INSPIRATION OF THE SCRIPTURES.
L Definition Of Inspiration.
By the inspiration of the Scriptures, we mean that special divine influence upon the minds of the Scripture writers in virtue of which their productions, apart from errors of transcription, and when rightly interpreted, together constitute an infallible and sufficient rule of faith and practice.
(a) Inspiration is therefore to be defined, not by its method, but by its result. It is a general term including all those kinds and degrees of the Holy Spirit's influence which were brought to bear upon the minds of the Scripture writers, in order to secure the putting into permanent and written form of the truth best adapted to man's moral and religious needs.
(b) Inspiration may often include revelation, or the direct communication from God of truth to which man could not attain by his unaided powers. It may include illumination, or the quickening of man's cognitive powers to understand truth already revealed. Inspiration, however, does not necessarily and always include either revelation or illumination. It is simply the divine influence which secures a correct transmission of the truth to the future, and, according to the nature of the truth to be transmitted, it may be only an inspiration of superintendence, or it may be also and at the same time an inspiration of illumination or revelation.
(c) It is not denied, but affirmed, that inspiration may qualify for oral utterance of infallible truth, or for wise leadership and daring deeds. We are now concerned with inspiration, however, only as it pertains to the authorship of Scripture.
It may help us to understand the meaning of the terms above employed, if we adduce Instances of
(1) Inspiration without revelation, as in Luke or Acts, Lake 1:1-3;
(2) Inspiration including; revelation, as in the Apocalypse, R»t. 1.-1,11;
(3) Inspiration without illumination, as in the prophets, 1 Pet. 1:11;
^4) Inspiration including illumination, as in the case of Paul, 1 Cor. 2 ; 12;
(5) Revelation without inspiration, as in God's words from Sinai, Ei. 20 :1, 22;
(fi) Illumination without inspiration, as in modern preachers, Bpb.. 2 ; 20. Some, like Priestly, have held that the gospels are authentic but not inspired. We therefore add to the proof of the genuineness and credibility of Scripture the proof of its inspiration.
Other definitions are those of Park: "Inspiration is such an influence over the writers of the Bible that all their teachings which have a religious character are trustworthy;" and of Wilkinson: "Inspiration is help from God to keep report of divine revelation free from error. Help to whom? No matter to whom, so the result is secured. The final result, viz.: the record or report of revelation, this must be free from error. Inspiration may affect one or all of the agents employed."
On the idea of Revelation, see Ladd, in Journ. Christ. Philos., Jan., 1883: 156-178; on Inspiration, OHd., Apr., 1883: 225-248. See Henderson on Inspiration (2nd ed.), 58, 205, 249,303, 310. For other works on the general subject of Inspiration, see Lee, Bannermann, Jamieson, McNaught; Garbett, God's Word Written; Aids to Faith, essay on Inspiration. Also, Phllippi, Glaubenslehre, 1: 205; Westcott, Introd. to Study of the Gospels, 27-65; Bib. Sac, 1: 97; *: 154; 12: 217; 15: 29, 314; 25: 192-198; Dr. Barrows, in Bib. Sac, 1867: 593; 1872: 428; Farrar, Science in Theology, 208; Hodge and Warfleld, in Presb. Rev., Apr., 1881: 225-261.
IL Proof Of Inspiration.
1. Since we have shown that God has made a revelation of himself to man, the presumption becomes doubly strong that he will not trust this revelation to human tradition and misrepresentation, but will also provide a correct and authoritative record of it.
The physician commits his prescriptions to writing; the Clerk of Congress records its proceedings: the State department of our government instructs our foreign ambassadors, not orally, but by dispatches. There is yet greater need that revelation should be recorded, since it is to be transmitted to distant ages; it contains long discourses; it embraces mysterious doctrines. Jesus did not write himself; for he was the subject, not the mere channel, of revelation. His unconcern about the apostles, immediately committing to writing what they saw and heard is inexplicable, if he did not expect that inspiration would assist them.
2. Jesus, who has been proved to be not only a credible witness, but a messenger from God, vouches for the inspiration of the Old Testament, by quoting it with the formula: "it ia written ;" by declaring that "one jot or one tittle " of it "shall in no wise pass away "; and by calling it " the word of God" which "cannot be broken."
Jesus quotes from four out of the five books of Moses, and from the Psalms, Isaiah, Malachi, and Zechariah, with the formula, "it is written"; see Mat. 4: 4,6,7; 11:10; Mark 14:27; Iota 4: 4-12. This fonnula among the Jews Indicated that the quotation was from a sacred book and was divinely Inspired. Jesus certainly regarded the Old Testament with as much reverence as the Jews of his day. He declared that" one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law" (Hat 5: 18). He called it "the word of God "; said that "the scripture cannot be broken" (John 10: 35) =" the normative and judicial authority of the Scripture cannot be set aside; notice here the idea of the unity of Scripture " (Meyer). Luke 11: 49— " Therefore also said the wisdom of God ". The apostles quote the O. T. as God's word (Eph. 4:8—Sib Myu, sc. o i»c6t). On the testimony of N. T. writers to O. T. inspiration, see Henderson, Inspiration, 254.
3. Jesus commissioned his apostles as teachers and gave them promises of a supernatural aid of the Holy Spirit in their teaching, like the promises made to the Old Testament prophets.
Mat 28: 19, 20—" Go je . . . teaching ... and lo, I am with you ". Compare promises to Moses (Ex. 3 :12), Jeremiah (Jer. 1: 5-8i, Ezeklel (Ink. 2 and 3). See also Is. 44: 3 and Joel 2: 28—"I will pour my spirit upon thy seed"; Mat 10: 7—" as ye go, preach " ; 19—" be not anxious how or what ye shall speak " ; John 14: 26=" the Holy Spirit.... shall teach you all things "; 15 : 26, 27—" the Spirit of truth .... shall bear witness of me: and ye also bear witness"^ the Spirit shall witness in and through you; 16: 13—"he shall guide you into all the truth "= (1) limitation—all the truth of Christ, i. e. not of philosophy or scienoe, but of religion; (2) comprehension—all the truth within this limited range, t. e. sufficiency of Scripture as rule of faith and practice (Hovey); 17: 8—" the words which thou gavest me I hare given unto them "; acts 1: 4—" he charged them .... to wait for the promise of the Father "; John 20: 21. 22—" he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost". Here was both promise and communication of the personal Holy Spirit. Compare Mat 10 :19, 20— "It shall be given you in that hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speakoth in you." See Henderson, Inspiration, 247, 248.
4. The apostles claim to have received this promised Spirit, and under his influence to speak with divine authority, putting their writings upon a level with the Old Testament Scriptures. We have not only direct statements that both the matter and the form of their teaching were supervised by the Holy Spirit, but we have indirect evidence that this was the case in the tone of authority which pervades their addresses and epistles.
Statements:—1 Cor. 2:10,13—" unto us God revealed them through the Spirit. .. Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth "; 11: 23—" I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you"; 12: 8, 28—the Wyot joju! was apparently a gift peculiar to the apostles; 14: 37, 38—" The things which I write onto yon ... the? an the commandment of the Lord " ; Gal. 1:12 —"Seither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it. bat it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ;" 1 These. 4: 2, 8 —"Ye know what charge we gave jou through the Lord Jesus .... Therefore he that rojecteth, rejecUth not man, but God, who giveth his Holy Spirit unto you ". The following passages put the teaching of the apostles on the same level with O. T. Scripture: t Pet. 1: It, 12—"Spirit of Christ which was in them" [O. T. prophets];—[N. T. preachers] "preached the gospel unto you by the Holy ■Ghost" : 2 Pet. 1: 21—O. T. prophets " spake from God, being moved by tie Holy Ghost" ; 3: 2—" Romember the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets" [O. T.], "and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles' [N. T.]: 16: "Wrest [Paul's Epistles], as they do also the other scripture*, unto their own destruction.'' Cf. fa. 4: 14-16; 7: 1.
Im pi itat iom:—2 Tim. 3: 16—"Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable —a clear implication of Inspiration, though not a direct statement of it = there to a divinely inspired Scripture. In 1 Cor. 5: 3-5, Paul, commanding the Corinthian church with regard to the incestuous person, was arrogant if not Inspired. There are more Imperatives in the Epistles than In any other writings of the same extent. Notice the continual asseveration of authority, as in Gal. 1: 1, 2, and the declaration that disbelief of the record is sin, as in 1 John 5: 10, 11. Jude 3—" The faith which was onoe for all (airaf) delivered unto the saints." See Kahnis, Dogmntik, 3: 122; Henderson, Inspiration (2nd ed.), 34, 234; Conant, Genesis, Introd. xiii, note; Charterls, New Testament Scriptures: They claim truth, unity, authority.
