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never have been received as standard histories by the great possessed, the image of those sounds must, on every principle majority of believers, nor have been placed on the same of reason and precedent, retain. If the Prophet himself delevel of reverence and authority with the corresponding pro- clare with accuracy those ideas which the Almighty suggests ductions of persons confessedly inspired. There were, we to his soul, it can make no difference whether he declare know, many other distinguished teachers, who were, as well them by the conventional sign of spoken or of written lanas Mark and Luke, the contemporaries and companions of guage. the twelve; and some of whom, no less than these Evangel- But this perpetual and pervading inspiration of the Aposists, have left behind them written relics of their zeal in the tles is unfortunately the very subject in dispute; and I have service of Jesus. Such was Clement, the “ fellow-labourer" shown, in my Seventh Lecture, that the divine assistance, of St. Paul; such was Hermas, whom the same great Apos- which we believe the Apostles to have enjoyed, may be rnore tle salutes by name; such Ignatius, who has been himself, plausibly regarded as a limited and occasional assistance however truly, accounted as, no less than the Apostles, an only, a conductor not into all truth abstractedly considered, eye-witness of our Lord's resurrection.

but into every truth which was necessary to be known to the Yet where can we find in the annals of primitive religion Founders of the new religion of grace and pardon; to the that the acknowledged writings of these men, or men like missionaries of a certain definite creed, which at various these, were appealed to by the Church as the charters of her times, and with various degrees of clearness, was communi. profession, or any otherwise mnade use of by the assembled cated to them by vision or inspiration. But if it be granted, faithful than as human sources of instruction ?

and I own I do not see on what principle either of reason or Again, there are certain treatises in our present canon, revelation it can be denied, that the guidance of the Spirit, as and many others which have at different times pretended to a vouchsafed to the Apostles, was, indeed, thus occasional and place in it, whose right to that eminent station has been limited, it must be an inquiry of the utmost delicacy and imseverely contested, both by ancient and modern criticism. portance to ascertain the occasions on which, and the bounds But the authority of such works has been contested, on the within which it was accorded. And so far as the Scriptures single ground that they were not in truth composed by the of the New Testament are concerned, it will be demanded, Apostles, to whose writing or dictation they were ascribed. first, what reason we have to ascribe any part of them to the That they are, many of them, of antiquity equal to the dictation of the Holy Ghost; and, secondly, how much of Apostolic writings themselves, that they are the productions them is to be received as proceeding from a source so sacred, of men who lived with the Apostles, and were the preachers and what is our criterion for distinguishing between the falof a common faith with them, as their strongest opposers lible opinion and the authoritative command, between the imhave admitted, so has not this admission been accounted by perfect recollection of an earthly witness, and the all-sufficient their most cager defenders as sufficient to establish their can-iestimony of that glorious Being, to whom the past, the preonical authority. The dispute has been restricted by common sent, and the future are eternally and equally known? consent to their authenticity, and their authenticity only; nor If all was not inspired which an Apostle wrote or uttered, are they quoted as Scripture by any of the Christian Fathers, how many and of what nature were the orations or treatises who did not, as it should seem, believe them to have been the composed under celestial influence? How can we be sure work either of an Apostle, or his amanuensis. And so perfectly that those works of theirs which have been handed down to has the authority of this last been in every age identified with our times were indeed among the favoured number? Nay that of the Saint to whom he ministered, that, among the various more, what reason have we for supposing that any of their sects whose errors and controversies have deformed the face written compositions were inspired at all? What internal of religion, while some are not wanting who have professed marks of heavenly aid do they present? Where do they to build their faith on the testimony of Luke alone; yet have themselves lay claim to a privilege so extraordinary? or where none been found who, receiving the Gospels of John and is the promise of our Lord, which would lead us to expect Matthew, have ascribed to their authority a higher rank than that such aid would be accorded? The Son of God, indeed, that of the two other Evangelists. A deference this, which assures them that, on certain solemn occasions of peculiar there could be no reason for paying to Mark and Luke, rather alarm and peril, when they were called before kings and rulers than to their companions and contemporaries, to Apollos and for his sake, and for the sake of the Gospel, their unpremeditatHermas and Clemens, if it were not that the former had been ed eloquence should be prompted and sustained by the internal in every age regarded as the channels of Apostolic inspira- aid of the Spirit. But we find, it may be urged, no similar netion, the official transcribers of facts or doctrines delivered cessity or promise in the case of such labours as were carried on by infallible anthority.

