Systematic Theology

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Part 02 Bibliology’s Theopneustia









Table of Contents





































Theopneustia: The Plenary Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures

L. Gaussen, D.D.

Edinburgh & London: Johnstone & Hunter, 1850. pp.365.

Table of Contents

Preface 5

Chapter 1: Definition of the Theopneustia, or Divine Inspiration 23

Chapter 2: Scriptural Proof of Divine Inspiration 58

Chapter 3: Brief Didactic Abastract of the Doctrine of the Divine Inspiration 106

Chapter 4: Examination of Objections 153

Chapter 5: Examination of Evasions 275

Chapter 6: On Sacred Criticism, in Relations it Bears to Divine Inspiration 323

Chapter 7: Conclusion 349 – 365

Note: * Footnote numbers do not match those of the original.

Links to the originally published chapters from


Chapter 1: Definition of the Theopneustia, or Divine Inspiration

Chapter 2: Scriptural Proof of Divine Inspiration

Chapter 3: Brief Didactic Abastract of the Doctrine of the Divine Inspiration

Chapter 4: Examination of Objections

Chapter 5: Examination of Evasions

Chapter 6: On Sacred Criticism, in Relations it Bears to Divine Inspiration

Chapter 7: Conclusion








Quæritur an In scribendo, ita acti et inspirati fuerint a Spiritu Sanoto, et quoad

res ipsas, et quond verba, ut ab omni errore immunes fuerint: Adverearii negant:

Nos affirmamus.

F. TURRETINI, Theol. elenct., t. I., Ioc. ii., 9.4.












Section I. 23

Section II. 24

Section III. 26

Section IV. 32

Section V. – On the Individuality of the Sacred Writers 38



Section 1. – All Scripture is Divinely Inspired 58

Section II. – All the Prophetic Utterances are given by God 59

Section III. – All the Scriptures of the Old Testament are Prophetic 67

Section 1V. – All the Scriptures of the New Testament are Prophetic 73

Section V. – The Examples of the Apostles, and of their Master, attest

that in their view all the Words of the Holy Books are given by

God 89



Section I. – Catechetical Sketch of the Main Points of the Doctrine 106

Section II. – On the Adversaries and Defenders of the Doctrine 139



Section I. – The Translations 153

Section II. – Use of the Septuagint Translation 161

Section III. – The Various Readings 164

Section IV. – Errors of Reasoning or of Doctrine 197

Section V. – Errors in the Narratives – Contradictions in the Facts 207

Section VI. – Errors contrary to Natural Philosophy 244

Section VII. – The Declarations of Paul himself 271



Section I. – Might not Inspiration pertain to the Thoughts only,

without extending to the Words? 275

Section II. – Should we except from Inspiration the Historical Books? 286

Section III. – Will the apparent insignificance of certain Details in the

Bible authorize their being excepted from Inspiration? 306



Section I. – Sacred Criticism is a Scientific Inquirer, and not a Judge 324

Section II. – Let Sacred Criticism be an Historian, not a Soothsayer 330

Section III. – Sacred Criticism is the Doorkeeper of the Temple, not

its God 336



Section I. – Retrospect 349

Section II. 355



Soon after the first publication of the Theopneustia, the late Rev. Dr Welsh wrote to me,

urging me to translate it for the press. A series of other engagements prevented me from doing

so for several years. At last, in answer to a call for a cheaper and less bulky translation than

one that had meanwhile appeared in London, I applied myself to the task, and had completed

it before seeing what my predecessor had published in the south. The present translation being

from the latest French edition, has the advantage of all the author’s improved arrangement.

The importance of the subject, the high character of the author, and the admirable manner in

which he has acquitted himself, required that no ordinary pains should be bestowed in doing

him justice. These pains I have not spared.

I have endeavoured, as far as I could, to give the texts quoted from Scripture in the precise

words of our authorized version, and to secure the utmost possible correctness in the

references. The headings at the top of the pages will, it is hoped, be of considerable use to the


After consulting an eminent authority as to the propriety of the change, “plenary inspiration,”

divine inspiration,” or “verbal inspiration,” have been substituted throughout for the term

Theopneustie, borrowed by the author from the Greek, and retained on the title-page. It was

thought that the frequent recurrence of so unusual a word might repel ordinary readers, and

make it appear that the book was exclusively for the learned.

At a time when almost all religious controversies seem to turn, more or less, on the question,

How far the Holy Scriptures are inspired? and when persons of all ranks and classes are called

upon to arm themselves against various errors, having their root in false or inadequate views

on this subject, it seems hardly possible to overrate the value of the work now before the

reader. Nor is it only as a work of controversy that it is invaluable. It is imbued throughout

with a spirit of affectionate earnestness and glowing piety, which, even when it makes the

greatest demand on the intellect, never suffers the heart to remain cold. Add to this, the

wonderful copiousness of the illustrations, which the author seems to borrow with equal case

from the simplest objects in nature, the deepest wells of learning, the remotest deductions of

science, and the history at once of the most ancient and most modern times. In short, as we

accompany him from page to page and chapter to chapter, we seem not so much to be reading

a book, as to be listening to a devout and accomplished friend, expatiating on a favourite

subject a subject of the very greatest importance, and one amid all the details of which he is

quite at home.


Sept. 20, 1850.



A glance at this book and its title may have prepossessed certain minds against it, by creating

two equally erroneous impressions. These I would fain dissipate.

The Greek title “Theopneustia,” although borrowed from St Paul, and although it has long

been used in Germany, from not having found its way into our language, may, no doubt, have

led more than one reader to say to himself of the subject here treated, that it is too learned and

abstruse (scientjfique) to be popular, and too little popular to be important.

Yet I am bold to declare, that if any thing has given me at once the desire and the courage to

undertake it, it is just the double conviction I entertain of its importance and its simplicity.

And, first of all, I do not think that, after we have come to know that Christianity is divine,

there can be presented to our mind any question bearing more essentially on the vitality of our

faith than this: “Does the Bible come from God? is it altogether from God? or may it not be

true, as some have maintained, that there occur in it maxims purely human, statements not

exactly true, exhibitions of vulgar ignorance and ill-sustained reasoning? in a word, books, or



of books, foreign to the interests of the faith, subject to the natural weakness of the writer’s

judgment, and alloyed with error?” Here we have a question that admits of no compromise, a

fundamental question – a question of life! It is the first that confronts you on opening the

Scriptures, and with it your religion ought to commence.

Were it the case, as you whom I now address will have it, that all in the Bible is not

important, does not bear upon the faith, and does not relate to Jesus Christ; and were it the

case, taking another view, that in that book there is nothing inspired except what, in your

opinion, is important, does bear upon the faith, and does relate to Jesus Christ; then your

Bible is quite a different book from that of the Fathers, of the Reformers, and of the Saints of

all ages. It is fallible; theirs was perfect. It has chapters or parts of chapters, it has sentences

and expressions, to be excluded from the number of the sentences and expressions that are

God’s; theirs was “all given by inspiration of God,” “all profitable for doctrine, for reproof,

for correction, for instruction in righteousness, and for rendering the man of God perfect by

faith in Christ Jesus.” In that case, one and the same passage is, in your judgment, as remote

from what it was in theirs as earth is from heaven.

You may have opened the Bible, for example, at the 45th Psalm, or at the Song of Songs; and

while you will see nothing there but what is most human in the things of the earth – a long

epithalamium, or the love communings of a daughter of Sharon and her young bridegroom –

they read there of the glories of the Church,


the endearments of God’s love, the deep things of Jesus Christ – in a word, all that is most

divine in the things of heaven; and if they found themselves unable to read of those things

there, they knew at least that they were there, and there they tried to find them.

Suppose now that we both take up one of St Paul’s epistles. While one of us will attribute such

or such a sentence, the meaning of which he fails to seize, or which shocks his carnal sense, to

the writer’s Jewish prejudices, to the most common intentions, to circumstances altogether

human; the other will set himself, with profound respect, to scan the thoughts of the Holy

Ghost: he will believe these perfect even before he has caught their meaning, and will put any

apparent insignificance or obscurity to the account of his own dulless or ignorance alone.

Thus, while in the Bible of the one all has its object, its place, its beauty, and its use, as in a

tree, branches and leaves, vessels and fibres, epidermis and bark even, have all theirs; the

Bible of the other is a tree of which some of the leaves and branches, some of the fibres and

the bark, have not been made by God.

But there is much more than this in the difference between us; for not only, according to your

reply, we shall have two Bibles, but no one can know what your Bible really is.

It is human and fallible, say you, only in a certain measure; but who shall define that

measure? If it be true that man, in putting his baneful impress upon it, have left the stains of

humanity there, who shall determine the depth of that impression, and the number of those

stains? You have told me that it has its human


part; but what are the limits of that part, and who is to fix them for me? Why, no one. These

every one must determine for himself, at the bidding of his own judgment; in other words, this

fallible portion of the Scriptures will be enlarged in the inverse ratio of our being illuminated

by God’s light, and a man will deprive himself of communications from above in the very

proportion that he has need of them; in like manner as we see idolaters make to themselves

divinities that are more or less impure, in proportion as they themselves are more or less

alienated from the living and holy God! Thus, then, every one will curtail the inspired

Scriptures in different proportions, and making for himself an infallible rule of that Bible, so

corrected by himself, will say to it: “Guide thou me henceforth, for thou art my rule!” like

those makers of graven images of whom Isaiah speaks, “who make to themselves a god, and

say to it, Deliver me, for thou art my god.” – (Isa. xliv. 17.)

But this is not all; what follows is of graver import still. According to your reply, it is not the

Bible only that is changed, – it is you.

Yes, even in presence of the passages which you have most admired you will have neither the

attitude nor the heart of a believer! How can that be, after you have summoned these along

with the rest of the Scriptures before the tribunal of your judgment, there to be pronounced by

you divine, or not divine, or semi-divine? What authority for your soul can there be in an

utterance which for you is infallible only in virtue of yourself? Had it not to present itself at

your bar, along with other sayings of the same book, which you have pro-


nounced to be wholly or partly human? Will your mind, in that case, put itself into the humble

and submissive posture of a disciple, after having held the place of a judge? This is

impossible. The deference you will show to it will be that perhaps of acquiescence, never that

of faith; of approval, never of adoration. Do you tell me that you will believe in the divinity of

the passage? but then it is not in God that you will believe, but in yourself! This utterance

pleases, but does not govern you; it stands before you like a lamp; it is not within you as an

unction from above – a principle of light, a fountain of life! I do not believe there ever was a

Pope, however possessed with notions of the importance of his own priestly office, who could

confidently address his prayers to a dead person, whom he had himself, by canonizing him of

his own plenary authority, raised to the rank of the demigods. How, then, shall a reader of the

Bible, who has himself canonized a passage of the Scriptures, however possessed with a high

idea of his own wisdom, possibly have the disposition of a true believer with regard to such a

passage? Will his mind come down from his pontifical chair, and humble itself before this

utterance of thought, which, but for himself, would remain human, or at least doubtful? No

one tries to fathom the meaning of a passage which he has himself legitimated, only in virtue

of a meaning which he thinks he has already found. One submits only by halves to an

authority which he has had it in his power to decline, and which he has once held to be

doubtful. One worships but imperfectly what he has first degraded.

Besides, and let this be carefully noted, inasmuch as


the entire divinity of such or such a passage of the Scriptures depends. in your view, not on its

being found in the book of God’s oracles, but on its presenting certain traits of spirituality and

wisdom to your wisdom and your spirituality, the sentence that you pass cannot always be so

exempt from hesitation as that you shall not retain, with regard to it, some of the doubts with

which you set out. Hence your faith will necessarily participate in your uncertainties, and will

be itself imperfect, undecided, conditional. As is the sentence, so will be the faith; and as is

the faith, so will be the life. But such is not the faith, neither is such the life of God’s elect.

But what will better show the importance of the question which is about to occupy us is, that

if one of the two systems to which it may lead has, as we have said, all its roots imbued with

scepticism, its fruit inevitably will be a new unbelief.

How do we come to see that so many thousands can every morning and. evening open their

Bibles without once perceiving there doctrines which it teaches with the utmost clearness?

How can they thus, during many a long year, walk on in darkness with the sun in their hands?

Do they not hold these books to be a revelation from God? Yes, but prepossessed with false

notions of the divine inspiration, and believing that there still exists in Scripture an alloy of

human error – fain to find in it, nevertheless, its reasonable utterances of thought, in order to

their being authorized to believe these divine – they make it their study, as if unconsciously, to

give these a meaning that their own wisdom approves; and thus not only do they render



incapable of recognising therein the wisdom of God, but they sink the Scriptures in their own

respect. In reading St Paul’s epistles, for example, they will do their utmost to find in them

man’s justification by the law, his native innocence and bent towards that which is good, the

moral omnipotence of his will – the merit of his works. But, then, what happens? Alas! just

that after having given the sacred writer such forced meanings, they find his language so illconceived

for his assumed object, such ill-chosen terms for what he is made to say, and such

ill-sustained reasonings, that, as if in spite of themselves, they lose any respect felt for the

letter of the Scriptures, and plunge into rationalism. It is thus that, after having commenced

with unbelief; they reap a new unbelief as the fruit of their study; darkness becomes the

recompense of darkness, and that terrible saying of Christ is fulfilled, “From him that hath

not, shall be taken away even that which he hath.”

Such, then, it is evident, is the fundamental importance of the great question with which we

are about to be occupied.

According to the answer which you, to whom we now address ourselves, make to it, the arm

of God’s Word is palsied for you; the sword of the Spirit has become blunted – it has lost its

temper and its power to pierce. How could it henceforth penetrate your joints and marrow?

How could it become stronger than your lusts, than your doubts, than the world, than Satan?

How could it give you energy, victory, light, peace? No! It possibly may happen, at wide

intervals of time, by a pure effect of God’s unmerited favour, that, in spite of this dismal state

of a soul, a divine utterance may come


and seize it at unawares; but it does not remain the less true, that this disposition which judges

the Scriptures, and doubts beforehand of their universal inspiration, is one of the greatest

obstacles that we can oppose to their acting with effect. “The word spoken,” says St Paul

(Heb. iv. 2), “did not profit, not being mixed with faith in them who heard it;” while the most

abundant benedictions of that same Scripture were at all times the lot of the souls which

received it, “not as the word of man, but which it is truly, as the word of God, working

effectually in them who believe.” – (l Thess. ii. 13.)

It will thus be seen, that this question is of immense importance in its bearing upon the vitality

of our faith; and we are entitled to say, that between the two answers that may be made to it,

there lies the same great gulf that must have separated two Israelites who might both have

seen Jesus Christ in the flesh, and both equally owned him as a prophet; but one of whom,

looking to his carpenter’s dress, his poor fare, his hands inured to labour, and his rustic

retinue, believed further, that he was not exempt from error and sin, as an ordinary prophet;

whilst the other recognised in him Immanuel, the Lamb of God, the everlasting God, our

Righteousness, the King of kings, the Lord of lords.

The reader may not yet have admitted each of these considerations; but he will at least admit

that I have said enough to be entitled to conclude that it is worth while to study such a

question, and that, in weighing it, you hold in your hands the most precious interests of the

people of God. This is all I desired in a preface. It was the first point to which I wished to

direct the reader’s attention beforehand, and now comes the second.


If the study of this doctrine be the duty of all, that study is also within the reach of all; and the

author scruples not to say, that in writing his book, the dearest object of his ambition has been

to make it level to the comprehension of all classes of readers.

Meanwhile, he thinks he hears many make this objection. You address yourself to men of

learning, they will say; your book is no concern of ours: we confine ourselves to religion, but

here you give us theology.

Theology no doubt! but, what theology? Why, that which ought to be the study of all the heirs

of eternal life, and with respect to which a very child may be a theologian.

Religion and theology! let us explain what we mean; for often are both these terms abused to

the injury of both, by people presuming to set the one against the other. Is not theology

defined in all our dictionaries as “the science which has for its object, God and his

revelation?” Now, when I was a boy at school, the catechism of my childhood made this the

designation of my religion. “It is the science,” it told me, “that teaches us to know God and

his Word, God and his counsels, God in Christ.” So, then, there is no difference between

them, in object, means, or aim. Their object is truth; their means, the Word of God; their aim,

holiness. “Sanctify them, O Father, by thy truth: thy Word is truth!” Such is the aim

contemplated by both, as it was that of their dying Master. How, then, shall we distinguish the

one from the other? By this alone – that theology is religion studied more methodically, and

with the aid of more perfect instruments.

Men have contrived, no doubt, to make, under the


name of theology, a confused compound of philosophy, or the traditions of men with God’s

word; but that was not theology – it was only scholastic philosophy.

It is true that the term Religion is not always employed in its objective sense, to signify the

science that embraces the truths of our faith; but it is used also, with a subjective meaning, to

designate rather the sentiments which those truths foster in the hearts of believers. Let these

two meanings be kept distinct. This is what we may do, and ought to do; but to oppose the

one to the other, by calling the one Religion, the other Theology, were a deplorable absurdity.

This would be to maintain, in other terms, that one might have the religious sentiments

without the religious doctrines from which alone they spring; this would imply that you would

have a man to be moral without having any religious tenets, pious without belief, a Christian

without Christ, an effect without a cause – living without a soul! Deplorable illusion! “holy

Father, this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ

whom thou host sent.”

But even were it rather in its objective sense that people set themselves to oppose religion to

theology – that is to say, the religion a Christian learns in his native tongue in his Bible, to the

religion which a more accomplished person would study in the same Bible with the aid of

history and of the learned languages – still I would say, even in this case, Distinguish between

the two; don’t oppose them to each other! Ought not every true Christian to be a theologian as

far as he can? Is he not enjoined to be learned in the Word of God, nurtured in sound doctrine,

rooted and established


in the knowledge of Jesus Christ? And was it not to the multitude that Our Lord said, in the

midst of the street, “Search the Scriptures.”

Religion, then, in its objective meaning, bears the same relation to theology that the globe

does to astronomy. They are distinct, and yet united; and theology renders the same services

to religion that the astronomy of the geometricians offers to that of seamen. A ship captain

might, no doubt, do without the Mécanique Céleste in finding his way to the seas of China, or

in returning from the Antipodes; but even then it is to that science that, while traversing the

ocean with his elementary notions, he will owe the advantage he derives from his formulas,

the accuracy of his tables, and the precision of the methods which give him his longitudes,

and set his mind at ease as to the course he is pursuing. Thus too, the Christian, in order to his

traversing the ocean of this world, and to his reaching the haven to which God calls him, may

dispense with the ancient languages and the lofty speculations of theology; but, after all, the

notions of religion with which he cannot dispense, will receive, in a great measure, their

precision and their certainty from theological science. And while he steers towards eternal life

with his eyes fixed on the compass which God has given him. Still it is to theology that he

will owe the certainty that that heavenly magnet is the same that it was in the days of the

apostles – that the instrument of salvation has been placed intact in his hands, that its

indications are faithful, and that the needle never varies.

There was a time when all the sciences were mysterious, professing secresy, having their

initiated persons,


their sacred language, and their freemasonry. Physical science, geometry, medicine, grammar,

history – every thing was treated of in Latin. Men soared aloft in the clouds, far above the

vulgar crowd; and would drop now and then from their bark sublime a few detached leaves,

which we were bound to take up respectfully, and were not allowed to criticise. Now-a-days,

all is changed. Genius glories in making itself intelligible to the mass of mankind; and after

having mounted up to the ethereal regions of science, there to pounce upon truth in her

highest retreats, it endeavours to find a method of coming down again, and approaching near

enough to let us know the paths it has pursued, and the secrets it has discovered. But if such

be at present the almost universal tendency of the secular sciences, it has been at all times the

distinctive character of true theology, That science is at the service of all. The others may do

without the people, as the people may do without them; true theology, on the contrary, has

need of flocks, as they again have need of it. It preserves their religion; and their religion

preserves it in turn. Woe to them when their theology languishes, and does not speak to them!

Woe to them when the religion of the flocks leave it to go alone, and no longer esteems it We

ought then, both for its sake and for theirs, to hold that it should speak to them, listen to them,

study in their sight, and keep its schools open to them as our churches are.

When theology occupies the professor’s chair in the midst of Christian flocks, its relations

with them, constantly keeping before its eyes the realities of the Christian life, constantly

recall to it also the realities of


science: man’s misery, the counsels of the Father, the Redeemer’s cross, the consolations of

the Holy Ghost, holiness, eternity. Then, too, the Church’s conscience, repressing its

wanderings, overawes its hardihood, compels it to be serious, and corrects the effects of that

familiarity, so readily running into profaneness, with which the science of the schools puts

forth its hand and touches holy things. In speaking to it, day after day, of that life which the

preaching of the doctrines of the Cross nourishes in the Church (a life, without the knowledge

of which all its learning would be as incomplete as the natural history of man were it derived

from the study of dead bodies), the religion of the flocks disengages theology from its

excessive readiness to admire those branches of knowledge which do not sanctify. It often

repeats to it the question addressed by St Paul to the perverted science of the Galatians:

Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” It disabuses it of

the wisdom of man; it imbues it with reverence for the Word of God, and (in that holy Word),

for those doctrines of the righteousness of faith which are “the power of God our Saviour,”

and which ought to penetrate the whole soul of its science. Thus does it teach it practically

how to associate, in its researches, the work of the conscience with that of the understanding,

and never to seek after God’s truth but under the combined lights of study and prayer.

And, on the other hand, theology renders in its turn, to Christian flocks, services with which

they cannot long dispense without damage. It is it that watches over the religion of a people,

to see that the lips of the


priest keep knowledge, and that the law may be had from his mouth. It is it that preserves

purity of doctrine in the holy ministry of the gospel, and the just balancing of all truths in

preaching. It is it that assures the simple against the confident assertions of a science

inaccessible to them. It is it that goes for its answers to the same quarters whence those

assertions have come; which puts its finger on the sophisms of the adversaries of truth,

overawes them by its presence, and compels them, before the flocks, to avoid exaggeration,

and to put some reserve on the terms they employ. It is it that gives the alarm at the first and

so often decisive moment, when the language of religion among a people begins to decline

from the truth, and when error, like a rising weed, sprouts and grows into a plant. It then gives

timely warning, and people hasten to root it out.

It has ever happened that when flocks have been pious, theology has thriven. She has

accomplished herself with learning; she has put due honour on studies that require vigorous

effort; and, the better to capacitate herself for searching the Scriptures, not only has she

desired to master all the sciences that can throw light upon them, but she has infused life into

all other sciences, whether by the example of her own labours, or by gathering around her

men of lofty minds, or by infusing into academical institutions a generous sentiment of high

morality, which has promoted all their developments.

Thus it is that, in giving a higher character to all branches of study, she has often ennobled

that of a whole people.


But, on the contrary, when theology and the people have become indifferent to each other,

and drowsy flocks have lived only for this world, then theology herself has given evident

proofs of sloth, frivolity, ignorance, or perhaps of a love of novelties; seeking a profane

popularity at any cost; affecting to have made discoveries that are only whispered to the ear,

that are taught in academies, and never mentioned in the churches; keeping her gates shut

amid the people, and at the same time throwing out to them from the windows doubts and

impieties, with the view of ascertaining the present measure of their indifference; until at last

she breaks out into open scandal, in attacking doctrines, or in defying the integrity or the

inspiration of certain books, or in giving audacious denials to the facts which they relate.

And let a man beware of believing that the whole people do not erelong feel the consequences

of so enormous a mischief. They will suffer from it even in their temporal interests, and their

national existence will be compromised. In degrading their religion, you proportionally lower

their moral character; you leave them without a soul. All things take their measure, in a

nation, according to the elevation that is given to heaven among the people. If their heaven be

low, every thing is affected by it even on the earth. All there becomes erelong more confined

and more creeping; the future becomes narrowed; patriotism becomes materialized; generous

traditions drop out of notice; the moral sense loses its tone; material wellbeing engrosses all

regard; amid all conservative principles, one after another, disappear.


We conclude then, on the one hand, that there exists the most intimate union, not only

between a people’s welfare and their religion, but between their religion and true theology;

and, on the other hand, that if there have always been most pertinent reasons for this science

being taught as such, for all and before all, never was this character more necessary for it than

when treating of the doctrine which is about to occupy us. It is the doctrine of doctrines; the

doctrine that teaches us all others, and in virtue of which alone they are doctrines; the doctrine

which is to the believer’s soul what the air is to his lungs – necessary for birth in the Christian

life – necessary for living in it – necessary for advancing in it to maturity, and persevering in


Such, then, has been the twofold view under which this work has been composed.

Every part of it, I trust, will bear testimony to my serious desire to make it useful to Christians

of all classes.

With this object I have thrown off the forms of the school. Without entirely relinquishing, I

have abstained from multiplying, quotations in the ancient tongues. In pressing the wonderful

unanimity of Christian antiquity on this question, I have confined myself to general facts. In

fine, when I have had to treat the various questions that bear upon this subject, and which

must be introduced in order to complete the doctrine which it involves, I have thrown them all

into a separate chapter. And even there, against the advice of some friends, I have employed a

method considered by them out of harmony with the general tone of the book, but which to

me has seemed fitted to enable the


reader to take a clearer and more rapid view of the subject.

It is, then, under this simple and practical form that, in presenting this work to the Church of

God, I rejoice that I can recommend it to the blessing of Him who preached in the streets, and

who, to John the Baptist, pointed to this as the peculiar character of his mission: “To the poor

the gospel is preached.”

Well will it be if these pages confirm in the simplicity and the blissfulness of their faith those

Christians who, without learning, have already believed, through the Scriptures, in the full

inspiration of the Scriptures! Well will it be if some weary and heavy-laden souls are brought

to listen more closely to that God who speaks to them in every line of his holy book! Well

will it be if, through any thing said by us, some travellers Zion-ward (like Jacob on his

pilgrimage at the stone of Bethel), after having reposed their wearied being with too much

indifference on this book of God, should come to behold at last that mysterious ladder which

rises from thence to heaven, and by which alone the messages of grace can come down to

their souls, and their prayers mount up to God! Would that I could induce them, in their turn,

to pour the sacred unction of their gratitude and their joy, and that they also could exclaim:

Surely the Lord is in this place! this is the house of God, and the gate of heaven!”

For myself, I fear not to say, that in devoting myself to the labour this work has cost me, I

have often had, to thank God for having called me to it; for while engaged in it, I have more

than once beheld the divine majesty fill with its brightness the whole temple of the


Scriptures. Here have I seen all the tissues, coarse in appearance, that form the vesture of the

Son of man, become white, as no fuller on earth could whiten them; here have I often seen the

Book illuminated with the glory of God, and all its words seem radiant; in a word, I have felt

what one ever experiences when maintaining a holy and true cause, namely, that it gains in

truth and in majesty the more we contemplate it.

O my God, give me to love this Word of thine, and to possess it, as much as thou has taught

me to admire it!

All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man is as the flower of the grass: the grass

withereth, the flower thereof fadeth, but the word of God abideth for ever; and it is this word

which, by the gospel, has bean preached unto us.”

Converted to pdf format by Robert I Bradshaw, August 2004.






Our object in this book is, with God’s help, and on the sole authority of his Word, to set forth,

establish, and defend, the Christian doctrine of Divine Inspiration.



This term is used for the mysterious power which the Divine Spirit put forth on the authors of

the scriptures of the Old and New Testament, in order to their composing these as they have

been received by the Church of God at their hands. “All Scripture,” says an apostle, “is



This Greek expression, at the time when St Paul employed it, was new perhaps even among

the Greeks; yet though the term was not used among the idolatrous Greeks, such was not the

case among the Hellenistic Jews. The historian Josephus,2 a contemporary of St Paul’s,

employs another closely resembling it in his first book against Apion, when, in speaking of all

the prophets who composed, says he, the twenty-two sacred books of the Old Testament,3 he

adds, that they wrote according to the pneustia (or the inspiration) that comes from God.4 And

the Jewish philosopher Philo,5 himself a contemporary of Josephus, in the account he has left

us of his embassy to the emperor Caius, making use, in his turn, of an expression closely

resembling that of St Paul, calls the Scriptures “theochrest oracles;”6 that is to say, oracles

given under the agency and dictation of God.

Theopneustia is not a system, it is a fact; and this fact, like every thing else that has taken

place in the history of redemption, is one of the doctrines of our faith.

1 2 Tim. iii. 16. (Theopneust, less euphonious, would be more exact.)

2 P. 1036, edit. Aurel. Allob. 1611.

3 See on this number our chap. iii. sect. 2, ques. 27.

4 Kat¦ t¾n ™pipnoion t¾n apÕ Qeoà.

5 P. l022, edit. Francof.

6 QeÒcrhsta (™n crhsmù Qeoà).


Meanwhile it is of consequence for us to say, and it is of consequence that it be understood,

that this miraculous operation of the Holy Ghost had not the sacred writers themselves for its

object – for these were only his instruments, and were soon to pass away; but that its objects

were the holy books themselves, which were destined to reveal from age to age, to the

Church, the counsels of God, and which were never to pass away.

The power then put forth on those men of God, and of which they themselves were sensible

only in very


different degrees, has not been precisely defined to us. Nothing authorizes us to explain it.

Scripture has never presented either its manner or its measure as an object of study. What it

offers to our faith is solely the inspiration of what they say – the divinity of the book they have

written. In this respect it recognises no difference among them. What they say, they tell us, is

theopneustic: their book is from God. Whether they recite the mysteries of a past more ancient

than the creation, or those of a future more remote than the coming again of the Son of man,

or the eternal counsels of the Most High, or the secrets of man’s heart, or the deep things of

God – whether they describe their own emotions, or relate what they remember, or repeat

contemporary narratives, or copy over genealogies, or make extracts from uninspired

documents – their writing is inspired, their narratives are directed from above; it is always

God who speaks, who relates, who ordains or reveals by their mouth, and who, in order to

this, employs their personality in different measures: for “the Spirit of God has been upon

them,” it is written, “and his word has been upon their tongue.” And though it be always the

word of man, since they are always men who utter it, it is always, too, the word of God,

seeing that it is God who superintends, employs, and guides them. They give their narratives,

their doctrines, or their commandments, “not with the words of man’s wisdom, but with the

words taught by the Holy Ghost;” and thus it is that God himself has not only put his seal to

all these facts, and constituted himself the author of all these commands, and the revealer of

all these truths, but that, further, he has caused them to be given to his Church in the order,

and in the measure, and in the terms which he has deemed most suitable to his heavenly


Were we asked, then, how this work of divine inspiration has been accomplished in the men

of God, we should reply, that we do not know; that it does


not behove us to know; and that it is in the same ignorance, and with a faith quite of the same

kind, that we receive the doctrine of the new birth and sanctification of a soul by the Holy

Ghost. We believe that the Spirit enlightens that soul, cleanses it, raises it, comforts it, softens

it. We perceive all these effects; we admire and we adore the cause; but we have found it our

duty to be content never to know the means by which this is done. Be it the same, then, with

regard to divine inspiration.

And were we, further, called to say at least what the men of God experienced in their bodily

organs, in their will, or in their understandings, while engaged in tracing the pages of the

sacred book, we should reply, that the powers of inspiration, were not felt by all to the same

degree, and that their experiences were not at all uniform; but we might add, that the

knowledge of such a fact bears very little on the interests of our faith, seeing that, as respects

that faith, we have to do with the book, and not with the man. It is the book that is inspired,

and altogether inspired: to be assured of this ought to satisfy us.


Three descriptions of men, in these late times, without disavowing the divinity of Christianity,

and without venturing to decline the authority of the Scriptures, have thought themselves

authorized to reject this doctrine.

Some of these have disowned the very existence of. this action of the Holy Ghost; others have

denied its universality; others, again, its plenitude.

The first, like Dr Schleiermacher,7 Dr De Wette, and many other German divines, reject all

miraculous inspiration, and are unwilling to attribute to the sacred writers any more than

Cicero accorded to the poets –


affiatum spiritûs divini – “a divine action of nature, an interior power resembling the other

vital forces of nature.”8

The second, like Dr Michaelis,9 and like Theodore of Mopsuestia,10 while admitting the

existence of a divine inspiration, would confine it to a part only of the sacred books: to the

first and fourth of the four evangelists, for example; to a part of the epistles, to a part of

Moses, a part of Isaiah, a part of Daniel. These portions of the Scriptures, say they, are from

God, the others are from man.

The third class, in fine, like M. Twesten in Germany, and like many divines in England,11

extend, it is true, the notion of a divine inspiration to all parts of the Bible, but not to all

equally (nicht gleichmaessig). Inspiration, as they understand it, might be universal indeed,

but unequal; often imperfect, accompanied with, innocent errors; and carried to very different

degrees, according to the nature of different passages: of which degrees they constitute

themselves, more or less, the judges.

Many of these, particularly in England, have gone so far as to distinguish four degrees of

divine inspiration: the inspiration of superintendence, they have said, in virtue of which the

sacred writers have been constantly preserved from serious error in all that relates to faith and

life; the inspiration of elevation, by which the Holy Ghost, further, by carrying up the

thoughts of the men of God into the purest regions of truth, must have indirectly stamped the

same characters of holiness and grandeur on their words; the inspiration of direction, under

the more powerful action of which the sacred writers were under God’s guidance in regard to

what they said and abstained from saying; finally,


7 Schleiermacher, der Christliche Glaube, band i. s. 115.

8 De Wette, Lehrbuch Anmerk. Twesten, Vorlesungen über die Dogmatik, tome i. p. 424, &c.

9 Michaelis, Introd. to the New Testament.

10 See our chap. v. sect. 2, quest. 44.

11 Drs Pye Smith, Dick, Wilson.

the inspiration of suggestion. Here, they say all the thoughts, and even the words, have been

given by God by means of a still more energetic and direct operation of his Spirit.

The Theopneustia,” says M. Twesten, “extends unquestionably even to words, but only when

the choice or the employment of them is connected with the religious life of the soul; for one

ought, in this respect,” he adds, “to distinguish between the Old and New Testament, between

the Law and the Gospel, between history and prophecy, between narratives and do between

the apostles and their apostolical assistants.”

To our mind these are all fantastic distinctions; the Bible has not authorized them; the Church

of the first eight centuries of the Christian era knew nothing of them; and we believe them to

be erroneous in themselves, and deplorable in their results.

Our design then, in this book, in opposition to these three systems, is to prove the existence,

the universality, and the plenitude of the divine inspiration of the Bible.

First of all, it concerns us to know if there has been a divine and miraculous inspiration for the

Scriptures. We say that there has. Next, we have to know if the parts of Scripture that are

divinely inspired are equally and entirely so; or, in other terms, if God has provided, in a

certain though mysterious manner, that the very words of his holy book should always be

what they ought to be, and that it should contain no error. This, too, we affirm to be the case.

Finally, we have to know whether what is thus inspired by God in the Scriptures, be a part of

the Scriptures, or the whole of the Scriptures. We say that it is the whole Scriptures:- the

historical books as well as the prophecies; the Gospels as well as the Song of Solomon; the

Mark and Luke, as well as those of John and Matthew; the history of the shipwreck of St Paul

in the waters of the Adriatic, as well as that of the shipwreck of the old world in the waters of

the flood; the scenes of


Mamre beneath the tents of Abraham, as well as those of the day of Christ in the eternal

tabernacles; the prophetic prayers in which the Messiah, a thousand years before his first

advent, cries in the Psalms, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? – they have

pierced my hands and my feet – they have cast lots upon my vesture – they look and stare at

me” – as well as the narratives of them by St John, St Mark, St Luke, or St Matthew.

In other words, it has been our object to establish by the Word of God that the Scripture is

from God, that the Scripture is throughout from God, and that the Scripture throughout is

entirely from God.

Meanwhile, however, we must make ourselves clearly understood. In maintaining that all

Scripture is from God, we are very far from thinking that man goes for nothing in it. We shall

return in a subsequent section to this opinion; but we have felt it necessary to state it here.

There, all the words are man’s; as there, too, all the words are God’s. In a certain sense, the.

Epistle to the Romans is altogether a letter of Paul’s; and in a still higher sense, the Epistle to

the Romans is altogether a letter of God’s.