5. The apostolic writers of the New Testament, unlike professedly inspired heathen sages and poets, gave attestation by miracles or prophecy that they were inspired by God, and there is reason to believe that the productions of those who were not apostles, such as Mark, Luke, Hebrews, James, and Jude, were recommended to the churches as inspired, by apostolic sanction and authority.
The twelve wrought miracles (Mat 10:1). Paul's " signs of an apostle " (2 Cor. 12:121 = miracles. Internal evidence confirms the tradition that Mark was the " interpreter of Peter," and that Luke's Gospel and the Acts had the sanction of Paul. Siuce the purpose of the Spirit's beatowment was to qualify those who were to be the teachers and founders of • the new religion, it Is only fair to assume that Christ's promise of the Spirit was valid not simply to the twelve but to all who stood In their places, and to these not simply as speakers, but, since in this respect they bad a still greater need of divine guidance, to them as writers also.
The epistle to the Hebrews, with the letters of James and Jude, appeared in the litetime of some of the twelve, and passed unchallenged; and the fact that they all, with the possible exception of 2 Peter, were very early accepted by churches founded and watched over by the apostles, Is sufficient evidence that the apostles regarded them as Inspired productions. As evidences that the writers regarded their writings as of uersal authority, see 1 Cor. 1: 2—" Unto the church of God which is at Corinth .... with all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place," etc.; 7: 17—"So ordain I in all the churches"; Col. 4: 16—"and when this epistle hath been read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans " ; 2 Pet 3: 15, 16—" our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given to him, wrote unto you." See Bartlett, iu Princeton Rev., Jan., 1880: 23-57; Bib. Sac, Jan., 1884: 204,205.
1TL Theories Of Inspiration. 1. The Intuition-theory.
This holds that inspiration is but a higher development of that natural insight into truth which all men possess to some degree; a mode of intelligence in matters of morals and religion which gives rise to sacred books, as & corresponding mode of intelligence in matters of secular truth gives rise to great works of philosophy or art.
This theory naturally connects Itself with Pelagian and rationalistic views of man's independence of God, or with pantheistic conceptions of man as being himself tho highest manifestation of an ail-pervadlng but unconscious intelligence. Morell and F. W. Newman In England, and Theodore Parker In America, are representatives of this theory. See Morell, Pbilos. of Religion, 127-179—" Inspiration Is only a higher potency of what every man possesses In some degree." But we reply that the inspiration of everybody is equivalent to the inspiration of nobody. Francis W. Newman (brother of John Henry Newman), Phases of Faith (— phases of unbelief). Theodore Parker, Discourses of Religion, and Experiences as a Minister.
With regard to this theory we remark:
(a) Man has, indeed, a certain natural insight into truth, and we grant that inspiration uses this, so far as it will go, and makes it an instrument in discovering and recording facts of nature or history.
In the investigation, for example, of purely historical matters, such as Luke records, merely natural insight may at times have been sufficient. When this was the case, Luke may have been left to the exercise of his own faculties, inspiration only inciting and supervising the work.
(6) In all matters of morals and religion, however, man's insight into truth is vitiated by wrong affections, and, unless a supernatural wisdom can guide him, he is certain to err himself, and to lead others into error.
1 Cor. 2 : 14—" Now the natural man receiYeth not the things of the spirit of God: for they are foolishness onto him: and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged"; 10— "But unto us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God." See quotation from Coleridge, in Shairp, Culture and Religion, 1H—"Water cannot rise higher than Its source; neither can human reasoning "; Emerson, Prose Works, 1 : 474: 2 : 488 — " 'Tis curious we only believe as deep as we live "; Ullmann, Siulessness of Jesus, 183,184.
(c) The theory in question, holding as it does that natural insight is the only source of religious truth, involves a self-contradiction ;—if the theory be true, then one man is inspired to utter what a second is inspired to pronounce false. The Vedos, the Koran and the Bible cannot be inspired to contradict each other.
The Vedas permit thieving, und the Koran teaches salvation by works : these cannot be inspired and the Bible also. Paul cannot be Inspired to write his epistles, and Swedenborg also inspired to reject them.
(d) It makes moral and religious truth to be a purely subjective thing—
a matter of private opinion—having no objective reality independently of
men's opinions regarding it.
On this system truth is what men ' trow '; things arc what men ' think'—words representing only the subjective. "Better the Greek aAjifeta—-* the unconcealed' (objective truth)"—Harris, Philos. Basis of Theism, 182. If there be no absolute truth, Lessing's 'search for truth' is the only thing left to us. But who will search, if there is no truth to be found? See Dlx, Pantheism, Introd., 12.
(e) It logically involves the denial of a personal God who is truth and reveals truth, and so makes man to be the highest intelligence in the uerse.
The animiat of this theory is denial of the supernatural. Like the denial of miracles, it can be maintained only upon grounds of atheism or pantheism.
(/) It explains inspiration only by denying its existence; since, if there be no personal God, inspiration is but a figure of speech for a purely natural fact.
The view in question, as Hutton in his Essays remarks, would permit us to say that the word of the Lord came to Gibbon, amid the ruins of the Coliseum, saying: "Go, write the history of the Decline and Fall!" But, replies Hutton: Such a view is pantheistic. Inspiration is the voice of a living friend, in distinction from the voice of a dead friend, i. e. the influence of his memory. The inward impulse of genius, Shakespeare's for example, is not proper!j' denominated inspiration. See Row, Bampton Lectures for 1877: 428-474; Rogers, Eclipse of Faith, 73 sq. and 283 «q.; Henderson, Inspiration (2nd ed.), 4(3-4(19, 481-490.
2. The Illumination-theory.
This regards Inspiration as merely an intensifying and elevating of the religious perceptions of the Christian, the same in kind, though greater in degree, with the illumination of every believer by the Holy Spirit. It holds, not that the Bible is, but that it contains, the word of God, and that not the writings, but only the writers, were inspired.
This theory naturally connects itself with Armlnian views of mere cooperation with God. It differs from the Intuition-theory by containing several distinctively Christian elements: (J) the influence of a personal God; (1) an extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit: (3) the Christological character of the Scriptures, putting into form a revelation of which Christ is the centre (Rev. 19: 10j. But while it grants that the Scripture writers were " moved by the Holy Ghost" (4>ep6n*voi—2 Pet. 1: 21), it ignores the complementary fact that the Scripture itself Is " inspired of God'" (tfeowrcuaTos—2 Tim. 3: 16|.
This view was represented in Germany by Schleiermacher, with the more orthodox Neander and Tholuck. See Essays by Tholuckin Herzog, Encyclopiedie, and In Noyes, Theological Essays. In England, Coleridge propounded this view in his Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit (Works. 5: 5»S9>—" Whatever finite me bears witness that it lias proceeded from a Holy Spirit; in the Bible there is more that fiiulx me than I have experienced in all other books put together." [Shall we then call Baxter's " Saints' Rest" inspired, while the Books of Chronicles are not ?] See also F. W. Robertson, Sermon I: Life and Letters, letter 33, vol. 1: 270; 2: 143-150—" The other way, some twenty or thirty men in the world's history have had special communication, miraculous and from God; in this way, all have it, and by devout and earnest cultivation of the mind and heart may have it inimitably increased." See also Farrar, Critical History of Free Thought,473, note 50; Martineau, Studies of Christianity; "One Gospel In many Dialects "; Godet, in Revue Chretienne, Jan., 1878; Cremer, Wilrterb. d. N. T.. 3 Aufl., 389, art.: dtonvtvaros; also in Herzog, Encyclop., 2 Aufl., 6: 740, 747. Luther's view resembled this; see Dorner, Gesch. prot, Theol.. 236, 237. Of American writers who favor this view, see J. F. Clarke. Orthodoxy, its Truths and Errors, 74; Curtis, Human Element in Inspiration; Whiton, in N. Eng., Jan., 1882: 63-72; Ladd, Doctrine of Sacred Scripture, and in Andover Review, July, 1885.
With regard to this theory we remark:
(a) There is unquestionably an illumination of the mind of every believer by the Holy Spirit, and we grant that there may have been instances in which the influence of the Spirit, in inspiration, amounted only to illumination.
