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press these sentiments; yet the Holy or modes of expression, employed by Spirit, for wise reasons, seems to have some of the sacred writers may not accommodated his suggestions, so far as possess the same beauty or elegance to relates to mere style, to the age in which be found in the writings of others of they wrote, and their respective talents them; yet even the style of the former for composition.
must have been viewed by the Spirit of First, This seems to have been neces- God as the best on the whole to be emsary to ascertain the authenticity of the ployed at the time, and in existing cirseveral books of Scripture, or that they cumstances forgeneral edification. These were written at the time specified in the are some of the reasons that may be asbooks themselves, and by the persons to signed for the variety of style which whom they are respectfully ascribed. has been introduced into the inspired The sacred writers lived in different ages volume; and we apprehend they are of the world, and in different countries; not unworthy of the wisdom and good
and had their writings not contained ness of the God of the Scriptures. . the idioms or modes of expression pe-| It has been objected, that the claim culiar to the age or country in which which some of the writers of sacred histhey lived, their authenticity might tory make of peculiar fitness for narrating have been disputed. Besides, God saw the facts contained in their histories, meet for wise ends to employ, as the from their having been eye and ear penmen of Scripture, persons of dif- witnesses of them, seems to militate ferent stations in life, and who, on that against the doctrine of plenary inspiaccount, must have had a different edu- ration; for had they been furnished cation, and different habits; and had with both matter and words, their prenot their style been different, the books vious knowledge of these things could that bear their respective names would have given them no advantage above have wanted one internal mark of their others. This objection is founded parauthenticity. For example, had Isaiah, ticularly upon what is said by Luke in who had been brought up in the court the beginning of his gospel, chap.i. 3, 4. of the kings of Judah, written in the In reply, it may be observed, that the same style as Amos, a herdmen of Tekoa, facts respecting our Lord's miracles, or had Amos written in the same style death, resurrection, and ascension to with Isaiah, it might have occasioned glory, on the authenticity of which the suspicion with regard to the authenticity truth of Christianity depends, are atof the books ascribed to both.
tested to us by human as well as by diBut farther, the variety of style found vine testimony. This was necessary to in the sacred Scriptures seems no less confront the infidel, who will admit of necessary for the ends of edification. nothing but mere human evidence; and Though the Scriptures were intended at the same time to lay a solid foundafor the general and permanent use of tion for the faith of the true believer, the church, yet their several parts were which stands not in the wisdom of men, intended for the more immediate instruc- but in the power of God. The disciples tion of those among whom the inspired of Jesus, therefore, who had an accurate writers lived at the time, and to whom knowledge of these things from their they were first addressed ; but to secure own observation, had a peculiar fitness this more immediate end, it was neces- for being employed by the Spirit, as the sary that the style most familiar to the spirit of inspiration, for furnishing the class of persons for whose use they church with a divine and infallible rewere more immediately intended should cord of these things; seeing they could be preserved.
combine his testimony, which was diIn fine, the Holy Spirit, in inspiring vine and supernatural, and of which the sacred writers, had not for his object they were only the organs, with their to please men's taste for composition, own testimony, founded on their perbut to inform their judgment, and to sonal observation, and thus act up to improve their hearts. Besides, the the injunction of their Lord and Master. Scriptures were intended for the use of “ When the Comforter is come, whom I persons of the meanest capacity. AC- will send unto you from the Father, cordingly, though certain expressions, even the Spirit of truth which proceedeth
from the Father, HE shall testify of me. tion, farther than merely guarding its And ye also shall bear witness, because real author from falling into gross error. ye have been with me from the begin- The designation, the Word of God, must ning:" Jno. xv. 26, 27. The doctrine of suggest to every unprejudiced mind, plenary inspiration, therefore, does not that the Bible is from God, both in resuppose that the prior knowledge which spect of sentiment and expression. Nor inspired men had from other sources of does it render the matter any better to these things about which they spoke tell us, that though some parts of the and wrote ander divine suggestion, was Bible were written under the mere sueither suppressed, or rendered of no perintendence of the Spirit, yet others farther use to them, as witnesses for were written by the inspiration of sugthe truth. All that is supposed is, gestion; for this throws a suspicion that, speaking or writing as inspired over the whole, since it is impossible teachers, they were not left to proceed for us to determine what parts were upon their previous acquaintance with dictated by plenary inspiration, and these things, but were furnished by di- what parts were not. The safe way is vine suggestion, both as to matter and to hold by the doctrine of the Bible words, in giving an infallible rule of faith itself, that inspiration is one in kind; to the church.
