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able defenders of Christianity, is now generally abandoned by those who examine the subject with due care. And the following reasons will satisfy you that it has not been lightly abandoned.” The learned Professor then details a part of those considerations which have been adverted to in the course of this chapter, concluding with the huge difficulty arising from the diversity of style-- “ the peculiarities of expression, and a marked manner, by which a person of taste and discernment may clearly distinguish the writings of every one from those of every other.”_« These circumstances,” he continues, “ lead us to abandon the notion that the Apostles wrote under a continual inspiration of suggestion."
That Plenary and Verbal Inspiration has been, of late years, very generally abandoned, unhappily appears to be the fact. But whether this abandonment proceeds from examining the subject with due care, or from other causes of a quite different description, remains to be inquired. For our part, we must consider this abandonment as an instance of apostacy, offensive to the God of the Bible, displeasing to the great Head of the Church, and injurious to the best interests of mankind. The exalted Saviour, who holds the stars in his right hand, and walks in the midst of the golden candlesticks, may be regarded, we humbly apprehend, as addressing every church and every individual, that takes part in this degeneracy, in the following words:
“ I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence though art fallen, and repent, and do the first works. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches, ALL SCRIPTURE IS GIVEN BY INSPIRATION OF GOD. Let this unequivocal and weighty declaration of the Spirit to the churches, be indelibly engraven on every heart; let it be the motto, inscribed on every standard that is reared in defence of the truth; let its blessed influence be displayed in the sentiments, the profession, and the practice of each follower of the Lamb. Behold, I come quickly; hold that fast which thou hast; let no man take thy crown.”
* Lectures in Divinity by the late George Hill, D.D. vol. i. book ii. ch. 1, pp. 333_335.
The conclusion of any treatise ought, no doubt, to correspond with its tenor and design; and whoever writes conscientiously on a religious topic, should endeavour to close his illustrations, in a manner calculated to leave good impressions on the mind of the reader. If his subject has obliged him to wield the sword of the Spirit in vindication of scriptural truth, either against its bitter enemies or its mistaken friends, it seems only the more proper and necessary that his concluding observations should breathe the spirit of piety and kindness. The advocates of the Bible and the Gospel have accordingly been accustomed, when about to finish their momentous labours, to call the attention of their readers to many impressive considerations, relative to the guilt and folly of unbelief; the necessity as well of a divine and living faith, as of a rational conviction of the truth; and the importance of that practical improvement of the word of God, without which the most flaming professions of faith are of no avail.*
The most appropriate subject for a conclusion to this Essay, appears to be the ADVANTAGES arising from the reception of its doctrine. A brief notice of the happy effects which spring from a cordial belief of the full and Verbal Inspiration of the sacred Scriptures, may serve at once to give additional confirmation to this interesting doctrine, and to remind us of the spiritual uses to which our duty and our interest equally bind us to apply it.
The benefits alleged to accrue from any tenet, it is cheerfully conceded, are not of themselves sufficient to establish its truth. Even real advantages, that might in some shape, or to a certain extent, proceed from a particular doctrine or system
See, for example, Dr Dick's excellent remarks at the close of his Essay on the Inspiration of the Scriptures, chap. viii.; and Mr Fuller's “concluding Addresses to Deists, Jews, and Christians,” in his Gospel its own Witness.
of doctrines, must not be allowed to command our approbation or assent, in contradiction to incontestable evidence, by which the doctrine or the system in question is proved to be erroneous. The most imposing exhibition of excellent and desirable consequences, flowing from any scheme that stands diametrically opposed to the testimony of God, ought not for one moment to sway our minds in its favour; nor should pompous declamations on the destructive tendency of principles clearly founded in the oracles of truth, be permitted, in any degree, to stagger our faith.
Nevertheless, “ wisdom excelleth folly," and truth excelleth error, “ as far as light excelleth darkness." tical influence of truth and error is analogous to the respective nature of each; and “ by their fruits ye shall know them.” The substantial advantages resulting from sound tenets, can never fail greatly to overbalance the imaginary good fruits that are ascribed to the contrary errors.
The defenders of partial and occasional inspiration often descant, with much confidence and zeal, on the great and numerous advantages attending that system. Why, then, should we not profit by the example of our antagonists? Having shown, we trust, that full and Verbal Inspiration is completely substantiated by scriptural proofs, and that it cannot be overthrown by the objections with which it is assailed, it is fit and reasonable, on our part, shortly to exhibit its salutary tendencies and holy fruits.