Certain applications and interpretations of Old Testament Scripture, as for example, John the Baptist's application to Jesus of Isaiah's prophecy (John 1: 29—" Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away [marg. 'beareth' ] the sin of the world "), and Peter's interpretation of David's words (Acts 2 : 27—"Thou wilt not leave my soal in Hades, neither wilt thou give thy Holy One to see corruption''), may have required only the illuminating influence of the Holy Spirit.
(6) But we deny that this was the constant method of inspiration, or that such an influence can account for the revelation of new truth to the prophets and apostles. The illumination of the Holy Spirit gives no new truth, but only a vivid apprehension of the truth already revealed. Any original communication of truth must have required a work of the Spirit different, not in degree, but in kind.
The Scriptures clearly distinguish between revelation, or the communication of new truth, and illumination, or the quickening of man's cognitive powers to perceive truth already revealed. No increase in the power of the eye or the telescope will do no more than to bring into clear view what is already within its range. Illumination will not lift the veil that hides what is beyond. Revelation, on the other hand, Is an' unveiling'— the raising of a curtain, or the bringing within our range of what was hidden before. Such a special operation of God is described in 2 Sam. 23: 2, 3—"The spirit of the Lord spake by me, And his word w&s upon my tongue. The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spake to me "; Mat, 10: 20—" For it is not ye that speak, bat the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you "; 2 Pet 1: 21—" men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Ghost"
Revelation sometimes, Indeed, excluded illumination as to the meaning of that which was communicated, for the prophets are represented in 1 Pet 1:11 as "searching what time or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did point unto, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow them." Since no degree of illumination can uceount for the prediction of - things that are to oome" (John 16:13), this theory tends to the denial of any immediate revelation in prophecy so-called, and the denial easily extends to any immediate revelation of doctrine.
(c) Mere illumination could not secure the Scripture writers from frequent and grievous error. The spiritual perception of the Christian is always rendered to some extent imperfect and deceptive by remaining depravity. The subjective element so predominates in this theory, that no part of the Scriptures can be absolutely depended on.
Those who hold this theory frequently render It more naturalistic by making the measure of holiness the measure of Inspiration. But knowledge, in the Christian, may go beyond conduct. Balaam and Caiaphas were not holy men, yet they were inspired. The theory therefore grants the existence of errors in matters of history and science, If not of morality; the " ethieo-rellgious eonseiousness" must determine what is true and binding. We claim, on the contrary, that Christ's promise assured the " impeccability of memory" and the " perfection of judgment" which some deny. Verma Fisher, Beginnings of Christianity, 404; Ladd, Doctrine of Sacred Scripture, passim.
(d) An inspiration of this sort, therefore, still leaves us destitute of any authoritative standard of truth and duty. An additional revelation would, upon this theory, still be needed to tell us what parts of that which we have are true and binding.
Notice the progress from Thomas Arnold (Sermons, 2:185) to Matthew Arnold (Literature and Dogma, 134, 137). C. H. M. on Genesis 3:1,4—" Tea, hath God said?" Is quickly followed by "Ye shall not surely die." Questioning of God's word is quickly followed by open contradiction. There is no security but in taking the whole Bible as of absolute authority.
(e) Since no such additional revelation is given us, the individual reason must determine what parts of Scripture it is to receive, and what to reject. The theory in effect makes reason, and not the Scriptures, the ultimate authority in morals and religion.
Notice also Swedenborg's rejection of nearly one half the Bible (Ruth, Chronicles, Ezra, Nebemiah, Esther. Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and the whole of the N. T. except the Gospels and the Apocalypse), connected with the claim of divine authority for his new revelations. "His interlocutors all Swedenborgianize " (Emerson). On Swedenborg, see Hours with the Mystics, 2: 230; Moehler, Symbolism, 43U-4(W; New Englander, Jan., 1874: 105; Baptist Review, 1883: 143-157; Pond, Swedenborgianlsm.
3. The Dictation-theory.
This theory holds that inspiration consisted in such a possession of the minds and bodies of the Scripture writers by the Holy Spirit, that they became passive instruments or amanuenses—pens, not penmen, of God.
This theory naturally connects itself with that view of miracles which regards them as suspensions or violations of natural law. Dorner, Glaubenslehre, 1: 624 (transl. 2: J86-18S1, calls it a "doeetic view of inspiration. It holds to the abolition of second causes, and to the perfect passivity of the human instrument; denies any Inspiration of persons, and maintains inspiration of writings only. This exaggeration of the divine element led to the hypothesis of a multiform divine sense in Scripture, and, in assigning the spiritual meaning, a rationalizing spirit led the way." Representatives of this view are Quenstedt, Theol. Dldact., 1: 78—" The Holy Ghost Inspired his amanuenses with those expressions which they would have employed, had they been left to themselves";
Hooker, Works, 2: 383—" They neither spake nor wrote any word of their own, but uttered syllablo by syllable as tho Spirit put it into their mouths"; Gaussen. Theopneusty, 61—"The Bible is not a book which God charged men already enlightened to make under his protection; it i9 a book which God dictated to them"; Cunningham, Theol. Lectures, 349—"The verbal inspiration of the Scriptures [which he advocates) implies in general that the words of Scripture were suggested or dictated by the Holy Spirit, as well as the substance of the matter, and this, not only in some portion of the Scriptures, but through the whole." This reminds us of the old theory that God created fossils in the rocks, as they would be had ancient seas existed.
Of this view we may remark :—
(a) "We grant that there are instances when God's communications were uttered in an audible voice and took a definite form of words, and that this was sometimes accompanied with the command to commit the words to writing.
For examples, see Numbers 7 : 89—" And when Hoses went into the tent of meeting to speak with him, then he heard the Voice speaking unto him from above the mercy-seat that was upon the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim: and he spake unto him "; 8:1—" and the Lord spake unto Hoses, saying ", etc.; Ban. 4: 31— 11 While the word was in the Sing's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, 0 King Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken: the kingdom is departed from thee "; lets 9: 5—" And he said, Who art thou. Lord? And he said, 1 am Jesus whom thou persecutest": Rev, 19 : 9—" And he saith unto me, Write. Blessed are they which are bidden to the marriagesupper of the Lamb "; 21: 5—" And he that sitteth on the throne said. Behold, I make all things new ": cf. 1:10, 11— '* And 1 heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet saying, What thou seest, write in a book, end send it into the seven churches."
(6) The theory in question, however, rests upon a partial induction of Scripture facts,—unwarrantably assuming tbat such occasional instances of direct dictation reveal the invariable method of God's communications of truth to the writers of the Bible.
Scripture nowhere declares that this immediate communication of the words was uersal. On 1 Cor. 2: 13—oi)K iv iiiaKToU avBptoniyijv aotftia? Aoyoif, aAA* iy SiSaKTOis iri-eu/uaToc, the
text usually cited as proof of invariable dictation—Meyer says: "There is no dictation here; SitajtroU excludes everything mechanical." Henderson, Inspiration (2nd ed.), 333, 349; "As human wisdom did not dictate word for word, so the Spirit did not." Paul claims for Scripture simply a general style of plainness which Is due to the influence of the Spirit.
(c) It cannot account for the manifestly human element in the Scriptures. There are peculiarities of style which distinguish the productions of each writer from those of every other, and there are variations in accounts of the same transaction which are inconsistent with the theory of a solely divine authorship.
Notice Paul's anacoloutha and his bursts of grief and indignation (Rom. 5 :12 2 Cor. 11: 1 eq.), and his ignorance of the precise number whom he had baptized (1 Cor. 1:16). One beggar or two (Hat. 20 ; 30; cf. Luke 18: 35); "about Jve and twenty or thirty furlongs'' (John 6:19); "shedformany" (Hat. 26: 28 has wepi. Hark 14 : 24 ami Luke 22 : 21 have *>»«». Dictation of words which were immediately to be lost by imperfect transcription?
(d) It is inconsistent with a wise economy of means, to suppose that the Scripture writers should have had dictated to them what they knew already, or what they could inform themselves of by the use of their natural powers.
Why employ eye-witnesses at all? Why not dictate the gospels to Gentiles living a thousand years before f
(e) It contradicts what we know of the law of God's working in the soul. The higher and nobler God's communications, the more fully is man in possession and use of his own faculties. We cannot suppose that this highest
work of man under the influence of the Spirit was purely mechanical.
Joseph receives communication by vision (lUt. 1: 20>; Mary, by words of an angel spoken in her waking moments (lake 1: 28). The more advanced the recipient, the more conscious the communication.
4. The Dynamical theory.
The true view holds, in opposition to the first of these theories, that inspiration is not a natural but a supernatural fact, and that it is the immediate work of a personal God in the soul of man.