that it is not a partial but a full or 5. We may notice farther here, that plenary inspiration, and that this apthe evangelists professedly give our plies to the whole of the sacred volume. Lord's discourses in his own words, and * All Scripture is given by inspiration an account of his miracles in all their of God,” &c. minute circumstances, and that, too, a It may be observed, that besides innumber of years after his ascension. spiration, strictly so-called, the church But it is impossible to conceive, that, at was favored with communications of any time, and more especially at a period God's will by the more immediate apso remote from the time when these dis-pearances of the Son of God: soinetimes courses were delivered, and those mira- in the likeness of human nature, which cles wrought, they could have done so he was to assume in the fulness of time, merely from memory. Besides, John and sometimes in the shechinah. Cominforms us, that there were also many munications from God were given also other things which our Lord did, which by means of dreams, as in the case of were not recorded either by himself or Samuel, when warned of the judgments his fellow-evangelists. Now, can we coming on the house of Eli; and in suppose for a moment, that the evan- the case of Joseph, when warned to take gelists were left to their own judgment the young child Jesus and his mother, to select the things which were written, and to carry them into Egypt, to avoid especially when these were intended for the sword of Herod. To dreams may the standing use of the church in all be added visions. These contained, future ages as a rule of faith. Indeed, / along with the annunciation of certain every consideration forbids that we events, a symbolical representation of should admit, even with regard to his-them presented to the imagination of torical facts, any other species of inspi- the prophets when asleep, or in an ration than that of divine suggestion. ecstasy when awake. Though these
6. We observe farther, in support of modes of communicating God's will to plenary inspiration, that unless it be men were distinct from inspiration, admitted, the Bible has no valid claim strictly so called, yet they were always to be called the Word of God. The accompanied with it; for the impresScriptures frequently lay claim to a di- sion on the minds of the prophets, that vine origin in support of their supreme what they heard was the voice of God, authority as a rule of faith and man- / and that what they saw was the symbol ners; but if the sacred writers were of a present Deity, was as really the only under what is called superinten- effect of the inspiration of the Spirit, as dence, we cannot see the justness of that were those revelations of God's will claim. It would be a gross perversion which were communicated by simple of words, to call a man the author of a suggestion. book who had no hand in its composi- / Let it be observed further, that one
attribute of inspiration was, that the , “ The prophet that hath a dream, let persons inspired could not conceal the him tell a dream; he that hath my words of the Holy One communicated word, let him speak my word faithfully. to them; which plainly shows, that they What is the chaff to the wheat ? saith were not left to their own judgment or the Lord. Is not my word like a fire, inclination. This appears from the case saith the Lord ? and like a hammer that of Balaam, who was, on one occasion, breaketh the rock in pieces ?” employed to announce God's will to As our Lord taught the church orally mankind. Nothing could be farther by the prophets and apostles, and other from his inclination than to bless Israel; inspired persons while they lived, so he but when God put the word in his continues to teach her by their writings, mouth, he found himself impelled to now that they are dead. She is “built give it utterance. “Balaam said unto upon the foundation of the apostles and Balak, spake I not unto the messengers prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the which thou sentest unto me, saying, Ifchief corner-stone.” “Whatsoever things Balak would give me his house full of were written aforetime were written for silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the our learning, that we, through patience commandment of the Lord, to do either and comfort of the Scriptures, might good or bad of mine own mind; but have hope." We shall only add, that wbat the Lord saith that will I speak ?! our Lord continues to instruct the church Numb. xxiv. 12, 13. The same thing by the ordinance of preaching as disappears from the example of Jeremiah. pensed by uninspired men; but then all Though a good man, he once rashly re- their instructions must be brought to solved, from the contempt and persecu- the standard of inspiration, and it is tion he met with in prosecuting his only in so far as their instructions accord ministry, to speak no more in God's with this standard that they are binding name; but he tells us that he was im- upon the conscience. pelled to speak what was communicated to him by the Spirit; not, indeed, by
ON MAN'S MORTALITY. mere physical force, but by the same supernatural influence which commu- “ But man dieth and wasteth away, yea nicated to him the message itself to be
man giveth up the ghost, and where is delivered. “O Lord, thou hast PER he ?" Job. xiv. 10. SUADED me, and I was PERSUADED; thou art stronger than I, and hast pre In the crowd of busy cares by which vailed: I am in derision daily, every we are more or less beset, and the mulone mocketh me. For since I spake I tiplied objects that intrude themselves cried out, I cried violence and spoil; be- on our regards, we are prone to lose sight cause the word of the Lord was made a of our real state and future destiny. It reproach unto me, and a derision daily. is good, therefore, to join in the meditaThen I said, I will not make mention tions of the afflicted patriarch, and with of him, nor speak any more in his name; him to ponder our latter end. Let us but his word was in mine heart as á consider, burning fire shut up in my bones, and I 1. The present condition of man.was weary with forbearing, and I could " Man dieth and wasteth away." He not stay :” Jer. xx. 7-9.
