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signalize, in like manner, the works of the evangelists and apostles. We find through the New Testament itself, a midway passage from the argument which establishes the canon of the Old to that which establishes the canon of the New Testament; and we shall find it is by the very same midway passage, that, beginning with the inspiration of the Old Testament, we are led more surely and clearly than by any other track, to the inspiration of the New. In both arguments, the mighty importance of that prior investigation, by which we first ascertain what are the Hebrew scriptures, and secondly what is the degree of their authority, is alike obvious.
49. If the reader, whether learned or unlearned, shall undertake such an interior examination of scripture as we have now in a certain degree exemplified, he will find it laborious, but fruitful of the best impressions in favour of its perfect honesty and truth. He will meet with many thousand coincidences, which no impostor could ever have devised; and such evidences of reality, all beyond the reach of imitation, as will serve to convince and to confirm him, in a manner that no statement by another at second hand can possibly effectuate. The more thoroughly that he explores, the more will the instances of verisimilitude multiply upon his observation; till he at length sees the semblance to be a substance, and he will feel himself walking on the ground of solid history, and in the midst of actual transactions. It is thus that the Bible as it has been called its own best interpreter, will be also found its own best witness; and that, not a single, but a marvellously sustained
and multiplied testimony-for, looking to the composition of this volume, it is not at the mouth of two or three, but at the mouth at least of thirty witnesses, that the words of it are established.
On the Inspiration of the Old and New
1. The question which respects the Canon of Scripture, is distinct from that which respects the Inspiration of it. The object of the one is to ascertain, what are the actual books, which should be received into this collection of sacred writings. The object of the other is to ascertain, what are the kind and degree of their authority. We may allow a book to be canonical, and yet maintain opinions of all sorts and varieties in regard to the fulness or the partiality of its inspiration. The disciple of a plenary inspiration may deny to certain of our present scriptural books their title to a place in the canon; or he may contend that certain ex-scriptural books should also have occupancy there. On the other hand the disciple of a partial and limited inspiration, or one who affirms of some books in scripture as the prophetical that they are divinely inspired, while of the others as the historical that they are only the best and most faithful of all human compositions—he may be perfectly satisfied with the actual composition of our present
Bible, and find no fault either in defect or in excess with any of its ingredients. The question what ought to be the ingredients of this composition, is altogether distinct from the question which respects the precise quality of these ingredients. It is true that the canonical are signalized above all other books, and are invested with a certain religious authority over the faith and consciences of men. But still it remains to be determined in how far they are thus signalized_by what height or at what distance are they elevated above them ? What is the amount of this distinction? Whether these scriptures shall be received as absolutely perfect and infallible ?—or must we concede to a certain extent that they are tinged with human infirmity, and must be received some of them at least as the productions only of creditable men, but not out and out as unerring records both of the history which they narrate and of the mind and purposes of the unerring God? After the canon of the scripture is fixed, these are questions which remain to be settled under the all-important theme of the degree of their inspiration.
2. We have already said, that to begin our inquiry with the Inspiration of the Old Testament forms our best outset for the establishment of the Inspiration of the New. In regard to many of the writers in the former collection, such is the profusion of testimonies as to God speaking in them, and the word which they uttered and put into a book being the very word of God, that we shall not attempt a full or adequate exhibition of them.
Moses “ wrote all the words of the law."
“ The spirit of the Lord spoke by me," says David. “ David in spirit calls him Lord.” “The Holy Ghost spoke by the mouth of David.” “ The Holy Ghost sayeth, To-day if ye will hear his voice"_words spoken through the mouth, and transmitted through the pen
of David. “ Thou, God, by the mouth of thy servant David, hast said, Why did the heathen avenge,” &c. God said to Moses, * “ I will raise them up a prophet like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command them. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken to my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. But the prophet which shall presume to speak a word in my name which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.” In these words we read, not only the inspiration of Moses and of Christ, but the inspiration of all the true prophets whom Christ would have acknowledged; and we are accordingly told that God “spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began.” We cannot afford to go in detail over the proofs of the inspiration of these prophets separately. But, simply adverting to the positive history in the books of Kings and Chronicles that we have for the preternatural communications of God with Solomon, we shall but remark of Isaiah that he ushered in what he
Compare Mark vii. 10, with Matthew xv. 4-where what Moses is stated to have " said" in the one passage, God is slated in the other to have commanded.
spake by, “saith the Lord,” and “the Lord hath spoken;" and that the “Holy Ghost spoke by Esaias”—of Jeremiah, that “ The word of the Lord came unto him ;” and “ The Lord said unto him, Behold I have put my words in thy mouth ;" and the commandment given to him, was to “ write all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book”-of Ezekiel, that he saw visions of God; that the “Spirit entered into him;" that the “ Spirit lift him up;" that “the hand of the Lord was upon him, and carried him about in the spirit of the Lord;" and that, ever and anon, “the word of the Lord came unto him”-of Daniel, that he saw visions, and had revelations that he put into a book-of Hosea, that in calling on the people to hear him, he calls them to “hear the word of the Lord” -of Joel, that his prophecy is styled 66 the word of the Lord which came unto Joel"--of Amos, that his sayings are given repeatedly under the form of “ thus saith the Lord" -of Obadiah in like manner, who, propounding his “vision,” begins with “ thus saith the Lord” -of “ the word of the Lord that came unto Jonah" -of - the word of the Lord that came unto Micah,” who was “full of power by the spirit of the Lord" of the vision of Nahum"_of the “Lord answering” Habakkuk, and bidding him “write the vision, that he may run that readeth it”-of “the word of the Lord that came unto Zephaniah,” who in consequence speaks in his name, and announces that “ thus saith the Lord” — of the word of the Lord having come by Haggai, who begins to prophesy with “ thus speaketh the