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1. The term THEOLOGY, which strictly imports, thought and labour that may be expended upon “A discourse or treatise concerning God,” em- its study and interpretation. But all else dwindles braces, according to its enlarged and ordinary ac- into insignificance and comparative worthlessness, ceptation, every thing pertaining to the principles, when the divinity of its origin, and the nature institutions, and practices of religion. Theology and object of its revelations, are taken into the acis therefore a branch of biblical science of pre-count. It is to the thorough understanding of these, eminent importance; it is that, in fact, which gives therefore, that every thing should be made subto criticism and interpretation all their value, in-servient. This should be the object and aim of asmuch as they are directed solely and exclusively all our studies—the prompting motive to all our to ascertain the precise character, import, obliga- inquiries. tions
, and purposes of this, as it is revealed and 2. It would not comport with our design to illustrated in the sacred writings. The Bible, as a enlarge upon topics which fall more properly within mere literary work-comprising history, philosophy, the province of the theologian or divine; but a jurisprudence, morals, poetry, and prophecy-is
, work purporting to be introductory to the study of indeed, a volume of incomparable value to the the Scriptures, would be manifestly defective did philosopher, and of inexhaustible interest to the it not at least indicate the primary features and inquisitive mind. It comprises “ all the treasures progressive character of the divine revelationof wisdom and knowledge;" the simple eloquence point out the evidences which attest its genuineof its narratives, the sublime imagery of its poetry, ness and authenticity—trace the errors and corthe grandeur of its descriptive painting, the pro- ruptions that have been grafted upon it, so far as fundities of its social and political economy, and they are indicated in Scripture—and describe the the persuasive power of its moral lessons, with principal rites and ceremonies which it has preinany other high qualities that are familiar to every scribed and enjoined. These topics will furnish attentive reader, combine to render it a book the subjects of inquiry and exposition in the folwhich will repay, a thousand-fold, any amount of | lowing chapters.
OF THE MEDIA OF DIVINE REVELATION.
Divine Revelation originally communicated to Individuals, | purpose, and furnished with the necessary creden('essation of Personal Revelations—The Bible the only Me tials to attest the divine character of their mission, dium of Revelation-Inspiration of the Scriptures-Various Theories of Inspiration–The Author's Theory of Inspira- and to command the attention and obedience of tim in relation to the Scriptures— Discrepancies in the Gos- those to whom they addressed themselves. A sucpels are proofs against their plenary Inspiration, but attes- cession of divine teachers, from Adam to Christ, tations of their Genuineness and General Authenticity was raised up by the Almighty, and under his Character and Claims of the Bible.
inspiration taught mankind those doctrines, perI. TIME was when the revelations of God were taining both to life and godliness, which their unconimunicated to mankind through the medium of aided reason could never have discovered. certain individual persons, chosen for this speciall who at sundry times and in divers manners spake
in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath | original communication might be greatly comproin these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom mised or wholly invalidated by the subsequent he hath appointed heir of all things, and by whom narrator, if he were not protected against error also he made the world,” Heb. i. l. “There was by a divine interposition. a time when each revelation of the word of God 1. And what is thus seen to be necessary in had an introduction into this earth, which neither theory, is accorded in fact, to the Sacred Scrippermitted men to doubt whence it came, nor tures. The memorable words of Paul and Peter wherefore it was sent. If, at the giving of each are most explicit. The OOTVEUSOS of the former several truth, a star was not lighted up in heaven, asserts unequivocally the important fact; and the as at the birth of the Prince of Truth, there was imo Ilveolatos árysou @egojavor of the latter predone upon the earth a wonder, to make her chil-sents the Sacred Agent direct as breathing, and dren listen to the message of their Maker. The bearing” the writers beyond the possibility of Almighty made bare his arm, and, through mighty error: "All Scripture given by inspiration of God" acts shown by his holy servants, gave demonstra- |(80TVEUSOS), 2 Tim. iii. 26. “Knowing this first, tion to his truth, and found for it a sure place that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private among the other matters of human knowledge interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old and belief. But now the miracles of God have time by the will of man, but holy men of God ceased, and Nature, secure and unmolested, is no spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" longer called on for testimonies to her Creator's (imo TIvevdatos dynou pegojuevoi), 2 Pet. i. 20, 21. voice. No burning bush draws the footsteps to With such language, of so determinate a meanhis presence chamber; no invisible voice holds the ing, the solemn declaration of John, Rev. xxii. ear awake; no hand cometh forth from the obscure 18, 19, need scarcely be appealed to. to write his
