« EdellinenJatka »
That the sentiments thus prevalent among the early Jews respecting the divine authority of the Old Testament were correct, appears from the testimony of Jesus Christ and his apostles a testimony which relates to so plain a subject, which is so worked into the Gospel narrative, and which is so frequently and variously given, that its validity cannot be reasonably disputed by any persons who have already admitted that the New Testament genuine and authentic, and that Christianity is the religion of God. The declarations of Jesus Christ, in reference to such a point, must be fully admitted to be true by all who acknowledge his divine mission; and, with regard to the apostles, without any consideration, in the present stage of our argument, of the fact of their inspiration, it is only reasonable to conclude, that they derived their doctrine on the subject from that celestial teacher, to whose service they were entirely devoted.
Our Lord, in his discourses, and the evangelists and apostles, in their writings, have made frequent mention of the Scriptures; and it must be evident, to every attentive reader of the New Testament, that, when they employed this term, they did not refer to writings in general, but solely to that particular collection of writings which was held sacred by the Jews, and which, by way of preeminence, was so denominated.
Now, from the manner in which they quoted from the Scriptures, it is easy to perceive that Jesus and his disciples fully coincided with the Jews, to whom, for the most part, they addressed themselves, respecting the divine authority of these sacred books. On various occasions, and more especially when his own person, character, and history, were the subjects of discussion, the Lord Jesus was accustomed to appeal to the contents of the Old Testament, as affording an unquestionable evidence of the truth. It was the Scriptures, he declared, which testified of himself: John v, 39. "These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you," said he to his disciples, "that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures:" Luke xxiv, 44, 45; see also Matt. xxi, 42. xxvi, 54, &c. Not only, indeed, did our Lord elucidate, by the declarations of the Old Testament, the events which were then occurring, but sometimes he described the events themselves, as happening for the very purpose that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: see John xv, 25. xvii, 12; comp. Matt. viii, 17, &c. Nor was it merely to the statements of the Old Testament, respecting himself, that Je
sus appealed as prophetically true, and therefore of divine origin. There were occasions on which he cited Scripture, as the decisive authority, in reference to other points of doctrinal or practical importance. Thus, when discoursing with the Sadducees on the subject of a future life, he traced their error of opinion to their ignorance of Scripture, and then confuted them by citing a passage from the book of Exodus: Matt. xxii, 32. Again, when the Jews accused him of blasphemy, because he said he was the Son of God, he silenced their cavils by an appeal to the Sacred Volume, and added an emphatic and most important declaration: "The Scripture cannot be broken:" John x, 34, 35; see also Mark xi, 17; Luke x, 26.
The apostles and evangelists, in their method of citing from the Old Testament, have closely followed the example of their divine Master. Thus, when writing on the nature and importance of faith, Paul thus rests his argument on the authority of Holy Writ: "For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness:" Rom. iv, 3. So the apostle Peter, after enforcing the necessity of coming to Jesus Christ, as to a living stone, adds, "Wherefore also is it contained in the Scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner-stone,' '" &c., 1 Pet. ii, 6; and James, when describing the origin of wars and fightings-the lusts or evil passions of men-confirms his proposition by similar evidence: "Do ye think the Scripture saith in vain, ‘The Spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy :'" iv. 5; comp. Acts xviii, 28; Rom. ix, 17. xi, 8, &c.
Upon all these and many other similar passages in the Gospels and Epistles, it is necessary to make two observations. First, that, in thus quoting from the Old Testament, Jesus Christ and his apostles made no invidious distinctions respecting the particular books of which it was composed. The historical and the prophetical parts of the Bible were alike the object of their deference, the standard of their doctrine; and although, in most of the instances in which they made mention of the Scriptures, they had in their view particular passages of the Bible, there is reason to believe that they adduced these passages as decisive, not because they we from the pen of any particular author, but because they formed a part of that class of writings-that sacred and unalterable collection-to which, by way of distinction, was applied the name of " Scripture." Secondly, we can scarcely fail to remark, that, like Christians in the present day, they appeal to the Scriptures as to a source of certain information, a paramount indisputable
authority, on all subjects connected with religious truth; nor could such an appeal have arisen from any thing short of a full admission that these holy books were really of divine origin, or given by inspiration of God.
