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V.—The Biographical Dictionary of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful
Art. I.—Théopneustia, ou Pleine Inspiration des Saintes Ecritures : par
L. Gaussen. Delay, Paris. The extraordinarily able manner in which the ever important subject of this volume has been treated by its author, merely regarding the performance in the light of learned criticism, forcible reasoning, eloquent utterance and beautiful illustration, recommends it to a most prominent notice in any literary journal; even although that journal may systematically eschew theological discussion, and the expression of adherence to any particular creed. We therefore proceed to present such abstracts and extracts as we are sure will arrest the attention of every person who may happen accidentally to peruse but one of the paragraphs, whatever be his ideas with regard to the doctrine, viz. that the Inspiration of the Sacred Scriptures is Plenary; this being the precise subject which L. Gaussen, who is Professor of Didactic Theology in the Evangelical Society of Geneva, has grappled with, and very pointedly in reference to the German neology which is abroad.
The following passages from the Preface of the Professor's work will explain the title which he has chosen, and the importance which he attaches to the subject. He says, the first glance at this book, and even at its name, will probably touch two prejudices, which are equally erroneous, and which he is desirous of dissipating. The Greek term Théopneustia, although borrowed from St. Paul, and long employed on the other side of the Rhine, yet being but little employed elsewhere, at least in the French language, is likely to be thus received,—the subject is too scientific to be popular, and too popular to be important. “I fear not, however, to declare that if any thing could have given me both the desire and the courage to undertake it, it is the double persuasion of its vital importance and its simplicity.” He then goes on to observe that next to the divine nature of Christianity there are no questions which can be presented to us more essential to the life of our faith than,--" The Bible, is it from God? Is it wholly from God? Or is it true, as some have
VOL. II. (1812.) NO. I.
pretended, that it contains sentences which are purely human, narratives which are not exact, instances of vulgar ignorance, and reasonings which are inconclusive: in a word, some books, or some portions of a book, foreign to the interests of faith, subject to the natural carelessness of the writer, and tainted by error ?" This, he says, is a question decisive, fundamental, vital. 'It is the first which we have to put when we open the Scriptures; and it is with it that our religion ought to commence.
If it be true, in our opinion, that every thing in the Bible is not important, and does not concern the faith that refers to Jesus Christ; or if it be true, in our opinion, on the other hand, that there is nothing inspired in this book but that which, in our opinion, is important to the interests of faith, and has reference to Jesus Christ, then the Bible is a book wholly different from that of the Fathers, and of the saints of all ages. “It is fallible: theirs was perfect. It has chapters, or portions of chapter, it has sentences or expressions, which are to be retrenched from the number of the chapters, sentences or expressions, which are not from God. Theirs was all inspired of God, -all profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." But the same passage when contemplated by the retrencher, may be as widely different from what it was as contemplated by the former saints, as the earth is distant from the heavens.
For example, we may have opened at the 45th Psalm, or at the Song of Songs, “ Whilst you have seen there nothing but what is in the greatest degree human in its character,-a long nuptial song, or the love-conversations of a daughter of Sharon and a young husband,—they have read there the glories of the church, the bonds of the love of God, the deep things of Jesus Christ; in a word, that which is most divine in the things of heaven; and if they could not read them there, they knew that they were there, and they searched for them there."
Again, we may have taken up an epistle of St. Paul, -“Whilst one of us will attribute such and such a saying which he has not comprehended, or which has shocked his carnal sense, to the Jewish prejudices of the writer, to sentiments wholly appertaining to the vulgar, to circumstances altogether human, the other will there explore, filled with veneration, the thoughts of the Spirit; he will believe them to be perfect, even before having comprehended them; and he will attribute to his own want of apprehension, and his own ignorance, their apparent insignificance, or their obscurity.”
Still further, according to the objector's answer, we shall have two Bibles, although it will be impossible to know what his is. He says, the Book is only human and fallible in a certain measure. But that measure—who shall define it? “ If it be true that man, in having placed in it his sad impress, has left there his spots, who will determine the depth of that impress, or the number of those spots? It has a part which is human, you say; but that partwhat are its limits, and who will fix them for me? No one. Each one must define them for himself, according to his own judgment; that is, the portion of the Scriptures which is fallible will be greater in our estimation, in proportion as we are less under the influence of a divine illumination ; that is to say, again, that man will deprive himself of the words that are divine in proportion as he has need of them, as we see idolators make to themselves deities so much the more impure as they themselves are further removed from the living and holy God!" This, therefore, is the legitimate result of all, -" Each one will reduce the inspired Scriptures to different dimensions, and making for himself, from the Bible thus expurgated, an infallible rule or guide, he will say to it, “Guide me henceforth, for thou art my guide!' as the makers of graven images, of whom Isaiah speaks, who make to themselves a god, and say to it, Save me henceforth, for thou art my God !'”
There is something more grave still. According to your answer, it is not only the Bible that is changed; it is you yourself! Yes, even in the presence of the passages which you have most admired, you will have neither the attitude nor the heart of a believer! How can that be, after you have made them appear, as you have the rest of the Scriptures, before the tribunal of your judgment, to be there declared, by you, divine or not divine, or half divine? What can be, for your soul, the authority of a word which is not infallible for you but in virtue of you? Must it not have presented itself at your bar by the side of other words of the same book, which you have convicted of being human in whole or in part ? Will your mind, then, sincerely take before it the humble and submissive attitude of a disciple, after having held that of a judge ?"
The Professor follows up this idea and these questions with singular closeness and eloquence. He declares that the obedience in the case and circumstances supposed, although it may be that of acquiescence, can never be that of faith ; of approbation, never that of adoration.
“You will believe in the divinity of the passage, you will say; but it is not in God that you will believe; it is in yourself.” Again, "I do not believe that any Pope, even the most enamoured of his priesthood, could with confidence utter his prayers before a dead person, whom he himself, from the abundance of his plenary authority, had placed in the rank of demi-gods, by canonizing him. Ilow then can a reader of the Bible, who has himself just canonized a sentence of the Scriptures (however much he may be cnamoured with his own wisdom), be in respect to such a passage, in the dispo