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INSPIRATION OF THE SCRIPTURES.
* Uzziah, King of Judah, Ames was called
he flock, and the Lord said unto
effect, the sacred pen
he Spirit of God to i record which they
rical economy, was esthe Old Tistament of the religina be in it plezd with an 31
corming their resolutions ces may have exercised a uds. A man possessing the aced in the situation of Moses, nclination to narrate in a book and seen, and to put on record und ordinances he had received for d practice of the Israelites. Supub were penned by that renowned Paide to God for the signal deliverance and a benevolent desire to communicate ction to others, as well in future times as may be conceived to have inclined him to ustantial account of his sufferings and patience, .spute betwixt himself and his three friends, and ordinary interposition by which it was decided. ion of this sort, accordingly, is expressed, when, uting the character of his great Redeemer, and ang the glories of a blessed resurrection, he exclaims, that my words were now written! Oh that they were ved in a book! That they were
pen u lead in the rock for ever !"* David, from his early piety, ud from his strong predilection for the charms of poetry and music, might feel disposed to prepare a large collection of Psalms and spiritual songs. To Solomon, as a profound thinker, and an attentive observer of human life, the idea of writing such a treatise as the Proverbs might readily occur. Apostles and Evangelists, impelled by that natural feeling which constrains us to publish uncommon occurrences, and urged by admiration for the character, the works, and the doctrine of Jesus, might deem it alike a duty and a pleasure to record, for the benefit of all succeeding generations, a faithful narrative of the wondrous things they had seen and heard.” † The Apostle John, having perused the Gospels written by Matthew, Mark, and Luke,
might, from pious motives, consider it proper to supply some important particulars these Evangelists had omitted; more especially a variety of heavenly discourses delivered by the Saviour, relative to his own original dignity and mediatorial work.
may, in the case of each of them, be considered as comprising several particulars; or, to speak perhaps more correctly, as producing several effects.
On this, as well as other religious topics, it is necessary to repress a presumptuous inclination to penetrate into depths which human reason is unable to fathom. Even the regenerating and sanctifying agency of the Holy Spirit surpasses the comprehension of mortals. Whilst the fact of his gracious operation is established by his own infallible testimony, and is also demonstrated by its salutary fruits, the precise mode of it is hid from the eyes of all living, its happy subjects not excepted. “ The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whether it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”* Why, then, should we expect to ascertain exactly the nature of that immediate inspiration of the Spirit which was granted to a number of holy men in ancient times, and which, for many generations, has been totally beyond the range of human experience? Unquestionably, it becomes us to rest satisfied with the declarations of Scripture on this point, and with those views of its nature that are fairly deducible from Scripture. Acquiescing in this just and necessary restriction, we may, without bold presumption or profane curiosity, take notice of the following attributes or effects of inspiration, as common to all who possessed it:
1. They were all excited by the Spirit to write the portions of Scripture assigned to them respectively. Some of the holy writers have mentioned express commands they received to put on record the heavenly communications granted them.
The Lord said unto Moses, write this for a memorial in a book.” “ And the Lord said unto Moses, write thou these words, for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.”+ “Moreover,” says the Prophet Isaiah, “ the Lord said unto me, take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man's pen, concerning Maher-shalal-hashbaz." To Jeremiah, in like manner, it was said, “ Thus speaketh the Lord God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee, in a book." “ The Lord answered me," says Habakkuk, “and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it."| “What thou seest,” said the glorified Saviour, in vision to John, “ write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia.” Even where they make no mention of explicit injunctions to this effect, the sacred penmen were no doubt inwardly moved by the Spirit of God to compose those portions of the inspired record which they severally wrote.
* John iii. 8. † Exod. xvii, 14; ch. xxxiv. 27. I Is. viii. 1. $ Jer. xxx. 2. il Hab. ii. 2.
Rev. i. II.
It were vain to question, that, in forming their resolutions to write, a variety of circumstances may have exercised a subordinate influence on their minds. A man possessing the temper and qualifications, and placed in the situation of Moses, might naturally feel a strong inclination to narrate in a book the wonders he had learned and seen, and to put on record the complex body of laws and ordinances he had received for regulating the worship and practice of the Israelites. Suppose that the book of Job were penned by that renowned Patriarch himself, gratitude to God for the signal deliverance commanded for him, and a benevolent desire to communicate highly useful instruction to others, as well in future times as in his own age, may be conceived to have inclined him to compose a circumstantial account of his sufferings and patience, of the warm dispute betwixt himself and his three friends, and of that extraordinary interposition by which it was decided. An inclination of this sort, accordingly, is expressed, when, contemplating the character of his great Redeemer, and anticipating the glories of a blessed resurrection, he exclaims, “ Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!"* David, from his early piety, and from his strong predilection for the charms of poetry and music, might feel disposed to prepare a large collection of Psalms and spiritual songs. To Solomon, as a profound thinker, and an attentive observer of human life, the idea of writing such a treatise as the Proverbs might readily occur. Apostles and Evangelists, impelled by that natural feeling which constrains us to publish uncommon occurrences, and urged by admiration for the character, the works, and the doctrine of Jesus, might deem it alike a duty and a pleasure to record, for the benefit of all succeeding generations, a faithful narrative of the wondrous “things they had seen and heard.” † The Apostle John, having perused the Gospels written by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, might, from pious motives, consider it proper to supply some important particulars these Evangelists had omitted; more especially a variety of heavenly discourses delivered by the Saviour, relative to his own original dignity and mediatorial work.
