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Such were the sentiments of some very ancient christians respecting certain books of fcripture. As to modern divines,
GROTIUS declares his opinion as follows: « I have truly faid, that all the books in the « Hebrew canon were not dictated by the
Holy Ghost. ***** There was no oc“casion for histories to be dictated by the
Holy Spirit. *** If Luke had written his « books by the dictates of divine inspiration, 6 he would have chosen rather to establish " his authority on that, than on the faith of « the witnesses he followed. So in writing « the Acts, which he had seen done by Paul, “ he had no need of inspiration ARCHBISHOP Tillotson says, “ If
" If any man " is of opinion, that Mofes might write the
hiftory of those actions, which he himself “ did or was present at, without an imme“ diate revelation of them, or that Solomon,
by his natural and acquired wisdom, might
speak thofe wife sayings which are in his * Proverbs, or the Evangelists might write «s what they heard and faw, or what they “ had good assurance of from others, as St. « Luke tells us he did, &c. without the im“ mediate dictate of the Spirit of God, he “ seems to have reafon on his side. For that
* Grot. Votum pro pack. Artic. de Canonicis Scripturis. Op. tom. IV. p. 672.'
“ men may without an immediate revelation « write those things, which they think with
out a revelation, seems very plain. And « that they did so, there is this probable ar
gument for it; because we find, that the evangelists, in relating the discourses of Chrift, are very far from agreeing in the
particular expressions and words : * * * * “ but if the words had been dictated by the
Spirit of God, they must have agreed in " them. For when St. Luke differs from “ St. Matthew, in relating what our Saviour
said, it is impossible that they should both “ relate it right as to the words and forms “ of expression.
DR. Middleton tells us, « As 'tis necessary “ to believe of the scriptures in general, that
they are divinely inspired; so itis as neceffary, “ from the evidence of plain facts and decla“rations in those very scriptures, to allow “ some exception to this general rule, and “ not to infift, as fome do, that every word, “ sentence, narration, history, or indeed
every book we call canonical, was dictated
by God. **** Here then," adds this author, “ I fix my foot, and take upon me to assert, that we are under no obligation of reason or religion to believe, that the scriptures are of absolute and universal in
spiration, $ Tillotson's works, vol. III. p. 449.
« fpiration, or that every passage in them was « dictated by a divine spirito
We plainly see, that these pious and learned divines made no scruple to declare their opinions very fully and explicitly, and others have done the like, that not only many palsages, but even entire books of the scriptures, were not dictated by the Holy Ghost.
In order to confirm the sentiments of these great men, and satisfy ourselves fully on this head, nothing more seems neceffary, but to take an unbiassed view of some particular parts of scripture.
Could the writer of Eccleßaftes be divinely inspired when he declared concerning the estate of the sons of men,
might see they themselves are beasts? For « that which befalleth the sons of men, be“ falleth beasts, even one thing befalleth “ them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other;
yea they have all one breath, so that a man " hath no pre-eminence above a beast: *** “all go unto one place d.” Can any thing be stronger against a future state than these texts? Or can the human species be more degraded than by this account of them?
Was David inspired by the merciful Spirit of God when he thus cruelly cursed his
enemy, Dr. Middleton's works, vol. II. p. 288. Ecclesiastes iii. 18, 19, 20.
" that they
enemy, and his children also ? « When he (his enemy) “ shall be judged,” says David, " let him be condemned, and let his prayer « become fin. *** Let his children be con“tinually vagabonds and" beg.
** Let es there be none to extend mercy unto him; “ neither let there be any to favour his father“ less children" with a great deal more in the same strain.
AND what shall we say of the account given in the book of Genehs concerning the creation of man, and for what cause he was not only deprived of the happy state in which he was originally placed, but both himself and all his pofterity, according to the most common and orthodox opinion, were fentenced by God to eternal misery? By an impartial examination of this narrative, we shall perhaps be able to satisfy ourselves, whether even this part of the scriptures, upon which, as some think, fó much de pends, carries with it, if taken in a literal sense, as most divines insist that it Thould be, any appearance of being divinely revealed.
The account in the second and thir chapters of Genefis is briefly as follows:
THAT " the Lord God formed man of " the dust of the ground:” that nevertheless “ he formed him in his own image, in the
image Pfalm cix. 7, 10, 12.
image of God created he him: male and « female created he them.” That "the is Lord God planted a garden, and there he put
the man, one of whose ribs God took, 66 and thereof made he woman. And the " Lord God commanded the man, saying, “ Of every tree of the garden thou mayest
freely eat: but of the tree of knowledge of
good and evil, thou shalt not eat; for in « the day that thou eateft thereof, thou shalt “ surely die:” that is, as we are taught to believe, thou shalt live for ever in eternal misery.
irene's BEFORE we go any further, a query here seems naturally to present itself. Would a good man plant in his garden a tree which bore pleasant, but poisonous fruit, and content þimself with forbidding his children to eat thereof, telling them, that if they did, they should surely die? On the contrary, if he knew of such a tree; would hé not immediately destroy it ?cíand more especially if he could be fenable, that unless he did so, his children would certainly destroy themselves by eating the fruit thereof, and likewise render all their posterity miserable? But to proceeď with our narrative :
NOTWITHSTANDING this prohibition against eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge, and the terrible penalty annexed to