in the tranquil solitude of the study or the oratory, or which But though the writers or dictators of the entire New Tes-were addressed to private friends. But, are they their public tament are respected by the great majority of Christians as and official communications which only are to be received as messengers of the will of Heaven, yet, in the application of divine? At what point does the distinction between public this common principle to the authority of the works which and private begin? Are the letters to Timothy, to Titus, and bear their names, so great a difference of opinion has prevail- Philemon official ? The writings of St. Luke, which are ed, as may lead us to suspect that those who use the term of also addressed to an individual, can they or can they not be inspiration, have not been always agreed as to the idea which said to answer this description ? Such are some of the leadthey meant to convey by it.

ing difficulties which, on the question whether the ScripIn the language of the ancient Fathers, and in the ordinary tures of the New Testament were inspired, have been a opinion which, from feeling rather than conviction, has con- subject of triumph to the infidel, and to the weak believer, of tinued since their time to pass current with the Christian perplexity and alarm. That both the triumph and the alarm world, the gift of inspiration is to a considerable extent iden- have been alike premature, may appear, perhaps, from the tified with omniscience and infallibility. It has not been sup- following observations. posed to consist in a succession of distinct revelations, com- First, it was, a priori, highly probable, that the supernatural municated at various times to the person whom the Almighty assistance of the Almighty, which informed, on certain occaselected as his messenger; but it has been considered as a sions, the oral and extemporaneous effusions of the Apostles, continual and pervading obsession of the Deity, inspiring should direct, on others, their pens no less than their tongues to every thought and prompting every action, in conformity with the instruction and benefit of mankind. It was to be expecttruth and wisdom, and establishing the favoured individual ed that some of their writings, as well as some of their as a living oracle of God most High, whose lips were the speeches, should proceed from the inspiration of God. And fountain of universal knowledge, and whose earthly sentence this may be shown from the necessity of the case; from the was faithfully registered in heaven. And, if such were the analogy of the Mosaic dispensation ; from the promises of fact, no doubt could be entertained that, in their writings no Christ in the Gospel; and from the assertions of the Apostles less than their words, and in every fact, every doctrine, every themselves. argument which their genuine writings contain, we are bound That the comforts and lessons of Christianity were intendto reverence and obey the declarations of the Almighty, no ed as a common benefit to every nation and every age of less than if we had received them graven on stone by his hand, mankind, it is altogether unnecessary to prove. It is a disor heard them proclaimed in accents of thunder from the pensation in which all are concerned, and which was destinsmoking summit of Mount Sinai.

ed, therefore, to be made known to all. The truths which it Between the tongue and the pen, as organs of expression, reveals are tidings of great joy, which the Apostles were to no difference can be conceived, which should render the last communicate to all people, and of which the knowledge was less proper than the former to convey celestial knowledge to to proceed both conquering and to conquer, till the universal mankind. If the inspired oration of a prophet be faithfully earth should be covered with the glory of the Lord, and till committed to writing, whatever authority the sounds at first the annointed Son should descend again in power to reap tho


harvest of his sufferings. But, that to the extension and per- that for any point of faith the assertions of Scripture are not petuity of religious truth the existence of written documents sufficient authority; if St. Paul, for instance, were mistaken is a circumstance of the first necessity, will be allowed by all or insincere in his expressions as to the existence of evil who have, in common life, appreciated the uncertainties of spirits, or the immaterial nature of the soul of man; what popular fame, and the corruptible nature of oral tradition. reason have Christians for their confidence, that a future state Unless indeed, (what no religion, either false or true, has as of retribution may not be a faulty inference from insufficient yet pretended to,) the truth were in every successive age di- grounds, or a compliance with Jewish error ? How are we vulged and guarded by a never-ending line of inspired to be sure that, on the Unity of God himself, the apostles instructors ; unless such instructors, too, were in every age themselves may not have mistaken their Master, or that the sufficiently numerous to be accessible by every believer; it Son of God has not, in this instance, conformed (as, they is apparent that the knowledge which mankind might retain blush not to tell us, he, in the case of the Demoniacs, conmust be more and more imperfect and impure in proportion as formed his manner of expression) to the established usages of it receded from the parent fountain; and that, without some speech, and the popular superstition of his countrymen ? storehouse of original principles, which might confirm the Nor is the case much bettered by supposing with Simon weak, recal the wandering, and expose and repress the wilful and Warburton, that, though of the New Testament, only a innovator, the religious opinions of the world would be little few conspicuous truths are immediately prompted by the less fluctuating and unstable than the fashions of our attire Holy Ghost, yet in all the rest the human recollection and and the varying idioms of our language.

