Page images
[merged small][ocr errors]

INIQUITY (L. in, ‘not,' and æquus, 'equal,' 'just'), that which is not equal (Ezek. xviii. 25), unjust or improper conduct, is represented by several Hebrew words conveying the idea of what is bad, worthless, &c. (Numb. xxiii. 21; comp. Job xi. 11, and Ps. x. 7),

INK. See Books, i. 189. INNOCENCY (L. in, 'not,' and noceo, 'I hurt,' injure'), harmlessness (Deut. xix. 10; comp. Numb. xxxii. 22).

INQUISITION (L. in, 'into,' and quæro, I seek'), searching into; so the Hebrew original in Esther ii. 23, from a root mean ing to seek' (Numb. xvi. 10), and in Deut. xix. 18, from another root of similar import (Lev. x. 16).

INSPIRATION (L. inspiro, 'I breathe into') is the translation (Job xxxii. 8) of a Hebrew word signifying and rendered 'breath' (Genesis ii. 7; vii. 22. 1 Kings xvii. 17), 'blast' (2 Sam. xxii. 16. Ps. xviii. 15), and 'soul' (Is. lvii. 16). The term is thus used of God's influence in communicating and destroying life (Job iv. 9), of that life itself and of the breath which is its index; also of the understanding, or rational powers, by which the human race is distinguished.

The theory which we decidedly prefer is that of plenary or verbal inspiration. By this we mean that not only has God given a revelation, but that He dictated or inspired the words in which this revelation has been communicated to us. We have the Bible not in words which man's wisdom selected, but in those which were chosen by the Holy Ghost. We prefer this theory of inspiration on three accounts. I. It is the only theory which is of the least value. II. It is the theory, which, viewed on all sides, is attended with the fewest difficulties. III The Scripture itself lays claim to verbal inspiration.

Various theories have been formed with reference to this subject. Some have taught that the sacred writers have given in the Bible a revelation which is true in substance, but in their own words, and that in composing their record, they were liable to misconceptions, mistakes, and errors, equally with other writers, honest but fallible. In short, they admit revelation, but deny inspiration, in the sense of a supernatural influence exercised by the Spirit on the mind of the man to whom the revelation was made in regard to the terms in which that revelation was to be com municated, as well as in receiving the revelation itself. If the Bible is constructed in this fashion, it is not trustworthy. It does not answer its end. It was written to convey to us the will of God regarding matters of infinite importance, namely, the terms on which our sins may be pardoned, and on which we may

find acceptance and eternal life-matters on which no certainty less than absolute will suffice; but if the Bible be only an approximation to the truth, a Divine revelation largely blended with human weakness, prejudice, and error, what reliance can we place upon it? How shall we be able to distinguish between the substance which is of God, and the adjuncts and additions which are of man? How shall we know by what portions of Scripture to guide our conduct? Will we not be in danger of following the human injunction instead of the divine rule, and of building upon the error of the writer, instead of the truth of God? Can we hazard our eternal salvation on a ground so doubtful? Would we be willing to accept the writings of any of the Fathers as our supreme guide in time, and ground of trust for eternity? Their books contain the substance of the truth; and on the theory we are opposing we cannot assign a higher rank to the Bible; and so we must discard this theory. A revelation so communicated would be as good as no revelation at all.

Another theory of inspiration has been put forward, and is to this effect, that the sacred writers were exempt from error in their statements of religious truth, but liable to mistake in matters of fact, that is, in matters of history, science, and other subjects, forming no part of supernatural religion. This carries us a little way beyond the former thcory; but it stops short of giving us an infallible rule, or a certain ground of faith. Practically it amounts to no more than the other theory of inspiration. We must call in the exercise of our own judgment to distinguish between the religious and non-religious portions of the Bible, and can we be sure that we have accurately drawn the line? How shall we know when the sacred writers speak infallibly, and when merely fallibly; and may we not in some instances be building on a merely human foundation, when we think that we are resting on a Divine. Our reason must be the judge of what is or is not God's revelation, and so reason, not revelation, becomes our supreme authority. This theory, too, we discard as insufficient, in fact, as worthless.

