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a day, or a week, and see if this is not the case. It is so with the people of God, and even with prophets and apostles, as well as with others. There never was a man, whose life, from day to day, and from hour to hour, was chiefly made up of great actions and great events. This being the case, no history of human life can perfectly answer to the reality, without recording many little things. The writers of common history generally make a selection of a few actions and events which are remarkable and splendid, and omit others; and thus they make a representation, which is indeed flattering to human pride, but which, as a whole, is not according to truth. In this respect, the writers of sacred history have a manisest superiority over all others. They take no pains to give a splendor which is not real, to human characters and events. They honestly relate the little things which occur in human life, as well as the great; the dishonorable, the vicious, and even the disgusting, as well as the honorable, and virtuous, and lovely. The picture which they draw is true, answering to the original.
Now the question is, whether the Scriptures shall, to a greater or less extent, contain a history of human life; and if it contains a history, whether it shall be a true history, or a fiction. If a history of any portion of human beings, or of any period of the world, is necessary to the good of the church; then the benevolence of God must incline him so to influence the writers of the Bible, that they will produce such a history. And if God chooses to have a history of human affairs contained in his word, we have every reason to believe he will so assist and guide bis servants, that they shall write a bistory exactly conformed to truth. And if conformed to truth, it must record things which are neither great nor honorable.
The same remarks may be made on those parts of Scripture, which contain maxims or sentiments of small weight,--minute directions, little developements of thought or feeling. These things are evidently of real use. There are many cases of duty or difficulty, to which they are directly adapted, and for which we should not be well prepared without them. They are therefore important, as making a part of that book, which is intended to be a directory of human conduct. And who can doubt the goodness of God in causing a book to be written so as fully to answer the wants of man? And who can with any propriety say, that the Bible contains things too small to be worthy of the notice of God, when, in fact, those small things are essential to the perfection and the highest usefulness of a revelation? With just as much propriety might we object to the world's being the work of God, because it contains many little things; and we might ask, who can suppose that God would ever exert an agency or have any concern in things of such a nature? But we know that God has in fact created and sustained the world and all that is in it; and hence we infer, that it is perfectly consistent with his infinite majesty, that he should create, sustain, and constantly regard little things, as well as great. And if God may consistently have an agency in the production of little things in the natural world; why not, in the production of little things in the sacred writings?
But if, after all, any one shall assert, that there are things in the Bible which are os no possible use as to the great ends of a revelation from God, and, therefore, that it is inconsistent to suppose that those who wrote them had the guidance of the Holy Spirit; I would desire bir first to specify the things referred to, and then to produce his proof, that they neither have been, nor can be of any use. Suppose he fixes upon a passage which has often been referred to as of no possible consequence; 2 Tim. iv. 13, in which Paul directs Timothy to bring the cloak that he left at Troas, with the books, especially the parchments. I would ask him, what reason he has to think, that the direction was inimportant either to the comfort and usefulness of Paul, or to the interests of the churches?
Seventhly. It is no objection to the inspiration of the Scriptures, that the real and full meaning of some passages was not known at the time they were written, or even that it remains unknown to the present time.
In this respect, the same is true of the Scriptures, as of the na- . tural world. There are many things in the creation, the nature and design of which lay concealed for thousands of years, and many which are, even at the present day, but imperfectly understood, or not understood at all. Notwithstanding this, it is true that God created them, and preserves them; and it is doubtless true, that they are designed for some important end, and that they will ultimately accomplish that end. So, as to those things in Scripture which are not well understood; it may be that they will ultimately be understood, and that some special and additional good may result from them in consequence of their having been so long involved in obscurity. Even during the time they are not understood, they may be of use, in promoting arnong good men a humble sense of their limited knowledge, and in exciting them to diligent endeavors after higher acquisitions. And there is nothing inconsistent with the infinite wisdom of God in the supposition, that he should, by subsequent revelations, as well as by the course of his providence, and the well directed labors of his servants, explain that which was before left designedly obscure. This would evidently be analogous to the method of Divine instruction in other cases.
If, therefore, we find ever so many things in the Bible, which we do not understand; we are by no means to regard them as any objection to the inspiration of the writers. Our not understanding them may be owing to a faulty ignorance in us; an ignorance, which persevering diligence might have removed. Or they may lie beyond the reach of our present capacity, and the capacity and means
of information which any man now possesses, and may be reserved as subjects, on which the human mind is to exert its faculties successfully in future time. They may not be intended for our particular use, but for the use of some following age. So Peter suggests of some things which the prophets wrote, that they ministered them not to themselves, or to their own use, but to those who should come after. Now suppose it pleases God, by his Spirit, to influence his servants to write some things which cannot be well understood in their day, but which are intended to be understood, and to be of special use, in future ages. Is this any discredit to his wisdom, or his goodness? In fact, do not all our endeavors to arrive at a more perfect knowledge of the Scriptures imply, that hitherto they have been understood but imperfectly? And if we may consistently believe that men, who were divinely inspired, wrote what has hitherto been but imperfectly understood; why may we not believe that, in some instances, they wrote what for a time cannot be understood at all? What warrant have we to say, that if anything is written, under Divine influence, for the benefit of the church, it must be so written that all men in all ages shall understand it?
Eighthly. Instances of incorrectness in the present copies of the Scriptures, cannot be objected to the inspiration of the writers.