Pascal might have dictated one of his Provincial Letters to some Clermont artisan, and

another to the Abbess of Port-Royal. Could the former have been on that account less

Pascailan than all the rest? Undoubtedly not. The great Newton, when he wished to hand over

to the world his marvellous discoveries, might have employed some Cambridge youth to write

out the fortieth, and some college servant the forty-first proposition of his immortal work, the

Principia, while he might have dictated the remaining pages to Barrow and Halley. Should we

any the less possess the discoveries of his genius, and the mathematical reasonings which lead

us to refer to one and the same law all the movements in the universe? Would the whole work

be any the less his? No, undoubtedly. Perhaps, however, some one at his leisure might have

further taken


some interest in knowing what were the emotions of those two great men, or the simple

thoughts of that boy, of the honest musings of that domestic, at the time that their four pens,

all alike docile, traced the Latin sentences that were dictated to them. You may have been told

that the two latter, as they plied the quill, allowed their thoughts to revert indifferently to past

scenes in the gardens of the city, or in the courts of Trinity College; while the two professors,

following with the most intense interest every thought of their friend, and participating in his

sublime career, like eaglets on their mother’s back, sprang with him into the loftiest elevations

of science, borne up by his mighty wings, soaring with delight into the new and boundless

regions which he had opened to them. Nevertheless, you may have been told, among the lines

thus dictated, there may have been some which neither the boy nor even the professors were

capable of understanding. These details are of little consequence, you would have replied; I

will not waste any time upon them; I will study the book. Its preface, its title, its first line, and

its last line, all its theorems, easy or difficult, understood or not understood, are from the same

author, and that is enough. Whoever the writers may have been, and however different the

respective elevation of their thoughts, their hand, faithful to its task, and superintended while

engaged in it, has equally traced their master’s thoughts on the same roll of paper; and there I

can always study, with equal confidence, in the very words of his genius, the mathematical

principles of Newton’s philosophy.

Such is the fact of the divine inspiration of the Scriptures (nearly to this extent, that in causing

his books to be written by inspired men, the Holy Ghost has almost always, more or less,

employed the instrumentality of their understanding, their will, their memory, and all the

powers of their personality, as we shall erelong have occasion to repeat). And it is thus that

God, who desired to make known to his elect, in a book that was to


last for ever, the spiritual principles of divine philosophy, has caused its pages to be written,

in the course of a period of sixteen hundred years, by priests, by kings, by warriors, by

shepherds, by publicans, by fishermen, by scribes, by tentmakers, associating their affections

and their faculties therewith, more or less, according as he deemed fit. Such, then, is God’s

book. Its first line, its last line, all its teachings, understood or not understood, are by the same

author; and that ought to suffice for us. Whoever may have been the writers – whatever their

circumstances, their impressions, their comprehension of the book, and the measure of their

individuality in Ibis powerful and mysterious operation – they have all written faithfully and

under superintendence in the same roll, under the guidance of one and the same Master, for

whom a thousand years are as one day; and the result has been the Bible. Therefore I will not

lose time in idle questions; I will study the book. It is the word of Moses, the word of Amos,

the word of John, the word of Paul; but still the thoughts expressed are God’s thoughts, and

the words are God’s words. “Thou, Lord, hast spoken by the mouth of thy servant David.”

The Spirit of the Lord spake by me,” said he, “and his word was in my tongue.”12

12 Acts iv. 25; 2 Sam. xxiii. 1, 2. See our chap. ii. sect. 2.

It would then, in our view, be holding very erroneous language to say – certain passages in the

Bible are man’s, and certain passages in the Bible are God’s. No; every verse without

exception is man’s; and every verse without exception is God’s, whether we find him speaking

there directly in his own name, or whether he employs the entire personality of the sacred

writer. And as St Bernard has said of the living works of the regenerated man, “that our will

does nothing there without grace, but that grace does nothing there without our will;” so ought

we to say, that in the Scriptures God has done nothing but by man, and man has done nothing

but by God.


In fact, it is with divine inspiration as with efficacious grace. In the operations of the Holy

Ghost while causing the sacred books to be written, and in those of the same divine agent

while converting a soul, and causing it to advance in the ways of sanctification, man is in

different respects entirely active and entirely passive. God does all there; man does nil there;

and it may be said for both of these works what St Paul said of one of them to the Philippians,

It is God that worketh in you to will and to do.”13 Thus you will see that in the Scriptures the

same operations are attributed alternately to God and to man. God converts, and it is man that

converts himself. God circumcises the heart, God gives a new heart; and it is man that should

circumcise his heart, and make himself a new heart. “Not only because, in order to obtain

such or such an effect, we ought to employ the means to obtain such or such an effect,” says

the famous President Edwards in his admirable remarks against the errors of the Arminians,

but because this effect itself is our act, as it is our duty; God producing all, and we acting


Such, then, is the Word of God. It is God speaking in man, God speaking by man, God

speaking as man, God speaking for man! This is what we have asserted, and must now

proceed to prove. Possibly, however, it will be as well that we should first give a more precise

definition of this doctrine.


In point of theory, it were allowable to say that a religion might be divine without the books

that teach it being miraculously inspired. It were possible, for example, to figure to ourselves

a Christianity without divine inspiration; and one might conceive, perhaps, that all the

miracles of our faith have been performed


with the single exception of this one. On this supposition (which nothing authorizes), the

everlasting Father would have given his Son to the world; the creating Word, made flesh,

would have submitted for us to the death of the cross, and caused to descend from heaven

upon his apostles the spirit of understanding and the power of working miracles; but, all these

mysteries of redemption once consummated, he might have relinquished to these men of God

the care of writing, according to their own wisdom, our sacred books; and their writings

would thus have presented no more than the natural language of their supernatural

illuminations, of their convictions, and their charity. Such an order of things, no doubt, is but

an idle supposition, directly opposed to the testimony which the scriptures have rendered to

13 Phil. ii. 13.

14 Edwards’ Remarks, &c., p. 251.

what they are. But without saving here that it resolves nothing, and that, miracle for miracle,

that of illumination is not less inexplicable than that of inspiration; without saying, farther,

that the ‘Word of God possesses a divine power which belongs to it alone – such an order of

things, granting it were a reality, would have exposed us to innumerable errors, and plunged

us into the most dismal uncertainty. Upon what testimony could, in that case, our faith have

rested? On something said by men? But faith is founded only on the Word of God. – (Rom. x.

17.) In such a system, then, you would only have had a Christianity without Christians.

Deprived of any security against the imprudence of the writers, you could not even have given

their books the authority at present possessed in the Church by those of Augustine, Bernard,

Luther, and Calvin, or of so many other men whom the Holy Ghost enlightened with a

knowledge of the truth. We are, in fact, sufficiently aware how many imprudent expressions

and erroneous propositions have found their way into the midst even of the finest pages of

those admirable doctors. And yet the apostles (on the supposition we have made) would have

been far more subject to


serious mistakes even than they were, since they would not have had, like the doctors of the

Church, a Word of God by which to direct their own; and since they themselves would have

had to compose the whole language of religious science. (A science is more than half formed

when its language is formed.) What deplorable and inevitable errors must have necessarily

accompanied, in their case, this revelation without divine inspiration! and in what deplorable

doubts would their hearers have been left! – errors in the selection of facts, errors in the

appreciation of them, errors in the statement of them, errors in the mode of conceiving the

relations they bear to doctrines, errors in the expression of those very doctrines, errors of

omission, errors of language, errors of exaggeration, errors in adopting certain national

prejudices, or prejudices arising from a man’s rank or party, errors in the foresight of the

future, and in judgments pronounced upon the past.

But, thanks be to God, it is not thus with our sacred books. They contain no error; they are

written throughout by inspiration of God. “Holy men spake as they were moved by the Holy

Ghost;” they did so, “not with words that man’s wisdom teacheth, but with words which the

Spirit of God taught;” in such sort, that not one of these words should be neglected, and that

we are called to respect them and to study them, even to their smallest iota and their slightest

jot: for “this Scripture is pure, like silver refined seven times: it is perfect.”

These assertions, which are themselves testimonies of the Word of God, have already

comprised our last definition of Divine Inspiration, and lead us to characterise it, finally, as

that inexplicable power which the Divine Spirit put forth of old on the authors of holy

Scripture, in order to their guidance even in the employment of the words they used, and to

preserve them alike from all error and from all omission.”

This new definition, which might appear complex, is not so really; for the two traits of which

it is com-


posed are equivalent, and to admit the one is to accept the other.

We propose them disjunctively to the assent of our readers, and we offer them the alternative

of accepting either. One has more precision, the other more simplicity, in so far as it presents

the doctrine under a form more disengaged from all questions relative to the mode of

inspiration, and to the secret experiences of the sacred writers. Let either be fully accepted,

and then there will have been rendered to the Scriptures the honour and the credit to which

they are entitled.

What we propose, therefore, is to establish the doctrine of Divine inspiration under one or

other of these two forms:-

The Scriptures are given and warranted by God, even in their language;” and, “The

Scriptures contain no error – (whereby we understand that they say all that they ought to say,

and that they do not say what they ought not to say).”

Now. how shall a man establish this doctrine? By the Scriptures, and only by the Scriptures.

Once that we have recognised these as true, we must go to them to be taught what they are;

and once that they have told us that they are inspired of God, it belongs to them farther to tell

us how they are so, and how far they are so.

To attempt the proof of their inspiration a priori – by arguing from that miracle being

necessary for the security of our faith – would be to adopt a feeble mode of reasoning, and

almost to imitate, in one sense, the presumption which, in another sense, imagines a priori

four degrees of divine inspiration. Further; to think of establishing the entire inspiration of the

Scriptures on the consideration of their beauty, their constant wisdom, their prophetic

foresight, and all the characters of divinity which occur in them, would be to build on

arguments no doubt just, but contestable, or at least contested. It is solely on the declarations

of holy Scripture, therefore, that we have to take our stand.


We have no authority but that for the doctrines of our faith; and divine inspiration is just one

of those doctrines.

Here, however, let us anticipate a misapprehension. It may happen that some reader, still but

feebly established in his Christianity, mistaking our object, and thinking to glance through our

book in search of arguments which may convince him, might find himself disappointed, and

might conceive himself authorized to charge our line of argument with some vicious

reasoning, as if we wanted to prove in it the inspiration of the Scriptures by the inspiration of

the Scriptures. It is of consequence that we should put him right. We have not written these

pages for the disciples of Porphyry, or of Voltaire, or of Rousseau; and it has not been our

object to prove that the Scriptures are worthy of belief. Others have done this, and it is not our

task. We address ourselves to men who respect the Scriptures, and who admit their veracity.

To these we attest, that, being true, they say that they are inspired; and that, being inspired,

they declare that they are so throughout: whence we conclude that they necessarily must be


Certainly, of all truths, this doctrine is one of the simplest and the clearest to minds meekly

and rationally submissive to the testimony of the Scriptures. No doubt modern divines may be

heard to represent it as full of uncertainties and difficulties; but they who have desired to

study it only by the light of God’s Word, have been unable to perceive those difficulties, or to

find those uncertainties. Nothing, on the contrary, is more clearly or oftener taught in the

Scriptures than the Inspiration of the Scriptures. Accordingly, the ancients knew nothing on

this subject of the embarrassments and the doubts of the doctors of the present day; for them

the Bible was from God, or it was not from God. On this point antiquity presents an admirable

unanimity.15 But since the moderns, in imitation of


the Talmudistic Jews and Rabbins of the middle ages, have imagined learned distinctions

between four or five different degrees of inspiration, who can wonder that for them

difficulties and uncertainties have been multiplied? Contesting what the Scriptures teach, and

explaining what the Scriptures do not teach, it is easy to see how they come to be

embarrassed; but for this they have only their own rashness to blame.

So very clear, indeed, is this testimony which the Scriptures render to their own inspiration,

that one may well feel amazed that, among Christians, there should be any diversities of

opinion on so well-defined a subject. But the evil is too easily explained by the power of

preconceived opinions. The mind once wholly preoccupied by objections of its own raising,

sacred passages are perverted from their natural meaning in proportion as those objections

present themselves; and, by a secret effort of thought, people try to reconcile these with the

difficulties that embarrass them. The plenary inspiration of the Scriptures is, in spite of the

Scriptures, denied (as the Sadducees denied the resurrection), because the miracle is thought

inexplicable; but we must recollect the answer made by Jesus Christ, “Do ye not therefore err,

because ye know not THE SCRIPTURES, nor THE POWER OF GOD?” – (Mark xii. 24, 27.)

It is, therefore, because of this too common disposition of the human mind, that we have

thought it best not to present the reader with our scriptural proofs until after having completed

our definition of divine inspiration, by an attentive examination of the part to be assigned in it

to the individuality of the sacred writers. This will be the subject of the following section. No

less do we desire being able to present the reader with a more didactic expression of the

doctrine that occupies us, and of some of the questions connected with it: but we have thought

that a more fitting place might be found for


this development elsewhere, partly because it will be more favourably received after our

scriptural proofs shall have been considered; partly because we have no desire, by employing

the forms of the school, to repel, at the very threshold, unlearned readers who may have taken

up these pages with the idea of finding something in them for the edification of their faith.


The individuality of the sacred writers, so profoundly stamped on the books they have

respectively written, seems to many impossible to be reconciled with a plenary inspiration.

No one, say they, can read the Scriptures without being struck with the differences of

language, conception, and style, discernible in their authors; so that even were the titles of the

several books to give us no intimation that we were passing from one author to another, still

we should almost instantly discover, from the change of their character, that we had no longer

to do with the same writer, but that a new personage had taken the pen. This diversity reveals

15 See on this subject the learned dissertation in which Dr Rudelbach establishes the sound doctrines on

inspiration historically, as have sought to establish them by Scripture. (Zeitschrift für die gesamute Lutherische

Theologie und Kirche, von Rudelbach und Guericke, 1840.)

itself even on comparing one prophet with another prophet, and one apostle with another

apostle. Who could read the writings of Isaiah and Ezekiel, of Amos and Hosea, of Zephaniah

and Habakkuk, of Jeremiah and Daniel, and proceed to study those of Paul and Peter, or of

John, without observing, with respect to each of them, how much his views of the truth, his

reasonings, and his language, have been influenced by his habits, his condition in life, his

genius, his education, his recollections – all the circumstances, in short, that have acted upon

his outer and inner man? They tell us what they saw, and just as they saw it. Their memory is

put into requisition, their imagination is called into exercise, their affections are drawn out –

their whole being is at work, and their


moral physiognomy is clearly delineated. We are sensible that the composition of each has

greatly depended, both as to its essence and its form, on its author’s circumstances and

peculiar turn of mind. Could the son of Zebedee have composed the Epistle to the Romans, as

we have received it from the apostle Paul? Who would think of attributing to him the Epistle

to the Hebrews? And although the Epistles general of Peter were without their title, who

would ever think of ascribing them to John? It is thus, likewise, with the evangelists. All four

are very distinctly recognisable, although they all speak of the same Master, profess the same

doctrines, and relate the same acts. Such, we are told, is the fact, and the following

consequences are boldly deduced from it

1. Were it God who speaks alone and constantly in the Scriptures, we should see, in their

various parts, an uniformity which is not to be found there.

2. It must be admitted that two different impulses have acted at the same time on the same

authors, while they were composing the Scriptures; the natural impulses of their individuality,

and the miraculous impulses of inspiration.

3. There must have resulted from the conflict, the concurrence, or the balanced action of these

two forces, – an inspiration variable, gradual, sometimes entire, sometimes imperfect, and oft

times even reduced to the feeble measure of a mere superintendence.

4. The variable power of the Divine Spirit, in this combined action, must have been in the

ratio of the importance and the difficulty of the matters treated of by the sacred author. He

might even have abstained from any intervention when the judgment and the recollections of

the writer could suffice, inasmuch as God never performs useless miracles.

It belongs not to man to say where nature ends, and where inspiration begins,” says Bishop



The exaggeration we find in the notions which some have entertained of inspiration,” says

Dr Twesten, “does not consist in their having extended them to all, but in their having

extended them to all equally. If inspiration does not exclude the personal action of the sacred

authors, no more does it destroy all influence proceeding from human imperfection. But we

may suppose this influence to be more and more feeble in the writers, in proportion as the

matter treated of is more intimately related to Christ.”17

16 Lectures on the Evidences of Christianity, p. 506.

17 Vorles. ueber die Dogmatik, tome i.

Dr Dick recognises three degrees of inspiration in the holy Scriptures:- “1. There are many

things in the Scriptures which the writers might have known, and probably did know, by

ordinary means . . . . . . . In these cases, no supernatural influence was necessary to enlighten

and invigorate their minds; it was only necessary that they should be infallibly preserved from

error. 2. There are other passages of Scripture, in composing which the minds of the writers

must have been supernaturally endowed with more than ordinary vigour . . . . . 3. It is

manifest, with respect to many passages of Scripture, that the subjects of which they treat

must have been directly revealed to the writers.”18

5. Hence it follows, that if this plenary inspiration was sometimes necessary, still, with respect

to matters at once easy and of no religious importance, there might be found in the Scriptures

some harmless errors, and some of those stains ever left by the hand of man on all he touches.

While the energies of the divine mind, by an action always powerful, and often victorious,

enlarged the comprehension of the men of God, purified their affections, and led them to seek

out, from among all their recollections of the past, those which might be most usefully

transmitted to the Church of God, the natural energies of their own minds, left to themselves

in so far as regarded all details of no consequence either


to faith or virtue, may have led to the occurrence in the Scriptures of some mixture of

inaccuracy and imperfection. “We must not therefore,” says M. Twesten, “attribute an

unlimited infallibility to the Scripture, as if there were no error there. No doubt God is truth,

and in matters of importance all that is from him is truth; but if all be not of equal importance,

all does not then proceed equally from him; and if inspiration does not exclude the personal

action of the sacred authors, no more does it destroy all influence of human imperfection.”19

All these authors include in their assumptions and conclusions the notion, that there are some

passages in the Scriptures quite devoid of importance, and that there are others alloyed with

error. We shall erelong repel with all our might both these imputations; but this is not yet the

place for it. The only question we have to do with here, is that respecting the living and

personal form under which the Scriptures of God have been given to us, and its alleged

incompatibility with the fact of a plenary inspiration. To this we proceed to reply.

1. We begin by declaring how far we are from contesting the fact alleged, while, however, we

reject the false consequences that are deduced from it. So far are we from not acknowledging

this human individuality stamped throughout on our sacred books, that, on the contrary, it is

with profound gratitude – with an ever-growing admiration – that we contemplate this living,

actual, dramatic, humanitary character diffused with so powerful and charming an effect

through all parts of the book of God. Yes (we cordially unite with the objectors in saying it),

here is the phraseology, the tone, the accent of a Moses; there, of a John: here, of an Isaiah;

there, of an Amos: here, of a Daniel or of a Peter; there, of a Nehemiah, there again of a Paul.

We recognise them, listen to them, see them. Here, one may say, there is no room for mistake.

We admit the fact; we delight in studying it;


we profoundly admire it; and we see in it, as we shall have occasion more than once to repeat,

one additional proof of the divine wisdom which has dictated the Scriptures.

18 See an Essay on the Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, by the late John Dick, D.D. Fourth edition. Glasgow,

1840. Chapter 1.

19 Ut supra.

2. Of what consequence to the fact of the divine inspiration is the absence or the concurrence

of the sacred writers’ affections? Cannot God equally employ them or dispense with them? He

who can make a statue speak, can he not, as he pleases, make a child of man speak? He who

rebuked by means of a dumb animal the madness of one prophet, can he not put into another

prophet the sentiments or the words which suit best the plan of his revelations? He that caused

to come forth from the wall a hand, without any mind of its own to direct it, that it might write

for him those terrible words, “Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin,” could, he not equally guide the

intelligent and pious pen of his apostle, in order to its tracing for him such words as these: “I

say the truth in Christ, and my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have

great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart, for my brethren, my kinsmen according to

the flesh, and who are Israelites?” Know you how God acts, and how he abstains from

acting? Will you teach us the mechanism of inspiration? Will you say what is the difference

between its working where individuality is discoverable, and its working where individuality

is not discoverable? Will you explain to us why the concurrence of the thoughts, the

recollections, and the emotions of the sacred writers, should diminish aught of their

theopneustia? and will you tell us whether this very concurrence may not form part of it?

There is a gulf interposed betwixt the fact of this individuality and the consequence you

deduce from it; and your understanding is no more competent to descend into that gulf to

contest the reality of theopneustia than ours is to explain it. Was there not a great amount of

individuality in the language of Caiaphas, when that wicked man, full of the bitterest spite,

abandoning himself to


the counsels of his own evil heart, and little dreaming that he was giving utterance to the

words of God, cried out in the Jewish council, “Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is

expedient for us that one man should die for the people?” Certainly there was in these words,

we should say, abundance of individuality; and yet we find it written that Caiaphas spake this

not of himself (¢f’ ˜autoà), but that, being high priest for that year, “he prophesied,”

unconsciously, that Jesus should die, “in order that he might gather into one the children of

God that were scattered abroad.” – (John xi. 49-52.)

Why, then, should not the same Spirit, in order to the utterance of the words of God, employ

the pious affections of the saints, as well as the wicked and hypocritical thoughts of his most

detestable adversaries?

3. When a man tells us that if, in such or such a passage, the style be that of Moses or of Luke,

of Ezekiel or of John, then it cannot be that of God – it were well that he would let us know

what is God’s style. One would call our attention, forsooth, to the accent of the Holy Ghost –

would show us how to recognise him by the peculiar cast of his phraseology, by the tone of

his voice; and would tell us wherein, in the language of the Hebrews or in that of the Greeks,

his supreme individuality reveals itself!

4. It should not be forgotten, that the sovereign action of God, in the different fields in which

it is displayed, never excludes the employment of second causes. On the contrary, it is in the

concatenation of their mutual bearings that he loves to make his mighty wisdom shine forth.

In the field of creation he gives us plants by the combined employment of all the elements –

heat, moisture, electricity, the atmosphere, light, the mechanical attraction of the capillary

vessels, and the manifold operations of the organs of vegetation. In the field of providence, he

accomplishes the development of his vastest plans by means of the unexpected concurrence of

a thousand millions of human


wills, alternately intelligent and yielding, or ignorant and rebellious. “Herod and Pilate, with

the Gentiles and the people of Israel” (influenced by so many diverse passions), “were

gathered together,” he tells us, only “to do whatsoever his hand and counsel had determined

before to be done.” Thus, too, in the field of prophecy does he bring his predictions to their

accomplishment. He prepares, for example, long beforehand, a warlike prince in the

mountains of Persia, and another in those of Media; the former of these he had indicated by

name two hundred years before; he unites them at the point named with ten other nations

against the empire of the Chaldeans; he enables them to surmount a thousand obstacles; and

makes them at last enter the great Babylon, at the moment when the seventy years, so long

marked out for the captivity of the Jewish people, had come to a close. In the field of his

miracles, even, he is pleased still to make use of second causes. There he had only to say, “Let

the thing be, and it would have its being;” but he desired, by employing inferior agents, even

in that case to let us know that it is he that gives power to the feeblest of them. To divide the

Red Sea, he not only causes the rod of Moses to be stretched out over the deep – he sends

from the east a mighty wind, which blows all night, and makes the waters go back. To cure

the man that was born blind, he makes clay and anoints his eyelids. In the field of redemption,

instead of converting a soul by an immediate act of his will, he presents motives to it, he

makes it read the Gospel, he sends preachers to it; and thus it is that, while it is he who “gives

us to will and to do according to his good pleasure,” he “begets us by his own will, by the

word of truth.” Well, then, why should it not be thus in the field of inspiration (theopneustia)?

Wherefore, when he sends forth his Word, should he not cause it to enter the understanding,

the heart, and the life of his servants, as he puts it upon their lips? Wherefore should he not

associated their personality with what they reveal to us? Where –


fore should not their sentiments, their history, their experiences, form part of their inspiration


5. What may, moreover, clearly expose the error involved in this alleged difficulty, is the

extreme inconsistency shown in the use that is made of it? In fact, in order to impugn the

plenary inspiration of certain portions of the Scriptures, the individuality with which they are

marked is insisted on; and yet it is admitted that other parts of the sacred books, in which this

character is equally manifest, must have been given directly by God, even to the most minute

details. Isaiah, Daniel, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the author of the Apocalypse, have each

stamped upon their prophecies their peculiar style, features, manner – in a word, their mark;

just as Luke. Mark, John, Paul, and Peter have been able to do in their narratives, or in their

letters. There is no validity, then, in the objection. If it proved any thing, it would prove too


6. What still farther strikes us in this objection and in the intermittent system of inspiration

with which it is associated, is its triple character of complication, rashness, and childishness.

Complication; for it is assumed that the divine action, in dictating the Scriptures, intermitted

or fell off as often as the passage falls in the scale of difficulty, or in the scale of importance;

and thus God is made to retire or advance successively in the mind of the sacred writer during

the course of one and the same chapter, or one and the same passage! Rashness; for the

majesty of the Scriptures not being recognised, it is boldly assumed that they are of no

importance, and require no wisdom beyond that of man, except in some of their parts. We add

childishness; one is afraid. it is alleged, to attribute to God useless miracles, – as if the Holy

Ghost, after having, as is admitted, dictated, word for word, one part of the Scriptures, must

find less trouble in doing nothing more elsewhere than aiding the sacred author by

enlightening him, or leaving him to write by himself under mere superintendence!


7. But this is by no means all. What most of all makes us protest against a theory according to

which the Scriptures are classed into the inspired, the half-inspired, and the uninspired (as if

this sorry doctrine behoved to flow from the individuality stamped upon them), is its direct

opposition to the Scriptures. One part of the Bible is from man (people venture to say), and

the other part is from God. And yet, mark what its own language on the subject is. It protests

that ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” It points to no exception. What right, then,

can we have to make any, when itself admits none? Just because people tell us, if there be in

the Scriptures a certain number of passages which could not have been written except under

plenary inspiration, there are others for which it would have been enough for the author to

have received some eminent gifts, and others still which might have been composed even by a

very ordinary person! Be it so; but how does this bear upon the question? When you have

been told who the author of a book is, you know that all that is in that book is from him – the

easy and the difficult, the important and the unimportant. If, then, the whole Bible “is given

by inspiration of God,” of what consequence is it to the question that there are passages, in

your eyes, more important or more difficult than others? The least among the companions of

Jesus might no doubt have given us that 5th verse of the 11th chapter of St John, “Now Jesus

loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus;” as the most petty schoolmaster also might have

composed that first line of Athalie, “Into his temple, lo! I come, Jehovah to adore.” But were

we told that the great Itacine employed some village schoolmaster to write out his drama, at

his dictation, should we not continue, nevertheless, still to attribute to him all its parts – its

first line, the notation of the scenes, the names of the dramatis personæ, the indications of

their exits and their entrances, as well as the most sublime strophes of his choruses? if, then,

God himself declares to us


his having dictated the whole Scriptures, who shall dare to say that that 5th verse of the 11th

chapter of St John is less from God than the sublime words with which the Gospel begins, and

which describe to us the eternal Word? Inspiration, no doubt, may be perceptible in certain

passages more clearly than in others; but it is not, on that account, less real in the one case

than in the other.

In a word, were there some parts of the Bible without inspiration, no longer could it be truly

said that the whole Bible is divinely inspired. No longer would it be throughout the Word of

God, It would have deceived us.

8. Here it is of special importance to remark, that this fatal system of a gradual, imperfect, and

intermittent inspiration, has its origin in that misapprehension to which we have more than

once had occasion to advert. It is because people have almost always wished to view

inspiration in the man, while it ought to have been seen only in the book. It is “ALL

SCRIPTURE,” it is all that is written, that is inspired of God. We are not told, and we are not

asked, how God did it. All that is attested to us is, that He has done it. And what we have to

believe is simply that, whatever may have been the method he took for accomplishing it.

To this deceptive point of view, which some have thought good to take in contemplating the

fact of inspiration, the three following illusions may be traced.

First; in directing their regards to inspiration in the sacred author, people have naturally been

led to figure it to themselves as an extraordinary excitation in him, of which he was

conscious, which took him out of himself; which animated him, after the manner of the

ancient Pythonesses, with an afflatu divino, a divine fire, easily discernible; in such sort, that

wherever his words are simple, calm, familiar, they have been unable to see how divine

inspiration could be attributed to him.

Next; in contemplating inspiration in persons, peo-


ple have farther been led to attribute to it different degrees of perfection, seeing they knew

that the sacred authors had themselves received very different measures of illumination and

personal holiness. But if you contemplate inspiration in the book, then you will immediately

perceive that it cannot exist there in degrees. A word is from God, or it is not from God. If it

be from God, it is not so after two different fashions. Whatever may have been the spiritual

state of the writer, if all he writes be divinely inspired, all his words are from God. And (mark

well) it is according to this principle that no Christian will hesitate, any more than Jesus

Christ has done, to rank the scriptures of Solomon with those of Moses, any more than those

of Mark or of Matthew with those of the disciple whom Jesus loved – nay, with the words of

the Son of God himself. They are all from God.

Finally; by a third illusion, from contemplating inspiration in the men who wrote the

Scriptures, not in the Scriptures which they wrote, people have been naturally led to deem it

absurd that God should reveal miraculously to any one what that person knew already. They

would, on this ground, deny the inspiration of those passages in which the sacred writers

simply tell what they had seen, or simply state opinions, such as any man of plain good sense

might express without being inspired. But it will be quite otherwise the moment inspiration is

viewed, not as in the writer, but as in that which is written. Then it will be seen that all has

been traced under God’s guidance – both the things which the writer knew already and those

of which he knew nothing. Who is not sensible, to give an examples that the case in which 1

should dictate to a student a book on geometry, altogether differs from that in which, after

having instructed him more or less perfectly in that science, I should employ him to compose

a book on it himself under my auspices? In the latter work, it is true, he would require my

intervention only in the difficult propositions; but then, who would think of


saying the book was mine? In the former case, on the contrary, all parts of the book, easy and

difficult alike, from the quadrature of the transcendental curves to the theory of the straight

line or of the triangle, would be mine. Well, then, so is it with the Bible. It is not, as some will

have it, a book which God employed men, whom he had previously enlightened, to write

under his auspices. No – it is a book which he dictated to them; it is the word of God; the

Spirit of the Lord spake by its authors, and his words were upon their tongues.

9. The style of Moses, Ezekiel, David, St Luke, and St John, may be at the same time God’s

style, is what a child might tell us.

Let us suppose that some modern French author had thought good, at the commencement of

the present century, to aim at popularity by borrowing for a time the style, we shall say, of

Chateaubriand; might it not then be said with equal truth, but in two different senses, that the

style was the author’s and yet the style too of Chateaubriand? And if, to save the French from

some terrible catastrophe by bringing them back to the Gospel, God should condescend to

employ certain prophets among them, by the mouths of whom he should proclaim his

message, would not these men have to preach in French? What, then, would be their style, and

what would you require in it, in order to its being recognised as that of God? If such were his

pleasure, one of these prophets might speak like Fénélon, another like Bonaparte; in which

case there is no doubt that it would be, in one sense, the curt, barking, jerking style of the

great captain; also, and in the same sense, the sustained and varied flow of the priest of

Cambray’s rounded eloquence; while in another, and a higher and truer sense, it would, in

both these mouths, be the style of God, the manner of God, the word of God. No doubt, on

every occasion on which he has revealed himself, God might have caused an awful voice to

resound from heaven, as of old from the top of Sinai, or on the


banks of the Jordan.20 His messengers, at least, might have been only angels of light. But even

then what languages would these angels have spoken? Evidently those of the earth! And if he

behoved on this earth to substitute for the syntax of heaven and the vocabulary of the

archangels, the words and the constructions of the Hebrews or the Greeks, why not equally

have borrowed their manners, style, and personality?

10. This there is no doubt that he did, but not so as that any thing was left to chance. “Known

unto him are all his works from the beginning of the world;”21 and just as, year after year, he

causes the tree to put forth its leaves as well for the season when they respire the atmospheric

elements, and, cooperating with the process at the roots, can safely draw nourishment from

their juices, as for that in which the caterpillars that are to spin their silk on its branches are

hatched and feed upon them; just as he prepared a gourd for the very place and the very night

on which Jonah was to come and seat himself to the cast of Nineveh, and when the next

morning dawned, a gnawing worm when the gourd was to be withered; so, too, when he

would proceed to the most important of his doings, and cause that Word to be written which is

to outlast the heavens and the earth, the Lord God could prepare long beforehand each of

those prophets, for the moment and for the testimony to which he had foreordained them from

eternity. He chose them, in succession, for their several duties, from among all men born of

women; and, with respect to them, fulfilled in its perfection that saying, “Send, O Lord, by the

hand thou shouldst send.”22

As a skilful musician, when he would execute a long score by himself, takes up by turns the

funereal flute, the shepherd’s pipe, the merry fife, or the trumpet that summons to battle; so

did Almighty God, when he would make us hear his eternal word, choose out from


of old the instruments which it seemed fit to him to inspire with the breath of his spirit. “He

chose them before the foundation of the world, and separated them from their mother’s


Has the reader ever paid a visit to the astonishing organist, who so charmingly elicits the

tourist’s tears in the Cathedral at Freiburg, as he touches one after another his wondrous keys,

and greets your ear by turns with the march of warriors on the riverside, the voice of prayer

20 Exod. xix.; John xii. 39.

21 Acts xv. 18.

22 Exod. iv. 13.

23 Gal. 1.15; Eph. i. 4.

sent up from the lake during the fury of the storm, or of thanksgiving when it is hushed to

rest? All your senses are electrified, for you seem to have seen all, and to have heard all. Well,

then, it was thus that the Lord God, mighty in harmony, applied, as it were, the finger of his

Spirit to the stops which he had chosen for the hour of his purpose, and for the unity of his

celestial hymn. He had from eternity before him all the human stops which he required; his

Creator’s eye embraces at a glance this range of keys stretching over threescore centuries; and

when he would make known to our fallen world the everlasting counsel of his redemption,

and the coming of the Son of God, he put his left hand on Enoch, the seventh man from

Adam,24 and his right on John, the humble and sublime prisoner of Patmos. The celestial

anthem, seven hundred years before the flood, began with these words, “Behold, the Lord

cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all;” but already, in the

mind of God, and in the eternal harmony of his work, the voice of John had answered to that

of Enoch, and closed the hymn, three thousand years after him, with these words, “Behold, he

cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him! Even so,

Lord Jesus, come quickly. Amen!” And during this hymn of thirty centuries, the Spirit of God

never ceased to breathe in all his messengers; the angels, an apostle tells us, desired to look

into its won-


drous depths.25 God’s elect were moved, and life eternal came down into the souls of men.

Between Enoch and St John, listen to Jeremiah, twenty-four centuries after the one, and seven

hundred years before the other, “Before I formed thee in the belly,” saith the Lord, “I knew

thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a

prophet unto the nations.”26 In vain did this alarmed man exclaim, “Ah, Lord God! behold, I

cannot speak: for I am a child.” The Lord answers him, “Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt

speak whatsoever I command thee;” and the Lord put forth his hand and touched his mouth,

Behold,” said he, “I have put my words in thy mouth.”

Between Enoch and Jeremiah, listen to Moses. He, too, struggles on Mount Horeb against the

call of the Lord, “Alas, O my Lord, I am not eloquent; send, I pray thee, by the hand of him

whom thou wilt send.” But the anger of the Lord is kindled against Moses. “Who hath made

man’s mouth?” he says to him. “Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and will

teach thee what thou shalt say.”27

Between Jeremiah and John, listen to Paul of Tarsus, “When it pleased God, who separated

me from my mother’s womb, to reveal his Son in me, he called me by his grace, that I might

preach him among the heathen.”28

You see, then, it was sometimes the artless and sublime simplicity of John; sometimes the

impassioned, elliptical, rousing, and logical energy of Paul; sometimes the fervour and

solemnity of Peter; it was Isaiah’s magnificent, and David’s lyrical poetry; it was the simple

and majestic narratives of Moses, or the sententious and royal wisdom of Solomon – yes, it

was all this; it was Peter, it was Isaiah, it was Matthew, it was John, it was Moses; yet it was


24 Jude 14.

25 1 Peter i. 12.

26 Jerem. i. 5-7.

27 Exod. iv. 10, &c. &c.

28 Gal. i. 5.

Are not all these which speak Galileans?” the people exclaimed on the day of Pentecost; yes,



are so; but the message that is on their lips comes from another country – it is from heaven.

Listen to it; for tongues of fire have descended on their heads, and it is God that speaks to you

by their mouths.

11. Finally, we would fain that people should understand that this human individuality to

which our attention is directed in the Scriptures, far from leaving any stain there, or from

being an infirmity there, stamps upon them, on the contrary, a divine beauty, and powerfully

reveals to us their inspiration.

Yes, we have said that it is God who speaks to us there, but it is also man:- it is man, but it is

also God. Admirable Word of God! it has been made man in its own way, as the eternal Word

was! Yes, God has made it also come down to us full of grace and truth, like unto our words

in all things, yet without error and sin! Admirable ‘Word, divine Word, yet withal full of

humanity, much-to-be-loved Word of my God! Yes, in order to our understanding it, it had of

necessity to be put upon mortal lips, that it might relate human things; and, in order to attract

our regard, behoved to invest itself with our modes of thinking, and with all the emotions of

our voice; for God well knew whereof we are made. But we have recognised it as the ‘Word

of the Lord, mighty, efficacious, sharper than a two-edged sword; and the simplest among us,

on hearing it, may say like Cleopas and his friend, “Did not our hearts burn within us while it

spoke to us?”

