 'a reproach, an taunt, and a curse,' have found among these nations no ease, and the sole of their foot has had no rest; but the Lord has given them a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind, and sent a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies, so
that the sound of a shaken leaf has chased them,' and they have been many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without a teraphim,' (Le. xxvi. 38, 39. Deut. xxviii. 62..67. Eze. v. 10..15. Ho. iii. 4.); and yet, while their mighty conquerors are every where destroyed, they are miraculously preserved a distinct people, and neither swallowed up nor lost among the various nations amidst whom they are dispersed, but are reserved
until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled,' when they shall • seek the Lord their God, and David their king : and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days;'in the mean time, the Gentiles have been advanced in their room, and God has given to the Messiah ‘ the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession,' (Ps. ii. 8.), and the gradual, but progressive, and steadily advancing conversion of heathen nations in our own days, prepares us to expect the speedy arrival of the time when Jehovah shall be worshipped from the rising of the sun even to the going down of the same,' and when his
name shall be great among the Gentiles,' (Mal. i. 11.);the grand apostacy from the Christian faith has already taken place, which consists 'in giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils, (or demons, worshipping angels and departed saints, and is promoted through) speak. ing lies in hypocrisy, having their consciences seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth,' (1 Ti. iv. 1..3.). The seven churches of Asia lie in the same desolate state that the angel signified to St. John, (Re. II. III.) their 'candlestick removed out of its place, their churches turned into mosques, and their worship into superstition ;—and the characters of the beast and false prophet,'—to whom ‘was given to make war with the saints, and to overcome them,' and power over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations,' so that all that dwell upon the particular, and also those of the whore of Babylon,' 'mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth : with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication,' while she herself has been drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus,' and she is that great city (seated upon seven mountains) which reigneth over the kings of the earth.' (Re. XIII.XVII.) These, and many other events, fulfilling ancient predictions, very many ages after they were delivered, can never be accounted for, except by allowing, that He who sees and declares the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done,' (Isa. xlv. 21.), thus revealed his secret purposes, that their accomplishment might prove the Scriptures to be His word. The prophecies also, though written by different men, in different ages, have yet a visible connection and dependency, an entire harmony and agreement with one another; forming altogether a prophetical history of the world, as to the grand outlines, from the beginning of time to the consummation of all things; and accompanied with such a distinct notation of order, place, and time, as has been justly termed the geography and chronology of prophecy. As one prediction received its accomplishment, others were given, connecting prophecy with history, till the Revelation of St. John concluded the whole; and events have hitherto, in every age and nation, exactly corresponded with these predictions. So many extraordinary and improbable events, which have occurred through so many ages, and in so many nations, as foretold in the Scriptures, could only have been made known by the Omniscient God himself; and must convince every rational mind, that the prophecy came not of old time by the will of man ; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.' 2 Pet. i. 20, 21.