« ÎnapoiContinuați »
private life. These different accounts were not only eagerly seized upon by skeptics as proofs of the error of the Scriptures, but even Biblical scholars admitted them to be incapable of reconciliation. No longer ago than when the writer was in the Theological Seminary, that prince of Biblical scholars, Addison Alexander, said that no solution of the difficulty was known. He was too wise a man to say that no solution was possible. Kitto, in his Cyclopedia, declared that no hypothesis could harmonize the accounts. Yet the reconciliation was perfectly simple. A cylinder of historic records discovered by Sir Henry Rawlinson in the ruins of Lower Babylon, showed that there were, at this time, two kings of Babylon, a father and a son. One was occupying a stronghold near the city; the other was defending the city itself. The latter was taken and slain; the former was spared. Thus, by the Providential bringing to light of a fact buried for centuries, that which had seemed to be, and which had repeatedly and triumphantly been proclaimed to be, and which had been given up as being an irreconcilable contradiction, was shown to be perfectly harmonious. Yet if the hypothesis of two kings had been suggested as an explanation, before the discovery of the fact, it would have been hissed out of court by the whole skeptical school.
The two accounts of the death of Judas have not passed out of the field of popular objection. Matthew (xxvii. 5) says he committed suicide. Luke (Acts i. 18) says he fell headlong, and burst asunder. He does not say where he fell from, or what were the circumstances of the fall; and it is certainly not impossible, or even improbable, that both accounts are true. The traitor hung himself, possibly on the verge of a precipice—the supposed spot furnishes all the conditions for this—and afterward (how long is not said), the rope, or the limb of the tree, gave way, and he fell, striking first on the rocks at
the foot of the tree, and then plunging over the precipice with the result described by Luke.
The case is not without a parallel. A few weeks since the papers noticed the death of a gentleman in one of our Western States. According to one account, he perished in a railroad disaster ; according to another, he committed suicide-a contradiction almost exactly like that in the case of Judas. Yet there was no real discrepancy. With his wife and child, he was on the fatal train that met its doom at Chatsworth. His child was killed. He and his wife were taken from the ruins terribly injured. The wife soon died. In despair, and with no hope of his own life, he drew his pistol and sent the ball through his own head. He perished in the Chatsworth disaster, and he committed suicide.
The application of these principles of law—the admission of any reasonable hypothesis, or of an hypothesis that may seem improbable, if it removes the difficulty; the
supposition of missing facts known at the time but now lostprinciples of constant application in our courts of justicereleases at once the pressure from a large part of the objections to the inspired record. The accounts of the healing of the blind men at Jericho, and the Resurrection of Christ,—two of the most difficult of full explanation in the New Testament,-require no more than this. It is not hard to present reasonable hypotheses to meet the cases as they stand.
And if all the facts were known to us, we believe the harmony would be as complete and as simple as that of the histories of the siege and capture of Babylon.
Our limits warn us to draw this paper to a close. We are aware we have trodden a field that may be quite familiar to the members of the Conference. But in the multiplied forms in which the truth of the Bible is now assailed, and among the thousands whose faith has been shaken by arguments that they are not prepared to answer,
it is possible that some of these suggestions may not be without force.
To such hearers, if such are here, and especially to those who are feeling the brunt and power of the skeptical objections that are pressing everywhere, we may say, changing in a single word the language of one of the most eminent of American jurists : “ All that the Bible asks of men (on this field) is that they would be consistent with themselves; that they would treat its evidence as they treat the evidence of other things, and that they would try and judge its actors and witnesses as they deal with their fellow-men, when testifying to human affairs and actions in human tribunals." (Greenleaf.)
In the meantime, if there are difficulties that do not yield to present knowledge, we can afford to wait. Many objections once supposed to be unanswerable have been answered. And the process is going on. God is very patient. But we may be assured that He who, just as the occasion has demanded, has summoned up the silent witnesses to His Word from the valley of the Nile, from the stormy cliffs of Sinai, from the plains of Mesopotamia, and from the sullen shores of the Dead Sea, will not fail in the future to give all the confirmation of His truth that the assailed faith of His Church may need.
THE TESTIMONY OF THE APOSTLES TO
T. C. JOHNSON.
The Apostles have given us no special treatise on the subject of inspiration, but they have not failed to leave on record a number of clear and direct statements regarding it, while many things in their writings are assumptive of a definite position on the subject. Their evident uprightness of character, consistency with themselves, loftiness of aim, honesty of purpose, and independence of each other, , give the highest value to their testimony. It is incredible, under the circumstances, that they should all claim inspiration for themselves and each other, did they not possess it. And if they were inspired, their testimony as to the Old Testament Scriptures must be accepted. We shall consider first, what they testify as to the fact of inspiration ; second, as to its extent; and third, as to its nature.
1.-AS TO THE FACT OF INSPIRATION.
The Apostles testify that the Scriptures are given by inspiration of God. According to their evidence, we have a Bible that was given us under the special guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit.
First. They testify that the Spirit was promised and given them in such a way as to make them authoritative teachers. John affirms that Jesus promised them this “other comforter,” who should bring all things to their remembrance that he had taught them, should guide them into all the truth, and show them things to come. Peter,
as reported by Luke, testifies that the Pentecostal experience was an actual reception of the Holy Ghost, whereby they were endued with power, and spoke and acted as they were moved. In all the testimony as to the gift of the Spirit, it is positively implied, that it would at least enable the Apostles to become infallible teachers of the truth. It was not intended to render them infallible as men. When they taught orally or in writing, it was their privilege and their bounden duty to do so under the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit. They would naturally be most careful in what they committed to writing, and pen no word that was not prompted and approved by the Spirit. Thus, we are authorized to expect inspired Scriptures from teachers who enjoyed the special gift of the Holy Ghost.
Second. The Apostles claim inspiration for their own personal writings. This is true of them all, if we may regard an evident assumption as a claim. It seems that the Apostles are either directly or indirectly the human authors of the whole New Testament. Now, they invariably write with the authority and assurance of infallible teachers. They never theorize, or express mere opinions. They assert facts, proclaim doctrines, and give commandments that could only proceed from the Holy Spirit, or else expose them to the charge of being mere dogmatists, if not positive blasphemers. Like their Master, they teach as those having authority, and not as the scribes.
Paul and Peter evidently mean to give more directly the force of inspired authority to their epistles, by writing expressly in the character of Apostles of Jesus Christ. To write as an Apostle, was to write with authority; and to write with authority was to write under the guidance of the Spirit. To add force to this truth, we find Paul signing his name with his own hand as a token in every epistle (2 Thes. iii. 17). This would seem to imply that