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inspiration is found ultimately to rest on the intuitions of reason. If, therefore, inspiration supersedes the use of reason, and refuses to recognize its judgments, what becomes of our faith in inspiration itself? How can we possibly know that we are ourselves inspired, any more than we can know the written word to be inspired, unless the faculties of knowledge within us may be relied upon?
To present the subject in another form: the doctrine of the inspiration of the Holy Ghost superseding human reason in discovering the authority and meaning of Scripture, claims to be itself a doctrine of revelation. How is that to be ascertained? By interpretation of Scripture, doubtless. But are we to assume, that we are inspired to explain the meaning of Scripture on the very question of our inspiration? If not, then this fundamental truth is to be deduced from Scripture by the application of our reason to the study of it, according to the principles of interpretation that belong to the languages of Scripture.
On the supposition that each individual Christian is to regard himself as privileged to expect the Holy Ghost, independently of all commentators, lexicons, and other critical aids, to open to him, without danger of mistake, the treasures of divine truth contained in the sacred writings, how is it possible that good men should come to such diverse and conflicting opinions in important matters of religious faith?
Besides, what Bible is a man to study? If the Spirit and the simple Word alone are to be our guides, it must doubtless be the truly inspired word; for a translation is a commentary, a human aid, an unauthoritative representation of the Original Record.
The question is, whether the Word of God is to be interpreted by the exercise of our own reason, with the ordinary aid of God's Spirit, or by special divine inspiration, refusing the aids of reason. And it is argued with earnestness by some divines that it is to be interpreted by special divine inspiration, because the fallen and erring mind of man cannot be safely trusted with this responsibility. Now it is either true that the human reason, with such divine assistance as we are encouraged to hope for in all our duties, may be so trusted, or that it may not. If it may, why then the question is settled ; if it may not, who convinces me of this? What intellectual guide, what conclusive reasoner, demands my assent to this humiliating truth? Is it not the very Reason, whose authority cannot be trusted, whose judgments are to be always suspected? It is clear enough, that an argument based upon the incapacity of man to argue, ought not to weigh much, at least, with those who urge it.
Are we, then, without a standard of religious truth? Certainly not : the Bible is a standard. Who is to decide what the Bible teaches? Every man to whom it comes, carefully using such helps as he can command; seeking, by continual prayer, the promised influences of God's Spirit to enlighten and direct him, and cheerfully according to every other man the same sacred privilege.
And what if w-e should not all agree? What if none, not even the keenest sighted and the best disposed, should succeed, with all pains, in coming to a full and perfect understanding of the marvellous Book of God? The most erring and the least successful of God's children may discover enough of His truth to save them; and the gifted and favored ones not be tempted to doubt, that if the earthly things of our religious faith so puzzle and confound them, there will be occupation for all their noblest powers, when the heavenly things are told us.
It is to be remembered, also, that truth, even divine truth, enriches those who attain it, not less in the acquisition than the possession: the mental and moral habits which its slow and toilsome pursuit engenders, are not the least valuable part of the divine treasure itself. Were it all of inspiration, it would hardly possess either the charm or the utility which our trials in its acquisition and our conscious sacrifices for its sake, impart to it. Reason, though a sublunary thing, is yet a divine endowment; and its dim conceptions in this earthly state, may be real glimpses of eternal truth, and one day constitute a part, however humble and inconsiderable, yet a part, of the light of Heaven. The ethereal glories, which over-canopy the earth and festoon the upper skies, are of such stuff as dew-drops and tears are made of.
ARTICLE VI. WISDOM AS A PERSON IN THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.
BT PROF. K. P. BARROWS, ANDOVER.
In several passages of the book of Proverbs, Wisdom is introduced in a personal form, solemnly calling upon the children of men to listen to her words, promising life to those who obey her voice, and threatening those who despise her with death. Not to mention other minor passages, we refer the reader to Chap. i. 20-33 and Chap. viii. 1-ix. 12; particularly the very remarkable description of Wisdom as the eldest child of God, and dwelling in His presence before the creation of the world, Chap. viii. 22-31. Notwithstanding Bertheau's objections,1 these two passages must be considered as proceeding from the same author; and the reader who would enter fully into the spirit of the writer, should study them both in connection with each other. Respecting the meaning of the word Wisdom in these passages, very different ideas have been entertained. To introduce the subject, we will take two opinions representing opposite extremes.
