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round numbers are used, or an even number is put for another, which was in a small degree deficient or redundant; that periods of time, as for example, the reigns of kings, have different dates, a king being reckoned to have commenced his reign, either at the death of his predecessor, or when he was associated with him in the government; that an event, which, from its similarity to another, is supposed be the same, may be diff ent, and is therefore related with some difference of circumstances ; and that there may be an apparent discrepance in the relation of the same transaction by iwo or more writers, because one omits some particulars which have been mentioned by another, or adds particulars of which another has taken no notice.""

By referring to different dates, we account for the difference in the number of years. When it is said, in one place, that Abraham's seed should be, for four hundred years, strangers in a land which was not theirs, and in another, that they were delivered from Egypt at the expiration of four hundred and thirty years ;t the date, in the first, is from the birth of Isaac; and in the second, from the call of the patriarch. I shall produce one instance of seeming contradiction, arising from a disregard of the order of time. According to John, Christ was anointed at Bethany six days before the passover, but Matthew does not speak of it till within two days of the feast.[ It was then that Judas offered to betray his Master; and in relating his treachery, Matthew recollected the event which compelled him to consummate his design, the rebuke which he received from Christ some days before, when he complained of the waste of the ointment.

It is impossible to do more than to give you a specimen of the modes of reconciling different passages. The subject is extensive, and you must be referred to the authors who have treated it at length. The two genealogies of Christ are so widely different, that there is no way of accounting for them, but by the supposition, that Matthew gives his descent from David, in the line of Joseph, his reputed father; and Luke, his descent in the line of Mary his mother.Ś Jesus, says Luke, was about thirty years of age, being us evomuisito, not really, but as was supposed, the son of Joseph, whose true father was Jacob, but he is here called the son of Heli, because he was his son-inlaw, being married to Mary his daughter. The different accounts of the superscription on the cross may be reconciled by the circumstance, that it was written in different languages ; whence one of the evangelists has given it from the Hebrew, another from the Greek, and another from the Latin. “ This is Jesus, the king of the Jews ;" “ Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews ;" “ This is the king of the Jews."|| In like manner, with regard to the exclamation of the centurion, who said, according to Matthew, “ Truly this was the Son of God;" but, according to Luke, “ Certainly this was a righteous man :''I both accounts may be true, for he may have uttered both sentences, although each of these evangelists has chosen to give only one of them.

No wise man will be surprised that we meet with difficulties in revelation ; nor will they have any undue effect upon an honest mind. They certainly call for investigation, but no greater importance should be attached to them than they really possess. We should pronounce that man to be a fool, who, having complete evidence of a fact presented to him, should continue to entertain doubts of it, because there were some things connected with it which he was unable to explain. In cases of this kind, our judgment should be deter

Essay on Inspiration, p 297.

+Gen. xv. 13. Exod. xii. 40.
#John xi. 1. 3. Matt. xxvi. 2.7. Ś Matt. i. Luke iii. 23, et seq.
| Matt. xxvii. 37. John xix. 19. Luke xxiii. 38.
| Matt. xxvii. 51. Luke xxii. 47.

K

mined by the preponderance of the evidence. If the arguments for the con-. clusion are superior to the arguments against it, we do not act rationally, but absurdly, when we withhold our assent. It must be a weak or a prejudiced mind which is influenced by some objections to reject Christianity, notwithstanding the abundant evidence by which its claims are established ; and we have reason to suspect, that the heart is in fault still more than the head, and that in this case, men hate the light because their deeds are evil.

LECTURE XI.

INSPIRATION OF THE SACRED WRITERS.

Inspirati claimed by the Writers of Scripture-Different Opinions respecting it-Plenary

Inspiration-Degrees of Inspiration according to the Jews ; According to Christian Divines : Superintendence, Elevation, Suggestion-Account of the different Degrees of InspirationIn what Sense the Scriptures are the Word of God-Did Inspiration extend to the Language ?-Character of Persons inspired; Modes of Inspiration-Privilege of Moses.

I have endeavoured, in the preceding lectures, to prove the genuineness and authenticity of the Scriptures ; that they were written by the persons to whom they are ascribed, and that their contents are worthy of credit. These two points are sufficient to establish the truth of our religion. It is not absolutely necessary to inquire, whether the sacred writers were supernaturally qualified for composing the records of revelation ; because if their veracity and competence are ascertained, the facts which they attest furnish satisfactory evidence of the divine origin of Christianity. But however fully we might be convinced of the general truth of our religion, when we proceed to examine its nature, to investigate its doctrines, precepts, institutions, and promises, we could not have perfect confidence in the detailed account, although we should entertain no suspicion of the honesty of the writers, unless we had reason to believe that they were assisted in drawing it up, so as to commit no mistakes either in narrating or in reasoning, and to leave out nothing which was essential to the system. Our confidence would be the less, when, not to mention the difficulty, or rather the impossibility, which persons of the greatest talents must have felt, to avoid all error in an account so complicated, and embracing so great a variety of matter, we reflect that the sacred writers were men without education, unskilled in composition, and consequently inadequate to the task. It might have almost been assumed, a priori, that is God was pleased to give a revelation to the world, he would not expose it to the hazard of being misrepresented, corrupted, and mutilated, through the infirmity of those who should undertake to transmit it to succeeding generations, and that, by a continuation of the miraculous agency which a revelation implies, he would so influence their minds, that those who lived at a distance in respect of time and place, should have the same advantages for exactly knowing its contents, as they had to whom it was primarily delivered. And surely, to those who admit that miracles are wrought to attest revelation, it will not seem incredible that there should have been one miracle more, so obviously necessary, as the inspiration of the persons by whom it was committed to writing. The possibility of inspiration none but an atheist will deny ; and it would be strange indeed if its probability should be called in question by any who bear the Christian name, while they are compelled to admit the fact in the case of the prophets.

