« EdellinenJatka »
reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Now observe,
1. That the verb is, which constitutes the whole affirmation here, has nothing corresponding to it in the Greek, and is put in by the English translators. Of course the sentence requires a verb somewhere, but the place of its insertion depends on the discretion of the translator. Baxter, Grotius, and other critics, accordingly render the passage thus; “ All scripture. given by inspiration of God, is also profitable,” &c. The Apostle has already been reminding Timothy of the importance of those scriptures with which he had been acquainted from his youth, to his personal faith : and he now adds, that they are also useful for his public teaching. He therefore simply says that whatever scriptures are given by inspiration of God, are thus profitable.
2. Since Paul first speaks generally of those scriptures with which Timothy had been familiar from his youth, and then proceeds to select from these a certain class, as given by inspiration of God, his description extends to no portion of the New Testament, and only to some writings of the Old. The purpose for which he recommends them, indicates what books were in his thoughts. As they were to aid Timothy in his public duty of convincing his countrymen that Jesus was the Messiah, he refers to those books which had sustained the expectation of a Messiah,—the Jewish Prophets. " The whole extent of his doctrine, I conceive to have been expressed by the Apostle Peter thus : ‘prophecy came not in old time by the will of men; but holy men of God spake, moved by the Holy Spirit; *—that those also who recorded these speeches, wrote by the Holy Spirit; that, in addition to the superhuman message, there was a superhuman report of it, is a notion of which no trace can be found in the apostolic writings. The whole amount, therefore, of the Apostle's doctrine is this; that the prophets had a preternatural know
• 2 Pet. i. 21.
ledge of future events; and that their communications were recorded in the prophetic books. By the admission of these points, the theory of inspired composition obviously gains nothing."*
No appeal can be more unfortunate for the advocate of plenary inspiration, than to the writings of the great apostle of the Gentiles. Not a trace can be found in them of the cold, oracular dignity,—the bold, authoritative enunciation,
-the transcendental exposition, equally above argument and passion, in which conscious and confessed infallibility would deliver its decisions. All the natural faculties of the man are shed forth, with most vehement precipitation, on every page. He pleads with his disciples, as if kneeling at their feet. He withstands Peter to the face,—though no less inspired than himself, because he was to be blamed for unsound sentiments and inconsistent conduct. He hurries so eagerly, and sinks so deep into an illustration, that scarcely can he make a timely retreat. He too quickly seizes an analogy to apply it with exactitude and precision. And above all, he is incessantly engaged in reasoning : and by that very act, he selects as his own the common human level of address,-generously submits his statements to the verdict of our judgment, and leaves that judgment free to accept or to reject them. Nor is it on mere subordinate points that he contents himself with this method, which, by challenging search, abandons infallibility. The great controversies of the infant church, which involved the whole future character of Christianity, which decided how far it should conciliate Polytheism, and how much preserve of Judaism, the apostle of the Gentiles boldly confides to reasoning : and his writings are composed chiefly of arguments, protective of the Gospel from compromise with Idolatry on the one hand, and slavery to the Law on the other.
* Unwilling to repeat what I have already said, in a former publication, I have contented myself with a brief and slight notice of this celebrated text. It is discussed in a less cursory manner in the notes to the first Lecture in the “Rationale of Religious Inquiry." I would only add, that Schleusner considers the word DEÓTVEVOTOS as belonging, not to the predicate, but to the subject, of the sentence. See his Lexicon in Nov. Test, in verb. “ In N. T. semel legitur 2 Tim, iii. 16. nãoa ypaon DeÓtVEVOTOS, omnis scriptura divinitus inspirata, seu, quæ est originis divinæ."
