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in which those doctrines were recited, and even those expressions used, which were to be found in the acknowledged and avowed productions of the first disciples of Jesus Christ. In almost every age important controversies were carried on, in which the coinbatants on both sides appealed to the ancient texts of scriptures: texts, which still form a part of the sacred canon which is in use among ourselves. In a few instances, perhaps, this might occasion variations in the copies which were delivered down to posterity. But it is singular, (and a miraculous interposition of Providence it is, in attestation of the truth of holy writ) that however any particular passage may have been corrupted by error or design, every important doctrine, every interesting precept remains in the full vigour of its priinitive youth. If an heretical intention altered in any instance one copy, many others remained to detect the alteration.

Can we desire. a more direct evidence, that these are the very writings which the apostles delivered, for which they suffered, and by the means of which christianity was

established

established in the world! Indirect, or auxiliary evidence may be produced from a comparison of the different books, or portions of scripture, with one another. And this, so far as relates to the epistles of St. Paul, has been performed in the most satisfactory manner, by the author I have referred to in the beginning of this meditation, in his Horæ Paulinæ; a book calculated to make a striking impression on the mind of the sceptic. “ Undesigned co“ incidences,” he says, " must have truth for their foundation *. He

pursues this argument through St. Paul's thirteen epistles, which he compares with the narrative of the Acts of the Apostles, and affirms, that " the simple perusal of the writings is suf“ ficient to prove that neither the history " is taken from the letters, nor the letters “ from the history.”

It is plain to any one who meditates on the sacred scriptures (and it is every one's duty to do so) that they cannot be considered as an heterogeneous collection of

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• Paley's Evidences, Vol. II. p. 195.
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writings unconnected with each other, and not tending to the same end.

On the contrary, it is their united force which arrests the mind, their collected strength which overpowers and convinces the understanding. Like different rays of light descending from the sun, each has its peculiar brilliancy and beauty, but when drawn into one point, the effect is irresistible. 16 who is instructed in the divine music (says an ancient father of the church *) “ knows that all the scripture is a well“ tuned instrument of God's, which sends " forth to those who are desirous to learn so it, one harmonious and salutary voice,

though composed of different sounds. Harmony indeed prevails, and of the most melodious kind, in every part of scripture.

Though many authors were concerned in its composition; though it was written at different periods, and in different places; yet as they were all influenced by the same spirit, it is in every respect incapable of contradiction. " All these worketh that " self-same spirit, dividing to every man “severally as he will.” Different interpretations of scripture indeed have arisen, and the christian world has been separated into sects, as the wavering opinions of men have directed them. But all have acknowledged the authenticity of the scriptures. It is not for man to dive into the depths of opinion, or to say, why have these things been? It is enough for us to know that on this rock Christ hath built his church; and however we may behold it assaulted by the winds of heaven, or by the turbulence of a boisterous sea, it will resist the utmost efforts of the tenipest, till that day dawn which will gather together in one the flocks which are now scattered abroad.

* Origen Phil. c. 6. Welchman on the 39 Articles.

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Perhaps in no instance is the providence of God more conspicuous than in the protection which it has given, through a suca cession of ages, to the books emphatically called the scriptures. The histories of most ancient kingdoms have perished with the political existence of those societies whose actions they recorded. It is in vain that we search after authentic materials of the F 2

first

first establishment of any people. Their laws, their manners, their governments are no more, their very ruins are dispersed, and we can hardly say, such things have been. But the records of holy scripture are faithful to their trust. It is wonderful to contemplate the series of events which they relate. We are placed upon a point, from whence we behold the formation of this terrestrial globe. We see the gradual deve- . lopement of a world, the arrangement of rude and undigested matter, the creation of man. We trace also the history of the human soul; we see it depressed by disobedience in the garden of Eden, and in the subsequent conduct of the descendants of Adam ; we see it restored to primitive purity, and promised immortal happiness by the meritorious sufferings of an incarnate God. Could any thing but a Being of superior intelligence have revealed to us such a tale of wonders ? Could any thing but such a Being have preserved for our use and benefit, through so many thousand years, records of such infinite importance to the human race? Let us be grateful for this invaluable legacy.

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