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CHAPTER VII.

IMPROVEMENT OF THE FIRST PERIOD.

Before I proceed to the next period, I would make some few remarks by way of improvement upon what has been said under this.

1. From what has been said, we may strongly argue that Jesus of Nazareth is indeed the Son of God, and the Savior of the world; and that the Christian is the true religion, seeing that Christ is the very person so evidently pointed al, in all the great dispensations of divine Providence from the fall of man, and was so undoubtedly in so many instances foretold from age to age, and shadowed forth in a vast variety of types and figures. If we seriously consider the course of things from the beginning, and observe the motions of all the great wheels of Providence, we shall discern that they all tender hither. They are all as so many lines, whose course, if it be observed and accurately followed, will be found to centre here. It is so very plain in many things, that it would argue stupidity to deny it. This Person, sent from God, came into the world with his commission and authority to do his work, and to declare his mind. The Governor of the world, in all his great works towards Jews and Gentiles, down to the time of Christ's birth, has declared it. It is a plain and evident truth, that he who was born at Bethlehem, who dwelt at Nazareth and Capernaum,

and who was crucified without the gates of Jerusalem, must be the great Messiah. Blessed are all they that believe in and confess him, and miserable are all that deny him. This shows the unreasonableness of Deists, who deny revealed religion; and of the Jews, who deny that this Jesus is the Messiah foretold and promised to their fathers.

Here should any object, that it may be some cunning men contrived this history and these prophecies, on purpose to prove that he is the Messiah, it may be replied, How could such a thing be contrived by cunning men to point to Jesus Christ, long before he was born? How could they know that any such person

would be born ? And how could their subtlety help them to foresee and point out an event that was to come to pass many ages afterwards ? For no fact can be more evident, than that the Jews had those writings long before Christ was born; as they have them still in great veneration, in all their dispersions through the world. They would never have received such a contrivance from Christians, to prove Jesus to be the Messiah, whom they always denied; and much less would they have been made to believe that they always had these books in their hands, if they had been an imposition.

II. What has been said affords a strong argument for the divine authority of the books of the Old Testament, from the admirable harmony whereby they all point to the same thing. For we may see by what has been said, how all the parts of the Old Testament, though written by so many different penmen, and in ages so distant, harmonize one with another. All agree in one, and centre in the same Redemption.

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event; which it was impossible for any one of them to foreknow, but by divine revelation.

Now, if the Old Testament was not inspired by God, what account can be given of such an agreement? for if these books were written without any divine direction, then none of these penmen knew that there would come such a person as Jesus Christ into the world; his coming was only a mere figment of their own brain : and if so, how happened it that this imagination of theirs, which they foretold without any manner of ground for their prediction, was exactly fulfilled ? and especially, how did they all come to agree in it, all pointing exactly to the same thing, though they lived so many hundred

years

distant from one another? This admirable consent and agreement in a future event, is therefore a clear and certain evidence of the divine authority of those writings.

III. Hence we may learn how weak and ignorant the objection is, against the Old Testament being the word of God, because it consists so much of warlike histories and civil transactions. Here, say some, we have histories of their kings and rulers, their wars with neighboring nations, and the changes that happened in their state and government: but other nations used to keep histories of their public affairs, as well as the Jews; why then should we think that these histories are the word of God, more than those of other people? What has been said, shows the folly and vanity of such an objection. For hereby it appears that the case of these histories is very different from that of all others. This history alone gives us an account of the original of all things, and this alone deduces things

down to us in a wonderful series from that original, giving an idea of the grand scheme of divine Prori. dence, as tending to its great end. And, together with the doctrines and prophecies contained in it, the same book gives a view of the whole series of the great events of divine Providence, from the ori. gin to the consummation of all things; exhibiting an excellent and glorious account of the wise and holy designs of the supreme Governor in all. No common history has had such penmen. This history was all written by men who came with evident signs and testimonies of their being prophets of the most high God, immediately inspired; and though histories, yet containing those great events of providence by which it appears how God has been carrying on the glorious work of redemption from age to age, they are no less full of divine instruction, and of those things that show forth Christ and his glorious Gospel, than the other parts of the holy Scriptures.

To object against a book's being divine, merely because it is historical, is a poor fancy; as if that could not be the word of God which gives an account of what is past; or as though it were not reasonable to suppose that God, in a revelation to mankind, would give us any relation of the dispen. sations of his own providence. If so, it must be because his works are not worthy to be related; or because the scheme of his government, and the series of his dispensations towards his church, and the world he has made, are not worthy that cord of them should be preserved.

The objection, that it is a common thing for nations and kingdoms to write histories and keep re

any re

cords of their wars, and the revolutions that come to pass in their territories, is so far from being a weighty objection against the historical part of Scripture, as though it were not the word of God, that it is a strong argument in favor of it. For if the light of nature teaches all civilized nations to keep records of the events of their government and the series of their administrations, and to publish histories for the information of others, how much more may we expect that God would give the world a record of the dispensations of his government, which doubtless is infinitely more worthy of a history for our information ? If wise kings have taken care that there should be good histories written of the nations over which they have reigned, shall we think it incredible that Jesus Christ should take care that his church, which is his kingdom, his peculiar people, should have in their hands a certain infallible history of their nation, and of his government of them ?

But for the history of the Old Testament, how wofully ignorant should we have been about many things which the church of God needs to know ! How ignorant of God's dealings towards mankind, and towards his church, from the beginning !-of the creation of the world, the fall of man, and the rise and progress of the dispensations of grace to. wards fallen mankind! We should have known nothing how God at first set up a church in the world, and how it was preserved; after what manner he governed it from the beginning; how the light of the Gospel first began to dawn in the world; how it increased, and how things were preparing for the coming of Christ.

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