« PreviousContinue »
testifying an earnestness, lest succeeding generations should but imperfectly comprehend his designs, arising from the incompetency of the agents who were to transmit a statement of them to posterity; instead of cautioning those of his followers who might project a history of their Master, for distant ages, to be faithful and to omit no part of those leading points, on which the strength of his mission rested, he absolutely gave no directions ; made no provision; and discovered no solicitude !"
24. As for those who object to a universal inspiration, because of the alleged insignificance or certain topics in the Bible, we would bid them consider how the divinity stands related to the various parts in the volume of nature. In that volume we meet with interminable variety, from things momentous to things minute and seemingly insignificant-from the mighty orbs of the firmament, to the particles of dust that float in the sunbeam- from organizations the most exquisite, to rude and unshapen masses strewn about in negligent confusion, and that appear subservient to no purposes either of utility or decoration. should not dissociate a God from even what to our eye is most paltry and worthless, in that vast assemblage of objects which make up His universe. Though we can find no meaning either in the loathsome or in the little of creation, we never once think that His power and His purpose had no concern either in the formation or in the continuance of them. We admit that His creative energy originated all, and that His sustaining providence upholds all—in a word, that every thing
which is, though the least and the humblest of His creatures, was as much bidden by Him into existence, and so is as instinct with divinity, as the noblest and most stupendous of any of His works. It speaks not to the disgrace or degradation, but to the incomprehensible greatness and perfection of the Deity—that there should be room alike for the vast and for the puny, within the circle of His regards—that neither things of loftiest magnificence should be above the reach of His high contemplation, nor things the most minute and microscopical should be beneath His care—that He should comprehend in one wondrous range of providence the extremes of magnitude—and that while presiding over the circuits of immensity, still it is to a pervading energy from Him that we are beholden, for every pile of grass, for every insect which crawls on earth's lowly platform.
25. Such being the character of His works, for ourselves we should not be startled or surprised at finding an analogous character in His word; or, though there should be things of exceeding various import there, from matters that appear to us thougd falsely of trivial interest, to matters on which there directly and evidently hinge the interests of eternity. We can see no incongruity, but the opposite—in that the God of nature, who has lavished such a profusion of workmanship on the curious tabernacle of man's body, and numbers even the hairs of his head_should be also the God of revelation, though He there manifests a wisdom alike inexplicable, in the minute and manifold directions which He gives for the complicated structure of the Jewish temple and tabernacle.
In like manner, when, on the face of creation, we see an extended desert, unpeopled either by the animal or the vegetable tribes--we will not discredit the Bible, as being the workmanship and the whole workmanship of God, because of its many intervening spaces, that present us with nought but a barren nomenclature, * and have neither narrative nor doctrine to enliven them. All we should require is evidence, that the Bible as a whole is the production of God; and after that, we would dever propose to dissever Him from certain parts of that Bible, because of their fancied unimportance in the
of man. He is no more to be detached from what might appear to us the insignificancies of the record, than detached from what we might also esteem to be the insignificancies of nature; and if there should occur a meagre chronicle, or some humble incident in the one—we must not forget that in the other, there is many a naked rock not beneath His creative power, many a reptile not beneath His creative skill. really no judges of what might be deemed worthy of a God to make, or worthy of a God to reveal. There are inexplicable mysteries both in His world and in His word ; and, in as far as we are puzzled to account for the apparent uselessness or mean
* The nomenclature of scripture is however not barren. It has proved a guide to discovery respecting the history and state of nations; and there is no calculating on the uses, in the way of further discovery and evidence, which its catalogues of names may yet subserve. See the identity of the Ishmaelites and Ara. bians, demonstrated by the Rev. Charles Forster in his work on Mahommedanism.
ness of certain parts in either, the mysteries are completely analogous. After the evidence in fact, whether of God being the author of nature or the revealer of scripture—we hold all objections grounded on the littleness of the products in the one, or the littleness of the informations in the other, to be irrelevant and presumptuous. In the actual state of the proofs for the Bible being entirely the product of His wisdom, we are as little disposed to regard a single verse as the manufacture of man, because of its unimportance—as to believe that the lowly weed is the offspring of some inferior power, because it wants the loveliness or the grandeur of higher objects in creation.
26. The arguments for inspiration have been charged with the vice of reasoning in a circle. For example, and as one of these arguments, the apostles themselves tell us that they were inspired. To this effect they quote the promise of our Lord, who assured them that He would send the Spirit -one of whose functions it should be to bring all things to their remembrance. Their statement of the promise, deriving all its authority from the fidelity of their remembrance, is to us the proof of their inspiration ; but the inspiration was given to secure the accuracy of their remembrance. So that our trusting to their remembrance, when they tell us of their inspiration, is very like a petitio principii—because, when confiding in the apostolic statement, we seem to take for granted the inspiration which that statement is brought to prove. But the real soundness and consecutiveness of the argument may, we think, be manifested by the following illustration.-Suppose I were told by another a hundred different things, all of which it was of importance I should distinctly remember, perhaps for the purpose of giving forth a publication about them—there would certainly be some hazard of my recollection not serving me in so many instances; but suppose further a collection of written notices on the whole subject, placed in some depository that should be open to me when I stood in need of refreshing my memory; and I were told that I should find all requisite aid for the penning of my history there. Though, without this expedient, there was the utmost danger, or rather the utmost certainty, that I would not recollect with unfailing accuracy the hundred things wherewith I had been charged, there would be, along with this, the undoubted security, that I would not forget the one thing of a general reference to the depository, whenever I stood in need of having all the varied informations I ever received, distinctly and in all their minuteness recalled to me. There might be a dead certainty of my being correct in one act of the memory, however impossible that I could be correct in a hundred acts; and that, not merely, because it is easier to remember one thing than a hundred, but because the very great and general importance of this one thing, comprehensive in fact of all the rest, could not fail to find such a lodgment for itself in my recollection, as would give me the moral certainty at all times, that my superior had referred me to the depository, and that in that depository I should find all the aid and information