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Reformation, is the necessary and intended inference. And this is a charge not unfrequently made by those who would dispute the doctrine.
Let us listen to the Christian Fathers for a moment, as Canon Westcott has so carefully arranged their sayings on this matter in Appendix B. in his introduction to the Gospels, and entitled “On the Primitive Doctrine of Inspiration":
Epistle of Barnabas. — “The Lord saith in the Prophet”; “the Spirit of the Lord prophesieth "; "the prophets received their gift from Christ and spake of Him”; “Moses spake in the Spirit.”
Clement of Rome.—“The Holy Spirit saith”; “look carefully into the Scriptures, which are the true utterances of the Holy Spirit.” “Ye know, beloved, ye know well the sacred Scriptures, and have looked carefully into the oracles of God”; apostles sent to preach the kingdom of God “with the full assurance and measure of the Holy Spirit when they had received the promises, and been fully convinced by the Resurrection, and confirmed in the word of God,” of whose number, “the blessed Paul, at the beginning of the Gospel, in very truth wrote by inspiration."
Ignatius.—“For the divinest prophets lived according to Jesus Christ, being inspired by His grace”; “I do not give you injunctions as Peter and Paul; they were apostles-I a condemned man."
Justin Martyr.-The "history which Moses wrote by Divine inspiration, while the Holy Spirit of prophecy taught through him”; “we have been commanded by Christ himself to obey not the teachings of men, but that which hath been proclaimed by the blessed prophets and taught by Ilim.”
Athenagoras.—The Christian “gives no heed to the doctrines of men, but those uttered and taught by God”;
"he has prophets as witnesses of his creed, who, inspired by the Spirit, have spoken of God and the things of God.”
Irenæus.- To us“ the apostles, by the will of God, have consigned the Gospel in the Scriptures to be the ground and pillar of our faith,—and by them we have learnt the truth; that is, the doctrine of the Son of God,
- for after that our Lord rose from the dead, and they were clothed with the power of the Spirit from on high, they were filled with a perfect knowledge in all things.”
Origen.—"Truly, it is most evidently preached in the churches that the Holy Spirit inspired each of the saints, prophets, and apostles, and that the same Spirit was present in those of old time, as in those who were inspired at the coming of Christ”; Christ, the Word of God, was in “ Moses and the prophets, and by Ilis Spirit they spake and did all things”; “the records of the Gospels are oracles of the Lord—pure oracles, as silver purified seven times in the fire"; "they were accurately written by the co-operation of the IIoly Spirit.”
Surely, it were hardly possible to state, in any words which we might choose, more definitely and clearly the doctrine of the infallible and authoritative Inspiration of the Scriptures. This is no modern doctrine; it is the immemorial claim. As they did for so many other doctrines, the creeds of the Reformation but rescued this, of the infallible and solely authoritative Inspiration of the Scriptures, and brought it out from the blackening shadow of an apostate and arrogating Church which had been declaring itself the chief authority.
But that, concerning this doctrine of Inspiration there is in our day much doubt and discussion, must be evident to him who is in the least alive to the tides and turnings of thought around himself.
Concerning this doctrine of Inspiration I propose to ask, and, as far as I may be able, to answer, four questions,
This is the first question: What is that for which Inspiration is to be claimed? King James' version? Certainly not. The Canterbury revision? No. The Douay version? Of course not. The Bishops' version, the Genevan, Cranmer's, Tyndall's, Wickliff's, in Germany Luther's—any one of the versions which have ever been made at any time or anywhere—is Inspiration to be claimed for all or any one of these? By no means. Well, then, of the most ancient and precious manuscripts which we possess — the Eplıraem palimpsest in the imperial library at Paris, the Alexandrian codex in the British Museum, the Vatican codex in the Vatican, or most ancient possibly, and most complete of all, the Sinaitic codex at St. Petersburg-of these most venerable and inestimably valuable manuscripts is Inspiration to be claimed?
The Rev. II. R. Haweis, of London, said, in a recent address on Inspiration, before the students of Harvard University, that the doctrine of Inspiration comprised the notion of inspired copyists and inspired printers an even of inspired printers' devils—pitiable and worse joke on so grave a subject.
But neither for versions nor for manuscripts is Inspiration to be claimed. Inspiration is to be claimed only for the primal sacred autographs.
Immediately do we admit that the variations, small and great, among the various existing manuscripts number not less than one hundred and twenty thousand. And while we are glad to know that the most of these variations are only those of spelling and inflection ; that there are not more than sixteen hundred or two thousand places where the true reading is at all in doubt; that the places where doubtful readings affect the sense are fewer still; that those of any dogmatic importance are comparatively immensely few; while we are devoutly thankful to what we believe
to be a Divine Providence which has so marvellously preserved for us a knowledge of the original inspired text; and while we rejoice to know that through the development of the science of Biblical criticism “there is reason to believe that never since the apostolic age was the original text of Scripture more accessible than it is today to the careful student,” let it be forever remembered that—to quote the language of a distinguished teacher of theology—“we affirm Inspiration and authority of the original Scriptures, the sacred autographs, but not of the copies or versions."
Many alleged errors and discrepancies in the Scriptures are the fault not of the original inspired Scriptures, but of the ignorance or carelessness or unwise zeal of the copyist.
We believe a most gracious Providence has, in a most wonderful way, kept for us a knowledge of the original inspired Scriptures. But that Providential guardianship, through pen of copyist, and resistance of decay of parchment, and secluded resting place in some vault or library, and stroke of the printing-press of Guttenberg, is a totally different thing from that divine inspiration and therefore divine authority which we aflirm belongs, for example, to that first copy of the Epistle to the Romans which the Apostle dictated and to which he atfixed his own apostolic signature. It is that text which is the inspired text. Copies of that text are but the windows through which we look upon that text.
This is the second question: What was the method of that original Inspiration ?
Consider, that as plainly as one walking on the seabeach holds in his vision two diverse elements—the ground on which he walks, and the sea heaving to the far margin, and dashing in long curls of foam along the shore; so must one, looking into the Bible, be immediately con
scious that his mental vision rests also
two elements as plainly diverse, and yet at the same time as plainly evident, namely, the divine element in the Scripture and the human.
It is said that a chaplain of Frederick William First of Prussia, having been ordered to give the briefest possible proof of the truth of Christianity, replied: “ The Jews, your Majesty !” Certainly a most happy and true answer.
In the centre of the Place de la Concorde, at Paris, thrusting its straight shaft into the wonderful vista opening from the gardens of the Tuileries to the majestic Arch of Triumph crowning that distant hill, there stands an Egyptian obelisk. You draw near and gaze upon it, and your first thought is that of difference. That single block of reddish porphyritic granite, those exact sides mounting upward to the stars, those distinct and strange yet singularly beautiful hieroglyphics sculptured into its faces, proclaim at once the fact that there is an immense chasm between it and the modern buildings and statues and fountains which surround it. It belongs to another age and to another people and to another civilization than that which spreads its roofs and lays out its gardens and dashes on its tides of frivolity and pleasure bencath its shadow and around its base.
And amid all civilizations, and amid all countries, and in almost every city of the old world and the new, there has been lifted the shaft of a nationality as unmiugled and as easily distinguished and as severely-distinct from all the other peoples amid which it stands, as is that Egyptian obelisk in Paris from the modern buildings around it. Persecution, climate, various environment, so active and so efficient in change toward all other peoples, seem to be somehow helpless and baffled toward this people. I need not wait to show how you can read of the present plight and status of the Jewish people in those old prophecies, uttered