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Inspiration differ generally as to the source—Revelation being the office of the divine Word, and Inspiration of the divine Spirit. There is much in the Scripture which is Revelation, as when Paul declares to the Galatians that he received the Gospel which he preached by Revelation. There is much in the Bible for which no Revelation whatever was necessary. The subject-matter of it was already in existence. It was, for example, sheer and simple and recorded history. The sacred writer was a mere copyist, transcribing, for example, the lists of kings in Chronicles. But, while Revelation had nothing to do with such a process as this, Inspiration plainly had. Inspiration has to do with the accurate transmission of truth to future ages. And as Inspiration aided Paul to tell the Gospel which he received by Revelation, accurately, to set its mighty meanings forth, free from error, in his wonderful epistles, so I believe Inspiration enabled the compiler of the Chronicles to give that section of Jewish history to men inerrant, to use the word just now in vogne. But Revelation and Inspiration are diverse. As an inspired man might receive new truth from God as Paul did, so an inspired man might go searching amid musty records to find out historic truth, as the compiler of the Chronicles, we will suppose, did. The inspiration is concerned about the accurate setting forth of the subject-matter, whether it be a great gospel, or a snatch of history about the reign of some obscure and ancient king.
Let us also remember that profound sentence of Rev. Dr. Henry B. Smith : “ God speaks through the personality as well as through the lips of His messengers.” Pour into that word “personality” everything which, speaking generally, goes to form personality-the age in which the person lived, his environment, his degree of culture, his temperament, whether logical, like that of Paul, or mystical, like that of John.
And now, remembering these things, that Inspiration is not necessarily dictation; nor Revelation; and that a personality would be chosen of God just because that
personality was the one best fitted, because of temperament, environment, culture, to set forth the sort of truth just then necessary to be set forth--it seems to me that we must see that Inspiration was not a mechanical, crass, bald compulsion of the sacred writers; but, on the other hand, was such, dynamic, divine, influence over his freely-acting faculties, that his faculties, in their relation to the saying forth, or the writing forth, of the subject matter then in hand were kept incrrant.
In this view, even personal character is not a necessary element in Inspiration. Even the covetous Balaam or the double-dealing Caiaphas may, for the moment, accurately say forth the truth of God.
Nor were the sacred writers any further influenced than toward the setting forth of the special subject-matter of the truth just then in hand. Entire accuracy here might easily consist with ignorance or failure of memory toward other things. The teaching, and the expression of that teaching, in the first Epistle to the Corinthians, are entirely accurate; at the same time, it is possible that Paul should not be able to recollect how many people he had baptized at Corinth-a thing aside from the particular subjectmatter of the Epistle.
And now in concluding the answer to this second question as to the method of Inspiration, let me transcribe a brief passage from the “ Inspiration of Scripture,” by Archdeacon Lee, a book which, though written as far back as 1854, does not seem to me to have been surpassed by any subsequent book, I know, upon the subject. Says Archdeacon Lee:
“In the combination of the two elements thus co-operating: namely, the actuation by the Spirit of God, and the distinct but subordinate agency of man, consists—what has been usu ally termed—the dynamical theory of Inspiration. According to this theory the Holy Ghost employs man's faculties in conformity with their natural laws; at the same time animating, guiding, moulding them so as to accomplish the Divine purpose, just as in nature the principle of life, when annexed to certain portions of matter, exhibits its vital energy in accordance with the conditions which that matter imposes ; while it governs and directs, at the same time, the organism with which it is combined. We must therefore look upon Inspiration as a divine power, acting not only on but through man. We must not regard the sacred penmen, on the one hand, as passive machines, yielding to an external mechanical forcesuch a view takes in merely the objective side of Inspiration ; on the other hand, if we dwell solely upon the subjective phase of this influence, we lose sight of the living connection of the writer with God. Were this latter conception correct, the authors of the Scripture, following the impulse of their own genius and in accordance with their own judgment, proceeded, in the natural course of things, to develop new inferences from the germ of truth implanted within them. The true theory, as it recoils from any such negation of the Divine majesty of the Bible, so it equally ignores the defective estimate of the opposite extreme. The human element, instead of being suppressed, becomes an integral part of the agency employed ; the peculiar type of each writer's nature was even essential to the due reception of that particular phase of truth presented by his statements; his share in the great work was apportioned to the order of his intellect and the class of his emotions ; while his characteristic form of expression was absolutely requisite for the adequate and complete conveyance of His Divine message.”
As Canon Westcott has said: “The Bible is authoritative, for it is the voice of God; it is intelligible, for it is in the language of men."
I think all I have been saying will enable me to make a very speedy answer to the third question I have to ask concerning Inspiration--namely, What is the extent of it?
Does Inspiration extend to every part of Scripture? It seems to me, recollecting that Inspiration bas to do with
the transmission of truth; and recollecting also the distinction between Revelation and Inspiration; it seems to me that the answer must be an immediate yes—Inspiration extends to the whole of Scripture, to your dry list in Chronicles as much as to the detailing of Isaiah's vision, or of the wonderful words of the Master in the upper room, or of the linked arguments of Paul. The true formula cannot be, the Bible contains the word of God; it must be, the Bible is the word of God.
But further, does Inspiration extend not simply to the thought, but also to the very words of Scripture? Remembering that while Inspiration is not necessarily dictation, but also remembering that Inspiration is the dynamic Divine guidance of faculty, it seems to me again that the answer must be immediately yes—Inspiration extends even to the very words of Scripture.
But here I would reject the old phrase “verbal Inspiration,” because it is a phrase so conjoined with the old, bad, mechanical theory of remorseless dictation. But I would hold to and affirm the Inspiration of the Scripture even as to words in the phrase plenary Inspiration, which means that the Scripture is full of Inspiration up to and including its words. In what way full, the dynamic theory explains.
I think this matter of the Plenary Inspiration of Scripture, even to its words, a most important one. Granting that, by a straining and breathless tug of inward-looking attention, you can dimly distinguish in your consciousness between the thought and the words, still must remain indisputably true, I think, this statement of Dr. Hodge, of Princeton : "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 such authority.”
You confront me with objections. You point me, for example, to the discrepant accounts concerning the Resurrection. I answer, plainly to me at least, these are not discrepant accounts. They are only different sides of a great fact as different people saw these different sides. These apparent discrepancies are even valuable to me as manifest evidence of the perfectly freely acting human faculty, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost.
You point me to variations as to numbers. I answer, we do not claim inspiration for copyists, and precisely here is where copyists would be likeliest to blunder. Besides, we have to do with oriental methods of computation, which, as I have read, “permit one to write first the units, and then the tens, and then the hundreds, or to reverse the order and write the highest first." Hence confusion and the liability to tumble over statements in translation. For example, in Samuel where fifty thousand, threescore and ten men are mentioned, it is literally seventy, and fifty and a thousand, which may mean either, as in our version, fifty thousand threescore and ten, or it may mean one thousand one hundred and seventy. Before declaring against the plenary Inspiration of the Scriptures because of variations in numbers, I will wait until it is sure to be absolutely impossible to harmonize the variant numbers.
You fling at me the imprecatory Psalms. I answer, with Professor Phelps: when Milton sang his sonnet on the slaughter of the martyrs, in Piedmont, — “Avenge, O Lord, Thy slaughtered saints, whos
Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold,”
he gave expression to a feeling of indignation against terrible wrong than which nothing can be more righteous. His words are the reflection of the divine ópyn. The quality of righteous wrath is in God, therefore it ought to be in a healthy literature written by man, who is the