Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

divinely grand and elevated. He, in a word, would be thought to be inspired who should certainly foretel future events, that depend upon various contingencies, and which can no ways be guessed at by the utmost stretch of human prudence and sagacity. In these instances the interference of a divine influence is most eertain, because the facts are to be accounted for in no other way. Every effect must have a cause. But these effects, if not attributed to divine interposition, have no assignable cause whatever. It is therefore a violation of the dictates of common sense to deny such persons to be divinely inspired.

To question the possibility of God's having access to the human mind, assisting its faculties, and communicating to it by immediate revelation a clear compendious view of his will, is most absurd. What! Shall he who made the world, and whose energy through the material part of the creation is perceived and felt by all, be shut out from the mind of man? Shall this temple, whose curious mechanism furnishes the most striking proof of the skill of the divine architect, be inaccessible to its Creator? Shall the mighty power of God pervade each blade of grass, cause it to spring up, expand, and grow; and shall the soul of man be independent of Deity? Are its powers, once formed, so perfect as to need no further support or assistance? Or are they raised to such a state of pre-eminence in the creation as to be no more subject to any external check or control? It cannot be. To suppose it is contrary to all analogy of reasoning. Yea more than this, it is to deny the obvious intent of the blessed God in creating the soul, which was by conversing with it to make it holy and happy, and by his dominion over it to bring about the purposes of his universal moral government.

But the question now before us is, How this influence is exerted over the mind in the business of inspiration? Now it is acknowledged we are utterly incompetent to the giving a clear physical account of this matter. All attempts accurately to explain the influence itself, the manner of its operation, its degree, limits, and extent, must in the nature of the thing be attended with uncertainty.

This is further evident from the figurative mode of expression used in Scripture relative to the question under consideration. The same word, in the Greek language, which is used for the wind, arsuping is used also for the soul ; and is with the attribute holy applied to Godthe Holy Spirit. And that influence exerted over the soul of which we are here speaking, is expressed in the text by the same term as is used in respect of the wind, namely, inspiration a. So Elihu says in his discourse with Job, there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding b. And it is remarkable, when our Saviour shewed himself to his disciples after his resurrection, it is said, He breathed on them, and said unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost C, or Spirit. There is therefore no doubt some analogy between the operations of the wind and of the soul, and between the divine influence on the former and on the latter. This observation is authorized by what our Lord says in his discourse with Nicodemus. And if I mention here two or three of the most striking circumstances in the comparison, it may be of some use to the subject before us.

The wind is a mysterious element, its operation is various, and the effects it produces are real and important. All which is true of the influence which God is pleased to exert on the minds of men. It is true, as our Saviour affirms, in regard of that moral change which passes on the heart of a sinner at his conversion to God, The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth : 80 is every one that is born of the Spirit a. The mind is enlightened, and the will and affections are renewed. Facts these, real and important, and imputed, you see, to a divine influence or energy, operating in some more powerfully and instantaneously than in others; but an influence which, in its origin, procedure, and operation, is secret and mysterious. “ Like the wind, thou hearest the sound of it, feelest and enjoyest the effects of it, but knowest not, so as accurately to describe it, whence it comes or whither it goes."

a l'OTYEUFOs, divinely inspired, or breathed. It may not be improper to. observe here that some have thought the words Πασα γραφη, θεοπνευσος, και wpsaquos, &c. should be rendered thus, The whole divinely inspired Scripture is profitable, &c.

But the remark of Wolfius on the construction of this passnge, in his Curæ Philologicæ, clearly shews that our translation of it is better and more literal —" vox ISOTNSUFOs æque ac woedopeos, subintellecto 556, ad zupee Pau instar predicati referri debet, ut non solum utilitas sed et divina ejus origo innuatur. Alioquin enim'ro xac locum habere non posset, sed scribendum fuisset : πασα γραφη θεοπνευσος ωφελιμος εσι.

6 Job xxxii. 8. The original word rendered Spirit, signifies also. Wind. And the word rendered Inspiration, signifies Breath. So Gen. ii. 7. • The Lord God forined man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.' So Job xxxvii. 10. • By the breuth of God frost is given.'

c John xxii. 22.

The like is to be observed, in a degree, and in some of the particulars just mentioned, of that influence by which men are sometimes held back from bad and impelled to good actions, even though their hearts still remain under the dominion of sin. How have their purposes in some remarkable instances been changed, and their exertions controlled, in a manner as strange to themselves as to all around them ! God would not suffer Laban to hurt Jacob b, or Balaam to curse Israel c.

