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word, and every letter of "the Bible." But it may be doubted whether, if challenged, they could explain what they mean in a manner satisfactorily even to themselves. But whether or not, there can be no doubt that even on this subject, men's minds have undergone, and are undergoing, a very great change. Those who have taken note of the progress of this controversy can hardly have failed to observe, that the more the question is discussed the less intelligible becomes the principal term on which it turns; and that any attempt at proof must assume, without proof, the premiss from which the conclusion is to be drawn.* For, as we take occasion to observe in the note,
* It may, or may not, be worth while to notice the well-known passage so often appealed to, and which, in the English translation, stands as follows :—" All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction," etc. (2 Tim. iii., 16). In the original it is Tlaa-a ypat^fj, Oeom/eva-ros, <ai afpfkipos 7rpoy didacTKaXtav, itpbs ckeyxov, jrpos inavopdaaiv, K. r. A. And first with regard to the translation. It is, we believe, admitted that this is doubtful, and that, in the absence in the original of the substantive verb, deoirvevvros is by no means necessarily the predicate, but that acpiXifios has an equal claim, Km being rendered also. So that understanding with deoirveVctos not tori, but what we have at least an equal right to understand, ov<ra, the meaning would* be, not "all Scripture is, etc."; but "All Scripture (every writing would be the more correct translation, for, if an acknowledged and accepted body of writing was meant it should be naa-a 'H ypcHpij) being, i.e., if inspired by God, is also useful," etc., a proposition which no one would dispute. But, independent of this, what validity of proof is there in a man's own assertion that not only what he was then writing was "inspired," but a floating and then unsettled number of other writings, some of which were not even written, e.g., the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, no unimportant part of "Scripture," surely, at the time he wrote. If it is argued, as no doubt it might be, that Paul foresaw " by inspiration" that these would be written, will it also be maintained that he foresaw that just these and no others relating to the Life of even if we allow the common translation of the passage there discussed, it is impossible to allow a man's asser
Jesus, of which, as we learn from Luke's preface, there were great numbers and many apocryphal accounts besides now extant, would be adopted into our " Canonical Scriptures?" But, then it must be also remembered that this adoption does not even pretend to have been made by "inspired" collectors, but by fallible men—namelyi those assembled at the Council of Laodicea, about the year 360, "at which," as Gibbon says, " the Apocalypse was tacitly excluded from the Sacred Canon by the same churches of Asia to which it is addressed ; and we may learn from the complaint of Sulpitius Severus that their sentence had been ratified by the greater number of Christians of his time." Gibbon then gives the reasons which influenced the Greek, Roman, and Protestant churches respectively to accept this strange tissue of wrathful and un-Christian denunciations into their respective Canons. The Greeks did so on the authority of an impostor, who in the sixth century assumed the character of Dionysius the Areopagite. As to the Romish Church, it was not until the year 1545, that the Council of Trent fixed the Seal of its infallibility on all the books of Scripture contained in the Latin Vulgate in the number of which the Apocalypse was fortunately included. "The advantage," Gibbon adds, "of turning those mysterious prophecies"—he might have added, "and ferocious denunciations "—" against the See of Rome, inspired the Protestants with uncommon veneration for so useful an ally." So that we see that this "inspired" book, which was thus, accidentally "as it were, admitted into the Sacred Canon, not on Christian principles, but because its thunderous threats could be used against adversaries, and some of the terms of which, e.g. "Scarlet woman," even modern Protestant controversalists are not ashamed to employ against their fellow Christians—which more than any other feeds and fosters the wild and fanatical delusions of the most vain and foolish of our modern divines—very narrowly escaped the proscription of the Church, and was all but excluded from that "Scripture" which Paul is supposed, and in our version made, to assert "was given by inspiration of God." Would Paul himself, the Catholic-minded universalist Apostle, have admitted a book, whose every sentence glows with a fiery spirit of Judaistic vengeance into the same category with his own writings, the keynote of which is universal charity and world-embracing love?
