The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 71
[reply to a lecture]
A lecture was delivered last March, before the Wesleyan Conference at Dunedin, by the Rev. C. H. Garland, on "The Bearing of the Higher Criticism on Leading Evangelical Doctrines."
That lecture contains Statements and assertions of a very startling character; statements which, if they were correct, and assertions which, if they could be proved, would go far towards destroying our faith in Christianity, as it is commonly understood amongst those called Christians, It the lecture had been delivered by a man thoroughly imbued with the sentiments of the German Rationalistic school, there would have been little in it to cause wonder or surprise; but coming from the quarter from which it does, it has indeed been a surprise to many, and has caused them bitter pain and grief. It is, deeply to be regretted that, a Wesleyan minister—a minister of that great Church whose orthodoxy was fenced in by her founder with every care which the skill of man could devise; a Church whose creed is sharply defined, and whose ministers solemnly pledge themselves to maintain and preach the doctrines that creed enthodies; and a Church which has ever prided herself on her firm and unwavering faith in the Bible as the Word of God; should deliberately send forth to the world a lecture containing views diametrically opposed to those she has hitherto held, and still holds, as to the Bible being the Word of God. It must nut, however, be regarded as in any sense expressing the views of the Wesleyan Conference, for I am informed on high authority that hardly any of the lecturer's ministerial brethren share his views; and, undoubtedly, amongst the laity those views are generally condemned and regarded as unsound. Unfortunately, however, the public generally are not aware of these facts, and consequently the lecture is considered by many as an official utterance, and as expressing the views of the New Zealand Wesleyan Methodist Church.
By higher criticism is mount not so much another branch added to these as an entire change of method in the critical study of the Bible. Hitherto (that is for the last three centuries) the method has been dogmatic (that is, u small series of texts has been, quoted, e.g., 2 Timothy iii., 16: page 6 "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God"; and 2 Peter i, 21: "Men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Ghost"); and upon these a theory or dogma has been constructed, into harmony with which every verse in the Bible has had to be brought. By higher criticism is meant the rejection of that method and the adoption of the inductive method, or a reasoning from particulars to generals—the deriving of a general truth from particular facts. It approaches the Bible without any theory of its inspiration or authority—deals with it as an ordinary historical and literary production; critically examines its history, law, prophecies, and doctries; estimates the intellectual tendencies and national feelings of the writers, and the current thoughts and expressions of the times; and instead of citing the Bible's testimony to its own inspiration and authority, induces them, if they be there, from the facts considered.
Now, as this explanation is rather long and laboured, especially the tremendous sentence with which the explanation is supposed to close, I may venture to give a shorter, and to the ordinary mind possibly a somewhat clearer definition, of what "higher criticism" professes to be. As it is also the definition of one whom the lecturer evidently admires, the Rev. W. T. Davison, he cannot reasonably object to it. Now, Mr. Davison defines "higher criticism" to be
"The examination of the Books of Scripture to determine their date, authorship, and character;"
as distinguished from
"'lower criticism,' which examines only into their words, and the accuracy of the revised text."
Concentrating his attention on the unaccountable usage of the two names, Jehovah and Elohim, translated Lord and (God respectivelyt he conjectured—it was only a conjecture—that Moses was not the original author of Genesis, but that he had made use of older documents, particularly of two, though he thought he discovered traces of at least nine others.
"The hypothesis originated in a misunderstanding of Exodus vi, 2, 3: 'And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the Lord: and I appeared unto Abraham, page 7 unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by (the name of) God Almighty, but by My name of Jehovah was I not known to them. Commentators of the very highest repute, such as Hengstenberg, Keil, and Delitzsch, explain that it is the Divine character rather than the mere mime that is denoted; and this interpretation is in complete harmony with common Hebrew usage. The full meaning of the name Jehovah, all the significance of the Divine grace and goodness, was not understood by the Israelites till, as their Redeemer, He delivered them out of the Egyptian bondage and brought them to the promised land."
It is a curious and suggestive fact that the first attack on the Book of Genesis by the reputed father of higher criticism, originated in a mistake.
Dr. Ellicott fear it, and boldly asserts that it in based on disbelief in the supernatural. Dr. Blaikle, the Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, whose word carries deserved weight beyond his own communion, attributes to it the decline of the evangelical spirit in Great Britain; and Dr. Stalker recently declared that it was emptying the Continental churches, quoting the fact that in the Dutch Church alone there were last year no less than 300 vacancies.
If it have any value, it lies not in its substance, but in its semi-official character.
These words are most important, and suggest matter for very serious reflection to the members of our Church in New Zealand. The lecturer distinctly claims for his lecture "a semiofficial character," and till its claim to be so looked upon is authoritatively denied, it will unquestionably be regarded as such by the public at large. There is no doubt that the lecturer page 8 has seriously compromised our Church in those islands by his utterances, and it is on this account that, having waited in vain for three months to see if some reply would be made, I have at length, as a member of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in New Zealand, ventured to utter my most solemn protest against his views and conclusions.
The leading evangelical doctrines have been influencend not by one but by there things—the advanced physical science, modern philosophy, and higher criticism.
The thoughtful reader may well ask, What prooft what shadow of proof, there is for this statement? I admit the term "leading evangelical doctrines" is somewhat wide and vague, and in the hands of a "higher critic" might be so skilfully manipulated as to mean almost anything. In its eommion-sense interpretation, however, as meaning" those fundamental truths of the Gospel which we as Methodists, in common with other Churches, hold and maintain I fearlessly assert that "physical science" and "modern philosophy" have not, and cannot change them at all. Truth is the same now as it was eighteen centuries ago, and as it will be to the end of time. The teaching of the Eternal Son is as true now, as it was when He lived on this earth 1800 years ago, and as it will be when He comes to judge mankind. Take, for instance, the grand, central doctrine of the Atonement. "Physical science n and "moral philosophy" can no more alter or influence the fact, that Christ died on the Cross, and made an atonement for the Sins of mankind, than they Cun alter or in fluence the fact that Napoleon commanded the French army at the Battle of Waterloo. I admit, that if "higher criticism" can prove that the Books of the Old Testament are, to a large extent, forgeries, unreliable, and not to be credited; and if they can also prove, as some of them are struggling to do, that Christ Himself was ignorant, ill-informed, fallible, constantly making mistakes and misstatements, and so "limited in His knowledge "as to be untrustworthy as a teacher of truth, that this central doctrine, and all other evangelical doctrines, will be most seriously influenced. Indeed, not only would they be most seriously influenced, but they would be absolutely destroyed, as the common sense of practical men would refuse to credit a Book which was found to be largely made up of forgeries, and to listen to a Teacher who was found to be untrustworthy. Christianity would die, and the only refuge for the world would be hopeless Agnosticism; some believing in the probability, some in the possibility, and some denying altogether the existence of a great First Cause.page 9
At present, however, "higher criticism," notwithstanding its most strenuous efforts, backed up in many cases by the boldest assertions utterly unsupported by facts, has not been able to shake that firm foundation of the Christian faith, the Word of God.
But, furthermore, the bearin which higher criticism has upon the doctrines of repentance, the atonement, and Ihe completion of human redemption is indirect, depending entirely upon the bearing which higher criticism has upon the inspiration and authority of the Bible. And that is a subject which is still sub Judice; to advance conclusions, the truth of which depends upon a problem not yet solved, could lead no man to conviction, but must lead many to confusion.
Now, what is the meaning of these words? If they have any meaning at all they must mean just this, that the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith—repentance, the atonement, and the redemption of man, are at present sub judice, or in other words, on their trial before the tribunal of "higher criticism." Bye-and-bye the higher critics will tell us, whether to believe them or not. Does the lecturer see the far-reaching, but logical consequence of his statementt, supposing the Christian world accepts it and acts accordingly? It means nothing less than the paralysis of Christianity, the cessation of all Christian effort, and the giving up of all Christian hope; it may be for ten, it may be for twenty, it may be for a hundred years, till this little knot of hookworms, who nt present can hardly agree on one single thing, shall think fit to tell mankind what they may, and what they may not believe. The lecturer practically asks the Christian world to stand still, and wait in silent; suspense till a few recluses, sitting in their studies, shall decide on the future creed of the world. I may be told that I am misrepresenting the lecturer; but am I? The lecturer tells us that these doctrines, of transcendant importance to us, both as regards this world and the next, are now sub judice, which means before the tribunal of "the critics." When a matter is before a judge, it is the custom for the parties interested to wait for his decision; and, consequently, when the lecturer tells us that these matters in which we are vitally interested are now sub judice, he practically asks us to pause and wait for the judge's docision. What magnificent self-assurance is shown in this request. The doctrines of repentance and the Atonement were plainly taught by Christ and His Apostles 1800 years ago; the Christian Church for eighteen centuries has held these doctrines with unshaken fidelity; John Wesley and the early Methodist preachers, and the great Churches they founded, have clung to these doctrines with a firm and unyielding grasp; millions of men have died witnessing with their last breath their faith in the all-suffi- page 10 cient atonement of Christ, But all this is nothing to the lecturer. With supreme contempt he posses it by, and tells us to wait till "the critics" have spoken, for the matter is now sub Judice. Truly, a modest demand. We are supposed, however, to have immortal souls, and may possibly die before the tribunal gives its decision, and if so, what then?
