o the month of two or three witnesses every word “ is established;" and we have more than the number required for legitimate evidence.. Had there been a perfect accordance in style, in chronology, in the facts and sayings recited, it might have been said (for what will not infidelity allege to discredit the word of God?) that the witnesses had consulted together, or that their testimonies were verbal copies of each other.

But the varieties that prevail in the several Evangelists plainly evince that there was no plot to deceive formed among them; the evidence of each is thereby marked with credibility; and the whole narrative is a fourfold cord which cannot be broken,--a cable, held by which the vessel of the church will ride out every storm which may be raised against her.

The doctrine of St. Mark is justly characterized in our collect as heavenly doctrine; for it is the history of Him, and a record of His instructions both by word and deed,' who came down from heaven and who is the only guide that can conduct us thither. It is a stream of light issuing from the throne of God, and opening a vist through the darkness that envelopes our nether world, which attracts and directs the pilgrim's feet towards the source of its derivation.

That the doctrine of St. Mark and of the other Evangelists is “heavenly,” or “given by in“ spiration of God," appears clearly both by its external and internal evidences.

The external evidence is such as can never be overthrown. That the books of the New Testament were written soon after our Lord's ascension, and by the persons whose names they bear, is unquestionable. For they are all mentioned by very early writers. Both the preachers and the writers of the facts therein recorded shew that they could not be deceived themselves: because they relate what they had seen with their own eyes, and heard with their own ears. This, however, was the case with respect only to two of the Evangelists; but the other two have recited what they heard immediately from eye and ear witnesses. They proved their veracity, and shewed incontestably that they did not invent the story which they related, by their patient submission to every species of torment in its defence, “not loving their lives “ unto the death.” The facts recorded in the

. New Testament being thus established, afford an attestation to the Divine authority of the doctrines which they were wrought to confirm ; many of them being such miraculous acts as no man could do unless God were with him. (See Mark xvi. 30. John iii. 2. x. 25.)

The internal evidence which attests the Divine authority of the Holy Scriptures consists of proofs, derivable from themselves, that none but God could have been their author. They arise-From the tendency of the whole-From the harmony of the different parts-And from that luminous display of excellency which arrests the attention of every humble inquirer after truth.

The general tendency of the doctrines of the Scriptures indicates their Divine original. They exhibit to us the state in which man was at first created, as crowned with purity and perfection both natural and moral. They teach us that he is now a sinful, helpless, and miserable creature; and shew how his deplorable fall was originally occasioned. They reveal to us what he must become in order to be happy, even pardoned and sanctified. They likewise explain how this change must be produced: that it must be the effect of God's mercy through faith in Jesus Christ, and of the sanctifying influence of the Holy Ghost. The result is pointed out, even peace and consolation here, and eternal happiness hereafter. Now, from the nature of these doctrines it is evident that they are of Divine original. For such a system never did, nor could, enter into the heart of man untaught of God. That it never did, is plain from the writings of the most learned Philosophers. And that it never could, appears from the singular nature of the things themselves. Man, uninstructed, unhumbled, and unrenewed, tvould never have contrived a scheme of religion, that tends to debase his pride, gives unto God the whole glory of salvation, and requires the crucifixion of every earthly appetite. This is fully demonstrated by the dislike which the carnal mind has always manifested to the Gospel scheme, its proneness to explain away its genuine doctrines, and the opposition which they have always received on the part of Infidelity. So that the deist himself, in his rejection of the Bible, is a collateral witness to its Divine authority. (See I Cor. i. 18, ii. 7, 8, 9, 10, 12.)

That none but God could be the author of the Scriptures, appears further from the harmony of the different writers in different ages of the world and in distant places, all united to illustrate and confirm each other. What the prophets foretell, the writers of the New Testament record to have actually come to pass. The prophets could not so minutely have described future events, unless they had been taught of God. The inconsistencies which have been charged on the book of God arise chiefly from the ignorance and perverseness of those who make the objections; many of whom, (particularly,





Thomas Paine, as appears from his own confession) never attentively read the volume which they pretend to criticise; and all of whom refuse. to implore, and therefore are destitute of, that Divine illumination, without which the Scriptures cannot be understood. *

There is also a certain luminous display of Divine authority and superlative excellency in the Scriptures, which arrests the attention of every humble inquirer after truth. This, however, is only discoverable by Divine illumination, which is spoken of and promised in the Bible. (Col. i. 9. Eph. i. 17, 18. Jer. xxxi. 33. 1 Cor. ii. 14.) For this our church teaches us to pray.t A man must have within himself those dispositions of which the Scriptures speak, before he can perceive this internal evidence of their truth. A man who has no taste for the fine arts of music and painting is totally disqualified for criticising the performances of professional prac. titioners. Cast pearls before swine, and we know the consequences.

It is not at all a surprising phenomenon that the proud philosopher, the sensualist, and the worldling, should agree to treat the oracles of God both with neglect and contempt. But the sincere Christian finds himself burdened with that corrupt body of sin which the Scriptures describe and trace to its origin. He discovers a Divine excellency and suitability in Christ and His salvation as a remedy for the disorders which he feels in himself. He

It is adınitted that the faults of transcribers, and our imperfect knowledge of the Hebrew language, and of the customs of the East, may have occasioned some real or apparent, though trivial, inaccuracies.

+ See the collect for the Second Sunday in Advent, vol. i. p. 27, &c. See also our present collect.

tastes and sees that the Lord is gracious" in that rest and peace which he derives from believing. The exactness with which the moral disease of his soul, in all its various symptoms, is described; the nature of the medicine which is prescribed for the cure of the complicated disorder in the understanding will and affections, under which he labours, and the actual experience of the powerful effect of this balm of Gilead, leave no doubt on his mind whether God be the Author of the inestimable discovery or not, but convince him that the doctrine of the gospel is “heavenly doctrine."

O how animated should our gratitude ble for the instruction which the church derives from the heavenly doctrine" of the Evangelists! If we consider what was the state of our own country previous to that instruction, and what is the state of other countries now which are destitute of it-if we contemplate the indispensable necessity of that instruction to the present peace and future felicity of our own souls,--our hearts will be inflamed with love to God, while His love to us is revived in our recollection by the recurrence of those days which we have consecrated to the memory of its instruments.

The prayer of our collect implores grace that we may duly approve the blessing which hath been conferred on us.

It supposes that all those who join therein, have received the Gospel history as the record of truth, and embrace the doctrines which arise out of it. But it also supposes that there are many persons in every branch of the visible church, who are like “ bruised reeds is and smoking flax."

The petition of our collect alludes to the passage of St. Paul's writings, which is used as the

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