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them, which serve as the indices or memorials of their reality even to the present hour. These monuments are such as to make the ocular lend a certain confirmation to the historical, or the evidence of the senses at this moment to coincide with the evidence of testimony given many generations before our day."1 The "geography" of Palestine and its vicinity is an "articulate testimony" to the correctness of the inspired narrative ;2 and idioms of " language," local customs, "coins," and specimens of ancient art still survive to aid in vindicating the veracity of the divine record.8 Dr. Chalmers continues this argument, in a highly interesting and lucid manner, joining to it the evidence from prophecies,4 which he has fitly styled "miracles of knowledge;" and he closes the argument with a full statement of the " moral and experimental" proofs,6 in which many of his early opinions are either omitted or presented in a different form.6 Throughout this defence he strengthens his position by regarding the Bible as a unity. "The records of the evangelical dispensation compose the entire Scriptures of the Old and New Testament."7 A mediator between God and man, viewed as about to come, or as present on the earth, or as having finished his work, is the informing fact of the Scriptures. That a collection of writings extending over a period of several thousand years, composed by men belonging to different nations, coming from shepherds and warriors and fishermen and kings, receiving contributions on one page out of the depths of savage life, and on another from the centres of intellectual culture, stooping in places to the level of the Hottentot, and elsewhere transcending the reach of the loftiest sage; that such a mass of writing should palpitate with the same heavenly life throughout its every part, is a fact which calls loudly for the doctrine that it was " given by inspiration of God."
VIII. Scripture Criticism.
Having proved that the Bible is a communication from God, Dr. Chalmers proceeds to the work of ascertaining its contents. There are two departments in this work : "Emendatory Criticism," which is concerned with "the integrity of the text," and " Interpretative Criticism," which attempts to fix "the meaning" of the text.1 Whatever may have been the attainments of Dr. Chalmers as a biblicist, he was deeply impressed with the importance of this general field of labor. He did not believe that any supernatural aid can be relied on as a substitute for biblical scholarship. "There is a confusion of sentiment, into which pious Christians are apt to fall, and that too in very proportion to their piety. They have been led to ascribe the illumination of every Christian mind to a special influence by the Spirit of God, and to look with comparative indifference, if not with suspicion, on all that lore which is connected with the illustration of the word of God."2 "It is by the letter of the Old and New Testaments that God enlightens man; and it is with this letter that man should hold studious and unremitting converse. He should do with the Bible what he would do with some antiquated seal, which he wanted to preserve in the very condition in which it was struck by the hand of him who fashioned it . Time may have effaced or shaded some of its lineaments. The corrosions of many ages may have somewhat obliterated, or even somewhat transformed the device and inscription. His labors to ascertain its primitive state are precisely analogous to the labors of him who brings his erudite criticism to bear on the readings and the renderings of Scripture. And it goes, not to depreciate the worth of Scripture criticism ; it mightily adds to its importance and its glory that the Spirit of God, acting with and by the Scripture, is the enlightener of men." * Dr. Chalmers had the wisdom to perceive that the systematic theologian should never be jealous
of the honest biblical critic. There was no just cause for the assault of Dr. John Owen upon Walton, the editor of the London Polyglot. "The amalgamation of the two properties, thus arrayed in hostile conflict, would have just made up a perfect theologian." 1 He is careful, however, to fix the limits of Scripture criticism. It cannot presume to take liberties with the inspired text; nor to sit in judgment on the work of the scientific divine. Its only office is, to bring out the actual contents of the volume of celestial truth; to theology belongs the work of framing the precious materials into a system. The remark of John Newton is hardly too strong, that Bible philologists are the Gibeonites of the Christian church, the hewers of wood and drawers of water to the children of Israel.5 "Scripture criticism must just be conducted on the same principles and by the same methods with the criticism of all other ancient authorship. It matters not whether it be a classical or a Christian, and even inspired composition. When you sit in judgment, be it on the integrity of the text, or on the sense of it, both should receive the like treatment at your hands." * The only method of sacred criticism "worthy of a man of erudition, [is] that which is called the grammatical." And "the doctrine of the Spirit, rightly understood, so far from superseding [such] criticism, gives an impulse to its labors."1 Dismissing the subject of emendatory criticism, Dr. Chalmers speaks of that which is "interpretative," as having "three distinct objects :" "First, to ascertain the meaning of single words and phrases, when the exercise might be called a philological one; second, to ascertain the meaning and scope of a passage, when he should say that we are now engaged in a contextual investigation; and third, to verify or ascertain the articles of the Christian faith, when it becomes what may be called a doctrinal inquiry."6 Philological interpretation has ceased to be of any very great value "for the purposes of discovery" though "it may be all in all for the purposes of defence" 8 Its researches are limited to the dira!; Xeyofj&va
