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formity and sameness over the whole surface of scripture—must have expunged all the varieties of style, diversities of narrative, and selection of topics—must have impressed one and the same phraseology and turn of expression upon all the sacred books in the same language-must have required the perfectly pure preservation of all the copies in all ages from the errors of transcribers,—must have rendered various readings and imperfect translations of fundamental injury -must have blotted out many of the proofs of the authenticity and credibility—must have altered entirely the character of the internal evidences--and have left it a very different test of the moral feelings of the reader—that is, it must have produced a book wholly dissimilar from our present scriptures, infinitely less suited, so far as we can judge, to our capacities ---infinitely less intelligible to the mass of mankind-infinitely less attractive to the young and the unlearned---infinitely less replete with all those marks and indications of a divine wisdom which now appear on all sides, whether you descend to the first elements of its external testimony, or rise up to the loftiest heights of its full and infallible inspiration. All bears the impress of the simplicity and majesty of its divine author.
A practical reflection or two on the importance of fully admitting and acting upon the doctrine of inspiration thus illustrated, may now be offered.
I. It is ESSENTIAL TO THE RIGHT RECEPTION OF CHRISTIANITY. The very first point in Christianity is to entertain a deep practical persuasion of the infallible truth of the whole of the scriptures; to receive them in all their parts as the word of God; and not to consider the most trivial allusions in the sacred volume to be so alienated from the divine superintendency, as to leave an opening to men to assume to themselves the office of separating what they term the uninspired, from the inspired parts of scripture. The large admissions we have made on the side of human agency are not, therefore, to be abused. The moment men begin to apply these admissions to the matter revealed, they commit the most fatal error. The moment man dares to consider any part of scripture as uninspired, he sets up his own prejudices as the rule of judgment; he believes only what he likes; and he commonly ends in undervaluing or rejecting some of the fundamental truths of the gospel. “ A partial inspiration is to all intents and purposes no revelation at all. Mankind would
be as much embarrassed to know what was inspired and what not, as they would be to collect a religion for themselves.”5 A pious and cordial
belief of the full and entire inspiration of the ' Bible is of the highest moment.
I allow indeed still, as I did in the commencement of the last lecture, that if the scriptures had been left by Almighty God to be written by men, merely to the best of their ability, and were to be considered only as the authentic and credible writings of their respective authors, they would bind the conscience and direct to salvation. But I maintain also, after what has been proved, that to stop there is not enough. We are now called on by every obligation which can touch a responsible creature, to admit the positive and irrefragable evidence of the inspiration of the sacred books. The corruption of our nature is not to be left to mere human inculcations of revealed religion, when God has affixed his broad seal of infallible inspiration to the records of it. This is a point of vital importance to the very existence of any practical fruits of Christianity. “Without it, the star which is to direct our course is clouded; our compass is broken to pieces, and we are left to make the voyage of life in sad uncer
tainty, amidst a thousand rocks, shelves, and quicksands.”
II. Need I say that the view we have taken of the subject is not only indispensable to a right reception of Christianity, but tends also to CLOSE THE AVENUES TO SOME OF THE MOST PERNICIOUS ETILS WHICH HAVE desolated the church.
A neglect of the unerring truth of the Bible in all the matters, however minute, of the revelation contained in it, bas been a source of one class of corruptions. A forgetfulness of the natural and characteristic manner in which the sacred writers use the language and express themselves according to the habits of the particular age and country where they lived, has been the occasion of others.
i. The first is, of course, the most formidable eril, because it saps the foundation of the whole of Christianity. From the want of a cordial submission to the inspiration of the scriptures, have sprung the usurpations orer conscience, the authority of tradition in the interpretation of scripture; the claim of intalability in a risble head of the church; the probibiThon of the free use of the Bine to the laity:
the exclusive imposition of a particular translation ;? and the intermixture of apocryphal with canonical writings. The plenary and authoritative inspiration of the New Testament would have taught the church of Rome, that the only infallible standard of truth was the word of God; that that word was able and sufficient to make us wise unto salvation; and that it was to be interpreted according to the ordinary rules of human language, and not by the inconsistent and often erroneous dictates of the fathers—in short, that the aids of learning, and the wisdom of antiquity, and all the accumulated illustrations of former and later commentators were to be brought to the scriptures as the standard—and not the scriptures to them.
Again, licentious interpretations generally, would be checked by a recurrence to the infallible inspiration of the scriptures. What are all the monstrous expositions of the German infidel school? What all their daring and absurd attempts to explain away every mystery; to evade the force of the most fundamental doctrines ; to reduce the claims of every divine miracle ; to bring down revelation to a mere narrative of ordinary history, and a barren code of natural religion ; but the result of an impi
7 The Vulgate Latin.