« PreviousContinue »
told me all things that ever I did.” We know that all which Christ said is not recorded, nor could be ; and therefore we may conclude that Christ's discourse with this woman was much longer than the few minutes which the rehearsal of twenty verses would have required; but what is recorded is all to the point. The same may be said of the dialogue with Nicodemus. It is painful to read how some speak of the four Evangelists, that each recorded what his predecessor omitted, which is not a fact; or that one epitomised the other, which is equally false; or that they all had one common original, which they used differently, or wrote from notes, &c., conjectures as gratuitous as they are irreverent; neither is it true that they only recorded what they had seen or heard; as we know they equally recorded what they had not seen or heard themselves from the Lord, (Mat. xvii. 1,2; Mark v. 37, &c., &c.); nor can it be said that they wrote from memory merely. They must have written by inspiration; that alone could have so distinguished them from all other writers.
But the question is asked : What need is there to inform & man by inspiration of what he knows, or may know, without inspiration? To this we answer, though there were no need of inspiration, to inform the writer, there still would be need to enable him faithfully and correctly to record what he might know. In order to make this point the more clear, we would purpose a distinction between that divine act which makes a thing known to a writer, and that which enables him faithfully to record what has been communicated to him. It matters nothing by what names we call these two different acts; but to avoid new terms, we may, only conventionally, call the former Revelation, and the latter, Inspiration; and then contend, at the very least, that though revelation might not have been necessary in all cases, yet inspiration always was indispensible. According to this view, all scripture may not have been written by revelation ; but all must have been written by inspiration ; and so some parts would have the warrant of both; but all, at the least, the warrant of one-the authority of all equal.
But while we state this as the least that could be supposed, we would by no means assert that a writer's personal knowledge had any share in the composition of the scriptures. We could make out a strong case, to show that the inspired writers did not rely upon what they knew from personal observation : we will give one instance. When Christ came to be baptized of John the Baptist, the forerunner at once recognized his Lord and Master, and hesitated to baptize Him (Mat. iv. 13, 14); yet the same
John declares : "I knew him not.” (John i. 33.) There is but one way in which this apparent contradiction can be reconciled; for his own personal conviction, St. John knew enough of Christ to acknowledge him; but he did not feel justified on that account to declare him to be the Christ; he had divinely received a sign by which to know him : “Upon whom thou shalt see the spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he;" and until he saw that sign, he had no official right to know him, and did not officially know, nor proclaim him.
But now come the objections of variations in quotations, &c.; we have seen already, that such objections are fatal, on the supposition, that the writer who quotes another was not inspired in so doing ; but we are persuaded, that there is not one objection of this kind, which offers any insurmountable obstacles. To shew this throughout, would require us to go through the whole New Testament, and many parts of the Old, which we cannot now enter upon; but we may state the principles to which all such objections would yield.
1. Suppose a king issues a royal command; no officer would be justified to vary the words of that command: but when the king finds that a false construction has been put upon his words, in whole, or in part; the king could avoid the mis-construction, just by repeating his command with a little variation in the words, the sense in reality, remaining the same. That the Jews had perverted many prophecies, can scarcely be doubted; if then God inspired an Evangelist or Apostle, to quote a prophecy with a little verbal variation, the prophecy would still be recognized, but the perversion protested against, and avoided. (Gal. iii. 10.)
2. From the same proposition, a great many, not contradictory, but still different, inferences, may often be drawn; but when an inspired writer had to quote a passage, not for the sake of all its inferences, but only for one or two, it was enough to abridge the passage, or so to vary it, as most prominently to bring out just the point or points sought; while at other times a fuller account of what had been epitomised, (as in Deut. v. 23—28, comp. with Exod. xx. 19,) or a quotation, coupled with a logical inference, (as in Matt. v. 43,) best suited the purpose, and sometimes in quoting one passage, an additional particular from another passsage, bearing indubitably on the some point, (Luke iv. 18, 19, from Is. lxi. 1, 2 with Is. lxii. 7, but see Luke xx, Is. lxi. 1, 2,) is inserted, or introduced, from memory, into the passage which is read from a book.
3. Some times the effect is stated for the cause, or the cause for the effect, (Rom. x. 11. Is. xxviii. 16.)
4. Different inspired writers, or even the same writer in different places, may restate something which has already been stated, with variations, for no other reason than this, that though the substance is the same, there was an actual repetition; 2 Sam. xxii. is the same in substance as Psalm xviii., but there are variations, and if there were no difference at all, we should in all probability have had only one of those passages: but we only need assume Josephus' account of the Psalms, that they were (all) written by David towards the decline of his life ; and we shall come to the conclusion, that while 2 Sam. xxii. was written on the spot, at the end of those troubles which are mentioned in the first verse, the 18th Psalm was written much later, with the same deliverances in view, but both alike inspired.
And in all these cases, it would be erroneous to suppose, that one of the statements must be incorrect, and should be understood only according to the latter construction : on the contrary each of the passages remains in all its own integrity. Another instance we have in the Lord's prayer, which in Luke xi. 2-4, differs a little from Matt. vi. 9-13; probably, because the Lord repeated this prayer for his disciples more than once, for their convenience and instruction; but sometimes varied his expressions; and while St. Matthew gives one, St. Luke gives another.
