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ble. Many chapters and books of Scripture are out of their proper place, according to the order of time; which if put in their proper chronological order in the course of our reading, would reflect not a little light upon each other.

Thus, in the book of Genesis, with which the Bible commences, we have a continued history from the creation of the world down to the death of the patriarch Joseph. Next to that, in order of time, lies the narrative contained in the book of Job (if, indeed, it be not the first written book) in which we meet with several vestiges of the patriarchal theology as recorded in Genesis, but with no references to any of the succeeding parts of the sacred history. Then comes the book of Exodus, which gives an account of the deliverance of the Jews from their Egyptian bondage, and the erection of the tabernacle for the service of God; from which tabernacle He gave those ordinances for his service, which are related in the book of Leviticus. After these ordinances had been issued, the Israelites performed those journeyings of which we have an account, together with the incident that befel them in each, in the book of Numbers. When their wanderings in the Desert of Arabia were drawing to a close, Moses, shortly before his departure, recapitulated and explained the preceding laws and ordinances to them, as recorded in the book of Deuteronomy. The settlement of the Israelites in the land of Canaan, and the coincident circumstances, under the command of Joshua the successor of Moses, are narrated in the book which bears his name; and of their succeeding history we have an account in the book of Judges. But the history contained in the two books of Samuel, of the Kings, and of the Chronicles, is so interwoven, that it requires very considerable attention to develope it: and, unless the different synchronisms be carefully attended to, and the several psalms and prophecies, previously to the Babylonish captivity, be also interwoven in the order of time, it will be extremely difficult (not to say impracticable) critically to understand the sacred history. After the captivity, the affairs of the Jews are continued by Ezra, Esther, and Nehemiah, in whose narratives the predictions of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi (by whom the canon was closed), ought in like manner to be interwoven, together with such of the psalms as manifestly appear, from internal evidences, to have been composed subsequently to the captivity.1

In the New Testament, the four evangelists have given us, in so many memoirs, an historical relation of the life and actions of Jesus

In the fourth volume of this work the prophetical books are arranged in order of time. The author had it in contemplation to have attempted an arrangement of the entire Scriptures on the plan above noticed; but he has happily been anticipated in this laborious undertaking, so far as respects the Old Testament, by the Rev. George Townsend, in his recent work entitled, The Holy Bible, arranged in chronological and historical order; or, an arrangement of the text of the Old Tes tament, in such manner, that the books, chapters, psalms, prophecies, narratives, &c. being inserted in their respective places, the contents of the sacred volume may be read as one uniform connected history, in the very words of the inspired writers, as contained in the authorised translation. London, 1821, in two volumes, Svo. See an account of this work infra, Vol. II. Part I. Ch. XI. § III. 3.

Christ, which is the same in substance, but different in many particulars. Now, if their several narratives be digested and arranged into one, in the order of time, this would throw much light upon various passages, which in a detached state appear difficult to be understood.1 The book of the Acts of the Apostles also gives us a short history of the church, from Christ's ascension, together with the propagation of the Gospel by the apostles, and especially of the sufferings and labours of Peter and Paul. The insertion of the different apostolical epistles according to the several times and seasons when they were written (so far at least as we can collect them from attending circumstances), would further be of great use, to enable us the better to understand them. The book of the Revelation of Saint John, which closes the canon of Scripture, gives a prophetical history of the church to the end of the world; and, of course, must be studied by itself.

The ge

"I can speak it from experience," says the celebrated Erasmus,3 "that there is little benefit to be derived from the Scriptures, if they be read cursorily or carelessly: but if a man exercise himself therein constantly and conscientiously, he shall find such an efficacy in them as is not to be found in any other book whatsoever." nuine philosophy of Christ," says the same eminent scholar and critic, "cannot be derived from any source so successfully, as from the books of the Gospels and Apostolic Epistles; in which if a man philosophise with a pious spirit, praying rather than arguing, he will find that there is nothing conducive to the happiness of man, and the performance of any duty of human life, which is not, in some of these writings, laid down, discussed, and determined, in a complete and satisfactory manner.'


1 Of the various harmonies of the Four Gospels, which are extant, those of Doddridge, and Macknight, Pilkington, and Archbishop Newcombe, will perhaps be found the most useful. On the subject of Scripture Harmonies, vide infra, Vol. II. Part I. Chapter XI.

2 Cradock's Apostolical History, Benson's History of the first planting of Christianity, and Bevan's Life of the Apostle Paul, may here be noticed as particularly useful helps for studying the apostolic epistles in the order of time.

3 Præf. in Paraphr. in Luc.

4 Existimo puram illam Christi philosophiam non aliunde felicius hauriri, quàm ex evangelicis libris, quàm ex apostolicis literis: in quibus si quis piè philosophetur, orans magis quàm argumentans, nihil esse inveniet, quod ad hominis felicitatem, nihil quod ad ullam hujus vitæ functionem pertineat, quod in his non sit traditum, discussum, et absolutum. ERASMUS, cited in Dr. Knox's Christian Philosophy, p. 295. 2d edit.





