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tinction, on which inspiration is contrasted could be proved to be at variance from depreciatingly with revelation, has been the scriptural, then it should be altered, the beginning of strife. It has “ darkened and its value fixed according to the biblicounsel by words without knowledge,” cal standard ; but in this case it is quite and aggravated instead of simplifying the the reverse. The biblical, the etymologi. problem presented for our solution in the cal, the historical, and the popular sense authority of Holy Scripture; for, in the of the word, are opposed to the meager, first place, it so limits the meaning of the contracted sense in which it is applied by word inspiration as completely to subvert Coleridge and those who have copied him. its common acceptation; and, secondly, “Inspiration” is understood to denote being supposed to intrench whatever is the peculiar mental state of a man who is supernatural or Divine in Scripture within commissioned and qualified by God to a safe stronghold, by rigidly marking off make known to his fellow-man whatever those of its contents that are asserted to God may will to be so published. The be communicated by God, it at once de- word was originally, and is therefore most rogates from the authority of all the rest, properly, applied to the communications as something generically different, and that were thus published either in speech encourages the freest license in speculation or writing. Now the meaning commonas to the kind of assistance that was need- ly, and we hold correctly, conveyed by ed merely to speak or transcribe these the expression that a composition either Divine communications, and to compose in whole or in part is inspired, or given the other human portions of the Bible. by inspiration of God, is that it perfectly Consequently, Coleridge himself elimi- represents to us what God wished us to nates from the inspiration of Scripture know, no matter what may be the subwriters its miraculous efficacy; others stance or form of it. If, then, we conwho abide by his distinction do not, but strue this idea back from the writing to have availed themselves of the liberty the writer's mind, it is plain that inspirawhich the comparative indifference of the tion is connoted of the latter, only as it matter allowed them, to differ, in every denotes that peculiar mental state of the conceivable way, as to the mode and mea- writer, which made his words written in sure of the supernatural aid confessedly it divinely inspired words, or words which bestowed by inspiration.
perfectly represented what God wished to We accept the distinction only in so far be made known. In simpler phrase, it is as the mode of intelligence here specifical- that condition of the mind which impressly named “revelation” is involved in in-ed that peculiar quality on his language, spiration, as forming one of its constitu- which Scripture
Scripture designates divinely tive elements; but to regard the inspira- breathed or inspired. This simple analytion of a prophet or apostle as something sis is enough to show that Coleridge's different from his supernatural knowledge limitation of the word “inspired” is erroof the Divine will, instead of being exhib- neous, since it would deny the application ited and proved by that supernatural of that word to those passages which the knowledge, we conceive to be a funda- voice of God himself is said to utter. mental error, opposed alike to the plain These, according to him, are revealed, representations of inspired men, the bibli- not inspired; but no practical value can cal statements concerning inspiration, and attach to such distinction. What God the universal acceptation of the meaning spoke directly to his servants of old must of that word. It is the introduction of be guaranteed to us by an infallible histothis new meaning of the word “inspira- rian. For us, indeed, there is no revealed tion,” emptied, too, of its highest potency, will of God that does not wholly rest on which has perplexed recent discussion on the validity of inspiration. the subject. Against such a procedure Inspiration, then, in its common acceptwe earnestly protest; for by this way. ation, is a general term, signifying that ward and fanciful use of words in con- specific mental endowment of any man tempt of their common usage and explicit whose words possessed the sanction and meaning, all controversy and all rational authority of God. It includes, therefore, intercourse are put at an end, and mutual in its meaning, every qualification necesconfusion is the sad result. Since the sary to give such an awful impress to his word is of biblical origin, we admit that language. Now, among these qualificaif the popular meaning of “inspiration” | tions the mode of intelligence implied in
revelation is doubtless a preëminent one; what God purposed, but if it be presentfor if it were the will of God to publish ed to us in a totally different manner from some fact or truth which was transcend that which God willed, then this repreental and inaccessible to the ordinary sentation is no longer God's, but man’s. faculties of man, or was unknown to the If, therefore, a writing or any part of it, mind of his inspired servant, then it would is to be presumed to have Divine authoribe imparted to his mind by a direct com- ty for our intellect or conscience, in matmunication or revelation, and in that par- ter, measure, and manner, it must be exticular his inspiration would involve this actly what God would have it be. And most exalted function. But if God willed precisely this is meant by the claim that to publish to man some historical fact, or the Bible, or any section of it, is inspired. some religious experience, then the com- Inspiration is the gift enabling a man to mission and the qualification given to any communicate what, and how much, and man to record these, constitute as perfect in what way, God pleases through bim to an inspiration as in the former case; for, publish to his fellow-men. It may be according to the meaning of that word, now exactly seen what relation revelation its complexion or character can not be holds to inspiration. It appertains to the affected by the substance of the Divine first qualification which we have said to communication. All men are equally in- be involved in inspiration. An inspired spired whose words authoritatively ex man whose words have the sanction of press, whether the subject matter be God must know what God would have otherwise known or not, what God has him say; and if this knowledge be not commanded