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"Maintaining that the Apostles were under the infallible direction of the Holy Spirit, as to every religious sentiment contained in their writings, secures the same advantages as would result from suppos ing that every word and letter was dictated to them by his influences, without being liable to those objections which might be made against that view of the subject. As the Spirit preserved them from all error in what they have taught and recorded, their writings are of the same authority, importance, and use to us, as if he had dictated every syllable contained in them. If the Spirit had guided their pens in such a manner, that they had been only mere machines under his direction, we could have had no more in their writings than a perfect rule, as to all religious opinions and duties, all matters of faith and practice. But such a perfect rule we have in the New Testament, if we consider them as under the Spirit's infallible guidance in all the religious sentiments they express, whether he suggested the very words in which they are written or not. Upon this view of the subject, the inspired writings contain a perfect and infallible account of the whole will of God for our salvation, of all that is necessary for us to know, believe, and practise in religion; and what can they contain more than this, upon any other view of it?

"Another advantage attending the above view of the apostolic inspiration is, that it will enable us to understand some things in their writings, which it might be difficult to reconcile with another view of the subject. If the inspiration and guidance of the Spirit, respecting the writers of the New Testament, extended only to what appears to be its proper province, matters of a religious and moral nature, then there is no necessity to ask, whether every thing contained in their writings were suggested immediately by the Spirit or not: whether Luke were inspired to say, that the ship in which he sailed with Paul, was wrecked on the island of Melita (Acts xxviii. 1.); or whether Paul were under the guidance of the Spirit, in directing Timothy to bring with him the cloke which he left at Troas, and the books, but especially the parchments (2 Tim. iv. 13.); for the answer is obvious, these were not things of a religious nature, and no inspiration was necessary concerning them. The inspired writers sometimes mention common occurrences or things in an incidental manner, as any other plain and faithful men might do. Although therefore, such things may be found in parts of the evangelic history, or in epistles addressed to churches or individuals, and may stand connected with important declarations concerning Christian doctrine or duty, yet it is not necessary to suppose, that they were under any supernatural influence in mentioning such common or civil affairs, though they were, as to all the sentiments they inculcated respecting religion.


"This view of the subject will also readily enable a plain Christian, in reading his New Testament, to distinguish what he is to consider as inspired truth. Every thing which the Apostles have written or taught concerning Christianity; every thing which teaches him a religious sentiment or a branch of duty, he must consider as divinely true, as the mind and will of God, recorded under the direction and guidance of his Spirit. It is not necessary that he should inquire, whether what the Apostles taught be true. All that he has to search after is, their meaning; and when he understands what

they meant, he may rest assured, that meaning is consistent with the will of God, is divine infallible truth. The testimony of men who spoke and wrote by the Spirit of God, is the testimony of God him self; and the testimony of the God of Truth is the strongest and most indubitable of all demonstration.

"The above view of the apostolic inspiration will likewise enable us, as I apprehend, to understand the apostle Paul, in the seventh chapter of his first epistle to the Corinthians, where in some verses he seems to speak as if he were not inspired, and in others as if he were. Concerning some things he saith, But I speak this by permis sion, and not of commandment (ver. 6.): and again, I have no commandment of the Lord; yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. (ver. 25.) The subject of which the Apostle here delivers his opinion, was a matter of Christian prudence, in which the Corinthians had desired his advice. But it was not a part of religious sentiment or practice; it was not a branch of Christian doctrine or duty, but merely a casuistical question of prudence, with relation to the distress which persecution then occasioned. Paul therefore, agreeably to their request, gives them his opinion as a faithful man; but he guards them against supposing that he was under divine inspiration in that opinion, lest their consciences should be shackled, and leaves them at liberty to follow his advice or not, as they might find convenient. Yet he intimates that he had the Spirit of the Lord as a Christian teacher, that he had not said any thing contrary to his will; and that the opinion which he gave was, on the whole, advisable in the present distress. But the Apostle's declaration, that as to this particular matter, he spoke by permission, and not of commandment, strongly implies, that in other things, in things really of a religious nature, he did speak by commandment from the Lord. Accordingly, in the same chapter, when he had occasion to speak of what was matter of moral duty, he immediately claimed to be under divine direction in what he wrote. And unto the married I command, yet not I but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband. (I Cor. vii. 10.) This would be a breach of one of the chief obligations of morality, and therefore Paul interdicts it under the divine authority. Respecting indifferent things, he gave his judgment as a wise and faithful friend, but re specting the things of religion he spake and wrote as an apostle of Jesus Christ, under the direction and guidance of his spirit."

No. II.

[Referred to, in p. 238. of this Volume.]