How can the fact, that God has not infallibly guided all who have transcribed his word, prove that he did not infallibly guide those who originally wrote it? We might as well say, that if those who first wrote the Bible were inspired; then all who have received and read it must have been inspired. Suppose men bave committed mistakes, either intentional or unintentional, in making out copies of the Bible. Have they not made mistakes also in regard to every other work of God? But do the mistakes of men in regard to any work of God prove that it is not his work? Nothing can be more certain, than that the inadvertence, or ignorance, or wickedness of man has marred many things, both in the natural and in the moral, world, the original formation of which was owing wholly to the agency of God, and was a clear manifestation of his wisdom and benevolence. And what grounds have we to think that this may not be the case, in regard to a book given by Divine inspiration, as well as in regard to any other Divine work?
Ninthly. Instances of apparent disagreement among different writers of the sacred volume, and of apparent contradiction in the same writers, are no valid objection against their inspiration.
This is evident, because we can satisfactorily account for an appearance of disagreement, where there is no disagreement in reality. We often find that an appearance of contradiction vanishes on inquiry; and that the agreement becomes more sensible and striking, than if there had never been any appearance of the contrary. This is the case with most of the apparent discrepancies found in the Scriptures. Thorough investigation has made it
manifest, that those passages, which appeared inconsistent, are perfectly reconcileable with each other. Now it is always regarded as a circumstance in favor of the credibility of witnesses, if their testimony at first appears in some respects contradictory, and yet is found, on careful inquiry, to be perfectly consistent. In such cases, the appearance of contradiction prevents any suspicion of concert.
But suppose there are some instances in which we are unable to remove all appearance of contradiction, and ic discover a perfect consistency, among different parts of Scripture. Still we cannot with safety decide against the inspiration of the writers; because farther inquiry, more information, and a better method of interpreting the sacred writings, may help us to discover a consistency which at present does not appear. And if, in some instances, we find it necessary to admit, that in the present copy of the Scriptures there are real contradictions; even this cannot be relied on as a proof, that the origiral writers were not divinely inspired; because these contradictions may be owing to the mistakes of transcribers. And it is very well known, that the most remarkable instances of contradiction are found in those words or sentences, in which a mistake in copying might have been most easily made. And considering how the Scriptures abound with details of names, numbers, facts, and minute circumstances, it would seem to be a matter of wonder, that the copyists committed no more mistakes, rather than that they committed so many.
A COMMENTARY ON THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. In two
volumes. By Moses Stuart, Associate Professor of Sacred Literature in the Theol. Seminary at Andover : Published by Mark Newman. Codman Press-Flagg and Gould. pp. 677.
We receive these volumes from Professor Stuart with unmingled pleasure. In reviewing them, it will not comport with our limits or our plan, to enter into a very critical examination of their contents. We shall content ourselves with offering several reasons why we rejoice at their appearance; in doing which, we shall extend or contract our remarks, as the occasion may seem most to require.
One reason why we are happy to receive these volumes, is, they will satisfy intelligent and serious minds, that the most extended, liberal and various investigations at once authorize the received canon, and establish the evangelical interpretation of the Sacred Writings.
Many conscientious Christians have entertained fears, as to the tendency and ultimate result of an intimate acquaintance with the German theological writers. These Christians have been influenced, we doubt not, by a most sincere regard to the best interests of man, and the glory of their Redeemer. But conscientious feeling often differs from an intelligent conscience, and a disposition to do well is not always sure to select the best means to accomplish its purpose. This feeling and this disposition, however, will ever receive from us that respectsul deference which they most certainly deserve. Yet, as we not only use the name, but profess to inherit the spirit of the Pilgrims, who were among the first scholars of their age, distinguished with all the advantages and attainments of the celebrated seats of science in Britain, we cannot but think that their sons, who are set for the defence of their faith, and the faith of the Gospel, should also pursue those studies, and make those intellectual acquisitions, which the altered character and the exigencies of the times require.
Error is sometimes ingenious; in connexion with intelligence, it it is too often plausible. To refute it requires something more than the child's reason, cause; to expose its fallacy, and present the claims of truth and holiness in their proper aspect and attitude, claim, and have often called forth, learning more various, and ingenuity more acute, than were ever yet volunteered in the cause of error and of evil. Pascal, Grotius, Butler, Campbell, Paley, Watson and Marsh, to mention no others, present an array of ingenious and learned defenders of Christianity, who, viewed either in relation to native talent, or acquired ability, far surpass Hume, acute as he was, Gibbon, with his various learning, Voltaire, with all his wit, and Paine, with his boundless scurrility.
When we leave the outposts of the Christian citadel, and enter witbin, we shall find that evangelical sentiments have ever had, not only open adherents, but intelligent advocates. We would by no means rest our own faith, or desire our readers to rest theirs, on the authority of names. Yet it should not be forgotten, that an Augustine was cotemporary with Pelagius ; that an Edwards silenced a Taylor ; that when Dr. Priestley, with the pretensions of knowledge and the confidence of ignorance, published “ The History of the Corruptions of Christianity," a Horsley was at hand to sift those pretensions, and brand that ignorance with its appropriate mark ;* while a Magee and a Smith retain possession of the field,
* As Dr. Priestley's book is in the hands of many, who may not be aware of its true character, the following quotation from Prof. Stuarı's Letters to Dr. Miller, will not be out of place. By quoting it, some young minds may be preserved from that perversion to which they would otherwise be exposed. “It has often been said, that anything can be proved from the Fathers.' And this is really true, provided one may be permitted to use them in the way, which those have done who rrished to prove anything from ther. I could refer to Dr. Priestley's History of Corruptions, as a striking example. There can be nothing more certain, than that the great body of the Fathers never dreamed of defending sentiments such as those of Priestley. And yet, with a profound unacquaintance with