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worthy to be recorded, because the Messiah was to come from that tribe ; and, in consequence of the apostacy of the rest, all the privileges of the church became its exclusive possession, and in it alone the true worship of God was preserved. A detail of its backslidings was requisite to account for its captivity in Babylon; and without a relation of its return, at the appointed time, to its own land, the faithfulness of God, in fulfilling the word spoken by his servants the prophets, would not have appeared.
These are the parts of the Jewish history, concerning which it seems proper that we should be informed ; and they are all so closely connected with each other, that, had any of them been left out, the narrative would have been imperfect. Now, such a history as I have supposed, we find in the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah ; and the inspiration of these books is the more probable, because they contain the very things of which it was natural to expect an account, if the law of Moses proceeded from God himself, and the Israelites were under his peculiar care,
appears to be contrary to all reason to imagine, that though we have been favoured with an inspired relation of the first transactions of God with that people, we should have only a human and uncertain history of his subsequent transactions, to which the first were merely introductory.
In the books which I have mentioned, we meet with many miracles; but these, instead of rendering the history suspected, are, in my opinion, evidences of its authenticity. In the books of Moses, which we have proved to be inspired, the Israelites are represented as under a miraculous providence. It
is, therefore, as reasonable to look for miracles in their history, as not to look for them in the history of any ordinary people ; and had nothing of that nature occurred in their historical books, we would have been justified in calling in question the truth of the whole narrative. The history of a nation under a miraculous providence, in which no supernat. ural interpositions are mentioned, but all things proceed in the usual train, would be as manifestly false, as the history of a warlike people, which described them as uniformly cultivating the arts of peace. Now, it is not probable that God would leave a miraculous history to be written in the same manner as a common history, namely, by men who had no particular call, and were qualified by no extraordinary assistance. It is more agreeable to our notions of his wisdom to believe, that he would expressly raise up chosen persons to give a faithful and authoritative record of such singular transactions. The omissions and misrepresentations, of which uninspired writers might have been guilty, through want of information, inadvertence, or design, would have defeated the intention of recording them. God would have been robbed of his glory, and we would have been deprived of the instruction and consolation which might have been drawn from the unusual displays of his power and goodness.
The persons by whom the historical books were written, are not now certainly known ; but they are commonly believed to have been composed by men of a prophetical spirit, as Joshua, Samuel, Nathan, Gad, and other seers, Ezra, and Nehemiah. To these, as the writers of them, they have been ascribed by both Jews and Christians; and there are some passages in the books themselves, which appear to favour their opinion. If Joshua wrote the words of the covenant which he made with the people, it is not improbable, that he wrote likewise the other transactions in the book which bears his name.* Mention is made of books distinguished by the names of Samuel, Gad, Nathan, Ahijah, Iddo, Shemaiah. “Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold they are written in the book of Samuel the seer, and in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer.” “ Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, first and last, are they not written in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the seer, against Jeroboam, the son of Nebat ?" “ Now the acts of Rehoboam, first and last, are they not written in the book of Shemaiah the prophet, and of Iddo the seer concerning genealogies ?" From these passages we learn, that several persons, styled prophets and seers, because they were favoured with supernatural knowledge, committed to writing the transactions of their times; whence we may, with much appearance of reason, infer, that they were the compilers of some of those historical books, to which a place hath been assigned in the canon. It is probable, that by them the books of Samuel and Kings were written; and perhaps these are the very books to which reference is made, with some difference of the names, in the foregoing passages. The Chronicles have been ascribed to Isaiah, and to Jeremiah, but more generally to Ezra, who, it is allowed by all, wrote the book which goes under his name. The same thing is granted with respect to Nehemiah.
Though, however, we cannot determine with certainty the authors of the historical books; yet we may rest assured, that the Jews, who had already received inspired books from the hands of Moses, would not have admitted any other as coming from the same source, if they had not seen incontestible evidence, that the writers were supernaturally assisted. Next to the testimony of Christ and his apostles, which corroborates all our reasonings for the inspiration of the Old Testament, and, when distinct arguments for any particular book cannot be found, supplies their place, we must depend, in the case before us, on the testimony of the Jews. And though the testimony of a nation be far from being, in every instance, a sufficient reason for be. lieving its sacred books to be possessed of that di. vine authority which is attributed to them; yet the testimony of the Jews has a peculiar title to credit from the circumstances in which it was delivered. It is the testimony of a people, who, having already in their possession genuine inspired books, were the better able to judge of others which advanced a claim to inspiration; and who, we have reason to think, far from being credulous with respect to such a claim, or disposed precipitately to recognise it, proceeded with deliberation and care in examining all pretensions of this nature, and rejected them when not supported by satisfactory evidence. They had been forewarned that false prophets should arise, and deliver their own fancies in the name of the Lord; and, while they were thus put upon their guard, they were furnished with rules to assist them in distinguishing a true from a pretended revelation.* We have a proof that the ancient Jews ex. ercised a spirit of discrimination in this matter, though at a period later than that to which we refer, in their conduct with respect to the apocryphal books: for though these books were written by men of their own nation, and bore the names of the most eminent personages, Solomon, Daniel, Ezra, and Baruch, they rejected them as human compositions, and left the infallible church to mistake them for divine. As the Jews then have, without a dissenting voice, asserted the inspiration of their historical books, their testimony, strengthened by their peculiar circumstances, authorizes us to receive them as a part of those scriptures which were intended for. our learning, that we, through the patience and comfort which by the divine blessing they impart, might have hope.
III. I proceed to consider the Prophetical Books.
The proof of their inspiration, which I shall lay before the reader, is not drawn from any external source, but arises from their contents. They carry in their bosom the evidence of their origin, and manifest themselves to be the Word of God by many clear predictions, which have been most exactly fulfilled, long after they were uttered. These are so numerous, that, at present, we can only select a few, as a specimen.
The fate of Egypt was thus foretold by Ezekiel: “ It shall be the basest of kingdoms, neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations; for I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule over
* See particularly Deut. xviii. 15–22.