and fitted them to record; accessible from human sources, or is imso that in reading them we are assured perfectly contained in them, then by some they are such as God intended us to read. supernatural process this information must Accepting then this meaning of inspira- be supplied; to which specific act of inteltion—and to adopt any other is to throw ligence the word “ revelation” may be confusion into the controversy—it will be appropriately confined. If he already seen that these three qualifications are in knows what is to be said, such revelation volved in this miraculous endowment; in is not needed. But his commission and order, namely, to constitute any writing qualification, to say it as God would have inspired, or exactly what God has wished him say it, make the matter of this latter it to be : that the writing state what God communication as impressively Divine, as wished to be made known-so much as purely God's message, as authoritative he wished to be made known—and in and obligatory for us, as that of the form. that manner in which he wished it to be er given by revelation. made known. If any of these conditions Hitherto we have been expounding and in the writing or corresponding qualifica- defining the commonly received notion or tions in the writer is wanting, then the meaning of inspiration, as applied to the prerogative, the high quality of inspiration sacred writings and writers. In this artiis wanting, since what is written we can cle we shall use the word in this sense, no longer consider to be given of God. namely, as denoting that quality in the His Divine seal does not rest upon it; writings, and that corresponding mental it is man's production, and not God's, if state in the writer, which give their in either manner or matter it is the off words the authoritative sanction of God, spring of a merely human will. The three as we have explained above; so that in logical categories, Tí, 8oov, olov, must be reading them we are assured that we are rigidly applied to inspiration, as to every reading just what God proposed we other object of thought; and if they are should read, as given directly from himnot fulfilled, its whole nature is essentially self. Let it be remembered, we do not changed, it becomes something else. For here prejudge the fact, or the measure, or example, if any writing contain a fiction the modes of such inspiration. These of man's own invention, we can not accept questions are all left open. We merely that as coming from God; if it contain a determine the nature of inspiration, and certain history, but more than God pur- affirm that this is the proper meaning of posed should be written, then the addi- the word. It remains for us to examine tional supposititious narrative can have whether the Bible, or any part of it, is so no Divine significance or authority; or if inspired, and also to discover if any light the matter and the quantity be exactly I can be thrown on the mode in which this
peculiar mental state coëxisted with the the absolute and impossible sense in which ordinary mental operations, or was itself some writers strain them, when applied elicited and continued.
to Scripture. If any writing be precisely We have adopted the popular meaning what God willed it to be, both in sub. of inspiration on the following grounds: stance and form, it is inspired; for though 1. Because it is universally received and written by men, if it be such as he inis readily understood in this sense. Even tended and impelled these men to write, skeptics do not differ from us here; nay, it is God's writing to us. Doubtless it even those who have corrupted the mean- will be in conformity with the eternal ing of the word “inspiration,” shrink from laws of rectitude and truth, else it could carrying out their rendering of it in the not be in accordance with his will ; but it interpretation of the passage, Au Scrip is an altogether different matter to postuture is given by inspiration of God. (2 late, that every thing in it shall be metaTim. 3: 16.) They endeavor to rid them- physically and superhumanly accurate; for selves of this testimony to the Divine au- example, its statements always tallying thority of Scripture, by the grammatical with the essential reality, and not with quibble that JeónVEVotoç is a qualifying the appearance of things, its language epithet, and not a predicate, instead of never varying in the description of the vindicating their theory in this proof pass- same events, even by different persons. age, and Hatly asserting that inspiration Such accuracy or infallibility is not found does not vouch for the authority or truth in Scripture, and does not belong to infulness of Scripture; and so they evince spiration. God willed that his communitheir unalterable sympathy with the com- cations to mankind by man should be submon opinion that JEOT Vevoría attributes a ject to the conditions of humanity, under Divine sacredness to any writing, and which such absolute exactitude, which accredits it as being exactly what God in- presupposes the omniscience of God to tended for us. 2. We believe, moreover, belong not only to the writer, but also to that this is the correct exegetical meaning the readers, would be unintelligible. It of SEOTVevoría, or "inspiration,” when depends therefore upon the meaning in used in Scripture. But, 3. We have which we explain these words, whether here, at any rate, a fixed meaning of the we can connect them with inspiration, word, and so the controversy concerning which moreover has no proper reference the Bible is brought to a plain intelligible to such external criteria, but simply to issue; we have a clear, definite conception the Divine origin and consequent authoriattached to the query, “Is the Bible in- ty of the Scriptures. spired ?" which will at once, like the Having thus elaborately, and with instretching out of Moses' rod over the tentional reïteration, exhibited the nature waters, cause the two opposing parties to of inspiration, we have now prepared the divide, and array themselves against each way for our defense of the position, that other; for the query means, “ Is the Bible the whole Bible is inspired. In order, God-given? and was the influence operat- however, that we may present to our ing on its writers such as that their lan. readers the different phases of the controguage represents to us exactly what he versy on this subject, that we may clear willed us to know ?” They who assent, away the objections brought against our and they who dissent, here separate and position on à priori grounds, which else turn towards antipodal points.