reason of the apostles were so restricted by a superintending But that such a rule of practice and belief could be afforded Providence, that nothing can be found in their volumes by by the compositions of human and unassisted wisdom will which a material error can be introduced into faith or practice. be asserted, I apprehend, by none. A rule must, in itself, be For that is, indeed, a wretched sanction of a law, to plead that absolute and definitive, for it would, otherwise, be no rule at no harm can arise from following its letter; nor does any all. But human authority can never be definitive, since what- man obey the Scriptures as a rule of faith and conduct, beever right Augustin may possess to propose his sentiments cause there is no danger in such obedience, but because we as most agreeable to truth and virtue, the same right, un- incur the greatest of all dangers by a contrary course of bedoubtedly, has Jerome or Epiphanius to question the propriety haviour, a danger no less than that of disobeying Him whose of his decision. If the apostles thought fit, on their own detailed and definite injunctions are made known by these his authority, to recommend to their own followers the practice testimonies. We cannot, if we would, disguise it from ourof celibacy, it was not beyond the authority of any one among selves; if the general inspiration of the Scriptures be not those followers to declare himself of a contrary opinion. Or, conceded, the Scriptures are not the word of God; and, if not supposing the recommendation to have been a command, yet, the word of God, then have they no rational hold on our faith, provided that command was given in their capacity of ecclesi- our practice, our hopes, or our fears. They are the law of astical rulers only, their successors in the government of the the Most High, or denouncing, as they do, the vengeance of church would have, at least, an abstract right to reverse that God against all wilful transgressors of their precepts, that decree when it seemed to them expedient. Wherefore, in- holy name is used by them without authority, and their condeed, do we appeal in controversy to the apostolic writings, tents are imposture and blasphemy. rather than to the more learned volumes of Origen, of Cle- If, then, a written Jaw be necessary to the extension and mens, of Augustin, of Chrysostom, if we do not appeal to perpetuity of religion; and if the qualities of a religious law them as the dictates of God himself? It is in vain to say, can be only possessed by a rule of God's dictation, it is nor will it, I apprehend, be urged in answer, that because beforehand to be strongly presumed, that a law which corPeter or James or John are in certain cases inspired, what- responds both to one and the other of these particulars has ever falls from their mouth is therefore to be received as sa- not been withheld from the followers of Jesus of Nazareth. cred, whether they are at that time inspired or no. Such an And this probability is yet farther increased by a consideraanswer would be obnoxious to all the difficulties attendant on tion of the analogy of God's previous conduct with the Israthe old hypothesis of a permanent inspiration, with the addi-elites under the Mosaic dispensation. It is no essential part tional and yet more portentous absurdity of ascribing that of my present purpose (though it is a task which, on a proper weight to human authority which the other only imputed to occasion, I should certainly not decline) to demonstrate the Divine. Who is Paul ? Who is Barnabas? Who are general inspiration of the Scriptures of the elder Covenant: James or John or Peter, that we should put our trust in them, but it is sufficient for my argument to adduce the acknowledged if our trust be not reposed in them as the accredited messen- fact, that certain written laws were given by divine inspiragers of the Allwise and Alltrue ? But, is it the messenger tion to the Hebrew Church; that Moses was commanded by himself whom we honour and obey; or is it not rather that Jehovah to write down his words in a book; and that the royal message which he bears to all the nations of the world, Prophets announce their volumes to the world as the express the subjects and children of Him who sitteth on the throne, and infallible dicta of the Most High. But, if a written code the redeemed of the Lamb that was slain? If, then, the of faith and morals be as necessary to the followers of Christ speech or the epistle on which we are commanded to build our as to those who were taught by Moses, it is probable that the faith, be not the authentic message of God, the only claim is advantage, which was graciously accorded to the introductory gone which the messenger possessed on our belief, our obe- and less perfect dispensation, would be, a fortiori, conceded to dience, and our attention; and the sentiments of John, of those on whom the adoption and the ends of the world are Peter, and of Paul will possess no more authority than the come. private opinion of an herald or ambassador, abstracted from In vain, indeed, was it promised by the Messiah to his that law or treaty which only speaks his master's will. And chosen Twelve, that the Comforter which was to come, should these observations may suffice to show the weak and incon- guide them into all religious truth, if the truths thus resistent conduct of those who restrict the inspired commission vealed were to perish with themselves, or their cotemporaof the apostles to the delivery of certain important truths, ries and immediate audience. In vain did the Spirit implant which they style the essentials of Christianity. With them in the minds of his messengers a perfect remembrance of every it is indeed a frequent boast, that by renouncing the plenary word which their departed Lord had spoken, if those blessed inspiration of Scripture, they deprive, in many instances, the words were again to be entrusted to the dubious recollection, common enemies of the Faith, of that vantage ground from or still more dubious integrity, of their human and unassisted which they have been long accustomed to assail it. And it successors. I do not mean, that the leading facts on which is, certainly, convenient, in their controversies with other and our Christian faith is grounded might not continue in full more orthodox Christians, to reply to such texts as are force of evidence, and deserve by their native dignity our fulurged against their peculiar opinions, that the apostles have lest reverence and wonder, though the writings in which they in these instances spoken without authority; or that, how- are recorded were degraded from the rank which they now ever they themselves may have been enabled to “think with maintain to the level of human compositions. In point of fact the wise,” it was no part of their commission to do otherwise this is even now the case, inasmuch as no one in his senses than “ talk with the vulgar.".