No. I.

[Referred to, in p. 231. of this Volume.]


I. Observations on the Inspiration of the Old Testament. — II. And of the New Testament. III. Conclusions derived from these con


THE necessity of the divine inspiration of the sacred Scriptures having been stated, and the proofs of that inspiration having been exhibited at considerable length, in the preceding pages, it is proposed in this place to offer to the biblical student a few additional observations on the nature and extent of such inspiration, the introduction of which would have interrupted the chain of argument in the former part of this volume.

I. Inspiration, in the highest sense, is the immediate communication of knowledge to the human mind by the Spirit of God: but, as we have already observed, it is commonly used by divines, in a less strict and proper sense, to denote such a degree of divine influence, assistance, or guidance, as enabled the authors of the Scriptures to communicate religious knowledge to others, without error or mistake, whether the subjects of such communication were things then immediately revealed to those who declared them, or things with which they were before acquainted.

"When it is said, that Scripture is divinely inspired, we are not to understand that God suggested every word, or dictated every expression. From the different styles in which the books are written, and from the different manner in which the same events are related and predicted by different authors, it appears that the sacred penmen were permitted to write as their several tempers, understandings, and habits of life, directed: and that the knowledge communicated to them by inspiration on the subject of their writings, was applied in the same manner as any knowledge acquired by ordinary means. Nor is it to be supposed that they were even thus inspired in every fact which they related, or in every precept which they delivered. They were left to the common use of their faculties, and did not, upon every occasion, stand in need of supernatural communication; but whenever, and as far as divine assistance was necessary, it was always afforded. In different parts of Scripture we perceive, that there were different sorts and degrees of inspiration. God enabled Moses to give an account of the creation of the world; Joshua to record with exactness the settlement of the Israelites in the land of Canaan; David to mingle prophetic information with the varied effusions of gratitude, contrition, and piety; Solomon to deliver wise instructions for the regulation of human life; Isaiah to deliver predictions concerning the future Saviour of mankind; and Ezra to collect the sacred Scriptures into one authentic volume: but all these

worketh that one and the self-same spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. (1 Cor. xii. 11.) In some cases, inspiration only produced correctness and accuracy in relating past occurrences, or in reciting the words of others; in other cases, it communicated ideas not only new and unknown before, but infinitely beyond the reach of unassisted human intellect; and, sometimes, inspired prophets delivered, for the use of future ages, predictions which they did not themselves comprehend, and which could not be fully understood till they were accomplished. But whatever distinctions are made with respect to the sorts, degrees, or modes of inspiration, we may rest assured that one property belongs to every inspired writing, namely, that it is free from error, that is, any material error. This property must be considered as extending to the whole of each of those writings, of which a part only is inspired; for it is not to be supposed that God would suffer any such errors, as might tend to mislead our faith or pervert our practice, to be mixed with those truths, which he himself has mercifully revealed to his rational creatures as the means of their eternal salvation. In this restricted sense it may be asserted, that the sacred writers always wrote under the influence, or guidance, or care, of the Holy Spirit, which sufficiently establishes the truth and divine authority of all Scripture."

That the authors of the historical books of the Old Testament were occasionally inspired, is certain, since they frequently display an acquaintance with the counsels and designs of God, and often reveal his future dispensations in the clearest predictions. But though it is evident that the sacred historians sometimes wrote under the immediate operation of the Holy Spirit, it does not follow that they derived from Revelation the knowledge of those things, which might be collected from the common sources of human intelligence. It is sufficient to believe, that by the general superintendance of the Holy Spirit, they were directed in the choice of their materials, enlightened to judge of the truth and importance of those accounts from which they borrowed their information, and prevented from recording any material error. Indeed, the historical books (as we have already shown at considerable length1) were, and could not but be, written by persons, who were for the most part contemporary with the periods to which they relate, and had a perfect knowledge of the events recorded by them; and who in their descriptions of characters and events (of many of which they were witnesses) uniformly exhibit a strict sincerity of intention, and an unexampled impartiality. Some of these books, however, were compiled in subsequent times from the sacred annals mentioned in Scripture as written by prophets or seers, and from those public records, and other authentic documents, which, though written by uninspired men, were held in high estimation, and preserved with great care by persons specially appointed as keepers of the genealogies and public archives of the Jewish nation. It is not necessary to be able to distinguish the inspired from the uninspired parts of the historical books of the Old Testament. It is enough for us to know, that every writer of the Old Testament was inspired, and that the whole of the history it contains, without any exception or reserve, is true. These points being ascertained and

1 See pp. 138-156. supra.

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