The theory which we adopt is that of plenary or verbal inspiration. We maintain that not only did God make a revelation of truth of supernatural truth-to the sacred penmen, but He so influenced their minds that they used the very words in which He wished that revelation to be communicated to men. When they speak to us from the page of the Bible, it is as if God spake. Not the truths only, but the original words in which these truths are expressed, are a communication from God. We can accept no lower place for the Bible. It stands apart and above all other writings as a Book written by the finger of God. We claim this place for it on the following grounds:

I. A priori we should conclude that the Bible would possess verbal inspiration. If God was to riake a revelation of his will to man, and to disclose the way of salvation to him, we should have inferred beforehand that the words as well as the truths of that revelation would be inspired. The Most High always employs such instrumentalities as are fitted to gain their end. What end was the Bible meant to serve? It was meant to be an infallible rule or guide to man, in attaining to a knowledge of God's will, and the enjoyment of eternal life. But a Bible, none of the words of which, or only some of the words of which, were inspired, would not have been such a rule or guide. To have put such a book into the hands of man would have been but to deceive him, by leading him to think that he had a sufficient rule for his guidance, while in reality he had no such thing-no rule which he could implicitly trust, no guide which he could follow at all times. A guide who favours us with his instructions occasionally only, and who, at all times, leaves us doubtful whether it is he or some other who is speaking, is as good as no guide. Such a guide would the Bible have been lacking verbal inspiration, or possessing it only in parts. Therefore we are shut up to the alternative of no Bible, or a Bible plenarily and verbally inspired.

II. It may be doubted whether a revelation be possible, unless clothed in words. A revelation of events may be effected by presenting to the mind of him to whom it is made the outward forms or images of the events; but abstract ideas or truths cannot be conceived of unless presented in words, which are just their forms. If we watch our own mental processes, we will find that we use language as the instrument of thought, and that when we cease to employ this machinery we cease to think. Ideas may be suggested to us from without by their types or objects, but when we would summon up ideas in our own minds, when we would conceive, or reason about qualities, relations, conditions, and states, we must embody them mentally in words. And, accordingly, God's revelation to man progressed in proportion as a language was framed, in which that revelation might be received in the first place, and communiIcated in the next. The idea and the word that expressed it were suggested together.

III. The language of the Bible bears the impress of divinity. Many of its penmen were illiterate, and came to the execution of their task from the sheepfold or the field, and yet their writings are unrivalled in purity and power, in majesty and sublimity. How came it that without the discipline of the schools, without even an hour's practice, they reached a pitch of excellence which places them far above the mightiest genius of Greece and Rome? Whence their freedom and glowing

energy in handling themes, the very greatness of which was fitted to subdue the mind? They are equally at home in all themes, whether simple or profoundly abstruse, familiar or inexpressibly grand. Who taught them those words which go so deep into the heart, and wield such power over the conscience, and have power to transform the character? No one but God.


IV. Without inspired words the sense of revelation could not have been purely and accurately conveyed. Even in ordinary subjects a change of a word will often produce an entire change of sense. But here the subject-matter is supernatural, and if left to their own judgment, the sacred writers must inevitably, in places innnmerable, have chosen the wrong word, and fatally changed the A slight verbal alteration will sometimes import into a passage an entirely different meaning. Prophecy, not less, necessitates the inspiration of the words. Whole epochs, with the events and characters which are to constitute them, are often depicted by a single word. The right word could no more be known than the event could be known. Besides, the sacred writers make numerous scientific allusions, but in language so skilfully selected, that while it was in accordance with the then popular notions, it is found, not in a single instance, to contradict any scientific fact which has since been established. How could this have happened without infallible superintendence? It is far harder to believe that this happened by chance than that it was the result of inspiration.

V. The wonderful preservation of the original text accords with and confirms the doctrine of verbal inspiration. We have already said that some fifteen hundred manuscript copies of the New Testament have been compared, and it is found that the verbal differences are astonishingly few, and that scarcely in a single instance do they make any difference in the sense. This miraculous care over the Bible is just what we would expect on the supposition that its words are inspired. But not so if its words are man's. This watchfulness would, in that case, have been uncalled for. Any change in the words would have been merely the substitution of one human term for another human term. The alteration might have been harmless, or even, in some instances, an improvement. But not so in the case of an inspired writing, and hence the care which was exercised about the words as well as the substance of revelation, and which has transmitted the original text to us, speaking generally, in a state of perfect purity.

VI. The Bible itself advances for its words the claim of inspiration. We cannot do better here than quote the words of Mr Robert Haldane: The word inspire signifies to breathe into, and literally corresponds to the original

in 2 Tim. iii. 16, "All Scripture is inspired by God," or breathed into the writers by God, It is, therefore, of the writing that the inspiration is asserted. The Greek compound word, corresponding to our phrase, inspired by God, was applied among the heathens to such dreams as were supposed to be breathed into men by any of the gods. This inspiration, which, without any exception, gradation, or variation, is claimed by the writers of the Seripture, and which entitles the whole of it to be entitled "the Word of God," is of the highest kind, by which they were "led into all truth." It consists in that communication, made to their minds by the Spirit of God, of the ideas and words which they have recorded in that sacred book. Paul expressly calls the Old Testament Scriptures the "Oracles of God" (Rom. iii. 2).