Nor is this denied by any instructed divine of any church. In insisting “ upon the duty of professed Christians to abstain from all compliance with the idolatrous practices of the heathens around them,” says Dr. Tattershall, " St. Paul. even though an inspired Apostle, does not proceed upon the mere dictum of authority, but appeals to the reason of those to whom he writes; and calls upon them to reflect upon the inconsistency of such conduct, with the nature of their Christian profession. In fact, he produces arguments, and desires them to weigh the reasons which he assigns, and see whether they do not fully sustain the conclusion which he draws from them. I speak,' says he, as to wise men JUDGE YE what I say.""*
If then the Apostle wrote his letters under inspiration have we not here direct authority to sit in judgment on the productions of inspiration, or the contents of the word of God: not merely to learn what is said, but to consider its inherent reasonableness and truth? No one, indeed, can state more forcibly than Dr. Tattershall himself the principle, of which this conclusion is only a particular case. “When I reason with an opponent,” says he, “I do not invade his acknowledged right of private judgment, nor do I require of him to surrender that judgment to me. I am, in fact, doing the precise contrary of this. I am, by the very act of reasoning, both acknowledging his right of judgment, and making an appeal to it.”+
To acknowledge the right of judgment, is to forego the claim of infallibility, and to concede the privilege of dissent;
Sermon on the Nature and Extent of the Right of Private Judgment. p. 238.
+ P. 249.
and thus frankly does St. Paul deal with me. Vainly do his modern expounders attempt to make him the instrument of their own assumptions. To appeal to my reason, and then, if I cannot see the force of the proof, to hold me up as a blasphemer and a rebel against the word of God, is an inconsistency, of which only the degenerate followers of the great Apostle could be guilty. His writings disown, in every page, the injurious claims which would confer on them an artificial authority, to the ruin of their true power and beauty. In order to show the absolute divine truth of all that may be written by an inspired man, it is not enough to establish the presence of inspiration, you must prove also the absence of every thing else. And this can never be done with any writings made up, like the Apostle's, of a scarce-broken tissue of argument and illustration. It is clear that he was not forbidden to reason and expound, to speculate and refute, to seek access, by every method of persuasion, to the minds he was sent to evangelize; to appeal, at one time to his interpretation of prophecy, at another to the visible glories of creation, and again to the analogies of history. Where could have been his zeal, his freshness, his versatility of address, his self-abandonment, his various success, if his natural faculties had not been left to unembarassed action? And the moment you allow free action to his intelligence and conscience, you inevitably admit the possibilities of error, which are inseparable from the operations of the human mind. To grant that Paul reasons, and be startled at the idea that he may reason incorrectly,—to admit that he speculates, and yet be shocked at the surmise that he may speculate falsely, to praise his skill in illustration, yet shrink in horror when something less apposite is pointed out, is an obvious inconsistency. The human understanding cannot perform its functions without taking its share of the chances of error; nor can a critic of its productions, have any perception of the truth and excellence, without conceding the possibility
lacies and faults. We must give up our admiration of the Apostles as men, if we are to listen to them always as oracles of God.
But I must proceed to my last argument, which is a plain one, founded upon facts, open to every one who can read his Bible. I state it in the words of Mr. Thirlwall : “the discrepancies found in the Gospels, compel us to admit that the superintending control of the Spirit was not exerted to exempt the sacred writings altogether from errors and inadvertencies ;'* nay, he speaks of the more rigid theory of inspiration' having been so long abandoned by the learned on account of the insuperable difficulties these opposed to it that it would now be a waste of time to attack it.”+
I heard it affirmed on Wednesday evening, that, in the sacred writings, no case can possibly occur of self-contradiction or erroneous statement; that the very idea of inspiration, is utterly opposed to all supposition of the presence of error; that the occurrence of such a blemish would prove. that the writer was not so under the immediate teaching and superintendence of Almighty God as to be preserved from error; or, in other words, that he was not inspired; that the erroneous passage must indeed be rejected, but, with it, the whole work in which it is found, as destitute of divine authority. I have brought Mr. Thirlwall to confront the question of fact; let me quote Dr. Paley in relation to this statement. of principle. “I know not,” he says, “a more rash or unphilosophical conduct of the understanding, than to reject the substance of a story, by reason of some diversities in the circumstances with which it is related. The usual character of human testimony (Dr. Paley is discussing the discrepancies between the several Gospels) is, substantial truth under circumstantial variety.” “On the contrary, a close and minute
Schleiermacher's Critical Essay on the Gospel of St. Luke. Introduction by
the Translator, p. xv.
+ Pp. xv, and xi.