might be thought to invalidate the very We assent, and shall accordingly en- foundations of our defense, and that we deavor to prove the fact of that inspira- may thus gradually approach and explition in the Bible, the nature of which we cate the position in which we shall finally have been exhibiting. It will be noticed rest, and which we are prepared to mainthat we have cautiously avoided the words tain, we shall state and criticise the prin"infallibility,” “accuracy,” etc., when de- cipal theories avowed and urged against fining the meaning of inspiration; and we the common doctrine of plenary inspirahave done so because there are many pre- tion. These theories we shall arrange in vious questions concerning these words order, as they are further or more nearly which need to be settled ere we predicate removed from that doctrine.
By this them of inspired writings. It can not be plan we believe we shall render our readGod's will that what he makes known to ers a service, by giving them in one view man should be infallible and accurate, in la résumé and refutation of those diverse
views now so loudly applauded by their utility of a Divine revelation; but after several supporters; and we shall greatly Mr. Rogers's brilliant and irrefutable Essimplify our future task, in having proved, say on The Analogies of an External step by step, the insufficiency of all the Revelation with the Laws and Conditions theories that stop short of the position we of Human Development, we have no have assumed. We name those theories doubt he would willingly cancel the unaccording to their respective authors, as guarded expressions, and shelter himself this gives concentration and point to our within the subtle distinction that is drawn, work, and brings us at once to personal though not with the broad emphasis desirhand-to-hand conflict with individual men, able in a matter of so much importance, which is much more comfortable than in the sentence: “ An authoritative exterbuffeting the air.
nal revelation is essentially impossible to
man.” It is not then an external revelaThe first objection we shall examine is tion, but an authoritative external revelathe bold and startling statement made by tion, that is impossible. This fine point, Mr. Francis W. Newman, in his work, which after all is the gist of the sentence, The Soul, its Sorrows and Aspirations, ( has been missed by Mr. Rogers, whose that an authoritative external revelation caustic and withering criticism so of moral and spiritual truth is essentially sparingly devastates Mr. Newman's opinimpossible to man. He supports this ions. This point, therefore, which conthesis at length, in the section of the tains the pith of Mr. Newman's opposition above-named work entitled “ English to the Bible, we now exhibit for dissec. Idolatry;" but it is his favorite we tion. It is this, that even if God (grantmight almost say, hobby-dogma ; repeat- ing what Mr. Newman dare not deny – ed, again and again, in his recent writings, that he can) were to communicate to manand echoed by the members of that school, kind a statement of his character, of his including Theodore Parker, Hennel, etc., providential control and moral aim in the which we now take him to represent. government of the world, and a descripAccordingly - although it has passed the tion of the spiritual sphere which lies microscopic lenses of Henry Rogers, and beyond death, and if, moreover, he were has been severely but justly exposed by to append a luminous and perfect code of him — let us examine it for ourselves, and moral duty, neither of these communicawith a view to our own argument; for if tions could possess any authority with us, this assertion has even a vestige of prob- on the ground of their coming from God, ability, it puts a cross-bar in the way of and can only have authority at all, in so our further inquiry, since it renders it far as, upon quite independent grounds, a futile task to prove that there has been we are able to authenticate the facts of the a revelation, which after all is without former communication as true, and to acauthority, and therefore comparatively knowledge the commands of the latter as worthless. Now the sentence we have right. The authorship of these communiquoted above is exceedingly intricate and cations, admitting them to come from ambiguous; we must warily unravel its God, gives them no extrinsic value whatknots, that we may discover its meaning. ever. This is a fair exposition of the Mr. Newman, it will be observed, does not meaning obscurely wrapped up in Mr. affirm that an external revelation of moral Newman's oracular and enigmatic senand spiritual truth is impossible. He does tence. Before entering upon its confutanot presume to say that God could not, tion, let it be observed, that he combines by any possible method, disclose to men moral and spiritual truth together, and rehis character and will, and the facts of gards the authority which attaches to both their immortal destiny. If so, then in- as of essentially the same kind. This is a deed that is impossible to God which is stupendous mistake, and lies at the root possible to man. Nor does Mr. Newman's of the confusion that manifestly involves assertion go to prove that such a revela- his mind in their treatment. It may do tion could be no wise advantageous, or very well for Mr. Charles Kingsley, with would be altogether needless and super his nobly Quixotic, but most illogical, fluons.
