The Holy Scriptures - Canon and Inspiration

From lectures by A. A. Hodge

I. Let us now consider the Bible, its genesis and its inspiration.
II. On what presuppositions does our doctrine rest?
III. How do we ascertain the Constituent, Parts of Scripture?
IV. How was the Bible, this Book of books, produced?
V. What is God's part in bringing this Book of books into existence?
VI. What is the doctrine of the Christian Church as to the extent to which the Scriptures are inspired ?
VII. What is to be said as to alleged discrepancies?

Part I

I. Let us now consider the Bible, its genesis and its inspiration.

The word "Bible" means book; the word "Scripture" means writing; and it is by the common consent of men that these words are applied to this one subject, because it is a book of books, and because, beyond all comparison, it is the Writing of writings. It is the most important of all books, because, as a matter of historical fact, this book, more than any other force, has molded the character of the great nations of the world and given birth to what we call the modern or Western civilization; because all historic Churches, with one accord, declare it to be the foundation of their creeds - declare that this book is the Word of God; because, in spite of all our divisions, the whole Church really accepts this book as the only infallible and divinely authoritative rule of our faith and practice; and because it is, between all Christians, the standard of appeal on all subjects of debate, the only common ground upon which we stand, the only court of last resort.

II. On what presuppositions does our doctrine rest?

In every problem there are two elements - the a priori element of principle and the a posteriori element of fact. To this there is no exception in any of the problems of philosophy or of science or of theology. The a priori question of principle must be taken first, and will condition the whole argument. We must, before we take up the subject of the Bible, first take up the questions: Is there a God? Does he exist? What relation does he sustain to the universe? Can he reveal himself to man? Has he made a revelation of himself to man? Are men capable of receiving a divine revelation through the means of a book?

Now, it is held, on the basis of all the presuppositions of atheism, of materialism, of agnosticism, and even of the old deism, that it is absolutely absurd to talk of any supernatural revelation of God, or of any Bible as either containing or being the Word of God. I want, however, to assure the laymen who have not investigated these questions, that nine-tenths of all the objections which men are making now to the Scriptures, in which they claim that the progress of knowledge, the progress of civilization, the progress of science, the progress of critical investigation, the vast aggregate of historical knowledge, all are sweeping away the foundations of our ancient faith in the Bible - I wish to assure them that these objections are totally untrue. Those that are made are not founded upon facts, but simply upon a priori philosophical principles. Neither science nor history nor criticism bears any testimony against the divine origin of the Bible. I appeal with confidence to the a priori principles of a contrary philosophy. We must meet them on their own ground, and appeal from the postulates of a false philosophy to the postulates of a true. We have as much right to believe our philosophy as they have to believe theirs. Renan, for instance, begins his discussion upon the Epistles with this assumption: "The supernatural is impossible;" therefore the supernatural is unhistorical, and therefore any piece of literature that claims to convey to us supernatural information must so far forth be incorrect and be the subject of correction by critical hands.

You see that this is a mere assumption, and the whole principle on which it rests is that which underlies the philosophy, atheistic, materialistic, agnostic, or deistic, of these errorists; and if this be swept away, not only all the foundations for such a claim, but all color of presumption on which it rests, is swept away at once. Doubtless there are very many men of great ability who are perfectly honest who hold to this belief. They are thoroughly convinced of the principles of their a priori philosophy, and these principles are evidently inconsistent with the truths of Christianity.

But if we discard the unproved assumptions, we invalidate their conclusions. There are others who ought to be treated kindly: they are thoroughly convinced, but they are half-educated, timid souls who are confused in this babel of tongues, and who do not know the deceitfulness of materialistic belief - who are inclined to believe in the ancient faith, but are also under pressure from the arrogant claims of philosophy. For such we must have great consideration, and instead of repelling them by words, draw them to us by the spirit of Christ, and by showing that we not only believe intellectually, but that we have a ground of assurance in our inward experience, in the testimony of the Holy Ghost, which must excite respect and confidence in them.