comes into the world to die out of it. The circumstance now mentioned is The seeds of mortality are born with inseparably connected with the very de him. He partakes of the frailty of the sign of inspiration. The gift of inspi- source from whence he sprung. Ver. 1, ration was conferred not for the private “Man that is born of a woman is of benefit of the prophets themselves, but few days and full of trouble. He cometh for the public edification of the church. forth as a flower, and is cut down; he Had it been left to the choice of the fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth persons inspired to reveal or conceal the not.” message delivered to them according to Sometimes those days are very few. their own inclination, the very end of With many, scarcely are the eyes opened inspiration might have been defeated to the light of nature than they close The mandate of heaven was peremptory. ) in darkness; others ascend to the dawn
of life, and taste a little of its chequered of enjoyment or misery–which tranjoys. The bud of youthful existence scend all our thoughts, that stamps an but begins to open when it withers. infinite importance on our nature, and “ He cometh forth like a flower and is renders the exit of the soul from this cut down."
life as the most momentous period of How short-lived is the bloom of that our history. flower! How fleeting is the shadow! Were there nothing more than the Even in regard to those whose days are falling down of what is visible into prolonged,-how narrow is the span in ruins, we might indeed bewail the dethe retrospect! and what a small point struction of the fabric,-but justified when seen in the light of eternity! | in the comparatively little thought too " Few and evil," said old Jacob, “have generally bestowed upon death. But the years of the life of my pilgrimage when we remember that there is what
we do not see, an invisible immortal But the other idea here is, that man not spirit, which has taken its departure, only dieth, but “wasteth away ;" and and appeared naked before the omnithe patriarch draws a contrast between scient and holy Judge; can we possiwhat passes on the herbage and trees of bly feel indifferent to such an eventthe field, and the condition of our na- an event that must shortly befal us all; ture. Ver. 7, “ For there is hope of a and ought it not to be the object of our tree if it be cut down that it will sprout most intense solicitude, “Where shall again, and that the tender branch thereof I be?” What shall be my state in that will not cease; though the root thereof boundless eternity which shall then open wax old in the earth, and the stock to receive me? thereof die in the ground; yet through III. This brings us to the solemn the scent of water it will bud, and bring question, "Where is he?" The spirit forth boughs like a plant." All creation has been given up, that which properly revives. The death of winter is suc- constitutes the man has gone forth from ceeded by the animation and beauty of the earthly tabernacle, and where is he spring. The trees are clothed anew now? He is not in the world. “ For with foliage, and the fields with ver- the living know that they shall die, but dure. But not so with man.-"He the dead know not anything, neither dieth and wasteth away,"--gradually have they any more a reward, for the decomposes, until all the members of the memory of them is forgotten. Also, once living frame become one with the their love, and their hatred, and their dust of the ground.