The lecturer then, in jocose language, passes on to criticise what he calls
"The story of creation," "with its talking serpent," "and angels guarding with their rotatory sword of fire the empty Paradise."
We are next told that the Bible throws no light on
"The problem of the bifurcation of sex."
A mysterious but hideous phrase. The lecturer then proceeds to mention several apparent discrepancies between the Books of Kings and Chronicles, and in the short space of two pages informs its that the Pentateuch was not the work of Moses; assigns a comparatively recent date to the Book of Job; tells us that Dr. Cheyne asserts that David was not the author of a single Psalm; requests us to wait till "the critics" have decided about Daniel; authoritatively announces that the latter part of Isaiah was not written by the prophet himself, and jests "about him sawn asunder a second time." Not exhausted with the destruction he has effected on the Old Testament, the lecturer then hastens on to deal with the New. It is gratifying to find that there is some possibility of the Gospels of St Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke passing comparatively unscathed through the hands of the "higher critics." though even here we are told that
"Students are still busy with the problem of the construction of their narratives."
The lecturer, however, admits that St. John was the author of the Gospel which bears his name, and that St. Paul was the writer of the Epistles to the Romans, Galatiang, and Corinthians. About the other Books of the New Testament the lecturer says little, so that it seems the only books about which we can be fairly certain are the Gospel of St. John, and St. Paul's Epistles to the Romans, Galatians, and Corinthians? Now for this wholesale destruction of the Bible, it must be remembered, the lecturer does not bring forward a single proof, or a tittle of evidence in favour of hie statements, except the conjectures of Dr. Driver, the assumptions of Dr. Cheyne, or the theories of one or two other men of the same type. Assertions of the most startling character are made; statements of the most astounding kind, on the most solemn and important subjects are uttered, and we are asked to believe them, without proof, or even attempt at proof.page 11
All this is startling enough, but we now come to a page of a far more startling character. Christ stands in the way of the lecturer. The words of the former, and the theories of the latter do not agree. What is to be done? Both cannot be right. Which is to give way? Will the lecturer give up his theory, or will ho attempt to prove that the Saviour is wrong? Does he hesitate? Not for a moment. Christ differs from some of the theories of some of the "higher critics," therefore, Christ must be in error. The point at issue is a very simple one, "Christ referred to the Pentateuch as the work of Moses." Some of the "higher critics" say it is not. Which is right? The question is one of vital importance. The lecturer unhesitatingly decides in favour of "the critics." The position is, however, an awkward one. Here is Christ; looked at from the standpoint of His humanity, a Man of mighty intellect, a Jew, a profound Hebrew scholar, able to cope with and silence the most learned Rabbis of the day, and with the incalculable advantage of living 1800 years nearer the time of Moses than the critics. Here is Christ also, looked at from the standpoint of His Divinity; the only Son of the Eternal Jehovah, a Being all wise, all holy, possessing all knowledge and all power; and by His own confession existing before the time of Moses, "before Abraham was I am." The lecturer sees his difficulty, but he is equal to the occasion, Skilfully avoiding all reference to Christ as a man, and not alluding at all to the extreme probability that being a Jew, a man of transceudant ability, and possessing a perfect kaowledge of Hebrew, and living 1800 years nearer the time of Moses than we do, He would know who was the author of the Pentateuch, he proceeds to propound the theory that Christ, though Divine, was a Being of limited knowledge." At first sight it would seem no easy matter, admitting the Divinity of Christ, admitting that He was "The Brightness of His Father's glory," "The express image of His Person," and that "He made the worlds" to prove that He was also a Being of "limited knowledge." constantly making mistakes and misquotations. The lecturer, however, sees that he mast do this, or confess that Christ was right about the authorship of the Pentateuch. The task is a gigantic one, but he at once sets himself manfully to work to prove the ignorance and limited knowledge of the Saviour. Two or three passages from the gospels are quoted in proof of this, and on the strength of our Lord's enquiry of His disciples "How many loaves have ye," and of His question respecting Lazarus, "Where have ye laid him," the lecturer bases his theory of our Lord's "limited knowledges." Of course our Lord in ordinary conversation with His disciples and friends, and others, spoke a and talked as a man with men. Christ was not always parading his omniscience as the Son of the Eternal, at all times and in all places; but the fact that He was not always showing it, is no argument page 12 against the indisputable truth that He possessed it. Just in the same way, as the fact that He did not descend from the cross, and put to flight those who had crucified Him, in no proof at alll that He could not have done it, and no argument against I Its omnipotence, The quotation of those passages, however, in support of his theory, is most valuable as showing1 the desperate shifts the "higher critics" are reduced to in their attempta to provo the inferiority of the Son of God in knowlodge, to themselves.
of the Bible. To this pleasing subject he devotes two pages, and quotes various passages in proof of his statements. It is somewhat difficult at first sight to see, what the lecturer's object has been in introducing these pages into his lecture; but we gather from the sentence,
Errors, misstatements, inaccuracies, and defects
that his object has been to strike a blow at what may ho called "The Infallibility of the Bible," The lecturer unhappily leaves us in doubt, as to how far the fallible in his judgment extends; because if he considers it to extend to the teaching of Christ and His apostles, in matters of doctrine, we may well ask, "Where is the element of certainty in the Word of God? Which part is human, and which divine? Which is the true, and which the false? These questions are questions of vital importance to us as Christians; for if the teaching of the future is to be, that there exists an undefined "human and fallible element" in the Word of God, we may well ask, Where must we go for an infallible guide?
We must henceforth frankly acknowledge the existence of a human and fallible element in Scripture.
but he must know perfectly well, that the point he alludes to has been again and again explained. The subject of the alleged "inaccuracies and errors" of the Bible is so important that I cannot refrain from quoting the words of the late Rev. E. J. Sharr, as recorded in the Fernley lecture, delivered by him before the British Wesleyan Methodist Conference, held in Nottingham in 1891:—
Matthew has made a mistake;
"A large number of these so-called discrepancies are only so in appearance. They are not so in reality. Sometimes a little additional information would make all perfectly clear. A large number have ho en satisfactorily explained; others are sure to be cleared up; a few will remain to the end, because the needed information is lost."
This is a fair and reasonable statement of the case, and taken in connection with the fact that many difficulties, at one time supposed to be insurmountable, have been altogether removed, and many statements which at one time were believed to be unmistakeable errors, have been now proved to be perfectly correct, is practically a complete answer to the charge of the "errors, misstatement, and inaccuracies" of the Bible.
displayed in some of the Psalms, he passes on to the Prophets, Here, too, he finds something to disapprove of, for we are told:
Personal spleen and vindictiveness
We see a vagueness, indefiniteness, and a variation between the prophecy and the event that is bewildering.
In fact, the rev. gentleman springs from book to book, and place to place, with amazing agility, and like Noah's dove, nowhere can he find rest for the sole of his foot. The earlier Books of the Bible, he affirms, were not written by Moses; the Kings and Chronicles contradict each other; some of the Psalms contain "personal spleen and vindictiveness"; the prophecies "a vagueness, indefiniteuess, and variation that is bewildering"; and with respect to the Gospels of St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke, he is not at present in a position to pronounce a definite page 14 opinion, as "students are still busy with the problem of the construction of their narratives." With respect to Christ, however, the lecturer feels that he stands on firm ground, and has no need to strengthen his position by extracts from either Canon Driver or Dr. Cheyne. Here he can stand alone, and his unhesitating decision is, that Christ had "a limited knowledge"; that He was ignorant of passing events, and displayed His want of information by misquotations on the most important subjects.
The seat of authority in religion, we say in general, the Bible is the sole authority.
This is such an astounding conclusion, after all the lecturer has said about its, inaccuracies and defects, that it leads us irresistibly to the conclusion that, in his devotion to the study of "the science of higher criticism," the lecturer has entirely omitted that of "the art of logic." For, if his premiss is correct, that the Bible is full of "errors, misstatements, inaccuracies, and defects," the world of thinking men will have common sense enough to say, that a Book full of "errors, misstatements, inaccuracies, and defects" is unworthy of credit, and ought not to be believed, Consequently, from these two premisses, the conclusion logically follows, that the Bible is unworthy of credit, and ought not to be believed.
The lecturer may deny this, but irresistible logic is too strong for the wild conclusions, and loose reasoning of "higher criticism." Taking as the major premiss what the common sense of mankind will affirm, and as the minor premiss the statement of the lecturer, the syllogism will stand:
A Book full of "errors, misstatements, inaccuracies, and defects," is unworthy of credit, and ought not to be believed,
The Bible is a book full of "errors, misstatements, inaccuracies, and defects."
Therefore, the Bible is unworthy of credit, and ought not to be believed.
