Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

them, than the general authority which I cisely the theory held by the more was attached to the apostolic office. We moderate orthodox divines of the precannot infer that they were regarded by sent day. Why, then, grapple with it? the early Christians as being the Word Why confound verbal inspiration with of God in any other sense than as being verbal dictation? Had he fairly stated the productions of those who lived with the common view, most of his objections Christ, were witnesses of his history, would have been answered by that simand were imbued with his spirit; as ple statement. This will be perceived being, in a word, veritable represent- as we examine his objections to what ations of a religious life which they had he terms the mechanical theory. derived by a special inspiration from His first objection to this theory is, heaven.”—(P. 171.)

that The plain meaning of all this is, that "There is no positive evidence of such inspiration is identical with a high de a verbal dictation having been granted. gree of sanctification; and that the man

The supposition of its existence would who writes with clear conceptions of demand a twofold kind of inspiration, spiritual things, is inspired. But it each kind entirely distinct from the cannot be said of these writings that other. The apostles, it is admitted, they are inspired; for inspiration is a were inspired to preach and teach phenomenon of the intuitional con orally; but we have the most positive sciousness, and not the property of a evidence that this commission did not writing. The Bible, therefore, is not extend to their very words. Often they inspired, and does not contain an in- were involved in minor misconceptions; fallible rule of faith and practice. This and sometimes they taught specific notheory he muintains, in opposition to tions inconsistent with a pure spiritual what he chooses to term the mechanical Christianity, as Peter did when he was theory of inspiration. This he states to chided by Paul. The verbal scheme, be, “ that which supposes a special dic- therefore, demands the admission of one tation of the actual words inscribed on kind of inspiration having been given the sacred page, distinct from the reli- to the apostles as men, thinkers, moral gious enlightenment of the writer."— agents, and preachers; and another (P. 151.)

kind having been granted them as The unfairness of this statement of writers."—(P. 151.) the common notion is obvious at a

This objection contains almost as glance. Does not Mr. Morell know many errors as sentences. The twothat the theory of plenary inspiration, fold inspiration supposed, is solely in as held by most theologians, is not the nomenclature of the author. He fairly stated in the definition, å spe- first confounds inspiration with percial dictation of the actual words in- sonal holiness, and then argues that scribed on the sacred page ?" Does he verbal inspiration is inadmissible, benot know that the position, that the cause it would make a second kind. Holy Spirit so guarded the words of the Undoubtedly, if spiritual enlightenment inspired writers that they should not is one kind, we must admit another, or convey any error, differs from that which fail to include the very phenomena in asserts a special dictation of every word, question. as to an amanuensis?

Does he not Again : it is not alleged by the verbal know that such special dictation is com- theory that the apostles had one kind monly limited to those parts of Scrip- of inspiration as preachers, and another ture where such dictation was needful as writers. If, then, they had an into guard from error? He bas himself spiration as preachers to teach orally, admitted (p. 176) that this is not pre. what makes another kind needful for

[ocr errors]

them as writers to teach scripturally? | every word should have been dictated Why confound their spiritual enlighten to him by the Holy Spirit."--(P. 152.) ment as men with their inspiration as This objection can lie only against teachers; and because the former was the extreme theory of verbal dictation, distinct from their inspiration as writers, and not the common view of verbal assume that the latter was so likewise ? inspiration. When it is stated that

But we have “positive evidence that each writer was left to the free play of this commission did not extend to his own powers, with such an influence their very words.” And wliat is this of the Holy Spirit as to secure him inpositive evidence? Why, forsooth, that fallilly from error, the individuality of they were “ often involved in minor the writers appears in perfect accordmisconceptions." Suppose they were; ance with their inspiration, and the the question is, Did they ever teach objection falls to the gronnd. It was such misconceptions orally or in writ- necessary that this individuality should ing? If they did, our theory breaks be preserved to attain the object of down, What, then, is the proof ? revelation. Being made for men, it "They taught specific notions incon

was necessary, by the laws of human sistent with a pure spiritual Christian- sympathy, that it should be made ity, as Peter did when he was chided through men. The same beautiful and by Paul.” Peter did no such thing. tender regard to the yearning sympaHis error was one of action and not of thies of our nature that induced the teaching, and we have no proof that High-Priest of our profession to be then or at any other time he taught any tempted in all points as we are, that we such notion. Peter, the man who was might, in coming to a thrope of grace, imperfectly sanotified, is confounded commune with a human heart as well with Peter the apostle, who was per as a Divine nature, also led to the emfectly inspired to teach the doctrines of ployment of human hearts and minds the gospel; and because he erred in the in conveying God's will and purposes one capacity, he is charged with having to man in a revelation. But, to accomerred in the other. And this is the plish this, it was necessary that each positive evidence that their commission writer should preserve his own individid not extend to their very words! It duality, while at the same time he was is with such bald sophistry that we are uttering through it the things which he to set aside the positive statements of was moved to utter by the Holy Ghost. Christ himself: When they shall lead in this, then, there is no sort of disyou and deliver you up, take no thought crepancy. beforehand what ye shall speak, neither His third objection is, that it do ye premeditate, but whatsoever shall Tends to diminish our view of the be given you in that hour, that speak moral and religious qualifications of the yo, for it is not ye that speak, but the writers, by elevating the mere mechanHoly Ghost!Yet Mr. Morell has ical influence into absolute supremacy." " positive evidence that their comunis- --(P. 152.) sion did not extend to their very It were sufficient to reply to this, that words!”

