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perfectly acquainted with the national peculiarlties and rites one thousand one hundred and fifty manuscripts and versions of of the Hebrews; and were not likely, moreover, to stamp the the Old Testament which are still extant, there is an essenseal of their approbation upon records which accredited the tial agreement, an agreement most wonderful and striking, posterity of Abraham as God's peculiar people, and condemn- showing, beyond all conjecture or doubt, the uncorrupted preed the whole Gentile world as sunk in a state of idolatry and servation of these precious records. ,crime. It could not be the followers of Christ, for it is mat- Nor is the protection less manifest which has been spread ter of undoubted historical certainty that the Scriptures of the over the books of the New Testament. The early multipliJews existed many centuries before the Christian name was cation of copies, together with the several translations into ever heard of. It could not be the Jews themselves, for never foreign tongues, rendered any serious deviation from the oriwas there a more uncompromising exposure of the crimes, ginal manuscripts utterly impossible. Besides, in the course idolatries, and righteous chastisements of a rebellious and of one century from the period of Christ's resurrection, the guilty nation than that which they contain.
gospel was spread over the greater part of the Lesser Asia, If we look at the New Testament, it is equally unreasona- and over many portions of Africa and Europe; so that if any ble to suppose that it is not a genuine production, and that it of the early Christians, in any particular district of the world, was not actually written by the men to whom it is attributed. had attempted to alter or mutilate the sacred books, it would Unbelieving Jews and Gentiles were happily, in this instance, have been impossible that they should have escaped detection the guardians of revelation; for as they were equally opposed among the many disciples of Christ spread over other sections to the doctrine of Him whom they had combined to crucify, of the globe. and as they were both zealous in persecuting all who ranked The early heresis, too, which sprung up among the professthemselves as his humble and devoted followers, it stands to ed followers of Jesus, rendered the corruption of the sacred reason, that if the records of the Christian faith had not been books next to an impossibility. “That passage of the aposgenuine narratives of facts, furnished by the very men who tle,” observes the immortal Howe, “is not greatly enough assume to be the writers, the dishonest effort would have been pondered according to the weightiness of the expression, that detected and exposed, and the whole world, and all succeed- there must be heresies. This great use that hath been of the ing generations, would have been warned against the iniqui- divisions in Christian churches, is not, it may be, considered tous attempt to originate a history not founded in fact. as it should be by many, But nothing can carry a clearer
The genuineness of the Books of Scripture was never called evidence and demonstration with it than that, because of those in question by friends or enemies. From the earliest periods divisions, any depravation of the said records (that is, any of the Jewish history downwards, the Hebrews regarded their material, general, successful, continued depravation) is altosacred Books as their peculiar treasure, and associated them all with their several authors and ages; and, in like manner, the Christians, from the apostolic age to the present for those books that, upon examination, were found to be punctually
buried in the grave of one or other of their wise men. And, lastly, moment, have had a regular succession of writers, who have true, it was very plain from the history of those times, that there quoted and authenticated, in various ways, the Books which was the greatest reverence paid to them imaginable. They never compose the New Testament canon. It is an interesting fact used to touch those perfect copies (taking them into their hands) that Celsus, and Porphyry, and Julian, and an endless race without kissing them solemnly, nor to lay them down again without of heretics, combine with the apostolic and Christian fathers, solemn kissing of them. They were never used to sit upon the place Barnabas, Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Ter- where one of those books were wont to be laid. If one of them by tullian, Origen, and Eusebius, in accrediting the Books of for it, as an ill-boding thing, that such a thing should happen. So
casualty fell to the ground, they appointed a solemn fast to be kept Scripture as genuine productions. The most inveterate op- that it is most plain that these keepers of the Books of the Old Tesponents of revelation have been compelled to admit the fact tament could never have it in design to corrupt any of them; but it that the Bible is no forgery.
