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these revelations? This record was made by men, and is in the style and language of men; but is it merely human, and like everything else human, liable to mistake and imperfection? Or were its original writers so guided, guarded, superintended, assisted, that (without any restraint upon the natural exercise of their own powers) they were enabled to give us an infallible record,— an unerring standard of duty and of truth? Those who believe in the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures, hold the affirmative of this question, and those who deny it, the negative; and thus is the issue brought fully and fairly before us.
Before proceeding, however, to the matter of proof, there is one thing further to be premised. Those who hold to the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures, do not claim that the same kind and degree of assistance was, in all cases, afforded to the sacred writers; and for the very good reason, that the same was not, in all cases, needed. When recording direct revelations from God, — things about which they had no other means of knowledge; or when recording, as they often did, the very words of the Lord, uttered by him in his own proper person; they must have had what has been called the inspiration of sag-gentian. The very words to be recorded must have been suggested to them. And when recording things which they had once known, but had been forgotten, they needed (what the Saviour promised his disciples) the aids of the Spirit to bring all things to their remembrance. But when recording events of which they were fully informed, either from personal observation or the information of others, they needed only such a supervision as should prevent all defect and mistake, and lead them to record, and in the right manner, that, and that only, which was agreeable to the Divine will. In every case, they had such assistance as they needed in order to execute their commission, and give to the world a divinely accredited record of the sacred word, — an infallible standard of duty and of truth.
We come now to the question of proof. What evidence have we that the holy Scriptures are, in the sense explained, inspired?
1. As I have intimated already, the supposition of inspiration is, a priori, reasonable. If God were to be at the expense of making a revelation, he would not be likely to leave it to human imperfection and weakness, infirmity and error, to make a record of it. We might reasonably anticipate, that he would so inspire and assist his servants, that they should both utter and record his words, in the way most agreeable to his will. This certainly is a reasonable supposition; and it prepares us to look with favor on such evidence as may be presented to show that the supposition is true. Then,
2. There is something in the very manner of the sacred writers, which indicates a wisdom higher than their own. The style of our sacred books, I have said, is huuian. It shows that it is the style of men, — of men, too, in the exercise of their own faculties, each evincing his peculiarities of education and thought. And yet there is often a something, almost indescribable, in the style and manner of the sacred writers, which shows that it is not altogether of men; that it carries with it the wisdom and the power of God. Witness the ease and the certainty with which these writers often announce their decisions on the deepest and most difficult subjects, — those farthest removed from the ordinary course of investigation and thought. There is no doubt, no hesitation, no apparent labor of the understanding, but all is easy, and positive, and certain, evincing that that the decisions are from a mind which cannot err. Witness also the unfailing suggestiveness, the inexhaustible fulness of the sacred writings. When read for the thousauikh time, there is no wearing out, or palling upon the sense, but always a welling up of something new, showing a depth of meaning, like their author, unsearchable.
There is a peculiarity of manner in the sacred writers, when speaking of the faults one of another, or when describing the inhuman wicked actions of men. In either case) there is no exaggeration and no concealment, but a simple, unimpassioned annunciation of the truth. Take the case of Peter's denial of his Master. As Mr. Lee says, " we find in
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the gospels no stern denunciation of the act, and no indignant allusion to its cowardice and ingratitude; but lightly as the glance of his Master's eye fell upon the smitten countenance of the wayward Apostle, so the pen of the sacred writer just describes the occurrence and passes on." So also in recording the sufferings and death of Christ. "There is no strong' expression of human sympathy accompanying the story of the agony in the garden, the awful scene before Pilate, or the horrors of the cross. No burst of emotion attends their Master's body to the tomb, or welcomes his resurrection; and yet who has not felt that this treatment of their theme but adds to its pathos and its grandeur?"
The divinity of the style and manner of the sacred writings .can be best appreciated, perhaps, by comparison. Let the intelligent and candid reader but step off from the sacred page of either Testament, and begin to traverse other writings of nearly the same period, — for instance, the apocryphal writings, or the works of Philo, Josephus, or even of the Christian Fathers; and he will know what we mean) when we speak of an indescribable something in the style and manner of the sacred penmen, which indicates a wisdom that is from above.
3. From the very nature of the case, a very considerable portion of the Bible must be inspired; else it is palpable imposture. In no small part of the Old Testament, we have God himself speaking in the first person. We have what purports to be his own words. And if the Bible is true, these are his own words; and the sacred writers must have been verbally inspired in recording them. So in the gospels, we have, through whole chapters, what purports to be the very words of Christ.* Now the writers of the gospels may have been perfectly honest, but their memories were treacherous; and how could they be sure, after the lapse of years, that they were giving the real words of Christ, unless they were guided and assisted from above? Hence the value of that promise which was given to the disciples: "The Comforter, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring1 all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have spoken unto you."
There are still other portions of the Bible which (if they are true) must, from the very nature of the case, be inspired. We refer to those parts in which the writer records transactions which took place long ages before he was born. For example, how did Moses know what God said to Adam, and Cain, and Noah, and Abraham, and the other patriarchs, and what these men said in reply, unless he were under a Divine inspiration? He might have received some general account of things by tradition; but he does not profess to record doubtful traditions, but the very words which were spoken one way and the other. But in order to do this, he must have had a plenary, verbal inspiration.
4. The sacred writers were commissioned of God to give utterance to his truth, and they had a promise, expressed or implied, of all needed assistance in their work. This was true of Moses. "Now, therefore, go, and / will be with thy mouth, and I will teach thee what thou shalt say." (Ex. 4: 12.) Here we have both the commission and the promise, — an express promise of plenary inspiration. The same also was true of the other prophets. They were all sent, commissioned of God, and had a promise, expressed or implied, that he would be with them. "Thou, therefore," says God to Jeremiah, "gird up thy loins, and arise and speak unto them all that I command thee. Be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them. And they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee, for / am with tliee, saith the Lord." (Jer. 1: 17,19.) In similar language, God commissioned Ezekiel. "Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation, that hath rebelled against me. I do send thee unto them, and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God. Be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions. Thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear." (Ezek. 2: 3—7.)
Jeremiah had an express commission from God, twice repeated, not only to speak his words of warning and rebuke, but to write them in a book. "Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spoke unto thee even unto this day." Jeremiah did as he was commanded; and when the King of Judah had madly destroyed the record, the prophet was commissioned to write it again. "Take thee another roll, and write in it all the words that were in the first roll which the King of Judah hath burnt." (Jer. 36: 2, 28.)
The Apostle John was commissioned to write the Apocalypse; and his commission was repeated, in respect to different parts of the book, no less than twelve times. The two last instances in which the commission was repeated are particularly instructive in regard to the point before us.
"Write: blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said unto me, These are the true sayings of God." "And he that sat upon the throne said, Write: for these words are true and faithful" (Chap. 19: 9; 21: 5.) Who shall doubt, after declarations such as these, that John wrote the Revelation at the command, and under the inspiration, of God?
That the Apostles acted under a commission from Christ, in going forth to publish his truth, no one can entertain a doubt. As much as this was implied in the very name that was given to them — Apostles, Missionaries, men sent forth to a specific work. And that they had assurances of all needed support and assistance, amounting to a plenary inspiration, is certain. "Lo, / am with you always, even unto the end of the world." "/ will give you a mouth and wisdom, which no adversary can gainsay or resist." "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." "When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all truth. He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you." "When they shall deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you, in that same hour, what ve shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of our Father which speaketh in you."