It holds, in opposition to the second, that inspiration belongs, not only to the men who wrote the Scriptures, but to the Scriptures which they wrote, and to every part of them, so that they are in every part the word of God.
It holds, iu opposition to the third theory, that the Scriptures contain a human as well as a divine element, so that while they constitute a body of infallible truth, this truth is shaped in human moulds and adapted to ordinary human intelligence.
In short, inspiration is neither natural, partial, nor mechanical, but supernatural, plenary, and dynamical. Further explanations will be grouped under the following head:
IV. The Union Of The Divine And Human Elements In Inspiration.
1. The Scriptures are the production equally of God and of man, and are therefore never to be regarded as merely human or merely divine.
The mystery of inspiration consists in neither of these terms separately, but in the union of the two. Of this, however, there are analogies in the interpenetration of human powers by the divine efficiency in regeneration and sanctiflcation, and in the union of the divine and human natures in the person of Jesus Christ.
According to " Dalton's law," each gas is as a vacuum to every other: "Gases are mutually pas-ive, and pass into each other as Into vacua." Each Interpenetrates the other. But this does not furnish a perfect illustration of our subject. The atom of oxygen and the atom of nitrogen, in common air, remain side by side, but they do not unite. In Inspiration the human and the divine elements do unite. The Lutheran maxim, Mem humaiui e<ij>ar ilivliuc, is one of the most important principles of a true theology.
2. This union of the divine and human agencies in inspiration is not to be conceived of as one of external impartatiou and reception.
On the other hand, those whom God raised up and providentially qualified to do this work, spoke and wrote the words of God, when inspired, not as from without, but as from within, and that not passively, but in the most conscious possession and the most exalted exercise of their own powers of iutellect, emotion, and will.
The Holy Spirit does not dwell In man as water in a vessel. We may rather illustrate the experience of the Scripture writers by the experience of the preacher who under the influence of God's Spirit is carried beyond himself, and is conscious of a clearer apprehension of truth and of a greater ability to utter it than belong to his unaided nature, yet knows himself to be no passive vehicle of a divine communication, but to be as never before in possession and exercise of his own powers. The inspiration of the Scripture writers, however, goes far beyond the illumination granted to the preacher, in that It qualities them to put the truth, without error, into permanent and written form. Tills inspiration, moreover, is more than providential preparation. Like miracles, inspiration may use man's natural powers, but man's natural powers do not explain It. Moses. David, Paul, and John were providentially endowed and educated for their work of writing: Scripture, but this endowment and education were not inspiration itself, but only the preparation for it.
3. Inspiration, therefore, did not remove, but rather pressed into its own service, all the personal peculiarities of the writers, together with their defects of culture and literary style.
Every imperfection not inconsistent with truth in a human composition may exist in inspired Scripture. The Bible is God's word, in the sense that it presents to us divine truth in human forms, and is a revelation not for a select class but for the common mind. Bightly understood, this very humanity of the Bible is a proof of its divinity.
Locke: "When God made the prophet, he did not unmake the man." Prof. Day: *' The bush In which God appeared to Moses remained a bush, while yet burning with the brightness of God and uttering forth the majesty of the mind of God." The paragraphs of the Koran are called ayat. or " sign," from their supposed supernatural elegance. But elegant literary productions do not touch the heart. The Bible is not merely the word of God; it is also the word made flesh. The Holy Spirit hides himself, that lie may show forth Christ (John 3:8); he is known only by his effects - a pattern for preachers, who are ministers of the Spirit (2 Cor. 3: 6). See Conant on Genesis, page 66.
4. Inspiration went no further thau to secure an infallible transmission by the sacred writers of the special truth which they were commissioned to deliver.
Inspiration was not omniscience. It was iroAw/xJTuf (Heb. 1: 1),—a bestowment of various kinds and degrees of knowledge aud aid, according to need; sometimes suggesting new truth, sometimes presiding over the collection of preexisting material, though always guarding from error in the final elaboration. As inspiration was not omniscience, so it was not complete sanctiftcation. It involved neither personal infallibility nor entire freedom from sin.
The Scripture writers were perfect teachers, but not perfect men. Paul at Antioch resisted Peter, "because ha stood condemned" (Gal. 2: 11). But Peter differed from Paul, not in public utterances, nor in written words, but in following his own teachings (cf. Acts 15: ; verm* Norman Fox, in Bap. Bev. 188.5: 4fi(M82. Personal defects do not invalidate an ambassador, though they may hinder the reception of his message. So with the apostles' ignorance of the time of Christ's second coining. It was only gradually that they came to understand Christian doctrines; they did not teach the truth all at once; their final utterances supplemented and completed the earlier; and all together furnished only that measure of knowledge which God saw needful for the moral and religious teaching of mankind. Many things arc yet unrevealed, and many things which inspired men uttered, they did not, when they uttered them, fully understand.
5. Inspiration did not always, or even generally, involve a direct communication to the Scripture writers of the words they wrote.
Thought is possible without words, and in the order of nature precedes words. The Scripture writers appear to have been so influenced by the Holy Spirit that they perceived and felt even the new truths they were to publish, as discoveries of their own minds, and were left to the action of their own minds in the expression of these truths, with the single exception that they were supernaturally held back from the selection of wrong words, and when needful were provided with right ones. Inspiration is therefore verbal as to its result, but not verbal as to its method. Thought Is possible without language. The ooncept may exist without words. See experience of deaf-mutes, In Princeton Rev., Jan., 1881: 104-128. The prompter Interrupts only when the speaker's memory falls. The writing-master guides the pupil's hand ouly when It would otherwise go wrong. The father suffers the. child to walk alone, except when It is in danger of stumbling. If knowledge be rendered certain. It is as good as direct revelation. But whenever the mere communication of ideas or the direction toproper material would not suffice to secure a correct utterance, the sacred writers were guided in the very selection of their words. Minute criticism proves more and more conclusively the suitableness of the verbal dress to the thoughts expressed; all Hlblical exegesis is based, indeed, upon the assumption that divine wisdom has made the outward forma trustworthy and exact vehicle of the inward substance of revelation. See Henderson, Inspiration (2nd ed.), 102, 114; Bib. Sac, 1872: 428, 640.
6. Yet, notwithstanding the ever-present human element, the all-pervading inspiration of the Scriptures constitutes these various writings an organic whole.
Since the Bible is in all its parts the work of God, each part is to be judged, not by itself alone, but in its connection with every other part. The Scriptures are not to be interpreted as so many merely human productions by different authors, but as also the work of one divine mind. Seemingly trivial things are to be explained from their connection with the whole. One history is to be built up from the several accounts of the life of Christ. One doctrine must supplement another. The Old Testament is part of a progressive system, whose culmination and key are to be found in the New. The central subject and thought which binds all parts of the Bible together, and in the light of which they are to be interpreted, is the person and work of Jesus Christ.
The Bible says: "There is no God" «Ps. 14 : 1); but then, this is to be taken with the context: "The fool hath said in his heart." Satan's "It is writwn" (Hit 4: 6) is supplemented by Christ's " It is written again" (Mat. 4: 7). Trivialities are like the hair and nails of the body—they have their place as parts of a complete and organic whole; see Ebrard, Dogmatik, 1: 40. The verse which mentions Paul's cloak at Troas (2 Tim. 4: 13) is (1) a sign of genuineness—a forger would not invent it; (2) an evidence of temporal need endured for the gospel; (3) an indication of the limits of inspiration—even Paul must have books and parchments.
7. The preceding discussion enables us, at least, to lay down two cardinal principles, and to answer two common questions, with regard to inspiration.
Principles :—(a) The human mind can be inhabited and energized by God, while yet attaining and retaining therein its own highest intelligence and freedom, (6) The Scriptures, being the work of the one God, as well a» of the men in whom God moved and dwelt, constitute an articulated and organic unity. Questions:—(a) Is any part of Scripture uninspired? Answer: Every part of Scripture is inspired in its connection and relation with every other part. (6) Are there degrees of inspiration? Answer: There are degrees of value, but not of inspiration. Each part in its connection with the rest is made completely true, and completeness has n» degrees.
Notice the value of the Old Testament, revealing as it does the natural attributes of God, as a basis and background for the revelation of mercy in the New Testament. Revelation was in many parts (iroAi'n<pa>?—Heb. 1: 1) as well as in many ways. "Each individual oracle, taken by Itself, was partial and incomplete" (Robertson Smith, O. T. in Jewish Ch., 21). But the person and the words of Christ sum up and complete the revelation, so that, taken together and in their connection with him, the various parts of Scripture constitute an infallible and sufficient rule of faith and practice. See Browne, Inspiration of the N. T.; Bernard, Progress of Doctrine in the N. T.: Stanley Leathes, Structure of the O. T.; Rainy, Delivery and Development of Doctrine.