Now, in beginning this argument, I wish to claim, first, the truth of all I have said in the three preceding lectures. You see, therefore, the logical reason for the order I adopted. I claim, as preliminary to the discussion of the doctrine of Holy Scripture, the truths of the principles already established: to wit, there is a God; this God possesses the attributes of omnipresence, omnipotence, infinitude, etc.; he is everywhere present; immanent in all things at all times; working continuously and universally through all things from within. He is also transcendent and extramundane, acting upon the world from without on such points and at such times as he wills. The whole order of providence and of moral government, whether natural, supernatural, or gracious, is presupposed in this argument.

If a man does not believe in God as omnipresent and as active in all his creatures, if he does not believe that man is a free moral agent under the moral government of God, who is a holy, just, and benevolent Ruler, then this lecture is not intended for him. But if a man does so believe, we challenge him to present objections to the catholic doctrine of the Word of God which will be at the same time rational and consistent with Christian Theism.

III. How do we ascertain the Constituent, Parts of Scripture?

that is, how do we (1) ascertain the several books which make up the canon? and (2) how do we ascertain the words which make up the correct text of those books? I can of course attempt only a very bare sketch of what should be the full and critically-learned answer to these questions. You all fully understand that they fall outside of the particular department of study to which my life has been devoted. The amount of the highest talent and learning consecrated within the Christian Church to the defense and elucidation of the sacred Scriptures would infinitely surprise the shallow critics who are vociferously claiming that its pretensions have been disproved. They should remember that a few frogs in a swamp make incomparably more noise than all the herds of cattle browsing upon a hundred hills. Yet none are deceived, except the frogs themselves. In Princeton Theological Seminary the study of the subjects embraced within this single lecture consumes the larger part of three years of study, and the entire attention of four learned and able professors.

(A) 1. How do we ascertain what Books constitute the Canon of the Old Testament? The New Testament came into existence in an age in which a contemporaneous literature existed, thoroughly illuminated by the light of history. But the Old Testament contains the very oldest extant literature of the world. It inaugurates human history, and therefore cannot, in its earliest contents, be verified by contemporaneous testimonies. It is only in its later periods that it receives confirmation unquestionable from the monuments of Egypt and the cylinders of Assyria.

Nevertheless, we are certain that we have the very same canon which Christ recognized when he said to his disciples and through them to us, "Search the Scriptures: ......they are they which testify of me." The very books which we have now are the very books to which Christ appealed. He cited them (1) by their classes, as "the Law," "the Law and the Prophets;" and (2) he quoted the writings severally, and attributed them to their respective authors - as to Moses, to David, and to Esaias. The same was done by the inspired writers of the New Testament. That the canon endorsed by Christ is the very canon we now possess we know to an absolute certainty - by the Septuagint translation, made nearly three hundred years before Christ; by the Hebrew Bible, jealously guarded by the Jews from the earliest ages to the present time; from the testimony of Philo and of Josephus, the great Jewish writers of the first Christian century; and from the earliest Latin and Syriac translations.

As to this point, indeed, there is no controversy. The simple question remains, which to real Christians is no question, whether the testimony of Christ our Lord is sufficient to establish the fact.

2. How do we ascertain the True Text of the Several Books which constitute this Canon? Our reliance here also is upon the guarantee of Christ. We are sure that we possess the Masoretic text which was collected and recorded by the Masorets from the fifth century onward. These were great Jewish scholars, who searched all manuscripts open to them, not to form a new text, but to ascertain the true text in the material that had descended to them. The Targums and the Talmud also make it certain that the text we now have is essentially the identical text which Christ had, and which he virtually guarantees to us. The same fact is proved to us by the Septuagint Greek Version before referred to, and by the Peshito, the old Syriac Version, made at the end of the second century. The Septuagint, the Hebrew Bible, the Syriac Version, the Vulgate, the Masoretic notes must embody the text as it existed in the time of Christ. The agreement of all the various sources of information is so close that the greatest differences they suggest would not change a single doctrine nor cast doubt upon a single historic fact of any importance. I am justified, therefore, in affirming that we stand possessed today of the very same Old Testament Scriptures to which Christ appealed, and to which his authority binds our obedience and our faith.

