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Object, IV. “ Are not many passages in the New Testament « taken from the Old Testament, and used in a quite different « sense from what they have as they stand in the original writer? 66 And must not these be called double senses of the words of sacred « Scripture?

Answer. It is acknowledged that our Lord, and his apostles and evangelists, have taken several passages from the Old Testament; and used them in a very different sense from what they have as cond. nected with the place from whence they were taken. But that will not prove a double sense of the words. I may quote a passage from Homer or Virgil, Herodotus or Livy, to express my present meaning, and in quite another sense from what it has in those ancient authors. But that will not prove that those ancient authors intended their words should be understood in two senses. In the original intention, they had only one nieaning. In my accommodation of them, they had only one meaning. And, though the same words may have different ideas affixed to them, and be used by succellive {peakers or writers in various senses; yet that does not prove that, in the criginal intention, they had more than one signification.

Objeći, V. « Is not the epittle to the Hebrews a strong proof of « double senses? And has not the author of it abundantly shewn, “ that in the spiritual meaning of the law of Moses was contained the “ gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ?”

Answer. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews has argued very juftly; as will plainly appear, when the design of his writing is attended to, and his argument clearly understood.-The Hebrew Christians were in danger of apoftatizing from the gospel, and of returning to the Jewish religion again. And they were induced to that change, partly out of fear of persecution from the unbelieving Jews, and partly by the subrile arguments which they alledged. Besides proper arguments to support them under persecution, or the prospect of it, the apostle answers the arguments of the unbelieving Jews, and that very solidly, 9. d. “You prefer the law of Moses (as more excellent than the gospel of Christ. But let us coinpare

them together, and see wherein they resemble one another, and (wherein they differ. And from such a coinparison it will ap:

pear, thai, in both respects, the gospel has the advantage. And will you go back from a better dispensation to a worse? Was the ? law.given by angels? The gospel was given by our Lord Jesus ' Chriit, who is the head of the angels, and to whom they are all in < subjection. Was Moses, the servant of God, the great Jewish

lawgiver? A greater and more excellent person, elus, the son of ! God, is the great Christian lawgiver. Did joihua give the people " of Israel reit, after they had passed through the wilderness; and ? settle them in the land of Canaan? That was not the final rest; ! for king David spoke of another rest long after; even the final rest 4 of God's people, which Jesus will give us in the heavenly Ca? naan, and which is perfect, and durable. There remaineth, there( fore, that everlasting rest for the people of God.--Had the cws a

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fucceffion of mortal men for their high priests? Jesus Christ is our great high priest, and is not succeeded by any, but has an unchangeable priesthood; a priesthood which resembles not that of Aaron, but of Melchizedec, who was both king and priest of the most high God, who is not reprefented as coming of any

priestly descent, nor as succeeded by any priestly line. In like ( manner, Jesus Christ is actually both king and priest, not defcendsed from any priestly line, nor has he any successor in his high office 6 and dignity. :

Have the Jews had a tabernacle, or temple, in which their (priests used to minister ? Jesus Christ is gone into the holy of ? holies; and is a minister of the true, the heavenly, tabernacle, or • temple. The law had only the shadow, the rough draught, or (imperfect delineation, of good things to come. The gospel has

the substance, and contains thofe very good things themselves. • Did the Jews offer the sacrifices of bulls and goats ? Jesus Chrift • has offered himself as a sacrifice; and, by that one offering, has * perfected for ever those that are sanctified. In thort, wherein

foever the law of Mofes and the gofpel of Chrift resemble one anoI ther, there the gospel has the preference: whereinsoever they dif< fer; there also the gospel is more excellent. And would any wilc

man go from a more excellent dispenfation, to one that was evi(dently much less excellent ?'.

All this must be allowed to be very juft reasoning. But wherein does it favour double senses, or double interpretations, of Holy Scripture?

Object. VI. « What! would you limit the wisdom and power of « God? When God fpeaks to men, he can take in a large com« pass; and can easily comprehend more in one sentence, or one « word, than short-lighted, mortal men can do in a whole volume “ of the most profound, elaborate, or comprehensive writing !”