was that which they did abhor above all things. And it was a prinNor is there the slightest reason to suspect that the Scripciple (as Philo tells us, and Josephus much to the same purpose) intures have undergone any material alteration, or that they are lity, that they should run the utmost hazard, and incur a thousand not now in the same condition in which they were when they deaths, rather than they should suffer any alteration or diminucame from Moses and the prophets, the evangelists and apos- tion of those books, or that any of them should be lost in any other tles. To say that the original Hebrew and Greek manu- way. And then, besides all this scrupulous care of the keepers of scripts of the Bible, or that the ancient versions and transla- the books of the Old Testament (with which a design of corrupting tions, had not been deviated from in a single particular, would would no way consist), we may add, that the thing itself was afterbe to assume a position too lofty. In the process of trans- wards impossible. If they would before, when it was in their
own cribing some thousands of copies, before the art of printing cause that in Christ and his apostles' days, a great number of them was discovered, letters and syllables, and even words, without were converted to the Christian faith, who knew all the Books of the the intervention of a miracle, must have been left out. But Old Testament as well as themselves. Therefore, it was impossible that there has been any serious or fraudulent omission or in- now for the Infidel Jews, those that were not converted, to make any terpolation, or that any one doctrine has been added or sub- alteration but it must be presently spied and exclaimed against; tracted, cannot be shown by any enemy of revelation, and therefore it was a vain thing for any to attempt need not be apprehended by any humble-minded or unlettered further add, that the testimonies that were contained in these book's
were converted to the Christian religion. And thereupon we may Christian.
against themselves, and with which contained in them they are transAs it respects the Old Testament Scriptures, it is a well- mitted to us, do show that they never went about to corrupt them. established fact that the Jews were their faithful guardians. The many testimonies against idolatıry contained in these books, They wero often employed, indeed, in the act of transcribing whereby their forefathers from age to age, for many ages, were witthem, but so strict were they in comparing the copies with nessed against, would have induced them to expunge all things that the originals, that they numbered both the words and letters. were therein contained against idolatry (so tender were they of their That the Jews never altered their sacred Books is triumphant- to attempt the corrupting or the alteration of any thing in those
reputation), if there had not been a great awe upon their minds never ļy proved by the fact that neither their own prophets nor books. The wickedness of their forefathers was, in these books, so Jesus Christ, though they laid many a heavy charge at their highly remonstrated against, in respect of the testimonies they so ofdoor, ever once intimated that they were guilty of such muti- ten gave against their idolatry, and yet these books we find in their lation. The Great Teacher, indeed, told them, with the ut-lown hands, with these testimonies in them, against the Jews and most fidelity, that they had made void “The commandment divers intervals, though we do not find after the second temple that
their forefathers, for many foregoing ages, through sundry times and of God by their traditions,” but he never insinuates that they people relapsed into that crime. And then there is the fullest testihad corrupted the Sacred Books. “It is one of the wonders mony against their infidelity in these books that can be. Who would of providence, that God, for the preservation of these books, not wonder that these books should come out of the hands of the should make use of that scrupulous, and I might say, almost Jews, with these testimonies, in the great controversy between the superstitious, care that was among
those Jews whose office it Christians and them that is, of Christ being the Messiah, in which was to keep the Books of the Old Testament.”
"* Among the you have so punctųal assertions against them that nothing can be
more. Those many testimonies that do concern the Messiah, par
ticularly that famous prophecy, that the sceptre should not depart See John Howe's Lectures on the oracles of God. Works, one from Judah till Shilo should come, and those numerous presages in vol. imperial octavo, just published, p. 1075. The whole passage many of the latter prophets, (Isaiah especially, and sundry others.) referred to is as follows: "It was known they used to count all the make it one of the greatest wonders of Providence that such a book letters of the Old Testament, that they might be sure never to miss should come, with these things in it, out of men's hands, against a letter. Again, in transcribing copies, (which was frequent,) every whom they are a continual remonstrance. But, however, this proves copy was always examined by an appointed number of their wise that they did never design any alteration; either they saw it imposmen, as they termed them. Further, if any copy should have been sible for one while, and before that, they had no inclination or infound, upon examination, to have four or five faults in it, in one copy ducement that would be prevailing with them to go about it, that is, of the whole Old Testament, that book was presently adjudged to be that there should be an alteration with design."
after so many
gether impossible; because the one party would be continu-shimself—" Wherefore do I doubt?" To such a solemn inally declaiming and crying out against the other; and then terrogatory, conscience may perhaps supply the ready, and how would it be espied ?"*
faithful response,—“How can you but doubt, while sin is Indeed, it may be safely affirmed, that the Christians were blinding your perceptions and hardening your heart ?" never charged by their bitterest enemies with the crime of mutilating their Scriptures, and that these sacred records have suffered less from transcribers, copyists, and translators, than any other documents of a remote antiquity.