In these days you hear much of the ravages which a learned criticism has made in the integrity of our traditional Scriptures, and thus in the historical foundations of our faith. Ordinary historical criticism is a perfectly legitimate and necessary process by which all the light, external and internal, afforded by history, literature, and the intrinsic characteristics of the books or texts in question is collected, and we judge by means of all the best evidence we have what conclusions we have to draw in reference to their genuineness and their integrity, or the reverse. But there is an arrogant phase of the "higher criticism" that is far more ambitious, and attempts to correct, or even to reconstruct, the existing text by wide inductions from the history of the times, from the other writings, and from the known or supposed character, knowledge, style, situation, or subject of the writer. The whole historical situation is vividly conceived by the critic of this school, and he proceeds to infer therefrom what the writer must have said or could not have said. It is admitted that in some cases and within narrow limits such a process may be legitimate. When there is conflict or indefiniteness in the evidence afforded by direct explicit historical data of manuscript or version, it may be well to go further afield for collateral or for inferential evidence. But it is very plain that this process of "higher criticism" is liable to be colored, and even wholly controlled, by the subjective conditions of the critic - by his sympathies, by his historical and philosophical and religious theories, and by his a priori judgments as to what the sacred writer ought to say. It is also very plain that the conclusions of this Criticism are of no value whatever when opposed to clearly ascertained historical facts or documentary evidence.

In the case of "criticism" applied to the Old or New Testament Scriptures in a spirit hostile to the long-received faith of the Christian Church, it is notorious that it is the outgrowth of a false philosophy, of naturalistic views of God's relation to the world, and of a priori theories of evolution applied to history. When we remember, therefore, what can be clearly proved by historic fact and document, that Christ endorsed as the Word of God the very Old Testament Scriptures, book and text, which we now possess, when we remember that all the evidence attainable from Egyptian monuments and Assyrian cylinders corroborates the claims of this Hebrew Bible in all its parts, it is very evident that the claims of this "criticism" are groundless.

(B) 1. How do we ascertain what Books of right belong to the New Testament Canon?

Here the case is different. Christ did not present us the collected books of the New Testament and guarantee their integrity. On the other hand, these books were written in the full light of an historically illuminated age, and come to us supported by a contemporaneous literature and followed by a copious consequent literature of their own creating.

The rule by which the canonicity of any New Testament book is determined is: any book written by an apostle, or received generally as canonical by the Church during the age in which it was presided over and instructed by the apostles, is to be regarded as canonical. Take, for instance, the Epistle to the Hebrews. If written by Paul, then it would have a right to a place in the canon for that reason. But if not written by Paul, if it was received generally as canonical by the Church during the lives of Paul and John, then its right must be admitted on that ground.

Of course, the facts in question must be determined by an examination of two classes of evidence - (1) the internal character of the writing; (2) the external historical evidence of its genuineness and of its recognition as canonical by the Church of the first century. No external evidence can prove a book to have come from God if its contents are morally bad or intellectually contemptible. Nevertheless, no matter what the contents of a book may be, we cannot admit that it belongs to the New Testament canon except on the ground of explicit and sufficient historical proof.

The kind of evidence by which we establish the canonicity of each of the books of the New Testament is precisely the same as that by which we prove the authenticity and genuineness of any ancient classic. The only difference is that in behalf of the books of the New Testament the evidence is incomparably more abundant. This evidence may be distributed under the following heads, each head representing copious literatures critically sifted and logically arranged
(1) quotations and references to these books found in the writings of early Christians;
(2.) early catalogues of the sacred books;
(3) early translations;
(4) general verdict of the Church;
(5) internal characteristics.

You hear a great deal today about the "Christian consciousness." The new critics, having destroyed the ancient historical foundations of our Scriptures and of our faith, wish now to build them up again upon a basis of Christian consciousness. Every book and every specific reading is to be received which is approved by the subjective tests, literary, scientific, aesthetic, religious, and fantastic, of self-appointed Scripture-tasters in the nineteenth century. We also believe in a Christian consciousness - that is, in a human consciousness modified by religious experience and the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. But the mouthpiece of that consciousness is no self-appointed, self-conscious group of cultured moderns. It is voiced only by the consensus of all Christians of all nations, all ecclesiastical folds and ages. These very critics deny the growth of the whole Church since St. Augustine, because its uniform testimonies rebuke them. We, on the contrary, appeal from the self-elected representatives of "Christian consciousness" to the thing itself - to the consensus of the whole Church, ancient, mediaeval, and modern, Greek, Roman, Lutheran, and Reformed. We appeal to the historic and abiding creeds, confessions, hymns, and liturgies of all Christians. We appeal to the testimony of the Holy Ghost, to the witness of all saints and martyrs, to all reformations, revivals, and missions since Pentecost.