With what a mighty charm do the Scriptures, by this abundance of humanity, and by all this

personality with which their divinity is invested, remind us that the Lord of our souls, whose

touching voice they are, does himself bear a human heart on the throne of God, although

seated on the highest place, where the angels serve him and adore him for ever! It is thus,

also, that they present to us not only that double character of variety and unity which already

embellishes all the other works of God, as Creator of the heavens and the earth; but, further,

that mingling of familiarity and


authority, of sympathy and grandeur, of practical details and mysterious majesty, of humanity

and divinity, which is recognisable in all the dispensations of the same God, as Redeemer and

Shepherd of his Church.

It is thus, then, that the Father of mercies, while speaking in his prophets, behoved not only to

employ their manner as well as their voice, and their style as well as their pen; but, further,

often to put in operation their whole faculties of thought and feeling. Sometimes, in order to

show us his divine sympathy there, he has deemed it fitting to associate their own

recollections, their human convictions, their personal experiences, and their pious emotions,

with the words he dictated to them; sometimes, in order to remind us of his sovereign

intervention, he has preferred dispensing with this unessential concurrence of their

recollections, affections, and understanding.

Such did the Word of God behove to be.

Like Immanuel, full of grace and truth; at once in the bosom of God and in the heart of man;

mighty and sympathizing; heavenly and of the earth; sublime and lowly; awful and familiar;

God and man! Accordingly it bears no resemblance to the God of the Rationalists. They, after

having, like the disciples of Epicurus, banished the Divinity far from man into a third heaven,

would have had the Bible also to have kept itself there. “Philosophy employs the language of

the gods,” says the too famous Strauss of Ludwigsburg, “while religion makes use of the

language of men.” No doubt she does so; she has recourse to no other; she leaves to the

philosophers and to the gods of this world their empyrean and their language.

Studied under this aspect, considered in this character, the Word of God stands forth without

its like; it presents attractions quite unequalled; it offers to men of all times, all places, and all

conditions, beauties ever fresh; a charm that never grows old, that always satisfies, never

pails. With it, what we find with respect to human books is reversed; for it pleases and



extends and rises in your regard the more assiduously you read it. It seems as if the book, the

more it is studied and studied over again, grows and enlarges itself, and that some kind unseen

being comes daily to stitch in some fresh leaves. And thus it is that the souls, alike of the

learned and the simple, who have long nourished themselves on it, keep hanging upon it as

the people hung of old on the lips of Jesus Christ.29 They all think it incomparable; now

powerful as the sound of mighty waters; now soft and gentle, like the voice of the spouse to

her bridegroom; but always perfect, “always restoring the soul, and making wise the


To what book, in this respect, would you liken it? Go and put beside it the discourses of Plato,

or Seneca, or Aristotle, or Saint Simon, or Jean Jacques. Have you read Mahomet’s books?

Listen to him but for one hour, and your ears will tingle while beaten on by his piercing and

monotonous voice. From the first page to the last, it is still the same sound of the same

trumpet; still the same Medina horn, blown from the top of some mosque, minaret, or warcamel;

still sybilline oracles, shrill and harsh, uttered in an unvarying tone of command and

threat, whether it ordain virtue or enjoin murder; ever one and the same voice, surly and

blustering, having no bowels, no familiarity, no tears, no soul, no sympathy.

After trying other books, if you experience religious longings open the Bible; listen to it.

Sometimes you find here the songs of angels, but of angels that have come down among the

children of Adam. Here is the deep-sounding organ of the Most High, but an organ that serves

to soothe man’s heart and to rouse his conscience, alike in shepherd’s cots and in palaces; alike

in the poor man’s garrets and in the tents of the desert. The Bible, in fact, has lessons for all

conditions; it brings upon the scene both the lowly and the great; it


reveals equally to both the love of God, and unveils in both the same miseries. It addresses

itself to children; and it is often children that show us there the way to heaven and the great

things of Jehovah. It addresses itself to shepherds and herdsmen; and it is often shepherds and

herdsmen who lift up their voices there, and reveal to us the character of God. It speaks to

kings and to scribes; and it is often kings and scribes that teach us there man’s wretchedness,

humiliation, confession, and prayer. Domestic scenes, confessions of conscience, pourings

forth of prayer in secret, travels, proverbs, revelations of the depths of the heart, the holy

29 Luke xix. 48: Ð laÕj ¤paj ™xekršmato.

30 Ps. xix. 7.

courses pursued by a child of God, weaknesses unveiled, falls, recoveries, inward

experiences, parables, familiar letters, theological treatises, sacred commentaries on some

ancient Scripture, national chronicles, military annals, political statistics, descriptions of God,

portraits of angels, celestial visions, practical counsels, rules of life, solutions of cases of

conscience, judgments of the Lord, sacred hymns, predictions of future events, narratives of

what passed during the days preceding our creation, sublime odes, inimitable pieces of poetry;

– all this is found there by turns; and all this meets our view in most delightful variety, and

presenting a whole whose majesty, like that of a temple, is overpowering. Thus it is, that,

from its first to its last page, the Bible behoved. to combine with its majestic unity the

indefinable charm of human-like instruction, familiar, sympathetic, personal, and the charm

of a drama extending over forty centuries. In the Bible of Desmarets, it is said, “There are

fords here for lambs, and there are deep waters where elephants swim.”

But behold, at the same time, what unity, and, lo! what innumerable and profound harmonies

in this immense variety! Under all forms it is still the same truth; ever man lost, and God the

Saviour; ever man with his posterity coming forth out of Eden and losing the tree of life, and

the second Adam with his people re-entering paradise, and regaining possession of the


tree of life; ever the same cry uttered in tones innumerable, “O heart of man, return to thy

God, for he pardoneth! We are in the gulf of perdition; let us come out of it; a Saviour hath

gone down into it he bestows holiness as he bestows life.”

Is it possible that a book at once so sublime and so simple can be the work of man?” was

asked of the philosophers of the last century by one who was himself too celebrated a

philosopher. And all its pages have replied, No – it is impossible; for every where, traversing

so many ages, and whichever it be of the God-employed writers that holds the pen, king or

shepherd, scribe or fisherman, priest or publican, you every where perceive that one same

Author, at a thousand years’ interval, and that one same eternal Spirit, has conceived and

dictated all; – every where, at Babylon as at Horeb, at Jerusalem as at Athens, at Rome as at

Patmos, you will find described the same God, the same world, the same men, the same

angels, the same future, the same heaven:- every where, whether it be a poet or a historian that

addresses you, whether it be in the plains of the desert in the age of Pharaoh, or in the prisons

of the capitol in the days of the Caesars – every where in the world the same ruin; in man the

same impotency; in the angels the same elevation, the same innocence, the same charity; in

heaven the same purity, the same happiness, the same meeting together of truth and mercy,

the same mutual embracing of righteousness and peace; the same counsels of a God who

blotteth out iniquity, and who, nevertheless, doth not clear the guilty.

We conclude, therefore, that the abundance of humanity to be found in the Scriptures, far

from compromising their divine inspiration, is only one farther mark of their divinity.

Converted to pdf format by Robert I Bradshaw, August 2004.



Let us open the Scriptures. – What do they say of their inspiration?


We shall commence by reproducing here that oft-repeated passage, 2 Tim. iii. 16, “All

Scripture is given by inspiration of God!1 that is to say, all parts of it are given by the Spirit

or by the breath of God.

This statement admits of no exception and of no restriction. Here there is no exception; it is

ALL SCRIPTURE; it is all that is written (p©sa graf¾); meaning thereby the thoughts after

they have received the stamp of language. – No restriction; all Scripture is in such wise a work

of God, that it is represented to us as uttered by the divine breathing, just as human speech is

uttered by the breathing of a man’s mouth. The prophet is the mouth of the Lord.

The purport of this declaration of St Paul remains the same in both the constructions that may

be put upon his words, whether we place, as our versions do, the affirmation of the phrase on

the word qeÒpneustoj; (divinely inspired), and suppose the verb to be under


stood (all Scripture is divinely inspired, profitable . . .); or, making the verb apply to the

words that follow, we understand qeÒpneustoj (divinely inspired) only as a determinative

adjective (all Scripture divinely inspired of God, is profitable . . .). – This last construction

would even give more force than the first to the apostle’s declaration. For then, as his

statement would necessarily relate to the whole Scripture of the holy Letters (t¦ †era

gr¦mmata), of which he had been speaking, would assume, as an admitted and incontestable

principle, that the simple mention of the holy Letters implies of itself that Scriptures inspired

by God are meant.

Nevertheless it will be proper to give a farther expression of this same truth, by some other

declaration of our holy books.

1 See further upon this passage, our Chap. III. question 27.


St Peter in his second epistle, at the close of the first chapter, thus expresses himself:

Knowing this first, that no Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came

not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the

Holy Ghost.” – Note on this passage:

1. That it relates to written revelations (profhte…a grafÁj);

2. That never (oÙ pÒte) did any of these come through the impulsion or the government of a

will of man;

3. That it was as urged or moved by the Holy Ghost tbat those holy men wrote and spoke;

4. Finally, that their writings are called by the name of prophecy.

It. will be proper then, before we proceed farther, to have the scriptural meaning of these

words prophecy, prophesy, prophet (aybn), precisely determined; because it is indispensable

for the investigation with which we


are occupied, that this be known, and because the knowledge of it will throw much light on

the whole question.

Various and often very inaccurate meanings have been given to the biblical term prophet; but

an attentive examination of the passages in which it is employed, will soon convince us that it

constantly designates, in the Scriptures, “a man whose month utters the words of God.”

Among the Greeks, this name was at first given only to the interpreter and the organ of the

vaticinations pronounced in the temples (™xhght¾j œnqewn mante…wn). This sense of the

word is fully explained by a passage in the Timæus of Plato.2 The most celebrated prophets of

pagan antiquity were those of Delphos. They conducted the Pythoness to the tripod, and were

charged with the interpretation of the oracles of the god, or the putting of them into writing.

And it was only afterwards, by an extension of this its first meaning, that the name of prophet

was given among the Greeks to poets, who, commencing their songs with an invocation of

Apollo and the Muses, were deemed to give utterance to the language of the gods, and to

speak under their inspiration.

A prophet, in the Bible, is a man, then, in whose mouth God puts the words which he wishes

to be heard upon earth; and it was farther by allusion to the fulness of this meaning that God

said to Moses,3 that Aaron should be his prophet unto Pharaoh, according as he had told him

2 Tom. IX. ed. Bipont., p. 392.

3 Exod. vii. 1.

(at chap. iv. ver. 16): “He shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead

of God.”

Mark, in Scripture, how the prophets testify of the Spirit that makes them speak, and of the

wholly divine authority of their words: you will ever find in their language one uniform

definition of their office, and of their inspiration. They speak; it is, no doubt, their


voice that makes itself heard; it is their person that is agitated; it is, no doubt, their soul also

that often is moved; – but their words are not only theirs; they are, at the same time, the words

of Jehovah.

The mouth of the Lord hath spoken;” – “ the Lord hath spoken,” they say unceasingly.4– “I

will open my mouth in the midst of them,” saith the Lord to his servant Ezekiel. – “The Spirit

of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue,” said the royal psalmist.5 – “Hear

the word of the Lord!” It is thus that the prophets announce what they are about to say.6

Then was the word of the Lord upon me,” is what they often say. – “The word of God came

unto Shemaiah;” – “the word of God came to Nathan;” – “the word of God came unto John in

the wilderness;”7 – “the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord;”8 – “the burden of the

word of the Lord by Malachi;”9 “the word of the Lord that came unto Hosea;”10 “In the

second year of Darius, came the word of the Lord by Haggai, the prophet.”11

This word came down upon the men of God when it pleased, and often in the most unlookedfor


It is thus that God, when he sent Moses, said to him, “I will be with thy mouth;”12 and that,

when he made Balaam speak, “he put a word in Balaam’s mouth.”13 The apostles, too,

quoting a passage from David in their prayer, express themselves in these words: “Thou,

Lord, hast said by the mouth of thy servant David.”14 And St Peter, addressing the multitude

of the disciples: “Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the



GHOST, BY THE MOUTH OF DAVID, spake before concerning Judas.”15 The same apostle

also, in the holy place, under Solomon’s porch, cried to the people of Jerusalem, “But those

4 Micah iv. 4; Jer. ix. 12, xiii. 15, xxx. 4, 1. 1, ii. 12; Isa. viii. II; Amos iii. 1; Exod. iv. 30; Deut. xviii. 21, 22;

Josh. xxiv. 2.

5 2 Sam. xxiii. 1, 2.

6 Isa. xxviii. 14; Jer. xix. 20, x. 1, xvii. 20.

7 1 Kings xii. 22; 1 Chron. xvii. 3; Luke iii. 2.

8 Jer. xi. 1, vii. 1, xviii. 1, xxi. 1, xxvi. 1, xxvii. 1, xxx. 1; and in many other places. See Ezek. i. 2; Jer. i. 1, 2, 9,

14; Ezek. iii. 4, 10, 11; Hos. i. 1, 2, &c.

9 Mal. i. 1

10 Hos. 1. 1, 2.

11 Hag. 1. 1.

12 Exod. iv. 12, 13.

13 ™nšbalen (oƒ Ò); Num. xxiii. 3.

14 Acts iv. 25.

15 Acts i. 16.

things which God before HAD SHOWED BY THE MOUTH OF ALL HIS PROPHETS, that

Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.”16

In the view of the apostles, then, David in his psalms, and all the prophets in their writings,

whatever might be the pious emotions of their souls, were only the mouth of the Holy Ghost.

It was David who SPOKE; it was the prophets WHO SHOWED; but it was also God THAT

SPARE BY THE MOUTH of David, his servant; it was God WHO SHOWED BY THE

MOUTH of all his prophets. – (Acts i. 16, iii. 18-21, iv. 25.)

And, yet again, let the reader be so good as carefully to examine, as it stands in the Greek, that

expression which recurs so often in the Gospel, and which is so conclusive, “That it might be

fulfilled which was spoken BY THE PROPHET, – (and even) which was spoken OF THE

LORD BY THE PROPHET, (DIA toà prof»tou, – and even – UPO toà kurˆou DIA toà

prof»tou), saying.”17…..

It is in a quite analogous sense that holy scripture gives the name of prophets and of false

prophets to impostors, who lied among the Gentiles, in the temples of the false gods, whether

they were only common cheats, falsely pretending to visions from God, or whether they were

really the mouth or an occult power, of a malevolent angel, of a spirit of Python.18

And it is, farther, in the same sense that St Paul, in quoting a verse of Epimenides, a poet,

priest, and soothsayer among the Cretans, called him “one of their prophets;” because all the

Greeks consulted him as an oracle; because Nicias was sent into Crete by the Athen-


ians to fetch him to purify their city; and because Aristotle, Strabo,19 Suidas,20 and Diogenes

Laertius,21 tell us that he undertook to foretell the future, and to discover things unknown.

From all these quotations, accordingly, it remains established, that in the language of the

Scriptures the prophecies are “the words of God put into the mouth of man.”

Accordingly, it is by a manifest abuse also, that in common language people seem to

understand no more by that word than a miraculous prediction. The prophecies could reveal

the past as well as the future; they denounced God’s judgments; they interpreted his Word;

they sang his praises; they consoled his people; they exhorted souls to holiness; they testified

of Jesus Christ.

And as “no prophecy came by the will of man,”22 a prophet, as we have already intimated,

was such only at intervals, “and as the Spirit gave him utterance.” – (Acts ii. 4.)

16 Acts. iii. 18.

17 Matt. i. 22, ii. 5, 15, 23, xiii. 35, xxi. 4, xxvii. 9, iv. 14, viii. 17, xii. 17.

18 Acts xiii. 6; Jer. xxix. 1-8; 2 Kings xviii. 19. The LXX. often render ) aybn by yeudoprof»thj. (Jer. vi. 13,

xxvi. 7, 8, 11-16, xxvii. 1, xxix. 1-8; Zech. xiii. 2).

19 Georg. lib. x.

20 In voce Ep…men

21 Vita Epimen.

22 2 Pet. 1. 21.

A man prophesied sometimes without foreseeing it, sometimes too without knowing it, and

sometimes even without desiring it.

I have said, without foreseeing it; and often at the very moment when he could least expect it.

Such was the old prophet of Bethel. – (1 Kings xiii. 20.) I have said, without knowing it; such

was Caiaphas. – (John xi. 51.) Finally, I have said, without desiring it; such was Balaam,

when, wishing three times to curse Israel, he could not, three successive times, make his

mouth utter any words but those of benediction. – (Numb. xxiii. xxiv.)

We shall give other examples to complete the demonstration of what a prophecy generally is,

and thus to arrive at a fuller comprehension of the extent of the action of God in what St Peter

calls written prophecy (profhte…an grafÁj).


We read in the 11th of Numbers (25th to the 29th verses), that, as soon as the Lord made the

Spirit to rest upon the seventy elders, “they prophesied;” but (it is added) “they did not

continue.” The Spirit, then, came upon them at an unexpected moment; and after he had thus

spoken by them,” and his word “had been upon their tongue,” (2 Sam. xxiii. 1, 2), they

preserved nothing more of this miraculous gift, and were prophets only for a day.

We read in the First Book of Samuel (xii.), with what unforeseen power the Spirit of the Lord

seized young king Saul at the moment when, as he sought for his father’s she-asses, he met a

company of prophets who came down from the holy place. “What is this that is come to the

son of Kish,” said they one to another; “Is Saul also among the prophets?”

We read at the 19th chapter, something still more striking. Saul sends to Ramah men who

were to take David; but no sooner did they meet Samuel and the company of prophets over

whom he was set, than the Spirit of the Lord came upon these men of war, and “they also

prophesied.” Saul sends others, and “they also prophesy.” Saul at last goes thither himself,

and “he also prophesied all that day and all that night before Samuel.” “The Spirit of God,”

we are told, “WAS UPON HIM.”

But it is particularly by an attentive study of the 12th and 14th chapters of the First Epistle to

the Corinthians, that one obtains an exact knowledge of what the action of God, and the part

assigned to man severally, were in prophecy.

The apostle there gives the Church of Corinth the rules that were to be followed in the use of

this miraculous gift. His counsels will be found to throw a deal of light on this important

subject. One will then recognise at once the following facts and principles:-

1. The Holy Ghost at that time conferred upon the faithful, for the common advantage, a great

variety of gifts (xii. 7-10); – to one that of miracles; to another


that of healing; to another, discerning of spirits; to another, divers kinds of tongues, which the

man himself did not understand when he spoke them; to another, the interpretation of tongues;

to another, in fine, prophecy – that is, uttering with his own tongue words dictated by God.

2. One and the selfsame Spirit divided severally as be would these different miraculous


3. These gifts were a just subject of Christian desire and ambition. (zhloàte, xiv. 1, 39.) But

the one that was to be regarded as the most desirable of all, was that of prophesying; for one

could speak an unknown tongue without edifying any body, and that miracle was “useful

rather to the unbelievers than to believers;” whereas “he that prophesied spoke unto men to

edification, and exhortation, and comfort.” – (l Cor. xiv. 1-3.)

4. That prophecy – that is to say, those words that fell miraculously on the lips that the Holy

Ghost had chosen for such an office – that prophecy assumed very different forms. Sometimes

the Spirit gave a psalm, sometimes a doctrine, sometimes a revelation; sometimes, too, it was

a miraculous interpretation of that which others had miraculously expressed in strange


5. In those prophecies there was evidently a work of God and a work of man. They were the

words of the Holy Ghost; but they were also the words of the prophet. It was God that spoke,

but in men, by men, for men; and there you would have found, as on other occasions, the

sound of their voice – perhaps also the habitual peculiarities of their style – perhaps, moreover,

allusions to their own experience, to their position at the time, to their individuality.

6. These miraculous facts continued in the primitive Church throughout the long career of the

apostles. St Paul, who wrote his letter to the Corinthians twenty


years after the death of Jesus Christ, speaks of them as a common and habitual order of things,

for some time existing among them, and which ought still to continue.

7. The prophets, although they were the mouth of God to make his words heard, were not,

however, absolutely passive while engaged in prophesying.

The spirits of the prophets,” says St Paul, “are subject to the prophets” (1 Cor. xiv. 22); that

is to say, that the men of God, while his prophetic word was on their lips, could nevertheless

check its escape by the repressive action of their own wills; nearly as a man suspends, when

he wishes to do so, the almost involuntary course of his respiration. Thus, for example, if any

revelation came upon one of those that were sitting, the first that spoke had then “to hold his

peace, sit down, and let him speak.”

Let us now apply these principles and these facts to the prophecy of Scripture (tÍ profhte…v

grafÁj), and to the passage of St Peter, for the explanation of which we have adduced them.

No prophecy of the Scripture,” says he “is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy

came not in old time by a will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the

Holy Ghost.” – (2 Pet. i. 21.)

23 Verse ii. See also Eph. iv. 7; and Acts xix. 1 to 6.

24 Ver. 26 to 31; and 1 Sam. x. 6; xviii. 10.

Here, then, we have the plenary and entire inspiration of the Scriptures clearly established by

the apostle; here we have the SCRIPTURE assimilated to those prophecies which we have

just defined. It “came not by a will of man;” it is entirely dictated by the Holy Ghost; it gives

us the very words of God; it is entirely (›nqeoj and qeÒpneustoj) given by the breath of God.

Who would dare then, after such declarations, to maintain, that in the Scriptures the

expressions are not inspired? They are WRITTEN PROPHECIES (p©sa profhte…a

grafÁj). One sole difficulty, accordingly, is all that can any longer he opposed to our

conclusion. The testimony and the reasoning on which it rests, are so clearly valid, that one

can elude them only by this objection. We agree, it will be said, that written prophecy


(profhte…a grafÁj) has, without contradiction, been composed by that power of the Holy

Ghost which was put forth in the prophets; but the rest of the book, the Epistles, the Gospels,

and the Acts, the Proverbs, the Books of Kings, and so many other purely historical writings,

are not entitled to be put in the same rank.

Here, then, let us pause; and, before replying, see clearly the extent of our argument.

It ought already to be fully acknowledged, that all that part of the Scriptures at least called

PROPHECY, whatever it be, has been completely dictated by God; so that the words as well

as the thoughts have been given by him.

But who now will permit us to establish a distinction between any one of the books of the

Bible, and all the other books? Is not all given by prophecy? Certainly all has equally God’s

warrant; this is what we proceed to prove.


And, first of all, all the Scriptures are without distinction called THE WORD OF GOD. This

title is sufficient of itself to demonstrate to us, that if Isaiah began his prophecies by inviting

the heavens and the earth to give ear because the Lord had spoken,25 the same summons ought

to come forth for us from all the books of the Bible, for they are all called “The Word of

God.” “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord hath spoken!”

Nowhere shall we find a single passage that permits us to detach one single part of it as less

divine than all the rest. When we say that this whole book is the Word of God, do we not

attest that the very phrases of which it is composed have been given by him?


25 Isa. i. 2.

But the whole Bible is not only Called “The Word of God,” (Ð lÒgoj toà qeoà); it is called,

without distinction, THE ORACLES OF GOD (t¦ toà qeoà).26 Who knows not what oracles

were held to be in the ideas of men in ancient times? Was there a word that could more

absolutely express a verbal and complete inspiration? And as if this term, which St Paul

employs, were not sufficient, we farther hear Stephen, filled with the Holy Ghost, call them

the LIVING ORACLES (lÒgia zînta); “Moses,” he says, “received the lively oracles, to

give them unto us.” – (Acts vii. 38.)

All the Scriptures then, without exception, are a continuous word of God; they are his

miraculous voice; they are his written prophecies and his lively oracles. Which of their

various parts, then, would you dare to cut off? The apostles often distinguish two parts in

them, when they call them “Moses and the Prophets.” Jesus Christ distinguished them into

three parts27 when he said to his apostles, “That all things must he fulfilled which were

written in Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me.” According to this

division, then, in which our Lord speaks according to the language of that time, the Old

Testament would he made up of these three parts, – Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms; as

the New Testament is composed of the Gospels, the Acts, the Epistles, and the Book of the

Revelation. Which, then, of these three parts of the Old Testament, or which of these four

parts of the New, would you dare to withdraw from the Scripture of the prophets (profhte…aj

grafÁj), or from the inspired Word (™nqšou lÒgou – grafÁj qeopneÚstou)?

Would it be Moses? But what more holy and more divine, in the whole Old Testament, than

the writings of that man of God? He was in such sort a prophet that his holy books are placed

above all the rest, and are called emphatically THE LAW. He was in such sort a prophet, that

another prophet, speaking of his


books alone, said, “The law of the Lord is perfect” (Ps. xix. 7); “The words of the Lord are

pure words, as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” – (Ps. xii. 6.) He was in

such sort a prophet of God, that he is compared by himself to none but the Son of God. “This

is that Moses,” it is written, “who said to the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your

God raise up unto you of your brethren, LIKE UNTO ME; him shall ye hear.” – (Acts vii. 37.)

He was is such sort a prophet, that he was accustomed to preface his orders with these words:

Thus saith the Lord.” He was in such sort a prophet, that God said to him, “Who hath made

man’s mouth? have not I, the Lord? Now therefore go; and I will be with thy mouth, and teach

thee what thou shalt say.” – (Exod. iv. 11.) Finally, he was in such sort a prophet, that it is

written, “And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew

face to face.” – (Deut. xxxiv. 10.)

What other part of the Old Testament, then, would you exclude from the prophetic Scriptures?

Shall it be the second ? – that which Jesus Christ calls The Prophet?, and which comprises all

the Old Testament, exclusive of Moses and the Psalms, and sometimes exclusive of Moses

alone? It is well worth noting, that Jesus Christ, and the apostles, and the whole people,

habitually call by the name of prophets all the authors of the Old Testament. They were wont

to say, in order to designate the whole Scriptures, “Moses and the prophets.” – (Luke xxiv. 25,

27, 44; Matt. v. 17, vii. 12, xi. 13, xii. 40; Luke xvi. 16, 29, 31, xx. 42; Acts i. 20, iii. 21, 22,

26 Rom iii. 2.

27 Luke xxiv. 44.

vii. 35, 37, viii 28, xxvi. 22, 27, xxviii. 23; Rom. i. 2, iii. 21, x. 5, &c. &c.) Jesus Christ called

nil their books The Prophets:- they were prophets. Joshua, then, was a prophet; the authors of

the Chronicles were prophets, quite as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, and all the

rest were, down to Malachi.

They wrote then, all of them, the prophetic Scriptures (profhte…an grafÁj); all, the words

of which St


Peter has said, “that none of them came by a will of man;” all, those ƒer¦ gr£mmata, those

holy letters, which the apostle declares to be “divinely inspired.”28 The Lord said of all of

them as of Jeremiah, “Lo, I have put my words in thy mouth;”29 and as of Ezekiel, “Son of

man, go, speak unto them MY words: speak unto them, and tell them, Thus SAITH THE


And that all the phrases, all the words, were suggested to them by God, is demonstrated by a

fact stated to us more than once, and in the study of their writings frequently brought under

our eye, to wit – that they were charged to transmit to the Church oracles, the meaning of

which was to remain veiled to their own minds. Daniel, for example, declares more than once,

that he was unable to seize the prophetic meaning of the words that proceeded from his own

lips, or were traced with his hand.31 The types, impressed by God on all the events of

primitive history, were not to be recognised till many centuries after the death of the men who

were commissioned to relate to us their leading features; and the holy Ghost informs us that

the prophets, after having written out their sacred pages, set themselves to study them with

the, most respectful attention, as they would have done with the other Scriptures, “searching

what, or what manner of time THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST which was in them did signify, when

it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.”32 Behold,

then, these men of God bending over their own writings. There they ponder the words of God

and the thoughts of God. Can this cause you any surprise, seeing that they have written for the

elect of the earth, and for the principalities and powers of heaven, the doctrines and the glories

of the Son of God, and seeing these are things “into which the angels desire to look ?”33


So much for Moses and for the Prophets; but what will you say of the Psalms? Shall we

consider these less given by the spirit of prophecy than all the rest? Are not the authors of the

Psalms always called prophets?34 And if they are sometimes, like Moses, distinguished from

the other prophets, is it not evidently in order that a place of greater eminence may be

assigned them? “David was a prophet,” says St Peter. – (Acts ii. 30.) Mark what he himself

says he is: “The Spirit of the Lord SPAKE BY ME,” says he, “and HIS WORD WAS UPON

MY TONGUE.” – (2 Sam. xxiii. 1, 2.) “What David wrote,” and even his words in detail, “he

wrote SPEAKING BY THE HOLY Ghost,” said our Lord. – (Mark xii. 36.) The apostles also,

28 2 Tim. iii. 16.

29 Jer. i. 1,2, 9.

30 Ezek. iii. 10, 11.

31 Dan. xii. 4, 8, 9, viii. 27, x. 8, 21.

32 1 Pet. i. 10,11, 12.

33 Eph. iii 10, 11.

34 Matt. xiii. 35; for Asaph (Ps. lxxvii.)

quoting him (in their prayer), take care to say, “This Scripture must needs have been fulfilled

which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake.” – (Acts i. 16.) “Lord, thou art God, who

by the mouth of thy servant David hast said.” – (Acts iv. 25.) What do I say? These psalms

were to such a degree all dictated by the Holy Ghost, that the Jew’s, and the Lord Jesus Christ

himself, call them by the name of THE LAW;35 all their utterances had the force of law; their

smallest words were from God. “Is it not written in your LAW?” said Jesus while quoting

them, and in quoting them even for a SINGLE WORD (as we shall soon have occasion to


The whole Old Testament then is, in a scriptural sense of the expression, a WRITTEN

PROPHECY (profhte…a grafÁj). It is plenarily inspired therefore by God, seeing that,

according to the testimony of Zachariah, “it is God who spake by the mouth of his holy

prophets, which have been since the world began;36 and


because, according to that of Peter, “they spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”37

It is true that thus far our reasonings, and the testimonies on which they are founded, directly

relate to the books of the Old Testament only; and it might possibly be objected to us that as

yet we have proved nothing for the New.

We shall begin, before we reply, with asking, If it were likely that the Lord could have

designed giving successive revelations to his people, and that, nevertheless, the latest and the

most important of these should be inferior to the first? We would ask, If it be rational to

imagine that the first Testament, which contained only “the shadows of things that were to

come,” could have been dictated by God in all its contents; while the second Testament,

which sets before us the grand object to which all those shadows relate, and which describes

to us the works, the character, the person, and the sayings even of the Son of God, was to be

less inspired than the first? We would ask, If one can believe that the Epistles and the

Gospels, which were destined to repeal many of the ordinances of Moses and the Prophets,

could be less divine than Moses and the Prophets; and that the Old Testament could be

throughout an utterance of thought on the part of God, while it was to be replaced, or at least

modified and consummated, by a book emanating partly from man and partly from God?

But there is no need even of our having recourse to these powerful inductions in order to

establish the prophetic inspiration of the Gospel; nay, its superiority to Moses and the




35 John x. 34. St Paul (Rom. iii. 19) calls the whole Old Testament equally by the name of LAW, and more

especially Isaiah, the Proverbs, and the Psalms (which he quotes). This remark has not escaped Chrysostom

(Homil. viii.): ™ntaàqa touj yalmoÝj NÒmon ™k£lesen and Theophalact adds, kaˆ t¦ toà ‘Hsa…ou.

36 Luke i. 70.

37 2 Pet. I. 21. See also Matt. I. 22, xxii. 43; Mark xii.36.

The whole tenor of Scripture places the writers of the New Testament in the same rank with

the prophets of the Old; and even when it establishes any difference between them, it is

always in putting the last in date above the first, in so far as one of God’s sayings is superior

(not doubtless in divinity, not in dignity, but in authority) to the saying that preceded it.

Let the reader be so good as attend to the following passage of the apostle St Peter. It is very

important, inasmuch as it lets us see that, in the lifetime of the apostles, the book of the New

Testament was already almost entirely formed, in order to make one whole together with that

of the Old. It was twenty or thirty years after the day of Pentecost that St Peter felt gratified in

referring to ALL THE EPISTLES OF PAUL, his beloved brother, and spoke of them as

sacred writings which, even so early as his time, formed part of the Holy Letters (ƒerîn

gramm£twn), and behoved to be classed with THE OTHER SCRIPTURES (æj kaˆ t¦j

loip¦j, graf¦j). He assigns them the same rank, and declares that “unlearned men can wrest

them but to their own destruction.” Mark this important passage; “Our beloved brother Paul

also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also IN ALL HIS

EPISTLES, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood,

which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the OTHER SCRIPTURES,

unto their own destruction.”38

The apostle, at the second verse of the same chapter, had already placed himself, along with

the other apostles, on the same rank, and assumed the same authority, as the sacred writers of

the Old Testament, when he said:


That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken BEFORE by the holy PROPHETS,

and of the commandment OF US the APOSTLES of the Lord and Saviour.”

The writings of the apostles, then, were that which those of the Old Testament were; and these

being a WRITTEN PROPHECY – that is to say, something spoken altogether by God – the

latter are no less so.

But we have said the Scripture goes much farther in the rank it assigns to the writers of the

New Covenant. It teaches us to consider them as even superior to those of the Old, whether as

respects the importance of their mission, or the glory of the promises made to them, or the

greatness of the gifts conferred on them – or, in fine, the eminence of the rank assigned to


1. First, let us distinctly perceive what their mission was, compared with that of the ancient

prophets; and it will at once be seen, from passages bearing on this point, that their inspiration

could not be inferior to that of their predecessors.

When Jesus sent the apostles whom he had chosen (it is written), he said to them: “Go ye

therefore, and teach all nations; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have

commanded you: and, lo, I AM WITH YOU alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”39

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be

38 2 Peter iii. 15, 16.

39 Matt. xxviii. 19, 20.

witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost

part of the earth?”40 “Peace be unto you: as my Father HATH SENT ME, even SO SEND I


Such was their mission. They were the immediate envoys (¢postÒloi) of the Son of God;

they went to all nations; they had the assurance that their Master would be present with the

testimony they were to bear to him in the holy Scriptures. Did they require, then, less

inspiration for their going to the ends of the earth, and


to make disciples of all nations, than the prophets required “forgoing to Israel and teaching

that one people, the Jews?” Had they not to promulgate all the doctrines, all the ordinances,

all the mysteries of the kingdom of God? Had they not to bear “the keys of the kingdom of

heaven” in such sort, that whatsoever they should bind or loose on earth should be bound or

loosed in heaven?”42 Had not Jesus Christ expressly conferred the Holy Ghost upon them for

this end, that sins might be remitted or retained with regard to those to whom they should

remit or retain them? Had he not breathed upon them, saying, “Receive the Holy Ghost?” Had

he not to reveal to them the wondrous character of the Word made flesh, and of the Creator so

abased as to take upon him the form of a creature, and even to die upon the cross? Had they

not to report his inimitable words? Had they not to perform on earth the miraculous

intransmissible functions of his representatives and of “his ambassadors, as if it had been

Christ that spoke by them?”43 Were they not called to such a glory, “that, in the great final

regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, they also should sit

upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel?”44 If, then, the prophetic Spirit was

necessary for the former men of God, in order to show the Messiah under the shadows, was it

not much more necessary for them, in order to their bringing him out into the light, and to

their evidently setting him forth as crucified amongst us,45 “in such a manner that he that

despiseth them despiseth him, and he that heareth them heareth him?”46 Let one judge by all

these traits what the inspiration of the New Testament behoved to have been, compared with

that of the Old; and let one say whether, while the latter was wholly and entirely prophetic,

that of the New could be any thing less.

2. But this is not all; listen further to the promises


that were made to them for the performance of such a work. No human language can express

with greater force the most absolute inspiration. These promises were for the most part

addressed to them on three great occasions: first, when sent out for the first time to preach the

kingdom of God;47 next, when Jesus himself delivered public discourses on the gospel before

40 Acts 1. 8.

41 John xx. 21.

42 Matt. xviii. 18, xvi. 19.

43 2 Cor. v. 20.

