Page images
PDF
EPUB

to issue thence in language ere it comes forth in the shape of scripture upon the world. Now it is here that we meet the advocates of a partial or mitigated inspiration, and would make common cause against one and all of them.

There is not one theory short by however so little of a thorough and perfect inspiration, there is not one of them but is chargeable with the consequence, that the subject matter of revelation suffers and is deteriorated in the closing footsteps of its progress; and just before it settles into that ultimate position, where it stands forth to guide and illuminate the world. It existed purely in heaven. It descended purely from heaven to earth. It was deposited purely by the great agent of revelation in the minds of the apostles. But then we are told, that, when but a little way from the final landingplace, then, instead of being carried forward purely to the situation where alone the great purpose of the whole movement was to be fulfilled, then was it abandoned to itself, and then were human infirmities permitted to mingle with it, and to mar its lustre. Strange, that, just when entering on the functions of an authoritative guide and leader to mankind, that then, and not till then, the soil and the feebleness of humanity should be suffered to gather around it. Strange, that, with the inspiration of thoughts, it should make pure ingress into the minds of the apostles ; but, wanting the inspiration of words, should not make pure egress to that world, in whose behalf alone and for whose admonition alone, this great movement originated in heaven and terminated in earth.

Strange, more especially strange, in the face of the declaration that not unto themselves but unto us they ministered these things, strange, nevertheless, that this revelation should come in purely to themselves, but to us should come forth impurely-with somewhat, it would appear, with somewhat the taint and the obscuration of human frailty attached to it. If that word of God have not been carried through all obstructions immaculately on to the Bible—if, as existing there, its high and holy characteristics be at all overcast, or the tarnish of slightest corruption adhere to it; then, to man, it is practically the same as if corruptly deposited in the mind of the apostles, as if corruptly transformed by the spirit or the Saviour on its way from heaven, as if corrupted in heaven itself, or as if evil had found its way into the upper sanctuary, and the light that issues from the throne of the Eternal had been shorn of its radiance. It matters not at what point in the progress of this celestial truth to our world, the obscuration has been cast upon it. It comes to us a dim and desecrated thing at the last; and man, instead of holding converse with God's unspotted testimony, has an imperfect, a mutilated Bible put into his hands.

18. There are many who would shudder at the thought, of there not having been a pure influx into the mind of the apostles; but deny, by their theories of inspiration, that there has been a pure efflux thence upon the world. Now in which of the states, we ask, is it, that the revelation of God to man is spoken of in the Bible ? Not, we

reply, in that state of the revelation, when it was making influx into the prophetic or apostolic mind-but in that state of it, after it had made efflux thence; after, in fact, it had been imbodied in scripture, and then spoken of as a you@o; or been shaped into a word, in which shape it is, that through the whole volume of inspiration, every pure and perfect characteristic is assigned to it. In other words, it is not before the efflux, but after it had passed this ordeal, that we are told it cannot be broken-that it is all given by inspiration of God that no man must take away from it, and no man must add thereunto. These and many similar things are spoken, not of the truth as it exists ideally in the mind of God, but of the truth as uttered verbally by the mouth of His prophets -or, rather, of their collective word, as expressing and imbodying the truth. These high ascriptions are given, not to the act of inspiration, but to the product of inspiration ; and we are taught, by the uniform testimony of scripture, to believe of that product, that it is divine and immaculate and perfect. These things are spoken, not of a word, uttered perhaps in heaven, and which never reached our homes upon earth; but of the word that is nigh unto us, of the word as it came forth in utterance from the mouths of prophets and apostles, or as written by their hands. It is of the word thus brought forth in the Bible, and which men by their wretched hypotheses would make a polluted and precarious thing—it is this which is as silver seven times tried, and which has the impress of the wisdom and will of God upon all its sayings.

19. Such being our views, it is the unavoidable consequence of them, that we should hold the Bible, for all the purposes of a revelation, to be perfect in its language as well as perfect in its doctrine. And for this conclusion, it is not necessary that we should arbitrate between the theories of superintendence and suggestion. The superintendence that would barely intercept the progress of error, we altogether discard-conceiving, that, if this term be applicable to the process of inspiration at all, it must be that efficient superintendence which not only secures that, negatively, there shall be nothing wrong—but which also secures that, affirmatively, there should at all times have emanated from the sacred penmen, the fittest topics, and these couched in the fittest and most appropriate expression. Whether this has been effected partly by superintendence and partly by suggestion, or wholly by suggestion, we care not. We have no inclination and no taste for these distinctions. Our cause is independent of themnor can we fully participate in the fears of those alarmists who think that our cause is materially injured by them. The important question with us is not the process of the manufacture, but the qualities of the resulting commodity. The former we hold not to be a relevant, and we are not sure that it is a legitimate inquiry. It is on the latter we take our stand; and the superabundant testimonies of scripture on the worth and the perfection and the absolute authority of the word—these form the strong-holds of an argument that goes to establish all which the most rigid advocates for a

total and infallible inspiration ought to desire. Our concern is with the work, and not with the workmanship; nor need we intrude into the mysteries of the hidden operation, if only assured by the explicit testimonies of scripture, that the product of that operation, is, both in substance and expression a perfect directory of faith and practice. We believe that, in the composition of that record, men not only thought as they were inspired, but spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. But our argument for the absolute perfection of Holy writ is invulnerably beyond the reach even of those who have attempted to trace with geographical precision the line which separates the miraculous from the natural; and tell us when it was that apostles wrote the word which the Spirit prompted them, and when it was that they wrote the words which the Spirit permitted them. To the result, in our humble apprehension, it positively matters not. Did they speak the words that the Spirit prompted, these words were therefore the best. Did they speak the words which the Spirit permitted, it was because these words were the best. The optimism of the Bible is alike secured in both these ways; and the sanction of the Spirit extended, both in respect of sentiments and of sayings, to every clause of it. they effectively are the words of the Spirit; and God through the Bible is not presenting truths through the medium of others' language; He in effect has made it his own language, and God through the Bible is speaking to us.

20. We are aware that by this language of

In either way,

« PreviousContinue »