tion of his own, or others' inspiration to carry any weight. Others have made such assertions, and we only reject them with ridicule and contempt. Mahomet laid claim to inspiration; so did Brigham Young, the founder . of the Mormon sect. Plato asserts that all poets are I inspired; and indeed, propounds a theory of plenary inspiration which would probably satisfy the most extreme demands of our modern believers in the inspiration of the "Scripture." He says, that "the Divinity takes their own mind out of them and uses them as ministers (i.e., mouth-pieces), that we who hear may know that it is not they, the poets, who say these precious things, but that the Divinity himself is the speaker, and through them speaks to us." He also says that it is "through the worthless poet (substitute, in the case under consideration, the untaught fishermen of Galilee, or publican) that the god has sung the most sublime hymn, for the express purpose of showing us that these fine compositions are not human performances at all, but Divine; and that the poet is only an interpreter of the gods, possessed by one or other of them as the case may be." (Plato, Ion, p. 534, C. E., the latter English quotation being taken from Grote's Paraphrase, vol. i, p. 458 of Companions of Socrates.)
Here we see that neither the doctrine of inspiration nor the term was unknown to those who, in orthodox language, are called the "Heathen," nor are the exclusive property of Christians, or of Christian terminology. Not, of course, * that this fact is any argument against the possibility of the thing itself, any more than the Hindoo belief in the Incarnations of Vishnu would be an argument against the Gospel doctrine of the Incarnation; or the supposed possibility of eliciting the doctrine of the Trinity from the
Timseus of Plato against the truth of that doctrine in itself. On the contrary it might be urged to show that the notion was not naturally strange or repulsive to the minds of men in what, as contrasted with a religious state, might be called a natural one. But it is, valeat quantum, good as against those—of whom, no doubt, there are many—who would maintain that their doctrine of Scriptural Inspiration is one of a peculiar kind, "unheard before, by gods or wondering men." For they would at least have to show what are the specific characteristics of that doctrine as contrasted with the theory just described in Plato's words. There is no question that they would sooner or later fall back upon the argument that the inspiration of the Bible is proved by the superior morality, the refined spirituality, the devotional spirit, the supersensual aspirations and innumerable other qualities which characterise the Bible, but which no other writings possess in the same or even in an approximate degree. Now, not to insist upon the fact that the morality, etc., of many of the lessons inculcated in the Old Testament are more than questionable, and that the contradictions, both in that and in the New more especially, are numerous and palpable to such an extent that no one not wilfully blind can by any possibility shut his eyes to them, is it not clear that he who attempts to prove inspiration by such an argument as this, is, in fact, appealing in the last resort to human reason and human conscience, and making them the supreme judges of what is good and what is bad. Is not the argument as completely circular as it can be? Would he reject, in so many words, any rule, or doctrine, or fact recorded in the Bible? No. Why not? because the Bible is God's Word—because it is inspired. Once more—how does he know that it is inspired? Because all that is contained in it is moral, good, and true, and corresponds with the dictates of the (natural) conscience, reason, and enlightenment of mankind. If this is not an argument in a circle it would be well to know what is. It is good, because it is inspired; it is inspired, because it is good. Not, indeed, that there is not a sense in which Isaiah and his school of preachers * in the Old Testament, and Paul and his school of writers in the New, may be said to be inspired, but it is not the sense in which the doctrine is maintained by the Pharisaic schools of Christians. It is that large sense in which all great teachers, whether in the Heathen or the Christian world, may be said to be, or to have been, inspired. Denunciation of God's wrath against sin, foresight of the fact that such sin and wickedness as Isaiah and Ezekiel saw around them must bring destruction upon the nation that practised it —no inspiration of a non-natural order was requisite in these matters for men as superior to their generation as Socrates was to his. Neither, surely, was any special inspiration necessary to enable Paul to denounce the indescribable abominations of the Heathen world, or to see that acrimonious disputes between rival sects and rival churches were then, as now, totally at variance with the spirit of charity and love inculcated by the Christ whom he bore, now spiritualised, in his heart of hearts, and whom he believed he had beheld with the eye of flesh. That the Master's teaching had in Paul's time made a deep impression on his mind and the minds of others is unquestionable; equally so that it had, as might naturally be expected, become developed and etherealised to an extent which even he himself, probably, did not either foresee or