44 Matt. xix. 28.

45 Gal. iii. i.

46 Luke x. 16; Matt. x. 40.

47 Matt. x. 19, 20.

an immense multitude, gathered by tens of thousands around him;48 third, when he uttered his

last denunciation against Jerusalem and the Jewish nation.49

But when they deliver you up, take no thought HOW or WHAT ye shall speak (pîj À t…),

for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not YE that speak, but


And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates and powers, TAKE YE

NO THOUGHT HOW or WHAT thing ye shall answer, or WHAT ye shall say; for the Holy

Ghost shall teach you IN THE SAME HOUR what ye ought to say.” “Take no thought beforehand


shall be GIVEN you in that hour, that speak ye; for it is NOT YE THAT SPEAK, but the

Holy Ghost.”

On these different occasions, the Lord assured his disciples that the fullest inspiration would

regulate their language in the most difficult and important moments of their ministry. When

they should have to speak to princes, they were to feel no disquietude; they were not even to

premeditate, they were not even to take thought about it, because there would then be

immediately given to them by God, not only the things they were to say, but the words also in

which those things were to be expressed; not only t…, but pîj lal»sontai. – (Matt. x. 19,

20.) They behoved to cast themselves entirely on him; it would be given them entirely; it

would be given them by Jesus; it would be given them in that


same hour; it would be given them in such a manner, and in such plenitude, that they should

be able then to say that it was no more they, but the Holy Ghost, the SPIRIT OF THEIR

FATHER, which spoke IN THEM;50 and that then also it was not only an irresistible wisdom

that was given them, it was a mouth.51

Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer; for I will give

you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay or resist.”

Then (as with the ancient prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel) it shall be the Holy Ghost that

will speak by them, as God spoke by his holy prophets since the world began.52 In one sense,

indeed, it was they that were to speak; but it shall be the Holy Ghost who will teach them

(Luke xii. 12) in that same hour what they are to say; so that, in another sense, “it was to be

the Holy Ghost himself that was to speak by their lips.”

We ask if it were possible, in any language, to express more absolutely the most entire

inspiration, and to declare with more precision, that the very words were then vouched by

God and given to the apostles?

No doubt, in these promises there is no direct reference to the support which the apostles were

to receive as writers; and that they bear rather on what they were to expect, when they had to

48 Luke xii. 12.

49 Mark xiii. 11; Luke xxi. 14, 15.

50 Matt. x. 20; Mark xiii. 14.

51 Luke xxi. 14, 15.

52 Acts iii. 21.

appear before priests, before governors, and before kings. But is it not evident enough, that if

the most entire inspiration were assured to them53 for passing exigencies, to shut the mouths

of some wicked men, to conjure the perils of a day, and to subserve interests of the narrowest

range; if it were promised them, notwithstanding that the very words of their answers should

then be given to them by means of a calm, mighty, but inexplicable operation of the Holy

Ghost, – is it not evident enough that the same assistance could not be refused to those same

men, when, like the ancient prophets, they bad to continue the book of


God’s oracles; and so to hand down to all succeeding ages the laws of the kingdom of heaven,

and describe the glories of Jesus Christ and the scenes of eternity? Can any one suppose that

the mea who, before Ananias, or Festus, or Nero, were in such sort “the mouth of the Holy

Spirit,” that then it was no longer they that spoke, but that Spirit, should, when writing the

everlasting Gospel, have returned to the condition of ordinary beings merely enlightened,

denuded of their previous inspiration, no longer speaking by the Holy Ghost, and

thenceforward employing only words dictated by human wisdom, (qel¾mati ¢ndrèpou kaˆ

n didakto‹j ¢ndrwp…nhj sof…aj lÒgoij)? This is quite inadmissible.

3. See them, further, commencing their apostolic ministry on the day of Pentecost: see what

gifts they received.

Tongues of fire descend on their heads; they are filled with the Holy Ghost; they leave their

upper chamber, and a vast multitude hears them proclaim, in fifteen different languages, the

wonderful works of God; they speak AS THE SPIRIT GIVES THEM UTTERANCE;54 they

speak (it is said) THE WORD OF GOD (™l£loun tÕn lÕgon toà qeoà.)55 Assuredly, the

words of those foreign languages must have been then supplied to them as well as the things,

the expression as well as the thoughts, the pîj as well as the t… – (Matt. x. 19.; Luke xii. 11.)

Now then will it be believed, that the Spirit could have taken care to dictate all that they

behoved to say, for preachings at the corners of the streets, for words which passed away with

the sound of their voices, and which, after all, reached only some thousands of hearers; while

those same men, when they came afterwards to write for all earth’s nations, and for all ages of

the Church, “the lively oracles of God,” were to be deprived of their first assistance? Will it

be believed, that after having been more than the ancient prophets as respects preaching in

public, they were to be less than those


prophets, and were to become ordinary men, when they took the pen to finish the Book of the

Prophets, to write their Gospels, their Epistles, and the Book of the Revelation? The

unreasonableness and inadmissibility of such a supposition are felt at once.

4. But here we have to say something still more simple and more peremptory. We would

speak of the rank that is assigned them; and indeed, after what we said of the prophets of the

Old Testament, we might even have limited ourselves to this simple fact, that the apostles

were all of them PROPHETS, and MORE THAN PROPHETS.

53 Luke xii. 12.

54 Acts II. 2.

55 Acts iv. 31

Their writings, therefore, are WRITTEN PROPHECIES (profhte…a grafÁj), as much, and

even more, than those of the Old Testament; and hence we are led to conclude once more, that

all Scripture in the New Testament, as well as in the Old, is inspired of God, even to its

smallest particles.

1 have said that the apostles were all prophets. They often declare this; but, not to multiply

quotations unnecessarily, we content ourselves here with appealing to the two following

passages of the apostle St Paul.

The first is addressed to the Ephesians (iii. 4, 5): “Whereby,” he tells them, “when ye read

WHAT I WROTE before in a few words, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of

Christ, which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is NOW revealed

unto his holy APOSTLES AND PROPHETS by the Spirit.”

One clearly sees, then, here the apostle and prophet Paul, the apostles and prophets Matthew,

John, Jude, Peter, James, received by the Spirit the revelation of the mystery of Christ; and

wrote about it as PROPHETS.

Further, it is of the same mystery, and of the writings of the same prophets, that that same

apostle speaks in the second of the passages we have indicated, that is, in the last chapter of

his Epistle to the Romans.56


Now to him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of

Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world

began, but now is made manifest, and by the SCRIPTURES OF THE PROPHETS (di£ te

grafîn profhtikîn), according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known

to all nations for the obedience of faith: to God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for

ever. Amen!”

Here, then, we have the authors of the New Testament again called PROPHETS; we have

their writings called PROPHETICAL WRITINGS (grafaˆ profhtika…, the equivalent of the

profhte…a grafÁj; of St Peter). And Since we have already Seen that “no prophecy ever

came by the will of him that uttered it, but that it was as moved and impelled by the Holy

Ghost that holy men of God spake;” the prophets of the New Testament spoke therefore like

those of the Old, and according to the commandment of the everlasting God. They were all of

them prophets.57

But we may advance a step farther; for, as we have said, they were MORE THAN

PROPHETS. Here again we have a remark of the learned Michaelis.58 Loose as are his

principles on the inspiration of a part of the New Testament, this has not escaped his notice. It

is clear, according to him, looking to the context, that, in the judgment pronounced by Jesus

Christ on John Baptist (Matt. xi. 9, 11), the terms great and little of the 11th verse, apply only

to the title of prophet which precedes; them at the 9th verse; so that Jesus Christ there he

dares, that if John Baptist is the greatest of the prophets – if he is even more than a prophet –

56 Rom. xvi. 25, 27

57 See further Luke xi. 49; Eph. ii. 20, iii. 5, iv. 11; Gal. i. 12; I Pet. i. 12; 1 Cor. xii. 28; 1 Thess. ii. 15.

58 Introd., t. 1. p. 118, French edition.

still the least of the prophets of the New Testament is greater than John Baptist; that is to say,

greater than the greatest of the Old Testament prophets.59

Besides, this superiority of the apostles and prophets


of the New Testament, is more than once attested to us in the apostolical writings.

Every where, when mention is made of the different offices established in the Churches, the

apostles are placed above the prophets.

Take, for example, a very remarkable passage of the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians. The

apostle’s object is to make known to us the gradations of excellence and dignity among the

several miraculous charges constituted by God in the primitive Church, and he expresses

himself as follows:- “And God hath set some in the Church, first APOSTLES, secondarily

PROPHETS, thirdly TEACHERS, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps,

governments, diversities of tongues.60

At the fourth chapter of his Epistle to the Ephesians, at verse ii, he again puts the apostles

ABOVE the prophets.

At chapter ii. ver. 20, he calls the apostles, APOSTLES and PROPHETS. And at chapter xiv.

of the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians, he places himself ABOVE the prophets whom God had

raised up in that Church. His wish is, that every one of them, if he have really received the

Holy Ghost, should employ the gifts he has received in acknowledging that the things that he

wrote unto them were the commandments of the Lord; and so fully convinced is he that what

he writes is dictated by inspiration of God, that, after having dictated ORDERS to the

Churches, and concluded them with these words, which nothing short of the highest

inspiration could sanction, It is thus I ORDAIN in all the Churches, he goes farther, he

proceeds to rank himself ABOVE THE PROPHETS; or rather, being himself a prophet, he

calls upon the spirit of prophecy in them to acknowledge the words of Paul as the words of the

Lord; and he ends with these remarkable expressions:- “What? came the word of God out

from you? ….. If any man think himself to be a PROPHET, or SPIRITUAL, let him acknow-


ledge that the things that I WRITE UNTO YOU are the COMMANDMENTS OF THE


The writings of the Apostles, then, are (like those of the ancient prophets) the commandments

of the everlasting God; they are “written prophecies” (profhte…a grafÁj) as much as the

Psalms, and Moses, and the prophets (Luke xxiv. 44); and all their authors then could say with

St Paul, CHRIST SPEAKS IN ME (2 Cor. xiii. 3; 1 Thess. ii. 13); what I say is the word of

God, and the things I speak are taught me by the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. ii. 13); quite as David

before them had said, “The spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.”62

59 Ib., and Luke vii. 28-30.

60 1 Cor. xii. 28.

61 PneumatikÕj, 1 Cor. xiv. 37; See too xv. 45, and Jude 19.

62 2 Sam. xxiii. 2.

Mark, besides, their own words, when they speak of what they are. Would it be possible to

declare more clearly than they have done, that words as well as subject have been given them

by God. “As for us,” they say, “we have the mind of Christ.” – (1 Cor. ii. 16.) “For this cause

also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received THE WORD OF God which

ye heard of us, ye received not the word of men, but (as it is in truth) the WORD OF GOD.” –

(l Thes. ii. 13.) “He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given

unto us his holy Spirit.” – (l Thes. iv. 8.)

Such then, in fine, is the word of the New Testament. It is like that of the Old, a word uttered

by prophets, and by prophets greater even than those that preceded them; in such sort, for

example, as has been very well remarked by Michaelis,63 that an epistle commencing with

these words, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ,”64 thereby gives us a higher attestation of his

divine authority and his divine inspiration, than could have been given even by the writings of

the most illustrious prophets of the Old Testament when they began with these words, “Thus

saith the Lord”65 – “The


vision of Isaiah” – “The word that Isaiah saw”66 – “the words of Jeremiah ….. to whom the

word of the Lord came”67 – “Hear the word of the Lord” – or such like analogous expressions.

And if there be in the New Testament some books where such inscriptions are not to be found,

their inspiration is no more compromised thereby than this or that book of the Old Testament

(the second or the ninety-fifth psalm, for example);68 which, although they have not the names

of the prophets that composed them, are not the less quoted as divine by Jesus Christ and his


The objection has sometimes been started that Luke and Mark were not apostles, properly so

called; and that consequently they did not receive the same inspiration as the other sacred

writers of the New Testament. True, they were not apostles; but they were certainly prophets,

and they were even greater than the greatest of those of the Old Testament. – (Luke vii. 26,


Without insisting here on the ancient traditions,69 which say that both were of the number of

the seventy disciples whom Jesus sent at first to preach in Judea, or at least of those one

hundred and twenty on whom the tongues of the Holy Ghost descended on the day of

Pentecost; are such objectors not aware that the apostles had received the power of conferring,

by the imposition of hands, miraculous gifts on all who believed, and that they exercised this

power in all the countries and all the cities whither they directed their steps? And since St

Luke and St Mark were, amid so many other prophets, the fellow-workers chosen by St Paul

and St Peter, is it not clear enough that these two apostolic men must have bestowed upon

such associates the gifts which they dispensed to so many besides who had believed? Do we

63 Introd. tome 1, p. 118, 119, &c., French edition.

64 Rom. 1, i; GaL 1.1; Cor. i.I., &c.; 1 Pet. 1.1; 2 Pet. i.1.

65 Isa. lvi. I; xlii. 1, and passim.

66 Isa. i. 1, ii. 2, and elsewhere.

67 Jer. i. 2.

68 Acts iv. 25, xiii. 33; Heb. I. 5, iii. 7, 17, iv. 3, 7, v. 5.

69 Epiph., Heeres., 51 and others – Orig., De recta in Deum fide. Doroth. in Synopsi. – Procop. Diacon., apud

Bolland., 25th April.

not see Peter and John first go down to Samaria to confer these gifts on the believers of that

city; this


followed by Peter coming to Cesarea, there to shed them on all the Gentiles who had heard the

word in the house of the centurion Cornelius?70 Do we not see St Paul bestow them

abundantly on the believers of Corinth, on those of Ephesus, on those of Rome?71 Do we not

see him, before employing his dear son Timothy as his fellow-labourer, causing spiritual

powers to descend upon him?72 And is it not evident that St Peter must have done as much for

his dear son Mark,73 as St Paul did for his companion Luke?74 Silas, whom St Paul had taken

to accompany him (as he took Luke and John. whose surname was Mark), Silas was a prophet

at Jerusalem.75 Prophets abounded in all the primitive churches. Many were seen to come

down from Jerusalem to Antioch;76 a great many were to he found in Corinth;77 Judas and

Silas were prophets in Jerusalem. Agabus was such in Judea; farther, four daughters, still in

their youth, of Philip the evangelist, were prophetesses in Cesarea;78 and in the Church of

Antioch, there were to be seen many believers who were prophets and doctors;79 among

others Barnabas (St Paul’s first companion), Simeon, Manaen, Saul of Tarsus himself; and,

finally, that Lucius of Cyrene, who is thought to he the Lucius whom Paul (in his Epistle to

the Romans) calls his kinsman,80 and whom (in his Epistle to the Colossians) he calls Luke

the physician;81 in a word, the St Luke whom the ancient fhthers call indifferently Lucas,

Lucius, and Lucanus.

From these facts, then, it becomes sufficiently evident that St Luke and St Mark ranked at

least among the prophets whom the Lord had raised up in such numbers in all the Churches of

the Jews and the Gentiles,


and that from among all the rest they were chosen by the Holy Ghost to be conjoined with the

apostles in writing the sacred books of the New Testament.

But, moreover (and let this be specially noticed), the prophetical authority of St Mark and St

Luke is far from resting solely on these inductions. It rests on the testimony even of the

apostles of Jesus Christ. It ought not to be forgotten, that it was under the long protracted

government of those men of God, that the divine canon of the Scriptures of the New

Testament was collected and transmitted to all the Churches. By a remarkable dispensation of

God’s providence, the lives of the greater number of the apostles were prolonged to a great

many years. St Peter and St Paul lived to edify the Church of God for above thirty-four years

70 Acts viii. 15, 17.

71 Acts xix. 6, 7; 1 Cor. xii. 28, xiv; Horn. 1. 11, xv. 19, 29.

72 I Tim. iv. 14; 2 Tim. i. 6.

73 1 Pet. v. 13.

74 Acts xiii. 1, xvi. 10, xxvii. 1; Rom. xvi. 21; Col. iv. 11; 2 Tim. iv.11; Philem. 24; 2 Cor. viii. 18.

75 Acts xv. 32.

76 Acts xi. 38.

77 1 Cor. xii. 19, 20 xiv. 31, 39.

78 Acts xi. 28, xxi. 9, 10.

79 Acts xiii. 1 2.

80 Rom. xvi. 21

81 Col. iv. 14.

after the resurrection of their Master; nay, St John continued his ministry, in the province of

Asia, in the centre of the Roman empire, for more than thirty years longer, after their death.

The book of the Acts, which was written by St Luke subsequently to his Gospel,82 had been

already diffused through the Church a long while (I mean to say, for ten years at least) before

the martyrdom of St Paul. But St Paul, even long before going to Rome, had already diffused

the gospel abundantly from Jerusalem ns far as Illyricum.83 The apostles maintained a

constant correspondence with the Christians of all countries; they were daily called to meet

the cares they had to sustain with respect to all the Churches.84 St Peter, in his second letter,

addressed to the catholicity of God’s Churches, spoke to them even then of ALL THE

EPISTLES of St Paul as incorporated with the Old Testament. And for more than half a

century, all the Christian Churches were formed and conducted under the superintendence of

these men of God. It was, accordingly, with the assent, and under the prophetic government,

of these apostles, called as they were to bind and to


loose, and to become, next to Christ, the twelve foundations of the universal Church, that the

canon of the Scriptures was formed, and that the new people of God received its lively

oracles, to transmit them to us.85 And it is thus that the Gospel of Luke, that of Mark, and the

book of Acts, have been received by common consent, on the same authoritative grounds, and

with the same submission as the apostolical books of Matthew, of Paul, of Peter, and John.

These books, then, have the same authority for us as all the rest; and we are called upon to

receive them equally, “not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the word of God, which

worketh effectually in all that believe”86

We venture to believe that these reflections will suffice for enabling the reader to comprehend

how little ground there is for the distinction which Michaelis,87 and some other German

doctors, have made bold to establish with respect to inspiration, between the two evangelists

and the other writers of the New Testament. It even appears to us, that it was in order to

obviate any such supposition that Luke took care to place at the head of his gospel the four

verses that serve as a preface to it. You see, in fact, that his object there is to contrast the

certainty and divinity of his own account with the uncertainty and the human character of

those narrations, which many (pollo…) had taken in hand to set forth (™pece…rhsan

¢nat£xasqai) on the facts connected with the gospel – facts, he adds, most surely believed

among us, that is to say, among the apostles and prophets of the New Testament (tîn

peplhroforhmšnwn ™n ¹min pragm£twn, the word in the original signifying the highest

degree of certainty, as may be seen, Rom. iv. 21; xiv. 5; 2 Tim. iv. 5, 17.) And therefore, adds

St Luke, it seemed good to ME also, having had perfect understanding of all things88 FROM

ABOVE, to write of them unto thee in order.


82 Acts i. 1.

83 Rom. xv. 19.

84 2 Cor. xi. 28.

85 Acts vii. 83; Rom. iii. 2.

86 1 Thes. ii. 13.

87 Introd., vol. i. pp. 112-129, English ed.

88 ParhkolouqhkÒti. – Thus Demosthenes de Corona, i. 55. Parakolouqhkëj to‹j pr£gmasin ¢p ¢rcÁj.

Theophrast., Char. Proem, 4: SÕn d• parakolouqÁsai kaˆ e„dÁsai, e„ Ñrqîj l˜gw – Josephus, in the first

lines of his book against Apion, opposes this same word parakolouqhkÒta (diligenter assecutuat) to

punqanomšnJ (sciscitanti ab aliis).

St Luke had obtained this knowledge FROM ABOVE; that is to say, by the wisdom which

comes from above, “and which had been given him.” It is very true that the meaning

ordinarily attached to this last expression, in this passage, is from the very first, as if instead of

the word ¥nwqen (from above), there were here the same words ¢p’ ¢rcÁj (from the

commencement), which we find in verse second. But it appears to us that the opinion of

Erasmus, of Gomar, of Henry, of Lightfoot, and other commentators, ought to be preferred as

more natural, and that we must take the word ¥nwqen here in the sense in which St John and

St James have used it, when they say: “Every perfect gift cometh from above (James i. 17) –

Thou couldst have no power against me, except it were given thee from above” (John xix.

11) – “Except a man be born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John iii. 3) –

The wisdom that cometh from above is first pure.” – (James iii. 15, 17.)

The prophet Luke, then, “had obtained from above a perfect understanding of all things that

Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up.”

Meanwhile, whatever translation one may prefer giving to these words, it is by other

arguments that we have shown how Luke and Mark were prophets, and how their writings,

transmitted to the Church by the authority of the apostles, are incorporated with those of the

apostles, as well as with all the other books of the everlasting Word of God.

Such, then, is the extent to which our argument has conducted us, and this is, we have had to

acknowledge, on the very authority of holy Scripture. It is, first of all, that the inspiration of

the words of the prophets was entire; that the Holy Ghost spake by them, and that the Word of

the Lord was upon their tongue. It is,


next, that whatever was written in the Bible, having been so written by prophecy, all the

sacred books are holy letters (ƒer¦ gr£mmata), written prophecies (prophte…ai grafÁj):

and Scriptures given by divine inspiration (grafaˆ qeÒpneustw.) Every thing there is from


Nevertheless, the reader will be pleased to remember (we once more repeat it here, although

we have had occasion more than once to say it already), that it does not necessarily follow that

the prophets of the Old and New Testament were thrown into a state of excitation and

enthusiasm, which took them out of themselves; we must, on the contrary, beware of

entertaining any such idea. The ancient Church attached so much importance even to this

principle, that under the reign of the emperor Commodus, according to what Eusebius says,

Miltiades (the illustrious author of a Christian Apology) “composed a book for the express

purpose of establishing,” against Montanus and the false prophets of Phrygia, “that true

prophets ought to be masters of themselves, and ought not to speak in ecstasy.”89 The action

of God was exerted upon them without their passing entirely out of their ordinary condition.

The spirits of the prophets,” says St Paul, “are subject to the prophets.”90 Their intellectual

faculties were at the time directed, not suspended. They knew, they felt, they willed, they

89 Hist. Eccles., lib. v. c. 17. – ‘En ú ¢pode…knusi perˆ toà mhdšna Prof»thn ™n ekst£sei lale‹n. – See also

Niceph., lib. iv. c. 24. See the same principles in Tertullian (against Marcion, lib. iv. c. 22); in Epiphan. (Adv.

hæreses, lib. ii. hæres., 48, c. 3); in Jerome (Prœmium in Nahum.); in Basil the Great (Commentar. in Esaiam,

proem, 5).

90 1 Cor. xiv. 32.

recollected, they understood, they approved. They could say, “It seemed good to me to write;”

and, as apostles, “It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us to write.”91 And the words as

well as the thoughts were given them; for, after all, words are themselves but second thoughts

relating to language, and having recourse to it for the selection of expres-


sions. In both cases, to explain the gift is equally easy and equally difficult.

Meanwhile, as respects inspiration, there is something in holy Scripture that strikes us if

possible still more than all those declarations of the apostles and of Jesus Christ himself, and

that is the examples they present to us.


First of all, consider what use is made by the apostles themselves of the Word of God, and the

terms in which they quote it. See how, in doing this, they not only think it enough to say,

God hath said;”92 “the Holy Ghost saith;”93 “God saith in such a prophet;”94 but observe,

farther, when they quote it, with what respect they speak of what are for them its smallest

particles; how attentively they weigh every word; with what a religious assurance they often

insist on a single word, in order to deduce from it the most serious consequences, and the

most fundamental doctrines.

For ourselves, we confess nothing more strongly impresses us than this view of the subject;

nothing has begot in us so deep and firm a confidence in the entire inspiration of the


The preceding reasonings and testimonies seem of themselves sufficient to carry conviction to

every attentive mind; but if we felt conscious of any need on our own part of having our belief

of this truth fortified, we feel that we should not go so far in search of reasons. It would be

enough for us to inquire what holy Scrip-

[p .90]

ture was in the view of God’s apostles, and how far, according to their apprehension, its

language was inspired. What, for example, were St Paul’s sentiments on the subject? For we

make no pretension to be more enlightened divines than the twelve apostles. Cleaving to the

dogmatical theology of St Peter and the exegetical of St Paul, among all the systems ever

91 Acts i. 3, xv. 28.

92 Eph. iv.8; Heb. i. 8.

93 Acts xiii. 2, xxviii. 23; Heb. iii. 1, x. 25, and elsewhere.

94 Rom. ix. 25.

broached on the inspiration of the Scriptures, theirs is what we have decidedly resolved to


Hear, then, the apostle Paul when he quotes them, and proceeds to comment upon them. On

such occasions he discusses their minutest expressions; and often, when about to deduce the

most important consequences from them, he employs arguments which, were it we that should

employ them in discussions with the doctors of the Socinian school, would be treated as

childish or absurd. For such a respect for the words of the text, we should be sent back to the

sixteenth century with its gross orthodoxy and its superannuated theology. Mark with what

reverence the apostle dwells upon their most minute expressions; with what confidence he

expects the submission of the Church, while he notes the use of such a word rather than of

such another; with what studiousness and affection he as it were presses every one of them in

his hands till the last drop of meaning has been obtained from it.

Among so many examples which we might adduce, let us confine ourselves, for brevity’s

sake, to the Epistle to the Hebrews.

See how, at verse 8th of chapter ii., after quoting these words, “Thou hast put all things under

his feet,” the sacred author argues from the authority of the word all.

See how, at the 11th verse, in quoting the 22d Psalm, he argues from the expression my

brethren, that the Son of God behoved to put on the nature of man.

See how, at the 27th verse of chapter xii., in quoting the prophet Haggai, he argues from the

word once more, “Yet once more.”

See at the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th verses, how


largely he argues from these words my son, of the 3d chapter of the Proverbs, “My son,

despise not thou the chastening of the Lord.”

See how, at the 10th chapter, in quoting the 40th Psalm, he argues from the words Lo I come,

set against the words. “Thou wouldest not.”

See how, at chapter viii., from the 8th to the lath verses, in quoting Jeremiah xxxi. 31, he

argues from the word new.

See, at chapter iii. 7-19, and iv. 2-11, with urgency in quoting the 95th Psalm, he argues from

the word “to-day,” from the words “I have sworn,” and, above all, from the words “my rest,”

illustrated by that other expression of Genesis, “ And God rested on the seventh day.”

See how, at verses 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, he argues from these words servant and my house, taken

from the book of Numbers, “My servant Moses, who is faithful in all my house.”

See, especially at chapter vii., the use he makes successively of all the words of the 110th

Psalm; mark how he takes up each of its expressions, one after another, in order to deduce

from them the very highest doctrines: “The Lord hath sworn;” “he hath sworn by himself;”

Thou art a priest;” “Thou art a priest for ever;” “Thou art a priest after the order of

Melchisedec;” “of Melchisedec king of Sedec,” and “of Melchisedec king of Salem.” The

exposition of the doctrines contained in each of these words will be found to occupy three

chapters, the 5th, the 6th, and the 7th.

But here I pause. Can we fail to conclude from such examples, that, in the view of the apostle

Paul, the Scriptures were inspired by God, even to their most minute expressions? Let each of

us, then, place himself in the school of the man to whom and been given, by the Spirit of God,

the knowledge of the mystery of Christ, as to a holy apostle and prophet.95 One must


necessarily either account him an enthusiast, and reject in his person the testimonies of the

Holy Bible, or receive with him the precious and fruitful doctrine of the plenary inspiration of

the Scriptures.

O ye who read these lines, to what school will ye attach yourselves? to that of the apostles, or

to that of the doctors of this age? “If any man take away from the words of this book” (this I

testify, says St John), “God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life, and out of the

holy city, and from the things which are written in this Book.”96

But, farther, let us turn from the apostles, prophets as they are – men sent by God for the

establishment of his kingdom, the pillars of the Church, the mouths of the Holy Ghost,

ambassadors of Jesus Christ; let us, for an instant, turn from them as men who had not yet

quite thrown off their Jewish traditions and clownish prejudices, and let us go to the Master.

Let us inquire of him what the Scriptures were in his view of them. Here is the grand question.

The testimonies to which we have appealed are peremptory, no doubt; and the doctrine of a

plenary and entire inspiration is taught as clearly in Scripture as that of the resurrection of the

dead can be; that ought of itself to he enough for us; but we repeat, nevertheless, here is an

argument which for us renders all else superfluous. How did Jesus Christ appeal to the Holy

Bible? What were his views of the letter of the Scriptures? What use did he make of it, he who

is its object and inspirer, beginning and end, first and last? he whose Holy Spirit, says St

Peter, animated all the prophets of the Old Testament (2 Peter i. 21), who was in heaven in the

bosom of the Father at the same time that he was seen here below, dwelling among us and

preaching the gospel to the poor? Among the most ardent defenders of their verbal inspiration,

we know not one that ever expressed himself with more respect for the altogether divine au-


thority and everlasting endurance of their most minute expressions than was done by the man

Jesus. And we scruple not to say, that were any modern writer to quote the Bible, as Jesus

Christ did, with the view of deducing from it any doctrine, he would forthwith have to be

ranked among the most zealous partisans of the doctrine we defend. I am asked, What is your

view of the Holy Letters? I answer, What thought my Master of them? how did he appeal to

them? what use did he make of them? what were their smallest details in his eyes?

Ah! speak to them thyself, Eternal Wisdom, Un-created Word, Judge of judges! and as we

proceed to repeat to them here the declarations of thy mouth, show them the majesty in which

95 Eph. iii. 4, 5.

96 Rev. xxii. 18, 19.

the Scriptures appeared to thee – show them the perfection thou didst recognise in them, that

everlasting endurance, above all, which thou didst assign to their smallest iota, and which will

make them outlast the universe, after the very heavens and the earth have passed away!

We are not afraid to say it: when we hear the Son of God quote the Scriptures, every thing is

said, in our view, on their divine inspiration – we need no farther testimony. All the

declarations of the Bible are, no doubt, equally divine; but this example of the Saviour of the

world has settled the question for us at once. This proof requires neither long nor learned,

researches; it is grasped by the hand of a child as powerfully as by that of a doctor. Should

any doubt, then, assail your soul, let it turn to the Lord of lords; let it behold him in presence

of the Scriptures!

Follow Jesus in the days of his flesh. With what serious and tender respect does he constantly

hold in his hands “the volume of the Book,” to quote every part of it, and note its shortest

verses. See how one word, one single word, whether of a psalm or of an historical hook, has

for him the authority of a law. Mark with what confident submission he receives the whole

Scripture; without ever contesting its sacred


canon; for he knows that “salvation cometh of the Jews,” and that, under the infallible

providence of God, “to them were committed the oracles of God.” Did I say, he receives

them? From his childhood to the grave, and from his rising again from the grave to his

disappearance in the clouds, what does he bear always about with him, in the desert, in the

temple, in the synagogue? What does he continue to quote with his resuscitated voice, just as

the heavens are about to exclaim, “Lift up your heads, ye everlasting doors, and the king of

glory shall come in?” It is the Bible, ever the Bible; it is Moses, the Psalms, and the prophets:

he quotes them, he explains them, but how? Why, verse by verse, and word by word.

In what alarming and melancholy contrast, after beholding all this, do we see those misguided

men present themselves in our days, who dare to judge, contradict, cull, and mutilate the

Scriptures. Who does not tremble, after following with his eyes the Son of Man as he

commands the elements, stills the storms, and opens the graves, while, filled with so profound

a respect for the sacred volume, he declares that he is one day to judge by that book the quick

and the dead? Who does not shudder, whose heart does not bleed, when, after observing this,

we venture to step into a Rationalist academy, and see the professor’s chair occupied by a

poor mortal, learned, miserable, a sinner, responsible, yet handling God’s Word irreverently;

when we follow him as he goes through this deplorable task before a body of youths, destined

to be the guides of a whole people – youths capable of doing so much good if guided to the

heights of the faith, and so much mischief if tutored in disrespect for those Scriptures which

they are one day to preach? With what peremptory decision do such men display the

phantasmagoria of their hypotheses; they retrench, they add, they praise, they blame, and pity

the simplicity which, reading the Bible as it was read by Jesus Christ, like him clings to every

syllable, and never dreams of finding error in the


Word of God! They pronounce on the intercalations and retrenchments that Holy Scripture

must have undergone – intercalations and retrenchments never suspected by Jesus Christ; they

lop off the chapters they do not understand, and point out blunders, ill-sustained or illconcluded

reasonings, prejudices, imprudences, and instances of vulgar ignorance.

May God forgive my being compelled to put this frightful dilemma into words, but the

alternative is inevitable! Either Jesus Christ exaggerated and spoke incoherently when he

quoted the Scriptures thus, or these rash wretched men unwittingly blaspheme their divine

majesty. It pains us to write these lines. God is our witness that we could have wished to

recall, and then to efface them; but we venture to say, with profound feeling, that it is in

obedience, it is in charity, that they have been penned. Alas! in a few short years both the

doctors and the disciples will be laid in the tomb, they shall wither like the grass; but not one

jot or tittle of that divine book will then have passed away; and as certainly as the Bible is the

truth, and that it has changed the face of the world, as certainly shall we see the Son come in

the clouds of heaven, and judge, by his eternal Word, the secret thoughts of all men!97 . . .

All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and

the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the

word which by the gospel is preached unto you;”98 this is the word which will judge us.

Now, then, we proceed to close our proofs, by reviewing, under this aspect, the ministry of

Jesus Christ. Let us follow him from the age of twelve to his descent into the grave, or rather,

to his passing into the cloud, in which he went out of sight; and throughout the whole course

of that incomparable career, let us see what the Scriptures were in the eye of Him who

upholds all things by the word of his power.”


First of all, let us contemplate him at the age of twelve years. He grew, like one of the

children of men, in wisdom and in stature; he is in the midst of the doctors in the temple of

Jerusalem; he ravishes with his answers those who hear him; for, said they, “he knows the

Scriptures without having studied them.”99

Behold him from the time he commenced his ministry. See him filled with the Holy Ghost; he

is led into the wilderness, there to sustain, as the first Adam did in Eden, a mysterious contest

with the powers of darkness. The impure spirit dares to approach him, bent on his overthrow;

but how will the Son of God repel him, even he who had come to destroy the works of the

Devil? Solely with the Bible. His only weapon, three successive times, in his divine hands, is

the sword of the Spirit, the Bible. He quotes, thrice successively, the Book of

Deuteronomy.100 On every fresh temptation, he, the Word made flesh, defends himself by a

sentence of the oracles of God, and by a sentence, too, the whole force of which lies in the use

of a single word, or of two words; first of these words (¥rtJ mÒnJ), bread alone; then of

those words, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord (oÙk ™kpeir£seij KÚrion);” then, finally, of

these two words (qeÕn proskun»seij), Thou shalt worship God.

What an example for us! His whole reply, his whole defence is this:- “It is written;” “Get thee

behind me, Satan, for it is written;” and as soon as this terrible and mysterious contest closed,

the angels drew near to minister to him.

97 Rom. ii. 16; John xii. 48; Matt. xxv. 31.

98 1 Pet. i. 24, 25.

99 John vii. 15.

100 Deut. vii. 3, vi. ]3, x. 20; Matt. iv. 1, 11.

But, mark this farther, such was the respect of the Son of man for the authority of every word

of the Scriptures, that the impure spirit himself, powerful as he was in evil, and who knew

what all the words of the Bible were in his antagonist’s eyes, could fancy no surer means of

shaking his will than by quoting to him (but at the same time mutilating) a verse of the 91st


psalm; and forthwith Jesus Christ, to confound him, thinks it is enough to reply once more

with, “It is written.”

See how his priestly ministry commenced – with the use of the Scriptures; and see how his

prophetic ministry commenced soon after – with the use of the Scriptures.

Once engaged in his work, let us follow him as he goes from place to place doing good,

displaying in his poverty his creative power ever for the relief of others, never for his own. He

speaks, and it is done; he casts out devils, he turns the storm into a calm, he raises the dead.

Yet, amid all these tokens of greatness, observe what the Scriptures are to him. The Word is

ever with him; not in his hands, for lie knows it thoroughly, but in his memory and in his

incomparable heart. Mark how he speaks of it! When he unrols the sacred volume, it is as if

an opening were made in heaven, that we may hear Jehovah’s voice. With what reverence,

with what submission, does he expound the Scriptures, comment upon them, quote them word

by word! See how it becomes his grand concern to heal men’s diseases and to preach the

Scriptures, as it was afterwards to die and to fulfil the Scriptures!

See who comes, “as his custom was,” into the synagogue on the Sabbath-day; for we are told

he taught in their synagogues.101 He goes into that at Nazareth; and what do we find him doing

there – he, the everlasting Wisdom, possessed by Jehovah in the beginning of his way, brought

forth when there were no depths, before the mountains were settled, and before the hills?102

He rises and takes the Bible, opens it at Isaiah, reads some words there; then having closed the

book, he sits down, and while the eyes of all that are in the synagogue are fastened on him, he

begins to say, “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.”103

See him as he passes through Galilee, and mark how


he employs himself there. “The volume of the book” is still in his hands; he explains it line by

line, word by word; he points out to our respect its most minute expressions, as he would

those of “the ten words” uttered on Sinai.