purpose in letters of flame. The vision 2. We confess, however, that we are far from is shut up, and the testimony is sealed, and the being satisfied with the current doctrines of inspiword of the Lord is ended ; and this solitary ration as claimed on behalf of the Scriptures. It volume, with its chapters and verses, is the sum is vague, unsatisfactory, incapable of proof, and total of all for which the chariot of heaven made leaves insuperable objections against some passo many visits to the earth, and the Son of God sages in the historical parts of the New Testament himself tabernacled and dwelt among us. The Scriptures. truth which it contains once dwelt undivulged in 3. The term inspiration, in its application to the bosom of God; and, on coming forth to take the sacred writings, was formerly employed to its place among things revealed, the heavens, and denote the divine communication of knowledge to the earth, and nature through all her chambers, the human mind, extending not only to the docgave it reverend welcome. Beyond what it re- trines and facts which the writers had to detail, veals, the mysteries of the future are unknown. but also to the identical words in which those To gain it acceptation and currency, the noble doctrines and facts were to be communicated. army of martyrs testified unto the death. The This doctrine of organic or literal inspiration, general assembly of the first-born in heaven made however, is now very generally abandoned for a it the day-star of their hopes, and the pavilion of modified and more flexible theory. Instead of their peace.
every sentence is charmed with maintaining a uniform, unremitting, indiscrimithe power of God, and is powerful to the ever- nate operation of the Holy Spirit upon the minds lasting salvation of souls.”*
of the sacred penmen, the divine agency is now II. It is obvious that to claim so much as this generally represented as accommodating itself to on behalf of the Scriptures, is to claim for them a circumstances, and assuming, as occasion required, degree of inspiration of which no other writings the several forms of superintendence, suggestion, partake. For it is not to be overlooked, that the and revelation. This theory, though scarcely acbiblical writers are not always those who were curate, as its definition falls short of the ideas numbered amongst the prophets, apostles, or evan- intended by the persons adopting it, is sufficiently gelists; and that even where this is the case, the so for our present purpose. That there are many writers often describe events which they did not things in the historical parts of the Old and New themselves witness, record discourses and pro- Testaments, of which the writers must have obpound doctrines which they did not themselves tained a knowledge by the ordinary modes of originally deliver or bring to light. It is evident, communication, is too obvious to need a single therefore, that the validity and authority of the remark; and that, as men possessed of memory
and judgment, they were able, without super
natural influence, to relate them to others, and to * Irving's Orations for the Oracles of God. accompany them with occasional remarks, must
be equally evident. Matthew could relate, with that is, any material error. This property must out divine aid, that Christ called him from the be considered as extending to the whole of each receipt of custom, to become his disciple, and that of those writings of which a part only is inspired; upon this occasion he made his Master a feast in for it is not to be supposed that God would suffer his own house; and John, without supernatural any such errors as would tend to mislead our faith assistance, could give an account of the mira- or pervert our practice. In this restricted sense culous conversion of water into wine, at the mar- it may be asserted, that the sacred writers always riage in Cana. But notwithstanding that this is wrote under the influence, or guidance, or care of conceded by the claimants of plenary inspiration, the Holy Spirit, which sufficiently establishes the it is argued, that even in these cases there was an truth and divine authority of all Scripture." inspiration of superintendence, to preserve from 6. Such are the theories of inspiration that are error; and of suggestion, to record particular now generally maintained. The one class extends events, and note particular observations.
