« AnteriorContinuar »
There is no mistaking the import of language such as this. We have here promise upon promise that the servants of Christ, in giving utterance to his truth, should be directed by an influence from on high. They should have the Spirit to guide them into all truth, and bring all things accurately to their remembrance.
And now if it be said that the promises here quoted refer rather to the work of teaching than writing; we answer, first, that this is not true of them all. In some instances, inspired men were commissioned specifically to write. But where the promse does refer more directly to the work of teaching, we are not to regard it as confined to this. We may conclude, d fortiori, that it was intended to reach further. For if inspired men stood in need of Divine assistance in speaking the word to those around them, much more did they need it in committing this living word to writing, for the benefit of the church in all coming time. And that same good Being, who was so careful to meet their necessities in the former case, would not be likely to fail them in the latter.
5. The writers of both Testaments virtually claimed inspiration. They claimed to speak, not their own words, but the words of God. This did Moses and the prophets continually. They came to the people with a " Thus saith the Lord ;" and in many instances, through whole chapters, they profess to give the very words of the Most High; a thing which they could never do, unless these words were suggested to them, at the time.
David says of himself: " The Spirit of the Lord spake in me, and his toord was in my tongue." (2 Sam. 23, 2.) "The Spirit entered into me," says Ezekiel, "when he spake to me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me." (Chap. 2: 2.)
The writers of the New Testament customarily speak of their communications as the word of God, and thus virtually claim for themselves a Divine inspiration. "It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken unto you." "They spake the word of God with boldness." "I certify you," says Paul, "that the gospel which was preached of me, was not after man; for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." "Which things-we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth." "The things which I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord." The only question in regard to such passages is: Did the writers speak the truth? If they did, there can be no doubt, certainly, as to the fact of their inspiration.
6. The sacred writers not only claimed inspiration for themselves, but they assert it one of another, and of the Scriptures generally. The titles which they give to the sacred writings are enough of themselves to prove their inspiration. They are not only the Scriptures, the Writings., — which is itself a most significant title, — but they are "the Holy Scriptures," "the Scriptures of Truth," 11 the Oracles of God," etc.. This last is a peculiarly expressive title, — the Oracles of God. No one can be in doubt as to the design and use of the ancient oracles. Among the heathen, they were the places where the voice of God was heard; where his responses were sounded forth. Yet this most significant title is given by Paul to the entire canon of the Old Testament Scriptures. They are "the Oracles of God." (Romans 3: 2.)
Most of the Jewish prophets lived and wrote either during the captivity, or before it. Let us now consult those men who wrote after the captivity, and see how unequivocally they ascribe inspiration to those who preceded them. "We have forsaken," says Ezra, thy commandments, which thou hast commanded by thy servants the prophets." (Ez. 9: 10, 11.) "Yet many years," says Nehemiah, "didst thou forbear them, and testifiedst against them by thy Spirit in thy prophets." (Neh. 9: 30.) "They made their hearts," says Zechariah, "like an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his Spirit, by the former prophets." (Zech. 7: 12.) In passages such as these, to which many of like import might be added, the inspiration of the earlier prophets is most expressly asserted.
Our Saviour uniformly speaks of the Scriptures, — meaning, of course, the Old Testament Scriptures, — as the word of God, and inspired. Addressing the Sadducees, he says: "Have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob " ?" The Holy Ghost spake by the month of David," etc. "Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet," etc. "TJie word of God," says Christ, in John 10: 35, "cannot be broken." "Making the word of God of none effect by your traditions." (Mark 7: 12.)