* It is true, that in translations, persons have laboured to serve their own purposes, by translating this way and that, as
CHAPTER V. they thought fit. But for alteration of copies, that is what never entered into the mind of any body to attempt; which is
On the Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. a thing so easily spied out, that nothing is more so; and so must needs blast and dissevor the cause and interest of that Having glanced at the evidence which supports the concluparty it was designed to serve, and therefore could never be. sion that the Bible is a Revelation from God, and having, And the impossibility of any such alteration it is easy for any moreover, ascertained that the books of Scripture have been man that useth his understanding to apprehend from a similar transmitted to us in a pure and unadulterated form, it may instance. And thus, do but take any one people that are un- now be proper to inquire into the true nature of inspiration, der the same government, and that have their laws, by which and to endeavour to determine to what extent the sacred volume they are governed, digested into some system or other; as, for is entitled to the high and distinctive appellation of—“THE instance, our statute book ; why, suppose very ill-minded WORD OF God.” men in the nation should have a design to corrupt and alter The importance of this question is very great, for upon its the statute-book, every one would see it to be impossible. answer must depend the degree of deference which is due to Which way would they go to work to impose a false statute the Scriptures as an authoritative communication from Heabook upon a nation, wherein every man's right and property is ven. It is a question which cannot be decided, I presume, by concerned? And if any such should have such a design, any arguments a priori, but by a direct appeal to the testimothey would soon give it up, as finding it impossible, and a ny of the infallible word. The real nature of inspiration, as thing not to be done, and therefore a vain thing to attempt. belonging to the writers of Scripture, is a doctrine purely of But the difficulty is a thousand times greater of making de- Revelation ; and the only duty of a sincere inquirer in refersigned alteration of those sacred books and records that are ence to it must be simply this, to ascertain for himself what spread so unspeakably further than a nation, and wherein the is predicated or announced concerning it in the word of God. concernments of all that have them in their hands are recorded, With this conviction on my mind, I shall not trouble my not temporal only, but eternal. Here is their all for eternity, readers with any lengthened details of what others have adanother world! So that it must be altogether impossible that yanced on the subject of inspiration, but shall come almost there could have heen such a thing effected; and therefore it immediately to the point in hand, viz., the doctrine of Scripis the most unlikely thing that such a matter should ever be ture, as to the manner in which it was imparted. attempted. And then, I say, if there be that plain evidence, I must just be allowed, however, to premise, that writers that for that reason these books must be the same, that they of the Socinian creed have so relaxed their notions of inspiracannot have been altered with design, and consequently not tion as to talk even of the inconclusive reasonings of apostles ; materially, then it were the most unreasonable thing in all the and that others, not of this pernicious creed, have spoken and world to expect that God could confirm it to us otherwise than written about degrees and kinds of inspiration until they have he hath done, or that the nature of the thing doth admit of it; inadvertently weakened, on their own minds, and on the because, otherwise there must have been miracles wrought for minds of others, the authority of God in the Scriptures. I every one to see and take notice of, nay, that would alto- would have all such writers remember, that these modified gether loose the usefulness and significancy of miracles them- views of inspiration are of modern date, and that for full sixselves, because it would make miracles so common in such a teen hundred years they were unknown in the church of case. If every man must have a miracle to prove to him this Christ. “Many considerable writers on the evidences of is God's word, it would take off that particular thing for Christianity, of late, have satisfied themselves with proving which they are only significant with men, that is, because its divine authority generally, but have tacitly, and most inthey are rare and extraordinary things, and then they would consistently, given up or denied the infallibility of the books cease to be so. It might as well be expected that every man in which it is recorded. They speak of authenticity, veracity, should have a Bible reached him down by an invisible hand credibility; but not inspiration. Some have limited the asfrom heaven, as that there should be a miracle wrought to provesistance of the Spirit to the prophetical parts. Others have to him that this was the same book that was so and so con- extended it to the doctrinal, but excluded the historical. firmed and sealed in our Saviour's and his apostles' time.-Whilst many have lowered the whole notion of inspiration And therefore I reckon that, upon the grounds that have been to a mere aid occasionally afforded to the sacred penmen. laid, it is very plain both that these books that were extant Thus the impression left on the minds of their readers has under the name of Scriptures in our Saviour's and his apostles' been, that the Bible is authentic iudeed, and credible, and time, were of divine authority, and that the books that we contains a revelation from God; but that it was indited by now have in our hands, are the same with those books, and good and pious men only, with little more of accuracy than therefore are of divine authority.”[
would belong to them as faithful historians. An intermixIt is, then, a most animating consideration, that, by a vari- ture of human infirmity and error is thus by no means excludety of striking providences, it hath pleased Almighty God to ed; and the scriptures are considered as the work of fallible preserve to us unmutilated and uncorrupted the very records writers, doing their best, and entitled in all their main statewhich thc first Christians held to be divine, and upon the ments to full belief, but not under that immediate and plenary doctrines and principles of which they were ready, in the influence of the Holy Spirit, which renders all they say conmidst, of the greatest dangers, to repose their eternal all. It cerning religion, the unerring word of God."* is highly consolatory to those who have but little time and Most ruinous to the souls of men must be such views of few advantages for research to be informed, upon the most the blessed word of God, and most derogatory are they to indubitable evidence, that in their English Bibles they have that Spirit, who has not given so much as a shadow of counthe same precious document which was read in the first as-tenance, in the sacred books, to such vague and sceptical semblies of the Christian church ; and that, in the multipli- notions. We ought to be jealous, not only of such latitudication of manuscripts and translations, no serious or import- narian views of inspiration, but also of every approach to ant alteration has been obtruded into the sacred text. For them. For my own part, after much deliberation, and I trust this fact let the humble and devout Christian bless God ; and, careful and unprejudiced examination of the arguments of opin the contemplation of it, let the rejecter of Revelation pause ponents, I have come to the conclusion, not only that the and tremble, lest peradventure he should be found fighting ideas contained in scripture were conveyed by the Spirit to against God.