* Job xix. 23, 24,
+ Acts iv. 20.
The counsels and entreaties of other people, too, were calculated to suggest or confirm the design of writing. Caleb and Joshua, with the Elders of Israel, may be supposed to have solicited Moses to leave manuscripts behind him, containing an ample history of the divine procedure towards his countrymen, and an authentic account of the laws, moral, ceremonial, and judicial, which they were enjoined to observe. With similar urgency, David and Solomon may have been requested by their contemporaries to furnish lasting memorials of their piety and wisdom. Theophilus, after reading the Gospel of Luke with heartfelt delight, might probably express a wish to that sacred biographer to see a history of the labours and sufferings of the Apostles, in the propagation of Christianity among Jews and Gentiles, prepared by his pen. The application made by the Corinthians to Paul to solve some interesting questions, as well as the unpleasant intelligence otherwise received regarding various irregularities which had prevailed amongst them, proved the occasion of his writing the first of his two invaluable Epistles to that church.* Circumstances, in short, that occurred with reference to different churches or individuals, with the correspondent feelings awakened in the minds of the writers, may have operated, to a great degree, as inducements to the composition of all the Apostolical Epistles.
In full consistency with all these admissions, and every similar concession, we firmly maintain, that the penmen of the Old and New Testament Scriptures were universally stirred up and determined by the Holy Spirit, to do what they repectively did, each in his own time, and in his own proportion, towards the completion of the sacred volume. The various occurrences that attracted their notice, the urgencies of human persuasion, and every external occasion of writing, were adjusted by a particular providence. Their own views and taste, inclinations and feelings, both as men and as saints, were wholly under the divine direction and control. Had not the Spirit been pleased to put it in their hearts, they could have entertained no holy desire to publish and record the wonderful works of God.” Their incipient thoughts of study and of publication would have altogether died away, if their purposes had not been immoveably established by superior influence. Their own modesty and timidity, or the cruel derision and alarming menaces of ungodly men, would, in many instances, have proved insuperable barriers to the open decla
* 1 Cor. i. ll, ch. vii. 1.
ration of the truth, both with the tongue and the pen, unless He who gave them their commission had, by his all-powerful energy, made them “an iron pillar and brazen walls," against which the most furious opposition could not prevail.
“ When the word was thus come to the Prophets,” says Dr Owen, “ and God had spoken in them, it was not in their power to conceal it, the hand of the Lord being strong upon them. They were not now only on a general account to utter the truth they were made acquainted withal, and to speak the things they had heard and seen, which was their common preaching work, according to the analogy of what they had received, Acts, iv. 20; but also the very individual words that they had received were to be declared. When the word was come to them, it was as a fire within them, that must be delivered, or it would consume them.-Psalm xxxix. 3; Jer. xx. 9; Amos iii. 8, chap. vii. 15, 16. So Jonah found his attempt to hide the word that he had received to be altogether vain.”+
2. The inspired penmen seem, at least in writing their several proportions of the sacred records, to have been all endowed, in a greater or less degree, with a supernatural vigour of mind. Extraordinary mental capacities, we acknowledge, are far from affording decisive evidence either of piety or of inspiration. The God of nature has often conferred superior powers of intellect and imagination on men who have not been restrained from criminally perverting them to his dishonour; and for aught we know, he may, on some occasions, have imparted a temporary expansion of judgment or of fancy to ungodly persons, whose natural talents did not exceed mediocrity. It
appears, however, to have been an usual effect of the gift of inspiration, that it invigorated and elevated the faculties of the individuals to whom it was vouchsafed.
All of them probably felt a moral elevation of soul, arising from a consciousness of the dignified character with which they were invested, as messengers of the Lord of Hosts, and infallible teachers of his will. This noble elevation is beautifully expressed in such passages as the following :-“ Give ear, Ó ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain ; my speech shall distil as the dew; as the small rain upon the tender herb,
* Jer. i. 18, 19.
+ Of the Divine Original, Authority, Self-evidencing Light, and Power of the Scriptures, chap. i. sec. 10.