It is also to be borne in mind, that we have in the New Testament, only a translation of the actual words spoken, and often perhaps, only a translation of a translation. What, for instance, is more likely than that the Lord, on the cross, in using the exclamation, Matt. xxvii. 46, should have used the very words, in Hebrew, of Ps. xxii. 1? Yet the words given by St. Matthew, are not the pure Hebrew, but a literal Chaldee-Syriac translation of the original, again translated into Greek: but supposing even that the Lord should have made use of the Syriac language, which was then called Hebrew, and was better understood by the people, Greek he certainly did not use ; then we still possess only a translation of the Lord's words; and though the translation is inspired, inspiration does not change the peculiarities and the idiom of a language ; and therfore differences may appear which would not have existed had we the original words, which were used, either by the Lord himself, or often by his Evangelists, Apostles, or other contemporaries.
Various readings, differences in names, apparent chasms, dates, and questions about weights and measures, must be dealt witb, in detail.
THE PRAYER BOOK.
Its origin and authority-chiefly abridged from Wheatley on the
The first piece of solemn worship recorded in Scripture is a Hymn of praise, which was sung by Moses and the men first, and afterwards by Miriam and the women; which could not have been done, unless it had been a set form composed before hand. (See Exod. xv. 1, 20, 21.) The whole Book of Psalms were forms of Prayer and Praise, indited by the Holy Ghost, for the joint use of the congregation. (See 1 Chron. xvi. 7., 2 Chron. xxix. 30., Ezra iii, 10 and 11.) The Jews always worshipped by prepared forms. This is clearly proved from Josephus, a Jew, who wrote only about forty years after the ascension of our Lord; and from Philo, another Jew who wrote still earlier. Our Saviour joined in the Jewish public worship, and consequently in precomposed set forms of Prayer. He Himself taught His disciples a form of Prayer-viz: that which from having been taught by Him is called “ The Lord's Prayer." Christians very soon after Christ's own time we know to have used ready-made set forms in their public worship. This is clear from the names by which they speak of their public prayers. Little more than 100 years after the Ascension, Justin Martyr in a writing which has come down to us, speaks of the “common prayers"-Origen, about 100 years later, speaks of the “constituted prayers”—and just at the same time Cyprian speaks of the “solemn" or "customary prayers." There were too very early in use three Liturgies, or forms of public worship, of which we know many particulars,-one in the Church of Jerusalem ;-one in the Church of Alexandria ;—and the other in the Church of Rome. The first mentioned of these is called “St. James's Liturgy," and in ancient times that Apostle was thought to have composed it, through there is no historical proof remaining of the fact. There has come down a comment upon it by Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, written, it would appear, about A. D. 340. This comment treats of the Liturgy as no novelty; and if, therefore, we allow only eighty years, before the comment was written, we shall have actually traced its existence as far back as A. D. 260—which is only. 160 years after the death of the Apostles.
We find again in the writings of Origen, A. D. 230, a whole Collect taken out of the Liturgy used at Alexandria, and called
"St. Mark's Liturgy.” In both these, and in that called “St. Peter's," early used at Rome, are some forms now in our own Communion Service-for instance, “ Lift up your hearts,” &c., and the Hymn with Angels and Archangels, “ Holy, Holy, Holy," &c. These three Liturgies, which differed from one another rather in their arrangement than their substance, became gradually much enlarged by the additions of some extraordinary
such as St. Basil, Archbishop of Cesarea, A. D. 360; St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, A. D. 380, and St. Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople, A. D. 400. But superstitions crept by degrees into the Church of Rome, and from her into other Churches which were in communion with her, and under her usurped authority-as our Church here in England. Prayers and forms, suited to these superstitions, were then mixed up with the ancient prayers and forms of the Primitive Church. Thus the Liturgy in this country before the Reformation, was a collection of services, partly primitive and pure, and partly more modern and corrupt-like what we may see in the present Roman Breviary and Missal. Being in Latin too, it could not be understood or entered into by any but the learned. When, therefore, the Church in this country reformed itself from the abuses which had grown within it, while under the Pope or Bishop of Rome, it became necessary for it to reform it's Liturgy or Prayer Book. Accordingly, in King Henry VIII.'s reign, some attempts to this end were made.
In the year 1540, a Committee of Bishops and Divines was appointed by the king (at the petition of the Convocation, that is the Council of the Church in this country) to reform the rituals and offices of the Church. What was done by this Committee was reconsidered by the Convocation itself two or three years afterwards. The next year the king and the clergy ordered the prayers for processions and litanies to be put into English, and be publicly used. Afterwards, in 1545, came out the “Primer," wherein were contained the Lord's Prayer, Creed, Ten Commandments, the “Venite,” (or “O come let us sing unto the Lord,”) the “Te Deum," and other Hymns and Collects in English ; and several of them in the same version in which we now use them.
In the year 1547, the first of King Edward VI., the Convocation declared that the wine ought to be administered to all persons in the Holy Communion, as well as the bread.* Upon this decision
* One of the corruptions of the Church, under the usurpations of the Pope or Bishop of Rome, had been the the denial of the Cup to the laity.