soul, hating the tedious toil of analysis, as Many of his other expressions, indeed, a poet scorns the rule of three, to proare tantamount to a denial even of the claim as a great discovery, almost as the
Gospel of our age, that the moral and | The authority of a summary of duty is spiritual are one.* But the distinction the authority of right. Moral truth is between them has been immemorially es- not a statement of facts which we are to tablished, and is too palpable to be erased learn, and concerning which all we have at his dictation.
to determine is, that the evidence supportIt is true, they have been, and should ing it is sound; but an enforcement of be, vitally associated in the history of laws which we are to obey, which have mankind; for faith in the spiritual world not merely to be impressed on our memis the most effectual coërcive power that ory, and methodized by our logic, but can be brought to stimulate and strength- which should govern the will
, and discien the individual conscience, and affords pline every active energy of our nature to the only guarantee for the preservation of their requirements. And here we must a high-toned national morality. All reli- determine, ere we submit ourselves to gions, too, combine both kinds of truth, them, that the laws enjoined upon us are grounding the duties they enjoin upon the “holy, just, and good.” Spiritual facts spiritual facts which they profess to reveal. and moral laws are thus essentially differNotwithstanding, however, that moral ent from each other. The authority of and spiritual truth are so intimately in the one is that of truth. The authority of terwoven in nature, they are essentially the other is that of right. different. Spiritual truth consists in a Having disentangled the knot in Mr. statement of facts, moral truth in a pre- Newman's sentence, and exposed the rare scription of duties. The one appeals to superficiality of Mr. Kingsley and the our intelligence, the other to our con- Broad Church School, that the moral and science. So widely contrasted are they both spiritual are one, our criticism becomes as in their own nature, and in the faculties plain as sunlight. The plausibility that by which they are apprehended. For seems at first sight to gild Mr. Newman's what is the chief spiritual truth, but a assertion, arises wholly from his illegitirevelation of the nature, the works, and mate combination of two diverse kinds of purposes of God? and how does this dif- truth in the subject of his proposition, fer, save in the boundless sublimity and and then fallaciously imputing to both importance of such knowledge, from a that kind of authority which belongs only narrative disclosing the spirit and record- to one of them. For though it be true ing the history of any finite spiritual that there is a principle in man that is being ? Spiritual truth can only be a able to determine on certain conditions statement of facts. That there is a God the propriety and obligation of a moral --that he is of such a character — that he law, and that a revelation of moral law has entered into certain relations with his can only be authoritative to us, when it is creatures, are simply facts, which are ap- approved by this principle of conscience, prehended by our intelligence, and are there is no similar principle that can decredited, or discredited, according to the termine, on à priori grounds, the reality source and evidence of our information. of any facts that may be presented to it. Now, the only authority predicable of Rend, then, these two kinds of truth such a statement of facts is, that which will apart; let each of them be tried on its authorize our faith in it. An authorita- respective merits, and the preposterous tive revelation of spiritual truth is one fallacy of Mr. Newman's assertion inwhich we must believe to be true, or to stantly appears. represent the facts contained in it correct 1. He says, an authoritative external ly, in strict accordance with their reality. revelation of spiritual truth is essentially In other words, the only authority of such impossible. This means that no external a revelation is the authority of truth. On revelation of spiritual truth is trustworthy, the other hand, the word “truth” is not or can have sufficient evidence to warrant properly, but only by the accomodation our faith; for such is the meaning of an of metaphorical license, applied to ethics. authoritative revelation here, otherwise it
has no meaning. But spiritual truth com* See especially his Lectures on the Alexandrian prises all truth concerning the existence School of Philosophy; and his article on Vaughan's and character of God, our own spiritual Hours with the Mystics, in Fraser's Magazine of nature, and that of other spiritual beings. December, 1856.
+ See on this subject, Hampden's Bampton Lec- Then no external revelation concerning ture, Third Edition, p. 300.
these things is trustworthy. We do not