would begin to prove the life, and death, and miracles, and reBut it is the misfortune of the Scythian mode of warfare, surrection of our Lord from the previous assumption, that the that it is only suited to a territory, which, like Scythia, is lit- histories which we possess of those occurrences were inspired tle worth preserving; and that the practice once begun, of and infallible compositions : but, as unfolding to us the seabandoning to the pursuer whatever parts of Scripture it does cret springs of Providence, by which those facts were caused, not exactly suit us to defend, no means of defence will at and the results to which those facts conducted ; as affording length remain for those tenets themselves which we now re- an authoritative rule of life, and, on certain conditions, a no gard as of vital importance. If it be advanced and admitted, less infallible assurance of immortality; if the Scriptures are


reduced to the level of a human composition, their force and professes to have written, by the express dictation of the efficacy are gone.

Spirit, to the churches of Asia Minor. That objection, then, We might still believe that Christ was born, and wrought is no less futile than common, which was first advanced by miracles, and died, and rose again : but those awful scenes of Spinoza against the doctrine for which I contend, that the power and suffering and victory would present, in such a Apostles themselves make no claim to inspiration in favour case, no further and no better practical results to the soul, of their writings. And, indeed, as it is a distinction utterly than the tale of Agamemnon or of (Edipus. It would not immaterial, whether a man say, “ This is the Lord's mesmore necessarily follow from the resurrection of one man, sage,” or, “ I the messenger of the Lord speak this to you;" that all mankind should be raised from the dead, than it would the ordinary superscription of " Apostle of Christ," which follow from the manner of his death, that all mankind should, precedes the greater number of the treatises contained in the like him, be crucified, or that they should rise, if they rose, on New Testament, is an assertion no less absolute of official the third day after their dissolution. It was for God alone to and inspired authority, than if they were explicitly entitled declare, (and, if the Scriptures be not inspired, I know not " The Word of the Lord which came to his servant Paul,” where he has declared it,) it was for God to declare, in what or introduced themselves to our attention and reverence by the respect and for what reason our Lord was the representative old prophetic formula of “Thus saith Jehovah." of the universal human race. And, if this declaration has With still less reason has Spinoza urged, in answer to been nowhere made, we are dust and ashes still.

such claims as these, that St. Paul himself has, on a certain And, this probability that some written law would be given occasion, expressed himself as doubtful whether he spake to men, which arises from the necessity of such an assistance, by inspiration or no; and that, in another and yet more reis materially increased by the circumstance of that inspiration markable passage, he cautions his hearers against receiving which, we know from Scripture, was, at times accorded to that particular sentence as any other than his private opinion. the unpremeditated discourses of the apostles. There were, The tirst of these passages has been very clearly explained we know, occasions, when it was not the preachers of the to be no otherwise than an ironical reproof of those who gospel who spake, but the Holy Ghost who dwelt within affected to doubt his apostolic powers. With the solution them; and, if those orations whereby they themselves alone which Horbery has given of the second, I acknowledge that, were delivered from violence; if that preaching by which the ingenious as it is, I am not altogether satisfied. But, in immediate hearers only were benefitted, were instinct with truth, on the principle that exceptio probat regulum, this passuch a sacred power, it might be expected, on still stronger sage, as it is usually understood, is among the strongest grounds, that the same good guidance would not abandon proofs of the general inspiration of Scripture ; inasmuch as ihem in the composition of those writings which were to edify no one would state in his discourses or leiters that for such or a people yet unborn, and to convey the glad tidings of salva- such particular expressions he was himself to answer, unless tion to the extremest corners of the carth, and to the test he intended to imply, that in the remainder of his address he march of time. If the xūpok x2 mtuvce néz: were not suf- spoke from another and a higher authority. Nor is the same fered to go forth without a peculiar and supernatural Provi-objector much more fortunate, when he urges against the indence, is it probable that those documents which are the spired authority of the Christian Scriptures, that the Aposxtáusta és isi of believers, the x si penast of our faith, our hope, tles, by their frequent appeals to human reason, surrender our daily practice, our apology and our crown among men, tacitly the character of God's heralds and instruments, for should not be stamped with the same broad seal of Almighty that of human doctors and disputants. “ It is the part,” he truth, the same credentials of infallibility?

