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About this there can be no doubt whatever, when we come to see the extent of the inspiration our Lord Jesus Christ promised to His apostles. “When they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in that hour wbat ye shall speak; for it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." At another time, He said, “ When they bring you unto synagognes, and unto mag. istrates and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: for the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say." At another time, still later, He said: “When they shall lead you and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what
ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate; but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye,
for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.”
It is impossible to imagine any stronger proof of verbal inspiration than is found in these passages. The apostles were actually forbidden to think, to premeditate, to prepare their defense, to give themselves the slightest concern; and this upon the ground that they were not to speak, but the Spirit of God would speak through them, that the words they ought to utter should be given them the same hour they were needed. If it be urged by those who hold theories of inspiration that this was a special promise for a special occasion, still the main point is conceded; for it is admitted that God did sometimes at least communicate His own words, without interfering with the mental idiosyncrasy and peculiar style of each of His servants. What He does at one time, He can do at another; and what He did for the apostles when they were called to defend themselves, He did when they were called to preach His Gospel and to write epistles.
Hence, on the day of Pentecost, “they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues,
as the Spirit gave them utterance.” It was not as the Spirit gave them thoughts, but as the Spirit gave them utterance; and it is certain that their words were inspired, because they immediately spoke in more than a dozen different languages and dialects, with not one of which had they the slightest previous acquaintance. All human theories of inspiration vanish before the fact that a number of unlettered fishermen in a moment proclaimed, in tongues utterly unknown before that hour, the Gospel of the grace of God, sbowing conclusively that the very words were instantaneously communicated to them, and through them to others. So, then, the apostles of our Lord were endowed and qualified for their work as His messengers, in precisely the same way that distinguished the messengers of Jehovah in the Old Testament times, from Moses to Malachi. Thus the harmony of the two dispensations is wonderfully preserved—for what was spoken, what was written, by men chosen to be ambassadors and witnesses for the truth, was directly from God himself.
But was the inspiration of the apostles, so distinctly promised, and so signally proved, subsequently withdrawn, leaving them to inspired thoughts, but uninspired words? On the other hand, Paul boldly affirms: “Now, we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth.” Dr. Charles Hodge well remarks:
“ This is verbal inspiration, or the doctrine that the writers of the Scriptures were controlled by the Spirit of God in the choice of the words which they employed in communicating divine truth. This has been stigmatized as the mechanical theory of inspiration, degrading the sacred penmen into mere machines. It is objected to this doctrine that it leaves the diversity of style which marks the different portions of the Bible,
unaccounted for. But, if God can control the thoughts of a man without making him a machine, why cannot He control his language? And why may He not render each writer, whether poetical or prosaic, whether polished or rude, whether aphoristic or logical, infallible in the use of his characteristic style? If the language of the Bible be not inspired, then we have the truth communicated through the discoloring and distorting medium of human imperfection. Paul's direct assertion is that the words which he used were taught by the Holy Ghost."
Elsewhere the same apostle says: “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” Again he says: “He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us His Holy Spirit.” It is impossible, then, that he could be in doubt of the inspiration of his epistles, or confess that he was not always and equally inspired in writing, as some strangely insist he admits, when he says to the Corinthians, “I think, also, that I have the Spirit of God.” It is, in fact, the strongest assertion of his inspiration, when read in the light of the Revised Version. His enemies, who denied his apostleship, claimed that they were taught by the Holy Ghost, and he exclaims in cutting sarcasm, “I think that I also have the Spirit of God.” * If you false teachers claim to be inspired, how much more can I make the claim, to whom the Holy Spirit imparts the very words communicated to the church! This is the apostle who is led by the Holy Ghost to announce that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” That is, the writings contained in God's book, and the writings being made up of words, it is certain that all the words, as originally spoken or written by the men chosen for this purpose, were given by inspiration of God.
* See remark by Editor, page 183.
Then follows Peter, urging the brethren to “be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour"; putting the commandment of the apostles on the same high plane of divine authority with the words of the holy prophets, of whom he writes: “The prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." If this testimony is true, then man's will had nothing to do, not even in the selection of the language, with the prophecy; but holy men of God spake, not thought, but spake, being borne along by the Holy Ghost. But Peter exalts the epistles, and all the epistles, of his brother Paul to the level of the other Scriptures which he says are inspired, without the will of man having any part in it whatever; and thus, the inspiration of both the Old and the New Testaments rests upon immovable grounds. It would be better not to believe in inspiration at all, than to believe any theory that excludes the supernatural control and unerring accuracy of every word of the original Scriptures. Between such a theory and infidelity there is only the lightest shadow.
The test of knowing God is precisely the same that it was in the days of the beloved John, who, speaking for himself, and in behalf of his brother apostles, says: “We are of God: he that knoweth God, heareth us; he that is not of God, heareth not us. Hereby know we the Spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” Diligent and prayerful study of the words of the Bible, comparing Scripture with Scripture to ascertain its full teaching, prompt acceptance of its testimony in its plain and obvious meaning, and unquestioning submission to its decision as of divine authority, furnish the only safeguard of the soul in these last and perilous days. The Holy Ghost, as if foreseeing the profane tampering and trifling with the word of God, so
common now, alas ! with men professing to be Christians, closes the Canon of Scripture with the startling admonition: “I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
Thus there is the most perfect nnanimity among all the witnesses whom God commissioned, concerning the inspiration of their messages and writings. It is a unanimity 80 striking, Robert Haldane truly said :
“Nothing can be more clearly, more expressly, or more precisely taught in the word of God. And while other important doctrines may be met with passages of seeming opposition, there is not in the language of the Scriptures one expression that even appears to contradict their plenary and verbal inspiration."
But, apart from the distinct and abundant teaching of the Bible upon this subject, which ought to settle the question forever with the Christian, reason demands an inspiration higher than the position recognized by any popular theory. In the language of Dr. Charles Hodge:
The inspiration of the Scriptures extends to the words. A mere human report or record of a divine revelation must, of necessity, be not only fallible, but more or less erroneous. The thoughts are in the words. The two are inseparable. If the words, priest, sacrifice, ransom, expiation, propitiation, purification by blood, and the like, have no divine authority, then the doctrine which they embody has no authority.”
With this all humble and earnest students of the Bible will agree, for they see daily accumulating evidence of superhuman wisdom and skill in the selection of its words,