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HARBINGER OF THE MILLENNIUM.
THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE SCRIPTURES.
MAN, destitute of Divine direction, though formed with noble powers of body and of mind, would have been but. a forlorn and wretched being. He would not have been capable of providing for his wants, nor would he have known his duty. Man thus considered, and considered as the creature of that Being who is infinitely benevolent, and who forms nothing in vain, surely was not made to be abandoned to himself; nor were his faculties given him to be unimproved. Some revelation, then, from God to man was necessary, and might be expected, at the commencement of his creation.
The fact that man is capable of being religious, and that to be religious is not only his duty, but his highest interest, is also an evidence, that God, from his infinite goodness, would furnish him with all the means requisite for this purpose. But from long experience, we have full and striking proof, that the moral precepts of Confucius, Plato, Cicero, and Seneca, those lights and ornaments of the pagan world, are not sufficient to convert a person, or make him truly religious. They ever have proved and they ever will prove, ineffectual to the refor
mation of the human race, Well could a heathen say:
"I see the right, and I approve it too;
I see the wrong, and yet the wrong pursue.'
But why are not the moral precepts of men effectual to reformation? Because they are essentially defective, and have not a divine sanction. Nothing but the holyand perfect precepts of God, sanctioned by eternal retri'butions, can restrain the wicked. Hence the absolute necessity of a revelation from God, declaring his existence, character, will, and ways towards men. This rev
elation the Sovereign of the universe has been pleased to grant us. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God."+ The Apostle here, most probably, has reference to the Old Testament exclusively, for this was commonly called by the Jews," the Scriptures," that is, the writings most important; and the New Testament at that time, was but in part written. It is possible, however, that the apostle spake by the spirit of prophecy, and intended to include, by this expression, the whole Sacred Canon, the Old and New Testaments.
But what is meant by the inspiration of the sacred Scriptures, including the Old and New Testaments? By it is meant, that the sacred penmen were moved, directed, and assisted by God, what to write, and how to write, and when to write; so that they did write exactly, and in all respects, as they were moved, or, as Dr. Doddridge renders it, "borne on, by the Holy Ghost." They were the voice, but the Holy Spirit the speaker.
As it regards what the sacred penmen wrote, (and they wrote whatever God saw best for men to know,) the agency of the Holy Spirit was in some respects varied.
* "Video meliora proboque deteriora sequor." + See Appendix A a.
See Appendix A b.
Some things were written, of which the writers had personal knowledge at the time they wrote. Such, for instance, as the account of the miracles, wrought by Moses in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness :-of the destruction of the Egyptians, and of the deliverance and journeyings of the children of Israel;— of the life, sufferings, death, and resurrection of Christ ;-and of a portion of the Acts of the Apostles. Here it was necessary, and only necessary, that the Holy Spirit should move, and direct the sacred writers to select and record those necessary things, which they knew, (for it is not presumable, that they wrote all they knew,) and to assist them to do it with infallible rectitude. Other things were written, which might have been known to the writers at the time they were said or done, and of which they might then have been either ear or eye witnesses, but which, through lapse of time, might have been partially, or totally forgotten. Such, for example, as the discourses and instructions of Jesus Christ, recorded by Matthew and John, who accompanied him. Many of these must unavoidably have been forgotten, and others have been only indistinctly recollected; for Matthew wrote his Gospel more than eight, and John wrote his between sixty and seventy years after the ascension of Christ. Here it was necessary, and only necessary, that the Holy Spirit should revive, and correctly establish in the memories of the writers, those things which were to be written—once known, but forgotten-and move, direct, and assist, in writing them, with complete security from error. Other things again were written, concerning which they could not possibly have had a personal knowledge. Such, for instance, as the history of the creation of the world-the prophecies, commandments, institutions, and directions of God-what is said respecting the redemption of man-the
future state, resurrection of the dead, judgment-day, and its eternal consequences. Here, in addition to moving, directing, and assisting the sacred writers in what they recorded, the Holy Spirit must have revealed to them the things to be written, if he had not before revealed them to others, from whom the sacred writers had received them; for all these things claim to be primarily matters of pure and immediate revelation by the Spirit of God.
In respect to the. manner, in which the sacred penmen wrote, it is to be observed, that the Holy Spirit dictated to them such language, as conveyed the things revealed, truly, exactly, and in the best possible manner to answer the designs of revelation. And all this may take place, and still "the words, which the Holy Ghost teacheth,"* need not be such, nor be so modified, as to change the characteristic style of the writers. And in respect to the time, when the sacred penmen wrote, it should be noticed that they wrote when they were moved, or borne on by the Holy Ghost.
That the sacred penmen were thus divinely inspired, we infer,
1. From the consideration that, in order to deliver to the world with confidence and safety to themselves, what they did as a divine revelation-as infallibly true, it was necessary, that they should be sensible or conscious, that they were inspired and under the direction of Heaven. But this could never take place, under what is usually termed the inspiration of superintendence, or elevation. For the former, leaving all the powers of the mind in their natural state, and neither suggesting thoughts, nor words, only preserves the writers from communicating things, false or absurd; and the latter "only assists the natural powers of the mind, to operate in their natural way," by
* Appendix A c.
exciting the intellect and enlivening the imagination. Both of these kinds of inspiration may.take place, under what is called common, or special grace.. There is nothing in them supernatural or miraculous. If the sacred writers had had no other inspiration than that of superintendence or elevation, they could not have known that they were inspired. But such was not the case with them. They said and did things to which the natural powers of the mind could never attain, without supernatural assistance-without a divine inflatus: This they had. And of this they became sensible by the fact, that the matter, which, and the manner how, and the time when, they were to reveal, was made known to them by communications from the Holy Spirit. And, being thus conscious of what is usually called the inspiration of suggestion,* they could with confidence and safety to themselves, declare to the world what they did declare, as a revelation from God. That the sacred penmen were thus divinely inspired, we infer,
2. From the consideration, that they could not have written, as they did write, unless they had been favored with the inspiration of suggestion or revelation.
The sacred Scriptures are, by way of eminence, called the Bible, that is, the Book, because they contain the successive revelations of God. They purport to be an unerring directory of faith, and practice for depraved and lost man. This being the case, can we, for a moment, suppose, that any inspiration, except that of suggestion or revelation, could have been sufficient to inform and direct. the sacred writers, in what they wrote?-for they were depraved, and fallible, and some of them illiterate. Merely preserving them from error and falsehood, and enabling them to write in an easy, animated, and lofty manner, was * Appendix A d.