tells us, “ of the Almighty, as it is the part of any absolute It was naturally, therefore, to be expected, that some cer- sovereign, to command, not to argue: since not only where tain writings of the Apostles would be sent forth under the the will of a sovereign is expressed is argument on the exdirection of God's Spirit; and, if this be once conceded, it pediency of that will superfluous; but since the very use of will not be easy on any ground of reason or likelihood to argument or persuasion to induce men to obey implies, in itdeny this sacred character to those treatises which are come selt, a deficiency of power to compel obedience.” down to us under their names. They are marked by every

But all these circumstances, so inconsistent, as we are character of official and authoritative documents; they are told, with the notion of a celestial command, are found in addressed by inspired men in their prophetic capacities, the writings of our New Testament; and it is therefore coneither to the general Church of Christ, or to the particular cluded, that whatever value they may possess as faithful branches into which that Church was divided, or to individ- histories of supernatural facts, or judicious expositions of uals who fitly represented considerable bodies of Christians. natural and moral duties, they can have none as authoritative And whether immediately addressed to individuals or no, declarations of the will of Him whose will alone is suffithey are alike on subjects of public importance; subjects cient ground of obligation and obedience. wliere, of all others, the aid of the Holy Ghost was most I have given this objection thus at length, because it is, I needful and most to be expected; the exposition, namely, of believe, the foundation, in many instances, of' that reluctance the doctrines of the Christian faith, or the regulation of the which has been so prevalent, to ascribe to our Scriptures the Christian republic. Nor, however slightly it has been of late honour which they may justly claim; and because, from its years usual to appreciate the value of tradition, can it be plausibility, it calls for a more satisfactory answer than the denied, that the universal prejudice (if it deserved no better learned Simon, in whose Critical History I first saw it, has, name) which, in the very earliest ages of the church, re- in my opinion, supplied. His answer may be reduced to the ceived as Divine those writings which they then esteemed following assertions : “That prophecy is not to be confounded authentic, must lead us to suppose that these solemn instruc- with enthusiasm; that the Spirit of God which supplied the tions were communicated by the Apostles themselves, and Apostles with supernatural knowledge did not extinguish or received by those for whose benefit they were intended, with overpower their natural reason or their previous human acsome very perceptible and striking difference from such of quirements; and that it was permitted them to employ both their communications, if any such there were, as were dic- the one and the other of these lights for the purpose of pertated by their human reason or their private friendship only: suading the people.” and that, (as St. Paul is acknowledged to have done, in one Now this is nothing else than to admit that, though the remarkable passage of his Epistle to the Corinthians,) they subject matter of the argument be divine, and though the facts observed in every instance a broad and constant line of de- which is intended to illustrate be communicated absolutely marcation between the dictates of the Most High, and the and infallibly, the arguments and illustrations arise from the opinion or request of a simple fellow-creature.

Apostles themselves, and are, properly speaking, no part of And that the Apostles themselves laid claim to a divine God's revelation. But this, while it is an admission of the authority for the principles and precepts laid down in the utmost delicacy and danger, is by no means a suflicient anseveral works which are read in the assemblies of the faith-swer to the objection advanced by the unbeliever; since, if ful, is apparent from many expressions in those works them- it became, as he supposes, the Almighty, on all occasions selves. In one of them Št. Paul addresses the Corinthians, where he taught his creatures at all, to teach them dogmatias “an ambassador for Christ,” “ as though God did beseech cally and peremptorily; it became him no less to direct the them by him.” “ If any man,” he observes, “think him- tongue or pen of his inspired Apostles in the manner most self to be a Prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge those suitable to his dignity. And, above all, it would have been, things which I write unto you, that they are the command- on their part, a frantic presumption, to endeavour to supply, ments of the Lord.” Nor should we omit that the Epistles by their own glosses or observations, any supposed deficiency of Paul are mentioned by St. Peter on the same footing, and in the message of him hy whom they were einployed. It is in the same manner, with the avowedly inspired writings of more to the purpose to show, (and the means of doing so are the Old Testament, and that the author of the Apocalypse fortunately in the Christian's power), that it is unworthy nei




ther of an earthly nor an almighty sovereign to convince and hearts, to whose awful beauty we may direct our prayers, persuade his subjects to obedience; and that there are prece- and whose perfect excellence we may, at humble disiance dents, to which Spinoza at least could not have objected, emulate! where Jehovah has not in his own person disdained to apply But, though the practice of reasoning with his creatures to the natural reason and former experience of his people be far, very far indeed, from degrading to the Almighty Israel.