This conclusion is inevitable, if the minor premiss is true, as the lecturer says it is, but as I most emphatically deny. Now I am most anxious not to misrepresent the lecturer in the slightest degree, and I know he may reply, These "errors and page 15 inaccuracies" exist, "but they are not on vital points. What, however, can be a more vital point, than that Christ and His Apostles should constantly be in error, as according to the lecturer they must be, in assigning portions of Scripture to Moses, when those portions were not written by Moses, but were forgeries of some 900 years later. These are errors and misstatements of the most vital character. They are all important, and the lecturer evidently does not see their far-reaching consequences. We affirm that Christ and His Apostles were right. The lecturer affirms they were wrong; and if he can prove his point, he will do much, to destroy the faith of men in Christ and Christianity.
Then again with respect to Christ, the lecturer affirms "His limited knowledge, His ignorance of passing events, His mistakes, His mis-quotations." The common-sense of mankind will at once say "that a teacher of limited knowledge," who was ignorant of passing events, and who made mistakes, and in reference to the most important subjects, misquotations also, cannot be received as an infallible guide and teacher of truth, The syllogism will stand:
A teacher of "limited knowledge," who makes mistakes and misquotations, and is ignorant, of passing events, cannot be received as an infallible guide and teacher of truth.
Christ was a teacher of "limited knowledge," who made mistakes and misquotations, and was ignorant of passing events.
Therefore, Christ cannot to he received as an infallible guide, find teacher of truth.
Now, these are strictly logical conclusions, and they necessarily follow from the views of the lecturer. A good man reasoning loosely, and in an illogical manner, may still hold on to the Bible and to Christ as the Son of God; but if the views of the lecturer and correct, and his assertious true, it necessarily and logically follows, that there is practically an end of Christianity.
The lecturer may not see this, or rather, may close his eyes to the fact, but, sceptics and infidels see clearly enough, what the inevitable consequence will be. As an infidel said a few days ago, at a meeting to which he had taken the lecture of the Rev. C. H. Garland, "These are just our views; this man says the same as we do."
The lecturer then goes on to inform us, that
The Bible contains the Word of God, rather than is the Word of God;
and having now effectually shaken our faith in the authority of the Bible, and the authority of Christ, he authoritatively tells us that now,page 16
Out standard of authority is the conscience enlightened by thti Holy Ghost.
Here, of course, the question naturally arises, as our knowledge of the Holy Ghost is altogether derived from the Bible, and the Bible is full of "errors and inaccuracies," is there any Holy Ghost at all? Is it not possible His existence is one of the errors? How shall we know? The lecturer has proved the existence of a fallible element in the Word of God, or at any rate thinks he has. May not the doctrine of the Holy Spirit have its source from that fallible element? These are questions the lecturer will have to face, for his teaching necessarily leads to doubt and uncertainty, and though as a Christian man he may firmly believe in the Holy Ghost, others, pushing his views to their logical conclusion, will not only doubt the existence of the Holy Ghost but will also doubt every truth in the Word of God. Some suspicion of possible danger, from the lengths to which his disciples may carry their now creed, seems also to enter his mind, for he asks the pertinent question:
But when the external Authority of the Bible as it now it is removed, what check have we upon the vagaries of an ill-informed and self-opinionated mind? None.
It is refreshing to find one word in the lecture with which all thinking men can agree—None.
The lecturer now cornea to the close of his lecture, and in reference to what he terms, "the present outlook," he triumphantly exclaims:
Higher criticism, physical science, modern philosophy, are certainly our allies.
Brave words! Our allies in what? In destroying the faith of men in "the Bible as the Word of God."
A bold statement; a statement without one shadow of proof. Logic, however, certainly is not. Inexorable logic proves to an absolute certainty, that if his premisses are right, his conclusions must necessarily be wrong.
Having taken this rapid survey of the lecture us a whole, and having pointed out what the natural result of the views it propounds must be, I will now examine it more minutely, and deal with its leading points one by one.
Before doing so, however, it is as well to enquire into the present position of "higher criticism," and what it claims for itself. By the admission of the critics themselves, it is a very young science; there is hardly a single point on which its leaders are agreed, and to quote the words of Mr. Davidson, "there is nothing like the consensus of opinion which makes a settled page 17 science," Indeed, amongst the few men who pose before the world under the pretentious title of "higher critics," there are men of every possible shade of opinion, from those who, as the same writer says "distinctly repudiate the supernatural," like Wellhausen and Kueueu, to those who, like Cheyne and Driver, "are reverent in tone." We have, therefore, the certain knowledge that the critics do not agree amongst themselves, and that there are the widest possible differences of opinion amongst them, both as to the methods to be applied, and the results that they obtain. It must therefore be clear to every impartial mind, that while these great differences exist, and while they can hardly agree as to a single point they have no right to claim the assent of the different churches to their views, till they can agree to tell us what those views are.
Then, again, it must be borne in mind, that "higher critics" are a class who may be termed specialists, and specialists are always one-sided and dangerous men, Accustomed to look at matters from one special standpoint, they are as a class singularly incapable of taking clear and impartial views of any great question In fact, any man who devotes himself almost exclusively to one branch of study, and looks at that from one special standpoint, will necessarily to a certain degree have his judgment warped; and the more he becomes a specialist, the narrower him range of vision will become, and the more incapable he will be of taking, broad, clear, and comprehensive views of the question as a whole.
So with "the higher critic;" he is a specialist, and a specialist of the most dangerous kind. Generally a recluse, shut up in his study; knowing and seeing little of his fellow-men; ever poring over ancient documents, and ever searching with microscopic eye for minute differences in style and idiom; and if he finds them, or thinks he finds them, magnifying them to the most gigantic proportions, and building on the most unsubstantial foundations the most colossal theories, he is of all men the most incapable of taking a clear, impartial, and comprehensive view of any question as a whole.
I would speak with all respect of Dr. Driver as a most learned man, but let his book be carefully read by any man having a trained intellect, and a judicial mind like one of the groat judges of our Supreme Law Courts, and ho would tell you that although marked by immense learning, it was all hypothesis based on conjecture, and that conjecture based on minute and fanciful differences of style; in fact, that it was the production of a specialist who looked at the whole question from one narrow standpoint, and whose eyes were closed to everything else. As the learned editor of "The Wesleyan Methodist Magazine" well page 18 observes of Dr. Driver, "he credits his own critical faculty with a microscopic penetration, and a power of magical divination of which he gives no proof, and indulges his passion for pulling the Scriptures to pieces and then putting them together in a way which turns Revelation into a perplexing puzzle. His overdose of the critical drug makes him see double, when the healthy optic recognises unity."
There is also another danger. Dr. Driver's book is a book of vast learning, and his hypotheses and conjectures are stated in a very plausible way, and unless they are carefully examined and weighed, are most liable to mislead those who may read them.
Here is a great source of danger. An ordinary man, with no special knowledge of the subject, and a mind not accustomed to weigh evidence, reading an able work of this kind, written from one standpoint and with one object is very likely to be led away by the arguments of the writer and to become a convert to his views. This is the natural result; not because the arguments are sound or the views are correct, but simply because the man, through no fault of his own, has not the technical knowledge, mental acumen, and logical skill to detect the fallacies it contains. In fact, except a man reads some book of equal ability on the other side of the question, there is every probability of his being led astray by the specialist; not because the specialist is right, but because he only sees the matter from the specialist's point of view.
I must now briefly notice the principal points in the lecture to which exception may fairly he taken, and without dwelling on those of minor importance, though some of these are most objectionable, I will confine myself to the four following:—
First—The authorship of the Pentateuch;
Second—The asserted dual authorship of Isaiah;
Third—The new doctrine of the limited knowledge of Christ;
Fourth—The statement that the Bible rather "contains the Word of God," than is "the Word of God;" and the assertion that, for the future, "our standard of authority is the conscience enlightened by the Holy Ghost."
First—With respect to the question of the authorship of the "Pentateuch"—for I altogether reject the lecturer's term, "Sexateuch" as a quiet way of begging the whole question, and assuming, without any attempt at proof, the whole point at issue, page 19 the lecturer asserts that the researches of scholara lead us to believe:
That not only was Genesis not written originally by Moses, but the Pentateuch, as we see it, was not compiled by him, but in its present shape is the work of men who flourished at least 900 years after the death of Mosea.
Now my contention is, that the statement of the lecturer, as far as the Pentateuch is concerned, is absolutely without foundation; and that, although some objection may be raised against Moses being considered its author, the mass of evidence in favour of his being so, is absolutely overwhelming.
The argument of the "higher critics" is, of course, the argument of specialists. It is based almost entirely on what I may call "style," and their hypotheses are in direct contradiction to the great mass of historical and internal evidence in favour of the authorship of Moses.
"Their chief arguments are based upon supposed differences of style in the various portions of the Mosaic writings, which differences, however, are in reality nothing more than indications of the mental idiosyncracies of the critics, as appears from the fact that the critics are at such variance among themselves, and arrive at such different conclusions from the same materials."
Now this a fair statement of the ease of "the specialists." They base their argument against the Mosaic authorship on some little imaginary differences in "style," ignoring altogether the overwhelming mass of internal and historical evidence on the other side.