Verbal inspiration is clearly implied in the words already quoted, All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.' Paul does not say, 'All revelation,' meaning the doctrines or ideas, but 'all Scripture,' meaning the writing, is given by inspiration of God. If the writing be inspired, then the words are inspired; for what is the writing but the words? To the same purposes the Apostle Peter affirms,


The prophecy came not of old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost' (2 Pet. i. 21). 'Spake as they were moved' is a phrase which implies that the words were suggested to them. So, on the day of Pentecost, the disciples were filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.'

The claim of verbal inspiration is made in the Scriptures in a great variety of forms, and in passages too numerous to quote. See, for example, Heb. i. 1. Acts i. 16; iii. 21; xi. 14; xvii. 10, 11; xxvi. 22; xxviii. 25. John v. 39, 46; x. 35; xii. 47, 48; xvii. 17. 2 Sam. xxiii. 2. Psalm cxix. iii. Luke x. 10-16; xii. 47, 48; xvi. 29-32. 1 Peter i. 10-12. Prov. xxx. 5, 6. 1 10-16. Phil. iii. 16. 1 John iv. 1-6. viii. 20. Gal. i. 10-12. Rev. xxii. 18, 19. In this last passage excision from the book of life is threatened against the man who shall add to or take away from the words of the prophecy of this book.'

Cor. ii.

Our space does not allow us to enter on the objections which have been urged against the theory of verbal inspiration. These are of small weight compared with the force of the arguments and proofs by which that theory is supported. They mostly resolve themselves into our ignorance of the way in which a supernatural agency acts through a human instrumentality. It has been affirmed that this theory reduces man to a mere machine; and that the sacred writers had no more will, ghoice, or rational freedom, in recording the truths they communicated, than the pens

with which they wrote. This by no means follows. We cannot explain how God and man co-operated in working out this result, the agency of each being free and plenary. The thing is a mystery, but not an impossibility. We can no more explain how the Divine and human agencies co-operated; each acting freely within its own sphere, and each discharging the part of the work proper to itself, in the matter of the revelation of truth-God presenting and man receiving the truth. Nevertheless, we admit a revelation. But if we admit the miracle of revelation, why reject the miracle of inspiration? If ideas or doctrines may be presented by God, and conceived by man without constraint or violence to his faculties, why may not words be suggested by God and freely used by man? The proof that they were so is seen in the Bible itself, in that free-play of style, conception, and feeling, which so beautifully diversifies its pages, giving it a true human-like look, and making it so effectual in addressing human hearts.J. A. W.

INSURRECTION (L. in, against, and surgo, I rise'), a rising, that is, against established rule or authority (Ezra iv. 19).

INSTRUCTION (L. in, intens., and struo, I form,' 'build,' or 'furnish'), the communication of knowledge or information (Ps. 1. 17. Prov. i. 2), represents a Hebrew word which, from a root meaning to bind,' or restrain,' is also rendered chastisement' (Deut. xi. 2) and correction' (Prov. vii. 22); the idea being, that the communication of knowledge (of God) restrains the natural tendencies to excess and wrong, keeps the conduct within proper bounds, and so guards against the transgression of God's laws.

INTEGRITY (L. integer, 'whole,' 'entire:' in and tango, untouched,'' uninjured'?), entireness; as applied to conduct, uprightness, freedom from fault (Genesis xx. 5, 6). The original is rendered 'plain' (xxv. 27), perfect' (Job i. 1), upright' (Prov. xxix. 10), 'undefiled' (Cant. vi. 9), 'simplicity' (2 Sam. xv. 11).

[ocr errors]

INTERCESSION (L. inter, 'between,' and cedo, I go'), going between two parties with a view to effect a reconciliation, as Abraham interceded with God to save So. dom (Gen. xviii. 23, seq.). The corresponding Hebrew term signifies to '' (Josh. xvi. 7), 'meet' (Is. lxiv. 5), 'fall' (Judges vii. 21), 'lay' (Is. liii. 6), 'come betwixt' (Job xxx i. 32), and entreat' (Gen. xxiii. 8; comp. Jer. xxxvi. 25. Is. liii. 12; lix. 16). The Greek of the New Testament, in words of similar import, conveys the idea that Jesus intercedes with God for the saints (Romans viii. 27, 34; xi. 2) and all who come unto him (Heb. vii. 25; comp. Acts xxv. 24. Rom. viii. 26, and 1 Tim. ii. 1; iv. 5).