the minds of inspired men, but that they were supernaturally Let this chapter be fairly weighed in connexion with what guided in their diction and in their writings. I shall not, has been previously advanced on the subject of the evidences however, bring this theory to the word of God, to seek counof our holy faith, and let him who still doubts say within tenance for it there ; but shall rather call the attention of my * Howe's Works, in one vol., p. 1076. + Ibid.
* See Bishop Wilson's Lectures on “ The Evidences,” &c. 12mo,
vol. i. p. 314. VOL. II.-Y.
readers to the word of God itself, that they may thence gather were divinely and infallibly gifted to hand it forth to the the true notion of inspiration.
church. I begin, then, with that part of scripture which was in- The Apostle Peter, when speaking of the office and end of cluded in the Jewish canon, and which is known by the name prophecy, as “ a light that shineth in a dark place," asserts, of the Old Testament. And if it can be shown that the in- thai“ no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interprefallible Teacher, whose divine mission has already been clearly tation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of established, fully accredits the divine authority, and the in- man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the fallible character of that document, considered as a whole, Holy Ghost." I cannot help thinking that an unprejudiced and without a single recognised exception, an important step expositor would regard this as a distinct affirmation of the inwill have been gained towards ascertaining the perfection of spiration of the prophecies, both as it respects their matter the Jewish canon, and also the real nature and extent of in- and manuer. As to their matter, they were not the result of spiration.
any private impulse ;* and as to their manner, “holy men At an early stage in his public ministry, the Messiah an- spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” The pronounced, to an immense assembly of his countrymen, his phets are also represented, by the same Apostle, as - searchviews and determinations respecting their ancient Scriptures: ing what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ, which “ Think not,” said he, “that I am come to destroy the Law was in them, did signify, when it testified before-hand the and the Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” From For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot this passage it is plain that the prophets did not always, nor or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be even frequently, understand the import of their own predicfulfilled.” Every attentive reader of the New Testament tions; from which it may be inferred, with indubitable cermust have discovered that the phrase "the law and the pro- tainty, that the words in which they were couched, no less phets” denotes the sacred books of the Jews; and every un- than the thoughts which they contained, were imparted by the prejudiced reader must perceive that the Saviour in this decla- Spirit of God; for surely they could not have been trusted ration recognises them as an infallible standard, by which he with the diction and verbiage of a communication which conwas willing that his own pretensions should be rigidly tried. fessedly they did not understand.
On another occasion he charges those who reject him with It is upon this same principle that we find the Old Testanot having the word of God abiding in them, because they ment Scriptures styled “the Oracles of God," and the believed not in him whom God the Father had sent to them; lively oracles;" to indicate, doubtless, that they were given and then he immediately adds—"Search the Scriptures; for forth by God himself. Hence the following expressionsin them ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify" Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was of me.'
“ Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father : spoken of the Lord, by the prophet.” " How then doth David, there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye in spirit, call him Lord ?'. ** For David himself saith by the trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Holy Ghost.”. " As he spake by the mouth of his holy prome: for he wrote of me." Here are several things to be phets, which have been since the world began.” 6. Which noticed. In the first place, the Scriptures of the Jews, which ihe Holy Ghost spake by the mouth of David.” “He saith did not abide in them ihrough their unbelief, are distinctly re- (that is God) also in another Psalm, thou shalt not suffer cognised as the word of God. In the second place, they are thine Holy One to see corruption." 6. Well spake the Holy appealed to as a testimony from God concerning Christ, ren- Ghost, by Esaias the prophet, unto our fathers.”* * Wherefore, dering all those Jews inexcusable who rejected him. And, in as the Holy Ghost saith, to-day if you will hear his voice." the third place, they are spoken of emphatically as the wri- Now all this corresponds with what we find in the Old tings, evidently including them all, and leaving no room to Testament Scriptures themselves. Take the case of Moses, dispute the divine origin of their diction any more than the the great prophet and lawgiver of Israel, and the inspired doctrines they contained.
author of the Pentateuch. Wben he was commanded to go On many occasions, Jesus spake of the sacred books of the to Pharaoh, and to lead forth the people of Israel, he entreatJews as divinely authoritative writings. “He that believethed that he might be excused from the performance of a task on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow for which he deemed himself so utterly unqualified. His rivers of living water.” “If he called them gods, unto whom sense of weakness was, in a high degree, proper; but his rethe word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken; fusal to go, when God had assured him that he would be say ye of him whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into with him,” evinced great want of faith. God reproved the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son him for his sinful timidity, and said to him, “Who hath of God.” " Jesus saith unto them, did ye never read in the made man's mouth ? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or Scriptures, the stone which the builders rejected, the same is the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord ? Now, therebecome the head of the corner : this is the Lord's doing, and fore, go, and I will be with thy mouth, and leach thee what thou it is marvellous in our eyes
?” “ Jesus answered and said shall say." The leader of Israel again repeats his difficulty, unto them, ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures. 6 Think- and again receives a similar reply. At last his scruples are est thou that I cannot now pray to my father, and he shall overcome by the feeling of supernatural aid, and ever after his presently give me more than twelve legions of angels ? Bu addresses to the chosen tribes are couched in terms indicative how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must of their immediate divine origin—"Thus saith the Lord,"be?” “I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and " These are the words which the Lord hath commanded, that ye took me not: but the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” Now ye should do them.” Had he not been conscious that the what are we to gather from this species of reference? Why, inspiration under which he wrote extended to his words as two things-first, that there is not the shadow of a doubt upon well as thoughts, would he bave adopted the phraseology the inspiration of any part of a document to which the infal-attributed to him in the following passages ?—e shall not lible Teacher made such implicit and authoritative allusion; add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye and, second, that simply considered as writings, the books thus diminish aught from it, that ye may keep ihese commandments referred to are the product of God's immediate inspiration. of the Lord your God which I command you.” • And these Where is there any thing like a surmise that there is not as words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart, much authority in the writings as in the thoughts and ideas and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children." which they convey?
“Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and To the testimony of our Lord may be added that of his in you soul, and bind them for a sign upon your head that Apostles, who bore his commission, and who wrought stu- they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall pendous miracles in his name. “ All Scripture," said Paul teach them to your children, speaking of them when thou to Timothy,“ is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable siitest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thoa righteousness, &c." Now, granting that the rendering of Grotius, “all divinely inspired Scripture is even profitable, &c.” * Dr. Doddridge's paraphrase is as follows :- Knowing this is the correct one, it is perfectly clear that the context main- first, as a matter of chief importance, that no prophecy of Scripture ly, if not exclusively, restricts the Apostle's declaration to is of private impulse,” or original : “ For prophecy was not brought the Old Testament Scriptures,—those sacred writings which of old to the minds of those that uttered it by the will of man; they Timothy had known from his infancy. The whole Scripture, nary gift, nor divinely foretell n hat they themselves desired, and in the knowledge of which this young evangelist had been whenever they pleased ; but holy men of God, whom he honoured trained, is here said to be given by inspiration of God; that with that important work, spake" (as they were borne on by the Holy is, breathed by him into the minds of those holy men who Spirit ; and they were only his organs in declaring to the people what shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and against the existence of inspiration. But if you attend to the upon thy gates."
he was disposed to suggest to them.”
reason of the omission, you will perceive that it is only an In like manner all the prophets represent their entire com- instance of that delicate propriety which pervades all the munications as from God; they all address themselves to New Testament The gospels are the record of the great the people, “ Thus saith the Lord," and some of them, as in facts which vouch the truth of Christianity. These facts are
the case of Elijah to Ahab, personate the Diety, and utter his to be received upon the testimony of men who had been eye• threatenings as if they were their own: “Behold I will bring witnesses of them. The foundation of the Christian faith
evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity;" this was being laid in an assent to these facts, it would have been prethe voice, indeed, of Elijah, but the speaker was God. posterous to have introduced in support of them that influence Hence the word of the Lord is said again and again to come of the Spirit which preserved the minds of the apostles from to the prophets, and the sweet Psalmist of Israel says, “ The error. For there can be no proof of the inspiration of the spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my apostles unless the truth of the facts be previously admitted. tongue."
