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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 42


page 24


"Oh that mine were the deep mind, prudent, and looking to both sides."

Because the law of the "Ten Commandments," as it is literally transcribed from the tables of stone on which Jehovah had engraved them, in Exodus, differs from the form in which they are given in the popular and eloquent speech of Moses in Deuteronomy, where he repeats them with comments and enforcements interned, Mr. Stout contends there is such a discrepancy as proves their non-inspiration. He is surely labouring in the interests of a bad cause. I challenge him to point out one instance in which Moses' speech departs from the strict sense of the transcription given in Exodus; and I should like to ask Mr. Stout to re-examine the two records carefully and severely critically, and then answer to himself the question, "Have I not falsely repaesented these passages?" The whole of the ten commandments are the same in fact, though expressed slightly different in terms. There is not a shade of difference in sense, or even in sequence. Can, then, the "commandments differ" if the sense is unchanged? Yet Mr. Stout calls this retention of exact sense, though slight variation in words, "a disagreement." Where is the truth?

"Truth is sunk in the deep."

About the differing forms of the Lord's Prayer in Matthew vi. and Luke xi. Mr. Stout makes a serious charge of inconsistency. But which is the inconsistent party? Certainly, emphatically, not the sacred writers; but the president of the Freethought Association. He has not taken the very slight trouble to examine his facts, and has consequently jumped at a false conclusion, as usual. He takes for granted that the two records refer to the same event and the same time. Such, however, is an unwarrantable assumption. If he were to display such slovenliness in getting up the defence of his clients, his flourishing practice would soon wane. Yet on assuming the rule of a critical lecturer, he rushes at a result, and boldly states it as a "truth," when half a minute's examination would have shown him the reverse. Is this the man who regards it as "man's highest duty to examine every subject for himself?" How woefully he falls below his own standard! The record of Matthew refers to the first year of the public ministry of Jesus, and shows the form of prayer to have been given in the course of an address, or, as we generally term it, "the Sermon on the Mount," when he was surrounded by a large concourse of people, upon whose ears fell the sublime instruction of that unparalleled discourse. The prayer was a natural portion of his sermon, and appears in its natural position. The record of Luke is of quite a different time, place, and character, and must necessarily refer to a second inculcation of the prayer. It occurred in the early portion of the third year of his public life. It was in a solitary place, where He was praying, "and when He ceased one of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples." The time is more than a year later; His disciples only are with Him, and He has just ceased praying, when he repeats the form (given so many months before in his public discourse) at the request of one of his followers. This shows all the confidence which is to be placed in Mr. page 25 Stout's critical ability. He has yet to learn the first principles of faithful and true criticism, or else his honesty is out of repair.

"An honest man's the noblest work of God."