INTERMEDDIE (L. inter,' among,' and medium, middle;' F. mesler, mêler'), 'to

take part in,' as in the affairs of others; hence to interfere, is used in Prov. xviii. 1 in a good sense, for 'have to do with,' but in a bad sense in xx. 3; comp. xvii. 14, being equivalent to thrusting into that with which we have no concern. A word signifying to 'mix,' or 'mingle,' is in the original used in Prov. xiv. 10; comp. Ps. cvi. 25.

INTERMISSION (L. inter, 'between,' and mitto, 'I send'), cessation, stopping, ceasing for a while (Lam. iii. 49).

INTERPRETATION, derived from the Latin interpres, denoting one who is between two others-a means, or intermediary, for conveying the thoughts of the one to the other, signifies the process, the art, or the science, which conveys from a book or writing its import to the reader. This communication may be made by transferring the idea from one language into another, and is then called 'translation,' by the substitution of which term for interpretation the force of some passages becomes clearer (1 Cor. xii. 10; xiv. 26. John i. 38; ix. 7. Heb. vii. 2); or the communication may be by expressing the thought of the writer in another word of the same language (a gloss), or by several explanatory terms of the same language (paraphrase), both which means come under the general head of explanation, or, to use the school term, exegesis; that is, leading out or unfolding (the sense). The word used in the New Testament, hermeneia(from Hermes, the Greek name for Mercury, the Pagan mediator, or messenger, between the gods and men), like interpretation, has for its base the idea of some middle party who acts as a medium of communication. Hence interpretation is the process by which the thoughts of one mind are communicated to the mind of another, and the interpretation of the Scriptures is that process by which the meaning of the sacred writings is made known. The existence of such a process or art denotes its necessity; in other words, that there is in the bible something dark needing illustration, something hidden to be revealed, something difficult to be explained. Nor will the existence of obscurities surprise any one who duly considers that the Bible, written partly in Hebrew, partly in Greek, was produced at different times, by different writers, under very different circumstances, in a state of society most dissimilar to our own, and completed at the earliest, some eighteen centuries since. Nor, whatever its actual obscurity, is it greater or more difficult to remove than that which hangs over ancient books in general, whose very antiquity is attested by this (as in coins) rust of age.

As Scriptural interpretation is the transfer of the thoughts of one mind to another mind, its first business is to ascertain what the thoughts to be so transferred are, and hence to seek out the mind the sense of the writer,

what he believed he did say, what he meant
to say. But before this can be done, the in-
terpreter must satisfy himself that he has
before him the very words of his author, for
it is from his words only that he can now
elicit his sense. Accordingly, the interpreter
first inquires into the history of the scrip-
ture that is under his eye, in order to ascer-
tain when, where, by whom, and under what
circumstances, it was produced? how it has
been preserved ? are there more copies of it
than one? do they agree or differ? if they
differ, what are the diversities?-so that he
may be enabled to judge whether the writing
is authentic or unauthentic (written by the
person to whom it is ascribed), genuine or
spurious (that is, the writing which he wrote,
and not another, or the actual production of
the alleged time and circumstances); whe-
ther it is pure as the author left it, or cor-
rupted through mistake, or interpolated by
fraud; whether it is entire as it was when
it proceeded from its writer, or mutilated or
augmented? These inquiries, embracing a
vast variety of important topics, in the study
of which learning, skill, and diligence are
of great moment, have been diligently pro-
secuted by professed theological scholars,
and led to the general conclusion that the
sacred scriptures of the Old and New Tes‐
tament are of such a character as to deserve
the most careful and exact attention on the
part of the interpreter. Before, however, the
latter can enter on his task, he must know
in what language is the document which lies
before him. Is it an original or a transla-
tion? If the latter, is it trustworthy? And
here, although in general the authorised
English version may be trusted, yet is it by
no means faultless; and a familiarity with
the original languages and their cognate
dialects is a most desirable qualification in
one who undertakes to interpret the Scrip-
tures. Such an one, however, if he wishes
to perform his office properly, must, as an
interpreter, exclude from his sphere that
which properly does not belong to it. For
instance, he has nothing to do with the cre-
dibility or with the practical application of
the subject-matter. Whether true or false,
momentous or trivial, divine or human, his
sole business is to elicit the meaning, to
bring out and communicate the import of
his text, to discover and set forth the sense
of his author. In that sense there may be a
reproach to Astarte, or a rebuke to David,
or a reproof to Peter, or a solace to the re-
pentant sinner; it may relate to the tribute-
money, or 'justification by faith :' no matter,
the expositor's sole duty is to conceive and
express the mind of his original in such a
way as may best put the reader into posses-
sion of what the sacred penman intended to
say. But as the interpreter should aim to
get his author's exact meaning, the very