1 Insts. Theol. Vol. I. p. 286. * Ibid. pp. 286—289. 8 Ibid. p. 290. * Ibid. pp. 291, 292. • Ibid. p. 299. • Ibid. pp. 309, 301. of Scripture. "When, for the elucidation of any text, philology needs to be put upon her extreme resources, that text is, in theology, what nugce difficiles are in science. It occupies the same place in the system of nature [Scripture?] that a lusus natures does in the system of the universe." 1 The difficulty of philological researches "stands in an inverse proportion" to their practical value. "A philological divine overrates exceedingly the importance of his instrument, when he thinks that by it he is to unlock such treasures as shall mightily enrich and enlarge the theology of our land; philology still remains to us an instrument of discovery in things that are minute, but is not an instrument of discovery in things that are momentous."2 Dr. Chalmers confessed, more than once, that he had but little "propensity to this department of study; and he often amused himself and friends over the arrogant pretensions of certain German philologists. He vastly preferred the " doctrinal" and " contextual" methods of interpretation. "What is most important in the [inspired] volume, is also, in general, most pervading; and thus there is least danger of missing the sense in those passages where the subject-matter is of most vital consequence. I will not say in our most corrupt, but in our most careless and illiterate, if only honest, versions, all the capita fidei, the main and leading articles of Christianity, are to be found."3 Dr. Chalmers would not dispense with recondite criticism altogether; yet he seems to have thought that the obvious meaning of Scripture is sufficient for the purposes of systematic theology. "We have fallen in with ploughmen and mechanics, in our own land, who of course knew nothing of the first vocables of inspiration, but who, on the substance of its doctrines or its lessons, far surpassed, in the depth and enlargement of their views, the most erudite Biblists in Germany, or even many of the most accomplished for the treatment of textual difficulties in our sister kingdom. The best critics are not always, I could almost say not generally, the soundest and ablest theologians. The best theologians, as President Edwards, are not always the most expert and
1 Insts. TheoL Vol. L p. 304. * Ibid. p. 309. • Ibid. p. 308. skilful and full of scholarship in the walk of philological criticism, or of that criticism which seeks for the meaning of recondite texts in the original languages of the Old and New Testaments."1 It will be seen that this statement is made with reference to such criticism as has subserved the purposes of neology. The candid author has excepted from his general proscription the critical works of such scholars as Stuart, Wetstein, and Griesbach.2 The results of biblical criticism during the present century show, that the divine authority of the Scriptures can be defended with weapons of the same nature as those with which it has been assailed. Nor do the present aspects of physical science, and of polemic divinity, indicate that the office of sacred philology is about to become a sinecure. It has not only much to do in way of defence, but also many important discoveries yet to make. The tendency of scientific research, and of systematic theology, already warrants the belief that nature and revelation are coincident throughout. In these two great books, which God has given us, we are gradually tracing, by means of different characters, the same vast aggregate of truth. Nor will the investigators of the sacred text have occasion to rest from their labors, until the fondest anticipation of the Christian philosopher shall have been fulfilled; till all the objects of human knowledge, whether natural or revealed, shall have been brought to light and woven together, in one absolute, grand, and harmonious system.8
1 Insts. Theol. Vol. II. pp. 17—21. 2 Ibid. Vol. I. p. 311. 8 No one can feel, after reading such a work as the " Six Days of Creation," by Prof. Lewis, that sacred philology is, of necessity, either a barren or an uninteresting study. He claims in that treatise to have studied the problem of the origin of the world "solely from the light of the Divine Word, determined that no geological considerations, on the one hand, and no irrational independence of science, on the other, should deflect his inquiries from their true cxcgctical o.rarse." And yet the conclusions which he reaches are such as to be, apparently at least, in harmony with the scientific conclusions of Prof. Guyot. Such instances of agreement, between cxcgctical and physical research, give cheering promise that the Christian philologist and the man of science, although working independently of each other, will, at no distant day, find themselves standing side by side upon a common basis.