Teacher; yet is there much plausibility in one observation of If the question were of power alone, it might, indeed, be- Spinoza, against which Simon heavily inveighs; “ that there come the majesty of kings to enforce a blind and mechanical is, in the very act of reasoning, a submission to the sentence obedience to every dictate of their will or wisdom; and it of others; and that arguments, by whomsoever advanced, do, might be sufficient for the King of kings to produce by a sin- inasmuch as they are arguments, challenge refutation.” The gle fiat whatever effect he now produces by the intervention same may be said, indeed, of every mode by which the Allof the human will, and hy discovering to his creatures such wise has manisested to mankind his existence, bis nature, or motives for action, as, by their free and affectionate service, his will, since, even in the case of a visible glory, the quesmay produce the result desired. But the earthly monarch, tion might arise, whether the vehicle employed were worthy who proposed the first of these as the object of his highest of him whom it represented ; and since, when God condeambition, instead of the leader of men, would be the driver scends for our instruction to become an historian or a law. of cattle only: the Deity who should rule his creatures by giver, he subjects himself, whether he makes use of argument the single operation of necessity, would be degraded into the or no, to those rules of criticism by which we decide on huregulator of a machine. But, if it be more worthy of a right- man compositions. And if in any of those particulars for

a eous king to make his people subjects than slaves; if a good which human works are condemned, the work which claims God be more excellently glorified by the grateful duty of his to proceed from him be found defective, though it would be offspring, than by the mere accomplishment of certain pur- preposterous impiety to attribute error of any kind to God, it poses by the weight of overruling authority; if goodness and would be a conclusion warranted by every principle of reason wisdom are, both with men and God, more illustrious attri- and reverence, that a composition unworthy of our most exaltbutes than strength or erninent station; it can excite no won-ed ideas of God did not, in truth, proceed from him. Accordder that both should, on certain occasions, convince where ingly, if we produce the Scriptures to the world as a code of they might compel, and persuade where it was in their power laws or narrative of events of divine and infallible authority, to command. If it were unworthy of God to set forth in a we may be reasonably expected to prove against all assailants, true light to mankind the reasonableness of that service which either that the volume which we revere is both in manner and he requires at their hands, or that confidence which it is nis matter faultless and unimpeachable, or that the faults of its pleasure that they should place in hiin; if he could not, with-human promulgators are not inconsistent with that aid and out too much condescension, enforce and explain the motives authority of the Holy Ghost, which the terms of infallibility whereby he seeks to influence us; the same objection would and inspiration in their natural sense imply. Jie with equal justice against the proposition of any motives But the objections of the infidel are directed at once against whatever; and the promise of definite rewards, and the threat the style and the matter of those works whose merits we are of definite punishments, would be superfluous alike in him now discussing, since in both, as we are told, is the volume of who might, without warning or explanation, pour forth the the New Testament assailable. “Its language is, at best, full measure of his wrath on those who presumed to doubt or the language of a Jewish Greek: its arguments and asserdisobey. But if it be not unworthy of an allwise Being to tions, by the confession of one of its own prophets, occasion. govern mankind by those passions and those rational powers ally hard to be understood; of its contents there are some which he has implanted in them, no reason can be given why which its authors might have well supplied from their natural the same great Teacher should not illustrate and explain, as recollection or their natural reason only; and some so trifiing, seems best to himself, from the principles of human reason that its seems little less than blasphemy to ascribe them to and experience, those discoveries which he proposes to us any higher source than common prudence or civility. Nor whether of his nature or his will.

