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butes of absolute perfection? and consequently each of these two ideas is destructive of the other.
Thus plainly do the works of nature declare both the being, the unity, and the moral attributes of God. And this perhaps is of all arguments, which can be collected, in proof of a divine being, the most pleasing and satisfactory; the most pleasing, because the contemplation of nature is one of our most pleasing employments; and the most satisfactory, because there is nothing in the universe more plain than the marks of a contriving mind, impressed upon the several parts of it: for the almighty has framed the world with such wisdom, that, while he is himself invisible, every part of his works bears witness to his existence. The argument too is yet further valuable for the extent, to which it may be carried: for we may prove from it not only the existence of God, but all the more essential attributes of divinity, while, every thing, that we see and meet, furnishing an additional and separate testimony to its truth, the force of it is continually accumulating.
1 John v. 9.
This is the witness of God, which he hath testified of his son.
No use was made in the morning of the testimony of scripture, because it seemed desirable to shew, that independently of that authority God had not left himself without witness, inasmuch as he gives us rain from Heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness, and also, that the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and godhead.
But in fact the very existence of a Bible will furnish us with a distinct and new proof of the
existence of God: and this is the third head, from which I hope to establish that conclusion.
In order to lay a foundation for this argument, no concession is necessary with respect to the truth or authority of the sacred volume. All, that is required to be admitted, is, that there exists a book, consisting of various detached compositions, but which are looked upon, as one work, and called the bible. Now this book was not written originally in our days. No one pretends it. Neither was it
written in the days of our fathers. Otherwise among all our fathers some one would have been found to tell us so. But in fact we do not possess any book in the English language, so old as not to allude to it, not indeed in its present form, but in a Latin version; and we must either be prepared to maintain, that nearly all the works in the English language were composed but yesterday, or allow, that the bible was before them all. Even in its present form we have good evidence of its having subsisted for more than two hundred years in citations from it by a succession of authors, who could not have lived before
the work they quote in the very words, now found in it, and whose antiquity must be disputed together with that of the bible. But in fact our bible does not pretend to be an original work, but to be a translation from works in three languages, Hebrew, Chaldee, and Greek. Let us take the Greek part first into consideration, or the new testament! Now we have other works extant, professing to have been written at all different periods of the last eighteen hundred years, or near it, which yet quote from that Greek testament in the very words of it; and either the age of every one of these writings must be disputed, in which case nothing is certain in the world, or else the Greek testament must be allowed to be older than all of them: and now we are come to the actual date of this part of the sacred volume; for, whereas all the works, to which I have now alluded, without exception bear testimony to its having been written about that time, those, which profess to have been written nearest to that time, state it to have just appeared. Some of the authors, indeed, as Clement, bishop of Rome, declare
themselves to have conversed with some of its various authors; some of the works, as his epistle for instance, appear to have been written in the interval between the appearance of the several tracts, of which it is constituted: and all agree in representing it, as the work of the time, to which I have referred: neither is this concurrent testimony now called in question. We may therefore assume it, as an acknowledged fact, that the new testament was written in Greek, and that the whole made its appearance publicly in the world during the lives of its respective authors. That is, within the last seventy years of the first century of the christian era.
Further, that the several parts of it were written by the authors, whose names they respectively bear, is a matter most likely to have been disputed with success at the time, when those authors were living, and would themselves be interested in discountenancing an imposture. If, therefore, there are works extant, written in the same age with those authors, and some of them favoring, others opposing their tenets, but all allowing their