The first view, which is also the lowest, is that which takes the term here simply as a poetic personification of the lessons which are perpetually inculcated on man as well by the order of nature as by the course of divine Providence; as much as to say: The whole constitution of the world continually admonishes men to walk in the ways of virtue. We cannot deviate from the path of rectitude without being in various ways reminded of our folly. We have continual experience in our own case, of the evils of sin ; and continual opportunity to learn, from observing its effects in others, that it always leads to misery and ruin. We have but to open our eyes that we may see how gluttony, drunkenness, and debauchery
1 Die Spriiclic Snlomo's: Einleitunj;- Professor Stuart also follows his judgment. But Ewnld rightly decides that the first nine chapters constitute one whole.
bring in their train, disease, poverty, and shame, and howdrowsiness clothes a man with rags. If we will but attend to what is constantly going on before our eyes, we cannot fail to know that a companion of fools shall be destroyed; that hasty suretyship involves men in ruin; that pride is the forerunner of disgrace, and that riches are an uncertain and unsatisfying possession. And so in every department of morals and religion. "Common sense, universal experience, and the law of justice written on the heart, as well as the law of God, testify against rapine and wrong of every kind." 1 In this sense, Wisdom, by a beautiful personification, may be said to stand and cry continually at the corners of the streets, inviting men to come and learn of her the way to true happiness. To exalt still higher our idea of her dignity and priceless value, Wisdom proceeds to represent herself as the eldest child of God, as dwelling with Him from eternity, and as present with Him at the creation of the world.
In sharp contrast, with this view is the opposite extreme, which understands Wisdom throughout these passages, directly and simply, of our Lord Jesus Christ in His personal presence and ministry. "We are to understand, not the attribute of divine wisdom displayed in the works of creation, nor the light of nature in man, nor the law of Moses given to the Israelites, nor the revelation of the divine will in general, as it is delivered out in the sacred Scriptures, nor the Gospel and the ministry of it in particular, but our Lord Jesus Christ; for the things spoken of wisdom and ascribed to it in this book, especially in the eighth and ninth chapters, show that, a divine person is intended, and most properly belong to Christ, who may be called Wisdom in the plural number, as in the Hebrew text, because of the consummate and perfect wisdom that is in Him; as He is a divine person, He is the Logos, the Word and Wisdom of God; as Mediator, all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid in Him; and as man, the Spirit of Wisdom rests upon Him without measure. This, with what follows to the end of
1 Adam Clarke's Commentary on l'rov. 1: 20.
the chapter, is a prophecy of the ministry of Christ in the days of His flesh, and of the success of it, and of the calamities that should come upon the Jews for the rejection of it." i
In the above quotation from Dr. Gill, the reader is particularly requested to notice the various limitations. It is not "the revelation of the divine will in general, as it is delivered out in the sacred Scriptures, nor the Gospel and the ministry of it in particular." It is "a prophecy of the ministry of Christ in the days of His flesh." It is these limitations that constitute the main defect of the view. It has, as we shall endeavor to show further on, a true side, and is faulty not so much in what it affirms, as in what it denies, or at least omits. When we consider the remarkable agreement of this description of Wisdom, particularly as given in Chap. viii. 23—31, with that of the Logos, as given by John and Paul, we cannot wonder that the ancient interpreters were so unanimous in understanding it of the hypostatic Wisdom of God in Christ, "in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." 3 In finding Christ in these passages Dr. Gill is right; but in finding in them only "the personal ministry of Christ in the days of His flesh," he is manifestly wrong. It is plain beyond contradiction that the invitations and admonitions of heavenly Wisdom, speaking through Solomon, are addressed to the men of Solomon's day, as well as to those of following generations. Nay more, she is introduced as one that not only existed before the beginning of human history, but has always been calling men, since their creation upon the earth, from their folly and wickedness into the paths of virtue and blessedness. We do not obtain from these passages the idea that now, for the first time, Wisdom comes forth to address men, or that she will address them hereafter "in the last days;" but that now, as always, she lifts up her voice to them continually. But in "the personal ministry of our Lord in the days of His flesh," the generations that lived before Him could have no share. In these