See him once more in Jerusalem, before the pool of Bethesda; what do we find him saying to

the people? “Search the Scriptures.” – (John v.)

See him in the holy place, in the midst of which he had dared to say aloud, “In this place is

one greater than the holy place.” – (Matt. xii. 6.) Follow him into the presence of the

Sadducees and the Pharisees, while he reprehends them successively with these words, “It is

written,” as he had done in the case of Satan.

101 Luke iv. 15, 16.

102 Prov. viii. 22, 25.

103 Luke iv. 21.

Listen to his reply to the Sadducees who denied the resurrection of the body. How does be

refute them? By ONE SOLE WORD of an HISTORICAL passage of the Bible; by a single

verb in the present tense, instead of that same verb in the past tense. “Ye greatly err,” said he

to them, “NOT KNOWING THE SCRIPTURES. Have ye not read that which was spoken

unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham!” It is thus that he proves to them the

doctrine of the resurrection. God, on Mount Sinai, four hundred years after the death of

Abraham, says to Moses, not “I was,” but “I am” the God of Abraham; I am that now (shda

ytla ykna), which the Holy Ghost translates – (‘Egè e„mi Ð QeÕj ‘Abra¦m). There is a

resurrection, then; for God is not the God of a few handfuls of dust, the God of the dead, the

God of nothing: he is the God of the living. Those men therefore are, in the view of God, still


Next, behold him in the presence of the Pharisees. It is again by the letter of the Word that he

proceeds to confound them.

Some had by this time followed him into the coasts of Judea beyond Jordan, and came to him

asking to be informed what were his doctrines on the subject of


marriage and divorce. Now, what followed on the part of Jesus Christ? He might certainly

have given an authoritative reply, and announced his own laws on the subject. Is he not

himself the King of kings and Lord of lords? But no; it was to the Bible that he made his

appeal, still for the same purpose of making it the basis of doctrine; it was to these simple

words taken from a purely historical passage in Genesis,105 – “HAVE YE NOT READ, that he

which made them at the beginning made them male and female; so that they twain shall be

one flesh? What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”106

But listen to him, especially when in the temple he would prove to other Pharisees, by the

Scriptures, the divinity of the expected Messiah. Here likewise, to demonstrate this, he still

insists on the use of A SINGLE WORD, which he proceeds to take from the Book of Psalms:

If the Messiah be the son of David,” said he, “how doth David, BY THE SPIRIT, call him

LORD; saying (at the 110th Psalm), The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit. thou on my right hand?

If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?”

How happens it, that among those Pharisees none was found to say in reply, “What! do you

mean to insist on a single word, and still more on a term borrowed from a poesy eminently

lyrical, where the royal Psalmist might, without material consequence, have employed too

lively a construction, high-flown expressions, and words which, doubtless, he had not

theologically pondered before throwing them into his verses? Would you follow such a mode

of minutely interpreting each expression as is at once fanatical and servile? Would you

worship the letter of the Scriptures to such an extreme? Would you build a whole doctrine

upon a word?”

104 Matt. xxii. 31, 32.

105 Gen. i. 27, ii. 24.

106 Matt. xix. 4, 5, 6.

Yes, I do, is Christ’s reply; yes, I will throw myself on a single word, because that word is

God’s! And,


to cut short all your objections, I tell you that it is BY THE SPIRIT that David wrote all the

words of his hymns; and I ask you “how, if the Messiah be his son, David, BY THE SPIRIT,

can call him his Lord, when he says, The Lord said unto my Lord?”

Students of God’s Word, and you especially who are to be his ministers, and who, as your

preparation for preaching it, would desire first of all to have received it into a good and honest

heart, behold what every saying, every single word of the Book of God, was in the regard of

your Master. Go and do likewise!

But more than this. Again let us listen to him, even on the cross. There he poured out his soul

as an offering for sin; all his bones were out of joint; he was poured out as water; his heart

was like wax, melted in the midst of his bowels; his tongue cleaved to his jaws; be was about

to give up his spirit to his Father. But, previous to this, what do we find him do? He desires to

collect his remaining strength, in order to recite a psalm which the Church of Israel had sung

on her religious festivals for a thousand years, and which told over, one after another, all his

sorrows and all his prayers: “ Eli, Eli, lama sabachththani (my God, my God, why hast thou

forsaken me)?” He does even more than this: listen to him. There remained in the Scriptures

one word which had not yet been fulfilled. Vinegar had still to be given him on that cross (this

the Holy Ghost had declared a thousand years before in the 69th Psalm). “After this,” it is

written, “Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be

fulfilled, saith, I thirst. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished:

and having bowed his head, he gave up the ghost.”107

When David sang the 69th Psalm on Sosannim, and the 17th Psalm on Ajeleth, did he know

the prophetic meaning of all these words, of those hands and feet


that were pierced, of that gall poured out, of that vinegar, of those garments that were parted,

of that vesture on which a lot was cast, of that mocking populace, wagging their heads and

making mouths? It matters little to us his understanding it; the Holy Ghost at least understood

it, and David spake BY THE SPIRIT, said Jesus Christ. The heaven and the earth shall pass

away; but there was not in that book a jot or tittle that could pass away till all was fulfilled. –

(John x. 35; Matt. v. 18).

Meanwhile, behold something, if possible, more striking still. Jesus Christ rises from the

tomb; he has overcome death; he is about to return to the Father, there to resume that glory

which he bad with the Father before the world began. Let us follow him, then, during those

fleeting moments with which he would still favour the earth. What words are now about to

proceed from that mouth, again restored to life? Why, words from Holy Scripture. Still he

quotes it, explains it, preaches it. See him, first of all, on the way to Emmaus, walking with

Cleopas and his friend; afterwards in the upper chamber; and, later still, on the borders of the

lake. How is he employed? In expounding the sacred books; he begins with Moses, he

107 John xix. 25-30.

continues through all the Prophets and the Psalms; he shows them what had been said

concerning him in all the Scriptures; he opens their minds to understand them; he makes their

hearts burn within them as he speaks of them.108

But we have not yet done. All these quotations show us what the Holy Bible was in the eyes

of Him “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. ii. 3); and “by

whom all things subsist” (Col. i. 17). But on the letter of the Scriptures, listen further to two

declarations, and a last example of our Lord.

It is easier,” says he, “for heaven and earth to


pass, than for one tittle (kera…a) of the law to fall;109 and by the law Jesus Christ understood

the whole of the Scriptures, and even, more particularly, the Book of Psalms.110 What terms

could possibly be imagined capable of expressing, with greater force and precision, the

principle which we defend; that is to say, the authority, the entire divine inspiration, and the

perpetuity of all the parts, and of the very letter of the Scriptures? Ye who study God’s Word,

here behold the theology of your Master! Be ye then divines after his manner; be your Bible

the same as that of the Son of God! Of that not a single tittle can fall.

Till heaven and earth pass,” saith he, “one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law,

till all be fuffilled.” – (Matt. v. 18.) All the words of the Scriptures, accordingly, even to the

smallest stroke of a letter, are no less than the words OF JESUS CHRIST; for he hath also

said, “heaven and earth shall pass away; but my words shall not pass away.” – (Luke xxi. 33.)

The impugners of these doctrines ask us if we are bold enough to maintain that Holy Scripture

is a law of God even in its words, as hyssop, or as an oak, is a work of God even in its leaves.

We reply, with all the Fathers of the Church, Yes, even in its “words, even to („îta Ÿn, À m…a

kera…a) one jot or one tittle!”

But, passing from these two declarations, let us finally direct our attention to a last example

given by our Lord which we have not yet adduced.

It is still Jesus Christ who is about to quote the Scriptures, but claiming for their smallest

words such an authority, that one is compelled to rank him among the most ardent partisans of

verbal inspiration, and that we do not think, that had we before us all the writings of divines

the most uncompromising in their orthodoxy, we should any where find an example of more

profound respect for the letter of Scripture, and for the plenitude of their divine inspiration.


It was winter. Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s (the eastern) porch; the Jews came

about him, upon which he said to them, “I give eternal life unto my sheep, and they shall

never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand: I and the Father are one.” People

were astonished at such language; but he assumed a still bolder tone, until at last the Jews,

108 Luke xxiv. 21, 44.

109 Luke xvi. 17.

110 John x. 34, as did also the Jews, xii. 34; Rom. iii. 19.

exclaiming that it was blasphemy, took up stones to stone him, telling him they did so,

because thou, being a man, makest thyself God.”111

Now then, let the reader carefully mark the several points involved in the answer made by

Jesus Christ. He quotes a saying taken from one of the psalms, and proceeds to rest the whole

of his doctrine on that single saying: for “he made himself equal with God;” says John

elsewhere (v. 18). In maintaining the most sublime and most mysterious of his doctrines, and,

in order to legitimitize the most extraordinary of his pretensions, he appeals to certain words

in the 82d Psalm. But, mark well! before pronouncing the words he takes care to interrupt

himself; he pauses in a solemn parenthesis, and exclaims in a tone of authority, And the

Scripture cannot be broken (kaˆ oÙ dÚnatai luqÁnai ¹ graf»)!

Has sufficient attention been paid to this? Not only is our Lord’s argument here founded

entirely on the use made by the Psalmist of a single word, and not only does he proceed to

establish the most astonishing of his doctrines on this expression; but further, in thus quoting

the Book of Psalms in order to make us understand that in his eyes the whole book was

dictated by the Holy Ghost, and that every word of it carried the authority of the law, Jesus

calls it by the name of LAW, and says to the Jews, “Is it not written in your law, I have said

ye are gods?” These words are placed in the middle of a hymn; they might seem to have

escaped from the unreflecting fervour of the prophet


Asaph, or from the burning raptures of his poetry. And were we not to admit the full

inspiration of all that is written, one might be tempted to tax them with indiscretion, since the

imprudent use which the Psalmist may have made of them, might have led the people to

usages elsewhere censured by the Word of God, and to idolatrous imaginations. How then,

once more we ask, was there no rationalist scribe from the universities of Israel to be found

there, under Solomon’s porch, to say to him, “You cannot, Lord, claim the authority of that

expression. The use that Asaph makes of it can have been neither considerate nor becoming.

Although inspired as respects the thoughts suggested by his piety, he no doubt did not

maturely weigh every little word with a very scrupulous regard to the use that might possibly

be made of them a thousand years after his own day.. It were rash, therefore, to insist upon


But now, let the reader mark, how our Lord anticipates the profane rashness of such an

objection. Observe well: he solemnly reproves it; he proceeds to pronounce words concerning

himself which would be blasphemy in the mouth of an archangel. “I and the Father are one;”

but he interrupts himself, and immediately after saying, “Is it not written in your law, ye are

gods?“ he stops, and, fixing his eyes with a look of authority on the doctors who surround

him, he exclaims, “AND THE SCRIPTURE CANNOT BE BROKEN!” As if he had said,

Beware! there is not in the sacred books a single word to be found fault with, nor a single

word that one can neglect. This which I cite in this 82d Psalm, has been traced by the hand

that made the heavens.” If then, he has been willing to give the name of gods to men, in so far

as they were christ’s (anointed ones), and types of the true Christ, who is emphatically the

Anointed One, and taking care nevertheless to call to mind “that they should die like men,”

how shall it not still more appertain to me to take that name to myself? I, “the everlasting

111 John x. 27, and following verses.


Father,”112 Emmanuel, the God-man, who do the works of my Father, and on whom the

Father hath put his seal?

Here, then, we ask of every serious reader (and our argument, be it well observed, is

altogether independent of the orthodox meaning or the Socinian meaning people may choose

to give to the words of Jesus Christ); we ask, Is it possible to admit that the Being who makes


INSPIRATION? And if he could have imagined that the words of the Bible were left to the

free choice and pious fancies of the sacred writers, would he ever have dreamed of founding

such arguments on such a word? The Lord Jesus, our Saviour and our Judge, believed then in

the most complete inspiration of the Scriptures; and for him the first rule of all hermeneutics,

and the commencement of all exegesis, was this simple maxim applied to the most minute

expressions of the written word, “AND THE SCRIPTURE CANNOT BE BROKEN.”

Let, then, the Prince of Life, the light of the world, reckon all of us as his scholars! What he

believed let us receive. What he respected let us revere. Let us press to our sickly hearts that

Word to which he submitted his saviour heart, and all the thoughts of his holy humanity, and

to it let us subject all the thoughts of our fallen humanity. There let us look for God, even in

its minutest passages; in it let us daily dip the roots of our being, “like the tree planted by the

rivers of waters, which bringeth forth his fruit in his season, and his leaf shall not wither.”

Converted to pdf format by Robert I Bradshaw, August 2004.

112 Isa. ix. 6, vii. H; John vi. 27.




It has been our desire that this work should not bear so strictly theological a character, as that

Christian women, or other persons not conversant with certain studies, and not acquainted with

the sacred languages, should be deterred from the perusal of it. Nevertheless, we should be

wanting to part of our object if the doctrine were not, on some points, stated with more

precision. We have to request, therefore, that in order to avoid being led off, under another

form, into an excessive length of development, we may be allowed to exhibit it here in a more

didactic shape, and to sum it up in a short catechetical sketch. We will do little more than

indicate the proper place of the points already treated; and will enter somewhat at large into the

consideration of those only that have not yet been mentioned.


I. What, then, are we to understand by divine inspiration?

Divine inspiration is the mysterious power put forth


by the Spirit of God on the authors of holy writ, to make them write it, to guide them even in

the employment of the words they use, and thus to preserve them from all error?

II. What are we told of the spiritual power put forth on the men of God while they were writing

their sacred books?

We are told that they were led or moved (f™rÒmenoi) “not by the will of man, but by the Holy

Ghost; so that they set forth the things of God, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but

which the Holy Ghost teacheth.”1 “God,” says the apostle,2 “spake BY THE PROPHETS at

sundry times, and in divers manners (polumerîj kai polutrÒpwj);” sometimes enabling

them to understand what he made them say; sometimes without doing so; sometimes by

dreams3 and by visions which he afterwards made them relate; sometimes by giving them

1 2 Peter i. 21; 1 Cor. ii. 13.

2 Heb. i. 1.

3 Num. xii. 6; Job xxxiii. 15; Dan. i. 17, ii. 6, vii. 1; Gen. xx. 6, xxxi. 10; 1 Kings iii. 5; Matt. 1. 20, ii. 12, 22; Acts

ii. 17.

words internally (lÒgJ ™ndi£qetJ), which he caused them immediately to utter; sometimes by

words transmitted to them externally (lÒgJ profÒrikJ), which he caused them to repeat.4

III. But what passed in their hearts and minds while they were writing?

This we cannot tell. It is a fact which, subject besides to great varieties, could not be for us an

object either of scientific inquiry or of faith.

IV. Have not modern authors, however, who have written on this subject, often distinguished

in the Scriptures three or four degrees of inspiration (superintendence, elevation, direction,


This is but idle conjecture; and the supposition,


besides, is in contradiction with the Word of God, which knows but one kind of inspiration.

Here, there is none true but suggestion.

V. Do we not see, however, that the men of God were profoundly acquainted, and often even

profoundly affected, with the sacred things which they taught, with the future things which

they predicted, with the past things which they related?

No doubt they might be so – nay, in most instances they were so – but they might not have been

so; this happened in different measures, of which the degree remains to us unknown, and the

knowledge of which is not required of us.

VI. Wbat then must we think of those definitions of divine inspiration, in which Scripture

seems to be represented as the altogether human expression of a revelation altogether divine; –

what, for example, must we think of that of Baumgarten,5 who says, that inspiration is but the

means by which revelation, at first immediate, became mediate, and took the form of a book

(medium quo revelatio immediata, mediata facta, inque libros relata est?)

These definitions are not exact, and may give rise to false notions of inspiration. I say they are

not exact. They contradict facts. Immediate revelation does not necessarily precede inspiration;

and when it precedes it, it is not its measure. The empty air prophesied;6 a hand coming forth

from a wall wrote the words of God;7 a dumb animal reproved the madness of a prophet.8

Balaam prophesied without any desire to do so; and the believers of Corinth did so without

even knowing the meaning of the words put by the Holy Ghost on their lips.9


4 Nurn. xx. 6, xxiv. 4; Job vii. 14; Gen. i. 15, xx. 3; Ps. lxxxix. 19; Matt. xvii. 9; Acts ii. 17, ix. 10-12, x. 3, 17, 19,

xi. 5, xii. 9, xvi. 9, 10; 2 Cor. xii. 1, 2.

5 De Discrimine Revelat. et Inspirationis.

6 Gen. iii. 14, &c., iv. 6; Exod. iii. 6, &c., xix. 3, &c.; Deut. iv. 12; Matt. iii. 17, xvii. 5.

7 Dan. v. 5.

8 2 Pet. ii. 16.

9 1 Cor. xiv.

I would next observe, that these definitions produce or conceal false notions of inspiration. In

fact, they assume its being nothing more than the natural expression of a supernatural

revelation; and that the men of God had merely of themselves, and in a human way, to put

down in their hooks what the Holy Ghost made them see in a divine way, in their

understandings. But inspiration is more than this. Scripture is not the mind of God elaborated

by the understanding of man, to be promulgated in the words of man; it is at once the mind of

God and the word of God.

VII. The Holy Ghost having in all ages illuminated God’s elect, and having moreover

distributed miraculous powers among them in ancient times, in which of these two orders of

spiritual gifts ought we to rank inspiration?

We must rank it among the extraordinary and wholly miraculous gifts. The Holy Ghost in all

ages enlightens the elect by his powerful inward virtue; he testifies to them of Christ;10 gives

them the unction of the Holy One; teaches them all things, and convinces them of all truth.11

But, besides these ordinary gifts of illumination and faith, the same Spirit shed extraordinary

ones on the men who were commissioned to promulgate and to write the oracles of God.

Divine inspiration was one of those gifts.

VIII. Is the difference, then, between illumination and inspiration a difference of kind or only

of degree?

It is a difference of kind, and not of degree only.

IX. Nevertheless, did not the apostles, besides inspiration, receive from the Holy Ghost

illumination in extraordinary measure, and in its most eminent degree?

In its most eminent degree, is what none can affirm; in an extraordinary degree, is what none

can contradict.


The apostle Paul, for example, did not receive the gospel from any man, but by a revelation

from Jesus Christ.12

He wrote “ALL HIS EPISTLES,” St Peter tells us,13 not only in words taught by the Holy

Ghost,14 as had been the OTHER SCRIPTURES (of the old Testament), but according to a

wisdom which had been given to him.15 He had the knowledge of the mystery of Christ.16

Jesus Christ had promised to give his disciples, not only “a mouth, but wisdom to testify of

him.”17 David, when he seemed to speak only of himself in the Psalms, KNEW that it was of

the Messiah, that his words were to he understood: “Being a prophet, and knowing that of the

fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, God would raise up Christ to sit on his throne.”18

10 John xv. 26.

11 1 John ii. 20-27; John xiv. 16-26; vii. 38, 39.

12 Gal. i. 12-16; 1 Cor. xv. 3

13 2 Pet. iii. 15, 16.

14 1 Cor. xi. 13.

15 2 Pet. iii. 15, 16.

16 Eph. iii. 3.

17 Luke xxi. 15.

18 Acts ii. 30.

X. Why, then, should we not say that divine inspiration is but illumination in its most exalted

and abundant measure?

We must beware of saying so; for thus we should have but a narrow, confused, contingent, and

constantly fluctuating idea of inspiration. In fact, –

1. God, who often conjoined those two gifts in one man, often also saw fit to disjoin them, in

order that he might give us to understand that they essentially differ, the one from the other,

and that, when united, they are independent. Every true Christian has the holy Ghost,19 hut

every Christian is not inspired, and such an one who utters the words of God, may not have

received either life-giving affections or life-giving light.

2. It may be demonstrated by a great many examples, that the one of these gifts was not the

measure of the other; and that the divine inspiration of the prophets did not observe the ratio of

their knowledge, any more than that of their holiness.


3. Far, indeed, from the one of those gifts being the measure of the other, one may even say

that divine inspiration appeared all the more strikingly the more that the illumination of the

sacred writer remained in arrear of his illumination. When you behold the very prophets, who

were most enlightened by God’s Spirit, heading over their own pages after having written

them, and endeavouring to comprehend the meaning which the Spirit in them had caused them

to express, it should become manifest to you that their divine inspiration was independent of

their illumination.

4. Even supposing the prophet’s illumination raised to its utmost pitch, still it did not reach the

altitude of the divine idea, and there might be much more meaning in the word dictated to them

than the prophet was yet cognisant of David, doubtless, in hymning his psalms, knew20 that

they referred to “Him who was to be born of his loins, to sit upon his throne forever.” Most of

the prophets, like Abraham their father, saw the day of Christ, and when they saw it, were

glad;21 they searched what the Spirit of Christ, which was in them, did signify, when it testified

beforehand of the sufferings of the Messiah, and the glory that should follow.22 Yet

notwithstanding all this, our Lord attests to us that the simplest Christian, the least (in

knowledge) in the kingdom of God, knows more on that subject than the greatest of the


5. These gifts differ from each other in essential characters, which we will presently describe.

6. Finally, it is always the inspiration of the book that is presented to us as an object of faith,

never the inward state of him that writes it. His knowledge or ignorance nowise affects the

confidence I owe to his words; and my soul ought ever to look not so much to the lights of his

understanding as to the God of all

19 1 John ii. 20-27; Jer. xxxi. 34; John vi. 43.

20 Acts ii, 30.

21 John viii. 56.

22 1 Peter i. 11.

23 Mat. xi. 11. Michaelis Introd. tome i. p. 116-129, French translation. (That author thinks, that in this passage the

least means the least prophet.)


holiness, who speaks to me by his mouth. The Saviour desired, it is true, that most of those

who related his history should also have been witnesses of what they related. This was, no

doubt, in order that the world might listen to them will, the greater confidence, and might not

start reasonable doubts as to the truth of their narratives. But the Church, in her faith, looks

much higher than this: to her the intelligence of the writers is imperfectly known, and a matter

of comparative indifference – what she does know is their inspiration. It is never in the breast

of the prophet that she goes to look for its source; it is in that of her God. “Christ speaks in

me,” says St Paul, “and God bath spoken to our fathers in the prophets.”24 “Why look ye so

earnestly on us,” say to her all the sacred writers, “as though by our own power or holiness we

had done this work?”25 Look upwards.

XI. If there exist, then, between these two spiritual graces of illumination and inspiration a

specific difference, in what must we say that it consists?

Though you should find it impossible to say what that difference is, you would not the less be

obliged by the preceding reasons to declare that it does exist. In order to be able fully to reply

to this question, it were necessary that you should know the nature and the mode of both these

gifts; whereas the Holy Ghost has never explained to us, either how he infuses God’s thoughts

into the understanding of a believer, or how he puts God’s words into the mouth of a prophet.

Nevertheless, we can here point out two essential characters by which these two operations of

the Holy Ghost have always shown themselves to be distinct: the one of these characters

relates to their duration, the other to their measure.

In point of duration, illumination is continuous, whereas inspiration is intermittent. In point of



sure, illumination admits of degrees, whereas inspiration does not admit of them.

XII. What are we to understand by saying that illumination is continuous, and inspiration


The illumination of a believer by the Holy Ghost is a permanent work. Having commenced for

him on the day of his new birth, it goes on increasing, and attends him with its rays to the

termination of his course. That light, no doubt, is but too much obscured by his acts of

faithlessness and negligence, but never more will it leave him altogether. “His path,” says the

wise man, “is like the shining light, shining more and more unto the perfect day.”26 “When it

pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, to reveal his Son in me,”27 he

preserves to the end the knowledge of the mystery of Jesus Christ, and can at all times set

forth, its truths and its glories. As it was not flesh and blood that had revealed these things to

him, but the Father,28 that unction which he received from the Holy One29 abides in him, says

24 2 Cor. xiii. 5; Heb. i. 1 (™n).

25 Acts iii. 12.

26 Prov. iv. 18.

27 Gal. i. 15.

28 Matt. xvi. 17.

St John, and he needs not that any man teach him; but as the mine anointing teacheth him of all

things, and is truth, so, even as he hath been taught by it, he will remain in it. Illumination,

therefore, abideth on the faithful; but it is not so with miraculous gifts, nor with the divine

inspiration, which is one of those gifts.30

As for miraculous gifts, they were always intermittent with the men of God, if we except the

only man who “received not the Spirit by measure.”31 The apostle Paul, for example, who at

one time restored Eutychus to life, and by whom God wrought such special miracles32 (so as

that it sufficed that handkerchiefs and aprons should touch his body and be laid upon the sick,

in order to cures being effected); at other times could not relieve either his colleague

Trophimus or his


beloved Epaphroditus, or his son Timothy.33 It is the same with inspiration, which is only the

most excellent of miraculous gifts. In the Lord’s prophets, it was exerted only by intervals. The

prophets, and even the apostles, who (as we shall show) were prophets, and more than

prophets,34 did not prophesy as often as they pleased. Inspiration was sent to them by intervals;

it came upon them according as the Holy Ghost saw fit to give it to them (kaqëj tÕ Pneàma

d…dou aÙto‹j ¢pofqšggesqai);35 for “ never did prophecy come by the will of man,” says St

Peter;36 “but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the holy Ghost.” God spake in the

prophets (™n to‹j prof»taij), says St Paul, when he wished to do so, at sundry times

(polumerîj), as well as in divers manners (polutrÒtwj). On such a day, and at such a time, it

is often written, “the word of Jehovah was upon such a man (wylA hwtybr yhyw).” “In the

tenth year, on the twelfth day of the tenth month, the word of Jehovah came to me,” said the

prophet.37 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, the word of the Lord came unto John,

the son of Zacharias (™gšneto ·Áma Qeoà ™pˆ ‘Iw£nnhn);38 and on the eighth day, Zacharias,

his hither, was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying. . . .39

So then we ought not to imagine that the divine infallibility of the language of the prophets

(and even of the apostles), lasted longer than the times in which, they were engaged in their

miraculous task, and in which, the Spirit caused them to speak. Without divine inspiration,

they were in most instances enlightened, sanctified, amid preserved by God, as holy and

faithful men, in our own days may still be; but then they no more spoke as moved by the holy

Ghost; – “their language might still be worthy of the most respectful at-


tention; but it was a holy man that spoke; it was no longer God: they again became fallible.”

29 1 John ii. 20-27.

30 1 Cor. xiv. 1; Acts xix. 6.

31 John iii. 34.

32 Acts xix. 11, 12.

33 2 Tim. iv. 20; Philip. ii. 27; 1 Tim. v. 23.

34 Eph. iii. 4, 5, iv. 11; Rom. xvi. 25, 27.

35 Acts ii. 4.

36 2 Peter 1. 21.

37 Jer. i. 2, xxix. 30, and elsewhere.

38 Luke iii. 1, 2.

39 Luke i. 59, 67, 41, 42.

XIII. Can any examples be adduced of this fallibility being attached to their language, when

unaccompanied with Divine inspiration?

A multitude of instances occur. Men are often, after having been for a time the mouth of the

Lord, seen to become false prophets, and mendaciously to pretend to utter the words of

Jehovah, after the Spirit had ceased to speak in them; “although the Lord sent them not, neither

commanded them, neither spake unto them.” “They speak a vision of their own heart, not out

of the mouth of the Lord.”40

But without referring to those wicked men, or to the profane Saul, or to Balaam, who were for

some time numbered among the prophets, shall it be thought that all the words of king David

were infallible during the course of that long year which he passed into adultery? Yet “these,”

saith the Scripture, “be the last words of David, the sweet psalmist of Israel: THE SPIRIT OF


thought that all the words of the prophet Solomon still continued infallible, when he fell into

idolatry in his old age, and the salvation of his soul became a problem for the Church of God?

And to come down to Christ’s holy apostles and prophets (Eph. iii. 5), shall it he thought that

all the words of Paul himself were infallible and that he still could say that “Christ spoke by

him”42 when there was a sharp contention (paroxusmÕj) betwixt him and Barnabas;43 or

when, in the midst of the council, under a mistaken impression with regard to the person of the

High Priest, he “spoke evil of the Ruler of his people,” and cried, “ God shall strike thee, thou

whited wall;” or further (since there may remain some doubt us to the character of this

reprimand), shall it be thought that all the words


of the apostle St Peter were infallible, when, at Antioch, hue showed himself “so much to be

blamed” (kategnwsmšnoj); when he feared those that came from St James; when he

dissembled; and when he forced the apostle St Paul “to withstand him to his face before them

all, because he walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel (oÙk Ãn


XIV. What, then, are we to conclude from this first difference which we have recognised as

existing between illumination and inspiration, with respect to the duration of those gifts?

We must conclude from it,

1. That these two operations of the Holy Ghost differ in their essence, and not in their degree


2. That the infallibility of the sacred writers depended not on their illumination (which,

although raised to aim extraordinary measure in the ease of some of them, they nevertheless

enjoyed in common with. all the saints), but solely on their divine inspiration.

40 Jer. xiv. 14, xxiii. 11, 16; Ezek. xiii. 2, 3.

41 2 Sam. xxiii. 1, 2.

42 2 Cor. xiii. 3

43 Acts xv. 39.

44 See Gal. ii. 11, 14.

3. That divinely-inspired words, having been miraculous, are also all of them the words of


4. That as our faith in every part of the Bible rests no longer on the illumination of the writers,

but on the inspiration of their writings, it may dispense henceforth with the perplexing study of

their internal state, of the degree in which they were enlightened, or of that of their holiness;

but must stay itself in all things on God, in nothing on man.

XV. If such have been the difference between illumination and inspiration in the prophets and

the apostles, as respects the duration of those gifts, what has it been as respects their measure?

Illumination is susceptible of degrees; inspiration does not admit of them. A prophet is more or

less enlightened by God; but what he says is not more or


less inspired. It is so, or it is not so; it is from God, or it is not from God; here there is neither

measure nor degree, neither increase nor diminution. David was enlightened by God; John

Baptist more than David; a simple Christian possibly more than John Baptist; an apostle was

more enlightened than that Christian and Jesus Christ more than that apostle. But the inspired

word of David, what do I say? the inspired word of Balaam himself is that of God, as was that

of John Baptist, as was that of St Paul, as was that of Jesus Christ! IT IS THE WORD OF

GOD. The most enlightened of the saints cannot speak by inspiration, whilst the most wicked,

the most ignorant, and the most impure of men, may speak not of his own will (¢f’ ˜autoà

Ñuk ™ipe‹n), but by inspiration (¢ll¦ profhteÚsai).45

In a man who is truly regenerated, there is always the divine spirit and the human spirit, which

operate at once – the one enlightening, the other darkening; amid the illumination will be so

much the greater, the more that of the divine Spirit surpasses that of the human spirit. In the

prophets, and, above all, in the apostles, these two elements also are to be found. But, thanks

be to God, our faith in the words of Scripture nowise depends on the unknown issue of that

combat which was waged between the Spirit and the flesh in the soul of the sacred writers. Our

faith goes directly to the heart of God.

XVI. Can much harm result from the doctrine according to which the language of inspiration

would be no more than the human expression of a superhuman revelation, and, so to speak, of

a natural reflection of a supernatural illumination?

One or other of two evils will always result from it; either the oracles of God will be brought

down to the level of the words of the saints, or these last will be raised to the level of the



This is a deplorable consequence, the alternative involved in which has been reproduced in all

ages. It became unavoidable.

45 John xi. 51.

All truly regenerated men being enlightened by the Holy Ghost, it would follow, according to

this doctrine, that they would all possess, though in different degrees, the element of

inspiration; so that, according to the arbitrary idea which you would form to yourselves of their

spiritual condition, you would be led inevitably sometimes to assimilate the sacred writers to

them, sometimes to raise them to the rank of writers inspired from above.

XVII, Might religious societies be mentioned in which the former of these two evils is

realized; I mean to say, where people have been led, by this path, to lower the Scriptures to the

level of the sayings of saints?

All the systems of the Protestant doctors who assume that there is some mixture of error in the

Holy Scriptures, are based on this doctrine; from Semler and Ammon to Eichhorn, Paulus,

Gabler, Schuster, and Restig; from M. de Wette to the more respectable systems of Michaelis,

Rosenmüller, Scaliger, Capellus, John he Clerc, or of Vossius. According to these theories, the

divine light with which the intellects of the sacred writers was enlightened, might suffer some

partial eclipses, through the inevitable effect of their natural infirmities, of a defect of memory,

of innocent ignorance, of popular prejudice; so that traces of these have remained in their

writings, and so that we can perceive in these where their shadows have fallen.

XVIII. Might religious societies be mentioned also, where the latter of these evils has been

consummated; I mean to say, where, in consequence of buying been willing to confound

inspiration with illumination, saints and doctors have been elevated to the rank of divinely

inspired men?

Of these, two in particular may be mentioned, the Jews and the Latins.


XIX. What have the Jews done?

They have considered the rabbins of the successive ages of the Dispersion as endowed with an

infallibility which put them on a level with (if not above) Moses rind the prophets. They have,

to be sure, attributed a kind of divine inspiration to holy Scripture; but they have prohibited the

explanation of its oracles otherwise than according to their traditions. They have called the

immense body of those commandments of men the oral law (hp luk? hrwh), the Doctrine, or

the Talmud (rwmlh), distinguising it into the Mishna, or Second Law (hb?m), and Gémara,

compliment or perfection (armg). They have said that it passed from God to Moses, from

Moses to Joshua, from Joshua to the prophets, from the prophets to Esdras, from Esdras to the

doctors of the great Synagogue, and from them to the rabbins Antigone, Soccho, Shemaia,

Hillel, Scbammai, until at last Juda the saint deposited it in the traditions or repetitions of the

law (hwyb?m, deuterèseij), which afterwards, with their commentary or complement (the

gémara), formed, first, the Talmud of Jerusalem, and afterwards that of Babylon.

One of the greatest obstacles that we have to encounter in dealing with the Jews,” says the

missionary MacCaul, “is their invincible prejudice in favour of their traditions and of their

commentaries, so that we cannot prevail on them to buy our Bibles without notes or


46 Letter from Warsaw, 22d March 1827.

The law they say is salt; the mishna, pepper; the talmuds, aromatics:” “the Scripture is water;

the mishna, wine; the gémara, spiced wine.” “My son,” says rabbi Isaac, “learn to pay more

attention to the words of the scribes than to the words of the law.” “Turn away your children”

(said rabbi Eleazar, on his death bed, to his scholars, who asked him the way of life), “turn

away your children from the study of the Bible, and place them at the feet of the wise.” “ Learn



son,” says the rabbi Jacob, “ that the words of the scribes are more agreeable than those of the


XX. And what has been the result of these monstrous principles?

It is, that by this means millions and millions of immortal souls, although wandering upon the

earth, although weary and heavy laden, although every where despised amid persecuted, have

contrived to carry the book of the Old Testament, intact and complete, among all the nations of

the whole world, without ceasing to read it in Hebrew every Sabbath, in thousands of

synagogues, for the last eighteen hundred years . . . . without, notwithstanding all this,

recognising there that Jewish Messiah whom we all adore, and the knowledge of whom would

be at this day their deliverance, as it behoves one day to be their happiness amid their glory!

Full well,” said Jesus to them, “full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may

keep your own tradition.”48

XXI. And what have the Latins done?

They have considered the fathers, the popes, and the councils of the successive ages of the

Roman Church, as endowed with an infallibility which puts them on a level with Jesus, the

prophets, and the apostles, if not above them. They have differed greatly, it is true, from each

other on the doctrine of the inspiration of the Scriptures; and the faculties of Douay and

Louvain, for example, have vigorously opposed49 the opinion of the Jesuits, who would see

nothing in the operation of the


Holy Ghost but a direction preserving the sacred writers from error; but all have forbidden the

explanation of the Scriptures otherwise than by their traditions,50 They have thought

themselves entitled to say, in all their councils, as did the apostles and prophets at Jerusalem,

It hath seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us.” They have declared that it appertained to

them to pronouce upon the true meaning of holy Scripture. They have called the immense body

of those commandments of men, the oral law, the unwritten traditions, the unwritten law. They

47 In the Talmud of Jerusalem – Encycl. Method, at the word Juifs.

48 Mark vii. 9, see also xiii. and Matt. xv. 3-9. The mischief of those traditions begins at last to reveal itself to the

Jews of our days: “The time is come,” says the Israelite doctor Creissenach (Entwickelungs Geschichte des

Mosaischen Ritual Gesetzes, Pref.), “the time is come when the Talmud will precipitate the Jewish religion into

the most profound and humiliating downfall, if all the popular teachers of the Jews do not loudly declare that its

statutes are of human origin, and may be changed.”