The lecturer alludes to Wellhausen, and his allusion is suggestive. If you start from the standpoint of the German Rationalist, that the "supernatural is incredible" and "the prophetical impossible," it becomes a matter of paramount importance for you to get rid at all cost of the fact of the Mosaic authorship. Hence the shifts to which they and their followers are reduced. To admit the Mosaic authorship, is of course to admit both the supernatural and the prophetical, and in order to get rid of it in any way, they are obliged to ignore all the evidence of an internal and historical character, and to build their theory on some fanciful and trivial supposed differences of style. They treat the Bible in a different manner to that in which they treat all other ancient authors. The differences in style in the Pentateuch, are not greater than the differences between the Iliad and the Odyssey, and yet they do not dispute that Homer was the author of both.page 20
The differences of style in the first five Boot a of the Bible are not nearly so great, as between the Georgics and the Eneid of Virgil, yet no one disputes that Virgil wrote them both.
Now, my contention is that Moses was the author of the Book of Genesis, writing under the guidance of God, and very possibly making use, under that guidance, of older records; and that the Books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy were also written by him, with the exception of the small portion at the end of the last Book which deals with the death of Moses himself, and which is evidently an addition; but which docs not in the slightest degree interfere with the Mosaic authorship of the rest.
Now, in arguing this point, I will avail myself of the masterly argument of the Rev. W. Spiers, M.A., who has made this subject his special study, and is unquestionably one of the greatest living authorities on the question.
Mr. Spiers is of opinion, that possibly the Pentateuch was revised under Divine control by Ezra, but this of course, if correct, makes no difference as to the fact of the Mosaic authorship.
"The Bible narrative fits in to the facts with perfect precision, and with a correctness which no forger could have attained."
"Wherever it was possible to compare the Bible narrative with the Assyrian and Egyptian records, it has been shown that there is an almost perfect harmony between them. This argument is all the more valuable and striking from the fact, that the allusions to which I have drawn attention are of an incidental character."
"The historical portions of the Pentateuch present many undesigned coincidences with such secular histories as we possess, and this too in minute particulars, which would have escaped the attention of a forger."
"To say that Ezra, or some post exilian scribe compiled these ancient writings, makes a demand upon us which could hardly be admitted by anyone who attends to all the conditions of the problem. A later writer than Moses, who should have undertaken to arrange or put together such a work as the Pentateuch, must have had within his reach the national records of Assyria and Egypt. This is an hypothesis too vast and too vague for anyone to entertain, who considers what it involves."
In fact, the high antiquity of the Pentateuch is proved by a mass of evidence which cannot be ignored; and as it must have been written about the time of Moses, the question naturally arises, if Moses did not write it, who did?
" The internal character of the Pentateuch is in entire harmony with the view that it was written by Moses."
"Its language and style are those of a simple age, and characteristic of the early stages of a nation's life."
"Other internal characters of the Mosaic authorship, are those which relate to the customs, institutions, and national histories of the peoples with whom Moses came into contact. The Book bears no traces of a post-Mosaic age, unless its prophetic element be denied. Who is more likely than the man whose life was the introduction of a new era to the world, and the link between the patriarchal and the Sinaitic dispensations, to undertake the task of compiling the history of the past, and of tracing its developments? How vast is the mass of allusions to incidental details of contemporaneous history with which we meet, and which only one who was learned in Semitic and Egyptian lore could possibly have written with unvarying accuracy under such unfavourable conditions! Hengsten-berg, in his "Egypt and the Books of Moses," mentions many matters, all the more impressive because apparently page 22 trivial, in respect to which no outsider, and no one of a, later age, could have displayed the precision and correctness everywhere observable in the Pentateuch. The Egyptian custom of carrying baskets on the head (Gen. xl. 16), shaving the beard (xli, 14), prophesying with the cup (xliv. 5), embalming the dead and the use of sarcophagi (1. 2, 3), the use of reeds, asphalt, and pitch in making baskets (Exod. ii. 3), the committal of obscenities and crimes peculiar to Egypt (Exod. xxii. 19, Lev. xviii. 23, etc), the building of Hebron and Zoan (Num. xiih 22), the special foods of the Egyptians (Num. xi 5), methods of punishment (Deut. xxv, 2. 3), the peculiar diseases of the time (Deut. vii. 15), and innumerable other details, are referred to in a way that demonstrates a full and practical acquaintance with the national life and institutions of the various peoples with whom Moses held intercourse,"
"It is crowded with allusions to the interposition of God in the lives of the Patriarchs. It is full of Divine revelations. Its accounts of sublime events which took place before man appeared on the earth give it a distinctly supernatural character; while its unity, its archaising its details of primeval history, and its general tone of authority substantiate its claims to he considered as the work of one occupying the supreme position of Moses. No other author has ever been indicated; indeed such a thing would have been impossible during the history of the Jews. It is impossible that such an artless story as that, say of Abraham, could have been created in the debased times of the latter monarchies; indeed, it is inconceivably remote from any appearance of fiction or fraud. It is clearly a photograph from life."
We have therefore an overwhelming mass of historical evidence in favour of the high antiquity of the Pentateuch, and we have also the strongest internal evidence of its antiquity as well, and also of its Mosaic authorship.
Then, in addition to all this, there is the fact that from the time of Joshua onward, there are constant references to the "law of Moses," as contained in the Pentateuch.
"From the time of Joshua onwards, there are such references to the law of Moses, as corroborate the claims of the Pentateuch. When Joshua entered upon his duties as page 23 the successor of Moses, lie was instructed 'to do according to all the law which Moses commanded,' and it was added, 'this book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth' (Josh. i. 7-8). Accordingly he repaired to Ebal and Gerizim and made proclamation 'as it is written in the book of the law of Moses,'and' afterward he read all the words of the law' (Josh. viii. 30-34). When stricken in age he exhorted the people 'to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses' (Josh, xxiii. 6). These early references to the existence and sanctity of the writings of Moses are of high evidential value, and through all the subsequent books of the Old Testament similar testimony is borne. (See I Kings ii 3; 2 Kings xiv. 1-6; xxii. 8; 2 Chron. xxv. 4; Ezra vi, 18; Neh. viii, 8), Down to the time of Ezra then, tlio period when the critics say the Pentateuch began to take shape, there is an unbroken series of attestations to the existence and authority of the Mosaic writings. Similar references are met with in all the later books of the prophets, Joel is generally regarded as the oldest of the prophets. He was the author of the wonderful prophecy quoted by Peter on the day of Pentecost. He knows nothing of a fragmentary Pentateuch, nor does he refer to any authority in law or religion equal to that of Moses. He alludes to priesthoods and altras, to solemn assemblies, and to many other matters which imply familiarity with the Thornah of Moses. If Ezra, or Jeremiah, or any other of the later writers to whom portions of the Pentateuch are ascribed, had really been its authors, we should hardly have found in Joel, their predecessor, such minute acquaintance with these things.
"So we might procseed in regard to Amos, Hose a, Micah, Isaiah, Jeremiah and all through the Hat of the prophets, and in every one of them we should find the spirit and the very words of the Pentateuch; but we have not space for so extensive a task, and must refer the reader to the lists of passages given in the treatises which deal with the question. Without a single dissentient voice from the days of Joshua till the close of the Old Testament canon, the Pentateuch was accepted as the divinely inspired production of Moses, the servant of God."
Then again, as Mr. Spiers justly observes, there are expressions in the Pentateuch to the effect that it was the work of Mosesr and to this I commend the attention of the lecturer, who coolly asserts.
The Pentateuch never claims to have been written by Moses.page 24
"Let us refer to a few of the passages, which put it beyond doubt that the Pentateuch claims to have been written by Moses. Interwoven into the history of the war with the Amalekites are these words:—'And the Lord said unto Moses, write this for a memorial in a book (or the book), etc, (Exod. xvii. 14). In Exodus xxiv. 3-7 it is declared that Moses wrote the words of the covenant and the laws of Israel in the book of the covenant, and read them to the people. Again, in Exodus xxxiv. 27, Moses is commanded to write down the words of the renewed covenant, and then it is added: 'And he was there with the Lord, forty days and forty nights, And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten command ments.' In Numbers xxxiii. 2 it is said that he wrote by Divine instruction the history of the encampments of the Israelites in the desert. That these events and commandments are specially mentioned as having been recorded by Moses, makes the inference most natural and reasonable that a full history was kept by him of God's dealings with His people. At the conclusion of his last address to the Israelites it is declared that Moses 'wrote this law (thorgh, law or instruction), and delivered it unto the priests, the sons of Levi,' to be read to the people at the Feast of Tabernacles (Dent. xxxi. 9-13). And in harmony with this it is stated (verses 24-28) that 'it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the Words of this law in a book, until they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord. Saying. Take this book of the law, and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee,' There was then a book in which Moses was regularly writing by Divine commands, and which was to he sacredly guarded and statedly read, by the leaders and teachers of the Israelites, In after days, when they should attain to a settled form of government, their king was to cause a copy of this book to be made, and was to read therein all the days of his life (Deut. xvii. 18). Again and again, is this book or Thorah referred to, and always in such a way as shows that it was invested with sanctity and authority."