V. Objections To The Doctrine Op Inspiration.
In connection with a divine-human work like the Bible, insoluble difficulties may be expected to present themselves. So long, however, as its inspiration is sustained by competent and sufficient evidence, these difficulties cannot justly prevent our full acceptance of the doctrine, any more than disorder and mystery in nature warrant us in setting aside the proofs of its divine authorship. These difficulties are lessened with time; some have already disappeared; many may be due to ignorance, and may be removed hereafter; those which are permanent may be intended to stimulate inquiry and to discipline faith.
It is noticeable that the common objections to inspiration are urged, not so much against the religious teaching of the Scriptures, as against certain errors in secular matters which are supposed to be interwoven with it. But if these were proved to be errors indeed, it would not necessarily overthrow the doctrine of inspiration ; it would only compel us to give a larger place to the human element in the composition of the Scriptures, and to regard them more exclusively as a text-book of religion. As a rule of religious faith and practice, they might still be the infallible word of God.
But we deny that such errors have as yet been proved to exist. While we are never to forget that the Bible is to be judged as a book whose one great aim is mau's rescue from sin, and reconciliation to God, we still hold that it is not only in religious respects, but in all respects, a record of substantial truth. This will more fully appear from an examination of the objections in detail.
"The Scriptures are (riven to teach us, not how the heavens go, but how to go to heaven." Their aim is certainly not to teach science or history. Yet certain of their doctrines are historical facts, and certain of their facts are doctrines. It seems difficult, if not impossible, to separate between the historical and seientitlc credibility, and the religious credibility, of the Scriptures. As the undermining of the scientific trustworthiness of the Vedas Is an undermining of the religion which they teach, so with the Christian Scriptures. With John Smyth (died, Amsterdam, 1612), we say: "I profess I have changed, and shall be ready still to change, for the better "; and with John Robinson, in his farewell address to the Pilgrim Fathers: "I am verily persuaded that the Lord hath more truth yet to break forth from his holy word."
But we do not yet see reason to give up our belief that the Bible, even in historical and scientific matters, so far as it commits itself to definite statements, and when it is fairly interpreted, Is worthy of all credence. As to obscurities. " we may say, as Isocrates did of the work of Heraclltus: 'What I understand of it is so excellent that I can draw conclusions from it concerning what I do not understand.'" "If Bengel finds things in the Bible too hard for his critical faculty, he finds nothing too hard for his believing faculty." See Luthardt, Saving Truths, itf*5; Philippl, (ilaubenslehre, 305 ixj.; Bap. Rev., April, 1881, art. by O. P. Eaches. Cardinal Newman, in 19th Century, Feb., 1884.
1. Errors in matters of Science. Upon this objection we remark:
(a) We do not admit the existence of scientific error in the Scripture. What is charged as such is simply truth presented in popular and impressive forms.
The common mind receives a more correct idea of unfamiliar facts when these are narrated in phenomenal language and in summary form than when they are described in the abstract terms and in the exact detail of science.
Herbert Spencer's principle of style: Economy of the reader's and hearer's attention — the more mental energy is expended upon the form, the less remains for the substance (Essays, 1-471. In narrative, to substitute for "sunset" some scientific description would divert attention from the main subject. The language of appearance is probably used in Gen.7: 19—" all the high mouataias that were under the whole heaven were covered"—such would be the appearance, even if the deluge were local instead of uersal: in Josh. 10: 12,13—"and the sun stood still "—such would be the appearance, even if the sun's rays were merely refracted so as preternaturally to lengthen the day; in Pa. 93: 1—"the world also is stabUshed that it cannot be moved —such Is the appearance, even though the earth turns on its axis and moves round the sun.
(6) It is not necessary to a proper view of inspiration to suppose that the human authors of Scripture had in mind the proper scientific interpretation of the natural events they recorded.
It is enough that this was in the mind of the inspiring Spirit. Through the comparatively narrow conceptions and inadequate language of the Scripture writers, the Spirit of inspiration may have secured the expression of the truth in such germinal form as to be intelligible to the times in which it was first published, and yet capable of indefinite expansion as science should advance. In the miniature picture of creation in the first chapter of Genesis, and in its power of adjusting itself to every advance of scientific investigation, we have a strong proof of inspiration.
The word "day" in Genesis 1 is an instaueeof this germinal mode of expression. It would be absurd to teach early races, that deal only in small numbers, about the myriads of years of creation. The child's object-lesson, with its graphic summary, convoys to his mind more of truth than elaborate and exact statement would convey. Conant (Genesis 2: 10) says of the description of Eden and its rivers: "Of course the author's object is not a minute topographical description, but a general and impressive conception as a whole." Yet the progress of science only shows that these accounts are not less but more true than was supposed by those who first, received them. Neither the Hindu Shasters nor any heathen cosmogony can bear such comparison with the results of science. Why change our interpretations of Scripture sooften? Answer: We do not assume to be original teachers of science, but only to interpret Scripture with the new lights we have. See Dana, Manual of Geology, 741-740; Guyot, in Bib. Sac., 1855: 334; Dawson, Story of Earth and Man, 32.
(c) It may safely be said that science has not yet shown any fairly interpreted passage of Scripture to be untrue.
With regard to the antiquity of the race, we may say that owing to the differences of reading between the Septuagint and the Hebrew there is room for doubt whether either of the received chronologies has the sanction of inspiration. If science should prove the existence of man upon the earth at a period preceding the dates hitherto assigned, no statement of inspired Scripture would necessarily be proved false. But such antiquity cannot as yet be considered a matter of demonstration.
Usher's scheme of chronology, on the basis of the Hebrew, puts the creation 4004 years before Christ. Hales's, on the basis of the Septuagint, puts it 5411 B. C. The Fathers followed the LXX. But the genealogies before and after the flood may present us only with the names of " leading and representative men." Some of these names seem to stand, not for individuals, but for tribes, e. (/.: Gen. 10: 16—where Canaan is said to have begotten the Jebusite and the Amoritc: 29—Joktan begat Ophlr and Havilah. The appearance of completeness in the text may be due to alteration of the text in the course of centuries: see Bib. Com., 1: 30. In the phrase "Jesus Christ, the soa of David, the son of Abraham" (Mat. 1: 1) thirty-eight to forty generations are omitted. It may be so in some of the Old Testament genealogies. There Is room for a hundred thousand years. If necessary (Conant).
But no such extent of time seems necessary. Itawlinson (Journ. Christ. Philos., 1883: 339-384), dates the beginning of the Chaldean monarchy at 2400 B. C. Lenormant puts the entrance of the Sanskritic Indians into Hindustan at 2500 B. C. The earliest Vedas are between 1200 and 1000 B. C. (Max MUUer). Call of Abraham, probably 1945 B. C. Chinese history possibly began as early as 2356 B. C. (Legge). The old Empire in Egypt possibly began as early as 2850 B. C. Rawlinson puts the flood at 3600 B. C, and adds 2000 years between the deluge and the creation, making the age of world 1S86 t 3800 (2000 = 7486. S. R. Pattison, in Present Day Tracts, 3: no. 13, concludes that "a term of about 8000 years Is warranted by deductions from history, geology, and Scripture." See also Duke of Argyll, Primeval Man, 76-128: t'owles on Genesis, 49-80: Dawson, Fossil Men, 246; Hicks, in Bap. Rev., July, 1884 (13000 years).
2. Errors in matters of History. To this objection we reply:
(a) What are charged as such are often mere mistakes in transcription, and have no force as arguments against inspiration, unless it can first be shown that inspired documents are by the very fact of their inspiration exempt from the operation of those laws which affect the transmission of other ancient documents.
