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shadowed, and could not have sprung simply from the prophets' own consciousness, as they peered into the future from their Pisgahs of time. In fact, recent Christian thought has, through its application of the historic method, come to recognise, with Riehm, that the ruling plan of the spirit of revelation and the propædeutic influences of these Old Testament times are rightly understood only as we begin with the actual significance of individual prophecies for the times to which they were given, and proceed thence to their unified development in Christ. In its discontinuance of the older, more technical use of prophecy, Christian theology has reaped scientific gain, for it has found surer grasp of the central fact in the predictive whole, even the progress and consummation of the kingdom of God, in the New Testament revelation of which the spirit of prophecy, still active, is seen to reach its culmination.
Another real gain to modern Christian theology has been the well-known distinction and separation of the idea of revelation from that of Inspiration, as has also been the growing perception of inspiration as the presupposition of modern Biblical criticism, which, in the exercise of its microscopic methods of research, is but a determining inquiry into the conditions and literary manifestations of inspiration, not a solvent whereby the spiritual contents of the Scriptures are rendered less the sole adequate rule of life for man. Inspiration has thus in modern Christian thought been conceived in those wider conceptions of the doctrine which make it compatible with the actual phenomena of the Scriptures, as these have been presented in the legitimate and duly accredited results of criticism, and which leave to them divine inspiration, whensoever it may have been needed, as that whose function was concerned less with the outward form than with that spiritual truth and content which, in its uplifting power, man was of himself unable to discover. The old verbal or mechanical theory of inspiration was undermined by the influences that proceeded from Lessing and Kant and their humanistic and philosophical successors, while much that was positive has been done in paving the way for the intensive mode of conception, known as the dynamic theory, by Schleiermacher, Morell, Maurice, Coleridge, and others. The old à priori theory, with the mechanical sense it imparted to Scriptural inspiration, has had the castiron fetters it imposed on Christian thought removed by rigorous application of the Inductive Method, which has taken the facts as they are, and reasoned backwards to frame a theory of inspiration therefrom, instead of imposing on faith a particular theory with its foregone conclusion for which no adequate grounds were presented. At the outset a primâ facie case for the inspiration of the Scriptures is all that can be presented, not a given theory for acceptance, though even this primâ facie evidence constitutes a claim to spiritual reverence of the strongest kind.
Modern Christian thought has left behind the efforts of the deductive spirit, the dogmatic temper, to set the Scriptures on a basis of authority by an overshadowing and invariable theory of inspiration such as modern Biblical criticism, by its recognition of natural elements and human agencies, has shown to be impossible, and modern science, by its geological opposition to the old conceptions of creation, has proved inadmissible, and theology has assumed an inspirational theory stronger because more flexible and more vital in its methods. It has proved an unspeakable gain to modern Christian theology that, as the old verbal conception “has broken like pack-thread before the rising gales of scientific discovery and historical research,” the dynamic theory has steadily grown in the strength of its presentation and in the area of its acceptance.
The expositions of the theory given by such modern theologians as Neander, Stier, Tholuck, Lange, Oosterzee, Dorner, Alford, Farrar, Plumptre, &c., are ample warrant for the statement just made. The human element in the confluence or concursus of God and man in the inspirational process, ignored when not denied by the Biblical Docetism that so long prevailed, has become more truly recognised, thanks to Schleiermacher and Schweizer, than was possible under the à priori theory, yet not so as to leave us with a theory of inspiration that should prove the analogue of the deistic rather than the immanent theory of God's relation to the universe. There has been achieved at the same time a progress in the correct apprehension of the divine element in Biblical inspiration, for, with intensified reality as the source and spring of the
heavenly impulse, the divine element now shines out behind the human, as this latter is illustrated, though without detriment to the fitness of Scripture as the instrument of our instruction in the truth of God, amongst other ways in defects of language and of style, and in imperfections of knowledge, or inaccuracy of statement with respect to matters, we may say of historic, as of scientific, fact.
In so viewing inspiration in respect of the subtle inter-relation of its divine and human elements, modern Christian theology claims to be more accordant with truth, and more correspondent with reality, than was the old rigid theory of an absolute inerrancy in the Scriptures, with the mischievous consequences that followed therefrom, and its newer view has had the meritorious effect of casting thought back more completely on its own spiritual insight and on their spiritual significance. Theology has come to see that intrinsic truth carries its own authority, that what we need is the spiritual apprehension whereby we recognise it as truth and yield ourselves to its authoritative sway, but without resting in external authority when we should be pressing on