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lous deeds: diseases fly before him: devils are cast out. His motions are guided from place to place by a divine oracle; Elymas is struck blind for opposing him; his bands are loosed by an earthquake; his vigour and health are instantaneously restored, when he had been stoned and taken up for dead at Lystra; his life is saved in a shipwreck, and for his sake nearly three hundred fellow-passengers are rescued with him.
In the midst of these miracles, he preaches the gospel, he founds churches, he traverses the provinces of the Roman empire ; he argues with the Jews, and proves from the scriptures that Jesus is the Christ; he convinces the Gentiles, and exposes their idolatries; the Holy Spirit accompanies his labours ; multitudes are converted; miraculous gifts are conferred by the imposition of his hands. He executes for thirty years his commission to evangelize, instruct, make disciples of all nations. He uses every means likely to attain his end. He finds that his young converts need to be further instructed: that errors creep into the churches whilst he is absent. He hears that false apostles corrupt the faith, or that Jewish converts impose a yoke upon the Gentiles. He writes letters to the churches, on the highest subjects of his ministry. Is it not then absurd-I was going to say, impious—to conceive that he should be left and deserted of God, who was at the very time surrounding him with the tokens of his extraordinary presence and care, to mingle error with his most solemn instructions, and human frailty with divine truth? · It is allowed by all who receive the Christian revelation, that the gifts of the Holy Ghost conferred an infallibility upon the doctrine of the apostle, as he preached it to Jew and Gentile: and surely this infallibility extended to every thing relating to the diffusion of the religion which he and his fellow-apostles propagated. If the Holy Ghost exalted and elevated their minds in their apostolical function generally, much more would his gifts attend them when inditing those books which were to be the abiding records of the Christian faith. During their lives, they could easily rectify the mistakes and heresies that arose to disturb the peace of the churches. But after their decease, things would fall into their ordinary course. The state of the church would be altered from the extraordinary guidance of the apostles, to the ordinary guidance of imperfect men. Feeble persons would soon mistake in doctrine; their memory would fail to retain what had been taught them; false brethren would come in; damna
ble heresies would be privily taught. There would want authoritative decisions, a standard, a rule to which all claims might be referred. God, who inspired the apostles to teach the world, inspired them therefore to write what they taught, for the preservation of the faith uncontaminated to every future age. And can any thing be more pernicious, than to suppose, without any one argument from reason or scripture, that the Holy Spirit assisted them in the temporary instruction of a passing age, but lest them to themselves in their permanent doctrine, in which the church, through all future ages was interested ; that they were inspired in discharging one part of their office, but deserted by the divine Enlightener when they sat down to the other; that the Spirit was bountifully with them in their assemblies, but withdrew when they retired to their studies; that their speech was with infallibility and power, but their writing with a mixture of feebleness and imperfection ; that they were supernaturally aided in explaining the mysteries of the gospel in their discourses, but left destitute when reducing those discourses to writing; that their sermons were the word of God, but their books the word of man!
9 “ You will remember, that the doctrines of the Christian revelation,” says Bishop Horsley against them who denied Besides, we are to recollect, that the apostles perpetually appeal in their epistles to what they had taught, as corresponding with what they wrote, and confirming it. They speak of their preaching and writing indifferently as the same gospel. Remember ye not, that when I was yet with you, how I told you of these things ?- We write none other things unto you, than what you read or acknowledge, and I trust you shall acknowledge even unto the end.-Hold fast the form
the miraculous nativity, and the inspiration of the evangelists, “ were not originally delivered in a system, but interwoven in the history of our Saviour's life. To say, therefore, that the first preachers were not inspired in the composition of the narratives in which their doctrine is conveyed, is nearly the same thing as to deny their inspiration in general. You will perhaps, think it incredible, that they who were assisted by the divine Spirit when they preached, should be deserted by that Spirit when they committed what they had preached to writing. You will think it improbable, that they who were endowed with the gift of discerning spirits, should be endowed with no gift of discerning the truth of facts. You will recollect one instance in which St. Peter detected a falsehood by the light of inspiration; and you will perhaps be inclined to think, that it could be of no less importance to the church, that the apostles and evangelists should be enabled to detect falsehoods in the history of our Saviour's life, than that St. Peter should be enabled to detect Ananias's lie, about the sale of his estate. You will think it unlikely, that they who were led by the Spirit into all truth, should be permitted to lead the whole church for many ages into error."-Sermon xxxiv. Luke i. 28.
of sound words which thou hast heard of me. Such is the language which marks the identity of their discourses and letters. But this identity is definitively settled by the authority of God himself. Every one of the attestations in the New Testament to the full inspiration of the Old, as the words of the Holy Ghost, is applied indifferently to what was spoken by Moses, and David, and Isaiah, and the other prophets, and to what was written by them; nay, though the passages, as cited, were of necessity taken from the written canon of the Jewish church, they are expressly described as spoken by God, uttered by the mouth of God, said or declared by the Holy Ghost.
Further, the epistles were chiefly addressed to the newly-founded churches, to guard them, as we have just observed, against seducers; to correct rising errors, to communicate a full knowledge of the gospel, to establish them in the faith, . to call them back from false teachers, to the doctrine and teaching of the apostles; to remind them of what they had heard from their fathers in Christ at their first conversion; to be the guide and standard of truth, after the decease of the apostles; to supply, in short, the personal presence and authority of the evangelists and apostles in every age. The epistles, therefore, are silent preachers, representatives of