Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

· his pity and terror, his love

country, to duty, to God,

in turns his friendship and grief, his pity and terror, and doubt and trust, his feelings to country, to duty, ' to heaven. Accordingly in these Gospels, and in the of travels and Collection of letters, which carry out an trate the development of a new religion, I find mys the presence of honest and earnest men, who are plann? strangers to fiction and philosophy, and lead me througe realities fairer and diviner than either. They take me actual places, and tell the events of a known and den time. They conduct me through villages, and streets, markets; to frequented resorts of worship, and hostile na of justice, and the tribunals of Roman rulers, and the atres of Asiatic cities, and the concourse of Mars' m Athens : so that there is no denying their appeal, these things were “not done in a corner.”* Yet their frank delineation of public life is less impressive, than their true ana der touches of private history. Following in the steps 01

s domestic prophet, they entered, evening and morning, the homes of men,-especially of men in watching a in grief, the wasted in body or the sick in soul : and the u consciousness with which the most genuine traits of gleam through the narrative, the infantile simplicity which every one's emotions, of sorrow, of repentances. affection, give themselves to utterance, indicate the One who bare the key of hearts, the writers had the deep places of our humanity. The infants in look up in the face of Jesus as we read ; the Ph ters in our ear his sceptic discontent at that loving who was a sinner" kneeling at the Teacher's feet; “ voice of the bereaved sisters of Lazarus trembles upon page.

But, above all, these writings introduce me to unimaginable, except by the great Inventor of Architect of nature himself, that I embrace him at once, as

# Acts xxvi. 26.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

nut

oman

[graphic]

having all the reality of God. Gentle and un even on the brink of easiest attitudes of

him as to one o

the reality of man and the divinest inspiration of ventle and unconstrained as he is, ever standing,

le brink of the most stupendous miracles, in the Atudes of our humanity, so that we are drawn to to one of like nature, we yet cannot enter his pre

Without feeling our souls transformed. Their greatness, first recognized by him, becomes manifest to ourselves : the death of conscience is broken by his tones; the sense of accountability takes life within the deep; new thoughts of duty, shed from his lips, shame us for the past, and kindle us for the future with hope and faith unknown before. His promise* fulfils itself, whilst he utters it; and whenever we truly love him, God comes, and “ makes his abode with” us. He has this peculiarity: that he plunges us into the feeling, that God acts not there, but here; not was once, but is now ; dwells, not without us, like a dreadful sentinel, but within us, as a heavenly spirit, befriending us in weakness, and bracing us for conflict. The inspiration of Christ is not any solitary, barren, incommunicable prodigy; but diffusive, creative, vivifying as the energy of God:not gathered up and concentrated in himself, as an object of distant wonder; but reproducing itself, though in fainter forms, in the faithful hearts to which it spreads. While in him it had no human origin, but was spontaneous and primitive, flowing directly from the perception and affinity of God, it enters our souls as a gift from his nearer spirit, making us one with him, as he is one with the Eternal Father. Children of God indeed We all are : nor is there any mind without his image: but in this Man of Sorrows the divine lineaments are so distinct, the filial resemblance to the Parent-spirit is so full of grace and truth, that in its presence all other similitude fades away, and we behold his “ glory as of the only begotten of the

er" It is the very spirit of Deity visible on the scale "humanity. The colours of his mind, projected on the

* John xiv. 23.

the all-perfect God. The ss of the alliance with the

ment of it, without the

rcise of the meekest lasive. From whom else out disgust? In a moment aversion, and we should pity n as impiety. But to him

surface of Infinitude, form there the all-perfect 6
mere fact of his consciousness of the alliance
Creator, and his tranquil announcement of it, with
slightest inflation, and amid the exercise of the
sympathies, appears to me all-persuasive. From who
could we hear such claims without disgust? In a
they would turn respect into aversion, and we si
them as insanity, or resent them as impiety. Bu
they seem only level and natural; we hear them with
and awe, prepared by such a transcendent veneration a
a being truly God-like could excite. This is one of
statements which refutes or proves itself. Whoever, co
affirming himself the Son and express similitude of
thereby draw to him, instead of driving from him, th
tions of the wise and good, proclaims a thing self
requiring, however, to be stated, in order to be tested.