These passages are a clear answer to the statements of the lecturer that "the Pentateuch never claims to have been written by Moses." Then again, the lecturer alfirms, with respect to tie Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch:—
There is no claim made for it by any New Testament writer.page 25
An astounding statement truly.
"The omniscience and even the veracity of Jesus Christ are involved. The Pentateuch and the Gospelt seem to stand or fall together. We are driven to the alternative, that either the Pentateuch is essentially Mosaic in its origin, as Christ again and again pronounced it to be, or else that His utterances on the subject are of such a character, as that we could not long hold consistently to His own presentation of His claims."
"He always referred to the Jewish Scriptures as standing apart from all other books in sanctity and authority, and very often shows the words to have a depth of meaning which the mere form of expression does not fully reveal. Want of space forbids quotations: but let the thoughtful reader turn to such passages as Matthew iv. 4, 7, 10, xxii. 32, xxvi. 56; Mark xii. 26; Luke xvi. 16, xviii. 31; John v. 39, vii. 38, x, 34, 35. In till these instances the Old Testament is placed upon an exaltation by Christ, that sufficiently indicates His views of its uniquely sacred character. What could more strongly evidence this than the statement, which He made at the beginning of His ministry, as though to make clear what the aim of that whole ministry was to he: 'Think not that' I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not 'come to destroy, but to Fulfil. For verily I say unto you,' Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no 'Wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.' Had Christ used the term 'the law' in any limited sense, such as now it is sometimes said He did, then He deceived the people, for they knew no other use of the expression than as referring to the Thorah the Lau-book, the writings of Moset.
"Moreover, our Lord frequently refers to Moses as the giver of laws contained in the Pentateuch, which were still invested with supreme authority in those times. Moses is declared to have given the law (John vii. 19); he is represented as being actively connected with events recorded in the Pentateuch (Luke xx, 37; John iii. 14, vi. 32); as having prophesied of Himself (John v. 46), 47); and as being judge in matters of morality (Mark x. 3).
"If possible, the case is almost stronger where Deuteronomy is concerned. This is a book to which the 'higher critics' assign a post-Mosaic date. Dr, Driver takes this position, although he inclines to think it was page 26 written by one author. And yet on three different occasions our Lord spoke of this book in such a way as to convey the idea that He accepted its Mosaic origin. 'He wrote of Me' He declined at 'a feast,' referring to the well-known prophecy of Deuteronomy xviii, 15: 'The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto Him ye shall hearken.' How sadly distinct is the echo of these words in our Saviour's laments!—' Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me' (John v. 46); 'If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead' (Luke xvi, 31). Again, during His temptation, He cited most exactly and solemnly, as genuine, authentic, and decisive Scripture, two passages Irom Deuteronomy vi. 4-5, words which are given in Deuteronomy as those of Moses. His use of them in so awful a connexion makes it impossible for us to think that He supposed them a forgery.
"Here, then, is Christ's testimony. It is clear and emphatic, and admits of only one interpretation, Our Lord evidently believed, and wished others to believe, that Moses wrote by Divine authority the books which bore his name. How is this testimony dealt with by those 'higher' critics who profess to believe in our Lord's Divinity, for with others we are not now concerned?"
Now I have presented the argument of Mr. Spiers in favour of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, as concisely as possible. It is clear, logical, and convincing. In the first place, he shows that there is a mass of evidence of an historical character in favour of its high antiquity, which is practically overwhelming.
In the second place, he shows that the internal evidence of its antiquity is clear and convincing, and that there is also the strongest probability from its contents that Moses was its author. In the third place, he proves that from the time of Joshua down to the close of the Old Testament canon "the Pentateuch was accepted as the Divinely inspired production of Moses, the servant of God."
In the fourth place, he proves beyond dispute that the Pentateuch claimed to be the production of Moses.
In the fifth place, he proves also that Christ Himself, on repeated occasions, alluded to the Pentateuch as being the work of Moses.page 27
It is difficult to conceive evidence of a stronger character, and yet the Specialists reject it all in favour of theories of their own, about which they cannot agree among themselves, based on some supposed trivial differences of style.
Then, in addition to the arguments of Mr. Spiers, which I have just alluded to, I may mention the fact, which also bears on the question, that Manetho and other ancient Egyptian writers, agree that Moses was tbe "founder of the laws" of the Jews. This testimony is invaluable on account of its high antiquity.
Then again Josephus, the Jewish historian, who was certainly no friend to Christianity, in the catalogue he gives of the Sacred Books of the Jews, especially assigns the first five books to Moses, and we cannot estimate the testimony of this hostile writer too highly, because he was a learned Jew and had the vast advantage of living 1800 years nearer the time of Moses than we do, and if forgery had been at work it is impossible he would not have exposed it.
Then again, the wonderful care with which the Jews guarded these sacred writings, and especially those of Moses, whom they reverenced with almost superstitious devotion, and whose least word they treasured up with the most scrupulous care, absolutely shuts out the possibility of forgery or addition. It is altogether an incredible supposition, that a forgery in the name of Moses could have have been palmed off on a people so devoted to his law, and whose priests guarded it with such extreme care. The whole thing is alsolutely incredible, and the more carefully the historical evidence of the past, of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch is enquired into, the more incredible the supposition of forgery will appear, The greatest possible care was taken of the Pentateuch; a copy of it was placed and kept in the Ark; a whole tribe was set apart by God for the care of the law as delivered to Moses, and to watch over its safe custody. It was held to be an unpardonable sin amongst the Jews, even to attempt to alter a single letter of it, and from the time of Ezra the Masorites, the most learned men of the Jews, made the law their exclusive study; and I would ask, in the face of all this care, this scrupulous watching, not by one but by hundreds of men, how is it possible to assign it to any other author but Moses. In fact, one-tenth part of the evidence that exists in favour of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, would be sufficient to establish the authorship of any other ancient book in the world. Yet, on account of some little imaginary differences in style, we are asked to reject all this overwhelming mass of evidence by the specialists, who proudly arrogate to themselves the sounding title of "higher critics."page 28
The examination of Isaiah shows that there are two books, different in style, spirit, and subject; and though there are still some critics who maintain the unity of authorship, and loudly protest against saiah being sawn asunder a second time, yet the Isianie authorship of the latter part of the book (from chapter xl.) is now given up by many of the best scholars.
Here again we meet with one of the lecturer's truly astonishing statements, for it is not correct that "the 'Isainic authorship' of the latter part of the book, from chapter xl. has been given up by many of the host scholars."
The lecturer has no right to make these assertions for which he offers no proof. Undoubtedly a few "higher critics," led by Rationalistic scholars such as Wellhausen, have, like Dr. Delitzch, given it up. They are, however, only a few.
Now with reference to Isaiah, the Jews, proud of their great prophet as they justly were, knew nothing of two Isaiahs. For 700 years before the birth of Christ, and for 1800 years since, the people who above al1 others ought to know something about the question, have attributed the whole Book of Isaiah to the great prophet whose name it bears, and have known nothing of any second Isaiah. So with respect to the Christian Church, for eighteen centuries it too knew nothing of any second Isaiah. The three great churches of the earlier days of Chrirstianity, the Eastern, Alexandrian, and Western knew nothing of a second Isaiah. The great churches of more modern times, the Roman, the Greek, and the various Protestant Churches, knew nothing of him. In fact, he had no existence till the necessities of "higher criticism" brought him forth, literally as one born out of due time The circumstances attending his advent into the world are very suggestive. The Book of Isaiah as a whole, was an unpleasant thing for the great German Rationalistic crities to deal with. The latter portion contained prophecies of such a startling description respecting Cyrus, and the calamities which were to befall the Jews, and which had been fulfilled in so striking a manner, that these men felt that if they were to stand on record as the words of the great prophet Isaiah, uttered many years before the events took place, it could not be denied that they were genuine prophecies, inspired by a God who could foresee the future. Now, denying as they did the supernatural, they were placed in a very awkward position. What was to be done? The readiest way out of the difficulty seemed to be to invent a second Isaiah, who should be supposed to write the events after they took place, as a mere matter of history. Thus the second Isaiah appeared in the world, and now we are calmly asked to believe, that "many of the best scholars believe in him."page 29
Now, the historical evidence in favour of the Book of Isaiah having been written by the great prophet whose name it hears is absolutely overwhelming; and if we are to believe any historical fact at all, we can not get rid of it. Here, also, the critics have not the advantage of their favourite argument of "style." In fact, their own argument of style in this case tells against them. The whole book reads like a great whole. The magnificent diction of the great prophet is everywhere found, The same sublimity of language, thought, and expression runs throughout tha whole book. The observation of Dr. Cheyne with respect to the latter chapters, "These chapters were evidently added with the view of producing a conveniently large volume, nearly equal in size to Jeremiah and Ezekiel," is simply ridiculous, especially after conceding "that the decision in favour of his hypothesis" (of the second Isaiah) "must depend on other than linguistic considerations." Therefore, as Pearson well observes, "the argument from style is ruled out of court by the higher critics themselves." In fact, the creation of the second isaiah is one of the most curious results of modern thought. The jews for more than 2,500 years knew nothing of him; the ancient and modern Christian Churches never heard of him; history is altogether silent about him; but the exigencies of German Rationalism required him; so he appeared on the scene, and now a section of the "higher critics" believe in him.