The progress of this controversy has been one unbroken march of triumph for the integrity of our traditional canon. The first destructive "critics" denied the authenticity and historic validity of the fourth Gospel, and the originality and accuracy of the synoptic Gospels; and they admitted the genuineness of only four books - Romans, First and Second Corinthians, and Galatians. These are admitted to have been the genuine writings of the apostle Paul by the general consent of the most destructive critics, and of all branches and ages of the Christian Church. This admission alone defeats the enemy, and establishes upon this rock of unquestionable historic fact the whole gospel system. The entire body of Christian doctrine can be shown to be taught in these four admitted original Christian documents - the entire person, office, and work of Christ; the entire salvation, temporal and eternal, of his believing followers. Since that time the originality and validity of the synoptical Gospels have been fully vindicated, and the genuineness of the fourth Gospel has been established beyond reasonable question, as is nobly admitted and maintained by the late Dr. Ezra Abbot, one of the most learned Unitarians America has ever produced.

2. How do we ascertain the True text of the Several Books of the New Testament?

You can easily understand that through the process of multiplying manuscripts by hand, which is laborious and involves an infinitude of independent details, an untold number of variations would creep into the text.

The textus receptus was formed in the age of the Reformation by a hasty and uncritical gathering and comparison of the manuscripts which were found lying ready to hand, without respect to their various age or authority. Cardinal Ximenes, in Complutum, Spain, printed the first edition, A.D. 1514, which, however, was not published till 1520 or 1521. The next edition was issued by Erasmus from Bale, 1516, with succeeding editions of 1519, 1522, 1527, 1535; then that of Stephanus from Paris, 1546; then that of Beza from Geneva, 1565. Finally, the second Elzevir edition of 1633, Leyden, which claimed to give the textus receptus, was generally so received, and gave currency to that title. The text thus formed was the basis of the English version of King James and of all the New Testaments of all languages in modern times.

But during the present century the text of the New Testament has been carefully studied, a far wider collection of manuscripts has been gathered, the more ancient and valuable manuscripts have been made the basis of a corrected text, and a text nearly approximating to the original autographs of the sacred writers has been arrived at by a process of critical comparison and judgment of the immense material collected.

This is gathered
(1.) From ancient manuscripts: for example, the Codex Alexandrinus in the British Museum, dating from the beginning of the fifth century from 400 to 450, after the birth of Christ; the Cortex Vaticanus, dating from some time in the fourth century; the Codex Sinaiticus, believed by Tischendorf to be one of the fifty copies prepared by the order of Constantine by Eusebius, A.D. 381.
(2.) From the numerous quotations from the New Testament writings found in the works of the early Fathers.
(3.) From the early translations, such as the Peshito, or early Syriac, latter part of the second century; the Latin Vulgate of Jerome, A.D. 385; the Coptic, from the third century. From all these sources the new critical-editions of the New Testament Greek text have been derived. The best of these in their order have been those of Griesbach, who died 1812; Lachuiann, who died 1851; Tischendorf, who died 1874; andl of Westcott and Hort, which was made the basis of the New Revision in 1880.

This much has been settled upon definite and sufficient historical evidence critically sifted. The testimony establishes the fact that these New Testament books constitute the second division of God's Word, and that the text in our possession is incomparably more accurate and more certain than that which is possessed of any other ancient book in the world. God has taken such care of his own Word that the differences which you may observe between the Revised Version and the Old Version of the Scriptures are such as do not involve the stability of a single important historic fact, or of a single article of faith. We are brought by this process not only to the substance, but to the form and shading, of the truth as it came from the original organs of revelation. We can almost recognize the tone and inflection of the voice of Christ himself.

Part II

IV. Our fourth question is, How was the Bible, this Book of books, produced?

What was  the true genesis of these Scriptures? Written evidently by men, how did they become the Word of God?