(Extracted from A Dissertation on Miracles, designed to show that they are Arguments of a Divine Interposition, and absolute Proofs of the Mission and Doctrine of a Prophet. By Hugh Farmer. London, 1771, 8vo. Chapter IV. Section I. pp. 449–472. THE circumstance of the Egyptian magicians having appeared to imitate some of the miracles performed by Moses, has been seized

Parry's Inquiry into the Nature and Extent of the Inspiration of the Apostles

by the opponents of divine revelation; who have objected that the historian and legislator of the Hebrews has related the attempts of the magicians in the very same words which he has employed to describe his own works, and have thence inferred that the former were equally miraculous with the latter. The following considerations, however, of the learned writer above cited, will clearly prove that the attempts of the magicians were merely juggling tricks calculated to impose on their ignorant countrymen.

In reply to the objection that Moses describes the works of the magicians in the very same language as he does his own, and therefore that there is reason to conclude that they were equally miraculous,' Mr Farmer remarks,


1. "That nothing is more common than to speak of professed jugglers, as doing what they pretend and appear to do, and that this language never misleads, when we reflect what sort of men are spoken of, namely, mere imposers on the sight: why might not Moses then use the common popular language when speaking of the magicians, without any danger of misconstruction, inasmuch as the subject he was treating, all the circumstances of the narrative, and the opinion which the historian was known to entertain of the inefficacy and imposture of magic, did all concur to prevent mistakes?

2. "Moses does not affirm that there was a perfect conformity between his works and those of the magicians; he does not close the respective relations of his own particular miracles, with saying the magicians did that thing, or according to what he did so did they,3 a form of speech used on this occasion no less than three times in one chapter, to describe the exact correspondence between the orders of God, and the behaviour of his servants; but makes choice of a word of great latitude, such as does not necessarily express any thing more than a general similitude, such as is consistent with a difference in many important respects, they did so or in like manner as he had. -That a perfect imitation could not be designed by this word, is evident from its being applied to cases in which such an imitation was absolutely impracticable: for, when Aaron had converted all the waters of Egypt into blood, we are told the magicians did so, that is, something in like sort. Nor can it be supposed that they covered the land of Egypt with frogs, this had been done already; they could only appear to bring them over some small space cleared for the purpose. But what is more decisive, the word imports nothing more than their attempting some imitation of Moses, for it is used when they failed in their attempt: They did SO to bring forth lice, but they could not.5

and other Writers of the New Testament, (8vo. London, 1797,) pp. 20. 30. See also Dr. Dick's Essay on the Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, 8vo. London, 1813.

1 When Moses describes what the magicians pretended, and seemed to perform, by saying, they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents, and they brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt; he only uses the same language as Apuleius (Metam. I. 1.) where, describing a person who merely played juggling tricks. Circulatorem aspexi equestrem spatham præacutam Mucrone infesto devorasse ac mox eundem venatoriam lanceam-in ima viscera condidisse. 2 As in Exod. ix. 5, 6. 3 Ch. vii. 6. 10. 23.


4 Vide in Exod. vii. 20 & 22.

5 Exod. viii. 18. Le Clerc observes, Nec raro Hebræi ad conatum notandum

3. "So far is Moses from ascribing the tricks of the magicians to the invocation and power of demons, or to any superior beings whatever, that he does most expressly refer all they did or attempted in imitation of himself, to human artifice and imposture. The original words, which are translated enchantments,1 are entirely different from that rendered enchantments in other passages of Scripture, and do carry in them any sort of reference to sorcery or magic, or the interposition of any spiritual agents; they import deception and concealment, and ought to have been rendered secret sleights or jugglings, and are thus translated even by those who adopt the common hypothesis with regard to the magicians. These secret sleights and jugglings are expressly referred to the magicians, not to the devil, who is not so much as mentioned in the history.-Should we therefore be asked,3 How it came to pass, in case the works of the magicians were performed by sleight of hand, that Moses has given no hint thereof? we answer, He has not contented himself with a hint of this kind, but, at the same time that he ascribes his own miracles to Jehovah, he has in the most direct terms resolved every thing done in imitation of them entirely to the fraudulent contrivances of his opposers, to legerdemain or sleight of hand, in contradistinction from magical incantations. Moses therefore could not design to represent their works as real miracles, at the very time he was branding them as impostures.

"It remains only to show, that the works performed by the magicians did not exceed the cause to which they are ascribed; or, in other words, the magicians proceeded no farther in imitation of Moses, than human artifice might enable them to go (while the miracles of Moses were not liable to the same impeachment, and bore upon themselves the plainest signatures of that divine power to which they are referred). If this can be proved, the interposition of the devil on this occasion will appear to be an hypothesis invented without any kind of necessity, as it certainly is without any authority from the sacred text.