We have no right to expect that the inspiration of the original writer will be followed by a miracle in the case of every copyist. Why believe in infallible copyists, more than in infallible printers? God educates us to care for his word, and for its correct transmission. Reverence has kept the Scriptures more free from various readings than are other ancient manuscripts. None of the existing variations endanger any important article of faith. Yet some mistakes in transcription there probably are. In 1 Chron. 22:14. instead of 100,000 talents of gold and 1,000,000 talents of silver ( -$3,750,000,00(1), Josephus divides the sum by ten. In 2 Chron. 13: 3, where the numbers of armies in little Palestine are stated as 400,000, 800,000 and 500,000, "some ancient copies of the Vulgate and Latin translations of Josephus have 40,000, 80,000 and 50,000." "In Hebrew, numbers were expressed by letters of the alphabet. A little alteration, like that of c to c, may convert 3 into 50, 4 into 200, 8 into 400. The addition of a dot or a line may greatly multiply the numerical power of a letter" (Annotated Paragraph Bible, 516). Compare 1 L 7: 26 ("2000 baths with 2 Chron. 4: 5 ("3000 baths"); here 5, = 2000, has probably been confounded with J,^3000. Similarly, compare 2 Sam. 8: 4 ("1700 horsemen") with 1 Chron. 18: 4 <" 7000 horsemen ") ; see Pope, Theology, 1: 188. In Hat. 27: 9, we have "Jeremiah" for "Zechariah" -this Cnlvin allows to be a mistake. In Acts 7: 16—"the tomb that Abraham bought "—Hackett regards " Abraham " as a clerical error for "Jacob " (compare Gen. 33:18.19). See Bible Com., 3 : 165, 240, 251, 317.
(6) Other so-called errors are to be explained as a permissible use of round numbers, which cannot be denied to the sacred writers except upon the principle that mathematical accuracy was more important than the general impression to be secured by the narrative.
In Sumbers 25: 9, we read that there fell in the plague 24,000; 1 Cor. 10: 8 says 23,000. The actual number was possibly somewhere between the two. Upon a similar principle, we do not scruple to celebrate the Landing of the Pilgrims on December 2:2nd and the birth of Christ on December 25th. We speak of the Battle of Bunker Hill, although at Bunker Hill no battle was really fought.
(c) Diversities of statement in accounts of the same event, so long as
they touch no substantial truth, may be due to the meagreness of the
narrative, and might be fully explained if some single fact, now unrecorded,
were only known. To explain theBe apparent discrepancies would not only
be beside the purpose of the record, but would destroy one valuable
evidence of the independence of the several writers or witnesses.
On the Stokes trial, the judge spoke of two apparently conflicting testimonies as neither of them necessarily false. On the difference between Matthew and Luke as to the scene of the Sermon on the Mount (Mat 5:1; <•/. Luke 6: 17) see Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, 380; as to one blind man or two (Hit. 20 : 30; cf. Lulu 18: 35) see Bliss, Com. on Luke, 275, and (iardiuer, in Uib. Sac, July, 1879: 513, 514. On Christ's last Passover, see Robinson. Harmony, 212; E. H. Sears, Fourth Gospel, Appendix A; Edersheim, Life and Times of the Messiah, 2: 507. Augustine: "Locutiones variae, sed non contrariae; diversae, sed non adversae."
Bartlott, in Princeton Rev., Jan., 1N80: 46, 47, gives the following modern illnstratlons: Winslow's Journal (of Plymouth Plantation) speaks of a ship sent out "by Master Thomas Weston." But Bradford, in his far briefer narrative of the matter, mentions it as sent " by Mr. Weston and another." John Adams, in his letters, tells the story of the daughter of Otis about her father's destruction of his own manuscripts. At one time he makes her say: "In one of his unhappy moments he committed them all to the Uames "; yet, in the second letter, she Is made to say that " he was several days In doing it." One newspaper says: President Hayes attended the Bennington centennial; another newspaper says: the President and Mrs. Hayes; a third: the President and his Cabinet; a fourth: the President, Mrs. Hayes and the majority of his Cabinet. See, on the genoral subject, Haley, Alleged Discrepancies.
(d) Every advance in historical and archaeological discovery goes to sustain the correctness of the Scripture narratives, while the objector may be confidently challenged to point out a single statement really belonging to the inspired record which has been proved to be false.
With regard to the great age of the O. T. patriarchs, we are no more warranted in rejecting the Scripture accounts upon the ground that life in later times is so much shorter, than we are entitled to reject the testimony of botanists as to trees of the Sequoia family between four and five hundred feet high, or the testimony of geologists as to Saurians a hundred feet long, upon the ground that the trees and reptiles with which we are acquainted are so much smaller. Every species, at its introduction, seems to exhibit tho maximum of size and vitality. On the genealogies in Matthew and Luke, see Lord Harvey, Genealogies of our Lord, and his art. in Smith's Bible Dictionary. On Cyrenius and the enrollment for taxation (Luke 2: 2), see Pres. Woolsey, art. in N. Englander, 1870. On the general subject, see Itawlinson, Historical Evidences, and essay in Modern Scepticism, pub'd by Christian Evidence Soc., 1: 265.
3. Errors in Morality.
(a) What are charged as such are sometimes evil acts and words of good
men—acts and words not sanctioned by God. These are narrated by the
inspired writers as simple matters of history, and subsequent results, or the
story itself, is left to point the moral of the tale.
Instances of this sort are Noah's drunkenness (Gen. 9 : 20-27); Lot's incest (Gen. 19: 30-38); Jacob's falsehood (Gen. 27:19-24); David's adultery (2 Sun. 11:1-4): Peter's denial (Hit 26: 69-75). See Lee, Inspiration, 265, note.
(6) Where evil acts appear at first sight to be sanctioned, it is frequently
some right intent or accompanying virtue, rather than the act iteelf, upon
which commendation is bestowed.
As Rahnb's faith, not her duplicity (Josh. 2: 1-24: cf. Heb. 11:31 and James 2:25); Jael's patriotism, not her treachery (Judges 4:17-22; cf. 5: 24).
(c) Certain commands and deeds are sanctioned as relatively just—expressions of justice such as the age could comprehend, and are to be judged as parts of a progressively unfolding system of morality whose key and culmination we have in Jesus Christ.
Ex. 20 : 25—" I give them statutes that were not good "—as Moses' permission of divorce and retaliation ( Dent. 24 :1: cf. Mat. 5: 31, 32; 19: 7-9. Ei. 21: 24; cf. Mat. 5: 38, 39). Compare Elijah's calling down fire from heaven (2 £. 1:10-12) with Jesus' refusal to do the same, and his intimation that the spirit of Elijah was not the spirit of Christ (Luke 9 : 52-56). The appeal in the O. T. to the hope of earthly rewards was suitable to a stage of development not yet instructed as to heaven and hell by the coming and work of Christ; compare Bi. 20:12 with Mat 5:19; 25: 46. The Old Testament aimed to flr in the mind of a selected people the idea of the unity and holiness of God; in order to exterminate idolatry, much other teaching was postponed. See Peabody, Religion of Nature, 45; Mozley, Ruling Ideas of Early Ages; Green, in Presb. Quar., April, 1677: 221~:K5; Mcllvaine, Wisdom of Holy Scripture, 328-388; Brit, and For. Evang. Rev., Jan., 1878: 1-38.
(d) God's righteous sovereignty affords the key to other events. He has the right to do what he will with his own, and to punish the transgressor when and where he will; and he may justly make men the foretellers or executors of his purposes.
Foretellers, as in the imprecatory Psalms (Ps. 137: 9; ef. Is. 13:1H8 and Jer. 50:15, 29); executors, as In the destruction of the Canaanltes (Dent. 7: 2,16). In the former case the Psalm was not the ebullition of personal anger, but the expression of judicial indignation against the enemies of God. We must distinguish the substance from the form. The substance was the denunciation of God's righteous Judgments; the form was taken from the ordinary customs of war In the Psalmist's time. See Park, in Bib. Sac, 1882: 165; Cowles, Com. on Ps. 137; Perowne on Psalms, Introd., 81. In the latter case, an exterminating war was only the benevolent surgery that amputated the putrid limb, and so saved the religious life of the Hebrew nation and of the after-world. See Dr. Thomas Arnold, Essay on the Right Interpretation of Scripture; Fisher, Beginnings of Christianity, 11-24.
(e) Other apparent immoralities are due to unwarranted interpretations. Symbol is sometimes taken for literal fact; the language of irony is understood as sober affirmation; the glow and freedom of oriental description are judged by the unimpassioned style of western literature.
In Hosea 1: 2, 3, the command to the prophet to marry a harlot was probably received and executed In vision, and was Intended only as symbolic: compare Jer. 25: 15-18—"Take the cup .... and cause all the nations ... to drink." Literal obedience would have made the prophet contemptible to those whom he would instruct, and would require so long a time as to weaken, if not destroy, the designed effect; see Ann. Par. Bible, In loco. In 2 L 6:19, EMsha's deception, so called, was probably only ironical and benevolent; the enemy dared not resist, because they were completely in his power. In the Song of Solomon, we have, as Jewish writers have always held, a highly-wrought dramatic description of the union between Jehovah and his people, which we must judge by eastern and not by western literary standards. On the whole subject, see Hessey, Moral Difficulties of the Bible; Jellct, Moral Diff. of O. T.: Faith and Free Thought (Lect. by Christ, Ev. Boo.), 2:173; Rogers, Eclipse of Faith; Butler, Analogy, part 2, chap. 3.
