« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
fect appropriateness in his “Song of Praise of the Fathers” (chap. xliv.). In the Hebrew Bible, Daniel is not placed among the prophets, but in the third division containing the Hagiographa, and among them the very latest. In chapters vii.- xii., Daniel always speaks in the first person, but in i.-vi. in the third person, in a strain of admiratioo.
For ordinary purposes, we shall more conveniently speak of Malachi as the last of the Old Testament canonical writers, though it be with but approximate correctness. In transition to the New Testament, the following suggestions, respectively from three recent writers, will be of good service:
When the curtain rises on the scenes of the New Testament, Judea is the province of an empire of which even the pseudo-Daniel did not dream, and which lay far, far beneath the horizon of Malachi and his contemporaries. Moreover, scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes, sects of which Malachi was entirely ignorant, jostle each other on the narrow stage. The synagogue, an institution of which the Old Testament is wholly innocent, in the New Testament is of more importance than the temple. Again, the language of the speakers in the New Testament is entirely strange, not merely that it is Greek or Aramaic instead of Hebrew, but that it is concerning angels and devils, concerning immortality and the resurrection of the body, and paradise and hell, of all which Malachi and his contemporaries had only learned the alphabet.— Rev. John W. Chadwick (The Bible of To-day, p. 155).
The writings of the prophets and apostles were read and pondered for long periods,– indeed, ages, I should conjecture. They lay like seed at first alone; and as the influences of reflection, conscience, and piety, were brought to bear upon them, their inner meaning developed and grew, until at length the people — the plain, uncritical, devout, unprofessional portion of the people — treasured them for the spiritual help they afforded, without considering the literary defects or historical mistakes they contained, without imputing any specially sacred character to them nor to their authors; reading them very much as vast numbers of Episcopalians read the Prayer-Book or the Imitation of Jesus, and as Protestants generally read the Pilgrim's Progress, because they speak what is helpful and interesting, not because their favorite authors are impeccable or infallible. Then, the priests, ever mindful of the authority of prevailing opinion, yielded assent to the popular verdict, and officially announced what before had been informally but generally expressed, and so far compromised themselves in their eagerness to sail with the wind as to garnish the tombs of the prophets they had slain.- Richard A. Griffin (From Traditional to Rational Faith, p. 134).
There follows an age when the voice of the prophet ceases. The drill of the schoolmaster has its appointed time. The hedge is built
around the law. The heroic warrior recovers the sacred rolls which the “Madman of Syria” had left unburned. The scribe sits in Moses' seat. Already, the soil is prepared by the Roman ploughshares for the seeds of a better faith. But the life of the true religion must first, it would seem, return into itself, become dry in the hard kernel of Judaism, be buried in the ground, and die, before it can rise again in the new vigor of Christianit, and bear the ripe fruit of the gospel for the world.- Dr. Newman Smyth (Old Faiths in New Light, p. 80).
The Bible is not like a chain, the whole of which is no stronger than its weakest link, than some casual, uncritical remark in its history, chronology, astronomy, or geology. ... It is various because life is various. It touches somewhere all parts of human life. It often seems inconsistent with itself, just as life is inconsistent. One passage appears to contradict another, just as some of our earthly experiences seem opposed to others. The Bible aims at no logical consistency, at no metaphysical or systematic coherence. It is too large, too full, too wide in its sweep and scope, to fit itself to any of our creeds. It sometimes speaks of divine providence, as if God did everything and man nothing. We are the clay, and he is the potter. And, then, it speaks of man's ability, as if he had power to convert himself by the mere force of his own will. Sometimes, it cries, “Create in me a new heart, and renew a right spirit within me.” And, in other places, it says, “Repent, and be converted ”; “Make to yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.” The breadth of the Bible is perhaps one of its most wonderful qualities. Every creed finds support in it: every Church has its proof-texts in it.' This, which has been brought as an objection, is one of its chief glories.-Dr. J. F. Clarke (Sermon of Nov. 26, 1882).
Writers? (1) THE supernatural: that there was a certain supernatural impression of the divine will upon their minds, whereby they set forth truth with no admixture of error; or, as Sir Walter Scott makes the White Lady of Avenel enunciate it,
Within this awful volume lies
(2) The natural: that in most instances they wrote under extraordinarily elevating influences, but were not entirely exempt from liability to mistakes. The latter view has been well set forth as follows:
There are two methods of getting truth: one is perception or looking out; the other, inspiration or looking in. Perception without inspiration makes the pedant, the dry man of details, the collector of facts who can do nothing with them after he has them. Inspiration without perception makes the mystic, the visionary, the mere theorist. Perception joined with inspiration makes the man of genius, the man of science, the discoverer, the statesman, the poet, the prophet. No great thing was ever accomplished in this world without inspiration. But inspiration is of different kinds and different degrees. There is the inspiration of the artist and poet, or of the thinker and philosopher. There is the inspiration of the lawgiver and statesman, of the prophet and saint. There is artistic inspiration, poetic inspiration, religious inspiration. The common quality in all is the reception of influence from a higher sphere, an opening of the mind for higher influence, a light from within and from above. ...