There are three distinct ways in which we can conceive that God might produce a book to be read by man - (1.) He could have produced it by his own immediate energy, acting directly and alone, as he did when he wrote the Ten Commandments with his own finger on tables of stone. (2.) He might have used men as his amanuenses, not as conscious and free penmen, but mechanically as his instruments of writing in simple obedience to his verbal dictation. (3.) The third way is the infinitely better one which God has chosen. It is the God-like way, which is in analogy with all his methods. He first created man, and endowed him constitutionally with all his rational, emotional, aesthetic, moral, and volitional powers. He then brought certain individual men into existence with the specific qualifications necessary for writing certain parts of Scripture, and placed them under their specific historical conditions, and in their specific positions in the succession of sacred writers, and gave them the precise degree and quality of religious experience, of natural providential guidance, of supernatural revelation and inspiration, necessary to stimulate their free activity and to determine the result as he would have it.

l. In the first place, the Bible is as intensely and thoroughly a human book as ever existed. As Christ was a true man, tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin, because also divine, so the Bible is thoroughly human, yet without error, because also divine. God is infinite; yet his word, the Bible, is finite - that is, God's thought is expressed under all the limits of human thought and language, so that man may receive and profit by it. God is omniscient; but his word, the Bible, is not omniscient. It is narrowly limited in its range as a human book, produced by the instrumentality of human minds, and addressed to human minds of all classes; but within that range it is infallible, without any error. It has its limitations, as every human work has. It is based on human intuitions; it proceeds through the lines of human logic; it implies human feelings, tastes, and experiences. Every separate book is a spontaneous work of human genius, and bears the marks of all the personal idiosyncrasies and of the historic situation of its author. The individuality of Peter, Paul, John, David, Isaiah, and Moses is as fully expressed in their writings as that of Shakespeare or of Milton in theirs. Each biblical writer wrote as freely and as spontaneously as any other. Each of these books was also a book of its time - bore the marks of its age, and was specifically adapted to accomplish its immediate end among its contemporaries. The provincialisms of thought and idiom proper to the situation of their writers are found in these books. They make no claim to eminent purity of language, or to high literary merit either in substance or form. Yet all these writings, severally and collectively, are books of all times, adapted perfectly to the edification and instruction of the Church of every age - of Moses, of David, of the prophets, of the time of Christ, of the ancient, medieval, Reformation, and modern Church. Of all books, it is the most comprehensively human. Of all God's works, it is the most characteristically divine. It is, in one view, an entire national literature; in another view, it is two distinct volumes; in another view, it is one single work, with one Author, subject, method, and end.

2. In the second place, the Bible is a divine book, bearing the attributes of its Author, God. All along the line of human authorship through which this wonderful book grew to be, during at least sixteen hundred years, God provided each specifically endowed and conditioned prophet for his appointed place in the succession, a place prepared for him by all who had preceded; and on this foundation, already provided, he proceeds to build up in organic continuity, and in symmetrical proportion, the system already inaugurated. To each prophet God has communicated his specific item of revelation and his specific impulse and direction through inspiration.

3. The result is that the whole is an organism, a whole consisting of many parts exquisitely correlated and vitally independent.

In this respect you may compare the Koran of Mohammed with the Christian Bible. In the great debate between the missionary Henry Martyn and the Persian moulvies, the latter showed a great superiority of logical and rhetorical power. They proved that the Koran was written by a great genius; that it was an epoch-making book, giving law to a language pre-eminent for elegance, inexhaustible fullness, and precision, revolutionizing kingdoms, forming empires, and molding civilization. Nevertheless, it was a single work, within the grasp of one great man. But Henry Martyn proved that the Bible is one single book, one single, intricate, organic whole, produced by more than forty different writers of every variety of culture and condition through sixteen centuries of time - that is, through about fifty successive generations of mankind. As a great cathedral, erected by many hands through many years, is born of one conceiving mind, and has had but one author, so only God can be the one Author of the whole Bible, for only he has been contemporaneous with all stages of its genesis; he only has been able to control and co-ordinate all the agents concerned in its production, so as to conceive and realize the incomparable result.