That such was, in fact, the impression under which their appeal was made, is confirmed by apostolic testimony, of a yet more positive nature. When speaking of the prophets who wrote the Old Testament, Peter declares that it was the Spirit of Christ within them which testified of the future coming of our Lord, 1 Pet. i, 11; and again he says, that "these holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost:" 2 Pet. i, 21. In the Epistle to the Hebrews, the words of David and Jeremiah are cited, without any express reference to those writers, simply as the words of the Holy Ghost: chap. iii, 7. x, 15. But it is the second Epistle of Paul to Timothy which presents to us the most important passage, in reference to the present subject-a passage luminous in itself, and, when considered in connexion with the collateral evidence already stated, completely convincing on the point in question. "But continue thou," says the apostle to his son in the truth," in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works:" 2 Tim. iii, 14-17.
It has been observed, that the latter part of this passage is capable of being otherwise rendered, "Every writing, given by inspiration of God, is also profitable," &c. Now, if we adopt this translation, (which I submit does not so properly represent the Greek as the version commonly received) the passage will still afford a clear evidence of the divine origin of Scripture. It is surely undeniable that, by "every writing given by inspiration of God," (if such can be deemed the right version of his words) the apostle intended to express all those writings which, in the preceding verse, he denominated the Holy Scriptures; and it is equally certain that, by these latter expressions, he described the canon of writings received as divine by the Jews; that is to say, the Old Testament. Whether, therefore, we understand the apostle as making a direct assertion, or only as elucidating by an epithet his notion of
Scripture, we plainly learn from him that the Old Testament was given by inspiration of God.
II. Let us now proceed to consider the question before us, as it relates to the New Testament.
Since every divine revelation, intended for permanent utility among men, so obviously requires a divine Scripture, and since it actually pleased God, as is proved by the testimony of Jesus Christ and his apostles, to substantiate the revelations recorded in the Old Testament, by placing the stamp of his own authority on the writings which compose it, little doubt can reasonably be entertained that the final and more important revelation was attended by the same advantage. If the dispensations of God, revealed to mankind under the law, which were chiefly of an introductory nature, required a Scripture, through which the account of them might be handed down from generation to generation, on the authority of God himself; how much more did the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which developed the completion of those dispensations, demand a similar security? Can we for a moment imagine that, in one case, a divine Scripture would be granted, and, in the other, denied, to mankind; or that the full discovery of divine truth would be exposed, in its delivery to the world, to that fatal admixture of human error and infirmity, from which the preparatory revelations were so effectually protected?
The conclusion to which we are led by this obvious argument from analogy, respecting the divine authority of the New Testament, is confirmed by the positive evidence afforded us in its authentic narrative, that the apostles of Jesus Christ, who were the authors of the greater part of the volume, were directly inspired. When, during his own life and ministry, Jesus sent forth his apostles to preach and to work miracles in his name, he taught them that the spirit of their Father was to speak in them. "And ye shall be brought before governors and kings," said the Saviour to them, "for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak; for it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you" Matt. x, 18-20. The promises of that divine influence, which was to form so distinguishing a feature of the Christian dispensation, were personally addressed to these highly-favoured servants of the Lord; and were unquestionably applicable to them, with an especial degree of force. "The comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and
bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you :" John xiv, 26. "Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high :" Luke xxiv, 49. Lastly, the event to which the expectation of the apostles was thus directed is so exactly described in the Book of Acts, that, even were we in possession of no collateral evidence of their inspiration, we ould reasonably entertain no doubts on the subject. We read, that when they were assembled together on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Ghost descended, and rested upon them in the likeness of cloven tongues of fire. Immediately they were endued, in a plenary manner, with supernatural gifts: they spake in foreign languages, of which they had till then been ignorant; and, with unparalleled success, they unfolded to the multitude the truths of the Gospel, under the positive and professed influence of direct inspiration Acts ii, 1-11.
Now, it is evident that the apostles were thus inspired in order to the dissemination of religious truth; and it will be admitted that, for this purpose, their writings were of an importance at least equal to that of their preaching. Their preaching answered the great purposes of the day, and served for the introduction of Christianity into the world. Their writings were equally essential to its maintenance, and were the appointed means of conveying divine instruction to a long series of successive generations. It is certain, therefore, that the supernatural effusion of the Spirit was required for their writing, still more, if possible, than for their preaching; and the declarations of the New Testament, that it was actually directed to the latter object, afford a sufficient evidence (when the purpose of the gift is considered) that it was extended also to the former.
It was evidently on this ground that Paul and Peter commenced their Epistles, by declaring their apostleship-a declaration which the former was accustomed to strengthen by very emphatic additions :- "Called to be an apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God:" Rom. i, 1. "An apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God:" 2 Cor i, 1. "Not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead:" Gal. i, 1. The obvious intention of the apostle, in making use of these expressions, was to magnify his office, and to evince that the doctrine which he was about to promulgate rested not upon his own authority, but upon that of the divine Master whom he served. Accordingly we find him, in other parts of his Epistles, declaring not merely that