Paul says, " All Scripture is given by inspiration of God" And again: "The prophecy came not in olden time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." "God, who, at sundry times and in divers manners, spake in lime past by the prophets, hath, in these latter days, spoken unto us by his Son." Nothing can be more decisive than this testiomy. If Language such as this does not prove the inspiration of the Bible, no language can. I only add,
7. The full inspiration of the Scriptures has been the doctrine of the church, in all periods of its history. Nolhing more need be said to show that the sacred vjriters, both before and after Christ, held this doctrine. We have seen that they had the promise of inspiration, that they claimed it, and that they assert it of the Scriptures in general, and of one another. But how was the doctrine held by learned Jews between the closing of the canon of the Old Testament, and the opening of the New? And how by the early Christian fathers? Looking into the apocryphal books of the Old Testament, we find the following prayer in Baruch: "O Lord our God as thou spakest to thy servant Moses, in the day that thou didst command him to write thy law." (Chap. 2: 28.) In Ecclesiasticus, the law of Moses is spoken of as " the covenant of the most high God," which "covenant is everlasting," its "light uncorrupt," and its "decrees eternal."
Philo entertained the most extravagant ideas of inspiration, representing the subject of it as unconscious, his spirit being controlled by the indwelling spirit of God. The prophet, for the time, is like "an instrument of music, moved invisibly by God's power. All his utterances proceed from the suggestions of another. The prophetic rapture having mastered his faculties, and the power of reflection having retired from the citadel of the soul, the Divine Spirit comes upon him, dwells in him, and moves the entire organism of his voice, prompting to the announcement of all that he foretells." (Lee on Inspiration, p. 65.)
The views of Josephus on the subject before us were very much like those of Philo. "With us," says he, addressing Apion, " there is no endless series of works, discordant and contradictory. Twenty-two books contain the annals of all time, and are justly believed to be Divine."1 "It is implanted in every Jew, from the hour of his birth, to esteem these as the ordinances of God, to stand fast by them, and in defence of them, if need be, to die."
With regard to the faith of the primitive Christians on this subject, we can have no better evidence than some of their early creeds. The creed of Irenseus commences thus: "The church, though it be dispersed over all the earth, has received from the apostles, the belief in one God the Father, and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, and in the Holy Ghost, who preached by-the prophets" etc. In the Nicene creed, as completed by the Council of Constantinople, we have the following: "We believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and Son is worshipped and glorified, and who spake by the prophets."
Clement of Rome, in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, (Chap. 45) says: "Give diligent heed to the Scriptures, the true sayings of the Holy Ghost."
1 The Jews, in the time of Josephus, had limited the number of their sacred books to twenty-two. lo correspond with the number of Hebrew letters. To effect this limitation, they had joined several of their hooks, as Judges and Kutli, Ezra and Xchcmiah, Jeremiah and the Lamentations, and all the minor prophets together.
Justin Martyr says: "Think not that the words which you hear the prophet speaking, in his own person, were uttered by himself. Being filled with the Spirit, they are from the Divine Word which moves him." (Apol. i. 330.)
"The sacred books," says Origen, " breathe the fulness of the Spirit. There is nothing, either in the law, in the gospels, or in the apostles, which did not descend from the fulness of the Divine Majesty." (Vol. 3, p. 282.)
"It is needless to ask," says Gregory the great, " who wrote the book of Job, since we may surely believe that the Holy Ghost was its author." (Vol. 1, p. 7.)
"What avails it," says Theodoret " to know whether all the Psalms were written by David; it being plain that all were composed under the influence of the Divine Spirit." (Vol. 1, p. 395.)
It is needless to quote further from the early Christian fathers. They were unanimous on the subject of inspiration, and took high ground in regard to it. They customarily speak of the Scriptures as " the law of God," " the word of God," "the voice of God," "the oracles of Heaven," "the oracles of the Holy Ghost," as " dictated by the Spirit of God," and " the doctrine of the Holy Ghost." Borrowing the figure from Philo, they not unfrequently compare the soul of the prophet, when under the Divine influence, to an instrument of music, into which the Holy Spirit breathes, on the strings of which he strikes. They even represent those as infidels "who do not believe that the Holy Ghost uttered the Divine Scriptures." (Euseb. V. 28.)
But this blessed doctrine of inspiration, so dear to the church in the earliest and purest times, is doubted of by many at the present day. A variety of objections have been urged against it, which, before we close, it will be necessary to consider.
Some of these objections have been in great measure anticipated by the explanations which have been, given. It has been objected, for instance, to the idea of a plenary inspiration, that there are great differences of style in different parts of the Bible, each individual seeming to write and