the question is, what is the fact ? and The second objection is, the improba- not, what effect will that fact have on bility

our estimate of the writers ? But it " That each writer should manifest will surprise thoso who hold this theory, his own modes of thought, his own tem. to be told that they have been underperament of mind, his own educational valuing the sacred writers, by believing infuences, his own peculiar pbrase. them commissioned to speak infallibly ology; and yet, notwithstanding this, and authoritatively for God; and that

amount to

66

their estimate of them would be raised, after all, only the same opinion that he if they held that they had no other in- has already discussed, with some addifluence on their minds than that which tions from his own fancy, and the inthey share not only with other Chris- troduction of another distinct question, tians, but with all men of genius; and the Canon of Scripture. He thus no influence which could preserve them sets forth this theory : from blunders in matters of fact, of “ The idea is entertained by many, opinion, or of reasoning. Surely Mr. that a distinct commission to write was Morell was sorely pressed when he in- in every instance given to the sacred vented this, which, if it has no other penman by God; that each book came merit, has at least that of originality. forth, with a specific impress of Deity The fourth objection is declared to upon it; and that the whole of the

a moral demonstration," Canon of Scripture was gradually comand is,

pleted by so many distinct and decisive "That even if we suppose the letter acts of Divine ordination. Now, the of the Scripture to have been actually evidence of this opinion we regard as dictated, yet that alone would never totally defective, and can only ascribe have served as a revelation of Chris- its growth and progress in the Church tianity to mankind, or obviated the to the influence of a low and mechanical necessity of an appeal from the letter view of the whole question of inspirato the spirit of the whole system." |tion itself.—Let any one look through • The letter of the Scripture has to be the whole of the books composing the illuminated by the Spirit of Truth, be- Old and New Testaments, and consider fore it affords to any one a full mani- how many can lay claim to any distinct festation of Christianity in its essence commission, - and

consequently how and its power."—(Pp. 152, 153.)

their inspiration can be at all defended This is the old averment in another if it be made to rest upon this condition." form, that because the Bible is not a -(P. 155.) complete revelation, in its plenary sense, Here it will be remarked that he dexto an unconverted man, therefore it is terously shifts the ground in his arguno revelation at all. Because a guide- ment. He first states the question to book is of little or no use to a blind be, whether the writers had any distinct man, therefore, not only is it not a commission to write these books; but guide-book to those who can see, but the question he discusses is, whether there is no such thing as a guide-book their books, in all cases, record any such possible! Such is this boasted moral commission. These are totally different demonstration. We do not claim for questions. He also takes advantage of the Bible that it can compensate for the the ambiguity of the word " distinct." agency of the Holy Spirit. We hold As he states it in the proposition, it that God must open our eyes to see

means distinct to the writers themwondrous things in his law; but we also selves; as he discusses the proposition, hold that these wondrous things are it means distinct to us. These again there to be seen. The author admits are different questions, yet hopelessly that a human summary of faith and confounded by Mr. Morell. His entire practice is highly important, and we argument on this point is a recapitulacannot, for the life of us, see why the tion of the books, with an assertion in mere fact that it is human gives it such each case that they contain no distinct value as to make unnecessary and im- commission to write them. As well possible one that is divine.

might he pore over a set of statutes, He then brings forward another view and reject them because each volume of the "mechanical theory," wbich is, I does not contain the certificate of elec

tion and legislative commission of each | Scriptures was decided upon solely on individual legislature.

the ground of their presenting to the Almost the only specific argument whole church clear statements of aposwhich he draws from the Scripture, tolical Christianity. The idea of their evinces his usual lucklessness in deal. being written by any special command ing with the Bible. He asserts that of God, or verbal dictation of the Spirit, Luke " distinctly professes to write from was an idea altogether foreign to the the testimony of eye-witnesses, and to primitive churches."-(Pp. 157, 159.) claim the confidence of Theophilus, for These passages assert that the primiwhom his two treatises were composed tive church did not regard the canonical on this particular ground.”——(P. 157.) Scriptures as written by any special Unfortunately for Mr. Morell's argu- inspiration, peculiar to themselves, and ment, Luke asserts the very opposite that they did not receive them as an He says that others wrote thus, but that infallible rule of faith and practice. he wrote because he had a perfect under. Both of these assertions are made in standing of all things from the very the face of unquestioned facts. Surely, first.