It is not, however, by reasoning, the solidity of which might be disputed, that we prove the inspiration of the Scriptures. We appeal to their own testimony, and might produce many passages in which it is explicitly asserted, or plainly implied. I shall quote the words of Paul, in the second Epistle to Timothy, because whatever attempt some critics have made to evade their force, they convey distinct information to those who are candidly disposed to receive it: “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."* I acknowledge that the apostle must be understood to speak only of the Jewish Scriptures, which Timothy had known from his childhood, for when he was a child no part of the Christian Scriptures had been published ; but if the inspiration of the former is established, that of the latter will be readily conceded. It has been affirmed that the verse should be rendered thus—“Every writing divinely inspired is profitable ;” and it is thus converted into a general proposition, which does not vouch for the inspiration of any particular book, and leaves the question undecided, what books are inspired. This makes it a proposition which communicates no specific information, and is as superfluous as it would be to tell us that the sun gives light. It would have never entered into the mind of any man to suppose that a book really inspired was of no use. But although we should admit the translation, it goes farther than its authors intended; for while it was their design to destroy the evidence arising from the words, in behalf of the inspiration of the Jewish Scriptures, they still bear explicit testimony to it. The apostle had mentioned them in the preceding verse, and he now adds, “ every inspired writing is profitable,” evidently assigning the reason why these Scriptures were able to make Timothy wise unto salvation. It was their inspiration which made them profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. We can conceive no reason for the mention of inspired writings in this connexion, but to attest the inspiration of the books of the Old Testament. Thus the translation turns out an abortive attempt to weaken or overthrow the authority of the Jewish canon. That it is a mistranslation, every person will see on consulting the original, πασα γραφη θεοπνευστος και ωφελιμος. The conjunction nu,

which connects to TVNotos and experspecs, clearly shows that both adjectives belong to the predicate of the proposition, and that rura zpron alone is the subject. No example can be produced where two adjectives are thus joined, of which the one belongs to the subject, and the other to the predicate. Had Paul meant to express the idea which these critics attach to his words, he would have left out the conjunction, or perhaps have substituted the verb of existence, esti, as a copulative. Πασα γραφη θεπνευστος ωφελιμος, Or, πασα γραφη θεπνωστος εστιν ωφελιμος. This, then, is the proper translation, every writing is divinely inspired, and is profitable; that is, every one of the writings referred to in the preceding verse, under the designation of the Holy Scriptures ; and thus he asserts the inspiration of all the books contained in the sacred volume of the Jews.

There are many other passages in which the inspiration of the Old Testament is asserted or implied. The books are called the “ oracles of God,”?+ by which designation they are plainly referred to a divine origin, and distinguished from human compositions. They are frequently quoted under the name of Scripture, the writing by way of eminence; that is, the inspired writing, according to the words of Paul, which have been considered. Our Saviour appealed to them as containing the words of eternal life, and bearing testimony to him ;£ and gave his sanction to them all, as arranged by the Jews in the three divisions of the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms. When

1 Pet. iv. 11.

• 2 Tim. iii. 16.
# John v. 39.

+ Acts vii. 38. Rom. iii. 2. Heb. v. 12.
s Luke xxiv. 44,

we look into the Old Testament itself, we find the claim of inspiration repeatedly and explicitly advanced. Moses affirms that he wrote part, at least, of the Pentateuch by the command of God ;* David tells us, that “the Spirit of the Lord spake by him, and his word was in his tongue,"t and all the prophets delivered their messages in the name of Jehovah.

