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They do not always quote with strict verbal accuracy, nor do they pretend to; but we see not how this can be urged against either their inspiration or their truth. How often do we quote, in the same way, from the Scriptures, and from other books, without any impeachment of veracity?
Nor do the writers of the New Testament always apply the language quoted from the Old, according to its original and literal acceptation. In some few instances, they adopt this language, as a phraseology familiar to them, in which to express and enforce their thoughts; just as a classical scholar now sometimes incorporates a passage from his favorite author, without stopping to inquire whether his application of it is precisely according to the original intent. It is to his purpose, — he adopts it, and passes on. To the writers of the New Testament, the Old Testament was almost their only classic. Its language was dear and familiar to them. They were literally men of one book. And from this loved book they, in some few instances, take a passage or a clause, because it is apposite, because it tends to illustrate the sense, without pretending to apply it just as it was applied by the original writer. And we see nothing in this which is at all inconsistent either with their good character or their inspiration. It is to be understood, of course, that the language thus quoted becomes, by its adoption, the language of inspiration, and carries with it a Divine authority.
The imprecations of David are sometimes urged as an objection to the doctrine of inspiration. But so far from being an objection, we see not how to account for these imprecations, in the connections in which they stand, and in consistency with the acknowledged good character of David, but by supposing him inspired. If he spoke of his own mind and heart, and mingled up his imprecations, as we sometimes find them, with the highest strains of devotional feeling; this certainly was very strange. It was unaccountable. But when we regard him as an inspired prophet of God, standing in the place of God, the visible head of the theocracy under God, and denouncing, by Divine inspiration, the judgments of God against the enemies of his . church and people; the case assumes a very different aspect. The mystery of it is in great measure removed.
It is said, finally, that Paul, in some places, expressly disclaims a Divine inspiration. "To the rest speak I, not the Lord, If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away." "Concerning virgins, 1 have no commandment of the Lord, yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy." (1 Cor. 7: 12, 25.) In these passages, the apostle disclaims, as it seems to me, not Divine inspiration, but his having any express Divine command to be enforced. He was not directed to lay injunctions upon the Corinthians in respect to these matters, as from God, but was inspired to give his judgment, his advice. "Herein I give my advice" etc. He also tells us that he thinks he has the Spirit. (1 Cor. 7 : 40.) And if Paul thought that he had the Spirit, who shall say or think that he had it not?
There is another passage which is sometimes quoted to disprove the inspiration of Paul. "That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting." (2 Cor. 11: 17.) The apostle here speaks, not after the Lord; i. e., not after the example of the Lord, not after the usual manner of the Lord, without intending to disclaim a Divine inspiration. He may have been plenarily inspired, and yet not speak after the usual manner of the Lord.
The full inspiration of the holy Scriptures, as explained, proved, and vindicated in the foregoing pages, is a doctrine of great practical importance. It is so at all times, but especially at this time, when such insidious and persevering efforts are made to wrest it from us. If the Bible is not inspired in the sense explained, if it is not all inspired, then it is not an infallible standard of truth and duty, and nothing can be certainly known or established by it. We may think it a good book, a remarkable book, the work of good and honest men; and yet, if not inspired, it is marked with imperfections, of which its readers must judge for themselves. We may believe that it contains revelations from God; but if it is not an inspired book, if it is not all inspired; then who shall tell us what particular parts are inspired, and what not; how much to receive as the word of God, and how much to impute to the ignorance or the device of man? One passage may seem unreasonable to me, and I may reject it as constituting no part of the revelation. For the same reason, my neighbor may reject another passage. In this way, the whole Bible may be rejected, while it is professedly received. Because William Whiston could not believe some of the doctrines of Paul, he rejected the inspiration of those parts of the Epistle to the Romans in which these doctrines are inculcated. "They seem to have been no part of Christ's revelation to him, but rather certain strange and weak reasonings of his own, accommodated to the weak Roman Jews of that period." Most of the old English Infidels professed to respect the Bible, and to receive certain portions of it as from God; while they adopted principles, and acted on them, wmeh went to destroy it.
