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Chap. I. The nature of inspiration; or the sense in which
II. Inspired books.....apocryphal books
III. The inspiration of the New Testament
THE inspiration of the holy scriptures is a subject, on which it is of great importance to form just and accurate ideas. If they be the compositions of men, who, though honest, and upon the whole well informed, were under no infallible assistance and direction, they are not entitled to the same reverence, as if they had been dictated by the Spirit of God; nor can we read them with the same confidence in their counsels and instructions. Their contents must be subjected to a strict examination, and the truth of their doctrines must be ascertained by other evidence than the authority of the writers, before we can yield to them a rational assent. It is evident that such a view of the scriptures would involve us in endless inquiries and disputations, and by giving scope to unrestrained speculation, would
favour the introduction of the wildest, and most contradictory opinions. There would be no fixed standard to which we could appeal. But if the sacred books be inspired, these inconveniences are obviated. All discussion is superseded, except with regard to their meaning; and as they are in general perspicuous, and easy to be understood, we may, by due application, attain the certain knowledge of the essential doctrines and duties of religion.
An attentive observer cannot have failed to remark a very striking peculiarity of the present times. It is the influence of the principles of infidelity upon many professors of the christian religion. The bold opposition made to some doctrines of revelation, renders them ashamed, or afraid to avow them, without, at least, such qualifications and changes, as shall smooth their asperities, and lessen their appa-rent incredibility. In some instances such concessions are made, as amount to a complete surrender of the point in debate. The inspiration of the scriptures is an article of our faith against which infidels have directed all the arguments which their ingenuity could furnish, and all the abuse which their malice could in
vent. What is the consequence? Many professed champions of christianity seem to have concluded that the article is not tenable, be