4. This book, whatever we may think of the propriety of it, unquestionably claims to be the Word of God. At the opening of the book it demands the implicit credence and obedience of every reader. Its instant order to every reader is, "Believe, on peril of your soul's life!" It does not point to evidence, nor plead before the bar of human reason. But it utters the voice of God and speaks by authority. What other book does this? And this claim has been abundantly vindicated through the ages in the opinion of the wisest and best of mankind
(1) by its demonstrations of supernatural knowledge,
(2) of supernatural works,
(3) of supernatural power over the hearts and consciences of men;
(4) by the accompanying witness of the Holy Ghost;
(5) by its omnipresent beneficent influence through all Christian lands and ages.

What would you think if today at high noon the existence and the light and heat and life-giving radiance of the sun were brought into question? How would you answer the skeptical denial of that self-evident fact by a blind man! To all the living the sun is its own witness. So all who question the divinity of the Bible only condemn themselves. What a sorry appearance the grotesque herd make even now!

V. What is God's part in bringing this Book of books into existence?

This falls under several heads - namely, providence; the gracious work of his Spirit on the heart; revelation; inspiration.

1. Providence. In a previous lecture I showed that God is to be conceived of as an infinite Spirit, presiding over all creatures and acting upon them from without at his will, but also as omnipresent, at every moment immanent in every ultimate element of every creature, and acting in and through all things from within. Thus God's activities are everywhere confluent with our own spontaneities. All creatures live and move and have their being in him. He works in us to will as well as to do - that is, as free agents, though willing to do according to his good pleasure. A great musician elicits his most perfect music out of instruments and under conditions made for him beforehand by other men. How much more completely would the artist be the sole creator of his work if he could at will first create his material with the very qualities he needs, then build and attune his instruments for his own purposes, and then bring out from them, thus prepared and adjusted, the very music in its fullness which his soul has designed from the first. So God from the first designed and adapted every human writer employed in the genesis of Scripture. Paul, John, Peter, David, Isaiah, have been made precisely what they were, and placed and conditioned precisely as they were, and then moved to write, and directed in writing precisely what they wrote. The revelation was in a large measure through an historical series of events, led along by a providential guidance largely natural, but surcharged, as a cloud with electricity, with supernatural elements all along its line. Thus, under God's providence, the Scriptures grew to be, all the conspiring forces which contributed to their formation acting under the providential control of the ever-present, ever-acting, immanent God.

2. Spiritual Illumination. This includes the whole sum of God's gracious dealing with the soul of his prophet, qualifying him to be the fit organ for the communication of religious truth. In order to exhibit truth in its comprehensive logical relations, God employed the logical and scholastically trained mind of Paul. In all his writing this natural and acquired faculty of Paul acted under God's guidance as spontaneously and naturally as the same faculty ever wrought in the case of any other writer. But in relation to spiritual truth the natural mind of man is blind and without feeling. Spiritual illumination by the Holy Ghost, a personal religious experience, was as necessary in the case of such writers as David, John, and Paul as esthetic taste and genius are in the case of a poet or an artist. The spiritual intuition of John, the spiritualized understanding of Paul, the personal religious experience of David, have, by the superadded gift of inspiration, been rendered permanently typical and normal to the Church in all ages.

3. Revelation. Spiritual illumination opens the organ of spiritual vision, and clarifies it. Revelation, on the other hand, gives the additional light which nature does not supply. In every instance where supernatural knowledge of God, his attributes, his purposes, of the secrets of his grace or of the future of the Church in this world, of the life of body or of soul after death, came to be needed by a sacred writer, God immediately gave it to him by revelation. This was done in various ways, as by visions, dreams, direct mental suggestion, verbal dictation, and the like; but whatever the method of communication, it was perfectly adequate to the occasion and congruous to the nature of the person to whom it was made. This, of course, was never furnished except on the occasions when it was needed: it appears more frequently in some portions of Scripture than in others; but however frequent, it was an occasional and not a constant element of the Bible.