The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord as the rivers of water : he turneth it whithersoever he will d. He withdraweth man from his purpose e.

And he sometimes disappointeth the devices of the crafty, by so weakening their hands that they cannot perform their enterprise f.

But these qualities of mysteriousness, variety, and energy, are more especially applicable to the point of divine inspiration. Here the divine influence is to be considered as exerted chiefly, if not wholly, on the intellectual powers of the soul. But the manner in which it was exerted on the mind, is a question of which we can give little or no account. Some light however is thrown upon it in Scripture, which we shall have occasion to advert to hereafter, and from whence it should seem that some were affected in a more sensible and striking manner than others. But it is of the figurative language of the text we are now speaking. And in conformity to that it is natural to observe, that as the wind sometimes blows ra

a John iii. 8.
d Prov. xxi. I.

6 Gen. xxxi. 7.
e Job xxxiii 17.

c Num. xxii. 12. f Job y. 13.

manner.

seasons.

pidly and at other times flows in soft and gentle gales, so inspired men were differently agitated on different occasions. Holy men spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost amoved sometimes in a soft and gentle, and sometimes in a more powerful and energetic, but always in a perceptible,

What those osx pengiæ or infallible tokens were by which they knew themselves to be inspired of God, it is not for us to say: but we may be sure they were such as left them without a doubt that they were not imposed upon.

As to the apostles on the day of Pentecost, if any thing is to be gathered from the attendant external circumstances of their inspiration at that time, it looks as if the impulse they were then under was more extraordinary than at some other

Suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting b. And again a few days after, when they returned to their company, having been examined by the rulers and elders of the Jews, it is said, When they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together ; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness c. Be the question however as it may respecting the mode of inspiration, it is certain the effects were, like those of the wind, real, interesting and important. Upon the whole, it appears from the metaphorical language of the text, that the divine operation in the matter of which we are here discoursing, is very mysterious, and that therefore we ought to be very modest in our inquiries about it.

Let us now proceed to a more particular investigation of our subject, And here I propose to consider divine inspiration in three points of view, each clearly distinguishable from the other, and each sufficiently warranted, I think, by Scripture d. There is an inspiration of Superintendencyof Elevation-and of Suggestion. These three kinds of inspiration we shall endeavour to explain, and consider them, as we pass on, in reference to historical facts, doctrinal truths, and future events.

a 2 Fet. i. 21.

b Acts ii. 2.

C Acts iv. 31. d For this mode of treating the subject, with some variation, I am indebted to Dr. Doddridge's excellent “ Dissertation on the Inspiration of the New Testament,” in his Family Expositor.

1. By inspiration of Superintendency I mean a controlling influence exerted over the mind, whereby it is infallibly secured from error.

The use and importance of this kind of inspiration in regard of historical facts, of which we mean here principally to speak, is very great. If a series of miraculous events, on which the glorious superstructure of the gospel was to be raised, did take place, with little interruption, from the beginning of time to the period of our Saviour's erecting his kingdom on earth, it was fit, it was necessary that they should be recorded, and recorded with the exactest truth and accuracy.

There must not be any the least departure from the rule of rectitude. The testimony of God must be conveyed down to mankind in its purest state, without any adulteration or false colouring. And indeed all other historical facts, whether relative to the manner in which the divine laws, covenants, and promises were delivered; or to the characters, lives, and actions of men who were to become examples to us, must, if they answer the ends of their publication, be so transmitted to us as that they may be surely der pended upon. The importance of this must strike every one at first view.

Now it was impossible that these facts should be delivered to us in the manner they are, without the several historians being divinely instructed respecting such as happened before their time, and without their memory being extraordinarily assisted respecting those within their own time. For supposing them, as in the case of the evangelists, to have been eye-witnesses of the events they report, it nevertheless would have been strange to the last degree, considering the number and variety of the facts and circumstances attending them, the length of many of our Saviour's discourses, the time that elapsed before they were committed to writing, the fallibility of the memory, the different impressions which things usually make on the minds of spectators, and many other unavoidable occasions of inaccuracy and mistake; I say, considering all these things, it would have been strange indeed if left to thom,

« AnteriorContinuar »