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even to the minutest particle; and never have they discovered a single mistake, nor a verse which they are vain enough to imagine they could improve after the most careful thought and the most laborious effort. The more they read the book, the more are they convinced that man could as easily have made the world as he could have produced such a work as this. Hence, they are not surprised to learn that those who were employed to write the book are represented as examining eagerly into the meaning of the words they had received from God. “Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Pet. i. 11, 12). They were like amanuenses sitting down, after the Master had withdrawn, and seeking to make out, if possible, the significance of His wonderful communications. The more attentively and the longer a believer reads the book, the more clearly will he perceive that, like the love of Christ, it possesses a breadth, and length, and depth, and height, which he could never compass, if he should do nothing but study it for a thousand years.
He is impatient, therefore, of all theories, and flings them to the winds, that he may take the Bible at just what
Canon Farrar has summed up these various theories, calling the first
—“the organic, mechanical, or dictation theory. It held that every sentence, every word, nay, even every syllable, letter, and vowel-point of Scripture had been divinely and supernaturally imparted. . . . . According to those who held, or possibly even hold, this theory [thank God, there are some who hold it, not as a theory, but as a fact] the Bible not only records but is a revelation, not only reveals but is a religion,
not only contains but is the word of God. . . . . The second theory has been called the dynamic. It holds that the Holy Scripture was not 'dictated by,' but 'committed to writing under the guidance of' the Holy Spirit. . ... The truths are inspired by the Holy Spirit, the words and phrases are the result of the writer's own individuality; the material is of God, the form is of man. .... There may be weaknesses and imperfections in the mode of expression; there can be none in the truth revealed. .... The next theory may be called the theory of illumination. . . Some have distinguished between the grace of superintendency, which merely saved from positive error; the grace of elevation, which uplifted the thoughts and words to a lofty standard; the grace of direction, which guided them alike in what they omitted as in what they expressed; and the grace of suggestion, which vouchsafed to supply both words and thoughts. . ... The next theory, which has been widely embraced, may be called the theory of essential as distinguished from plenary inspiration. Its favorite formula is, that the Bible contains the word of God, while it rejects, as inaccurate, the expression that the Bible is the word of God. . ... The fifth theory may be called that of ordinary inspiration. . . . . The holders of this theory believe that the action of the Holy Spirit, as exercised in the inspiration of Scripture, is not generically distinct from the ordinary influence of that Holy Spirit upon the heart and intellect of Christian men, which all admit to be analogous to it. They believe that the Bible animates and awakens the religious consciousness of man, but they attach no infallible truthfulness to all its utterances, nor any divine sanctity to its incidental and non-religious teachings."
But even Canon Farrar, utterly unsound as he is upon this vital point, and therefore unsound in many of his doctrines, is forced to make the following remarkable admissions: “Undoubtedly there is a vast multitude of passages in which the inspired writers claim to be delivering the direct messages of God.” If they make this claim in a vast multitude of passages, and in not a single passage abandon the claim, by what right does any man set aside their au
thority, and substitute for their testimony his own wretched theory? Again, the popular preacher and author says, in meeting the charge that the sacred writers sometimes erred," that they did so err I am not so irreverent as to assert, nor has the widest learning and acutest ingenuity of scepticism ever pointed to one complete and demonstrable error of fact or doctrine in the Old or the New Testament.” The italics are his own, and in the face of such an admission, how is it possible to avoid the conclusion that God gave the very words of Scripture ?
Men may say that there was no need of inspiration in the historical books of the Bible, forgetting that it is an exceedingly difficult and rare thing to write history truthfully, or even the most common occurrences, as illustrated daily in the newspapers, although the reporters may have no temptation to lie. They may say that they cannot understand how God inspired the words, forgetting that they cannot understand any better how He inspired the thoughts. They may say that differences of style disprove verbal inspiration, forgetting that the very same mind has often used a different style in the composition of legal documents, fiction, poetry, and philosophical dissertations; forgetting that the very same mind uses one style in sending a message through an illiterate boy to laborers on his farm, and another style in transmitting his views to a political convention assembled in his interests, and another style in communicating the results of his investigations to a scientific association, and another style in expressing his good wishes for the success of a benevolent organization; forgetting that the Holy Spirit dwells in the believer, controlling his speech and actions without reducing him to the helpless condition of an unthinking machine, and without changing bis style or natural gifts and tendencies. They may say that if verbal inspiration is true, the four accounts of the inscription on the cross of our Lord would have been precisely alike, forgetting that they would have been precisely alike but for verbal inspiration, the Holy Ghost requiring the writers to arrange the words according to His special design in the preparation of each of the gospels, and that all taken together form the complete inscription. They may say that it was unworthy of the Spirit of God to concern Himself about an old cloke and the parchments, which Paul left at Troas, forgetting that it was altogether worthy of Him to consult the comfort of His faithful servant, sending for the things that are the symbols of service and study, if the critics had eyes to see, and reminding them, if they had ears to hear, that He will not forget the lonely prisoner suffering for His truth.
But amid all the cavils and objections of foolish and ignorant men the voice of God sounds out high and clear in more than two thousand places from Genesis to Revelation, affirming the inspiration of the very words of the sacred Scripture. Sinful creatures, that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth, whose days are as an handbreadth, may construct their little theories of inspiration, but above them all, and outlasting all, is "the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord endureth forever." Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven”: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness ; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
DIFFICULTIES OF THE BIBLE AS TESTED BY
THE LAWS OF EVIDENCE.
T. 8. CHILDS, D.D.
UNDOUBTEDLY there are difficulties in the Bible. The question is whether these prove that it is not the plenarily inspired Word of God. On the other hand, it may be suggested whether they do not confirm it as the work of God, for they at once put it in harmony with all His other works. If the Bible were without difficulties, it would, for us, be out of the line with everything else that God has made or done. Nature and Providence are full of difficulties. There is nothing in the Bible harder of explanation and reconciliation than are the facts that meet us everywhere in God's creative and providential realms. If these difficulties do not prove that Nature and Providence are not, from beginning to end, the works of God, they do not on the face of them prove that the Bible is not such. Let us not be misunderstood. We are not identifying the domains of nature and of grace. There has arisen a mode of meeting the objections to the Bible that, it seems to us, must logically destroy the Bible as a supernatural revelation. “The Christian Church,” it has been said, "rests upon an empty grave.” We accept the statement. But the decisive question is, whether that grave was emptied by natural law or by the immediate power of God. On that question hangs the other, whether Christianity is a religion or the religion. Christianity is a supernatural religion or it is nothing. Between it and all other religions a gulf is fixed which they who would pass cannot. Its kingdom is not of this world. Its concep