I am well aware that the testimony of the Apostles has no weight with the "critics;" but with others the fact that St. Matthew assigned the beautiful words we find recorded in the twelfth chapter of his Gospel, to Isaiah, "Behold My servant, whom I have chosen, My beloved in whom My soul is well pleased," may possibly have some little iuilueueo in determining their opinion.
I now come, in the third place, to the most important and by far the most objectionable part of the lecture, that which the idea of supports "the limited knowledge of Christ." This, too, is a new doctrine. Of course, there always have been men, at different stages of the Church's history, who took low views of Jesus, some denying His Divinity, some explaining it away.
Amongst those who may be called orthodox Christians, however, Christ has been always regarded an the only begotten Son of the Father, a Being of infinite knowledge, wisdom, holiness, and power. This orthodox view of Christ, as a Being whose advent was foretold by prophesies of the most sublime character; and a Being in whom the "whole fulness of the goodhead" dwelt: and whose wisdom, knowledge, holiness, and power wore alike perfect and infinite, was inconvenient to the advanced section of "the critics." The words of Christ were in page 30 direct opposition to some of their pet theories. The position was unpleasant. They saw that if Christ was right, they must be wrong. What was to be done? There were two ways of getting out of the difficulty. One was to affirm that Christ was wrong; the other to confess that they were. Now, it is a peculiarity of the specialist, that he always considers himself in the right. Always looking at matters from one standpoint, he becomes blind to everything that can be urged on the other side. Accordingly, they set themselves to the task of proving that a number of the Saviour's statements, with respect to Moses, and the Prophets, and the Psalms were incorrect. A gigantic task it was. Here was Christ even looked on as a mere man, yet by the confession of his enemies, a man of stupendous intellect. Then, again, he was a Man of high attainments, possessing a perfect knowledge of Hebrew; a Man compared with whom the most learned scribes and Rabbis of the day were as children, and said in wonder, "How knoweth this Man letters," or in other words learning or literature.—for I presume the lecturer will not deny that the Greek word γραμματα meaus learning.
Then, again, this Man of wonderful intellect and high attainments, a Hebrew scholar, a perfect master of Hebrew literature, had the Inealculable advantage of living 1800 years nearer the times of Isaiah, and David, and Moses than "the critics;" so that, even looking on Christ from the standpoint of a mere man to prove that He was wrong on points of Hebrew literature, and the authorship of Hebrew works, was a colossal task.
But they had a far harder task than this. By the general consent of Christendom for more than 1800 years, Christ had been regarded as the only begotten Son of the Eternal Jehovah, "the brightness of His glory," "the express image of His person," a Being of transcendant majesty, power, holiness, knowledge, and wisdom. This, moreover, was not all When Christ clothed Himself with humanity and took on Himself the form of a man, the Holy spirit of the Eternal was seen in the likeness of a dove descending from Heaven, and lighting upon Him, and the voice of Jehovah was heard, declaring from on high: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
But even this was not all. As if to remove all possibility of doubt as to the truthfulness of His teaching, Christ, the eternal Son of the eternal Father, anointed with the Holy Ghost, solemnly declared: "The Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say and what I should speak."
Truly the specialists had a prodigious task to perform. They had not only to prove that Christ—looked on as man, but a man of vast intellect, high attainments, a perfect master of Hebrew lore, page 31 living 1800 years nearer the times of Moses, Isaiah, and David—was wrong; but they had also to prove that Christ, as God, the second Person of the Trinity, was wrong, They had also to prove not only that Christ, but also that the Holy Ghost, which had descended upon Him and dwelt in him, was wrong; and they had also to prove that the eternal Jehovah, "The Father which sent Me," and "gave Me a commandment what I should say and what I should speak," was wrong also.
|5.||Let this mind be in you which was also In Christ Jesus:|
|6.||Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:|
|7.||But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:|
|8.||And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.|
|9.||Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which, is above every name:|
|10.||That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;|
|11.||And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.|
"Of what did ho empty Himself? Not His Divine nature; not His essential equality with God; not His attributes; of them He could not divest Himself. He did not cease to be God, but He laid aside phenomenally the form; veiling His ineffable glory; hiding His awful majesty; and foregoing the exhibition of Himself to men as God."
Now this is clearly the meaning of the words "emptied Himself:" that He did not come in the form and glory and majesty of God, but, still remaining God, He came "in the form" of "a man" of "a servant."
It seems difficult to see how even the ingenuity of specialists could twist and pervert these touching words, which every Christian man should read with awe and reverence; but they have done it, and on these two words they base their new doctrine, Of courso it is contrary to one of their own canons to base any doctrine on any isolated passage; but, though specialists may bind other men by rules, they never bind themselves. They, therefore, on these two words found their new doctrine of the "limited knowledge of Christ," and their contention is that Christ "emptied Himself" of His knowledge, or, in other words, that when He came as a teacher of truth, He divested Himself of that very attribute of knowledge, which it was absolutely necessary for Him, as a teacher of truth to possess.
Now, this explanation of the words "emptied Himself" is so manifestly absurd, that it seems difficult to imagine how men could for a moment adopt it. It shows the incredible lengths to which specialists will go, to establish a theory and support an hypothesis. It would be just as rational to suppose that Christ, when "He made the world," first divested and "emptied Himself" of the attribute of omnipotence; or, that when He "shall come the second time" to judge mankind, He will first divest or "empty Himself" of the attribute of justice, as to suppose that when He came as the great teacher of truth He first divested or "emptied Himself" of the attribute of knowledge, which alone could enable Him to accomplish the great work He came to perform.page 33
"Our Lord stripped himself of 'the form of God' in which He had existed from eternity, and took on instead 'the form of a servant,' being 'made in the likeness of man,' not of God; and 'being found in fashion as a man,' not as God, or even as an angel, He continued the stupendous mystery of humiliation till it culminated in 'the death of the cross.'
"This interpretation—as severely scientific, as it is honestly straightforward—has the immeasurable advantage above the 'higher critic's' gloss, that it exactly accords with the rest of the New Testament.
"Yet all this availeth 'higher critics' nothing—even the most moderate of them—if they may not also empty Him of the Divine knowledge, without which He must be utterly unfit to be what He came to be, and what He claimed to be—the all-trustworthy Teacher of all ages and of all mankind! If His most solemn attestations and pronouncements—even with regard to the foundations of His own religion, and the truthfulness and trustworthiness of the preparatory revelation—cross the pathway of their own changeful and crudescent and fermenting speculations, their unpropped 'probabilities,' their graduated 'possibilities' and 'plausibilities' and dogmatised 'imaginings,' then the Divine-human Teacher must forthwith give way, and yield them up possession!
"And it is this, the grandest, the most awe-inspiring, the most heart-subduing text of all, that the 'higher criticism' lias turned into an appliance for limiting and lowering the Divine authority of Him who has 'the name that it is above every name.'"
These are strong words, but not too strong for the occasion. For the sake of establishing some baseless conjecture, some unfoundered hypothesis of their own, "the critics" endeavour to pervert the true meaning of this, one of the noblest and touching passages in the Word of God, and by making it mean what it manifestly never was intended to mean, to establish their own new doctrine of "the limited knowledge," or, hi other words, "the ignorance" of Christ.
In addition, however, to these two words, "emptied Himself," on which the "critics" endeavour to base their new doctrine of "the limited knowledge" of Christ, they attempt to strengthen their position by the words of Christ Himself as page 34 recorded in the 13 chap, of St. Mark, v, 32, "of that day, and that hour knoweth no mam no not the angels which are in Heaven; neither the Son, but the Father." Theses are the words of Christ, and instead of militating against His strict truthfulness and accuracy, they most strongly confirm them. For reasons which the mind of man cannot fathom, for struggle as it may, the finite cannot grasp the infinite, even God the Son did not know "of that day." But this very statement of Christ, that on that one particular subject He did not know, is the strongest proof of His truthfulness and accuracy about all other tilings, which He distinctly affimed He did know. Christ distinctly declared that of the one single fact "of that day," He did not know; but with equal emphasis and distinctness, on repeated occasions, he declared His Divine authority as a teacher. Christ taught "as one having authority." He claimed that His words should be received as the words of the Son of God, speaking the words of eternal truth. What can be more clear and explicit than His words, "We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen."
On all occasions Christ assumed the attitude of a teacher of Divine truth, from whose words there was no appeal. The fact is indisputable that He claimed Divine authority for His words, and claimed also that He was the Son of God.
"I and My Father are one." "I am that Bread of Life." "That all men should honour the Sout even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son, honoueth not the Father that sent Hitn." "The Father that sent me, He gave Me a commandment what I should speak. Whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father hath said unto Me, so I speak." "He that loveth Me not keepeth not My sayings, and the Word which ye hear is not Mine but the Father's which sent me."