I. This doctrine affords a cheering certainty to the Christian, with regard to the invaluable contents of Scripture.
A state of uncertainty, in reference to matters of weight, is exceedingly uncomfortable. If this remark is verified in the experience of the man of business, who feels uncertain and perplexed as to the measures by which he can prosecute his secular pursuits with the fairest prospect of success, or in the experience of the philosopher, who knows not by what steps to pursue his speculations, or wavers with respect to the decision he should form on a scientific problem that he is anxious to solve-it is far more poignantly felt by the awakened and thoughtful individual, who labours under great uncertainty concerning those truths which regard his immortal interests. There is something extremely affecting in the candid acknowledgments of those heathen sages, who owned that, after all their inquiries respecting religious topics and the future desti
* Eccles. ï. 13. † Mat. vii. 20. # See pages 470, 471.
nies of man, they remained in a state of total incertitude, and who expressed their convictions that mankind needed a messenger from heaven to furnish them with sure information on these weighty affairs. The Scriptures were undoubtedly intended to dispel the native darkness and perplexity of the human mind, and to supply authentic intelligence relative to the concerns of God and the soul. Why does the good man form an exceedingly high estimate of his Bible? The reason is thus expressed by the Psalmist: “ Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.' He values it because it gives him clear and infallible instructions relating to God and eternity, the ground of pardon and acceptance, the nature of that worship and service which his Maker requires, and every other subject interesting to him as a rational and immortal being. Whatever tends either to narrow the extent, or to impair the certainty, of that all-important knowledge he receives from the Scriptures, must to him be quite unwelcome.
Such, however, as was formerly remarked, is the obvious tendency of the boasted doctrine of partial and occasional inspiration. Only admit the principle that the Prophets and Apostles sometimes wrote merely of themselves, or with the aid of a slight superintendence, and sometimes by the full inspiration of the Spirit; that, at one time, they were furnished only with ideas, and at another both with ideas and expressions; and that to determine precisely what portions of Scripture were composed in one way, and what in another, is, in many instances, a task far surpassing the powers of the wisest and the best among men. Only admit this principle, we say, and
you unhinge the mind of the simple-hearted Christian; you involve him in painful circumstances of doubt and embarrassment. How can he now “know the certainty of those things wherein he has been instructed?” How can he“
grow up to all riches of the full assurance of understanding ?” Where, now, his "boldness and access with confidence?” Where “ the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope, to be held firm unto the end?"| Where all the triumphs of Christian faith and fortitude? How can he go forward in his journey, heavenwards, with a vigorous and a steady step? The baleful principle once recognised, no bounds can be assigned to that devastation of sacred writ, which is the natural and necessary consequence. What can he expect but to see the various departments of this valuable field successively wasted, till nearly the whole is blighted and destroyed? Little seems now to remain for him but “ a damaged Bible," and a heart desolate within him.
* Psal. cxix. 105. † Luke i. 4--Col. ii. 2_Ephes. iii. 12~ Heb. iii. 6.
Give the Christian, on the contrary, the whole Book of God completely and verbally inspired; straightway he beholds a broad, sure, and immovable foundation for his faith and hope. Possessing truth without the least admixture of error, light without darkness, salutary food without one noxious or suspected ingredient, he feels himself in contact with an inestimable treasure. Exempt from the pangs of uncertainty, his feet are set upon a rock, his goings are established; like the Ethiopian eunuch, when he had obtained satisfactory information regarding the character of Jesus, and the nature and design of his propitiatory sufferings and death, and believed with all his heart, he goes on his way rejoicing.
II. The doctrine of full and Verbal Inspiration serves to enliven our gratitude to God for the Sacred Scriptures.
The emotions of pious gratitude not only yield an immediate and a pure delight, but have a beneficial effect on the Christian's alacrity and ardour in the path of duty. With the exception of the Saviour himself and the Holy Spirit, no gift of God is represented as demanding more fervent gratitude, and higher strains of praise, than the word of Inspiration. The excellence of this word, indeed, arises chiefly from the purposes it is destined to serve, as a revelation of Jesus Christ, “ the unspeakable gift,” and an appointed means by which the Spirit operates on the heart, and brings home all the blessings of salvation to the soul. “ Blessed,” says the Psalmist, " is the people that know the joyful sound.”—“ He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation; and as for his judgments, they have not known them.”*_“ What advantage then hath the Jew," says Paul, “and what profit is there in circumcision? Much every way; chiefly because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.”_" For this cause also,” says the same Apostle to the Thessalonians, “thank we God without ceasing, because when ye received the word of God which
heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”+
That the doctrine we advocate has a stronger tendency than the contrary tenet, to promote feelings of gratitude for the sacred oracles, cannot admit of a doubt. On our principles, * Ps. lxxxix. 15; cxlvii, 19, 20. † Rom. iii. 1, 2.-1 Thess, ii. 13.