49 Censure of 1588.

50 Council of Trent, session 4, 2d decree of 28th April 1546. – Bellarmin. De Eccl. lib. iii. cap. 14; lib. iv. cap. 3,

5, 6, 7, 8. – Coton, lib. ii. cap. 24, 34, 35. – De Perron contre Tilenus.

have said that they have been transmitted by God, and dictated by the mouth of Jesus Christ, or

of the Holy Ghost, by a continual succession.

Seeing,” says the Council of Trent,51 that the saving truth and discipline of manners are

contained in the written books amid the unwritten traditions, which, having been received by

the apostles from the mouth of Jesus Christ, or from the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, by

succession of time are come down to us, following the example of the apostolic fathers, the

Council receives with the same affection and reverence (pari pietatis et reverentiæ affectu),

and honours all the books of the Old and New Testament (seeing that God is their author), and

together with them the TRADITIONS relating to faith as well as manners, as having been dictated

by the mouth of Jesus Christ or of the holy Ghost, and preserved in the Catholic Church

by continual succession.” “If any one receive not the whole of the said books, with all their

parts, as holy and canonical as they have been wont to be read in the Catholic Church, and in

the old vulgate translation” (that of Jerome,52 which, especially in Job and the Psalms is


crammed with very numerous, very serious, and very evident errors, amid has even been

corrected abundantly since by other popes),53 “or knowingly despises the said traditions, let

him be accursed!”

They have thus put the bulls of the bishops of Rome, and the decrees of their synods, above the

Scriptures. “Holy Scripture,” say they, “does not contain all that is necessary for salvation, and

is not sufficient.”54 “It is obscure.”55 “It does not belong to the people to read Holy

Scripture.”56 “We must receive with obedience of faith many things that mire not contained in

Scripture.”57 “We must serve God, according to the tradition of the ancients.”58

The bull Exsurge of Leo X.59 places in the number of Luther’s heresies his having said, “That it

is not in the power of the Church, or of the Pope, to establish articles of faith.”

The hull Unigenitus60 condemns to perpetuity, as being respectively false, captious,

scandalous, rash, suspected of heresy, savouring of heresy, heretical, impious, blasphemous,

&c., the following propositions:- it is profitable at all times, in all places, and for all sorts of

persons, to study the Scriptures, and to become acquainted with their spirit, piety, and

mysteries,” (on 1 Cor. xvi. 5.)61 “The reading of Holy Scripture in the hands of a man of

business, and a financier, shows that it is intended for every body,” (on Acts viii. 28.)62 “The

holy obscurity of the Word of Cod is no ground for the laity’s being dispensed from reading

it,” (on

51 Council of Trent, first decree, session 4.

52 It was in vain that the Abbot Isidore Clarius represented at the Council that there was temerity in ascribing

inspiration to a writer who himself assures us that be had none (Father Paul, Hist, of the Council of Trent, p. 148

of Edition London, 1676).

53 See Thomas James, Bellum Papale sive Concordia Discors Sexti V. et Clementis VIII.

54 Bellarmin. De Verbo Dei, lib. iv.

55 Idem, lib. iii. – Charron, Verite 3. – Coton, lib. ii. cap. 19. – Bayle, traité.

56 Bellarmin. De Verbo Dei, Jib. ii. cap. 19.

57 Bellarmin. lib. iv. cap. 3, and De Perron contre Tilenus. – Coton, lib. ii. cap. 24.

58 Id. Bellarmin. lib. iv. cap. 5. – Coton, Jib. ii. cap. 34, 35. – Council of Trent, sess. 4.

59 1520, Concil., Harduini, t. ix. p. 1893.

60 Clement XI. of 8th September 1713.

61 Proposition 79.

62 Proposition 80


Acts viii. 39.) “The Lord’s day ought to be sanctified by the reading of books of piety, and

especially of the Scriptures. They are the milk which God himself, who knows our hearts, has

supplied for them. It is dangerous to desire being weaned from it.” – (Acts xv. 29. “It is a

mistake to imagine that the knowledge of the mysteries of religion ought not to be

communicated to that sex (women) by the reading of the holy books, after this example of

confidence with which Jesus Christ manifests himself to this woman (the Samaritan).” “It is

not from the simplicity of women, but from the proud learning of men, that abuse of the Scriptures

has arisen, and heresies have been generated.” – (John iv. 26.) “It amounts to shutting the

mouth of Christ to Christians, and to wresting from their hands the holy book, or to keep it shut

to them by depriving them of the means of hearing it.” – (l Thess. v. 2.) “To interdict Christians

from reading it, is to interdict children from the use of light, and to subject them to a kind of

excommunication,” (on Luke xi. 33.)63

Still more lately, in 1824, the encyclical epistle of Pope Leo XII. mournfully complains of the

Bible Societies, “which,” it says, “violate the traditions of the fathers (!!!) and the Council of

Trent, by circulating the Scriptures in the vernacular tongues of all nations.” (“Non vos latet,

venerandi fratres, societatem quamdam, dictam vulqo BIBLICAM, per totum orbem audacter

vagari quæ spretis S. S. Patrum traditionibus (!!!) et contra notissimnum Tridentini Concilii

decretum in id collatis viribus ac modis omnibus intendit, ut in vulgrares linguas nationum

omnium sacra vertantur vol potius pervertantur Biblia.”) “In order to avert this pest,” he says,

our predecessors have published several constitutions, . . . tending to show how pernicious for

the faith and for morals this perfidious institution (the Bible Society) is! (et ostendatur

quantopere fidei et moribus vaferrimum hocce inventum noxium sit!)”


XXII. And what has been the result of these monstrous principles?

It is this, that millions and millions of immortal souls in France, in Spain, in Italy, in Germany,

and in America, and even in the Indies, although they carry every where intact and complete

the New Testament, although they have not ceased to read it in Latin, every Lord’s day, in

thousands and thousands of churches, for twelve hundred years . . . . have been turned away

from the fountains of life, have, like the Jews, “paid more attention to the words of the scribes

than to those of the law;” have diverted their children, according to the counsel of Eleazer,

from the study of the Bible, to place them at the feet of the wise.” They have found, like rabbi

Jacob, “the words of the scribes more agreeable than those of the prophets.” It is thus that they

have contrived, for twelve centuries, to maintain doctrines the most contrary to the Word of

God,64 on the worship of images;65 on the exaltation of the priests; on their forced celibacy; on

their auricular confession; on the absolution which they dare to give; on the magical power

which they attribute even to the most impure among them, of creating his God with three Latin

words, opere opcrato; on an ecclesiastical priesthood, of which Scripture has never said a

word; on prayers to the dead; on the spiritual pre-eminence of the city which the Scripture has

63 Exod. xx. 4, 5.

64 Exod. xx. 4, 5.

65 Quisquis ehanguerit erga venerabilium imaginum adorationem (proskÚnhsin), hune anathemizat sancta nostra

et universialis synodus! (was written to the Emperor, in the name of the whole Second Council of Nice). (Concil.,

tom. vii, p. 585).

called Babylon; on the use of an unknown tongue in worship; on the celestial empire of the

blessed but humble woman to whom Jesus himself said, “Woman, what have I to do with

thee?” on the mass; on the taking away of the cup; on the interdiction of the Scriptures to the

people; on indulgences; on purgatory; on the universal episcopate of an Italian priest; on the

interdiction of meals; so that just as people


annul the sole priesthood of the Son of man by establishing other priesthoods by thousands,

just as they annul his divinity by acknowledging thousands of demi-gods or dead men, present

in all places, hearing throughout the whole earth the most secret prayers of human beings,

protecting cities and kingdoms, working miracles in favour of their worshippers; . . . just so,

also, they annul the inspiration of Scripture, by acknowledging by thousands other writings

which share in its divine authority, and which surpass and swallow up its eternal infallibility!

It was in opposition to the very similar tenets maintained by the heretics of his time, that Saint

Irenaeus said, “For when convicted by the Scriptures, they turn about and accuse the Scriptures

themselves, as if they were imperfect, and wanting in authority, and uncertain, and as if one

could not find the truth in them, if ignorant of tradition; for that was given, not in writing, but

by the living voice.”66

Full well,” says Jesus to them too, “ye reject the commandments of God, that ye may keep

your own traditions! Bene irritum facitis præceptum Dei, ut traditionem vestram servetis!

(Mark vii. 9.)

XXIII. Without pretending anyhow to explain how the holy Ghost could dictate the thoughts

and the words of the Scriptures (for the knowledge of this mystery is neither given to us, nor

asked of us), what is it that one can perceive in this divine action?

Why, two things; first, an impulsion, that is, an action on the will of the men of God, in order

to make them speak and write; and, secondly, a suggestion, that is to say, an action on their

understandings amid on their organs, in order to their producing, first, within them


more or less exalted notions of the truth they were about to utter; and, then, without them such

human expressions as were most divinely suitable to the eternal thought of the Holy Ghost.

XXIV. Meanwhile, must it be admitted that the sacred writers were no more than merely the

pens, hands, and secretaries of the Holy Ghost?

They were, no doubt, hands, secretaries, and pens; but they were, in almost every case, and in

very different degrees, living pens, intelligent hands, secretaries docile, affected by what they

wrote, and sanctified.

XXV. Was not the Word of God, however, often written as suggested by the occasion?

66 Adv. Hæres., lib. iii. cap. 2. “Cum enim ex Scripturis arguuntur, mu accusatioinem convertuntur ipsarum

Scripturarum, quasi non recte habeant, neque sint ex auctoritate, et quia varie sunt dictæ, et quia non possit ex his

inventiri veritas ab his qui nescient traditionem. Non enim per litteras traditam illam, sed per vivam vocem.”

Yes no doubt; and the occasion was prepared by God, just as the writer was. “The Holy

Ghost,” says Claude,67 “employed the pen of the evangelists … and of the prophets. He

supplied them with the occasions on which they wrote; he gave them the wish and the strength

to do so; the matter, form, order, economy, expressions, mire from his immediate inspiration

and direction.”

XXVI. But do we not clearly recognise, in the greater part of the sacred books, the individual

character of the person who writes?

Far from disowning this, we, on the contrary, admire its being so. The individual character

which comes from God, and not from sin and the fall, was prepared and sanctified by God for

the work to which it had been destined by God.

XXVII. Ought we, then, to think that all has been equally inspired of God, in each of the books

of Holy Scripture?

Scripture, in speaking of what it is, does not admit any distinction. All these sacred books,

without ex-


ception, are the word of the Lord. ALL SCRIPTURE, says St Paul (p©sa graf¾), IS


This declaration, as we have already said, is susceptible of two constructions, according as we

place the verb, not expressed but understood, before or after the Greek word which we here

translate inspired by God; – both these constructions invincibly establish, that in the apostle’s

idea, all without exception, in each and all of the books of the Scriptures, is dictated by the

Spirit of God. In fact, in both the apostle equally attests that these HOLY LETTERS (t¦ ƒer¦

gr£mmata), of which he had been speaking to Timothy, are all divinely inspired Scriptures.

Now, we know that in the days of Jesus Christ, the whole Church meant ONE SOLE AND

THE SAME COLLECTION OF BOOKS by the Scripture, the Holy Scripture or the

Scriptures, or the Holy Letters, or the Law and the Prophets, (graf¾,68 ¾ graf¾ ¡g…a,69

grafaˆ,70 or Ð nÒmoj kaˆ oƒ prof»tai,71 or t¦ ƒera gr£mmata72). These were the twentytwo

sacred books which the Jews held from their prophets, and on which they were all

perfectly agreed.73

This entire and perfect divine inspiration of all the Scriptures of the Jews was so fully, in the

days of Jesus Christ, the doctrine of the whole of that ancient people of God (as it was that of

Jesus Christ, of Timothy, and of St Paul), that we find the following testimony to it in the

works of the Jewish general Josephus (who had reached his thirtieth year74 at the time when

67 Claude. Œuvres Posthumes, vol. iv. p. 228

68 Peter i. 20; John xix, 37.

69 John x. 35, xvii. 12; Rom. i. 2.

70 John v. 39; Matt. xxi. 42, xxvi. 54; Rom. xv. 4; 1 Con xv. 3.

71 Acts xxiv. 14; Luke xvi. 16, 29, 31; Matt. v. 17, 18; John x. 34.

72 2 Tim. iii. 15.

73 See Krebs and Læsner, on 2 Tim. iii. 15.

74 He was born in the year 37. See his Life, Edim. Aureliae Allobr. p. 999.

the Apostle Paul wrote his Second Epistle to Timothy). “Never” (says he, in speaking of “the

twenty-two books”75 of the Old Testament, which he calls t¦ „d…a


gr£mmata, as St Paul calls them here t¦ ƒer¦ gr£mmata), “never, although many ages have

elapsed, has any one dared either to TAKE AWAY, or to ADD, or to TRANSPOSE in these

any thing whatever;76 for it is with all the Jews, as it were an inborn conviction (PASI de

sÚmfutÒn ™stin), from their very earliest infancy,77 to call them GOD’S TEACHNGS, to

abide in them, and, if necessary, to die joyfully in maintaining them.”78

They are given to us” (he says further) “by the inspiration that comes from God (kat¦ t¾n

pipnoian t¾n ¢pÕ toà Qeoà); but as for the other books, composed since the times of

Artaxerxes, they are not thought worthy of a like faith.”79. . . . .

These passages from Josephus are not quoted here as aim authority for our faith, but as an

historical testimony, showing the sense in which the apostle St Paul spoke, and attesting to us

that, in mentioning the holy letters (t¦ „er¦ gr£mmata), and in saying that they are all

divinely inspired Scriptures, he meant to declare to us that, in his eyes, there was nothing in the

sacred. books which was not dictated by God.

Now, since the books of the New Testament are „er¦ gr£mmata, Holy Scriptures, the

Scriptures, the Holy Letters, as well as those of the Old; since the apostles have put their

writings, and since St Peter, for example, has put ALL THE LETTERS OP PAUL (p£saj t¦j

pistol¦j) in the same rank with the REST OF THE SCRIPTURES (æj kaˆ t¦j loip¦j

GRAFLS), hence we ought to conclude that all is inspired by God in all the books of the Old

and New Testament.


XXVIII. But if all the sacred books (t¦ „er¦ gr£mmata) are divinely inspired, how can we

discover that such and such a book is a sacred book, and that such another is not one?

This, in a great measure, is a purely historical question.

XXIX. Yet, have not the Reformed Churches maintained that it was by the Holy Ghost that

they recognised the divinity of the sacred books; and, for example, has not the Confession of

Faith of the Churches of France said in its 4th article, that we know these books to be

canonical, and a very certain rule of our faith, not so much by the common accord and

75 Contra Apion, lib. i. p. 1837. (dÚo mÒna prÕj to‹j ™…kosi bibl…a). Our Bibles reckon thirty-nine books in

mime Old Testament; but Josephus and the ancient Jews, by making one book each of the two books of Samuel,

of Kings, and of Chronicles, by throwing together Ruth and Judges, Esdras and Nehemiah, Jeremiah and

Lamentations, and finally, Hosea and the eleven minor prophets that follow respectively, into one book, reduced

our modern calculation of their sacred books by seventeen units.

76 ‘OÚte PROSQEINAI tij oÙd•n oÜte AFELEIN a¢tîn, oÛti METAQEINAI tetÒlmhken.

77 EÙQÝj ™k tÁj prèthj genšsewj Ñnom£zein ¢ut¦ QEOU DOGMATA (according to others: from the first


78 `Up•r aÙtîn e„ dšoi zn»skein ºdšwj.

79 P…stewj d• ouc’ Ðmo…as ºx…wtai.

agreement of the Church, as by the testimony and the persuasion of the Holy Ghost, which

enables us to discern between them and the other ecclesiastical books?

This maxim is perfectly true, if you apply it to the sacred books as a whole. In that sense the

Bible is evidently an ¢utÒpistij book, which needs itself only in order to be believed. To the

man, whoever he be, that studies it “with sincerity and as before God,”80 it presents itself

evidently, and of itself, as a miraculous book; it reveals mill that is hidden in men’s

consciences; it discerns the thoughts and affections of the heart. It has foretold the future; it has

changed the face of the world; it has converted souls; it has created the Church. Thus it

produces in men’s hearts “an inward testimony and conviction of the Holy Ghost,” which

attests its inimitable divinity, independently of any testimony of men. But we do not think that

our Churches ever ventured to affirm that one might be content to abide by this mark for

discerning such or such a book, or such or such a chapter, or such or such a verse of the Word

of God, and for ascertaining its celestial origin. They think that for this detail one must look, as

they did, “to the common accord and agreement of the Church.” We ought to admit as divine

the entire code of the


Scriptures, before each of its parts has enabled us to prove by itself that it is of God. It does not

belong to us to judge this book; it is this book which will judge us.

XXX. Nevertheless, has not Luther,81 starting from a principle laid down by St Paul82 and by

St John,83 said, that “the touchstone by which one might recognise certain scriptures as divine,

is this: Do they preach Christ or do they not preach him?”84 And among the moderns, has not

Dr Twesten also said, “that the different parts of the Scriptures are more or less inspired,

according as they are more or less preaching; and that inspiration does not extend to words and

historical matters beyond what has a relation to the Christian conscience, beyond what

proceeds from Christ, or serves to show us Christ.”85

Christ is, no doubt, the way, the truth, and the life; the spirit of prophecy, no doubt, is the

testimony of Jesus;86 but this touchstone might in our hands prove fallacious: 1st, Because

many writings speak admirably of Christ without being inspired; 2d, Although all that is to be

found in the inspired Scriptures relates to Jesus Christ, possibly we might fail to perceive this

divine character at a first glance; and 3d, In fine, because we ought to BELIEVE before

SEEING it, that all Scripture is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for Correction, and for

instruction in righteousness: that the man of God n-may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto

all good works.87

XXXI. ‘What reasons have we, then, for recognising as sacred each of the books which, at the

present day, form for us the collection of the Scriptures?

For the Old Testament we have the testimony of the

80 2 Cor. Ii. 17.

81 In his preface to the Epistles of James and Jude.

82 1 Cor. iii. 9, 10.

83 1 John iv. 2.

84 Oh sic Christum treiben, oder nicht.

85 Vorlesungen über die Dogmatik, 1829, I. B. p. 421-429.

86 John xiv. 6 – Apoc., xix. 10.

87 2 Tim. iii. 16.


Jewish Church; and for the New Testament the testimony of the Catholic Church.

XXXII. What must here be understood by the testimony of the Jewish Church ?

We must understand by it the common opinion of all the Jew’s, Egyptian and Syrian, Asiatic

and European, Sadducean and Pharisees,88 ancient and modern, good and bad.

XXXIII. ‘What reason have we to hold for divine, the books of the Old Testament which the

Church of the Jews has given us as such?

It is written, “that unto them were committed the oracles of God;”89 which means, that God in

his wisdom chose them for being, under the Almighty government of his providence, sure

depositories of his written word. Jesus Christ received their sacred code, and we accept of it as

he did.

XXXIV. Shall our faith then depend upon the Jews?

The Jews often fell into idolatry; they denied the faith; they slew their prophets; they crucified

the King of kings; since that they have hardened their hearts for near two thousand years; they

have filled up the measure of their sins, and wrath “is come upon them to the uttermost.”90

Nevertheless, to them were committed the oracles of God. And albeit that these oracles

condemn them, albeit that the veil remains on their hearts when they read the Old

Testament;”91 albeit they have for ages despised the Word of God, and worshipped their

Talmud; they HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE not to


give us the book of the Scriptures intact and complete; and the historian Josephus might still

say of them what he wrote eighteen hundred years ago: “After the lapse of so many centuries

(posoÚtou g¦r a„înoj ½dh parJchkÒtoj) no one among the Jews has dared to ADD or to

TAKE AWAY, or to transpose any thing in the sacred Scriptures.”92

XXXV. What, then, have been the warranty, the cause, and the means of this fidelity on the

part of the Jews?

We shall reply to this question in but a very few words. Its warranty is to be found in the

promises of God; its cause in the providence of God; and its means in the concurrence of the

five following circumstances

88 See Josephus agt. Appion, liv. i. p. 1037. Philo in Eichorn. Joseph. in Nov. Repert., p. 239. De Ægypticis

Judæis; cf. Eichorn-Einheit ins A. T. R. I., § 21, p. 73, 89, 91, 113, 114, 116;. De Sadducceis, § 35, p. 95. And

Semler (App. ad liberal., V. T. interpret., p. 11.) Eichorn Alg. Bibl. der Bibi. Litterat. T. IV. p. 275, 276.

89 Rom. iii, 2.

90 1 Thess. ii. 16.

91 2 Cor. iii. 15.

92 See this quotation at question 27.

1. The religion of the Jews, which has carried their respect for the very letter of Scriptures even

to a superstitious length.

2. The indefatigable labours of the Masorethes, who so carefully guarded its purity, even to the

slightest accents.

3. The rivalry of the Judaical sects, none of which would have sanctioned any want of

faithfulness on the part of the others.

4. The extraordinary dispersion of that people in all countries long before the ruin of

Jerusalem; for “of old time,” says St James,93 “Moses hath in every (pagan) city them that

preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath-day.”

5. Finally, the innumerable copies of the sacred book diffused among all nations.

XXXVI. And with respect to the New Testament, what are we now to understand by the

testimony of the Catholic Church?

By this we are to understand the universal agreement


of the ancient and modern Churches, Asiatic and European, good and bad, which call on the

name of Jesus Christ; that is to say, not only the faithful sects of the blessed Reformation, but

the Greek sect, the Arminian sects, the Syrian sect, the Roman Sect, and perhaps we might add

the Unitarian sects.94

XXXVII. Should our faith then be founded on the Catholic Church?

All Churches have erred, or might have erred. Many have denied the faith, persecuted Jesus

Christ in his members, denied his divinity, made his cross of none effect, restored the worship

of statues and graven images, exalted the priests, shed the blood of the saints, interdicted the

use of the Scriptures to the people, committed to the flames those of the faithful who desired to

read them in the vernacular tongue, tongue set up in the temple of God him who sits there as a

God, have trampled upon the Scriptures, worshipped traditions, warred against God, and cast

down the truth. Nevertheless, the new oracles of God have been committed to them, as those of

the Old Testament were to the Jews. And albeit these oracles condemn them; albeit for ages

they have despised the Scriptures and almost adored their traditions; – they have NOT BEEN

ABLE not to give us the Book of the Scriptures of the New Testament intact and complete;

and one may say of them, as Josephus said of Jews, “After the lapse of so many ages, never

has any one in the Churches dared either to add or take away any thing in the Holy Scriptures.”

They have been compelled, in spite of themselves, to transmit them to us in their integrity.

XXX VIII. Nevertheless has there not been in

93 Acts xv. 21. Josephus often attests the same fact.

94 Following the example of the Scripture, we believe no may employ the word church as denoting, sometimes all

that are enclosed in the nets of the Gospel, sometimes only all that in these is pure and living. And as for the word

sect (a†resij, Acts xxiv, 11; xxvi. 5; xxxviii 22), following the apostle’s example, we employ it here neither in a

good sense nor in a bad sense.


Christendom one powerful sect, which for three hundred years has introduced into the canon of

the Scriptures the Apocryphal Books, disavowed as they have been by the Jews95 (as even

Pope St Gregory himself attests),96 and rejected by the fathers of the ancient Church97 (as St

Jerome attests)?

This, it is true, is what was done for the Latin sect by the fifty-three persons who composed, on

the 8th of April 1546, the famous Council of Trent, and who pretended to be the

representatives of the CHURCH UNIVERSAL OF JESUS CHRIST.98 But they could do it for

the Old Testament only, which was entrusted to the Jews and not to the Christians. Neither that

Council, nor any even of the most corrupt and idolatrous Churches, have been able to add a

single Apocryphal Book to the New Testament. God has not permitted this, however

mischievous may have been their intentions. It is thus that the Jews have been able to reject the

New Testament, which was not committed to them; while they HAVE NEVER BEEN ABLE

to introduce a single book of man into the Old Testament. God has never permitted them to do

so; and, in particular, they have always excluded from it those which the fifty three

ecclesiastics of Trent were daring enough to cause to be inserted in it, in the name of the

universal Church.


XXXIX. And what have been the warranty, the cause, and the means of that fidelity, which the

universal Church has shown in transmitting to us the oracles of God in the New Testament?

To this question we shall reply but in a very few words.

The warranty has lain in the promises of God; the cause in the providence of God; and the

means principally in the concurrence of the following circumstances:-

1. The religion of the ancient Christians, and their extraordinary respect for the sacred texts; a

respect shown on all occasions in their churches,99 in their councils,100 in their oaths,101 and

even in their domestic customs.102

95 Joseph. agt. Ap. book I. 8. Euseb. H. E. lib. III., c. ix. x.

96 Exposition of the Book of Job. See Father Paul’s Hist. of the C. of Trent, book ii. p. 143. (London, 1676.)

97 Origen (Euseb. H. E. lib. iv. c. 26). St Athanasius (Pascal Epistle). St Hilary (Prolog. in Psalmos, p. 9. Paris,

1693.) St Epiph. (Lardner, vol. iv. p. 312.) St Gregory Nazianzen (Carm. 33, Op. tom. ii. p. 98).

98 In praef. ad libr. Regum; sive Prologo-galeato. (See Lard. vol. v. p. 16-22). Judith, et Tobiæ et Macchabæorum

libros legit quidem Ecclesia: sed eas inter canonicas Scripturas non recipit (Præfat. in Libros Salom-Epist. 115).

See also Symbolum Ruffini, tom. ix. p. 186 (Paris, 1602). “Some thought it strange that five cardinals and fortyeight

bishops should so easily define the most principal and important points of religion, never decided before,

giving canonical authority to books held for uncertain and apocryphal,” &c. – Father Paul’s Hist. of the C. of

Treat, book ii. p. 153 (London, 1676). Most were Italians.

99 Plotius contra Manich., t. i.; apud Wolf. anecd., p. 32 sq. I. Ciampini Rom. vetera monum., i. p. 126 sq. All the

Christian congregations in the East, even the poorest, kept a collection of the sacred books in their oratories. See

Scholz Proleg.

100 Cyrill. Alex. in Apol. ad Theodos., imp. Act. Concil. ed. Mansi, t. vi. col. 579, vii. col. 6, ix. col. 187, xii. col.

1009, 1032, al. Prohition, under pain of excommunication, against selling the sacred book to druggists, or other

merchants, who don’t buy them to read (6th Council, in Trullo. Can. 68).

101 Corb, byz., i. p. 422, al.

102 See St Jerome, pref. on Job. S. Chrysost. Hom. 19, De Statuis. Women, says he, are wont to suspend copies of

the Gospels from their children’s necks. See the 68th canon of the VI. Coun. in Trullo.

2. The pains taken by learned men in different ages to preserve the purity of the sacred text.

3. The many quotations made from Scripture by the fathers of the Church.

4. The mutual jealousy of the sects into which the Christian Church has been subdivided.

5. The versions made from the first ages in many ancient tongues.

6. The number and abundant dissemination of manuscripts of the New Testament.

7. The dispersion of the new people of God as far as the extremities of Asia, and to the farthest

limits of the west.


XL. Does it then result from these facts that the authority of the Scriptures is founded for us, as

Bellarmin has said, on that of the Church?

The doctors of Rome, it is true, have gone so far as to say, that without the testimony of the

Church the Scripture has no more authority than Livy, the Alcoran, or Æsop’s fables;103 and

Bellarmin, horrified no doubt at such impious opinions, would fain distinguish the authority of

the Church in itself and with respect to us (quoad se, et quoad nos). In this last sense, he says,

the Scripture has no authority except by the testimony of the Church. Our answer will be very


Every manifestation having three causes, an objective cause, a subjective cause, and an

instrumental cause, one may say also that the knowledge that we receive of the authority of the

Scriptures has, first of all, for its objective cause, the Holy Bible itself, which proves its

divinity by its own beauty, and by its own doings; in the second place, for subjective or

efficient cause, the Holy Ghost,104 who confirms and seals to our souls the testimony of God;

and in fine, in the third place, for instrumental cause, the Church, not the Roman, not the

Greek, more ancient than the Roman, not even the Syriac, more ancient than either, but the

Universal Church.

The pious St Augustine expresses this triple cause, in his book against the Epistle of

Manicheus, called Fundamenti. In speaking of the time at which he was still a Manichean, he

says:105 “I should not have


103 Hosius contra Brentium, lib. iii. Eckius, de auth. Ecclesiæ. Bayli Tractat. i., Catech., 9. 12. Andradius, lib. iii.

Defens. Conc, Trident. Stapleton, adv. Wittaker, lib. i. c. 17.

104 Isa. liv. 13, lix. 21.

105 Evangelio non crederem (according to the African usage for credidissem, as confession, lib. ii. c. 8: Si lunc

amarem, for amavissem) nisi me Ecclesiæ commoveret (commovisset) authoritas (ch. 5). (This, besides, is very

classical Latin: Non ego hoc ferrem, says Horace, for tulissem, lib. iii. ode 14). Eos sequamur qui nos invitant

prius credere, quum nondum valemus intueri, ut ipsâ fide valentiores facti, quod credimus intelligere mereamur,

non jam hominibus, sed ipso Deo intrinsecus mentem nostram firmante et illuminante (c. 14). Opera August.,

Paris, Mabillon, t. viii.

believed in the gospel had I not been drawn to it by the authority of the Church;” but he takes

care to add: “Let us follow those who invite us first to believe, when we are not yet in a state to

see: in order that, being rendered more capable (valentiores) by faith itself, we may deserve to

comprehend what we believe. Then it will no more be men, it will be God himself within us,

who will confirm our souls and illuminate them.”

In this affair, then, the Church is a servant and not a mistress; a depositary and not a judge. She

exercises the office of a minister, not of a magistrate, ministerium non magisterium.106 She

delivers a testimony, not a judicial sentence. She discerns the canon of the Scriptures, she does

not make it; she has recognised their authenticity, she has not given it. And as the men of

Sichem believed in Jesus Christ by means of the impure but penitent woman who called them

to him, we say to the Church: “Now we believe, not because of thy saying; for we have heard

him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.”107 We have

believed, then, per eam, not propter eam, through her means, not on her account. We found her

on her knees; she showed us her Master; we recognised him, and we knelt down along with

her. Were I to mingle in the rear of an imperial army, and should I ask those around me to

show me their prince, they would do with respect to him, for me, what the Church has done

with regard to the Scriptures. They would not call their regiment the ecumenical army; above

all, they would not say that the emperor has no authority but what is derived from its

testimony, whether as it respected itself or with respect to us; whether quoad se or quoad nos

(to use Bellarmin’s language). The authority of the Scriptures is not founded, then, on the

authority of the Church: it is the Church that is founded on the authority of the Scriptures.


XLI. If the authenticity of the Scriptures is proved in a great measure by history, how is their

inspiration established?

Solely by the Scriptures.

XLII. But is such an argument rational? Does it not involve a begging of the question, and the

proving of inspiration by inspiration?

There would be a begging of the question here, if, in order to prove that the Scriptures are

inspired, we should invoke their testimony while assuming them to be inspired. But we are far

from adopting this process. First of all, the Bible is viewed solely in the light of an historical

document, deserving our respect from its authenticity, and by means of which one may know

the doctrine of Jesus Christ, nearly as one would learn that of Socrates from the books of Plato,

or that of Leibnitz from the writings of Wolff. Now this document declares to us, in all its

pages, that the whole system of the religion which it teaches, is founded on the grand fact of a

miraculous intervention of God in the revelation of its history and its doctrines.

The learned Michaelis, who held such loose principles on inspiration, himself declares that the

inspiration of the apostolic writings necessarily results from their authenticity. There is no

other alternative, says he; if what they relate is true, they are inspired; if they were not inspired,

they would not be sincere; but they are sincere, therefore they are inspired.

There is nothing in such reasoning that can be thought like a begging of the question.

106 Turretini, Theohogia elenct., vol. i. loc 2, quæst. 6.

107 John iv. 42.

XLIII. If it be by the Bible itself that we establish the dogma of a certain inspiration in the

sacred books, by what can it be proved that that inspiration is universal, and that it extends to

the minutest details of the instructions they convey?

If it be the Scriptures that tell us of their divine inspiration, it is they too that will be able to

inform us


in what divine inspiration consisted. In order to our admitting their inspiration on their own

sole testimony, it should have sufficed for us to be assured that they were authentic; but, in

order to our admitting their plenary inspiration, we shall have something more; for we shall

then be able to invoke their testimony as writings already admitted to he divine. It will no

longer be authentic books only that say to us, I am inspired; but books, both authentic and

inspired, will say to us, I am so altogether. The Scriptures are inspired, we affirm, because,

being authentic and true, they say of themselves that they are inspired; but the Scriptures are

plenarily inspired, we also add, because, being inspired, they say that they are so entirely, and

without any exception.

Here, then, there is neither more nor less than a doctrine which the Bible will teaches us, as it

teaches us all the rest. And just as we believe, because it tells us so, that Jesus Christ is God,

and that he became man; so also we believe that the Holy Ghost is God, and that he dictated

the whole of the Scriptures.


XLIV. Who are the divines that have impugned the doctrine of the divine inspiration?

We have one general remark to make before enumerating them here, namely, that with the

single exception of Theodore of Mopsuestia, that philosophical divine whose numerous

writings, so strongly tainted with Pelagianism, were condemned for their Nestorianism in the

fifth ecumenical council (Constantinople, 553), and whose principles on the divine inspiration

were very loose, – with the exception, we say, of Theodore of Mopsuestia, it has been found

impossible to produce, in the long course of the EIGHT FIRST CENTURIES OF CHRIS-


TAINITY, a single doctor who has disowned the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures, unless it

be in the bosom of the most violent heresies that have tormented the Christian Church; that is

to say, among the Gnostics, the Manicheans, the Anomeans, and the Mahometans. St Jerome

himself, who sometimes permitted himself, while speaking of the style of certain parts of the

sacred books, to use a language whose temerity will be censured by all pious persons,108

108 Qui solœcismos in verbis facit, qui non potest hyperbaton reddere, sententiamque concludere. (Comment. in

epist. ad Titum. lib. i [ad cap. i. 1.] Et ad Ephes., lib. ii. [ad cap. iii. 1.] See also his, Comment on the Ep. to the


nevertheless maintains, even for such passages, the entire inspiration of all the parts of the

sacred Scripture;109 and in that he further sees, under what he calls the grossness of the

language and the seeming absurdity of the reasonings, intentions on the part of the Holy Spirit

full of profound art and wisdom. And if, transporting ourselves from the days of St Jerome to

four hundred years farther down, we come to the celebrated Agobard, who is alleged by Dr Du

Pin to have been the first of the fathers of the Church that abandoned the doctrine of a verbal

inspiration,110 it is most unjustly, says Dr Rudeibach, that such a charge has been brought

against that bishop. It is true, that in disputing with the Abbot Fredigise,111 touching the

latitude to be allowed to Latin translators of the sacred text, he maintains that the dignity of the

Word of God consists in the force of meaning, not in the pomp of words; but he took care to

add, that the authority of the apostles and the prophets remains intact, and that no one is

permitted to believe that they could have placed a letter otherwise than they have done; for

their authority is stronger than heaven and earth.112


If, then, we would class, in the order of time, the men who controverted the entire divine

inspiration of our sacred books, we must place:-

In the 2d cemetery, the Gnostics (Valentine, Cerdo, Marcio, his disciple, &c.) They believed in

two equal principles, independent, contrary, and co-eternal; the one good and the other bad; the

one the father of Jesus Christ, and the other the author of the law; and, entertaining this idea,

they rejected the Pentateuch, at the same time admitting no more of the New Testament than

the gospel of Luke, and part of Paul’s epistles.

In the 3d century Manes or Manicheus, who, calling himself the paraclete promised by Jesus

Christ, corrected the books of the Christians, and added his own.

In the 4th century, the Anonmeans or Ultra-Arians (for Arius himself held a more reserved

language), who maintained, with their leader Ætius, that the Son, a created intelligence,

unlike113 to the Father, took to himself a human body without a human soul. They spoke of the

Scriptures with an irreverence tantamount to the denial of their entire inspiration. “When

pressed with Scriptural reasons,” says St Epiphanius, “they escape by saying: That it was as a

man that the apostle said those things;” or, “Why do you bring the Old Testament against me?”