These passages, and many others far too numerous to mention, all prove that Christ claimed and asserted in the clearest and most distinct manner that He spoke and taught as the eternal Son of God: one with the Father; speaking for the Father; and that His teaching was true: absolutely, indisputably, infallibly true. There can be no mistake on this point. The claim of Christ to be regarded as a Divine teacher, from whose word there was no appeal, is clear, distinct, and cannot for a moment be doubted. It is in distinct opposition to the express teaching of Christ that the "higher critics" set up their new doctrine of Christ's "limited knowledge," and they base it on the unsubstantial foundation of two passages; one grossly perverted from its right meaning, and the other a striking proof of the perfect truthfulness and accuracy of Christ, and, consequently, one of the strongest proofs of His infallibility as a teacher.page 35
I must now deal briefly, in the fourth place, with the very objectionable statement.
"The Bible contains the Word of God," rather than:"is the Word of God."
"The Bible claims to be the Word of God, which is a very different thing from merely containing it. The distinction seems to me to strike at the very root of the doctrine of inspiration. It is the basis on which rest all the methods of modern rationalism. To yield this point is to open the gates of the citadel to the wooden horse of destructive criticism. Once admit that the Bible is merely the vehicle of revelation, not the substance of it, and you throw upon the human reason the sole responsibility of adjudicating between one part of Scripture and another. It is a case of human reason versus inspiration. In a word, every man is to make his own Bible, which is equivalent to having no Bible at all. This distinction appears to me to be fictitious and dangerous, and threatens to lead us to the point already reached by critics like Graf, Kuenen, and Wellhausem."
These are wise and weighty words, and the lecturer practically admits their truth, for at the fifteenth page of his lecture we And the following striking words:
Our standard of authority is the conscience enlightened by the Holy Ghost.page 36
A marvellous statement truly, and one which it is manifest the lecturer does not realise what it means, and what it logically leads to. It involves far more than at first sight it appears to do. It makes every man his own standard of authority, his own Bible, and his own God. The lecturer may deny this, but let him ask any judge accustomed to weigh evidence, or any man trained to reason, closely and logically, and they will tell him that is the inevitable result.
The lecturer practically admits this in the following sentence:
But when the external authority of the Bible as it now is is removed, what check have we upon the vagaries of an ill-informed and self-opinionated mind? None.
The question "what check" is there, is applicable to far more than those whom the lecturer calls "ill-informed and self-opinionated." What check have yon on any man? and the answer must be the same—None. The external authority of the Bible "being removed," as the lecturer asserts it is, you have no authority left. The lecturer may attempt to set up a God of his own, which he may describe as the "conscience enlightened by the Holy Ghost;" but what does this really mean? It means simply this, that every man may do what is right in his own eyes, This is the plain English of it. This is thte practical, common-sense view of the matter. External authority being removed, internal authority takes its place. Man is now his own Bible, his own God, bis own standard of right and wrong.
I admit the lecturer uses the guarded phrase, "conscience enlightened by the Holy Ghost," but I would ask any Christian man, whose mind is not warped by the subtleties of "higher criticism," whether the Holy Ghost is likely to "enlighten the Conscience "of any man who, instead of receiving the words of Christ with the meekness of a little child, accuses his Saviour of ignorance, and haughtily assuming his own superiority in knowledge and information, rejects the external authority of the Word of God, and in its place sets up the internal authority of his own conscience. The words of Christ are clear and definite. It idle presumption to suppose that God will bestow His Spirit on those who reject His Son, by denying His infallibility as a teacher of truth.
Higher criticism will alter in some degree our theological ways of thought. It will not long suffer us to hold with confidence any doctrine that is based on solitary passages.
What is the meaning of the words "any doctrine that is based on solitary passages?" Does it mean a doctrine based on a single passage? If so, will the lecturer tell us what doctrine he page 37 alludes to? Does he mean a doctrine established by isolated passages, found in different places in the New Testament? If he does, will he inform us what number of passages are sufficient to establish a doctrine? Is it two, or there, or five, or seven? As we are now deprived of "external authority," an authoritative utterance on the point from the Rev, gentleman would be most valuable. Will he also tell us how it is that, as "higher criticism will not suffer us to hold with confidence any doctrine that is based on solitary passages," it founds and rests the new, and all-important, and tremendous doctrine, in its far-reaching results of "the limited knowledge of Christ," on one solitary passage, "He emptied Himself," and that passage plainly and manifestly perverted from its right meaning.
"Higher criticism," notwithstanding its pompous title and Bounding pretentions, and loud and blatant arrogancy, must not presume too much on the ignorance and gullibility of man kind. Baseless assertions, unproved statements, vague hypotheses, and arrogant assumptions, may impose on men for a time, but the imposition will soon be discovered. As a great writer puts it, we are "accustomed to the dogmatism of experts, and their stereotyped formula, 'all scholars are agreed,' 'all competent to form a judgment are of opinion,' and so on, and have 'learned to smile at such assumption.' "Historical facts; internal evidence of the strongest possible kind; the testimony of men who lived near the times at which certain documents were written; the common consent of mankind for centuries on centuries; evidence far more than sufficient to establish the authenticity of any ancient writings in the world, is all cast aside as worthless, in order to establish the dreamy theory of some restless recluse.
Take the case of the 110th Psalm. The Jews assigned this Psalm in to David. Christ, living 1800 years ago, a Jew Himself, ascribed this Psalm to David. Christ was a man, as I have said before, of the loftiest intellect; a scholar able to cope with and silence the most learned Rabbis of the day. In addition to that He had a perfect knowledge of the Hebrew language. Christ spoke in the presence of educated and learned men, the critics of that day, who would have been delighted to have tripped Him up if He had made a mistake, or assigned a Psalm to David which was not written by him, These men were silent when he quotes it, and their very silence proves that they held the same opinion that He did, that David was its author. Now is it more likely that Christ, with His scholarship, His learning, His perfect mastery of the Hebrew tongue, continued as He was by the unanimous verdict of the Priests and Rabbis and Sadducees, many of whom were His bitter opponents, and living 1800 years nearer the time of David than we do, should be right, or a page 38 studious dreamer like Dr. Chheyne, who, sitting in his study, is ever propounding some new theory, some fanciful hypothesis unsupported by facts, and contradicted by his fellow "critics;" as to its authorship.
The whole weight of evidence is on one side, and only the fanciful theory of the specialists on the other. Critics, as I said before, are peculiar men, and "higher critics" possess the attribute of peculiarity in its intensest form. They are specialists in a superlative degree. The very nature of their avocation unfits them for anything, but their own special and peculiar work. Reclnses, shut up in their studies, living apart from their fellow men, ever dwelling on the small and the minute, devoting all their energies to the detection of little differences of style and expression, and small and trivial variations of idiom; they become from the very character of their work, and their devotion to it, mentally incapable of taking broad and comprehensive views of any question as a whole. The minute appears gigantic, and the trivial assumes colossal dimensions. They cannot help It. They are the victims of their own surroundings, and hence we find them ever propounding new theories, new hypotheses, new supposition s, and because some little paltry point of style or idiom seems to favour their view, they at once pronounce it as unanswerably true, entirely ignoring the irresistible mass of historical and other evidence on the other side. The creation of the second Isaiah, which I have already alluded to, is a case in point. The Jews knew nothing of him, the learned Kabbis of 2000 years ago had never heard of him. The book is evidently a magnificent work, the production of one great prophet of unrivalled genius. It was absolutely impossible that it second Isaiah of the same transcendant genius could finish the work of the first, without it being known to the men of hie day. Even Dr. Cheyne is forced to ad mit that the "linguistic differences:" are trifing and small; and yet on the vague supposition, that there is a minute difference in style between the first and the last part of the Book of Isaiah, the theory of a second Isaiah is started, and the whole mass of evidence to the contrary absolutely ignored.
I am well aware that some of the more pious and devout of the "higher critics" affirm, that one great result of their "criticisms" will be to drive men more and more to Christ "as the centre and foundation of their faith and hope." It is difficult to see by what process of reasoning they arrive at this conclusion; because, the question logically argued out, lends necessarily to precisely the opposite result. Christ is at present the great centre, the All in All of Christianity; and it is utterly impossible, by lowering Him in the estimation of ment that yon can make them look up to Him in a greater degree, as the centre of all their hopes.page 39
The Christ, in whom we believe, is the Eternal Son of the Eternal Father, a Being of infinite power, knowledge, wisdom, holiness, and love; whose teaching was true, and whose words were the words of the Son of God. The Christ of the "higher critic" is One, who was ignorant of passing-events, ill-informed, constantly making misquotations on the most important subjects, and altogether a Being, whose knowledge was imperfect and limited, and whose teaching Was therefore unnecessarily untrustworthy, The "higher critic" may, for a time, innocently dream that he is leading men to Christ by destroying their faith in the Bible as the Word of God; but he will surely find, when it is too late, that he has driven them from Christ, by undermining that rock on which the sure foundation of their faith was built. It is truly absurd to suppose that, by lowering Christ in the estimation of men, and by teaching them to regard Him as "limited in knowledge," ignorant of passing events, and constantly assigning the Scriptures to authors who never wrote them, that you can the more easily lead them to regard Him as the centre of their hopes, their All in All, their one true and infallible Guide.