some kind of active divine interposition to every 4. The term revelation is used with reference part of Scripture; but the others, though in words to those communications of knowledge on sub- they do so, in fact confine it to a part of the text. jects relative to God and divine things, which are of the two kinds, we think the theory supported placed beyond the sphere of human attainments. by Mr. Horne to be the most exceptionable, inasHad man possessed the abilities of an angel, he much as it leaves us ignorant of the limits of the could never have explored the thoughts and pur- inspiration argued for. Those who maintain this poses of the Divine Being; and therefore, where theory, do not pretend to possess any peculiar these are brought within the cognizance of the hu- information respecting the situation of the sacred man mind, it must be by a revelation from above. writers, or of the opportunities and means of Dr. Doddridge and others have noticed a degree knowledge they possessed, so as to be able to of inspiration, which they term elevation, and ascertain where their ordinary sources of knowconfine to such parts of Scripture as are lofty ledge failed them, and where the need of a divine and sublime. But as this notion is generally interposition arose ; still less do they profess to exploded, further reference may be deemed unne- recognize, by any marks, the operation of the cessary. The celebrated Michaëlis struck out a Spirit, and so to distinguish passages inspired path, in which we are not aware that he has from those derived through personal experience been followed by any writer, in this country at or testimony. The existence, therefore, of any least. According to the theory maintained by writing of the former description is a merely arbithis critic, the inspiration of the several parts of trary conjecture, which rests entirely on a dogthe New Testament is made to depend upon the matical ground. fact of their having been written by the apostles 7. These discrepancies and anomalies, as to the of Christ. The inspiration of Mark and Luke is theory of inspiration, originate in want of attentherefore abandoned, and the inspiration of the tion to the real nature of the case, and also, and writings ascribed to Matthew and John is made perhaps above all, in an imperfect knowledge of contingent upon the genuineness of these gospels. the doctrine of Scripture itself relative to this imThis theory appears to be any thing but satisfac- portant question. Men have been, so to speak, tory, and the arguments any thing but convincing. more anxious than the Divine Author of the
5. The last theory to which we shall refer, is Scriptures himself has been, to multiply the claims what may be termed partial inspiration, and is of its authority, by exaggerating the divinity of advocated by Mr. Horne, in his Introduction to its character. The advocates of plenary inspirathe Study of the Scriptures. “ It is not to be tion have confounded questions that are essensupposed,” he remarks, “ that the writers were tially distinct and independent of each other ; thus inspired [that is, in the lowest degree] in namely, authenticity and infallibility—the possievery fact which they related, or in every precept bility of error with error itself. As historical which they delivered. They were left to the records, the sacred writings are sustained by evicommon use of their faculties, and did not, upon dence demonstrative of their truth, and this every occasion, stand in need of supernatural wholly apart from the consideration of their incommunication; but whenever, and as far as spiration ; and it is upon this evidence, and not divine assistance was necessary, it was always upon the ground of their supposed inspiration, afforded.” He again observes, “Whatever dis- that they immediately challenge the belief of tinctions are made with respect, to the sorts, mankind, and denounce the punishment of man's degrees, or modes of inspiration, we may rest negligence and infidelity. assured that one property belongs to every in
8. But do we therefore deny all inspiration spired writing, namely, that it is free from error, in reference to the Scriptures, and restrict their
claims to the mere fact of their truth or false-rences, contingent upon the actions of mutable hood? We have already asserted the contrary, beings. Without a divine revelation, each of and will now proceed to point out the limitations these things must have remained amongst those under which, we think, all theories of inspiration which “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, and should be received, as indicated by the Scriptures which it hath not entered into the heart of man themselves, and as rendered necessary by the exi- to conceive” of. gencies of the case.