if Mr. Morell had not the patience to He then insensibly glides into the examine original authorities, or even to indirect discussion of the Canon of look through such works as Lardner's Scripture. This he does in the follow- Credibility, or the Corpus Confessionum, ing assertions :

he might at least have glanced at a little “The light which history sheds upon book, which we fear he holds in sovethe early period of the Christian Church, reign contempt, called Paley's Evishows us that the writings which now dences. He would there have found compose the New Testament Canon sufficient evidence to prevent him from were not at all regarded as express making such reckless and baseless asmessages to them from God, independ- sertions. ently of the conviction they had of the The primitive church did regard the high integrity and spiritual develop- Scriptures as, in a sense peculiar to ment of the minds of the writers. They themselves, inspired by the Holy Ghost, received them just as they received the and did appeal to them as an authoritaoral teachings of the apostles and evan- tive rule of faith and practice. In gelists; they read them in the churches, quoting them they call them, “the Di. to supply the place of their personal vine Scripture; inspired of the Lord ; instructions; and there is abundant given by the inspiration of the Holy evidence that many other writings beside Ghost; the oracles of the Lord; Divine those which now form the New Testa- fountains; fountains of the Divine fulment were read with a similar reverence, ness; the foundation and pillar of faith," and for a similar edification. It was &c., &c. They quoted them in controonly gradually, as the pressure of heresy versy; cited them in preaching; comcompelled it, that a certain number of mented on them in exposition; made writings were agreed upon by general catalogues of them; and by every posconsent as being purely apostolic, and sible means exhibited the high estimate designated by the term homologoumena, placed upon them above all other writor agreed upon. But that much con- ings. The very mysteries that such tention existed as to which should be men as Origen and Chrysostom found acknowledged canonical, and which not, even in the syllables of Scripture, prove is seen from the fact that a number of the estimation in which they held them. the writings now received were long Theophilus of Antioch says, " The like termed 'antilegomena,' or contested.” | things are to be found in the prophets "The canonicity of the New Testament, and the Gospels, because that all, being

inspired, spoke by one and the same grant that some things were both perSpirit of God.” Many testimonies to mitted and commanded in the Jewish this effect could be cited; but we are Theocracy that are not in the New really ashamed to quote authorities on Testament, because of different circumthe point to a Protestant. Those who stances and relations. But assuming wish to examine them for themselves, these relations, and we find nothing can consult Lardner's Credibility, or that was not consistent with the essen. Paley's Evidences, under this head ; | tial principles of morality. Such were Daillé on the Fathers, book ii. ch. 2; | the expulsion of the Canaanites; the Taylor's Ductor Dubitantium, book ii. Levirate law; the permission of poly. ch. 3, rule 14; Bingham's Antiquities, gamy; the lex talionis ; the law of the book xiv. ch. 3.

avenger of blood; and similar arrangeThe very fact which he alleges to sus ments in the Jewish history and polity. tain his views, that there was much The moral relations were different, and contention as to what works were to be hence the difference of the institutions regarded as canonical, proves the very grafted on those relations; and it has opposite. Why so eager to determine yet to be proved that in those relations their canonicity, except that canonicity the institutions were inconsistent with was matter of high moment? Why, immutable morality. The general prinespecially, should "the pressure of he. ciples of morality are the same under resy” produce this settlement, if the both dispensations, and we defy Mr. Scriptures were not regarded as a rule Morell to show any new principle of of faith by which to determine what was morals revealed in the New Testament. heresy and what truth? Why term the As to the actual attainments in moral apostolical writings canonical, unless excellence made even by the saints of they regarded them as a canon, à rule the Old Testament, this is another quesand standard of faith and practice ? tion, and one that does not touch that Was not their anxiety to be kept from at issue. Their acts are recorded, not fraudulent and spurious writings, proof for imitation or approval, but for inthat it was their apostolical or inspired struction and warning. Had the ethical origin, rather than their power to ad-teachings of the Old Testament been as dress the intuitional consciousness, defective as Mr. Morell alleges, it is which they deemed important? If a unaccountable that the Great Teacher book embodied the religious life, what did not correct them. So far from this, mattered it by whom it was written? when asked for a perfect rule of morals, Why, then, these keen contests about

so perfect that its obedience the apostolical origin of these books ? | might secure eternal life,-he furnished Does Mr. Morell feel this question to precisely that which was taught in the be one of much importance ? Does his Old Testament. And it is of this maphilosophy make it of much import ligned law of the old covenant that he ance ? Does not this show that his says not a jot or tittle of it shall ever theory and estimate of the Scriptures pass away. Let Mr. Morell beware, differ from that of the early Christians? then, lest in his eagerness to maintain

He objects further to the verbal a theory, he may haply be found accus. theory, the defective morality of the ing Him who never spake of the Old Old Testament. This is an old ste- Testament but in terms of the highest reotype of Infidelity and Socinianism, admiration and respect. which will be found answered in detail From No II. of The Foreign Eran in any respectable system of theology.gelical Review, pp. 255-262. We utterly deny the allegation. We

one

« FöregåendeFortsätt »