Answer. The matter now in debate is not what God can do, but what he has done, Whatever God can do; whenever he has made a revelation to men, he has always feen fit to reveal his mind and will in such a familiar, condescending manner, as to use words and phrases in the sense in which they were commonly used at the time, and in the place, where fuch a revelation was first given. And, indeed, if he had done otherwise, men could not have understood him. And revelation not understood would be no revelation at all.

But this objection may be turned juft the other way, and it may be faid to them that make it, « What! would you limit the wisdom « and power of God? When God speaks to men, will you repre« fent him as speaking with the obfcurity or equivocation of an « Heathen oracle? Cannot he fpeak the language of any age or « country in so clear and intelligible a manner as to have one cer“ tain and determinate meaning, so that his words may be under* stood, and his will complied with? Will you allow Homer or « Herodotus, Xenophon or Livy, to exprefs. themselves clearly and

diftinctly?

* diftinctly? And cannot the wisdom and power of God equal, or s excell, the most plain and intelligible of all the writers of anti« quity? What method, therefore, can now be taken to interpret « any passage of Scripture; but to consult the original; to examine u it according to the rules of grammar, rhetoric, and close atten« tion to the age and country, customs and language, of that time « and place; the character of the speaker, or writer, and of the “ persons addressed to, or spoken of; and the (cope and connection “ of the whole discourse?

« When God speaks to men, he certainly knows how to speak to « their apprehensions. And such is his goodnels, that one may u reasonably expect that he will do so.”

Objeët. VII. « Do not you too much confine the sense of the

sacred writings ? and suppose che design and meaning of the « apostles to be less general than it seems to have been? Or, in « other words, do you imagine that the apostolic epistles were « written only for the use of the churches, or persons, to whom " they were addressed, or to whom they were suit lent? Or how far « do they concern Christians in all ages and countries whatever ?”

Answer. I look upon this to be a question of very great moment, and which deserves a moft careful consideration. ...

All the books of the New Testament (except the Revelation of St. John) seem at first view to have been merely occasional writings; designed for some particular persons, or churches, or, at the most, for some particular countries.

The Revelation of St. John, indeed, does not seem to have been an occasional writing. For that apostle was, by the divine command, ordered to write in a book what was then revealed to him. And, I am sorry to say it, many Christians have exceedingly slighted that book; notwithstanding the express order which the apostle had to write it; and the divine declaration at the beginning of that book [Rev. i. 3.) ; « Bletled is he that readeth, and they that hear, « the words of this prophecy; and keep [' or observe'] the things " which are written therein;" and the folemn execration, denounced at the end of the book, against those who shall add to it, or diminish from it [Rev. xxii. 18, 19.1. The difficulty of some parts of that book may have discouraged many from studying of it. And others may perhaps have been induced to fight it, from the prophane and petulant observation of a divine of a lour wit in the last age; who has been pleased to call it " a mysterious, extraordinary book ; « which perhaps the more it is studied, the less it is understood; " as generally finding a man crackt, or making him fo.” [Sce South's Sermons, vol. II. p. 467.). Surely, a most indecent way of speaking of any part of lacred Scripture?

St. Matthew's golpel is said to have been written for the use of the Jewish Christians, more especially in Judæa; to leave among them, when the apostles were goirg to preach aipong the Gentiles. The gospel of St. Mark was written at the request of the brethren at Rome; and more immediately for their uie and benefit. St.

Luke's Luke's gospel, and the Acts of the apostles, seem to have been the firit and second part of the same book, infcribed to Theophilus, and perhaps written, at his request, to inform him of the first beginnings of Christianity, and of the progress which it had made. And Theophilus is thought by fome to have been governor of a province in Greece; or some great man whom St. Luke had converted to the Christian faith.

St. John's gospel was written at the request of the Christians at Ephesus; and as a supplement to the other three gospels. And the leveral epifties were evidently written to particular churches, or perfons, as occasions then required, and more peculiarly suited to their circumstances. -So far were the books of the New Testament occalional writings.