(2) For this inspiration we have the express 9. The sacred writings are of a multifarious declarations of the sacred writers themselves, as character. There is one great object proposed by well as (in relation to the New Testament) the the Divine Being throughout all the dispensations unconditional promises of our Saviour Jesus Christ of his providence and revelations of his will, as himself. recorded in these documents, namely, the en- (3) As to the prophetic parts of the sacred lightenment and salvation of mankind. But volume, whether comprised in the Old or the New the documents themselves assume a variety of Testament, there can be no doubt. The foreforms, embracing history, cosmography, theology, telling of future events is by the Almighty him psalmody, prophecy, preaching, and various other self made the criterion for distinguishing those things, neither immediately connected with, nor who were inspired by his Spirit. “I will ...... essentially dependent upon, each other. Now, that they may see, and know, and consider, and the question is, were all these several subjects, understand together, that the hand of the LORD and every part of these several subjects, reduced hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath to writing under the direct and immediate super- created it. Produce your cause, saith the LORD ; intendence of the Holy Spirit; or, if they were bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of not thus uniformly and universally inspired, do Jacob. Let them bring them forth, and shew us we possess the means of discriminating between what shall happen : let them shew the former the two classes of writing—that which is of di-things, what they be, that we may consider them, vine superintendence or revelation, and that which and know the latter end of them; or declare us is the mere product of unaided intellect? The things for to come. Shew the things that are to plenary theory is given up, as we have seen, by come hereafter, that we may know ye are gods ; Mr. Horne and others; but they leave us wholly yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be disat a loss to discover where the mere rational facul- mayed, and behold it together. Behold, ye are ties of the biblical writers terminated, and inspira- of nothing, and your work of nought : an abomition came in to their aid. They were left," nation is he that chooseth you. I have raised remarks the writer just named, “to the common up one from the north, and he shall come: from use of their faculties, and did not, upon every occa- the rising of the sun shall he call upon my name: sion, stand in need of supernatural communica- and he shall come upon princes as upon mortar, tion ; but whenever, and as far as divine assistance and as the potter treadeth clay. Who hath dewas necessary, it was always afforded.” We think clared from the beginning, that we may know; that the following theory will get rid of the diffi- and before time, that we may sày, He is righteous ? culties attendant upon both the hypotheses we Yea, there is none that sheweth ; yea, there is have noticed, and dispose, at the same time, of none that declareth ; yea, there is none that some otherwise unaccountable discrepancies and heareth your words.
Behold, they are anomalies in the sacred text itself. We assume, all vanity; their works are nothing : their molten then, that all that portion of the sacred writings images are wind and confusion,” Isai. xli. 19—29. which partakes of the prophetic or of the didactic “ Assemble yourselves and come; draw near character,—whether it assume the form of theolo- together, ye that are escaped of the nations ; gical teaching or of historical narrative, was they have no knowledge that set up the wood of written under the immediate direction and su- their graven image, and pray unto a god that perintendence of the Holy Spirit. For this por- cannot save. Tell
ye, and bring them near ; yea, tion of the sacred writings we are disposed to let them take counsel together: who hath decontend for the fullest amount of inspiration, and clared this from ancient time? who hath told it that for the following reasons :
from that time? Have not I, the LORD? and (1) The nature of the subjects requires such a there is no God else beside me;
a just God divine illumination and superintendence. They and a Saviour: there is none beside me," chap. relate either to the Divine Being; to the spiri- / xlv. 20, 21. “Remember the former things of tual relations, exigencies, and duties of man, and old : for I am God; and there is none else: I a future life ; to the nature and reasonable- am God, and there is none like me, declaring the ness of moral obligations; or to future occur- | end from the beginning, and from ancient times
