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yet that book not make a sufficient discovery of itself to be his, and from him, is past all belief. Let men that live on things received by tradition from their fathers, who, perhaps, never had the sense of any real transaction between God and their souls, who scarcely ever perused the word seriously in their lives, nor brought their consciences to it, please themselves in their own imaginations; the sure anchor of a soul that would draw nigh to God, in and by his word, lies in its self-evidencing authority
I suppose it will not be denied, but that it was the will of God, that those to whom his word should come, should own it and receive it as his; if not, it were no-sin in those to reject it, to whom it doth so come; if it were, then, either he hath given those characters to it, and left upon it that impression of his majesty, by which it might be known to be his, or he hath not done so; and that either because he would not, or because he could not.
To say the latter, is to make him more infirm than a man, or other worms of the earth. He that saith the former, must know, that it is incumbent on him to yield a satisfactory account, why God would not do so, or else he will be thought blasphemously to impute a want of that goodness and love of mankind to God, which he hath, in infinite grace, manifested to be in himself. That no man is able to assign any such reason, I shall firmly believe, until I find some attempting so to do; which, as yet, none have arrived at that height of impudence and wickedness as to own.
2. How horrible is it to the thoughts of any saint of God, that the Scripture should not have its authority from itself. Were it otherwise, the Scripture must stand to the mercy of man for the
reputation of its divinity; nay, of its verity; for whence it hath its authority, thence it also hath its verity.
Consequential considerations for the confirmation of
the divine authority of the Scripture.
As some may happily be kept to some kind of adherence to the Scriptures, by lower grounds, until they get footing in those that are more firm, I shall insist on two of that kind, which, to me, seem not only to persuade, and, in a great measure, to convince, but also to prevail irresistibly, on the understanding of unprejudiced men, to close with the divine truth of it.
The first of these is taken from the nature of the doctrine itself, contained in the Scripture, the second from the management of the whole design therein; the first is innate, the other of a more external and rational consideration.
For the first of them, there are two things to be considered in the doctrine of the Scripture, that are powerful, and, if I may so say, uncontrollably prevalent as to this
purpose. First, Its universal suitableness, upon its first clear discovery, to all the entanglements and perplexities of the souls of men, in reference to their relation to, and dependence upon God. If all man
kind have certain entanglements upon their hearts and spirits, in reference to God, which none of them that are not utterly brutish do not wrestle with, and which all of them are not able, in the least, to satisfy themselves about, certainly that doctrine which is suited universally to satisfy all their perplexities, to calm and quiet their spirits in all their tumultuatings, and doth break in upon them, in its discovery, with a glorious efficacy to that purpose, must needs be from that God with whom we have to do, and none else. From whom else, I pray, should it be.
Now, there are three things, that every one of mankind, not naturally brutish, are perplexed with, in reference to their dependence on God, and relation to him.
1. How they may worship him as they ought.
2. How they may be reconciled, and at peace with him, or have an atonement for that guilt of which they are naturally sensible.
3. What is the nature of true blessedness, and how they may attain it, or how they may come to the enjoyment of God.
That all mankind is perplexed and entangled about these considerations that all men ever were so, without exception, more or less, and continue so to be to this day—that of themselves, they miserably grope in the dark, and are never able to come to any satisfaction, neither as to what is present, nor as to what is to come, I could manifest from the state, office, and condition of conscience, and the indelible innate ideas and presumptions about them, that are in the hearts of all by nature. The whole history of all religion which hath been in the world,
with the design of all ancient and present philosophy, do manifest this truth.
That surely, then, which shall administer to every one of them, universally, satisfaction as to all these things, to quiet their spirits, to cut off all necessity of any further inquiries, give them that wherewith they will be satisfied, unless they will cast off that relation and dependence on God, which they seek to settle, --surely, I say, this must be from the all-seeing, all-satisfying truth, and from none else.
Now this is done by the doctrine of the Scripture, with such a glorious uncontrollable conviction, that every one to whom it is revealed, the eyes of whose understanding are not blinded by the god of this world, must needs cry out, I have found that which in vain I sought elsewhere in my foolish imaginations.
Take an instance in the business of atonement, reconciliation, and acceptance with God.
What strange horrible fruits have men's contrivances produced on this occasion ? What have they not invented ? What have they not suffered, and yet continued in dread and bondage all their days? Now, with what a glorious soul-appeasing light doth the doctrine of satisfaction and atonement, by the blood of Christ, the Son of God, come in upon such men! This first astonisheth, then conquereth, then ravisheth, and satiateth the soul. This is what they looked for, were sick for, and knew it not. This is the design of the Apostle's discourse in the three first chapters of the Epistle to the Romans. Let any man read that discourse, from chap. i. 18. and onward, and he will see with what glory and beauty, with what ample satisfaction this doctrine breaks out.
It is no otherwise as to present worship, or future blessedness. This meets with men in all their wanderings, stops them in their disquisitions, convinces them of the darkness, uncertainty, falseness of all their reasonings about these things; and that with such an evidence and light, as at once subdues them, captivates their understanding, and quiets their souls.
Of what hath been spoken, this is the sum. All mankind that acknowledge their dependence upon God, and relation to him, are naturally grievously perplexed in their hearts, thoughts, and reasonings about the worship of God, acceptance with him, and the future enjoyment of him; some are exercised with more clear and distinct apprehensions of these things; some under more dark and general notions of them. To extricate themselves, and to come to some issue about these inquiries, hath been the great design of their lives, the aim they had in all things they did. Notwithstanding which, they were never able to deliver themselves, no not one of them, or attain satisfaction to their souls, but waxed vain in their imaginations, and their foolish hearts were more and more darkened. In this state of things, the doctrine of the Scripture, coming in with full, unquestionable satisfaction, suited to the inquirings of every individual soul, with a largeness of wisdom and depth of goodness not to be fathomed, it must needs be from that God with whom we have to do. And those who are not persuaded of this, that will not cast anchor in this harbour, let them put to sea