4. Errors of Reasoning.
(a) What are charged as such are generally to be explained as valid argument expressed in highly condensed form. The appearance of error may be due to the suppression of one or more links in the reasoning.
In Mat. 22 : 32, Christ's argument for the resurrection, drawn from the fact that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is perfectly and obviously valid, the moment we put In the suppressed premise that the living relation to God which Is here implied cannot properly be conceived as something merely spiritual, but necessarily requires a new and restored life of the body. If God is the God of the living, then Abraham, Isaac and Jacob shall rise from the dead. See more full exposition, under Eschatology.
(ft) Where we cannot see the propriety of the conclusions drawn from given premises, there is greater reason to attribute our failure to ignorance of divine logic on our part, than to accommodation or ad horninem arguments on the part of the Scripture writers.
By divine logic we mean simply a logic whose elements and processes are correct, though not understood by us. In Heb. 7: 9,10 (Levi's paying tithes in Abraham), there is probably a recognition of the organic unity of the family, which In miniature illustrates the organic unity of the race. In Gal 3:20— " A mediator is not a mediator of one; but God is one "—the law, with its two contracting- parties, is contrasted with tho promise, which proceeds from the sole fiat of God and Is therefore unchangeable. Paul's argument here rests on Christ's divinity as its foundation—otherwise Christ would have been a mediator in the same sense in which Moses was a mediator (see Lightfoot, in loco).
(e) The adoption of Jewish methods of reasoning, where it could be proved, would not indicate error on the part of the Scripture writers, but rather an inspired sanction of the method as applied to that particular case.
In Gal. 3 :16—" he saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ," Here it Is intimated that the very form of the expression, in Gen. 22 :18, which denotes unity, was selected by the Holy Spirit as significant of that one person, Christ, who was the true seed of Abraham and in whom all nations were to lie blessed. Argument from the form of a single word is in this case correct, although the Rabbins often made more of single words than the Holy Spirit ever intended. In 1 Cor. 10:1-6—"and the rock was Christ'—the Rabbinic tradition that the smitten rock followed the Israelites in their wanderings Is declared to be only the absurd literalizing of a spiritual fact—the continual presence of Christ, as prefe'xistent Logos, with his ancient people. Per contra, see Row, Rev. and Mod. Theories, 98-128.
5. Error* in quoting or interpreting the Old Testament.
(a) What are charged as such are commonly interpretations of the meaning of the original Scripture by the same Spirit who first inspired it.
In Eph. 5:14, "Arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee" is an inspired interpretation of Is. 60 :1—" Arise, shine, for thy light is come." Ps. 68:18—" Thou hast reoaiYed gifts among men"—is quoted in Eph. 4 : 8 as "gave gifts to men." The words in Hebrew are probably a concise expression for "thou hast taken spoil which thou mayest distribute as gifts to men." Eph. 4: 8 agrees exactly with the sense, though not with the words, of the Psalm.
(6) Where an apparently false translation is quoted from the Septuagint, the sanction of inspiration is given to it, as expressing a part at least of the fulness of meaning contained in the divine original—a fulness of meaning which two varying translations do not in some cases exhaust.
Ps. 4:4—Heb.: "Tremble, and sin not" (=no longer); LXX: "Be ye angry, and sin not" Epn.4:26 quotes the LXX. The words may originally have been addressed to David's comrades, exhorting them to keep their anger within bounds. Both translations together are needed to bring out the meaning of the original. Ps. 40: 6 8—" Mine ears hast thou opened" is translated in Heb. 10: 5-7 "A body didst thou prepare for me" ). Here the Epistle quotes from the LXX. But the Hebrew means literally: "Mine ears hasl thou bored "— an allusion to the custom of pinning a slave to the doorpost of his master by an awl driven through his ear, in token of his complete subjection. The sense of the verse is therefore given In the epistle: "Thou hast made me thine In body and soul — lo, I come to do thy will."
(c) The freedom of these inspired interpretations, however, does not warrant us in like freedom of interpretation in the case of other passages whose meaning has not been authoritatively made known.
We have no reason to believe that the scarlet thread of Itahab (Josh. 2:18) was a designed preflguration of tho blood of Christ, nor that the three measures of meal in which the woman hid her leaven (Mat 13: 33) symbolized Shem, Ham and Japheth, the three divisions of the human race. C. H. M., in his notes on tho tabernacle In Exodus, tells us that "the loops of blue = heavenly grace; the taches of gold = the divine energy of Christ; the ram's skins dyed red -~- Christ's consecration and devotodness; the badger's skins = his holy vigilance against temptation "! The tabernacle was indeed a type of Christ (John 1:14—eVojf ta<rev. 2:19, 21—" in three days I will raise it up .... but he spake of the temple of his body " ); yet it does not follow that every detail of the structure was significant. So each parable teaches some one main lesson—the particulars may be mere drapery, and while we may use the parables for illustration, we should never ascribe divine authority to our private impressions of their meaning. See Toy, Quotations in the N. T.
6. Errors in Prophecy.
(a) What ore charged as such may frequently be explained by remembering that much of prophecy is yet unfulfilled.
It is sometimes taken for granted thtit the book of Revelation, for example, refers entirely to events already past. Moses Stuart, in his Commentary, and Warren's Parousla, represent this preterlst interpretation. Thus Judged, however, many of the predictions of the book might seem to have failed.
(6) The personal surmises of the prophets as to the meaning of the prophecies they recorded may have been incorrect, while yet the prophecies themselves are inspired.
In 1 Pet. 1:10.11, the apostle declares that the prophets searched " what time or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did point unto, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow them." So Paul, although he does not announce? It as certain, seems to have some hope that he might live to witness Christ's second coming. See 2 Cor. 5: 4— "Not for that we would be unclothed, but that we would be clothed upon" ( tjrevSvaaa&ai—put on the spiritual body, as over the present one, without the intervention of death); 1 Thees. 4:15.17—" w» that are alive, that are left unto the coining of the Lord."
(e) The prophet's earlier utterances are not to be severed from the later utterances which elucidate them, nor from the whole revelation of which they form a part. It is unjust to forbid the prophet to explain his own meaning.
2 Thessalonians was written expressly to correct wrong inferences as to the apostle's teaching drawn from his peculiar mode of speaking in the first epistle. In 2 These. 2: 2-5 he removes the impression "that the day of the lord is now present" or "just at hand "; declares that "it will not be, eioept the falling away come first, and the man of sin be rerealed " ; reminds the Thessalonians: "when I was jet with you, I told you these things." Yet still, in Terse 1, he speaks of "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him."
These pot sages, taken together, show: (1) that the two epistles ore one in their teaching; (2) that In neither epistle Is there any prediction of the immediate coming of the Lord; (3) that in the second epistle great events are foretold as intervening before that coming; (4) that while Paul never taught that Christ would come during his own lifetime, he hoped at least during the earlier part of his life that It might be so—a hope that seems to have been dissipated in his later years. (See 2 Tim. 4: 6—" I am already being offered, and the time of my departure is come " ).
The second Epistle to the Thessalonians, therefore, only makes more plain the meaning of the first, and adds new items of prediction. It is important to recognize in Paul's epistles a progress in prophecy, in doctrine, in church polity. The full statement of the truth was gradually drawn out, under the Influence of the Spirit, upon occasion of successive outward demands and inward experiences. Much is to be learned by studying the chronological order of Paul's epistles, as well as of the other N. T. books. For evidence of similar progress In the epistles of Peter, compare 1 Pet 4 : 7 with 2 Pet 3:4 «j.
(d) The character of prophecy as a rough general sketch of the future, in highly figurative language, and without historical perspective, renders it peculiarly probable that what at first sight seem to be errors are due to a misinterpretation on our part, which confounds the drapery with the substance, or applies its language to events to which it had no reference.
James 5 : 9 and Phil. 4 : 5 are instances of that large prophetic speech which regards the distant future as near at hand, because so certain to the faith and hope of the church. See the more full statement of the nature of prophecy, on pages 68, t!9. Also Bernard, Progress of Doctrine in the N. T.