is this all. There are circumstances, trifling circumstances Accordingly, in the whole tenour of the Old Testament, indeed, and which, if they occurred in a work of human skill, we find that the Almighty has pursued this course with his would be altogether unworthy of reprehension, where the people. It is thus that (before he condemns, by the mouth authority of Scripture is at variance with itself, or with unof Samuel, the disobedience of the first king of Israel) he inspired but credible testimony." enlarges on the benefit which he had in the first instance con- Of these imputations, it would be easy to show, and it has, ferred, and the ingratitude with which Saul had repaid them. in fact, been often shown satisfactorily, that by far the greater It is thus that, in the fifth chapter of Isaiah, Jehovah calls on part of the passages on which they depend will by no means the men of Judah themselves, to judge “what more could bear up the consequences which infidelity has sought to raise have been done than he had done for his vineyard ?” Thus, on them. As some however will still be found, which the too, he explicitly invites, in the first chapter of the same best and wisest of men have deemed it easier to evade than prophet, his people to “ reason” with their God, when he explain, it is necessary and it is sufficient to demonstrate, urges on their common sense the inutility of that vain parade that the allegations, where they are accurate, do not apply to of sacrifice and outward honour whereby the wicked hoped their intended purpose, and that we have still ample grounds to conciliate him. Will it be contended, that the prophets in for ascribing to every part of the New Testament, a sufficient these instances speak from themselves and on their own re- though not an equal share of Divine inspiration and authority. sponsibility ? Then are they in the strictest sense of the I say, a sufficient but not equal share, because as the works word impostors; for every one of these passages, no less of which our sacred volume is composed are of many different than innumerable others which might be cited to the same kinds, and have been produced under circumstances extremely effect, are introduced by them as the message, nay, as the dissimilar, it would be unreasonable to expect the same sort words of Jehovah. But would Spinoza have openly ven- or measure of celestial aid to be accorded to all indiscrimitured to refuse a divine authority to those laws which God in nately; and it is on every principle of argument sufficient, if person pronounced to his assembled nation, under every im- we can show that none of them have been without that deaginable circumstance of supernatural majesty and terror? gree of help which would identify their authority with the If not, then, certainly we need seek no further precedent divine instructions. wherein the Ruler of the world has vouchsafed to argue with And, here, it will be allowed on all hands, that inspiration men, since even then he scorned not to deduce his claim on and infallibility must, in their strictest sense, be predicated their obedience from the mercies which they had received of those expressions which, as they follow in order, have been from him, and to assign as a reason why they should keep his immediately dictated by God. Such are those ordinances laws, that he was their God, who had brought them out of and messages in the Book of Moses, and in the ancient prothe house of bondage. The Almighty, doubless, may draw phecies, where the Almighty himself exactly specifies the his children“ with the cords of a man,” he may humble his sentences to be written down; so that, though the translation language to our conceptions, and exact from us a service of such passages into another language be liable, beyond a reasonable as well as implicit, without degrading his dignity doubt, to human error and infirmity, in the original ai least, in those dispensations whereby his love is chiefly magnified. not only the purport but the style and arrangement are truly For all which we have received at his hands be to him all and exclusively Divine. And, so far as such passages expraise and glory; but for this above all, that, by enduing us tend, those lotiy claims to literal inspiration for which the with power to know him in part as he is, he has called forth Jews are ridiculed by Warburton, and the proverbs and paraand concentrated the best and most pleasurable affections of bles whereby they were accustomed to illustrate and enforce our nature, and enabled us to build an image to him in our the sanctity, not of the words alone but of the letters and

particles of letters, “ every jot and tittle of their law,” were no less numerous and striking than infidels pretend, would justifiable, undoubtedly, and laudable, inasmuch as that form be no solid objection to the hypothesis, that “all Scripture of words, which God had himself made use of, must needs was given by the inspiration of God.” It may be thought, have been, of all others, the best, and best suited to his indeed, that, as the Hellenistic dialect which is imputed to purpose.

the New Testament was the usual language of the race for And, though there are very few passages, (two or three at whose instruction it was, in the first instance, intended; so most there are,) in the course of the New Testament, which are it could never be expected that the Almighty should miracugiven as the very words of the Almighty Father, or as proceed- lously interfere to perplex the Jews of Macedon and Asia ing from either of the other Persons of the Trinity, in their with refinements of which they could not feel the force, and divine and eternal nature; yet can there be no doubt that the with peculiarities which, however consecrated in our opinion words of the Son while on earth are, no less than these, the by the talent and elegance of Athens, were to them unusual, accents of infinite wisdom and goodness, and that they merit and, if I may use the expression, barbarous. Nor are Chrisas much of reverence from his followers as those which, be-tians compelled to maintain, on the one hand, the purity of fore his incarnation, he addressed to the tribes in Horeb, or every passage in the written Word, nor to confess, on the which, after his exaltation, he spake to St. Paul or St. John. other, that the Holy Ghost has dictated solecisms. With a Were error, then, detected here, the most reverent conclusion becoming zeal for the honour of the sacred text; with a due which we could draw would be, that the Apostles had mis- admiration of the real beauties of Scripture; but confessing taken their Master; a conclusion at once decisive against the with Augustin, that the matter, not the words, of Revelation inspiration of the work which they have given us. But, con- is entitled to the epithet of Divine; they may watch, with cerning the sentiment and wisdom of our Lord's discourses, we much composure, the harmless malice of their enemies exhave not, even with infidels, any controversy. And, as these hausted on those peculiarities of language and of style, which, divine expressions were, when uttered, in a different language as specimens of Greek, may, perhaps, offend, but, as evidence from that in which they are transmitted to our time, the of the Hebrew extraction of their authors, are, in themselves, quesuion of their style and grammatical accuracy must natu- a sufficient proof, that the volume of our Scripture is really rally fall under another branch of our inquiry, since, how- the production of those Apostles who only, of the Hebrew ever, the followers of Christ profess to have been divinely race, had authority with Gentile believers. assisted in the recollection of their Master's words, they, in no The observations which I have made on the grammatical instance that I am aware of, lay claim to any celestial aid in incorrectness of Scriptural language will apply with equal their translation.

