The New Zealand Evangelist
On The Divine Inspiration Of The Scriptures
On The Divine Inspiration Of The Scriptures.
The following clear and judicious remarks on the Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures, are extracted from the preface to “Scott's Commentary on the Bible:”—
“Let it be here carefully observed, that the Divine Inspiration, and not merely the authenticity or genuineness of each part of the sacred writings, is intended. Each part, and every part, may be authentic or genuine—the work of the authors whose names they severally bear—or true and unsophisticated narratives of the times to which they refer; and yet they may be merely human, and of no authority in matters of doctrine and duty. The Odes of Horace, and Cæsar's Commentaries are authentic; probably the first book of Maccabees is genuine history; yet they are not, on that account, in any degree the authentic guides or standards of our faith and practice. Many able and admired writers, who apparently have stood forth as the champions of the Bible, appear, to the author of this, to have (he hopes undesignedly) betrayed the cause. An ancient warrior, having murdered his predecessor, and usurped his throne, was some time after requested to permit him to be page 38 numbered among the Gods; and it is said that he answered, Sit divus, modo non sit vivus: (Let him be a God, provided he be not living.) These apologists for the Bible seem to reverse the words, and to say, Sit vivus, modo non sit divus: (Let it he genuine, provided it be not divine.) It would, however, be waste of time to attempt to prove either the authenticity or genuineness of the sacred writings, unless in entire subserviency to the demonstration, that they are divinely inspired. All the works and words of mere men are fallible, and may be erroneous; and the desideratum (that which is especially wanted) is an Infallible Standard, to which all other books, and instructions of every kind, may be referred., with which they may be compared, and by which they may be judged. Now, if the sacred writings are indeed the word of God, if “all Scripture is given by the inspiration of God,” we have this desideratum; and have nothing farther, in this respect, to expect or desire. But if the books, called by the Apostles,” The Oracles of God,” are only the authentic writings of Moses, Samuel, David, &c., and not the infallible word of God, we are as far off from the desideratum above mentioned as ever. We may indeed learn what these sages of Israel thought as well as what the sages of China, Egypt, and Greece maintained, concerning God and religion; and we may examine the testimony of each, and bring in our verdict, some in favour of the one and some of the other; but we are still far from an infallible standard; as far as if the Bible had never been written, whatever value, in other respects, may be attached to such ancient, venerable, and interesting records.
“With this view of the subject, gathering strength from year to year, the writer of this is decided against any compromise; and he ventures to stand forth as vindicating ‘the Divine Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures.' He wishes indeed to see far abler champions to enter the lists against the Goliah of modern scepticism: but as most of those learned and eminent men, who take up the-challenge, seem in some page 39 measure to compromise the main point, or to decline the discussion of it, he takes his sling and his stone, and says, ‘Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the Living God?”
“By the Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures, the author would be understood to mean, ‘Such a complete and immediate communication, by the Holy Spirit, to the minds of the sacred writers, of those things which could not have been otherwise known; and such an effectual superintendency, as to those particulars concerning which they might otherwise obtain information, as sufficed absolutely to preserve them from every degree of error, in all things which could in the least affect any of the doctrines or precepts contained in the writings, or mislead any person who considered them as a divine and infallible standard of truth and duty.’ Every sentence, in this view, must be considered as ‘the sure testimony of God,’ in that sense in which it is proposed as truth.— Facts occurred, and words were spoken, as to the import of them, and the instruction contained in them, exactly as they stand here recorded; but the morality of words and actions, recorded merely as spoken and done, must be judged of by the doctrinal and preceptive parts of the same book. On this ground, all difference or disparity, between one and another of the sacred writers, is wholly excluded; Moses, Samuel, David, and Isaiah; Paul, James, Peter, and John, are all supposed to speak, or but the Holy Ghost:’ they are the voice; but the Divine Spirit is every where the Speaker. They write, indeed, in such language as their different talents, educations, habits, and associations suggested, or rendered natural to them; but the Holy Spirit so effectually superintended them, when writing, as to exclude every improper expression, and to guide to all those which best suited their several subjects; “Which things we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth.” Many particulars, which philosophers, or orators, or critics, may think inaccurate page 40 may consist with this complete inspiration; but every kind and degree of misrepresentation, as springing from popular or national prejudices, or opinions, or as calculated to mislead the humble believer, or to sanction error, must be totally excluded.”
It is this divine inspiration that makes the Bible both an infallible and authoritative standard of faith and practice. And hence it puts forth a claim on our obedience, as well as affords a certainty to our belief.