'form and pressure' of his thought—all that he intended, but not any thing elseso is there nothing beyond this after which he should make inquiry. For if the mind of the original author is not all that we have to look for, then is our record incomplete, and men in setting about to supply its deficiencies, will each bring his own notion, and so 'hay, wood, and stubble' of all kinds will be aggregated to the pure grain of the word. If, therefore, the mind or intention of the Holy Spirit has to be ascertained, that can be known, and should be inquired into, only as conveyed in the mind of the writer and expressed in the ordinary vehicle of human language. Dissever the mind of the Spirit from the mind of the writer, and, making the latter into a machine, you destroy his value as an attesting party and a witness, while you give full scope to all the vagaries of unbridled fancy, and all the arbitrary falsities of opinions spun from selfreliance; so that in straining after a shadow, you lose the substance, and make the Bible as variable as the changeful aspects of the human mind, thereby bringing it down to a level with the heathen oracles, which admitted of numerous applications.

The first thing to be done by the interpreter is, to ascertain the meaning of particular words; then, connecting these words into sentences, to deduce their import, so that by combining the sentences into the text, he may view the subject-matter as a whole, and form a full and exact conception of its drift and import. Having thus transcribed the mind of his author on his own mind, he is now prepared to fulfil the precise office of an interpreter, and be by translation a medium of communication between himself and the reader.

The functions which the interpreter has to perform are thus set forth in a few words, but their due execution requires many qualifications, aids, and resources. Of these we have space here to speak only in brief. An essential assistance is an acquaintance with the history of the times in which a book was composed; the days which preceded and followed; the manners, usages, and institutions, civil and religious, of the people; their literature; their position relatively to the world around them; the exact condition, internal and external, of the author, his aims and qualifications, his position in the general world of thought and in the mental sphere of his own country.

In employing for the elucidation of an author the aids of grammar and history, you will do well to form to yourself a distinct conception of the general manner of thought and expression peculiar to him; to familiarise yourself with his trains of ideas and phraseology; to trace his feelings back to their sources and onward to their conse

quences; to descend to his first principles, and follow them out in their applications; and, in individual passages, to discover and enter into the assemblage of mental images, the group of associations, the flow of emotion, under which he wrote; for thus will you be able to make your author's mind his own expositor, and be saved from the grave but common error of importing your opin ions into his matter. And if in any case these means should fail to remove all difficuity, you should first search the writings of your author in order, if possible, to discover ancther passage (or more) in penning which his mind was in the same or a similar state; 80 that, by comparing his words together, you may expound the obscure by the clear, supply defects, correct errors, and exhibit the exact and full train of thought to which he intended to give utterance. Aid sometimes may be found in other writers, whether Biblical or not; but in using that aid, you must take special care to ascertain that the writers meant to speak on the same subject and convey the same ideas, otherwise you will employ their language in a sense which was foreign to their minds.

Most carefully, too, must you guard yourself against all assumptions-those plentiful, and alas! perennial, sources of theological and religious error. In general, you are to assume nothing, but prove every thing. Accordingly, you are not to assume that all the Scriptural writers agree on the same subject, or that they disagree; you are not to assume that there is a certain fixed form of opinion and doctrine running from Genesis to Revelation; you are not to take any general form of belief, and seek to bring all things into accordance with it. You are to inquire into these writings; you are to search after facts; you are to learn what each writer says; and when you have ascertained the burden of each, you are to lay the whole together and judge whether the parts are harmonious or not, whether there is a common doctrine discoverable or not; if there is, what does it comprise, and how far may it be used in expounding parts which may yet be dark. This general comparison of the results of your inquiries is necessary to make you an interpreter of the Bible, for without it you can be no more than an expounder of a gospel, an epistle, a history. When, however, you have done your best to discover and declare the meaning of each and every writer in the collection, you have discharged your duty as an interpreter, and may hand the results of your studies over to the religious teacher, whose office it is to ascertain the application of the modes of thought and clusters of facts supplied by you to actual states of mind; and, should the general credibility of the books be esta blished, severing the accidental from the

« PreviousContinue »