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doth it express this general end of the whole, and thereby evince its own interest therein. Now herein doth this epistle come behind no other portion of scripture whatever; nor does it betray the least alloy or mixture of any by end of the writer; nothing of his honor, reputation, advantage, or self-pleasing, in any thing; but all runs evenly and smoothly, to the general end proposed. And this also hath deservedly a place among the (Tennpia) infallible evidences of writings by Divine inspiration.
§10. 4. The style also of the sacred scripture is of deserved consideration. By the style of any writing, we understand both the propriety of the words, with their grammatical construction, and that composition of the whole, which renders it fit and decorous to effect the end proposed. I know some have, with atheistical boldness, despised the style of the holy writers, as simple and barbarous; among whom was Petrus Bembus, who could scarce touch the scriptures; when his own epistles, not one of them excepted, are not free from solecisms in grammar. But be it observed, that wherever there appears to us an irregularity in the original languages, when compared with the arbitrary rules or usages of other men, it much more becomes us to suspect our own apprehensions and judgment, than to reflect the least failure or mistake on the inspired writers. The censure of Heinsius, in this matter, is severe, but true: "To rail at any thing in "them, or to find fault therewith, as defective, is to act "the part, not of a learned man, but of a blasphemer, "and an idler, who never considers what is the condi❝tion of man, or how great the reverence and respect "which are due to God, who disposeth all things, and "who does not require a judge, but a humble petitioner."*
*Prolegom. Aristarch. Sacr.
§11. Eloquence and propriety of speech, for their proper ends, are the gift of God, Exod. iv, 10, 11; and, therefore, it may well be expected, that they should not be wanting, if necessary, in books written by his own inspiration. Nor, indeed, are they; yet he who shall expect to find in the heavenly oracles a flourish of painted words, artificial ornaments of speech, language calculated to entice, and to work upon weak and carnal affections, or sophistical and captious ways of reasoning to deceive, or a smooth, harmonious structure of periods, will be mistaken in his aim. Such things become not the authority, the majesty, the greatness and holiness of the Divine Speaker. Even an earthly monarch, who should make use of them in his edicts, laws, or proclamation, would but prostitute his authority to contempt, and invite his subjects to disobedience, by so doing; how much more unbecoming the declaration of His mind and will, who is the great Possessor of heaven and earth! Therefore, the apostle tells us, 1 Cor. ii, 5-7, that the rejecting of this kind of oratory, in his preaching and writings, was indispensably necessary, that it might appear the effects were the genuine productions of the things themselves, which he delivered.
§12. That the proper excellency of speech, or style, consisteth in (TO TриTоv) the meet accommodation of words to things; considering the person using them, and the end to which they are applied, all competent judges will confess. And the style of the holy scripture, we affirm, is every way answerable to what may be rationally expected from it. Hence it is, that, by its simplicity without corruption, gravity without affectation, and plainness without alluring ornaments, it does not so much entice, move, or persuade, as constrain, press, and pierce, into the mind and affections, trans
forming them into a likeness of the things delivered. "I dare assert, saith St. Austin, speaking of the holy "penmen, that whosoever rightly understands what "they speak, will also understand that they ought not "to have spoken otherwise."* Bodies possessed of native beauty, and symmetry of parts, have more advantage by being clothed in fit garments, than by the ornaments of gay attire; and the garb of plainness and simplicity is best adapted to the spiritual native beauty of heavenly truths. Therefore, we say with Austin, that "nothing is delivered in scripture, but just as it "ought to be." The style of the sacred penmen discovers in a manner peculiar to itself, a gracious condescension, suited to the capacity of those for whom principally their writings were designed. Besides, there is in it, as all who read it with faith and reverence, can witness, a secret efficacious energy, subjecting the mind of the humble reader to its grand design in all things.
§13. What we have said concerning the style of the sacred scripture in general, is eminently applicable to this epistle in particular, as containing, in the most conspicuous manner, the same simplicity, gravity, unaffectedness, and suitableness to its author, matter, and end, which recommends the whole. If any where, as in the beginning of the first chapter, the style seems to swell in its current, above the ordinary banks of the New Testament writings, it is from the greatness and sublimity of the matter treated of, which was not capable of any other kind of expression. Does the author for instance, any where use words or phrases in any uncommon sense? It is because his matter is peculiar.
*De Doctr. Christ. lib. iv. cap. vi.
Vid. Origen contr. Cels. lib. v.
Does he often speak in an Old Testament dialect, after it had been manumitted, as it were, from its typical import? It is from the consideration of their state and condition, with whom, in an especial manner, he had to do; which is perfectly agreeable to the wisdom of the Holy Ghost in other portions of scripture. Moreover,
§14. 5. The authority of its principal author exerts itself in the whole of it. Now this authority, as it respects the minds of men, consists, partly, in an exurgency, or forcible influence of the holy matter contained in it, and the heavenly manner wherein it is declared; and, partly, in the ineffable emanation of Divine excellency, which is communicated to the word, as a distinguishing property of its relation to God. And this authority do all they who have their minds spiritually exercised, find and acknowledge in this epistle.
§15 .6. From this authority proceeds a Divine efficacy; a powerful operation upon the soul and conscience; a reverence and awe of God. And humble readers find their minds effectually brought into the pleasing captivity of unreserved obedience; "Is not my word "as fire, saith the Lord, and like a hammer, that break"eth the rocks in pieces?" Jer. xxiii, 29. It is "quick "and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, "piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and "spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner "of thoughts and intents of the heart," Heb. iv, 12. A learned man said, well, "The holy scriptures do not "so much admonish, or persuade, as compel, agitate, "and forcibly influence. You read therein plain and "countrified words; but they are living words; they "animate, they inflame, they sting, they penetrate into "the inmost soul, and transform the whole man by their . "wonderful power."*
* Picus Mirandus ad Hermol. Barbar.
Such is the nature, power, and efficacy of this epistle towards believers. It searches their hearts, discovers their thoughts, judges their actions, supports their spirits, comforts their souls, enlightens their minds, guides them in their hopes, directs them in all their communion with God, and finally leads them to enjoy him. When once they have obtained this experience of its Divine power, it is in vain for men or devils to oppose its canonical authority, with their frivolous cavils and objections. Neither is the experience merely satisfactory to themselves alone, but is also fairly pleadable even to others; though not to atheistical scoffers, yet to humble inquirers after sacred truths.
§16. 7. To these things we may add, that the canonical authority of this epistle is confirmed by Catholic tradition. But by this tradition I intend a general uninterrupted fame, conveyed and confirmed by particular instances, records, and testimonies in all ages; which is undoubtedly of great importance. And how clearly this may be pleaded in our present case, shall be manifested in our investigation of the penman of this epistle.
§17. 8. Thus I hope we have made it evident; that it is not destitute of any one of those (Texμpia) infallible proofs and arguments, whereby any particular book of scripture evinceth itself to the consciences of men, to be written by inspiration of God. It remaineth now to shew, that it is not liable to any of those exceptions, or arguments, whereby any book, pretending a claim to a Divine original, and canonical authority, may be convicted, and manifested to be of another extract; whereby, at length, its just privilege will be on both sides secured.
(1.) The first consideration of this nature is taken from the author, or penman of any such writing. The books of the Old Testament were all of them written