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them, that God has been pleased to shew so remarkable a providence in their preservation (b)."
But the most decisive proof of the Authenticity and Inspiration of the antient Scriptures is derived from the New Testament. The Saviour of the World himself, even he who came expressly "from the Father of Truth to bear witness to the truth," in the last instructions which he gave to his apostles just before his ascension, said, "These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me (c)." Our Lord, by thus adopting the common division of the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, which comprehended all the Hebrew Scriptures, ratified the canon of the Old Testament as it was received by the Jews; and by declaring that those books contained prophecies which must be fulfilled, he established their 'divine Inspiration, since God alone can enable men to foretel future events. At another time Christ told the Jews, that they made "the word of God of none effect through their traditions (d)." By thus calling the written rules
(b) Reas. & Cert. of the Christian Religion.
(c) Luke, c. 24. V. 44.
(d) Mark, c. 7. v. 13.
which the Jews had received for the conduct of their lives, "the Word of God," he declared that the Hebrew Scriptures proceeded from God himself. Upon many other occasions Christ referred to the antient Scriptures as books of divine authority; and both he and his apostles constantly endeavoured to prove that "Jesus was the Messiah" foretold in the writings of the Prophets. St. Paul bears strong testimony to the divine authority of the Jewish Scriptures, when he says to Timothy, "From a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise. unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus (e)" this passage incontestably proves the importance of the antient Scriptures, and the connection between the Mosaic and Christian dispensations;--and in the next verse the apostle expressly declares the Inspiration of Scripture; "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God." To the same effect St. Luke says, that "God spake by the mouth of his holy prophets (ƒ).” And St. Peter tells us, that "prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (g)." In addition to these passages, which refer to the antient Scriptures collectively, (ƒ) Luke, c. I. v. 70.
(e) 2 Tim. c. 3. v. 15. (g) 2 Pet. c. 1. v. 21.
we may observe, that there is scarcely a book in the Old Testament, which is not repeatedly quoted in the New, as of divine authority.
When it is said that Scripture is divinely in spired, it is not to be understood that God suggested every word, or dictated every expression. It appears from the different styles in which the books are written, and from the different manner in which the same events are related and predicted by different authors, that the sacred penmen were permitted to write as their several tempers, understandings, and habits of life, directed; and that the knowledge communicated to them by Inspiration upon the subject of their writings, was applied in the same manner as any knowledge acquired by ordinary means. Nor is it to be supposed that they were even thus inspired in every fact which they related, or in every precept, which they delivered. They were left to the common use of their faculties, and did not upon every occasion stand in need of supernatural communication; but whenever, and as far as, divine assistance was necessary, it was always afforded. In different parts of Scripture we perceive that there were different sorts and degrees of Inspiration: God enabled Moses to give an account of the creation of the world; he enabled Joshua to record with exactness the settle
ment of the Israelites in the land of Canaan; he enabled David to mingle prophetic information with the varied effusions of gratitude, contrition, and piety; he enabled Solomon to deliver wise instructions for the regulation of human life; he enabled Isaiah to deliver predictions concerning the future Saviour of mankind, and Ezra to collect the sacred Scriptures into one authentic volume; " but all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will (h)." In some cases Inspiration only produced correctness and accuracy in relating past occurrences, or in reciting the words of others; in other cases it communicated ideas not only new and unknown before, but infinitely beyond the reach of unassisted human intellect; and sometimes inspired prophets delivered predictions for the use of future ages, which they did not themselves comprehend, and which cannot be fully understood till they are accomplished. But whatever distinctions we may make with respect to the sorts, degrees, or modes of Inspiration, we may rest assured that there is one property which belongs to every inspired writing, namely, that it is free from error- -I mean material error;-and this property must be considered as extending to the whole of each of those (h) 1 Cor. c. 12. V. II.
writings, of which a part only is inspired; for we cannot suppose that God would suffer any such, errors, as might tend to mislead our faith or pervert our practice, to be mixed with those truths, which he himself has mercifully revealed fo his rational creatures as the means of their eternal salvation. In this restricted sense it may be asserted, that the sacred writers always wrote under the influence, or guidance, or care of the Holy Spirit, which sufficiently establishes the truth and divine authority of all Scripture.
These observations relative to the nature of Inspiration are particularly applicable to the historical books of the Old Testament. That the authors of these books were occasionally inspired is certain, since they frequently display an acquaintance with the councils and designs of God, and often reveal his future dispensations in the clearest predictions. But though it is evident that the sacred historians sometimes wrote under the immediate operation of the Holy Spirit, it does not follow that they derived from Revelation the knowledge of those things, which might be collected from the common sources of human intelligence. It is sufficient to believe, that by the general superintendence of the Holy Spirit, they were directed in the choice of their materials, enlightened to judge of the truth and importance