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facts of the case-to what we have proved in our former lecture, and what we have traced out in this and attribute such an inspiration to the minds of the sacred writers as exempted thein from all error whatever in the communication of the divine will, and gave to every part of their declarations, its full sanction as the infallible word of God; and, at the same time, allowed to each writer the free exercise of all his natural powers, and the delivery of the divine revelation according to his own habits and associations. This accounts for and reconciles all the phenomena. The decisive claims of inspiration made by the apostles require the first; the obvious' appearances of every part of the New Testament the second.
3. Nor is the difficulty of explaining this union of divine and human agency in the inspiration of the scriptures, any greater, than in other instances in the government of mankind; where the Almighty worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will, and yet by means which do not interfere with the free agency, nor alter the moral characteristics, nor lessen the responsibility of man. Our concern is not to explain, but to receive the facts as they lie before us. It is only necessary to admit decisively that the highest measure of that inspiration which preserves from every mistake
or error, was not inconsistent with the greatest freedom and latitude in the use of each writer's knowledge and talents, and ordinary means of information-an union incomprehensible, indeed, as to the particulars of it, to our limited faculties, but easy to that inscrutable wisdom which knows our frame, and can direct and elevate, without disturbing, the operations of our minds.
· Having thus traced out in the structure of the sacred books, the union of divine and human agency, we may proceed in the same way to mark, so far as may be needful,
II. THE EXTENT OF THE DIVINE INSPIRATION ACCORDING TO THE VARIETY OF MATTER WHICH THE BOOKS CONTAIN.
1. For by referring to the language of the apostles, as quoted in our last lecture, we shall find that the divine inspiration was extended to every part of the canonical writings, in proportion as each part stood related to the religion. Whatever weight the different parts of the sacred edifice were intended to sustain, a correspondent strength of inspiration was placed, as it were, at the foundation. Thus all is held immovably together. The triumphal arch of truth is, to us and in its results, equally firm
in all its parts, whether we can trace out the relative strength of the materials or not.
Sometimes we read of divine messages by visions, dreams, angelic voices; at other times the Almighty appears to have revealed truth immediately to the minds of the apostles. Sometimes the sacred writers were wrapt in the overpowering communications of the Spirit. At other times, and as the matter varied, their memory was fortified to recall the Saviour's life, doctrines, miracles, parables, discourses. In a different matter, an author accompanies St. Paul, and records what he saw and heard. Again, an Apostle hears of disorders in the churches, and is moved by the blessed Spirit to write to them, to denounce judgments, to prescribe a course of conduct. At other times, he enters upon a series of divine arguments; delivers in order the truths of the gospel; or expounds the figurative economy of Moses.
What the extent of the inspiration was in each case, we need not, indeed we cannot, determine. We infer from the uniform language of the New Testament, that in each case such assistance, and only such assistance was afforded, as the exigencies of it required. Where nature ended and inspiration began, it is not
for man to say. Where the inspiration of suggestion, of direction, of elevation, of superintendence, was severally afforded, we cannot know.
The prophetical parts, the doctrines of pure revelation, the historical facts beyond the reach of human knowledge, all the great outlines of Christianity, both as to doctrine and practice, were probably of the inspiration of suggestion, both as to the matter and the words (for we think in words.) Where the usual means of information, or the efforts of memory were enough, as in much of the gospels and acts, the inspiration of direction may be supposed to have sufficed. Where the exposition of duty, or the rebuke of error, or exhortation to growth in grace, was the subject, the inspiration of elevation and strength may be considered as afforded. Where matters more incidental occur, the inspiration, still lessening with the necessity, was probably that of superintendency only, preserving from all improprieties which might diminish the effect of the whole, and providing for inferior, but not unimportant points of instruction. Even the slightest allusions to proverbial sayings, to the works of nature, to history, were possibly not entirely out of the range of the watchful guardianship of the Holy Spirit.
In all the parts, however, the operations of the mind and habits of the writers were allowed to act; but were exempted from error and mistake. In all the parts, the divine Spirit moved the writers to such subjects, and such a manner of treating them as befitted the designs of infinite wisdom. All that is essential for us to know, is that such was the extent of the assistance in each case as sufficed to supply what was deficient in the writer, and to give to every part of his declarations their full sanction as the infallible word of God. Perhaps we cannot get nearer than this.?
2. And this seems to agree with the uniform conduct of the Divine Being, as it is represented in the scriptures. The Almighty never works a superfluous miracle; never supersedes hu
2 By the inspiration of suggestion is meant such communications of the Holy Spirit, as suggested and dictated minutely every part of the truths delivered.
The inspiration of direction is meant of such assistance as left the writers to describe the matter revealed in their own way, directing only the mind in the exercise of its powers.
The inspiration of elevation added a greater strength and vigour to the efforts of the mind than the writers could otherwise have attained.
The inspiration of superintendency was that watchful care which preserved generally from any thing being put down derogatory to the revelation with which it was connected.