4. Inspiration. This was the absolutely constant attribute of every portion and of every element of the Scriptures, and that attribute which renders them infallible in every utterance, and which thus constitutes their grand distinguishing trait, separating them by the whole heavens from all other books. Revelation supernaturally communicated to the sacred writer the truth which he needed, and which he did not possess, and could not attain by any natural means. Inspiration, on the other hand, is that influence of the immanent Holy Ghost which accompanied every thought, and feeling, and impulse, and action of the sacred writer involved in the function of writing the word, and which guided him in the selection and utterance of truth - that is, in its conception and in its verbal expression - so that the very mind of God in the premises was expressed with infallible accuracy. This influence was exerted frown within the writer, not upon him from without. It in no degree constrains or forces; it directs through the writer's own spontaneity. It modifies action only so far as action would be otherwise divergent from the purpose of God or inadequate. It is like the directive agency of the plastic soul of the tree, which so directs the physical forces engaged in its erection that they spontaneously combine to form its intricate and voluminous organism. Or it is like the touch of the charioteer upon the reins which guide the courses of the racing steeds. Or it is like the touch of the hand of the steerer upon the rudder of the boat carried gently down the meandering stream by the currents of the air and water. These currents symbolize the natural powers and knowledge of the sacred writer, reinforced by revelation and by grace. The hand on the rudder symbolizes inspiration. It secures the fact that all things go right according to the will of the steersman. But it interferes only by gentle and alternate pressure, and thus only when otherwise the currents, if left to themselves, would not fulfill his will.

VI. What is the doctrine of the Christian Church as to the extent to which the Scriptures are inspired ?

The two opinions which individual Christian men have severally maintained on this subject are represented respectively by the two alternative phrases, "The Scriptures contain the word of God," "The Scriptures are the Word of God."

The first is the loose formula of those who hold a low doctrine of inspiration. A river in India, "rolling down its golden sands," may be truly said to contain gold. But in that case we are left in doubt as to the relative proportion between the sand and the gold, and to our own resources to discriminate and separate the two. If the Bible only "contains the Word of God," it evidently can be no infallible rule of faith and practice, because we are confessedly left to the two very human and fallible instruments (1) of "higher criticism," and (2) of the "Christian consciousness," to determine what elements of the Scriptures are the very "word of God," and what elements are only the word of man. A law can have no infallibility beyond that of the court which interprets it. So in this view of the case the Bible has no infallibility beyond that of the criticism and consciousness of our self-appointed, self-complacent guides.

But the Church has always held that "the Scriptures we the Word of God." This means that, however these books may have been produced through human agency, God has (1) so controlled the process of their genesis, and (2) he so absolutely endorses the result, that the Bible in every book and every word, both in matter and in form, is the very Word of God uttered to us.

The phrase "verbal inspiration" applied to the Scriptures does not mean that the sacred writers were inspired or directed in their work by words dictated or suggested. But it means that the divine influence which we call inspiration, and which accompanied them throughout their entire work, extended to the verbal expression of every thought as well as to the thoughts themselves. This inspiration has extended equally to every part of Scripture, matter and form, thought and words, and renders the whole and every part inerrant.

Calvin, in the sixth, seventh, and eighth chapters of his Institutes, continually uses the phrases "Scripture," "the Scriptures," "the sacred volume," and "the Word of God" as synonymous. The first Reformed Confession of national authority, the First Helvetic, says, Art. i.: "Canonical Scripture is the Word of God." The Second Helvetic Confession was the most widely recognized of all the Reformed Confessions in Switzerland, France, Hungary, Poland, Scotland, and highly honoured in England and Holland. It says: "We believe and confess that the canonical Scriptures of the holy prophets and apostles of both Testaments are the Word of God, and have plenary authority of themselves and not from men." Every Presbyterian minister and elder in England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, and the United States, North and South, believes this, or he has forsworn himself. Each one has at his ordination solemnly declared, before God and man, that he believes these Scriptures "to be the Word of God " (Confession of Faith, Presbyterian Board of Publication, pp. 429, 434, 441). Thomas Cartwright, the father of English Presbyterianism, in his Treatise of the Christian Religione; or, The Whole Body and Substance of Divinity (London, A.D. 1616), has written his twelfth chapter "On the Word of God." This he identifies with the collection of canonical books, and accounts for their authority by saying, "for God is the Author of them."