If the Bible is not inspired, even as to its language, then it does not come to us duly authenticated as the word and the law of God. In all authoritative communications, or laws, it is important that we have the precise words of the lawgiver. So it is with human laws. The judge on the bench must have the precise words of the law, or he cannot interpret them. The peopLe, too, must have the law correctly before them, or they cannot tell what it requires. Suppose one of our legislatures should frame a code of laws, but, instead of writing them themselves, or causing them to be written under their own inspection, should leave it to the reporters in different parts of the house, to take down the substance, so much of them as they could recollect, and publish them in the newspapers. These reporters might be honest and capable men; and yet who would regard their notes as laws? Who could determine whether they had been correctly reported; whether they expressed the real sense of the legislature, or not?
In matters such as these, we want, I repeat, the matured words of the lawgiver. And just so in respect to the Bible. The Bible professes to be a code of laws, coming down to us from the great Lawgiver of the universe, and binding directly on our consciences and hearts. But in order that it may be duly authenticated; may be a rule of life to us here, and of judgment hereafter, we must have the very words of God. A merely human record of his truth and will cannot bind us. We must have a Bible, the whole of which is given by the inspiration of God, or we have no standard to which we may implicitly appeal, or on which to rely.
BY REV. I. E. DWISEL1, SALEM, MASS.
There is much confusion in the public mind on the subject of Baptism.
Some, as Neander, regard it as a "sign of the participation in a sanctifying, divine spirit of life;"1 others, like Kurtz, as a sacrament coexisting with the renewing activity of the Holy Spirit, and hence essential to salvation.2 Others, like Olshausen and the Lutherans generally, consider that it "removes . . . the guilt of original sin, but not its dominion, which is first overthrown in regeneration."-* By others, as the Catholics and High Church-Men, the scholastic doctrine of baptismal regeneration is perpetuated. A more common statement, among moderate Evangelical Christians, is, that baptism is a symbol of purification; or a seal either of a devotement to God, or of a covenant with him.
'Church History, I. 30-i. * Sec Manual of Sacred History, 188, 189. 8 Commentary on Acts 16: 14, 15, n.
Moreover, the same individuals are not always consistent with themselves in their statements of its use, or object. Persons who have, in their own minds, fully settled the questions connected with the mode and subjects, are sometimes at a loss to know what Baptism itself means, and for what it is designed. Their thoughts float vaguely between a rite of initiation, a seal of consecration, a sign of spiritual cleansing, and a token of the covenant. One is surprised to find in Neander statements looking in directions so different as the following. In his Life of Christ,1 speaking of the practice of this rite by the Apostles, he calls it " the Messianic symbol of inauguration . . in order to separate from the rest such as admitted the Divine calling of Jesus, and attached themselves to him;" and, in his Planting and Training,2 he says: "In baptism, entrance into communion with Christ appears to have been the essential point." Still more divergent are these statements of Olshausen: "BaTTTt^eiv ek tiva signifies," he remarks, "baptism as devolving a thorough obligation; a rite whereby one is pledged;"3 and again, speaking of infant baptism, " We view it as the communication of the higher life of Christ, and consequently as involving the abolition of the dominion of original sin."*
Indeed it would seem, that, in discussions on this subject, attention has been more turned to the import of /3a77Ti£co and its derivations,and to historical investigations of the early usage of the church, than to the study of the Nature and Import of the Rite itself. Investigators have left the thing, and lost themselves in its adjuncts. Now, if the precise act covered by the word jSairri^ai, and its symbolic import, at the time of the adoption of the term by Christ, could be made out to the satisfaction of all, it is possible that this might not give a clue to the meaning of the rite; for Christian baptism is not a simple service, or transaction, but a compound one, having more than the single element covered by that word. There are also the modifying elements,
1 < 83. For the same idea see " Planting and Training." p. 27.
2 Page 101. 3 Com. Matt. 2S IS). * Com. Acts 16: 14, 15, n.