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phet, Baruch “read in the book the words of Jeremiah, in the house of the Lord, in the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe, in the higher court, at the entry of the new gate of the Lord's house, in the ears of all the people."*
Intelligence of this solemn proceeding was speedily brought to the Princes, who were sitting in the scribe's chamber, in the King's house; and who immediately sent Jehudi the son of Nethaniah, to request Baruch to come and read a second time, in their own hearing, the words which he had before read to the people.
The Princes, who appear to have been deeply affected and alarmed, by the warning they had thus received, proceeded to inform the King of what had occurred; having first, however, knowing the resentment which was likely to be kindled in his mind, by such a communication, taken the precaution of advising both Baruch and Jeremiah, to retire into some place of concealment. The monarch, on hearing the account of the transactions which had taken place, immediately sent Jehudi to fetch the roll, which had been left in the scribe's chamber, and Jehudi then“ read it in the ears of the King, and in the ears of all the Princes which stood beside the King.”+
The conduct of the King, on this occasion of awful interest and terrible solemnity, when he was standing upon the brink of destruction, and hearing, for the last time, the voice of a compassionate God, who willed not the destruction which he had threatened, but had rather that both the King and his people should turn unto Him and be saved, is the next particular related in this remarkable history. “ The King,” it is said, “sat in the winter-house, and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him. And it came to pass that when Jehudi had read three or four
leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth.”*
On the spirit by which the king was actuated, and which exhibited itself, in conduct so awfully insulting to the majesty of the LORD JEHOVAH, I shall not enlarge, further than to observe, that it must have had its origin in Unbelief. The judgments threatened against him, were not only painful to his feelings and wounding to his pride, but they were opposed also, to his most cherished sentiments of confidence in his own power and wisdom. He thought himself secure, and able both to defy and to overcome any enemy which could come against him; and
declaration, with whatever pretensions advanced, which was at variance with this assured concidence, seems to have appeared to him to bear the impress of falsehood, and therefore not to admit of being regarded as a divine message, or possessing divine authority. Hence, therefore, he angrily refused to receive it, as having any claims upon his attention, and contemptuously cut out of the record, in which it was contained, first one portion and then another, and cast them into the fire till the whole was consumed.
Brethren, I have selected the portion of Scripture which you have heard, and made upon the passage itself, and upon its context, the preceding observations, intending them to serve as a preface to some further remarks, which I shall now proceed to offer, upon the subject which has been announced as purposed to be brought before you this evening, and which has been expressed in the following terms :-THE INTEGRITY OF The Canon Of Holy SCRIPTURE MAINTAINED AGAINST UNITARIAN OBJECTIONS. And my reason for so doing is, that the conduct, with which we have to charge the parties, with whose
V. 22, 23.
tenets we are now concerned, bears a lamentably near resemblance to that of Jehoiakim on the occasion already referred to. They too, like him, have suffered their own prejudices to overcome, what must otherwise have been the thorough conviction of their minds; and have ventured, on grounds of no validity, to reject certain portions of Holy Scripture, and refuse to receive them as of divine authority, or act upon the sacred truths which they reveal.
It will be my duty on the present occasion, bearing in remembrance the nature of the audience which I now address, and considering that, perhaps, the greater portion of them, are little conversant with discussions of this nature, to endeavour to make the subject with which I have been entrusted as plain and simple as possible; in order that thus, one principal source of those errors, with the exposure of which we are concerned, in this series of Lectures, may be clearly perceived and understood by you all. And I shall, therefore, endeavour I. TO EXPLAIN WHAT IS MEANT BY THE CANON OF
Holy SCRIPTURE. II. To show THE DUTY OF PRESERVING IT IN ITS IN
STANCES, THE MANNER IN WHICH IT HAS BEEN VIO-
I. TO EXPLAIN WHAT IS MEANT BY THE CANON of HOLY SCRIPTURE.
And here I will commence by observing, that the great truths of religion—that is, of the Christian religion-are not a matter of human disCOVERY; that is, are not discoverable by man, by the mere exercise of his own unassisted reason.
There are, indeed, some truths of religion, and those of primary importance, with which the case is altogether different; which fall quite within the range of the intellectual vision of man; and the proofs and evidences of which, lie open to the observation of every reflecting mind. For assuredly there do exist, in the works of nature and of Providence, those obvious marks of design, and that design harmonious, wise and benevolent, which, to a mind duly contemplating them, would not fail to convey the assurance of the existence of a CREATOR: a Creator, ONE, ALONE, and UNRIVALLED-a Creator of infinite power, wisdom, , and goodness; to whom all creatures stand in the relation of property; on whom they must ever be dependent; and to whom, therefore, their submission, their services, and their gratitude are due.
Let me not, however, while I make this admission, make myself subject to misapprehension. Let me not be supposed to express the belief, that the particular truths which I have admitted to lie within the range of the intellectual vision of man, have ever, in any instance, become actually known to man, as a matter of discovery, by the simple exercise of his own intellectual powers. We have no sufficient evidence to give support to any such supposition, and I believe the contrary to be the fact. I believe that, in practice, the knowledge of the attributes of the Deity, and especially of the Unity of the Godhead, wherever that knowledge has existed, has been derived, at least in the way of suggestion, either directly or indirectly, from another source (to which our attention must presently be directed), that of REVELATION; and that it has not been, until the mind of man has been turned into this particular direction, and may be said to have looked into the book of nature for proofs of a thing known, rather than to discover things previously unknown, that it has beheld therein notices of truths, which had been
altogether overlooked before. It has seen, however, that those truths were, in their own nature, as well as also in their evidence, independent of revelation; and in due order of arrangement, antecedent to it; and it may be added, that it is upon the knowledge of God thus studied in this great book of instruction, the book of nature and providence, although it may not have been, in the first instance, practically derived from it, that must be built, and to the same knowledge must be brought, as a test to try its correctness, all further instruction, however communicated, respecting the same great and Almighty Being, and the relations of mankind towards Him.
But there are other truths, and these constituting the distinguishing part of the Christian religion, which could not have been discovered in this manner. Perhaps the existence of sin, and the extent of God's displeasure against it, ought to be reckoned among this number. But whether this be so or not, there can be no doubt that every thing which relates to the pardon of sin, every thing which relates to the restoration of man to that divine image from which he has fallen, is to be so reckoned. Every thing too which exhibits the principle upon which God is pleased to act in the forgiveness of sin ; every thing which demonstrates the harmony of that principle with those of his moral government of the world; and which points out the method by which such forgiveness is conveyed, secured, and evidenced; all these, and many other particulars, are to be excluded altogether from the region of even possible human discovery; all these must have become known to us in some manner totally different from the mere deductions of reason. In other wordswe should never have known these things unless they had been told us. The knowledge of them must have been communicated to man by God himself. It could proceed