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tions of an impostor, they had to proceed on external evidence, even the evidence of testimony -- just as much as the superiority of the living Peter over Simon Magus, was vindicated by the palpable superiority of his miracles, or by an external evidence, even the evidence of the senses. The fathers of Protestantism in the work of reforming theology, had the same sort of evidence to proceed upon, with a hundred times greater amount and certainty thereof, in ascertaining both the written relics and the actual state of primitive Christianity--that the great parents of the revival of learning had, in ascertaining the relics and the state of ancient literature. The same documentary evidence which awoke the mind of Europe to a purer literature, also awoke it to a purer Christianity, and what the discovery of a Bible did to Luther, that great restorer of a better theology, the discovery of a Virgil may perhaps have done to some restorer of a better learning. An impulse no doubt may have been given to each from the subject matter of their respective volumes, from the elevated doctrine of the one, from the noble and graceful poetry of the other; but the proper track of investigation to which it carried them both, in their search, whether after the sacred or the secular compositions of other days, was altogether an historical one. This, more particularly, was the right and proper ground for the founders of the Reformation to travel on-in determining between the genuine and the counterfeit, on the great question which be the oracles of God. In the settlement of this, it was with the manuscripts
and memorials of other times that they had properly to do, which had been preserved from the wreck of ages, and which Providence had put into their hands. The controversy was held in an upper region. The decision, in the first instance was in the hands of the learned ; and it was for them, on the foundation too of an historical evidence, to fix the canon of scripture, or to tell the church at large which be the genuine scriptures of the Old and New Testament. They, by means of the historical probation, made discovery of these; and it was left for the people, by means of the experimental probation, to make verification of them. Calvin antedated the matter wrong, when, in his controversy with the learned of the church of Rome in behalf of the scriptures, he made appeal to that internal evidence which is felt and appreciated by the unlearned-at the time when, fighting his adversaries with their own weapons, he should have urged the argument critically and historically. He has charged it as preposterous, to plead this argument distinct from the internal evidence. But we should reverse the proposition, and call it preposterous in this matter, to place the internal before the external evidence.* In the Christianization of individuals, the experimental probation is the only one resorted to, and the only one real
* Paul cautions the churches against counterfeit epistles as from him ; and, to distinguish his own genuine ones from these, he set a particular mark on them. (2 Thess. ii. 2, and iii. 17.) It is a felicitous remark of Jones, “ If it be, as Calvin says, preposterous to endeavour by any solid argument to beget a solid credit to the scriptures, distinct from their internal evidence, then it was certainly preposterous in St. Paul to add that mark to his epistles, as an evidence they were his."
ized by the great majority of the household of faith. But in laying the foundations of a Christian church, and in rearing the munitions of its external security—the historical probation must be resorted to. They who “walk about Zion, and go round about her, telling the towers thereof, and marking well her bulwarks,” speak to us chiefly of the historical or external evidence that leads to the determination of the scriptures. They again who consider and devise for the interior culture of her vineyard, for the work of her parishes, and the religion of her people, speak to us chiefly of that internal and experimental evidence, that finds development and effect in their afterward reading of the scriptures which have been put into their hands. By this process, the historical probation takes the precedency; the experimental follows it. It is the combination of these which forms the strength and the glory of Protestantism. By the first of them is made the glorious discovery of books, which, seen in the lights of erudition, shine upon us with evidence of a hundredfold greater splendour, than all the other literature and history of ancient times. By the second of them, the books thus presented to the church, when left to do their own proper work on the consciences of men, when their lessons are devoutly studied by the people and pressed home with unction and energy by an efficient clergy from the pulpits—then, in the Christian wisdom and moral superiority of a well-trained peasantry, the glorious discovery is followed up by a still more glorious verification.
16. In some books of scripture, the internal evidence may lie deeper beneath the surface than in others—when a more frequent and thorough digging will be requisite, to obtain discovery of the hidden treasure—the fruit of assiduous perusals, and earnest prayers.
At the first and superficial aspect, there seems little or no difference between the Book of Wisdom and the Book of Proverbs—so that it is not at one glance only, that we can perceive the human quality of the one, the divine quality of the other. Yet however little distinguishable at once in respect of their internal, there are no books more distinguished from each other in respect of their external evidence. It is a striking remark of Michaelis that “the canonical authority of no part of the Old Testament is so ratified by the evidence of quotations, as the Book of Proverbs; but it is remarkable that the Wisdom of Jesus the son of Sirach, which has so striking an affinity with the Book of Proverbs, is not quoted in a single instance by apostles and evangelists; and the difference between canonical and apocryphal is nowhere so strikingly marked, as in this example.”* The right order of procedure then in regard to this book is, that, ascertained to be scripture by the learned, it was given as such by them to the unlearned many of whom, in the course of their patient and devout reading, would find a mine of sacred truth in the one composition, which they never could have found in the other. And whether or not they have formally recognized
• Marsh's Micl aclis, 4th Ed. Vol I. p. 207, 208.
it from its internal character to be the handiwork of God -the Book of Proverbs has been a fountain of high and heavenly wisdom to the Christian peasant, who, in many instances, has attained to the relish and often to the perception of its sacred
17. Had the respective functions and relative places of the external and internal evidence been sufficiently pondered by Dr. Pie Smith, * he would not have fallen into the error that he has committed, when, asserting the non-inspiration of the Song of Solomon—and that too, in the face of the strong external evidence which it possesses in common with all the other scriptures of the Old Testament. It is preposterous to put the internal before the external in this question. If he have ventured too much, who pronounces by internal evidence alone, and in the absence of the external, on the divinity of the Book of Wisdom-he surely adventures too much, and at a still more fearful hazard, who, in the abundance of its external evidence, would pronounce on the humanity of the Song of Solo
A summary approval in the one case is surely not more premature, than a summary rejection in the other. In neither instance is the heavenly or the earthly parentage sufficiently obvious, in looking merely to the books themselves, to preclude the consideration of the external evidence; or to strip that evidence of its prerogative and rightful power, for the determination of the question. It would bespeak, we think, not only a
See his exposition, among the very best we have of his scripture evidences for the divinity of Christ.