There are many particulars from which the same conclusion may be drawn, with respect to the books of the New Testament. It is evident that the writers were not left to their own unassisted faculties, from the promise of our Saviour, that the Father would send the Spirit in his name, “who should teach them all things, and bring all things to their remembrance whatsoever he had said unto them.”¥ “ Howbeit,” he adds, “ when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth ; for he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak ; and he will show you things to come.”'S He likewise admonished them, when they were brought before magistrates and councils for his sake, to “ take no thought what they should say, because it would be given them in that hour what they should speak ;"|| that is, proper sentiments and words would be suggested to them. We do not surely overstrain these promises, when we infer from them that they enjoyed the same supernatural assistance in composing their narrations and episiles ; in which it was at least equally necessary, as these were to be the rule of faith and practice to the church in all ages. Accordingly, they did claim inspiration, not only by placing their own writings on a level with those of the prophets, but by many express declarations. Thus Paul tells us, in the name of his brethren, that they have received the Spirit of God, that they might know the things which were freely given them of God; " which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth."I With respect to himself, he affirms that he had “ the mind of Christ:"** that the things which he wrote were the commandments of the Lord ;''H that the gospel which he preached, he had received by the revelation of Jesus Christ;"# and that whosoever despised the things which he and his brethren taught, despised not man but God, who had given to them the Holy Ghost.99 John speaks thus of all the apostles : “ We are of God; he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not is. Hereby know we the Spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.”IX You observe that some of the passages now quoted refer directly to their writings, and that in them all it is assumed, that the apostles were supernaturally assisted in communicating the gospel to mankind, and consequently in committing it to writing as well as in preaching it.

On the ground of these declarations, it has been generally admitted, that there is a specific difference between the sacred books and human compositions. Their inspiration has been generally acknowledged; but the question, how far it extends, has given rise to a diversity of opinions. Some have had the boldness to deny it altogether; and some have circumscribed it within very narrow limits. “I think,” says Dr. Priestley, “ that the Scriptures were written without any particular inspiration, by men who wrote according to the best of their knowledge, and who, from their circumstances, could not be mistaken with respect to the greater facts, of which they were proper witnesses, but like other men subject to prejudice, might be liable to adopt a hasty and ill-grounded opinion, concerning things which did not fall within the compass of their own knowledge, and which had no connexion with any thing that was so." It must strike you at once, that this is a direct contradiction of

+ 2 Sam. xxii. 2.

• Deut. xxxi. 19. 22.
| Matt. x. 19.
## Gal. i. 12.

1 Cor. ii. 13.
$$ 1 Thess. iv. 8.

# John xiv, 26.
** Ibid. 16.
Il 1 John iv, 6.

§ John xvi. 13.
tt i Cor. xiv. 37.

the sacred writers, and an impeachment of their veracity; and if they have told us a falsehood, when they asserted their inspiration, how can we give credit to them in any other thing? If they were all deceived on this point by imagination, they were incompetent witnesses; and if they were not deceived, they have forfeited all title to our confidence. Dr. Priestley found it necessary to destroy the authority of the record, that he might pave the way for establishing his own system, from which all the peculiar doctrines of Christianity are excluded, and might be at liberty to believe as much or as little as he pleased. It is strange to suppose a revelation to have been given so full of misstatements, and false reasonings, that in order to discover what is true and what is false we must end where we began, by making reason the supreme judge in religion. Others have maintained, that the inspiration of the apostles was only occasional ; that they were not always assisted and guided by the Holy Spirit; and that consequently, being sometimes left to themselves, they thought and reasoned like ordinary men. As this is a mere hypothesis, unsupported by proof, it is entitled to very little attention. If admitted, it would involve us in the greatest perplexity, because, not knowing when they did, and when they did not, enjoy the presence of the Spirit, we should be utterly at a loss to determine what parts of their writings we ought to believe. There would be truth, and there might be error in them; but how to distinguish and separate them, would puzzle the wisest head. And it comes to the same thing at last, whether you say, that they were not inspired at all, or that they were inspired on certain occasions, while you do not furnish us with the means of ascertaining those occasions. Once more, it has been affirmed, “ that the whole scheme of the gospel was supernaturally revealed to the apostles, was faithfully retained in their memories, and is expounded in their writings by the use of their natural faculties." I do not thoroughly understand this theory, because it does not distinctly explain how much is assigned to inspiration, and how much to the persons inspired; but, if it is meant, that after the revelation was made to them, they had the same power over it as a man has over his own thoughts, and were at the same liberty with respect to the mode of communicating it as we are with respect to the suggestions of our own minds, I consider it as inconsistent with the scriptural idea of inspiration, and with the statement, that “ the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”*

Many learned men have held the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures, which imports, that every part of them is inspired. The doctrine has met with violent opposition, and has been treated with ridicule ; but the objections against it have arisen, in some cases at least, I apprehend, from misconception. It has been supposed to imply, that every part of the sacred books was immediately communicated to the minds of the writers : and as some parts of them relate to common things, to things which might have been known from other sources, it seemed absurd to introduce a revelation, where the bodily senses and natural reason were fully adequate to the purpose. But this is not the true idea of plenary inspiration. It extends, indeed, to the whole Scriptures; but it admits of degrees suited to the nature of the subject which the writers were employed to record, and did not supersede the use of their natural faculties, so far as these could contribute to the general design. The whole was not a revelation in the strict acceptation of the term, but the whole was committed to writing by the direction and with the assistance of the Spirit.

Inspiration may be defined to be, "an influence of the Holy Spirit upon the understandings, imaginations, memories, and other mental powers of the sacred

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