I have no fear for the Bible. Not the least. The present craze will have its day, Like the delusions of Johannah Southcote, or the revelations of Joseph Smith, or the teaching of Worthington, it will cause a sensation for a time and will then die out. The wants of man cannot be supplied by the conjectures of Dr. Driver or the hypotheses of Dr. Cheyne The needs of man require certainty, and not supposition. Man requires firm around, on which he may tread on his journey through time to eternity. There is only one infallible guide and that is the Bible, "the Word of God." There is only one solid foundation on which he can build for the eternal future, and that is the rock, Christ Jesus. Destroy his faith in the Bible as the sure revelation of God's will to man, and you leave him with no guide, no compass, no chart, by which he can steer his course. Destroy his faith in Christ as a Saviour of infinite power, wisdom, and love, and you take away the only sure foundation, on which he can rest his soul's eternal destiny. Destroy his faith in the Bible and in Christ, aud you leave him no certainty, no rock, no sure foundation. All is shadowy and unsubstantial. The future is unknown and uncertain. The prospect is full of darkness and gloom. Infidels have attacked the Bible, sceptics have attacked it, Rationalists have attacked it, and still the Bible remains. The present attack by "the higher critics" is the deadliest that has been made, because it is not made by foes from with nut, but by foes from within. The battle is now carried to the gate. The attack is made on the very citadel of truth, but there is no fear for the result. Many will indeed be led astray, and will page 40 wander helplessly away among the mista of doubt and unbelief. Many will make shipwreck of faith, and be stranded on the shoals of uncertainty and error, All this is unspuakably sad; but the rock will stand, the Bible will remain safe and unshaken. The Drivers and the Cheyness, and their speculations and conjectures, will soon be forgotten. The little ripples they caused in the great sea of time will soon pass away, but the Bible will remain and still retain its hold on men as "the Word of God," The Bible has stood the assaults of eighteen hundred years; it stands now; it will stand to the end; because it is the representative of the great "I Am" amidst the passing interests of time; the sure revelation of His wilt to man.
"A ruling principle in 'the criticism' is, that the religion of the Israelites was an evolution from the simple and rudimentary to the complex and mature, being in its lowest form in the time of Moses, and its highest in the post-exilian priestly codo." "The dates and authorship are made to square with the requirements of this theory."
"Higher Criticism" will compel us to expose every article of our creed to the light of the central doctrine of the Fatherhood of God. It will encourage us to hold as free opinions some doctrines which heretofore have been considered esential dogmas, and thus breaking down artificial barriers which have separated Christian man from Christian man in worship and in service, will do its Master's work in helping to rear a common temple, whose dome shall be as broad as the blue heavens.
This seems to hint that, in the lecturer's mind, the evolutionary theory is at work, and that he looks forward to the time when, one doctrine after another having hecn swept away, nothing will be left but "the Fatherhood of God." Repentance, the atonement, faith in Christ, the forgiveness of sins, a future state of rewards and punishments, all gone, and nothing left but "the Fatherhood of God." This will be the result of the evolutionary theory as applied to Christianity. Pure and simple Deism alone will remain.
"What do you mean? What does the word father-hood mean? In the minds of a great many I find that the word 'father' means a certain official in the family who shall say everything will in the long run be right; and so, the son the forger, and the son the seducer, and the son the drunkard, and all other bad sons, shall in the end be as sure of a good place in the family estate as the good sons. That is their idea of fatherhood. I say a father like that is a monster, and a family which is under such a father would be in ruins in next to no time."
Is this the Father the lecturer means? and is this his idea of "the Fatherhood of God?" Our idea of "the Fatherhood of God" is, that God our Father is a Being of infinite power, knowledge, holiness, wisdom, justice, and love; a Being who looked on man, sinful man, with such intense pity and boundless love that He sent His only Son to suffer and to die, so that "whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." A Being who has given to man, the revelation of His Will, in a Book called the Bible, written by men, inspired, moved, and directed by the Holy Ghost; a Book which contains the plan of salvation, devised by God's matchless love, clearly, plainly, distinctly pointed out; and a Book which teaches us with equal clearness the solemn truth that a day is coming when, in accordance with the perfect justice of God, every man will be rewarded "according as his work shall be."
There can be no "evolution" as regards the religion of Christ. What was true 1800 years ago is true now, and will be to the end of time. Truth cannot change; it is in nature changeless and eternal.page 42
Evolution is, after all, a dangerous thing' for even an expert to meddle with. The thing is apt to go wrong. As one of its chief priests, Herbert Spencer, says, "It is more than liable to relapse." The prospect of this, even to its most ardent votaries, must be unpleasant. It may be delightful to the cultured mind of the intellectual evolutionist to ponder on the marvellous manner in which he has been evolved from his ancient ancestor; but the exuberance of his joy will be chastened by the thought of possible relapse.
"Hupfeld condemns Knobel; Ewald condemns Hupfeld and Knobel; Knobel condemns Hupfeld and Ewald."
Then, with respect to the way in which the Pentateuch was compiled,
"Astrue thought he detected two main sources, but thought he could detect fragments borrowed from ten other sources. De Wette was content with three; Ewald argued for seven; Graf and his followers demand three chief contributors and an editor; Wellhausen refines on that, and thinks the two main documents ran through three editions."
With respect to its date again,
"Eichhorn, De Wette, Ewald, Bunsen, Bleek, admit that it is of the age of Moses; Delitzsch believes it was written soon after the chosen people entered the Promised Land; Wellhausen and his followers contend that it was never really in existence till after the Captivity."
These differences of opinion the lecturer judiciously ignores. It must not be supposed that the hypotheses and suppositions of the "higher critics" find favour with the great mass of the ministers and laymen connected with the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Great Britain, for they certainly do not. They may find favour with a few, but by an overwhelming majority they are regarded with distrust and dislike. I would speak with all possible respect of Dr. Beet and Mr. Davison as good and learned men; but on this subject they must not be regarded as in any sense the leaders of theological thought amongst Wesleyan Methodists in Great Britain. Their views on the subjects touched on by "higher criticism," though far more moderately and modestly expressed than those of the lecturer, are held by few, and are regarded with suspicion by the great majority. The real lenders of Wesleyan Methodist opinion in the Old Country, shrink with abhorence from the views of the advanced "higher critics."
"Instead of adapting his theory to the facts, he adapts his facts to the theory, and calls the operation 'criticism.'"
"Under the fair flag of 'freedom of enquiry' it drives a wondrous carrying trade in huge and unsustained assumptions, assertions destitute of proof, and crude, fermenting guesses with the alluring brand 'results.'"
"Conclusions are stated with much dogmatic energy, and applied destructively with unhesitating confidence to large portions of the Bible. We have carefully traced back wards the several paths by which these conclusions are reached, and have thus come to certain points where we felt that some well assured reason was absolutely needed to warrant the course we had been traversing; and in the place of such reasons we find an affirmed probability, a learned hypothesis; or we are met by a canon of the critical science which declares, a priori, that certain things cannot he accepted, and therefore that any Scriptures which contain or imply these things must be dropped. In fact, we have great and portentious pyramids of theory and dogma which, with a learned skill, are wonderfully made to stand upon their apex."
These are the wise and weighty words of three of the ablest and most trusted divines in the British Wesleyau Methodist Church, and they are words which are endorsed by the vast majority of ministers and laymen in Great Britain.
"Extreme rationalistic critics claim to have revolutionized the whole of the traditional views concerning the origin and dates of the Old Testament. According to them Moses gave no law, David wrote no Psalms, the prophets may have preached, but they did not predict Such criticism may 'claim' a great deal, but it has 'achieved' very little. Beginning with rationalistic assumptions, ruling out miracle and prophecy as antecedently incredible, they do not find it hard to reach rationalistic conclusions, in which no prophecies or miracles are to be found. But when their arguments are stripped of these tacit or overt assumptions, they are found to be very weak and carry no conviction to the mind of a man who believes in the living God and in His power to assert Himself in history by the mighty hand of miracle and the wonderful voice of prophecy speaking in His name."
If the lecture of the Rev. C. H. Garland had been delivered before the British Conference, it would have aroused a storm of disapprobation; and, to say the least of it, would have called forth page 45 many indignant replies. As a Wesleyan Methadist local preacher, who for a number of years has toiled hard for his Church; as one whose parents and grandparents were members of the same; and as one who has fondly hoped that his children would live and die consistent, God-fearing, Bible-loving Wesleyan Methodists, I protest in the most solemn and emphatic manner against the news of the Rev. C. H. Garland as stated in his lecture. I protest against them, as tending to destroy the authority of the Bible, and to foster a spirit of doubt and distrust with regard to its inspiration and truth. I protest against them as tending to lower our idea of the character of Christ, and to lead us to plate less faith in Him as an infallible teacher. God Himself, and sent from God. Lastly, I protest against them as contrary to the views held by the Wesleyan Methodist Church; and as opposed also to that doctrinal standard which our Church has held firmly since her foundation; and which, whilst we continue Wesleyan Methodists, by every principle of honour we are pledged to maintain.page break