Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

thoughts alone but of the words employed to convey them, a verbal inspiration as well as an inspiration of ideas—others a total inspiration in the doctrinal of scripture, along with a laxer inspiration or none at all in the historical of scriptureothers who make a distinction between the inspiration of suggestion and the inspiration of superintendence, conceiving the former, to be unnecessary, when the ordinary powers of memory and language are sufficient, either to retain all that is certainly known, or to convey all that is clearly apprehended; and the latter, again, to be desirable and safe, as a guarantee against the errors into which unaided humanity might else have fallen.

15. There are some of these theories, which appear to involve an unavailing and unprofitable scrutiny into the mode of inspiration. The important inquiry is the effect of it, as realized on the Bible—the product of this inspiration, of whatever sort or description the inspiration itself may be. And the two most interesting questions connected with this object, seem to be, does the inspiration extend to the language of the Bible as well as to its doctrine and sentiment; and does it extend to the whole Bible or only to parts of it?

16. In regard to the first question we are greatly helped to the solution of it, by the testimonies of the second form. There is a certain special designation that occurs both in scripture, and in the writings of the Christian fathers; and which serves specifically to mark the very collection of writings that we know by evidence, as strong as can be adduced in favour of any historical

point in Christianity, are comprised in our present scriptures of the Old and New Testament. A something designed by the term áo yaçu is the subject of many a predicate in the Bible; and we, knowing precisely what the subject is, are at no loss to understand to what specific things these predicates are applicable. It is of great argumentative importance in this discussion, that these ypacu should be identified with our present scriptures; for we are thereby given to understand that it is our duty to search these scriptures, that we err by not knowing them, that they cannot be broken, that they must be fulfilled, and that all of them are inspired. These all go to confirm our trust in the very books of our present recognised canon ; but on the special question whether the various properties of excellence thus attached to the Bible, are attached only to the ideas, or extend also to the language of the Bible, we would remark that they one and all of them are ascribed, not to the ideas as existing in thought and conception in the minds of the inspired men, but to the ideas as brought forth in writing and substantiated in the products of their inspiration. They are the γραφαι, they are the γραμματα, they are the noyin which have all these virtues and excellencies ascribed to them. It is not of the doctrine as mentally apprehended by the sacred penmen, but it is of the doctrine as manually written by them, that the Bible tells us to search the scripture tus youpas, that the scripture ý nguon cannot be broken, that all scripture muoc yeuon is inspired, that the holy scriptures ιερα γραμματα are able to

make us wise unto salvation. It is not we should observe for the vonuata or the thoughts as deposited in the minds of the prophets and apostles, that our confidence is demanded : It is for the yappatu or these thoughts as bodied forth in the writings of prophets and apostles. It is not to the doctrine as existing within the inspired men in the form of ideas, that the high ascriptions of infallible and heavenly truth are given, for at this anterior stage it had not yet efloresced into youpas or γραμματα or λογια; and these very terms afford demonstration in themselves, that it is not to the ideal scheme, but to the written exposition of it, that we are required to yield our trust and the obedience of our faith. It is not for the doctrine as thought, but for the doctrine as written—not for the doctrine as residing in the silent depository of an apostle's thoughts, but for the doctrine as couched in phraseology and imbodied in an apostle's words—it is for this latter, that, in all the quotations we have offered, the implicit submission of men is so peremptorily challenged. It is not with the doctrine as existing in the mind of the seer or scribe, but it is with the doctrine as existing in the scripture that has been written by him—it is with that we have to do. And it is uniformly to this scripture that we find ascribed the high prerogative of authority over us, of unerring guidance both for the direction of our faith and our instruction in righteousness. It is not with the truth merely excogitated, but with the truth expressed, that we have any concern; not with the truth as seen by our inspired teacher,

but with the truth as by him spoken to us. It is not enough that the Spirit hath made him to see it aright—this is not enough, if He have not also made him to speak it aright. A pure influx into the mind of an apostle is no sufficient guarantee for the instruction of the world, unless there be a pure efflux also; for not the doctrine that has flowed in, but the doctrine that has flowed out, is truly all that we have to do with. Accordingly, it is to the doctrine in efflux, that is to the word, that we are bidden yield ourselves. It is the word that is a light unto our feet, and a lamp unto our paths : It is His word that God hath exalted above all his name: It is the word that He hath settled fast in heaven, and given to it a stability surer and more lasting than to the ordinances of nature. We can take no cognizance of the doctrine that is conveyed from heaven to earth, when it has only come the length of excogitation in the mind of an apostle ; and it is not till brought the further length of expression, either by speech or by writing, that it comes into contact with us. In short our immediate concern is with, not what apostles conceive inwardly, but what they bring forth outwardly-not with the schemes or the systems which they have been made to apprehend, but with the books which they have written ; and had the whole force and effect of this observation been sufficiently pondered, we feel persuaded that the advocates of a mitigated inspiration would not have dissevered, as they have done, the inspiration of sentiment from the inspiration of language.

17. For trace the whole subject-matter of the

Bible downward, from the place it once occupied in the pure and primeval fountain-head of truth in heaven-to the place it now occupies in the book that is presented to human eyes, and is made to circulate as the word of life among the habitations of earth. There can be no doubt that in the place of its original residence, it existed in the purest and most perfect form; but had it abidden there, instead of descending upon our world, to men at least it could have been of no use_to us it would have been of as little consequence as the merest nonentity. But the Son of God came forth with it from the dwelling-place of the Eternal, and brought it to the earth where He sojourned, without, we may stand well assured, without an error and without a flaw; but had He carried it back with Him to heaven, and withdrawn it from the view of mortals when He withdrew Himself from their view-we should have been still unblest by its light or its influence : But, instead of this, He did leave behind Him with chosen disciples the memory of its doctrines and informations; and, what is more, He sent a heavenly messenger from on high who still, we may be sure, deposited the precious treasure without one taint or particle of corruption in the breast of the apostles on the day of Pentecost. All then is pure and faultless hitherto. To this point the subject matter of the Bible has been carried, without one shade of infirmity or desecration, But it has one stage more to travel, ere it comes to the end of its journey. It has to pass through the mind of these selected prophets and apostles, and

« ZurückWeiter »