But, if St. Matthew's gospel was written in Hebrew, for the use of the Hebrew Christians (as some suppole), it must have been tran:lated for the use of the Hellenist, and Gentile, Christians. And the present Greek does not carry any marks of a translation. St. Matthew, therefore, might possibly publish it both in Hebrew and Greek. But, however these things be, as it was published in Greek, it must have been designed for the benefit of Christians in general. And, if the brethren of Rome requested it of St. Mark to write his gospel, and bad it first, others had it afterwards. And it became of public benefit to the Christians in general; for whose benefit it was calculated, as well as that of St. Matthew's.-St. Luke's infcribing his gospel and the Acts of the apostles to Theophilus might possibly be no more than our dedicating a book to some person of eminence; when the book is, nevertheless, intended for the use of the public. --St. John's writing his goipel at the request of the brethren at Ephesus, and that as a supplement to the other three gospels, is a plain proof that the other three gospels were then common among the churches, and well known to the Christians; that St. John's gospel was intended to be as public; and, finally, that the primitive Christians were not indifierent about what their Lord had said and done, but had an ardent desire to know as much as they could with certainty of the doctrine, life, actions, and sufferings, of that dear and eminent person. .

The apostolic epifties were not circular letters, addressed to the Christian church, or to all Christians at large; but were, undoubtedly, written upon some particular occafions; and addresled to some particular churches or persons. But they, nevertheless, spread into other churches; and were valued and read by other Christians. St. Paul expressly ordered some of his epistles to be read publicly; and that not only in the churches to which they were written; but also in other churches.- St. Peter had read the epiitles of his beloved brother Paul; not only those written to some of the churches in Alia minor, but to other churches also, - It was, doubtless, with a view to their being klown and distinguished from any epiftles, which might be forged under his name, that St. Paul wrote the falutation with his own hand, at the end of all his cpiitles.

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The Jews, in our Saviour's time, are said “ to have had Moses << and the prophets.” May not we as justly be said “ to have the u evangelists and apostles,” in having their writings so common among us ? Christians in former ages had these sacred writings in the highest veneration ; read them privately in their families and closets; and publicly in their churches; spread them far and wide through the earth ; and handed them down to us as a public treasure, defigned for the benefit of Christians in all ages and nations.

In the essay on inspiration annexed to 1 Timothy, I have observed that the apostles had the whole scheme of the Christian doctrine by divine illumination; and constantly retained .it during the remaining part of their lives. What, therefore, they preached or wrote concerning the Christian doctrine may be depended upon; whatever was the occasion of their to preaching or writing. If Jesus Christ and his apostles had not first preached and worked miracles, met with such opposition or success, acted or fuffered, as they did, the sacred historians could not have had the facts which they have recorded in their writings; nor the Christian religion have been attended with that illustrious evidence, which now appears in the books of the New Testament. Besides, there are not wanting some hints of their epistles being designed for general use. For initance; the first epistle to the Corinthians is directed, not only to the Chrittians in Corinth, but “ unto all

, who, in every place, invoke the " name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.” And there is no question, but that every one of their epistles were intended to be of as extensive benefit as they were capable of.

The four Gospels and the Acts of the apostles Teem to contain all the effential parts of the Christian religion. But the epistles contain things useful, and of very great moment. The excellent laws, which Solon gave the Athenians, contained the substance of all their laws : but yet the Athenians found it proper to add many particular laws, as elucidations of Solon's general rules. — The laws of the twelve tables at Rome contained, in a narrow compass, the substance of the Roman law: but they found it requisite to add many particular laws to illustrate and explain those of the twelve tables. The ten commandments contained the sum and substance of the Mofaic law : but yet God law fit to add many particular precepts, to explain and inforce the observation of the ten commandments. And, finally, “ the law of Moses” contained the rules of the Jewish religion and government; but yet God saw fit, by the prophets, from time to time, to give that nation many particular precepts for enforcing, explaining, and illustrating the law of Mofes.-- In like manner; the four Gospels and the Acts of the apostles contain a summary of the Christian doctrine and precepts. They direct us to believe in God; and in Jesus Christ, as the Mefiah and Saviour of the world, They inculcate the necessity of repentance, where men have done amits; and of prevailing holiness in all. But they do not always apply thele general directions to particular cafes to ininutely and cir. cumstantially as do the apostles in their epifties.

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