force to its real or supposed obscurity. It is no part of my Nor will this admission in the slightest degree contravene present purpose to enter into the disputed question, whether the inspired authority of the New Testament, since, secondly, the words of St. Peter refer to the mysterious nature of those a written document may properly be called inspired, when circumstances which his brother Apostle had imperfectly the sentiments and ideas which its words convey are sug- explained to the faithful, or to the darkness of his style in gested by the Holy Ghost; though the words in which those speaking of them. It is sufficient for my argument to have sentiments are clothed be entirely left to the human and un- shown, that admitting to its full extent the cavil of the infidel assisted genius of the writer. And this is that species of objector, its consequences could not affect the Divine authority assistance which was especially promised by Christ to the of Scripture, inasmuch as a composition may merit the name original teachers of his Gospel, whom the Comforter was to of inspired, though the ideas only, and not the forms of exguide, we are told, into all religious truth, but of whom it is pressing them, be suggested by the Spirit of God. And it is no where said, that the Spirit should put his power in their apparent, that as, on the one hand, we cannot, from the lips, or that he should enable them to express to others their necessity of the case, and the constant deference which the own internal perceptions with supernatural force of sacred Apostles claim to their written sentiments, deny this share eloquence. Nor is that opinion either improbable in itself, at least of Divine assistance to the doctrinal and controveror inconsistent with the pretensions of the sacred writers, sial treatises of the New Testament; so will even this be which apprehends that the Holy Ghost might thus illumi-completely sufficient for those ends for which only inspiranate the inward man with knowledge which the favoured tion has ever been accorded, " for doctrine,” that is, * for individual was not necessarily qualified to disclose to man- reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” kind, with all that energy or clearness of diction which, if But, thirdly, a composition is also inspired, when circumthe same good Spirit had so pleased, it was, doubtless, instances to which we have ourselves been formerly witnesses his power to have conferred. If a prophetic vision were ex- are preserved or renewed in our recollection, by the influence hibited to Amos, the herdsman of Tekoa, it by no means fol- of the Almighty, in more vivid colours and with an accuracy lowed that he should be able to describe what he had seen more perfect than was possible to our unassisted faculties. in the same pomp of dietion and glow of colouring as the For, as that which we have forgotten may be, undoubtedly, high-born poet Isaiahı. Had Newton been, in other respects, no less properly a subject of inspiration than that which we uneducated, his discoveries in astronomy would neither have have never known; so is the wonder no less, and the Divine improved his elocution nor his style. And if we suppose, interposition as immediate, which prevents us from forgetting what we cannot help supposing, that the ideas communicated that which we could not, without such an aid, have rememby Almighty power would affect the mind precisely in the bered. And, in the case of our Saviour's discourses while same manner with those which are generated by memory or on earth, there is an absolute promise that the apostles should reflexion, it is apparent that the process by which ideas are be assisted with this supernatural and infallible power of represented or combined is altogether distinct from that by collection or memory, inasmuch as the Comforter was not which they are clothed in those conventional signs, which only to guide them into truth, but “ to bring all things to convey to other men the result of our internal ineditation. their remembrance, whatsoever their Lord had said unto How often do we conceive with force and clearness, what we them.” And, though a miracle be, doubtless, never wrought are unable at the moment to express with elegance or fluency ? unnecessarily, yet would nothing less than a miracle be, apAnd what closer connexion does there exist between the parently, required, to enable men of no extraordinary parts, original conception and the choice of words, than between the and strangers, as were the apostles, to those arts and habits choice of words and the hand-writing? It was possible, then, whereby only we acquire the power of accurately reporting to be inspired with a knowledge of celestial truth, without conversations, to retain, after twenty or forty years interval, any corresponding improvement in natural or artificial elo- with that degree of accuracy which the nature of the case dequence. That wisdom which committed, in the first instance, manded, those words of our Saviour on which so many leadto earthen vessels, the treasures of eternal life, might be ex- ing features of the Christian faith depend. Nor will any pected, by a parity of reason, to leave the vessels earthen doubt remain of this necessity to those who shall reflect how still; and the fisherman of Galilee, when elevated into a pro- few persons are to be found, I will not say among peasants phet, might retain, nevertheless, all the original simplicity only, but among those who are most in the habits of attention of his character, and all the imperfections of his education. and correctness, who, even a single month after they had

Accordingly, though the Apostles were full of the Holy once heard it, would be able to repeat or write down a disGhost, that internal illumination did not prevent the Sanhe-course like that which Jesus held on the mountain, or that drim from reading in their manners and dialect their original yet more difficult one from which the words of my text are ignorance and obscurity; and the revelation entrusted to St. taken. Paul would no more make him a Demosthenes, than the Where facts are concerned, there is not, indeed, the same revelation of which Moses was the minister, correcred his necessity for Divine assistance as in the case of words; imperfect utterance.

since not only are facts more easily committed to memory The defects, then, of Scriptural language, were they really and mcre stubbornly retained than words or arguments can

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