envy is now perished; neither have II. All this can apply only to that they any more a portion for ever in part of man which is susceptible of de- anything that is done under the sun." cay. There is something distinct from, The uncontrollable power of him who and beyond this which he resigns or appoints his bounds that he cannot pass, gives up when he dies,-"He giveth has sent him away from all present up the ghost, or the spirit." Apart from scenes. “Thou prevailest for ever the spirit he is but a piece of inert matter, against him, and he passes -- thou and like other merely earthly creatures changest his countenance and sendest drops out of being and sinks into nothing. him away." He is now removed from But revelation assures us that while the this terrestrial abode, and done with all body returns to the dust, the spirit re- its pursuits, its cares, its joys, and sorturns to God who gave it." At death rows. But he is somewhere-in anoit leaves its dwelling place of clay, and ther region of existence," Where is exists as a conscious being, which still he?" reasons, desires, remembers, and wills— The answer which alone can be repossessing powers that never can be de-turned to this question, is one that stroyed ; nay, which remain not only involves the whole subject in overunimpaired, but we have reason to be- whelming importance. The spirit which lieve, become greatly enlarged and is resigned is either with Christ," or with strengthened by death. It is the con- Satan ; eitherin the abodes of the blessed, sideration of man as an intellectual, an or in hell; either filled with pure heaever-living spirit, inheriting capacities venly light and joy, or subjected to the gnawings of a guilty and accusing con- 1 you will hear his voice, harden not science, termed, “the worm that never your hearts." dies.” Did not our Lord intend, by his
A. A. parable of the rich man and Lazarus, to teach us this truth? and where was the
Dec., 1849 God-neglecting worldling when he died? In misery, extreme and irremediable. SERMON BY THE LATE REV. J. STEVENS. Where again was the humble but be
1. JOHN III. 9. lieving and sanctified soul? Angels waited the dismissal of the spirit of this ALL Scripture is of God, therefore all redeemed one, and bore it away to Abra- is good-all is profitable. These words ham's bosom—the place of rest, of per-were no doubt given by John to instruct fect love and joy. Whether the one or his brethren. I shall divide them into the other be the lot of a departed spirit two leading ideas. the state is unalterably fixed, -nochange I. The spiritual birth supposed. for ever. “He that is unjust let him be JI. Its influence. unjust still, and he which is filthy let 1. A spiritual birth. He speaks of him be filthy still, and he that is righ- those who are born of God, it is a real teous let him be righteous still, and he change-an immortal change; this is that is holy let him be holy still.” Ho- incorruptible seed, so that the children liness and happiness, or moral degrada- of God cannot sin against him,-it is a tion and misery are thus progressive, celestial birth; whatever God does in interminable, everlasting.
| this manner, he comes to poor sinners Professed believers in Christ: let us in their creatureship,-indwelling sin is meditate on the real state of our souls, the worst foe you have to contend with. individually, look away from the fasci- God has determined to slay it, and all nating or busy scenes of life, to that those persons in whom he does so, are day when the immortal spirit shall be brought into communion with him, and required of us. Let the question be whosoever is born of God, is brought felt by us in all its solemnity : “ Where into a relationship; without this renoshall I then be?” Is there reason to vation of heart, spiritual activity never helieve, that Christ the impartial judge rises. It will appear that we are not is my Saviour? that his work has been, only born, but born again into Christ, and is the only ground of personal ac- and are partakers of his fulness. We ceptance with a holy God; and that then have a new end in view, which is now sowing to the Spirit I shall of the to glorify God, and we see the enmity Spirit reap life everlasting? Do the re- of the heart slain. Christ becomes a volutions of seasons find us giving all resident, his people are loved, and his diligence that we may be found of him house visited with delight and satisin peace? O remember that the “ Well faction. Wherever this change takes done good and faithful servant," must place, its influence must be felt. precede the words of cordial welcome, 2. The influence. Whosoever is born “Enter ye into the joy of your Lord." of God, cannot commit sin; but what
Indifferent and undecided hearers of can this mean? for the worst of sins the word: How often has the voice have been committed by the best of sounded in the dispensations of divine men; but I know but of one sin which Providence, “Prepare to meet thy God's word declares cannot be blotted God?” Has this voice been hitherto out, which is the sin unto death. God neglected? How is the immortal soul has purposed to purify his church, and thus periled, its capability of resistance he who has forgiven, can alone preserve to gospel invitations and warnings in- us ; for we are still in the wood--the creased, and the danger more greatly enemy is still in the land ; but we must incurred of perishing in unbelief, and be as deaf as the adder, and must shut guilt, and woe? Delay therefore no our ears against all his suggestions. longer. The day of salvation is yet The apostle saith, “If any man sin, we continued. Hasten to the divine and all have an advocate with the Father." glorious righteousness of the Lamb of This supposes that all are liable to sin; God, and follow his will. “To-day if nay, even prone. We must therefore