And what does the holy bishop add? “It was to be expected that those who denied the glory of

Christ, should deny still more that of the apostles.”114

In the 5th century, Theodore of Mopsuestia, chief of the Antioch school, an able philosopher,

and learned but rash divine. All that remains to us of his numerous works, is some fragments

only, preserved to us by other authors. His books, as we have said, were condemned (two

hundred years after his death) at the Council of Constantinople. There were quoted there, for

example, his writings against Appollinarius, in which he had said that the book of Job is

merely a poem derived from a pagan source; that Solomon had no doubt re-

109 Proem, in Ep. ad Galat., lib. ii.

110 Du Pin, doctor of the Sorbonne. Prolegom. on the Bible, liv. i. v. 256.

111 Agobard, adv. Fredeg. lib. c. 9-12.

112 Rudelbach, Zeitschrift, 1st part, 1840, p. 48.

113 ‘AnÒmoioj: hence their name.

114 Epiphan., Advers. hær., LXX. vi. Ætii salutat. Confut,, vi.


ceived lÒgon gnèsewj, but not lÒgon sof…aj; that the Song of Songs is but a long and

insignificant epithalamium, without any character prophetical, historical, or scientific, and in

the manner of the Symposion of Plato, etc, etc.115

In the 7th century, Mahonmet (whose false religion is nothing more than a heresy of

Christianity, and who speaks of Christ at least as honourably as most part of the Socinians

have done,) – Mahomet acknowledged, and often quoted as inspired, the books of the Old and

New Testament; but he said they had been corrupted, and, like Manes, he added his own.

In the 12th and 13th centuries, as it would appear, there sprang up and took a regular shape,

first among the Talmudist Jew’s,116 the system of those modern doctors who have thought fit to

class the various passages of holy Scripture under various orders of inspiration, and to reduce

the divine inspiration to more or less natural proportions. It was under the double influence of

the Aristotelian philosophy, and of the theology of the Talmud, that the Jews of the middle

ages, differing much in this from the ancient Jews,116 imagined this theory. That was the time

of the Solomon Jarchis, the David Kimchis, the Averroeses, the Aben-Ezras, the Joseph Albos;

and above all of Moses Maimonides, that Spanish Jew who has been called. the eagle of the

doctors. Maimonides, borrowing the vague terms of the peripatetic philosophy, taught that

prophecy is not an exclusive product of the action of the Holy Ghost. Just, says he, as, if the

intellectus agens (the intellectual influence that is in man) associate itself more intimately with

reason, there results from it the secta sapienturn speculatorum; and as, if that agent operates

more on the imagination, there results from it the secta politicorum, legislatorum, divinatorum,

et præstigiatorum; so also, when this


superior principle exercises its action in a more perfect manner on those two faculties of the

soul at once, the result is the secta prophetarurn. Almost all the modern Jewish doctors have

adopted the ideas of Maimonides; and there, also, seems to have originated Schleiermacher’s

modern system of inspiration. It is in starting from these principles that the doctors have

admitted several degrees of inspiration in the prophets. Of these, Maimonides reckoned

sometimes eight, sometimes eleven. Joseph Albo reduced them to four, and Abarbanel to three.

They applied these distinctions of different degrees of inspiration to the division of the Old

Testament into Law, Prophets, and Hagiographa (hdwt sybwhbw syaybn) The kethubim,

according to him, had not received the prophetic spirit (hawkn twr), but only the Holy Spirit

(?dqh twr), which, according to him, was no more than a human faculty, by means of which

mm mail pronounced words of wisdom and holiness.117

The modern German school of the adversaries of inspiration, seems accordingly to be a mere

reproduction of the theory of the rabbins of the 13th century, or a borrowing from the

Talmudist doctors of our own days.

In the 16th century, Socinus118 and Castellio119 maintained that the sacred writers sometimes

show a failure of memory, and might err on subjects of slight importance.

115 Acta concilii Constantinop., ii. 65, 75, apud Harduin. Acta Concil., tom. iii. p. 87-89.

116 See Josephus agt. Apion. lib. i. c. 7, 8; and Phibo, cd Hæschel, p. 515, and p. 918.

117 Mosis Maimonidcs, More Nebuchim, part ii. c. 37, et 45. Rudelbach (ut supra) p. 53.

118 De Author. Script.

In the 17th century, three orders of adversaries, according to the celebrated Turretine,120

combated inspiration. These were, besides the infidels properly so-called (atheos et gentiles):

1. the fanatics (enthusiastæ), who charged Scripture with imperfection in order to exalt their

own particular revelations; 2. those of the Pope’s sect (pontificii), who scrupied not, says he, to

betray the cause of Christianity by alleging the corruption of the original text (fontium), in

order to exalt their Vul-


gate translation; 3. The rationalists of different classes (libertini), who, without going out of

the Church, unceasingly attempted to shake the authority of the Scriptures, by pointing to

difficult passages and apparent contradictions (¥pora kaˆ ™nantiofanÁ).

In the latter half of the 18th century, this last class of adversaries became very numerous in

Germany. Semler gave the first impulsion to what he called the liberal interpretation of the

Scriptures; he rejected all inspiration, denied all prophecy, and treated all miracle as allegory

and exaggeration.121 Ammon, more lately, laid down positive rules for this impious manner of

explaining the miraculous facts.122 The writings of a legion of doctors no less daring, Paulus,

Gabler, Schuster, Restig, and many others, abound in practical applications of these principles.

Eichhorn, more recently still, has reduced into system the rationalist doctrine of prophecy.123

De Wette, in his Preliminary Manual, appears not to see any true prediction in the prophets,

and not to find any difference between those of Israel and those of the Pagan nations, beyond

the spirit of morality and sincerity which characterises monotheism, and which, says he,

purified Hebrew prophecy, while it was wanting to the seers among the pagans.124 Hug, in his

Introduction to the New Testament Scriptures,125 nowhere speaks of inspiration. Michaelis

admits it for a part of the Scriptures, and rejects it for the other. So did John Leclerc in the last

century.126 Rosenmüller is still more wavering in his sentiments.

Of late years, however, there have been German di-


vines more reverentially inclined, who have admitted different degrees of inspiration in the

different parts of the Scriptures; by distinguishing the passages which do not relate say they, to

salvation; and making bold to see in them, as Socinus and Castellio did of old, slips of

memory, and errors, on subjects which, in their eyes, seemed of little importance.

Among the English, too, there have been seen, of late years persons otherwise respectable, who

have allowed themselves to range the sentences of God’s Word under different classes of


119 In Dialogis.

120 Theol. Elenct., loc. 2, quæst. 5.

121 Preface to Schultens’s Compendium, on the Proverbs, by Vogel. Halle, 1769, p. 5.

122 De interpret. narrationum mirabii. N. N. (at the beginning of his Ernesti.)

123 Einleitung in das alte Testament; 4 edit., Gœting., 1821, tom. iv. p. 45.

124 Zweyte Verbesserte Auflage. Berlin 1822, p. 276. Lehrbuch. Anmerkungen.

125 Einleimung, &c., 2d edit. 1821.

126 Sentiments de quelques theologiens de Holland. Lett. XI. XII. La Chamb., Traité de Ia Religion, tom. iv. p.

159, amid the following.

XLV. Can many illustrious doctors of the Church be mentioned as maintaining the plenary

inspiration of the Scriptures?

It is the uniform doctrine of THE WHOLE CHURCH down to the days of the Reformation.

Hardly,” says Rudelbach, “is there a single point with regard to which there reigned, in the

eight first ages of the Church, a greater or more cordial unanimity.”127

To the reader who wishes to consult these testimonies of history, we recommend the

dissertation lately published on this subject by the learned doctor of Ghogau, already

mentioned. The author, commencing with a review of the first eight hundred years of the

Christian era, establishes the following principles there, by very numerous quotations from the

Greek and Latin fathers.

1. The ancient Church, with one unanimous voice, teaches that all the canonical writings of the

Old and New Testaments ARE GIVEN BY THE HOLY SPIRIT of God; and it is on this sole

foundation (and independently of the fragmentary information that human im-


perfection may acquire from them) that the Church founded her faith on the perfection of the


2. The ancient Church, following out this first principle, no less firmly maintains the

INFALLIBILITY of the Scriptures as their sufficiency (aÙt£rkeian) and their plenitude. She

attributes to their sacred authors not only axiopistia, to wit, a fully deserved credibility, but

also autopistia, to wit, a right to be believed, independently of their circumstances or of their

personal qualities, and on account of the infallible and celestial authority which caused them to


3. The ancient Church, viewing the whole Scripture as an utterance, on the part of God,

addressed to man, and dictated by the Holy Ghost, has ever maintained that there is NOTHING

ERRONEOUS, nothing useless, nothing superfluous there; and that in this divine work, as in

that of creation, one may always recognise, amid the richest plenty, the greatest and the wisest

economy. Every word there will be found to have its object, its point of view, its sphere of

efficacy. “Nihil otiosum, nec sine signo, neque sine argumnento apud eum.” – (Irenæus); p©n

·Áma … ™rgazÒmenon tÕ ˜autoà œrgon. – (Origen.) It is in vigorously establishing and

defending both these characters of the Scriptures, that the ancient Church has shown the

elevated and profound idea she entertained of their divine inspiration.

4. The ancient Church has always maintained that the doctrine of holy Scripture is the SAME

THROUGHOUT, and that the Spirit of the Lord gives utterance in every part of it to one and

the same testimony. She vigorously opposed that science, falsely so called (I Tim. vi. 20),

which even in the first ages of her history, had taken a regular shape in the doctrines of the

Gnostics, and which, daring to impute imperfection to the Old Testament, made it appear that

127 Kaum ist irgend em Punct, worüber irn Alterthume eine grössere und freudigere Einstimmigkeit herrschte.

(Zeitschrift vorm Rudelhaeh und Guerike, 1840, 1st vol. p. 1-47. Die lebre von der Inspiration der heiligen

Schrift, mit Berücksichtigung der neuesten Untersuchungen darüber, von Schleiermacher, Twesten und Steudel.)

there were contradictions between one apostle and another apostle, where there were really


5. The ancient Church thought that inspiration ought chiefly to be viewed, it is true, as a

passive state, but as


a state in which the human faculties, FAR FROM BEING EXTINGUISHED or set aside by

the action of the Holy Ghost, were exalted by his virtue, and filled with his light. She has often

compared the soul of the prophets and of the apostles to “a stringed instrument, which the Holy

Ghost put in motion, in order to draw out of it the divine harmonies of life. – (Athenagoras.)128

What they had to do, was simply to submit themselves to the powerful action of the Holy

Ghost, so that, touched by his celestial influence, the harp, though human, might reveal to us

the knowledge of the mysteries of heaven.” – (Justin Martyr.)129 But, in their view, this harp,

entirely passive as it was as respects the action of God, was the heart of a man, the soul of a

man, the understanding of a man, renewed by the Holy Ghost, and filled with divine life.

6. The ancient Church, while it maintained that there was this continued action on the part of

the Holy Ghost in the composition of the Scriptures, strenuously repelled the false notions

which certain doctors, particularly among the Montanists, sought to propagate respecting the

activity of the Spirit of God, and the passiveness of the spirit of man in divine inspiration; as if

the prophet, ceasing to have the mastery of his senses, had been in the state which the pagans

attributed to their sibyls (man…v or ™kst£sei) . While the Cataphrygians held that an inspired

man, under the powerful influence of the divine virtue, loses his senses (excidit sensu,

adumbratus, silicet, virtute divina),130 the ancient Church maintained, on the contrary, that the

prophet DOES NOT SPEAK IN A STATE OF ECSTASY (non loquitur in ™kst£sei)131 and

that one may distinguish by this trait false prophets from the true. This was the doctrine held

by Origen against Celsus (liii. vii. c. 4); as also


of Miltiades, of Tertullian, of Epiphanius, of Chrysostom, of Basil, and of Jerome, against the


7. The ancient Church in her endeavours, by means of OTHER DEFINITIONS, which we

shall not indicate here, to give greater clearness to the idea of divine inspiration, and to

disentangle it from the difficulties with which it was sometimes obscured, still further showed

how much she cherished this doctrine.

8. The ancient Church thought that if the name of action on the part of God is to be applied to

inspiration, it must be understood to extend TO WORDS as well as to things.

9. The ancient Church, by her constant MODE OF QUOTING the Scriptures, in order to the

establishment and defence of her doctrines; by her manner, too, of EXPOUNDING and

COMMENTING on them; and, in fine, by the USE which she recommends all Christians,

128 Legatio pro Christianis, c. 9.

129 Ad Græcos cohortatio, c. 8.

130 Tertullian adv. Marcion. lib. iv. ch. 22.

131 Hieronym., Proem. in Nahum. Præfat. in Habak. in Esaiam. Epiphan. adv. hæreses, lib. ii. Hæres., 48, c. 3.

without exception, to make of them as a privilege arid a duty; the ancient Church, by these

three habitual practices, shows, still more strongly, if it be possible, than she could have done

by direct declarations, how profoundly attached she was to the doctrine of a verbal inspiration.

And it is not only by her exposition of the Word that the ancient Church shows us to what

point she held the entire inspiration of the Scriptures, as an incontrovertible axiom; she will

show you this still more strongly, if you will follow her while she is engaged IN


narratives. After having made an essay of some explanation, she does not insist upon it; but

hastens to conclude, that whatever be its validity, there necessarily exists some method of

reconciling those passages, and that the difficulty is only apparent, because the cause of that

difficulty lies in our ignorance, and not in Scripture. “Whether it be so, or otherwise (she says

with Julius Africanus), it matters not, the Gospel remains entirely true (tÕ mšntoi ™uaggš-


lion p£ntwj ¢lhqeÚei)!132 This is her invariable conclusion as to the perfect solubility of all

the difficulties that one can present to her in the Word of God.

10. The ancient Church was so strongly attached to the doctrine of the personality of the Holy

Spirit, and of his sovereign action in the composition of the whole Scriptures, that she made no

difficulty in admitting at one and the same time the greatest variety and the GREATEST

LIBERTY in the phenomena, in the occasions, in the persons, in the characters, and in all the

external circumstances, under the concurrence of which that work of God was accomplished.

At the same time that she owned with St Paul, that in all the operations of this Spirit, it is one

and the self-same Spirit that divideth to every man severally as he will (1 Cor. xii. 11), she

equally admitted that in the work of divine inspiration, the divine causation was exercised

amid a large amount of liberty, as respects human manifestations. And be it carefully

remarked, that you will nowhere find, in the ancient Church, a certain class of doctors adopting

one of these points of view (that of the divine causation and sovereignty), and another class of

doctors attaching themselves exclusively to another (that of human personality, and of the

diversity of the writer’s occasions, affections, intelligence, style, mind other circumstances).

If this were so,” says Rudelbach, “one might justly accuse us of having ourselves forced the

solution of the problem, instead of faithfully exhibiting the views of the ancient Church.” But

no; on the contrary, you will often see one and the same author exhibit, at once and without

scruple, both of these points of view: the action of God and the personality of man. This is

what we see, for example, abundantly in Jerome, who, even when speaking of the specialties of

the sacred writers, never abandons the idea of a word introduced by God into their minds.


This we farther remark in Irenæus, who, while he insists more than any one else on the action

of God in the inspiration of the Scriptures, is the first of the fathers of the Church that relates in

detail the personal circumstances of the Evangelists. This is what you will find again in St

Augustine; this is what you will see even in the father of Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius of

Cæsarea, who gives so many details on the four authors of the Gospels, and who, nevertheless,

professes the most rigorous principles on the plenary inspiration of the Canonical Scriptures.

132 In his letter to Aristides, on the agreement of the Gospels that relate the two genealogies of Jesus Christ. –

(Euseb., Hist. Eccl. lib. i. c. 7.)

11. The ancient Church shows us more completely still, by two other traits, the idea she had

formed of divine inspiration, by the care she took, on the one hand, TO FIX THE

RELATIONS which the doctrine of divine inspiration bore to the doctrine of the gifts of grace;

and, on the other, To EXHIBIT THE PROOFS of inspiration.

In fine, although the ancient Church presents this spontaneous (ungesuchte) and universal

agreement in the doctrine of inspiration, we must not imagine that this great phenomenon is

attached, as some have been fain to say, to some particular system of theology, or may be

explained by that system. No more must we regard this wonderful agreement as the germ of a

theory that was to establish it, at a later period in the Church. No. The very assertions of an

opposite opinion which, from time to time, made themselves heard on the part of the heretics

of the first centuries, and the NATURE OF THE REPLIES that were put forth by the ancient

Church, clearly demonstrate, on the contrary, that this doctrine was deeply rooted in the

Church’s conscience. Every time that the fathers, in defending any truth by passages from

Scripture, succeeded so far as to drive their adversaries into the impossibility of defending

themselves, otherwise than by denying the full inspiration of the divine testimonies, the

Church thought the question was decided. The adversary was tried; he had no more to say for

himself; he denied the Scripture to be the Word of God! What more remained to be done, but

to com-


pel him to look his own ill-favoured argument in the face and to say to him, See what you have

come to! as one would bid a man who has disfigured himself; look at himself in a glass? And

thus the fathers did.

Such are facts of the case; such is the voice of the Church.

We had at first brought together, with the design of giving them here, a long series of passages,

taken first from Irenæus,133 Tertullian,134 Cyprian,135 Origen,136 Chrysostom,137 Justin

Martyr,138 Epiphanius,139 Augustine,140 Athanasius,141 Hilary,142 Basil the Great,143 and Gregory

the Great,144 Gregory of Nyssa,145 Theodoret,146 Cyril of Alexandria;147 then, the most revered

133 Advers. Hæreses, lib. ii. c. 47. Lib. iii. c. 11. Lib. iv. c. .34.

134 De animâ, c. 28, Advers. Marcion. lib. iv. c. 22. De Præscript. advers. hæret., c. 25. Advers. Hermog. c. 22.

135 De Opere et eleemos. p. 197-201. Adv. Quirin., Adv. Judæos, præfat.

136 Hom. xxxix. in Jerem (quoted here ch. VI. sect. 1.) Homil. ii. in cumd. (cap. xix. & I.) Homil. xxv. in Matth.

Ejusdem Philocalia, lib. iv. Commentar. in Matth. p. 227-428, (edit. Huet.) Homil. xxvii. in Numer. – in Levit.,

homil. v.

137 Homil. xlix. in Joan. Homil. xl., in Joan. v. Homil. ix., in 2 Tim. iv. Serm. 33, de utilit. lect. Script. Serm. 3, de


138 Apol. 1. c. 53, and 35, 50, 51. Dial. cont. Tryph., cap. 7. Ad Græcos cohort., c. 8.

139 SÚntomoj lÒgoj perˆ p…stewj. De doctrin. Christi. lib. ii. c. 9. De Pastor., cap. 2. Epist. xlii.

140 Epist. xcvii. (ad Hieronym.) Do unitate Ecclesiæ. c. iii. t. ix., p. 341. (Paris, 1694.)

141 Contra Gentes, t. b. p. 1. De Incarnat. Christi. (Parisiis 1627.)

142 Ad Constant. Aug., p. 244. De Trinit. lib. 8. (Parisiis, 1652.)

143 Comment, in Isaiam, t. i. p. 379. (Ed. Bened.) Homil. xxix, advers. calumniantes S. Trinit. In Ethicis regni xvi.

lxxx., cap. 22.

144 Moralia in Job, præfat., c. i.

145 Dialog. de anima et resurrectione, t. i. edit. Græcolat. p. 639. Do cognit. Dei cit. ab. Eutthymnio in Panoplia, t.


146 Dial. i. ‘\Atrept. Dial. ii. ‘AsÚgcut. In Exod., Qu. xxvi. In Gen., Quest. xlv.

147 Lib. vii. cont. Jul. Glaphyrorum in Gen. lib. ii.

fathers of after centuries; and, finally, the most holy doctors of the Reformation.148 But we

soon perceived that all these names, were we to give them by themselves, would seem nothing

better than an idle appeal to the authority of


men; and were we to give them along with the passages referred to, in full, we should run into

an excessive multiplication of words.

We shall proceed, therefore, with a careful examination of the difficulties and the systems that

are opposed to the doctrine of a plenary inspiration. Those difficulties constitute what are

objections, and those systems what are rather evasions. The two next chapters we shall devote

to the study of both.

Converted to pdf format by Robert I Bradshaw, August 2004.

148 See Lardner, vol. ii. p. 172, 488. 475, Haldane, The Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, p. 167 to 176.



It is objected that the fallibility of the translators of the Bible, renders the infallibility of the

original text illusory; that the fact of the apostles having availed themselves of the merely

human version made by the Seventy, renders their divine inspiration more than questionable.

Objections are grounded on the various readings presented by different manuscripts, on the

imperfections observed in the reasonings and in the doctrines, and on errors discovered in

matters of fact. Objectors tell us that the laws of nature, now better understood than formerly,

give the lie to certain representations of the sacred authors. Finally, we are told to look to what

objectors are pleased to call the admissions made by St Paul. To these difficulties we proceed

to reply, taking them one after another; and we can afterwards examine some of the theories,

by the help of which some have sought to rid themselves of the doctrine of a plenary



The first objection may be stated thus. It is sometimes said to us, You assert that the inspiration

of the Scriptures extended to the very words of the original text; but wherefore all this verbal

exactness of the Holy Word, seeing that, after all, the greater number of Christians can make

use of such versions only as are


more or less inexact? Thus, then, the privilege of such an inspiration is lost to the Church of

modern times; for you will not venture to say that any translation is inspired.

This is a difficulty which, on account of its insignificance, we felt at first averse to noticing;

but we cannot avoid doing so, being assured that it has obtained some currency among us, and

some credit also.

Our first remark on this objection must he, that it is not one at all. It does not bear against the

fact of the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures; it only contests the advantages of that

inspiration. With regard to the greater number of readers, it says, the benefit of such an

intervention on the part of God, would. be lost; because, instead of the infallible words of the

original, they never can have better than the fallible words of a translation. But no man is

entitled to deny a fact, because he does not at first perceive all the use that may be made of it;

and no man is entitled to reject a doctrine for no better reason than that he has not perceived its

utility. All the expressions, for example, and all the letters of the Ten Commandments were

certainly written by the finger of God, from the aleph with which they commence, to the caph

with which they end; yet, would any one venture to say that the credibility of this miraculous

fact, is weakened by most unlettered readers, at the present day, being under the necessity of

reading the Decalogue in some translation? No one would dare to say so. It must be

acknowledged, then, that this objection, without directly attacking the dogma which we

defend, only questions its advantages: these, it tells us, are lost to us, in the operation of

translating from the original, and in that metamorphosis disappear.

We proceed, then, to show how even this assertion, when reduced to these last terms, rests on

no good foundation.

The divine word which the Bible reveals to us, passes through four successive forms before

reaching us in a translation. First, it was from all eternity in the mind


man. In the third place, under the operation of the Holy Ghost, and by a mysterious process, it

passed from the prophets’ thoughts, into the types and symbols of an articulate language; it

took shape in words. Finally, after having undergone this first translation, alike important and

inexplicable, men have reproduced and counter-chalked it, by a new translation, in passing it

from one human language into another human language. Of these four operations, the three

first are divine; the fourth alone is human and fallible. Shall it he said, that because the last is

human, the divinity of the three former should he a matter of indifference to us? Mark,

however, that between the third and the fourth – I mean to say, between the first translation of

the thought by the sensible signs of a human language, and the second translation of the words

by other words – the difference is enormous. Between the doubts that may cleave to us

respecting the exactness of the versions, and those with which we should be racked with

respect to the correctness of the original text (if not inspired even in its language), the distance

is infinite. It is said; of what consequence is it to me that the third operation is effected by the

Spirit of God, if the last be accomplished only by the spirit of man? in other words, what avails

it to me that the primitive language be inspired, if the translated version be not so? But people

forget, in speaking thus, that we are infinitely more assured of the exactness of the translators,

than we could be of that of the original text, in the case of all the expressions not being given

by God.

Of this, however, we may become perfectly convinced, by attending to the five following


1. The operation by which the sacred writers express with words the mind of the Holy Ghost,

is, we have said, itself a rendering not of words by other words, but of divine thoughts by

sensible symbols. Now this first translation is an infinitely nicer matter, more mysterious and

more liable to error (if God puts not his


hand to it) than the operation can be afterwards, by which we should render a Greek word of

that primitive text, by its equivalent in another tongue. In order to a man’s expressing exactly

the thought of God, it is necessary, if he be not guided in his language from above, that he have

thoroughly comprehended it in its just measure, and in the whole extent and depth of its

meaning. But this is by no means necessary in the case of a mere translation. The divine

thought being already incarnated, as it were, in the language of the sacred text, what remains to

be done in translation is no longer the giving of it a body, but only the changing of its dress,

making it say in French what it had already said in Greek, and modestly substituting for each

of its words an equivalent word. Such an operation is comparatively very inferior, very

immaterial, without mystery, and infinitely less subject to error than the preceding. It even

requires so little spirituality, that it may be performed to perfection by a trustworthy pagan who

should possess in perfection a knowledge of both languages. The version of an accomplished

rationalist who desires to be no more than a translator, I could better trust than that of an

orthodox person and a saint, who should paraphrase the text, and undertake to present it to me

more complete or more clear in his French than he found it in the Greek or in the Hebrew of

the original. And let no one be surprised at this assertion; it is justified by facts. Thus, is not De

Wette’s translation, among the Germans, preferred at the present day to that even of the great

Luther? At least, is there not greater confidence felt in having the mind of the Holy Ghost in

the lines of the Basel professor than in those of the great reformer; because the former has

always kept very close to the expressions of his text, as a man of learning subject to the rules

of philology alone; while the latter seems at times to have momentarily endeavoured after

something more, and sought to make himself interpreter as well as translator? The more, then,

one reflects on this first consideration, the


more immeasurable ought the difference to appear between these two orders of operations; to

wit, between the translation of the divine thoughts into the words of a human language, and the

translation of the same thoughts into the equivalent terms of another language. No longer,

therefore, be it said, “What avails it to me, if the one be human, that the other is divine?”

2. A second character by which we perceive, how different these two operations must be, and

by which the making of our versions will be seen to be infinitely less subject to the chances of

error than the original text (assuming that to be uninspired), is, that while the work required by

our translations is done by a great many men of every tongue and country, capable of devoting

their whole time and care to it – by men who have from age to age controlled and checked each

other, and who have mutually instructed and perfected each other – the original text, on the

contrary, behoved to be written at a given moment, and by a single man. With that man there

was none but his God to put him right if he made a mistake, and to supply him with better

expressions if he had chosen imperfect ones. If God, therefore, did not do this, no one could

have done it. And if that man gave a bad rendering of the mind of the Holy Ghost, he had not,

like our translators, friends to warn, predecessors to guide, successors to correct, nor months,

years, and ages in which to review and consummate his work. It was done by one man, and

done once for all. This consideration, then, further shows how much more necessary the

intervention of the Holy Ghost was to the sacred authors than to their translators.

3. A third consideration, which ought also to lead us to the same conclusion, is, that while all

the translators of the Scriptures were literate and laborious persons, and versed in the study of

language, the sacred authors, on the contrary, were, for the most part, ignorant men, without

literary cultivation, without the habit of writing their own tongue, and liable, from that very


circumstance, if they expressed fallibly the divine revelation, to give us an infallible thought in

a faulty way.

4. A fourth very powerful consideration, which will make one feel still more sensibly the

immense difference existing between the sacred writers and their translators, is, that whereas

the thought from God passed like a flash of lightning before the soul of the prophet; whereas

this thought could nowhere be found again upon earth, except in the rapid expression which

was then given to it by the sacred writer; whereas, if he have expressed it ill, you know not

where to go in search of its prototype in order to recover the thought meant to he conveyed by

God in its purity; whereas, if he have made a mistake, his blunder is for ever irreparable; it

must last longer than heaven and earth, it has blemished the eternal book remedilessly, and

nobody on earth can correct it; – it is quite otherwise with translators. These, on the contrary,

have always the divine text at hand, so as to be corrected and re-corrected, according to the

eternal type, until they have become an exact counterpart of it. The inspired word leaves us

not; we need not to go in search of it to the third heaven; it is still upon the earth, just as God

himself first dictated it to us. You may thus devote ages to its study, in order that the human

process of our translation may be subjected to its immutable truth. You can now, after the lapse

of a hundred and thirty years, correct Osterwald and Martin, by means of a closer comparison

of them with their infallible standard; after the lapse of three hundred and seventeen years, you

can correct the work of Luther; after that, of fourteen hundred and forty years, that of St

Jerome. God’s phraseology is still before us, with which to confront our modern versions, as

dictated by God himself, in Hebrew or in Greek, on the day of its being revealed; and, with our

dictionaries in your hand, you may, age after age, return to the examination of the infallible

expression which it has been his good pleasure to give to the divine thought, until you become

assured that the language of the modern ones


has truly received the counter impression, and given you the most faithful fac-simile of it for

your own use. Say no more then, What avails it to me, that the one is divine since the other is

human? If you would have a bust of Napoleon, would you say to the sculptor, What avails it to

me that your model has been moulded at St Helena on the very face of Bonaparte, seeing that,

after all, your copy cannot have been so?

5. In fine, what further distinguishes the first expression which the mind of God has received in

the individual words of the sacred book, from its new expression in one of our translations, is

that, if you assume the words of the one to be as little inspired as those of the other,

nevertheless, the range of conjectures which you might make on their possible faults would be,

as respects the original text, a space without bounds and ever enlarging itself; while that same

range, as respects the translations, is a very limited space, which is constantly diminishing the

longer you remain in it.

If some friend, returning from the East Indies, where your father has, at a great distance from

you, breathed his last, were to bring you from him a last letter, written with his own hand, or

dictated by him, word for word, in Bengalee, would that letter’s being entirely from him be a

matter of indifference to you, because you arc not acquainted with the Bengalee language, and

can read it only in a translation? Don’t you know that you can cause translations of it to be

multiplied, until they leave you no more doubt of the original meaning than if you had been a

Hindoo? Will you not allow, that after each of these new translations your uncertainties will he

always growing less and less, until they cease to be appreciable, as is the case in arithmetic

with those fractionary and convergent progressions, the last terms of which are equivalent to

zero; while, on the contrary, if the letter were not from your father himself, but from some

stranger, who says he has only reproduced his thoughts, then you would find no limits to

possible suppositions; and your uncertainties, transported


into spheres new and boundless, would go on increasing the more you allowed your mind to

dwell upon them; as is the case in arithmetic with those ascending progressions, the last terms

of which represent infinitude. It is the same with the Bible. If 1 believe that God has dictated

the whole of it, my uncertainties with respect to its translations are confined within a very

narrow range; and even in this range, in proportion as it is re-translated, the limits of doubt are

constantly drawn in more closely. But if left to think, on the contrary, that God has not entirely

dictated it, and that human infirmity may have had its share in it, where shall I stop in

assuming that there may be errors? I know not. The apostles were ignorant – shall I say, they

were illiterate – they were Jews; they had popular prejudices; they judaized; they platonized; . .

. . I know not where to stop. I will begin like Locke, and end like Strauss. I will first deny the

personality of Satan, as a rabbinical prejudice; I will end with denying that of Jesus Christ, as

another prejudice. Between these two terms, in consequence, moreover, of the ignorance, on

many points, to which the apostles were subject, I will proceed, as so many others have done,

to admit, in spite of the letter of the Bible, and with the Bible in my hand, that there is no

corruption in men, no personality in the Holy Ghost, no divinity in Jesus Christ, no expiation

in his blood, no resurrection of the body in the grave, no eternity in future punishments, no

anger in God, no devil, no miracle, no damned souls, no hell. St Paul was orthodox, shall I

say? as others have done; but he misunderstood his Master. Whereas, on the contrary, if all

have been dictated by God in the original, and even to the smallest expression, “to the least iota

and tittle,” who is the translator that could seduce me, by his labours, into any one of these

negations, and make even the least of these truths disappear from my Bible?

Accordingly, who now can fail to perceive the enormous distance interposed by all these



between those two texts (that of the Bible and that of the translations), as respects the

importance of verbal inspiration? Between the passing of the thoughts of God into human

words, and the simple turning of these words into other words, the distance is as wide as from

heaven to earth. God was required for the one; man sufficed for the other. Let it no longer be

said, then, What would it avail to us that we have verbal inspiration in the one case, if we have

not that inspiration in the other case? for between these two terms, which some would put on

an equality, the difference is almost infinite.


People insist and say, We agree that the fact of these modern translations does not at all affect

the question of the first inspiration of the Scriptures; but we have much more to urge. The

sacred authors of the New Testament, when they themselves quote the old Hebrew Scriptures

in Greek, employ for that purpose the Greek translation, called that of the Seventy, executed at

Alexandria two centuries and a half before Jesus Christ. Now, no one among the moderns will

dare to affirm (as was done in former times) that the Alexandrine interpreters were inspired.

Would a man any more dare to contend that that version, still human at the time of Jesus

Christ, acquired, by the sole fact of the apostolic quotations, a divinity which it did not

previously possess? Would not this strange allegation resemble that of the Council of Trent,

when, it pronounced to be divine apocryphal writings, which the ancient Church rejected from

the canon, and which St Jerome called “fables, and a medley of gold and clay;”1 or when it


pronounced that translation by St Jerome to he authentic, which, at first, in the opinion of St

Jerome himself, and thereafter in that of the Church for above a thousand years, was no more

than a human work, respectable, no doubt, but imperfect? Would it not further resemble the

silly infallibility of Sixtus V., who declared his edition of 1590 to he authentic; or that of his

successor, Clement VIII., who, finding the edition of Sixtus V. intolerably incorrect,

suppressed it in 1592, in order to substitute in its place another very different, and yet still

more authentic?2

Here we gladly recall this difficulty; because, like many others, when more closely examined,

it converts the objections into arguments.

No more is required, in fact, than to study the manner in which the apostles employ the

Septuagint, in order to see in it a striking sign of the verbal inspiration under which they wrote.

Were a prophet to be sent by God in our day to the churches speaking the French tongue, how

shall it be thought he would act in quoting the Scriptures? He would do so in French no doubt;

but according to what version? As Osterwald and Martin’s are those most extensively

circulated, he would probably make his quotations in the words of one or other of them, in all

cases where their translation should seem to him sufficiently exact. But also, notwithstanding

our habitual practice and his, he would take care to abandon both those versions, and translate

in his own way, as often as the thought intended to be conveyed by the original did not seem to

him to be rendered with sufficient fidelity. Nay, he would sometimes even do more. In order to

our being enabled to comprehend more fully in what sense he meant to make for us the

application of such


or such a Scripture, he would paraphrase the passage quoted, and in citing it, follow neither the

letter of the original text nor that of the translations.

This is precisely what has been done by the sacred writers of the New Testament with respect

to the Septuagint.

Although it was the universal practice of the Hellenistic Jews, throughout the whole of the

East, to read in their synagogues and to quote in their discussions the Old Testament according

1 Caveat omnia apocrypha. . . . Sciat multa his admixta vitiosa, et grandis esse prudentiæ aurum in luto quærere.

See Epist. ad Lætam. Prolog. Galeat. sive Præfat. ad. lib. Regum. Symbol. Ruffini, tom. ix. p. 186. See Lardner,

vol. v. p. 18-22.

2 See Korholt. De Variis S. Scripturæ editionibus, p. 110-251. Thomas James, Bellum Papale, sive Concordia

Discors Sixti V. etc., Lond. 1600. Hamilton’s Introduction to the Reading of the Hebrew Scriptures, p. 163, 166.

to that ancient version,3 the apostles show us the independence of the Spirit that guided them,

by the three several methods they follow in their quotations.

First, when the Alexandrine translators seem to them correct, they do not hesitate to conform

to the recollections of their Hellenist auditors, and to quote the Septuagint version literatim and


Secondly, and this often occurs when dissatisfied with the work of the Seventy, they amend it,

and make their quotations according to the original Hebrew, translating it more correctly.

Thirdly, in fine, when they would point out more clearly in what sense they adduce such or

such a declaration of the holy books, they paraphrase it in quoting it. It is then the Holy Ghost

who, by their mouth, quotes himself, modifying at the same time the expressions which he had

previously dictated to the prophets of his ancient people. One may compare, for example, Mic.

v. 2 with Matt. ii. 6; Mal. iii. 1 with Matt. xi. 10; Mark i. 2, and Luke vii. 27, &c. &c.

The learned Horne, in his “Introduction to the Critical Study of the Bible” (vol. i. p. 503,) has

ranged under five distinct classes, relatively to the Septuagint version, the quotations made in

the New Testament from the Old. We do not here warrant all his distinctions, nor all his

figures; but our readers will comprehend the force of our argument, on our informing them


that that learned author reckons eighty-eight verbal quotations that agree with the Alexandrine

translations; sixty-four more that are borrowed from them, but with some variations; thirtyseven

that adopt the same meaning with them without employing their words; sixteen that

differ from them in order to agree more nearly with the Hebrew; and, finally, twenty that differ

from both the Hebrew and the Septuagint, but in which the sacred authors have paraphrased

the Old Testament, in order that the sense in which they quote it may be better understood.