Of such self-evidence as this, the gospels appear be full. Whenever men shall learn to prefer a religi theological appreciation of Christ, and esteem his greater than his rank, much more of this kind of Man proof will present itself. It has the advantage of requis no impracticable learning, and being open, on inte of the books, to all men of pure mind and genuin it is moral, not literary; addressing itself to the of conscience, not to the critical faculties. It makes ciples, on the same principles with the

the same principles with the first followers of Christ, who troubled themselves about no books, no chains of scholastic logic to tie them to the watched the Prophet, beheld his deeds of power: heavenly spirit, heard his word, found it glad believed. In short, it is identical with the eviden our Lord was so fond of appealing when he

fond of appealing when he said, “ No man le to me, except the Father, which hath sent me,

ressing itself to the intuitions

ul faculties. It makes us dis

selves about no books, and forged C to tie them to the faith; but

leeds of power, felt his rd, found it glad tidings, and cal with the evidence to which

can

very one that is of the truth heareth my

John vi. 44.

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

me

[ocr errors]

I do not the works of my Father, believe me y sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and w me;"I “ if any man will do His will, he shall de doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I

myself."$ This spiritual attraction to Christ,

out of mere contemplation and study of the interior of his life, is enough to bring us reverently to his feet,—to accept him as the divinely-sent image of Deity, and the appointed representative of God. If this be not discipleship, allow me to ask, “ What is it?"

I consider, then, this internal or self-evidence of the New Testament, as incomparably the most powerful that can be adduced ; as securing for Christianity an eternal seat in human nature, so as to throw ridicule on the idea of its subversion; and as the only evidence suitable, from its universality, to a religion intended for the majority of men, rather than for an oligarchy of literati.

But though the divine perfection and authority of Christ may thus be made manifest to our moral and spiritual nature, what is called the plenary inspiration of the whole Bible is by no means a thing equally self-evident. By the term plenary inspiration is denoted the doctrine, That every idea which a just interpretation may discover in the Scriptures, is infallibly true, and that even every word employed in its expression is dictated by the unerring spirit of God; so that every statement, from the beginning of Genesis to the end Of Revelations, must be implicitly received, “ as though from the lips of the Almighty himself.” We are first assured that whoever denies this, shall have his name cancelled from the Book of life; and then we are called upon to come forward, and say plainly whether we believe it. The invitation sounds errible enough. Nevertheless, having a faith in God, which akes the awe out of Church thunders, I say distinctly, this

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

doctrine we do not believe; and ere I have done, I hope to show that no man who can weigh evidence, ought to believe

it.

It is clear that, by no interior marks, can a book prove this sort of inspiration to belong to itself. Accordingly, the advocates for it are obliged to quit the intrinsic evidence, of which I have hitherto spoken, and to seek external and foreign testimony on behalf of the Biblical writings, and of the New Testament in the first instance. The course of the reasoning is thus adverted to by Bishop Marsh: “ The arguments which are used,” he says, “ for divine inspiration, are all founded on the previous supposition that the Bible is true; for we appeal to the contents of the Bible in proof of inspiration. Consequently, these arguments can have no force till the authenticity and credibility of the Bible have been already established.” * “ Suppose,” observes the same author, “ that a professor of Divinity begins his course of lectures with the doctrine of divine inspiration; this doctrine, however true in itself, or however certain the arguments by which it may be established, cannot possibly, in that stage of his enquiry, be proved to the satisfaction of his audience; because he has pot yet established other truths, from which this must be deduced. For whether he appeals to the promises of Christ to his Apostles, or to the declarations of the Apostles themselves, he must take for granted that these promises and declarations were really made ; i.e. he must take for granted the authenticity of the writings in which these promises and declarations are recorded. But how is it possible that conviction should be the consequence of postulating, instead of proving, a fact of such importance?” “ If (as is too often the case in theological works) we undertake to prove a proposition by the aid of another which is hereafter to be proved, the inevitable consequence is, that

and Interpretation of the Bible. Preliminary

Lectures on the Criticism Lecture II, p. 35.

« EdellinenJatka »