The apostles, therefore, bring forward the evidence of ChrisIt may, indeed, be said that, though in the prophetical and tianity in its natural order when they speak in the gospels doctrinal parts of the Old Testament Scriptures the sacred as the companions and eye-witnesses of Jesus, claiming that writers were under the influence of a full and verbal inspira- credit which is due to honest men who had the best opportution, this could not be necessary in furnishing the historical nities of knowing what they declared.
This is the language parts of the word of God. Now, this is a distinction which of St. John; “ Many other signs did Jesus in the presence of is never once made, to the best of my recollection, in the in-his disciples. But these are written that ye may believe; spired volume itself; and when the vast importance of the and this is the disciple which testifieth these things."* chronological and historical details of Scripture is taken into When the following circumstances, then, are taken into account, in the relations which they bear to the transcendent account, the absence of any formal announcement of inspirascheme of human redemption, I think it will be regarded as tion in the gospels is no barrier in the way of admitting their futile and dangerous. Upon the whole, I am satisfied that full claim to this high distinction. In the first place, there there is no solid foundation for any theory of the inspiration was ån assistance promised by our Lord, ere he left his disof the Old Testament Scriptures which does not consider all çiples, which, from its very form, must have been partly at their several parts as written under the immediate teaching of least intended to qualify his disciples for the task of recordthe Holy Ghost, both as to sentiment and diction.
ing the history of his earthly sojourn. By that assistance Nor is the complete inspiration of the apostles and writers they were to have “all things whatsoever the Lord said to of the New Testament less satisfactorily demonstrated than them brought to their remembrance ;” they were to be conis that of Moses and the prophets. Such full inspiration ducted “ into all truth ;” they were to be shown the things they eminently needed, in order to the faithful execution of to come;" and Christ was to be with them always. their responsible task. They were to be employed in raising In the second place, we find that no distinction whatever is up disciples to their risen Lord, and as the historians of his made, by Christ, between the authority of those whom he life and death; and as the authoritative counsellors of his accredited and his own. “He that heareth you, heareth me; church in all ages, they needed “an unction from the Holy and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that deOne.” We find accordingly that such unction and such in- spiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.” This is the fallible guidance as were necessary were distinctly promised language which equally accredits the gospelst and the episto them. Twelve men were selected as the heralds of histles, and which renders it a high affront to the Son of God to kingdom, who enjoyed his familiar intercourse, and were in cavil at any thing contained in the one or the other. every way qualified for bearing witness to his doctrine, mira- In the third place, we find the apostles placing their own cles, sufferings, death, and resurrection. “Go ye,” said communications on a level with those of prophets and inChrist to his chosen band," and teach all nations, baptizing spired men of old. “ That ye may be mindful," said the them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the apostle Peter, “ of the words which were spoken before by Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever the holy prophets, and of the commandments of us the aposI have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you alway, even tles of the Lord and Saviour.” Hence the language of the unto the end of the world.” When, during his own per- great apostle of the Gentiles: “ Paul, an apostle of Jesus sonal ministry, he sent them forth to visit the cities of Israel, Christ, by the will” or “commandment of God :" Paul, an he gave them this miraculous assurance,—" But when they apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and deliver you up take no thought how or what ye shall God the Father, who raised him from the dead. I neither speak; for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye received the gospel of man, neither was I taught it but by shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of the revelation of Jesus Christ
. When it pleased God, who your Father which speaketh in you." And when our blessed separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his Lord was about to ascend up on high and to leave his apos- grace to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among tles and disciples, he delivered to them the following ani- the heathen, immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood, mating promises :~" And I will pray the Father, and he will neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for before, but I went into Arabia.”+ ever; even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot In the most unequivocal forms that can be adopted, the receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him. But apostles assert their inspiration in their epistolary correspondye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. ence. “Now," said Paul, “ we have received not the spirit The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and know the things which are freely given us of God, which bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom unto you. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth.” “If any man cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge Truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall that the things that I write unto you are the commandments not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear that shall of the Lord." • For this cause, also, thank we God without he speak; and he will show you things to come.' Here," ceasing, because when ye received the word of God which ye observes an eminent writer, - are all the degrees of inspiration which we have seen to be necessary for the apostles; the
* See Watson's Theological Dictionary, on the article “ InspiraSpirit was to bring to their remembrance what they had tion." heard; to guide them into the truth, which they were not
+ It may be said, indeed, that Mark and Luke were not apostles, then able to bear; and to show them things to come; and tinguished servants of the church did not belong to them. In reply
and that, therefore, the infallible assistance promised to such disall this they were to derive, not from occasional illapses, but to this, it may be stated, that early general tradition places Mark from the perpetual inhabitation of the Spirit.'