The common-sense view of the Bible is that it is our guide and our teacher, because it is full of truth. It is because it is so, compact with divine things that we say it is from God. We do not say it is
true because it is inspired, but we say it is inspired because it is true. It is a book, we may safely say, that will never be superseded, any more than, Homer, Dante, Shakspere, will be superseded. It will grow in interest immensely, in proportion as we study it intelligently and freely. When we make no extravagant claims for it, but let it rest on its own merits, infidelity will cease to attack it. If there is anything in it you do not understand, wait until you do. If there is anything you cannot believe, pass it by. There is enough left which you can believe.
The Bible is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. It has guided men to God through all these long centuries; it has civilized humanity, sustained mourners, comforted sorrow, created happy homes, made family life peaceful, awakened an interest in truth, quickened the intellect, opened heaven to the dying, and given hope in the midst of despair. A book that does this does not need to be propped up by theological theories : it can stand and walk alone, and take care of itself. It does not need to be protected by laws against blasphemy: the love and gratitude of men are a sufficient protection. It does not need to be made a master, to enslave the intellect: the more free our thought is to inquire and examine, the more we shall come to honor it, to love it, and to believe in it. Why is not this enough ? Why manufacture a theory of inspiration to strengthen that which is already strong enough without it? It is as though you should erect a wooden scaffold round the Great Pyramid to hold it up.
Inspiration is insight, and insight is immediate knowledge. The inspired poet sees beauty, the inspired prophet sees truth. Knowledge carries its own evidence. He who knows anything thoroughly becomes an authority to us. That is enough. . . . You go to the Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. You take a guide, perhaps the guide Stephen, a colored man, formerly a slave,- an ignorant man. You know nothing of him but this, that he has guided hundreds of travel
rious chambers. Passages diverge in all directions. Still, you follow through the great darkness his feeble lamp. You descend precipices, you climb ladders, you come to a river and cross it in a boat beneath an overhanging roof of rock. You go on and on, mile after mile, until you seem to have left forever the day and upper air. Immense darkness, perpetual night, undisturbed silence, broods around. You are many miles from the entrance. If your guide has made any mis
lost. But you follow him with entire confidence. Why? Do you believe him to be plenarily inspired? Do you think him infallible ? Not at all. But you trust in his long experience. He has guided travellers safely for years, and that is enough. So the Bible has guided the footsteps of travellers seeking truth and God. It has brought generation after generation out of darkness into light. It leads us through the mysterious depths of our own experience. It goes sounding on along the dim and perilous way of human life. It points out on either side the false paths which would lead you to death. It speaks with authority, a far higher than that of a theological infallibility. It is full of the spirit of God, which is the spirit of truth; and its power is not dependent on the theories of inspiration which the Church may devise, but on its own immortal life, its sublime elevation, its power of bringing the soul to God and to peace.- Dr. J. F. Clarke (Common Sense in Religion, pp. 88, 93, 98).
Other eloquent adherents of the natural theory have not been always equally so careful to distinguish inspiration from perception :
Inspiration is a perpetual fact. Prophets and apostles are not monopolists of the Father. He inspires men to-day as much as heretofore. In nature, also, God speaks forever. Are not these flowers new works of God? Are not the fossils under feet, hundreds of miles thick, old words of God, spoken millions of years before Moses? — Theodore Parker.
The importance of the inquiry, as applied to prophecy, justi. fies a second quotation from the former discriminating writer, this, also, impossible to abridge without marring:
The old view of prophecy assumed that it was a miraculous violation of the laws of the human mind, by which a sudden knowledge of earthly events was communicated. Prophecy was regarded as so foreign from natural human experience that the prediction shows that God must have directly interposed to put this foreign knowledge into the mind, as a gardener may put the scion of a pear-tree on the stock of a quince, or a plum on an apricot. But the new view of prophecy assumes that it is no violation of the laws of the intellect, but an intense activity of powers usually latent or imperfectly developed. It is insight of the present which gives foresight of the future. He who sees deeply into principles can foresee their unfolding into that which is to be. Jesus sometimes used the phrase, “ The hour cometh, and now is." This is the key to prophecy. The future is in the present, as the oak is in the acorn: therefore, he who really knows the “hour which now is” can predict “the hour which cometh.” Thus, Columbus, being familiar with the geography of the Eastern Hemisphere, foresaw that by going west he would come to that continent again. So Dr. Channing, before the Civil War and before the emancipation of the slaves, foresaw the dangers which would follow emancipation. He said, “I do not believe that the emancipated slaves will assassinate their masters, as many predict, for they are by nature too affectionate and too submissive a race for this; but I foresee that the masters will refuse to give them equal rights as fellow-citizens, which will be an evil to both races.” Thus, the seer, a man who looks into the present, becomes a prophet, and is able to look into the future.