Let us compare the parts of this doctrine together, and we shall discover in all of them an agreement and harmony, even in points the most minute, that it is so great and evident as to cause us to believe that it could not be manifested by men, but ought to have implicit credence placed in it as having certainly proceeded from God.
Let the Predictions alone, that have been promulgated concerning Christ in different ages, be compared together. For the consolation of the first parents of our race, God said to the serpent, |The seed of the woman shall bruise thy head.| (Gen. iii.15.) The same promise was repeated by God, and was specially made to Abraham: |In thy seed shall all the nations be blessed.| (Gen. xxii.18.) The patriarch Jacob, when at the point of death, foretold that this seed should come forth from the lineage and family of Judah, in these words: |The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.| (Gen. xlix.10.) Let the alien prophet also be brought forward, and to these predictions he will add that oracular declaration which he pronounced by the inspiration and at the command of the God of Israel, in these words: Balaam said, |There shall come a star out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.| (Num. xxiv.17.) This blessed seed was afterwards promised to David, by Nathan, in these words: |I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.| (2 Sam. vii.12.) On this account Isaiah says, |There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.| (xi, 1.) And, by way of intimating that a virgin would be his mother, the same prophet says, |Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel!| (Isa. vii.14.) It would be tedious to repeat every declaration that occurs in the psalms and in the other Prophets, and that agrees most appropriately with this subject. When these prophecies are compared with those occurrences that have been described in the New Testament concerning their fulfillment, it will be evident from the complete harmony of the whole, that they were all spoken and written by the impulse of one Divine Spirit. If some things in those sacred books seem to be contradictions, they are easily reconciled by means of a right interpretation. I add, that not only do all the parts of this doctrine agree among themselves, but they also harmonize with that Universal Truth which has been spread through the whole of Philosophy; so that nothing can be discovered in Philosophy, which does not correspond with this doctrine. If any thing appear not to possess such an exact correspondence, it may be clearly confuted by means of true Philosophy and right reason.
Let the Style and Character of the scriptures be produced, and, in that instant, a most brilliant and refulgent mirror of the majesty which is luminously reflected in it, will display itself to our view in a manner the most divine. It relates things that are placed at a great distance beyond the range of the human imagination -- things which far surpass the capacities of men. And it simply relates these things without employing any mode of argumentation, or the usual apparatus of persuasion: yet its obvious wish is to be understood and believed. But what confidence or reason has it for expecting to obtain the realization of this its desire? It possesses none at all, except that it depends purely upon its own unmixed authority, which is divine. It publishes its commands and its interdicts, its enactments and its prohibitions to all persons alike; to kings and subjects, to nobles and plebians, to the learned and the ignorant, to those that |require a sign| and those that |seek after wisdom,| to the old and the young; over all these, the rule which it bears, and the power which it exercises, are equal. It places its sole reliance, therefore, on its own potency, which is able in a manner the most efficacious to restrain and compel all those who are refractory, and to reward those who are obedient.
Let the Rewards and Punishments be examined, by which the precepts are sanctioned, and there are seen both a promise of life eternal and a denunciation of eternal punishments. He who makes such a commencement as this, may calculate upon his becoming an object of ridicule, except he possess an inward consciousness both of his own right and power; and except he know, that, to subdue the wills of mortals, is a matter equally easy of accomplishment with him, as to execute his menaces and to fulfill his premises. To the scriptures themselves let him have recourse who may be desirous to prove with the greatest certainty its majesty, from the kind of diction which it adopts: Let him read the charming swan-like Song of Moses described in the concluding chapters of the Book of Deuteronomy: Let him with his mental eyes diligently survey the beginning of Isaiah's prophecy: Let him in a devout spirit consider the hundred and fourth Psalm. Then, with these, let him compare whatever choice specimens of poetry and eloquence the Greeks and the Romans can produce in the most eminent manner from their archives; and he will be convinced by the most demonstrative evidence, that the latter are productions of the human spirit, and that the former could proceed from none other than the Divine Spirit. Let a man of the greatest genius, and, in erudition, experience, and eloquence, the most accomplished of his race -- let such a well instructed mortal enter the lists and attempt to finish a composition at all similar to these writings, and he will find himself at a loss and utterly disconcerted, and his attempt will terminate in discomfiture. That man will then confess, that what St. Paul declared concerning his own manner of speech, and that of his fellow-labourers, may be truly applied to the whole scripture: |Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.| (1 Cor. ii.13.)