among those seventy disciples whom Christ sent out through the Hence we find that the apostles laid clain to that inspira- land of Israel with miraculous endowments and a promise of supertion which their divine Master had so distinctly promised. natural aid ; and awards to his gospel a place among the canonical * We shall not find,” as the above writer well observes, “ that books of the New Testament; and that Luke, who appears to have claim formally advanced in the gospels. This omission has written bis gospel first, (thouglı several uninspired accounts of the sometimes been regarded by those superficial critics, whose and intimate companion of Paul, (Col. iv. 14.) who, it is universally prejudices seem to account for their haste, as an objection conceded, examined and approved his gospel, stamping it with apos
tolic authority, and thereby ushering it into the church of Christ See the Rev. Richard Watson's Theological Dictionary, under with the full credentials of canonical and inspired scripture. the article - Inspiration."
Gal. i. 1, 12, 13--17, compared with Acts xxvi. 12–18.
heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but, as it is in of other writers. But who could treat the volume of inspiratruth, the word of God." “ We are of God,” said the apostletion in this manner without impiety and profaneness? And John;" he that knoweth God, heareth us: he that is not of God, rather than make any approach to this, who would not choose heareth not us.” And, speaking of the New Testament Church, to go to an excess, if there could be an excess, in reverence Paul declares that it is a built upon the foundation of the apos- for the word of God."* tles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone." To these excellent remarks I would add, that he who obSuch a form of expression must have been blasphemous in the jects to the doctrine of verbal inspiration on account of the extreme, if the writings and the authority of the apostles did variety of style which obtains among the sacred writers, might, not stand upon an equal footing with the writings and the on the same principle, object to mental inspiration on account authority of the prophets. In all the passages which demon- of the variety of thought by which they are equally distrate the inspiration of the word of God, there is not one, as tinguished. far as I remember, that limits the divine afflatus to the senti- It is in receiving "all Scripture as given by inspiration of ments conveyed; and, on the other hand, there are several God” that the mind finds repose from those endless suspicions texts which extend it, beyond all reasonable doubt, to the which must assail those who regard the Bible as the word of words which the speakers employ:* the conclusion I draw God as to doctrine, but the word of man as to the channel of from this is, that the distinction between mental and verbal conveyance. inspiration is altogether of man's devising, and that the only safe way of receiving the entire Scriptures is to regard both their sentiment and their language as “ THE WORD OF God.” There
may be difficulties to some minds in this view. But what view of truth is without difficulty? If we believe nothing till we get rid of all difficulty, we shall verily soon be
CHAPTER VI. in the condition of believing nothing.