These. numerical data will sufficiently enable the reader to form a just idea of the

independence claimed by the Holy Ghost with regard to human versions, when he desired to

quote, in the New Testament, that which he had previously caused to be written in. the Old.

Accordingly, they not only answer the objection – they convert it into a testimony.


We must give up the translations, then, other opponents will say, and admit that they nowise

affect the question of the primary inspiration of the original text. But in that very text there are

numerous differences among the ancient manuscripts which our Churches consult, and on

which our printed editions are based. Confronted with proofs of such a fact, what becomes of

the doctrine of verbal inspiration, and what purpose can it serve?

3 The Talmud even forbids the translation of the Scriptures, except into Greek. (Talmud Megillah, fol. 86.)

Here, too, the answer is easy. We might say at once of the various readings of the manuscripts,

what we have said of the translations: Why confound two orders of facts that are absolutely

distinct: that of the first inspiration of the Scriptures, and that of the present integrity of the

copies that have been made of


them? If it was God himself that dictated the letter of the sacred oracles, that is a fact past

recall; and no more can the copies made of them, than the translations given to us of them,

undo that first act.

When a fact is once consummated, nothing that happens subsequently can efface it from the

history of the past. There are here, then, two questions which we must carefully distinguish.

Was the whole of Scripture divinely inspired? – this is the first question it is that with which we

have now to do, Are the copies made of it many centuries afterwards by doctors and monks

correct? or are they not correct? – that is the second question. This last can nowise affect the

other. Don’t proceed, then, to subject the former, by a strange piece of inattention, to the latter;

they are independent of each other. A book is from God, or it is not from God. In the latter

case, it were idle for me to transcribe it a thousand times exactly – I should not thereby render

it divine; and in the former case, I should in vain take a thousand incorrect copies; – neither

folly nor unfaithfulness on my part, can undo the fact of its having been given by God. The

Decalogue, yet once more we repeat it, was entirely written by the finger of Jehovah on two

tables of stone; but if the manuscripts that give it to me at the present day present some various

readings, this second fact would not prevent the first. The sentences, words, and letters of the

Ten Commandments, would not the less have been all engraven by God. Inspiration of the first

text, integrity of the subsequent copies – these are two orders of facts absolutely different, and

separated from each other by thousands of stadia, and thousands of years. Beware, then, of

confounding what logic, time, and space compel you to distinguish.

It is by precisely a similar process of reasoning, that we reprove the indiscreet lovers of the

apocryphal writings. The ancient oracles of God, we tell them, were committed to the Jewish

people, as the new oracles were committed afterwards to the Christian people. If, then,


the Book of Maccabees was a merely human book in the days of Jesus Christ, a thousand

decrees of thee Christian Church could not have any such effect thereafter as that, in 1560,

becoming what it had never been till then, it should be transubstantiated into a divine book.

Did the prophets write the Bible with the words which human wisdom dictated, or with words

given them by God? – such is our question. But have they hence faithfully copied from age to

age, from manuscripts into manuscripts? – this is yours, perhaps. It is very important no doubt;

but it is entirely different from the first. Do not, then, confound what God has separated.

It is true, no doubt, will people say, that the fidelity of one copy does not make the original

divine, when it is not so; and the incorrectness of another copy will not make it human, if it

was not so. Accordingly, this is not what we maintain. The fact of the inspiration of the sacred

text in the days of Moses, or the days of St John, cannot depend upon the copies which we

shall have made of it in Europe and Africa, two or three thousand years after them; but though

the second of these facts does not destroy the first, it at least renders it illusory, by depriving it

of its whole worth and utility.

Now, then, mark to what the objection is confined. The question is no longer about the

inspiration of thee original text – the whole attack here is directed against its present integrity.

It was first a question of doctrine: “Is it declared in the Bible that the Bible is inspired even in

its language?” But it is no more now than a question of history, or of criticism: “Have the

copyists copied faithfully? are the manuscripts faithful?” Accordingly, we might say nothing

now on a position of which we are not here called upon to undertake the defence; but the

answer is easy; I will say more – God has rendered it so triumphant that we will not restrain

ourselves from giving it. Besides, the faith of simple minds has been so often disquieted on this

subject by a phantasmagoria of learning, that we consider


it useful here to expose its hollowness. And, although this objection in some sort withdraws us

from the field which we had traced out for our ourselves, we will follow it, for the purpose of

answering it.

No doubt, lead this difficulty been presented to us in the days of Anthony Collins and the Free

Thinkers, we should not have been left without reply, but we should have felt perhaps some

embarrassment, because full light had not then been thrown upon the facts, and because the

field of conjectures, as yet unexplored, remained undefined. We know the perplexities of the

excellent Bengel on this question; and we know that these led, first, to his laborious researches

on the sacred text, and, next, to his pious wonder and gratitude at the preservation of that text.

Of what use, one might have said, is the assurance that the original text was dictated by God

eighteen hundred years ago if I heave no longer the certainty that the manuscripts of our

libraries still present it to me in its purity, and if it be true (as we are assured) that the various

readings of these rolls are at least thirty thousand in number?

Such is the old objection: it was specious; but nowadays it is known, by all who have studied

it, to be a mere illusion. The Rationalists themselves have admitted that it can no longer be

made, and must be given up.

The Lord has watched miraculously over his Word. This the facts of the case have


In constituting as its depositaries, first, the Churches of the Jewish people, and then those of

the Christian people, his providence lead by this means to see to the faithful transmission of

the oracles of God to us. It has done this; and he order to the attainment of this result, it has put

different causes in operation, of which we shall have again to speak afterwards. Late learned

researches have thrown the clearest light on this great fact. Herculean labours have been

bestowed during the whole of the last century (particularly in its last half) and the first part of

this, on the task of bringing


together all the various readings that either the detailed examination of the manuscripts of holy

Scripture preserved in the different libraries of Europe, or the study of the most ancient

versions, or the searching out of the innumerable quotations made from our sacred books in all

the writings of the fathers of the Church, could furnish; and this immense toil has ended in a

result wonderful by its insignificance, and (shall I say?) imposing by its nullity.

As respects the Old Testament, the indefatigable investigations and the four folios of Father

Houbigant; the thirty years’ labours of John Henry Michaelis; above all, the great Critical

Bible and the ten years’ study of the famous Kennicott (who consulted five hundred and

eighty-one Hebrew manuscripts); and, in fine, Professor Rossi’s collection of six hundred and

eighty manuscripts; – as respects the New Testament, the no less gigantic investigations of

Mill, Bengel, Wetstein, and Griesbach (who consulted three hundred and thirty-five

manuscripts for the Gospels alone); the latest researches of Nolan, Matthaei, Lawrence, and

Hug; above all, those of Scholz (with his six hundred and seventy-four manuscripts for the

Gospels, his two hundred for the Acts, his two hundred and fifty-six for the Epistles of Paul,

his ninety-three for the Apocalypse, (without reckoning his fifty-three Lectionaria): all these

vast labours have so convincingly established the astonishing preservation of that text, copied

nevertheless so many thousands of times (in Hebrew during thirty-three centuries, and in

Greek during eighteen hundred years), that the hopes of the enemies of religion, in this quarter,

have been subverted, and as Michaelis has said, “They have ceased henceforth to look for any

thing from those critical researches which they at first so warmly recommended, because they

expected discoveries from them that have never been made.”4 The learned Rationalist Eichhorn

himself also owns that the different


readings of the Hebrew manuscripts collected by Kennicott hardly offer sufficient interest to

compensate for the trouble they cost!5 But these very misreckonings, and the absence of those

discoveries, have proved a precious discovery for the Church of God. She expected as much;

but she is delighted to owe it to the labour of her very adversaries. “In truth,” says a learned

man of our day, “but for those precious negative conclusions that people have come to, the

direct result obtained from the consumption of so many men’s lives in these immense

researches may seem to amount to nothing; and one may say that in order to come to it, time,

talent, and learning have all been foolishly thrown away.”6 But, as we have said, this result is

immense in virtue of its nothingness, and all-powerful in virtue of its insignificance. When one

thinks that the Bible has been copied during thirty centuries, as no book of man has ever been,

or ever will be; that it was subjected to all the catastrophes and all the captivities of Israel; that

it was transported seventy years to Babylon; that it has seen itself so often persecuted, or

forgotten, or interdicted, or burnt, from the days of the Philistines to those of the Seleucidæ; –

when one thinks that, since the time of Jesus Christ, it has had to traverse the first three

centuries of the imperial persecutions, when persons found in possession of the holy books

were thrown to the wild beasts; next the 7th, 8th, and 9th centuries, when false hooks, false

legends, and false decretals, were everywhere multiplied; the 10th century, when so few could

read, even among princes; the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries, when the use of the Scriptures in

the vulgar tongue was punished with death, and when the books of the ancient fathers were

mutilated, when so many ancient traditions were garbled and falsified, even to the very acts of

the emperors, and to those of the councils; – then we can perceive how necessary it was that



providence of God should have always put forth its mighty power, in order that, on the one

hand, the Church of thee Jews should give us, in its integrity, that Word which records its

4 Michaelis, t. ii. p. 266.

5 Einleitung, 2. Th. s. 700.

6 Wiseman’s Discourses on the Relations, etc., ii. Disc. 10.

revolts, which predicts its ruin, which describes Jesus Christ; and, on the other, that the

Christian Churches (the most powerful of which, and the Roman sect in particular, interdicted

the people from reading the sacred books, and substituted in so many ways the traditions of the

middle ages for the Word of God) should nevertheless transmit to us, in all their purity, those

Scriptures, which condemn all their traditions, their images, their dead languages, their

absolution; their celibacy; which say, that Rome would be the seat of a terrible apostasy, where

the Man of Sin would be seen sitting as God in the temple of God, waging war on the saints,

forbidding to marry, and to use meats which God hind created;” which say of images, “Thou

shalt not bow down to them” – of unknown tongues, “Thou shalt not use them” – of the cup,

Drink ye all of it” – of the Virgin, “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” – and of marriage,

It is honourable in all.”

Now, although all the libraries in which ancient copies of the sacred books may be found, have

been called upon to give their testimony; although the elucidations given by the fathers of all

ages have been studied; although the Arabic, Syriac, Latin, Armenian, and Ethiopian versions

leave been collated; although all the manuscripts of all countries and ages, from the third to the

sixteenth century, have been collected and examined a thousand times over, by countless

critics, who have eagerly sought out some new text, as the recompense and the glory of their

wearisome watchings; although learned men, not content with the libraries of the West, have

visited those of Russia, and carried their researches into the monasteries of Mont Athos,

Turkish Asia, and Egypt, there to look for new instruments of the sacred text; – “Nothing has

been discovered,” says a learned person, already quoted, “not


even a single reading, that could throw doubt on any one of the passages before considered as

certain. All the variantes, almost without exception, leave untouched the essential ideas of

each phrase, and bear only on points of secondary importance;” such as the insertion or the

omission of an adjective or a conjunction, the position of an adjective before or after its

substantive, the greater or less exactness of a grammatical construction.

And would we be less rigorous in our demands with respect to the Old Testament? – the

famous Indian manuscript, recently deposited in the Cambridge library, will furnish an


It is thirty-three years since the pious and learned Claudius Buchanan, while visiting, in the

Indian peninsula, the black Jews of Malabar (who are supposed to be the remains of the first

dispersion under Nebuchadnezzar), saw in their possession an immense roll, composed of

thirty-seven skins, tinged with red, forty-eight feet long, twenty-two inches wide, and which, in

its originally entire state, must have had ninety English feet of development. The Holy

Scriptures had been traced on it by different hands. There remained one hundred and seventeen

columns of beautiful writing; and there was wanting only Leviticus and part of Deuteronomy.

Buchanan succeeded in having this ancient and precious monument, which served for the

worship of the synagogue, committed to his care, and he afterwards deposited it in the

Cambridge library.

The impossibility of supposing that this roll had been taken from a copy brought by European

Jews, was perceived from certain evident marks. Now, Mr Yeates lately submitted it to the

most attentive examination; and took the trouble to collate it, word by word, letter by letter,

with our Hebrew edition of Van der Hooght. He has published the results of his researches.

And what have they been? Why, this: that there do not exist, between the text of India and that

of the West,


above forty small differences, not one of which is of sufficient importance to lead to even a

slight change in the meaning and interpretation of our ancient text; and that these are but the

additions or retrenchments of an y or a w – letters the presence or absence of which, in Hebrew,

cannot alter the import of the word.7

We know the peculiar character, among the Jews, of those Massorethes, or doctors of tradition,

whose whole profession consisted in transcribing the Scriptures, we know to what a pitch these

learned men carried respect for the letter; and when we read the rules that regulated their

labours, we can comprehend what use the providence of the Lord, who had “committed his

oracles to the Jewish people,” knew to make of their reverential respect, their strictness, and

even their superstition. In each of the books they counted the number of verses, of words, of

letters: they could have told you, for example, that the letter appears forty-two thousand three

hundred and seventy-seven times in the Bible, the letter thirty-eight thousand two hundred and

eighteen times, and so on: they would have scrupled at changing the position of a single letter

evidently displaced; they would only have called your attention to it on the margin, and would

have supposed some mystery involved in it; they would have told you the middle letter in the

Pentateuch, and that which is in the middle of each of the particular books of which it is

composed: they never would permit themselves to retouch their manuscript; and if any mistake

had escaped from them, they would have rejected the papyrus or the parchment which it had

spoilt, and would have begun anew; for they were equally interdicted from ever correcting any

of their blunders, and from preserving for their sacred volume a parchment or skin that had

suffered any erasure.

This intervention of God’s providence in the preser-


vation of the Old Testament becomes still more striking in our eyes, if we compare the

astonishing integrity of the original Hebrew (at the close of so many centuries) with the rapid

and profound alteration which the Greek version of the Septuagint had undergone in the days

of Jesus Christ (after the lapse of only two hundred years). Notwithstanding that that book had

acquired throughout the whole East, after the almost universal propagation of the Greek

language, a semicanonical authority, first among the Jews and then among the Christians;

notwithstanding its being afterwards the only text to which the fathers of thee East and of the

West (with the exception of Origen and of Jerome) had recourse for what they knew of the Old

Testament, the only one that was commented on by the Chrysostoms and the Theodorets – the

only one whence such men as Athanasius, Basil, and Gregory of Nazianzus drew their

arguments; notwithstanding that the Western no more than the Eastern world had any better

source of illumination, during so many ages, than that borrowed light (seeing that the ancient

Italian Vulgate, which was in universal use, had been translated from the Greek of the

Septuagint, and not from the Hebrew of the original); yet hear what the learned tell us of the

alteration of that important monument – of the additions, changes, and interpolations to which

7 See Christian Observer, vol. iii. p. 170. Examen d’un exemplaire Indien du Pentateuque, p. 8. Horne’s

Introduction and Appendix, p. 95, edition 1818.

it had been subjected, first through the doings of the ancient Jews before the days of Jesus

Christ, after that by the unbelieving Jews, and later still through the heedlessness of Christian

copyists: “The evil was such (mirum in modum),” says Dr Lee, “that in certain books thee

ancient version could hardly be recognised; and when Origen, in the year 221, had devoted

twenty-eight years of his noble life in searching for different manuscripts of it, with the view

of doing for that text (in his Tetrapla and his Hexapla) what modern critics have done for that

of the Old and New Testaments, not only could he not find any copy that was correct, but he

further made matters worse. Through the unskilfulness of the copy-


ists (who neglected the transcriptions of his obelisks, asterisks, and other marks), the greater

number of his marginal corrections found their way into the text; so that new errors having

spread there, one could no longer, in the time of Jerome, distinguish between his annotations

and the primitive text.”8 We repeat, these facts, placed in contrast with the astonishing

preservation of the Hebrew text (older than that of the LXX. by more than twelve hundred

years), proclaim loudly enough how necessary it was that the mighty hand of God should

intervene in the destinies of the sacred book.

So much for the Old Testament. But let it not he thought that the Providence that watched over

that sacred book, and which committed it to the Jews (Rom. iii. 1, 2), has done less for the

protection of the oracles of the New Testament, committed by it to the new people of God. It

has not left to the latter less cogent motives to gratitude and feelings of security.

Here we would appeal, by way of testimony, to the late experience of the authors of a version

of the New Testament which has just been published in Switzerland, and in the long labours of

which we ourselves had a part. A single trait may enable all classes of readers to understand

how very insignificant are the different readings presented by the manuscripts. The translators

to whom we refer followed, without the smallest deviation, what is called the received edition,

that is to say, the Greek text of Elzevir, 1624, so long adopted by all our Churches; but as, in

conformity with the original plan of the work they had undertaken, they had first of all to

introduce into their original text the various readings that have been most approved by the

criticism of the last century, they very often found themselves embarrassed, from perceiving

the impossibility of expressing, even in the most literal


French, the new shade of meaning introduced by that correction into their Greek. The French

language, in the most scrupulous version, has not flexibility enough to enable it to assume

these differences of manner, so as to put them in proper relief; just as the casts taken from the

face of a king reproduce in brass his noble features, yet without being capable of marking

every vein and wrinkle.

We desire, however, to give such of our readers as are strangers to sacred criticism, two or

three other and still more intelligible means of estimating that providence which has for thirty

centuries watched over our sacred texts.

8 Proleg. in Bibl. Polyglott. Bagsteriana (iv. sect. 2.)

The first is as follows: We would bid them compare the two Protestant translations by

Osterwald and Martin. There are few modern versions that come so close to each other. The

old version of the Geneva pastors having been taken as the basis of both – both having been

written at nearly the same time and in the same spirit – they differ so little, especially in the

New Testament, that our Bible societies distribute them indifferently, and that one finds it hard

to say which of the two ought to be preferred. Nevertheless, if you take the trouble to note their

differences, taking all things into account, as has been done on comparing our four hundred

manuscripts of the New Testament, the one with the other, we affirm beforehand (and rather

think that in this we under-state the truth), that these two French texts are three times, and in

many chapters ten times, wider from each other than the Greek text of our printed editions is,

we will not say only from the least esteemed of the Greek manuscripts of our libraries, but

FROM ALL THEIR MANUSCRIPTS PUT TOGETHER. Hence we will venture to say, that

were some able and ill-meaning person (such as we may suppose the wretched Voltaire or the

too celebrated Anthony Collins to have been in the last century) to study to select at will, out

of all the manuscripts of the East and the West, when placed before him, the worst read-


ings and the variations most remote front our received text, with the perfidious intention of

composing at pleasure the most faulty text – such a man, we say (even were he to adopt such

various readings as should have in their favour no more than ONE SOLE manuscript out of the

four or five hundred of our libraries), could not, in spite of all his mischievous inclination,

produce a Testament, as the result of his labours, that would be less close to that of our

Churches than Martin is to Osterwald. Further, you might send it abroad instead of the true

text, with as little inconvenience as you would find in giving French Protestants Martin rather

than Osterwald, or Osterwald rather than Martin; and with far less scruple than you would feel

in circulating De Sacy’s version among the followers of the Church of Rome.

No doubt these hast books are only translations, whereas all the Greek manuscripts profess to

he original texts; and it must be admitted that, in this respect, our comparison is very

imperfect: but it is not less fitted to re-assure the friends of the Word of God, by enabling them

to understand the extreme insignificance of the various readings.

Meanwhile, what follows is something more direct and more precise.

In order to give all our readers some measure at once of the number and of the harmlessness of

the readings that have been collected together in the manuscripts of our libraries, we proceed to

present two specimens of these. It will consist, first, of a schedule containing the first eight

verses of the Epistle to the Romans, with ALL THE VARIOUS READINGS relating to these

IN ALL THE MANUSCRIPTS of the East and of the West. This will be followed by a

schedule of the whole epistle, with ALL THE CORRECTIONS that the celebrated Griesbach,

the oracle of modern criticism, thought he ought to introduce into it.

We have taken these passages at random, and declare that we have not been led to make choice

of them


in preference to others, by any reason bearing upon our argument.

We feel gratified at placing these short documents before the eyes of persons who are not

called by their position to follow out, of themselves, the investigations of sacred criticism, and

whose minds, nevertheless, may have been somewhat discomposed by the language, at once

mysterious and imposing, which the rationalists of the last century have so often employed on

the subject. To hear them speak, would you not have said that modern science was about to

give us a new Bible, to bring down Jesus Christ from the throne of God, to restore to man,

when calumniated by our theology, all his titles to innocence, and to set to rights all the

dogmas of our old orthodoxy?

As a first term of comparison, our columns will present first of all, in the eight first verses of

the Epistle to the Romans, the differences betwixt the one text of Martin (1707) and the one

text of Osterwald, (Bagster’s edition), while the following columns, instead of comparing any

one sole manuscript with any other sole manuscript whatsoever, will present the differences

between our received text and ALL THE MANUSCRIPTS that one has been able to collect

down to Griesbach. That learned and indefatigable person, for the Epistle to the Romans,

scrutinized first of all seven manuscripts written WITH UNCIAL LETTERS (or Greek

capitals), and it is thought, from thirteen to fourteen centuries old, (the Alexandrine in the

British Museum; that of the Vatican, and that of Cardinal Passionei at Rome; that of Ephrem at

Paris; that of St Germain, that of Dresden, and that of Cardinal Coislin); and after that, a

hundred and ten manuscripts in small letters, and thirty others, brought for the most part from

Mount Athos, and consulted by the learned Matthei, who travelled long for that purpose in

Russia and the East.

For the four Gospels, the same Griesbach had opportunities of consulting as many as three

hundred and thirty-five manuscripts.





Ver. 2. qu’il.

promis auparavant


auparavant promis.

3. de la race de la senence.

4. et qui salon I’Esprit …

a été

et qul a été selon, …


a été declare. a été pleinement declaré.

avec puissance. en puissance.

par sa resurrection. par Ia resurrection.

L’Esprit de sainteté. l’Esprit de sanctification.

Savoir. c’est a dire.

J. C. notre Seigneur. notre Seigneur J. C.

5. afin d’amener tous les

Gentils a l’obeissance

de la foi.

afin qu’il y ait obeissance de

foi parmi tous les Gentils.

6. du nombre desquels entre lesquels

vous êtes aussi, vous aussi vous etes, vous

qui avez eté appelés. qui etes appelés.

7. appelés et saints. appelés á etre saints.

la grace et la paix grace vous soit et paix

vous soiènt données vous soient données

do in pact do Dieu notre


de par Dieu notre père

et de et de par

notre Seigneur J. C. le Seigneur J. C.

8. Avant toutes choses. Premierement.

au sujet de vous tous. touchant vous tous.

est celebre. est renommée.

These differences between the two French texts are sufficiently insignificant; and were one to

tell us that, in all these verses, one or other of the two is inspired of God, our faith would

receive great aid from this. Now it will be seen that the various readings of the Greek

manuscripts are still more insignificant.

Let us now examine, on the same verses, the table containing the received text, compared with

all the different readings that could be presented by the hundred and fifty Greek manuscripts

collected and consulted for the Epistle to the Romans.


Here we shall not point out either the differences presented by the ancient translations, or those

that belong only to the punctuation (that element being almost null in the most ancient


We shall translate the first column (that of the received text) according to the old version,

which is more literal than Osterwald’s; and we shall also endeavour to render the Greek

readings of the second column as exactly as possible.



ELZIVER, 1624.)




Ver 1. No difference.

2. by his prophets. by the prophets.

(In a single Parisian manuscript.)

3. who was made. who was begotten.

(In a single Upsala manuscript,

and by the mere change of two


4. and declared. and predeclared.

(In only one of the twenty-two

manuscripts of the Barberini


5. No difference.

6. No difference.

7. that be in Rome, beloved

of God, called.

who are in the love of God, called.

(A single manuscript – that of

Dresden, in uncial letters.)

that be in Rome, called.

(Only two manuscripts – that of

St Germain, in uncial letters,

and a Roman one, in small letters.)

from God our Father. from God the Father.

(A single Upsala manuscript.)

8. First. First.

(The difference untranslatable. It

is to be found in only one manuscript.)

for you all. with respect to you all.

(Two manuscripts.)

Here we have nine or ten different readings, of no importance in themselves; and, moreover,

they have in


their favour only one or two manuscripts of the hundred and fifty open to consultation on those

eight verses, with the exception of the last (“for you all,” instead of “with respect to you all”),

which reckons in its favour twelve manuscripts, four of which are in uncial letters.

The differences between Osterwald’s and Martin’s translations are three times as numerous;

and, generally speaking, these differences are far more important in point of meaning. This

comparison, were we to continue it through the whole New Testament, would bear the same

character, and become even still more insignificant.

Nevertheless, those of our readers who have hitherto been strangers to such researches will not

be displeased, we believe, at our offering, in a third table, a fresh method of estimating the

harmlessness of the variations, and the nullity of the objection that has been drawn from them.

This last table will present the totality of the corrections which, according to the learned

Griesbach, the father of sacred criticism, ought to be introduced into the text of the Epistle to

the Romans, after the prolonged study of the extant manuscripts to which he had devoted

himself; and after all that had been done by his predecessors in the same field of research.

No one who has not entered on these researches, can form a just idea of the immensity of those


Before perusing this third table, however, we would have the reader to know –

First, That Griesbach is, in general, charged by the learned (such as Mattæi, Nolan, Lawrence,

Scholz, and others) with an excessive eagerness for the admission of new readings into the

ancient text. This tendency is explained by the habits of the human heart. The learned Whitby

had, before that, charged Dr Mill, not without some foundation, with the same fault, although

he had never ventured on so many corrections as Griesbach.

Secondly, Observe, further, that in this table we give


not only those corrections which the learned critic was fully persuaded people ought to adopt,

but those also which he has said were ns yet only doubtful in his eyes, and not to be

confidently preferred to the generally received text.









Ver. 13. that I might have some


that I might have some fruit.

(There is here a mere inversion of

the words.)

… 16. I am not ashamed. I am not ashamed.

(Difference cannot be explained

by translation.)

the gospel of Christ. the gospel.

19. for God. for God.

(Difference cannot be explained.)

21. glorified him not. glorified him not.

(Difference one of orthography.)

24. Wherefore God also. Wherefore God.

27. And likewise And likewise.

(Difference not translatable.)

29. with all unrighteousness,

fornication, wickness.

with all unrighteousness, wickededness.

31. without natural affection,

implacable, unmerciful.

without natural affection, unmerciful.


Ver. 8. indignation and wrath. wrath and indignation.

13. the hearers of the law. the hearers of the law.

(The mere absence of the



Ver. 22. unto all and upon all

them that believe.

unto all them who believe.

25. through the faith. through faith.

28. Therefore we conclude,

that a man is justified

by the faith.

In fact we conclude, that a


is justified by faith.

29. is he not. is he not.

Difference not




Ver. 1. What shall we then say

that Abraham hath


What shall we then say,

that hath

found Abraham.

Abraham our father. Abraham our ancestor.

4. as a debt. as debt.

12. in the circumcision. in circumcision.

13. heir of the world. heir of the world.

(A difference that cannot

be rendered.)

19. And being not weak in

faith, he considered


and did not, weak in the




Ver. 14. to Moses. to Moses.

(Deference in spelling.)


Ver. 1. Shall we continue. Shall see continue.

(Pronoun understood

– not expressed.)

11. yourselves to be dead.

through Jesus Christ,

our Lord.

yourselves dead.

through Jesus Christ.

12. that ye should obey it

in the lusts thereof.

that ye should obey it.

16. whether of sin unto

death, or of obedience

unto righteousness.

whether of sin, or of


unto righteousness.


Ver. 6. the law by which….

being dead

being dead to the law by which.

10. the commandment


the commandment which.

(Difference of a simple accent.)

14. Carnal. carnal.

(Difference of a letter.)

18. I find not. I find not.

(Difference of orthography.)



Ver. 1. to them which are in

Jesus Christ, who walk

not after the flesh but

after the Spirit.

To them which are in Christ


(The words left out here re-occur

at verse 4.)

11. by his Spirit that dwelleth

in you.

on account of his Spirit that

dwelleth in you.

26. our infirmities, our infirmity.

what we should pray for, what we should pray for.

(Difference cannot be rendered.)

maketh intercession for

us with groanings.

maketh intercession with groanings.

36. For thy sake. for thy sake.

(Difference untranslatable.)

38. nor angels, nor principalities,

nor powers,

nor things present, nor

things to come.

nor angels, nor principalities, nor

things present, nor things to

come, nor powers.


Ver. 11. neither good nor evil

that the purpose, according

to the election

of God.

neither good nor evil that the

purpose of God according to

the election.

(Differences not easily rendered.)

15. He saith to Moses. he saith to Moses.

(Difference in spelling.)

32. as it were by the works

of the law.

as it were by works.

for they stumbled. they stumbled.

33. whosoever believeth on he that believeth on him.



Ver. 1. prayer to God for lsrael. prayer to God for them.

that they might be


that they might be saved.

(Difference cannot be expressed.)

5. Moses. Moses.

(Different spelling.)

15. bring glad tidings. bring glad tidings.

(Difference cannot be translated.)

19. Did not Israel know? Did it not know, Israel?

Moses. Moses.

(Difference in spelling.)



Ver. 2. against Israel, saying: against Israel: Lord….


3. and they have digged

down the altars.

they have digged down the altars.

6. And if by grace, then it

is no more of works;

otherwise grace is no

more grace. But if

it be of works, then it

is no more grace;

otherwise work is no

more work.

And if by grace, then it is no

more of works; otherwise grace

is no more grace.

7. he hath not obtained. he hath not obtained.

(Difference not translatable.)

19. The branches were broken


branches were broken off.

21. spare not thee. spare not thee.

(Difference cannot be rendered.)

23. And they also. and they also.

(Difference in spelling.)

30. and as ye have been

yourselves in times


and as ye have been in times



Ver. 2. And be not conformed,

but be ye transformed.

And that ye be not conformed..

.. but that ye be transformed.

by the renewing of your


by the renewing of the mind.

11. serving the Lord. serving the occasion.

(The difference lies but in two

letters the one changed, the other


20. Therefore if thine enemy


if thine enemy hunger.


Ver. 1. but of God; and the

powers that be.

but from God, and those that be.

are ordained of God. are ordained of God.

(Difference not translatable.)

8. but that ye love one


but that ye one another love.

9. thou shalt not steal,

thou shalt not bear

false witness, thou

shalt not covet.

Thou shalt not steal, thou shalt

not covet.



Ver. 9. Christ both died, and

rose, and revived that.

Christ both died and lived that.

(The difference lies only in adding

two letters.).

14. Nothing is unclean of


Nothing is unclean of itself

(Difference untranslatable.)


Ver. 1. We then that are strong

ought to.

(Griesbach thinks that probably

here ought to be placed the three

verses at the end of the Epis-

tle:) Now, to him . . . We

then who are strong ought to.

(The question is merely about a

transposition; and one which

Scholz has not adopted.)

2. Let every one of us


(A difference that cannot be rendered.)

4. For whatsoever things

were written aforetime

were written.

(A difference that cannot be rendered.)

8. Now I say. for l say.

19. by time power of the Spirit

of God.

by the power of the Spirit

24. I will come to you whensoever

I take my journey

into Spain, and I

hope that I shall see


whensoever I take my journey

into Spain, I hope that I shall

see you.

29. in the fulness of the

blessing of the gospel

of Christ.

in the fulness of the blessing of



Ver. 2. for she hath been a


(The difference cannot be rendered.)

3. Priscilla. Prisca.

5. Who is the first fruits

of Achaia.

Who is the first fruits of Asia.

6. Who bestowed much

labour on us.

Who bestowed much labour on


18. serve not our Lord Jesus


Serve not our Lord Christ.

20. The grace of our Lord

Jesus Christ be with

you! Amen.

the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ

be with you.

25. Now to him that is of


(These words according to (Griesbach,

ought rather to be placed

at the beginning of chapter XV..


Here, then, the thing is evident: such is the real insignificance of the various readings about

which so much noise was made at first. Such has been the astonishing preservation of the

Greek manuscripts of the New Testament that have been transmitted to us.

After the copying and recopying of the sacred text, whether in Europe, in Asia, or in Africa,

whether in monasteries, on in colleges, or in palaces, or in the houses of the clergy (and this,

too, almost without interruption, during the long course of fifteen hundred years); – after that

during the three last centuries, and, above all, in the hundred and thirty years that have just

elapsed, so many noble characters, so many ingenious minds, so many learned lives have been

consumed in labours hitherto unheard of for their extent, admirable for their sagacity, and

scrupulous as those of the Massorethes; – after having scrutinized all the Greek manuscripts of

the New Testament that are buried in the private, or monastic, or national libraries, of the East

and of the West; – after these have been compared, not only with all the old translations, Latin,

Armenian, Sahidic, Ethiopic, Arabic, Selavonian, Persian, Coptic, Syrian, and Gothic, of the

Scriptures, but further, with all the ancient fathers of time Church, who have quoted them in

their innumerable writings, in Greek and in Latin; – after so many researches, take this single

example, as a specimen of what people have been able to find!

Judge of the matter by this one epistle which you have before you. It is the longest and most

important of the epistles of the New Testament, “the golden key of the Scriptures” (as it has

been called), “the ocean of Christian doctrine.” It contains four hundred and thirty-three verses,

and in these four hundred and thirty-three verses, ninety-six Greek words that are met with

nowhere else in the New Testament. And how many (admitting even all the corrections that

have been adopted, or only preferred by Griesbach), how many have you found, in these, of

readings that go to change, even slightly, the meaning of some phrase? You have


seen five such! And, further, what are these? We shall repeat them; they are as follows:-

The first (chap. vii. 6) instead of “That in which… being dead,” Gnieshach reads, “Being dead

to that in which.” And note well that here in the Greek, the difference depends only on the

change of a single letter (an o instead of an e); and besides that, the greater number of

manuscripts were so much in favour of the old text that, since Griesbach’s time, Mr Tittman, in

his edition of 1824, has rejected this correction, and Mr Lachman has done so also, in his

edition of 1831 (Scholz, however, has retained it).

The second is as follows, chapter xi. 6:-

Instead of, “And if by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace; but

if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work,” Griesbach takes

away the latter half of this phrase.

The third is as follows, chapter xii. 11:-

Instead of, “Serving the Lord,” Griesbach reads, “Serving the occasion.” Note that the

correction depends only on the change of two letters in one of the Greek words, and that,

moreover, it does not appear to be justified by the number of the manuscripts. Further here,

Whitley told Mill that more than thirty manuscripts, that all the ancient translations, that

Clement of Alexandria, St Basil, St Jerome, all the scholiasts of the Greeks, and all those of the

Latins with the exception of Ambrose, followed the old text; and the two learned men whom

we have just named (Lachman and Tittman), the one labouring at Berlin, the other a professor

at Leipsic, have restored time old text, in their respective editions of the New Testament. This

has been done also by Scholz, in his edition of 1836, which the learned world seems to prefer

to all that leave preceded it.

The fourth is as follows, chapter vi. 16:-

Instead of, “Whether of sin unto death or of righteousness,” Griesbach reads, “ Whether of sin

or of


righteousness;” but he himself puts at the place the simple sign of a feeble probability; and

Tittman and Lachman, in their respective editions, have further rejected this correction. Scholz,

following their example, has equally rejected it.

The fifth is as follows, chapter xvi. 5:-

Instead of, “The first fruits of Achaia,” Griesbach reads, “The first fruits of Asia.

Here we have taken no notice of the words that are taken away from the first paragraph of

chapter viii., because we find them again at the 4th verse.

We see, then, the amount of the whole: such is the admirable integrity of the Epistle to the

Romans. According to Griesbach five insignificant corrections, in the whole epistle –

according to more modern critics ONLY TWO, and these the most insignificant of the five; –

and according to Scholz THREE!

We repeat, that we have chosen the Epistle to the Romans, as a specimen, only because of its

length and its importance. We have not given ourselves the time to examine whether it presents

more or fewer various readings than any other part of the New Testament. We have run over,

for example, in Griesbach, while reviewing these last pages, the EPISTLE TO THE

GALATIANS, written at the same time and on the same subject with the Epistle to the

Romans; and there we have been unable to find snore than the three following corrections that

can affect the sense, or, to speak more correctly, the form of the sense:-

Chap. iv. 17. “They would exclude us” – say, “They would exclude you.”

Chap. iv. 26. “She is the mother of us all” – say, “ She is the mother of us.”

Cheap. v. 19. Adultery, fornication, uncleanness” – say, “Fornication, uncleanness.”

These simple schedules, in our opinion, will speak more loudly to our readers than all our

general assertions could do. Of this we ourselves have felt the happy experience. We had read,

no doubt, what others