1." With regard to the first attempt of the magicians, the turning rods into serpents: It cannot be accounted extraordinary that they should seem to succeed in it, when we consider that these men were famous for the art of dazzling and deceiving the sight and

verbis utuntur quæ rem effectam significant. Gen. xxxvii. 21. Consult him likewise on Exod. viii. 18. ch. 12. 48. p. 66. 2.

1 The original word used Exod. vii. 11. is onvon (BеLAHатEHем); and that which occurs ch. vii. 22. and ch. viii. 7. 18. is a (BeLaтHeм); the former is probably derived from yn (LaHar), which signifies to burn, and the substantive flame or shining sword-blade, and is applied to the flaming sword which guarded the tree of life, Gen. iii. 24. Those who formerly used legerdemain, dazzled and deceived the sight of spectators by the art of brandishing their swords, and sometimes seemed to eat them and to thrust them into their bodies; and the expression seems to intimate, that the magicians appearing to turn their rods into serpents, was owing to their eluding the eyes of the spectators by a dexterous management of their swords. In the preceding instances they made use of some different contrivance, for the latter word belatehem, comes from , to cover or hide (which some think the former word also does) and therefore fitly expresses any secret artifices or methods of deception whereby false appearances are imposed upon the spectators.

2 Bishop Kidder on Exod. vii. 11.

3 As we are by Dr. Macknight, in his Truth of the Gospel History, p. 372.

that serpents being first rendered tractable and harmless, as they easily may, have had a thousand different tricks played with them to the astonishment of the spectators.1 Huetius tells us,2 that amongst the Chinese there are jugglers who undertake to turn rods into serpents; though no doubt they only dexterously substitute the latter in the room of the former. Now this is the very trick the magicians played; and as it appears by facts, that the thing in general is very practicable, it is immaterial to account particularly how the thing was done; since it is not always easy to explain in what manner a common juggler imposes upon our sight. Should it be suggested, that Moses might impose upon the sight of the spectators, as well as the magicians; I answer, that as he ascribes their performances to legerdemain, and his own to God, so there might and must have been a wide difference in their manner of acting; the covered arts of the magicians not being used by Moses, the same suspicion could not rest on him that did on them. What an ingenious writer asserts is not true, that, according to the book of Exodus, the outward appearance on both sides was precisely the same. The book of Exodus specifies a most important difference between the miracle of Aaron, and the impostures of the magicians; for it says, that Aaron cast down his rod, before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent; but with regard to the magicians, it uses very different language, for at the same time it says, They cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents. It expressly declares, that they did this by their enchantments or covered arts; and what in the most effectual manner prevented any apprehension, that the serpent of Aaron was (like those of the magicians) the effect only of a dexterous management, not a miraculous production, God caused his rod to swallow up theirs, in which there was no room for artifice, and which for this reason the magicians did not attempt to imitate. This new miracle was not designed to establish the superiority of the God of Israel to the idols of Egypt; nor was it capable of answering that end: but in the view here given of it, had much wisdom, by vindicating the credit of the former miracle3 (which might possibly be more open to suspicion, than any of the rest) as well as by affording new evidence of a divine interposition in favour of Moses. God considered this evidence as fully decisive of the point in question, between his messengers and the magicians: for from this time he proceeded to the punishment of Pharaoh and the Egyptians: which

1 Those who desire to see instances of this from modern authors, may consult Dr. Sykes on Miracles, pp. 166. 168. Many pretend to render serpents harmless by charms, (Ps. 58. 5. Bochart, Hieroz. part. post. 1. 3. c. 6.; Shaw's Travels, Pref. p. 5. also, p. 429. and Supplement, p. 62.) though more probably they destroy the teeth through which they ejected their poison. Herodotus mentions certain serpents which are quite harmless avdowxwv dvdaμā dnλnpoves ; Euterpe, c. 74. Antiquity attributes to the Psylli, a people of Africa, the extraordinary virtue of rendering themselves invulnerable by serpents, as well as of curing those who were bit by them. See Dr. Hasselquist's Voyages and Travels, cited in the Monthly Review for February 1766, page 133.

2 Alnetan. Quæst. 1. ii. p. 155.

3 We learn from hence how little occasion there was for Moses to detect the artifices of the magicians, who did not so much as pretend to any peculiar divine assistance, and who sunk into contempt of themselves. 2 Tim. iii. 9. The nature of the works of Moses, and the open unsuspicious manner of their performance, served sufficiently to disgrace the attempts of his rivals.

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