Some have said, if inspiration be plenary and verlal, how Some popular objections to the full inspiration of the Holy Scripcan the difference of style among the several writers of Scrip
tures. ture be accounted for? My reply is, that the Spirit of God was as capable of influencing the mind of a prophet or an
1. It has been objected, that if the inspiration of the Scripapostle in coincidence with his own taste, predilections, and tures be plenary and verbal, it will then follow, that the imeducation, as in opposition to them. If the inspiration is ad- proper and wicked sayings of bad men, and even devils, which mitted at all, there need, therefore, be no doubt or perplexity are introduced in Scripture, must lay claim to an immediate here. I may just add, however, and though there is a strik- inspiration. The answer to this very flimsy difficulty is siming variety in the diction of the inspired writers, there is, at ply this,—that though, in such cases, the Holy Spirit dictathe same time, an inexpressible peculiarity attaching to the ted to inspired men the very words which were uttered by the books of Scripture at large, which distinguishes them from sinful agents referred to, he dictated them not as his, but all apocryphal and uninspired productions in the several ages theirs. to which they belong. The individuality of the writers is in- 2. It has been objected, that, as the inspired writers were deed preserved; but the individuality of the divine agency is thoroughly acquainted with many things of which they wrote, not less conspicuous. “Is it not evident,” observes an eminent they could not in such matters require any immediate afflatus divine, " that God may exercise a perfect superintendency from the Holy Spirit, and that therefore such a redundant inover inspired writers as to the language they shall use, and fluence would not have been vouchsafed by that infinitely yet that each one of them shall write in his own style, and in wise Being who never lavishes his supernatural bestowments. all respects according to his own taste? May not God give To this I reply, that the authority of a messenger must cease such aid to his servants, that, while using their own style, when he acts merely in his own name, and gives forth that they will certainly be secured against all mistakes, and ex- only which comes within the range of his own personal hibit the truth with perfect propriety? It is unquestionable knowledge, without reference to the express dictation of the that Isaiah, and St. Paul, and St. John might be under the power by which he is delegated. On this principle, a writer entire direction of the Holy Spirit, even as to language ; and, of Scripture recording that which was simply the result of at the same time, that each one of them might write in his his own knowledge, is a contradiction in terms ; inasmuch as own manner;
and that the peculiar manner of each might be he must cease to be the medium of an infallible record the adapted to answer an important end ; and that the variety of moment that he is thrown, in a single instance, on his own style thus introduced into the sacred volume might be suited unaided resources :-that is not Holy Scripture which is not to excite a livelier interest in the minds of men, and to se-given by inspiration of God. cure to them a far greater amount of good than could ever 3. To the full view of inspiration here contended for, it has have been derived from any one mode of writing.
been objected, that some things are introduced by the inspired “ If we should admit that the divine superintendence and writers of too trifling a nature to be the subject of a direct guidance afforded to the inspired writers had had no relation communication from God. As, for instance, when Paul says at all to the manner in which they exhibited either doctrines to his son Timothy-" Drink no longer water, but use a little or facts, how easily might we be disturbed with doubts in wine for thy stomach's sake, and thine often infirmities;" or regard to the propriety of some of their representations? We as elsewhere, when the same apostle says—« The cloak that should most certainly consider them as liable to all the inad- I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with vertencies and mistakes to which uninspired men are com- thee, and the books, but especially the parchments. It is monly liable; and we should think ourselves perfectly justified assumed, by objectors to the full inspiration of such texts, in undertaking to charge them with real errors and faults as that they are below the standard of a divine communication, to style, and to show how their language might have been and that therefore they were the simple unaided dictates of improved ; and, in short, to treat their writings just as we the apostle's own mind. Could we see no design couched treat the writings of Shakspeare and Addison. Here,' we in them worthy of God, this would be a most irreverent way might say, · Paul was unfortunate in the choice of words; of dealing with any part of a book which gives no counteand here his language does not express the ideas which he nance to the idea of one part being more inspired than another. must have intended to convey.' * Here the style of St. John - The question is not at all whether the Apostle Paul needed was inadvertent; and here it was faulty; and here it would inspiration to enable him to give such directions, but whether have been more agreeable to the nature of the subject, and it was without inspiration that these doctrines form a part of would have more accurately expressed the truth, had it been a book, all of which comes to us as the word of God, and inaltered thus. If the language of the sacred writers did not spired by him. There are many parts of Scripture that might in any way come under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and have been written without inspiration ; but the question is, if they were left, just as other writers are, to their own un- were the sacred writers left without inspiration to select aided faculties in regard to every thing which pertained to the what they would put into this book, and what they would manner of writing, then, evidently, we might use the same keep out of it? If so, then the book is theirs, not God's. Befreedom in animadverting-upon their style as upon the style sides, if it be thought absurd to suppose that there is any in
Take all those parts of the Prophets and the Pentateuch which * Dr. Woods, on Inspiration. begin with, “ Thus saith the Lord ;' and also such parts of the pro- + I cannot but strongly recommend to my readers a work which I phetic announcements as were unintelligible to the prophets them- have found of great use to myself on this subject, by Robert Haldane, selves. Dan. xii. 7–9. In the New Testament, see also John xiv. Esq., entitled, “ The Books of the Old and New Testaments proved 16, 17, 26. xiv. 12, 13. Luke xxi, 15. Matt. x. 19, 20. 1 Cor. ii. to be canonical, and their verbal inspiration maintained and estab13. 2 Pet. i. 21.
lished, &c.” 12mo.