7. Certain books unworthy of a place in inspired Scripture.
(a) This charge may be shown, in each single case, to rest upon a misapprehension of the aim and method of the book, and its connection with the remainder of the Bible, together with a narrowness of nature or of doctrinal view, which prevents the critic from appreciating the wants of the peculiar class of men to which the book is especially serviceable.
Luther called James "a right strawy epistle." His constant pondering of the doctrine of justification by faith alone made it difficult for him to grasp the complementary truth that we are justified only by such faith as brings forth good works, or to percei ve the essential agreement of James and Paul. Thomas Arnold, with his exaggerated love for historical accuracy and definite outline, found the oriental imagery and sweeping visions of the book of Revelation so bizarre and distasteful that he doubted their divine authority.
(6) The testimony of church history and of general Christian experience to the profitableness and divinity of the disputed books is of greater weight than the personal impressions of the few who criticise them.
Instance the testimonies of the ages of persecution to the worth of the prophecies, which assure God's people that his cause shall surely triumph.
(c) Such testimony can be adduced in favor of the valiie of each one of the books -to which exception is taken, such as Esther, Job, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, James, Revelation.
Esther is the book, next to the Pentateuch, held In highest reverence by the Jews. Rutherford, McCheyne, and Spurgeon have taken more texts from the 8ong of Solomon than from any other portion of Scripture of like extent. Charles G. Finney, Autobiography, 378—" At this time it seemed as if my soul was wedded to Christ in a sense which I never had any thought or conception of before. The language of the Song of Solomon was as natural to me as my breath. I thought I could understand well the state he was in when he wrote that Song, and concluded then, as I have ever thought since, that that Song was written by him after he had been reclaimed from his great backsliding. I not only had all the fulness of my first love, but a vast accession to it. Indeed, the Lord lifted me up so much above anything that I had experienced before, and taught mo so much of the moaning of the Ilible, of Christ's relations and power and willingness, that I found myself saying to him: I bad not known or conceived that any such thing was true."
8. Portion* of the Scripture books written by others than the persons to whom they are ascribed.
The objection rests upon a misunderstanding of the nature and object of inspiration. It may be removed by considering that
(a) In the case of books made up from preexisting documents, inspiration simply preserved the compilers of them from selecting inadequate or false material. The fact of such compilation does not impugn their truthfulness and value.
Luke distinctly informs us that he secured the materials for his gospel from the reports of others who were eye-witnesses of the events he recorded (luke 1: 1-4). The book of Genesis bears marks of having Incorporated documents of earlier times. The account of creation which begins with G«a. 2 : 4 Is evidently written by a different hand from that which penned 1:1-31 and 2 :1-3. Instances of the same sort may be found in the books of Chronicles. In like manner, Marshall's Life of Washington incorporates document* by other writers. By thus incorporating them, Marshall vouches for their truth. See Bible Com., 1:2, 22.
(6) In the cose of additions to Scripture books by later writers, it is reasonable to suppose that the additions, as well as the originals, were made by inspiration, and no essential truth is sacrificed by allowing the whole to go under the name of the chief author. Mirk 16: 0-20 appears to have been added by a later hand (see English Revised Version). The Eng. Rev. Vers, also brackets or segregates a part of verse 3 and tho whole of versa 4 in loin 5 (the moving of the water by the angel), and the whole passage Jolin 7 : 53 — 8 : II (the woman taken In adultery). Westeott and Hort regard the latter passage as an Interpolation, probably " Western " In its origin (so also Mark 16 : 9-20). Others regard it as authentic, though not written by John.
Isaiah is again sawn asunder by the recent criticism. But bis prophecy opens (Is. 1:1) with the statement that it was composed during a period which covered the reigns of four Kings,—Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah,—nearly forty years. In so long a time the style of a writer greatly changes. Chapters 40-66 may have been written in Isaiah's later age, after he had retired from public life. Compare the change in the style of the apostle John, in Revelation and In the Gospel. The same principle may apply to the prophecy of Zecharlah. On Isaiah, see Smyth, Prophecy a Preparation for Christ; Bib. Sac, Apr., 1881: 230-253; also July, 1881. The closing chapter of Deuteronomy was apparently added after Moses' death—perhaps by Joshua. If criticism should prove portions of the Pentateuch to have been composed after Moses' time, the inspiration of the Pentateuch would not be invalidated, so long us Moses was its chief author (John 5: 46—" he wrote of me" ).
(c) It is unjust to deny to inspired Scripture the right exercised by all historians of introducing certain documents and sayings as simply historical, while their complete truthfulness is neither vouched for nor denied.
An instance in point is the letter of Claudius Lysias In Acts 23 : 26-30—a letter which represents his conduct in a more favorable light than the facts would justify—for he had not learned that Paul was a Roman when he rescued him in the temple (Acts21: 3133; 22:26-29).
9. Sceptical or fictitious Narratives.
(a) Descriptions of human experience may be embraced in Scripture, not as models for imitation, but as illustrations of the doubts, struggles, and needs of the soul. In these cases inspiration may vouch, not for the correctness of the views expressed by those who thus describe their mental history, but only for the correspondence of the description with actual fact, and for its usefulness as indirectly teaching important moral lessons.
The book of Ecclesiastes, for example, is a record of the mental struggles of a soul seeking satisfaction without God. If written by Solomon during the time of his religious declension, or near tho close of it. It would constitute a most valuable commentary upon tho inspired history. Yet it might be equally valuable, though composed by some later writer under divine direction and inspiration.
(6) Moral truth may be put by Scripture writers into parabolic or dramatic form, and the sayings of Satan and of perverse men may form parts of such a production. In such cases, inspiration may vouch, not for the historical truth, much less for the moral truth of each separate statement, but only for the correspondence of the whole with ideal fact; in other words, inspiration may guarantee that the story is true; to nature, and is valuable as conveying divine instruction.
It is not necessary to suppose that the poetical speeches of Job's friends were actually delivered in the words that have come down to us. Though Job never had had a historical existence, the book would still be of the utmost value, and would convey to us a vast amount of true teaching with regard to the dealings of God and the problem of evil. Fact is local; truth is uersal. Some novels contain more truth than can be found In some histories. Other books of Scripture, however, assure us that Job was an actual historical character (1*. 14 :14 ; James 5 :11). Nor is it necessary to suppose that our Lord, in telling the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) or that of the Unjust Steward <16:1-8), had in mind actual persons of whom each parable was an exact description.
(c) In none of these cases ought the difficulty of distinguishing man's words from God's words, or ideal truth from actual truth, to prevent our acceptance of the fact of inspiration; for in this very variety of the Bible, combined with the stimulus it gives to inquiry and the general plainness of its lessons, we have the very characteristics we should expect in a book whose authorship was divine. God's word is a stream in which " the lamb may wade and the elephant may swim."
10. Acknowledgment of the non-inspiration of Scripture teachers and their writings.
This charge rests mainly upon the misinterpretation of two particular passages:
(a) Acts 23 : 5 ( "I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest") may be explained either as the language of indignant irony: "I would not recognize such a man as high priest;" or, more naturally, as an actual confession of personal ignorance and fallibility, which does not affect the inspiration of any of Paul's final teachings or writings.
Of a more reprehensible sort was Peter's dissimulation at Antioch, or practical disavowal of his convictions by separating or withdrawing himself from the Gentile Christians (Gal. 2:11-13). Here was no public teaching, but the influence of private example. But neither in this case, nor in that mentioned above, did God suffer the error to be a final one. Through the agency of Paul the Holy Spirit set the matter right.
(6) 1 Cor. 7 : 12, 10 (" I, not the Lord " ; "not I, but the Lord " ). Here the contrast is not between the apostle inspired and the apostle uninspired, but between the apostle's words and an actual saying of our Lord, as in Matt. 5 : 32; 19: 3-10; Mark 10 : 11 ; Luke 16: 18 (Stanley on Corinthians). The expressions may be paraphrased :—" With regard to this matter no express command was given by Christ before his ascension. As one inspired by Christ, however, I give you my command."
Meyer on 1 Cor. 7 :10—" Paul distinguishes, therefore, here and in verses 12, 25, not between his own and ingpiral commands, but between those which proceeded from his own (God-inspired) subjectivity, and those which Christ himself supplied by his objective word." "Paul knew from the living voice of tradition what commands Christ had given concerning divorce." Or if it should be maintained that Paul here disclaims inspiration,—a supposition contradicted by the following lo<i>—" I think that I also have tie Spirit of God " (wree 40),—it only proves a single exception to his inspiration, and since it is expressly mentioned, and mentioned only once, it implies the inspiration of all the rest of his writings.