This is the doctrine of the whole historical Church of God. The Roman Catholic Church declares it de fide to believe that God is the Author of every part of both Testaments (Can. Council of Trent, sec. 4; Dog. Decrees of Vatican,Council, 1870, sec. 3, chap. 2). Also every branch of the Reformed Church - for example, Belgic Confession, Art. 3; Second Helvetic Confession, chap. 1; Westminster

Confession, chap. l. In this respect the late Professor Henry B. Smith, the noble representative of the theology of the New School Branch of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, precisely agrees with the late Professor Charles Hodge, who equally represented the theology of the Old School branch. In his sermon on The Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, delivered be fore the Synod of New York and New Jersey, October 17, 1855, Dr. Smith said: -"All the divine revelations which are here recorded are also inspired, but all that is the subject of inspiration need not be conceived of as distinctly revealed. Inspiration designates that divine influence under which prophets or apostles spake or wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Christ is the great Revealer, the Holy Spirit inspires. "Its function is to convey unto the world, through divinely commissioned prophets and apostles, either orally or by writing, under the specific influence of the Holy Spirit, whatever has been thus revealed. Its object is the communication of truth in an infallible manner, so that when rightfully interpreted no error is conveyed. "It comprises both the matter and the form of the Bible - the matter in the form in which it is conveyed and set forth. It extends even to the language - not in the mechanical sense that each word is dictated by the Holy Spirit, but in the sense that under divine guidance each writer spake in his own language according to the measure of his knowledge, acquired by personal experience, the testimony of others, or by immediate divine revelation.

"So wonderfully do the divine and human elements commingle in the Scriptures, as do the first and second causes also in the realm of providence, that it is vain to limit. inspiration to doctrine and truth, excluding history frown its sphere. The attempt is as unphilosophical as it is unscriptural. No analysis can detect such a line of separation. It is both invisible and not to be spiritually discerned.

"The theory of plenary inspiration, as we have already given it, comprises whatever is true in all these views, subordinate to the prime position that the Bible not only contains, but is, the Word of God."

Dr. H. B. Smith's Introduction to Christian Theology: "Inspiration gives us a book, properly called the Word of God, inspired in all its parts. The inspiration is plenary in the sense of extending to all the parts and of extending also to the words."

VII. What is to be said as to alleged discrepancies?

The above statement unquestionably truly represents the ancient and catholic faith of the historic Church of Christ. The hostile critics and theorists object that the Scriptures are full of inaccuracies and discrepancies of statement
(1) as between the statements of Scripture and modern science or undoubted history;
(2) as between one statement or quotation of Scripture and another.

In answer to this we have space to say only -

1st. We freely admit that many errors have crept into the sacred text as it exists at present; although none of these errors, nor all of them together, obscure one Christian doctrine or important fact. In order to make good the objection of the critics, it is necessary that they show that the discrepancy exists when the clearly ascertained original text of Scripture is in question.

2nd. The Scriptures were not written from the scientific point of view, nor intended to anticipate science. A distinction should be clearly drawn and strongly held between the speculations of science and its ascertained facts.

The speculations of science are like the changing currents of the sea, while the Scriptures have breasted them like the rocks for two thousand years. The Scriptures speak of nature as it presents itself phenomenally. When this is remembered, the Bible contradicts no fact of science. On the contrary, the entire view of the genesis and order of the physical world presented by the Bible, in contrast with all the other ancient books whatsoever, is in correspondence with that presented by modern science to a degree perfectly miraculous. The men who press this objection are ignorant either of science or of the Bible, or, more probably, of both.

3rd. As to the alleged discrepancies with history, it must be remembered (a) that the most modern discoveries (from Egypt and Assyria) most wonderfully confirm the historical accuracy of Scripture; (b) that when only a part of an ancient situation is historically illuminated, different accounts may appear inconsistent which are really complementary to each other and mutually supporting.

4th. As to the discrepancies alleged to exist in certain passages between the Scriptures themselves, it is evident that the question is one of fact, which can be settled only by a thorough, learned, intelligent, and impartial investigation. Very few men are qualified to give an opinion. There is no possibility of commencing even an investigation in a popular lecture. It is sufficient for me that men like my learned colleagues in Princeton Seminary, who spend their lives in the special study of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, assure me that one single instance of such discrepancy has ever been proved.