the things that are not yet done, saying, Thy | Testament Scriptures. Whatever was intended to counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure,” communicate the knowledge of any spiritual or chap. xlvi. 9, 10. “I have declared the former moral truth, or to discover and enforce any oblithings from the beginning; and they went forth gation, whether resulting from the established out of my mouth, and I shewed them: I did harmony and order of the divine economy in them suddenly, and they came to pass. Because human affairs, or resting, apparently, upon the I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is mere fiat and inscrutable will of God, comes an iron sinew, and thy brow brass ; I have even within the category of inspired writing, and from the beginning declared it to thee; before possesses divine authority. it came to pass I shewed it thee, lest thou shouldest (4) With reference to the New Testament say, Mine idol hath done them, and my molten Scriptures, the question is, if possible, still clearer image hath commanded them. Mine hand and more satisfactory. For all the purposes of also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my divine teaching, whether orally or by writing, our right hand hath spanned the heavens; when I Lord promised to his disciples the suggesting and call unto them, they stand up together. All ye, superintending influence of the Holy Spirit: assemble yourselves, and hear; which among “When the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide them hath declared these things ? The LORD you into all truth” (John xvi. 13); “He shall hath loved him: he will do his pleasure on teach you all things, and bring all things to your Babylon, and his arm shall be on the Chaldeans,” remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you,” chap. xlviii. 3–14. In accordance with these xiv. 26. The latter passage explains the former, declarations, which might be multiplied to an and, with its context, clearly refers it to the disalmost unlimited extent, is the uniform testimony courses and teachings of Christ. Hence we find, of the apostles and evangelists. “God, who at that however the authors of the gospels may sundry times and in divers manners spake in time differ in their relation of historical circumstances, past unto the fathers by the prophets,” Heb. i. 1. they agree in recording the discourses of our "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Saviour, and in exhibiting the same moral and Scripture is of any private interpretation.* For spiritual truths. Then, with regard to those parts the prophecy came not in old time by the will of the New Testament which are professedly of man; but holy men of God spake as they doctrinal, we have also the unequivocal avowal of were moved by the Holy Ghost," 2 Pet. i. 20, 21. the writers themselves, as to the fact of a divine Hence, too, the common formula, “Thus saith inspiration having been granted. Paul, writing
Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost to the Galatian church, claims, in the most unsaith ;" “ As he saith in another place," &c. (see qualified manner, a plenitude of inspiration : "I Hebrews, passim); always having reference to certify you, brethren, that the gospel which is the prophetic Scriptures of the Old Testament, preached of me is not after man; for I neither and affirming, in the most direct terms, their inspi- received it of man, neither was I taught but by ration. It is upon this ground of their inspira- the revelation of Jesus Christ," chap. i. 11, 12. tion, in fact, that the doctrinal value and authority And in reply to the Corinthians, who reproached of the Old Testament Scriptures are placed by him with his destitution of the graces of oratory, the inspired apostle, who, in addressing Timothy, the apostle says, “We speak not in the words says, “ All Scripture given by inspiration of God, which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things for instruction in righteousness: that the man of with spiritual,” 1 Cor. ii. 13. In like manner, he God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto appeals, not only to this church in general, but to all good works," 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17.+ What is those who were prophets or spiritual in particular, true of the prophecies, in this respect, is also true to acknowledge that the things which he comof the legislative and didactic portions of the Old manded were those of the Lord (xiv. 37, 38); and
in the seventh chapter of the same epistle, he
carefully draws a line of distinction between that * The word EriAvou signifies impetus, impulse, and pro
which proceeded from himself, and that which bably this is the best sense here, i. e., “not by the mere impulse was from the Lord; inducing the natural inferof their own mind, but by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.”—ence, that where no such caution is taken, the See Dr. A. Clarke, in loco.
apostle spoke and wrote under a divine afflatus. + This translation of the apostle's words is supported by the So far and satisfactory, Paul ; and with him best authorities. Dr. A. Clarke, who thus translates, says, " the particle, kar, and, is omitted by almost all the Versions; agrees Peter, who not only asserts of the apostles and by many of the Fathers, and certainly does not agree well generally, that they “preached the gospel with with the text"--Comment, in loco.
the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven," bus
the Lord ;'