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UT now let us leave the apostles; prophets indeed as they are, sent by
God to establish his kingdom, pillars of the church, mouths by which
the Holy Ghost has spoken, and ambassadors of Jesus Christ; and go to
THE MASTER. Inquire of him in what estimation he held the Scriptures?
This is the great question. The testimonies which we have been setting
forth are, doubtless, conclusive; and the doctrine of a full and entireInspiration by God
is as clearly
taught in the Scripture as that of the resurrection of the dead. This
ought to suffice for us; but we will nevertheless avow that the
argument upon which we are about to enter renders all others
superfluous:- how has Jesus Christ himself quoted the holy Bible? What
was his mind as to the letter of the Scriptures? What use has he made
of it, - He, who was the object of the Inspirer, the beginning and the
end, the first and the last? He, whose Holy Spirit, says St. Peter (1
Pet. 1:11), animated all the prophets of the Old Testament; He who was
in heaven, in the bosom of the Father, at the same time that he was
seen below holding converse with human kind and preaching the gospel to
the poor? Were I to be asked, What do you think of the holy Scriptures?
I should answer,What has my Master thought of them? How has He quoted
them? What use has He made of them? What, in His estimation, were even
its least parts?
Speak thyself, O Eternal Wisdom! - Uncreated Word! - Judge of
And whilst we proceed to review the declarations of thy mouth, do thou
display to us that majesty in which the Scriptures appeared before
thee; that perfection which THOU didst acknowledge in them; and
especially that unchangeableness which thou hast assigned to their
least iota, and in virtue of which they will survive the universe, when
heaven and earth shall have passed away!
We do not hesitate to say, that when we hear the Son of God
quoting the Scriptures, the question of their divinely
nature is, in our judgment, settled. We want no further evidence. All
the declarations of the Bible unquestionably are divine; but this
example of the Saviour of the world at once tells us all. This proof
does not require either long or learned researches; the hand of a child
can grasp it as powerfully as that of a theologian. If any doubt assail
your soul, turn to the Lord of lords, and behold him kneeling before
Follow Jesus in the days of his flesh. See with what serious
respect he holds continually the "volume of the book," to quote from
its every part, and to show the import of its least details. Observe
how each expression, even a word, a psalm, or an historical book, has
the authority of a law. Mark with what confiding submission he receivesall the Scriptures, without ever
contesting the sacred canon; because he knows that "salvation comes of
the Jews," and that under God's infallible providence the "oracles of
God were committed unto them." Do I say that he receives them? From
infancy to the tomb, and from resurrection to his disappearance in the
clouds, what did he bear about with him everywhere - in the desert - in
the temple - and in the synagogue? What does he quote, with
resurrection voice, when the heavens already are about to exclaim:-
"Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting
doors, and the King of glory shall come in!" It is the Bible, -
evermore the Bible. It is Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophets, which he
quotes and explains. But in what way? Even verse by verse, and word by
After such a spectacle, in what sad and fearful contrast do
present themselves to us, who, in the present day, dare to judge,
gainsay, test and mutilate the Scriptures! One trembles after beholding
the Son of man commanding the elements, stilling the tempest, and
despoiling the tomb, yet filled with profound reverence for the sacred
volume, declaring, that he would one day return to judge, by this book,
the quick and the dead: one trembles, I say, and the heart bleeds,
when, setting foot upon the threshold of a rationalist academy, the eye
lights upon a poor wretched, learned, accountable mortal seated in the
Professor's chair, irreverently handling the word of his God - and
this, unhappily, before a concourse of youths eager for knowledge, and
destined to be the future instructors of an entire people; capable of
so much good, if led onward in the path of faith, and of so much evil,
if trained to question those Scriptures which they must one day preach!
With what arrogant self complacency do these deluded men parade the
phantasmagoria of their hypotheses!
They retrench, they add, they praise, they blame, and they
simplicity of those who, reading the Bible as Jesus Christ himself read
it, become like him attached to it, and see no error in the word of
God. Where Jesus Christ had no doubts, they decide what interlineations
or retrenchments holy Scripture shall undergo; they lop off whole
chapters which they understand not; and denounce it as containing
mistakes, illgrounded or inconclusive arguments, prejudices, rash
assertions, ignorant conceits, and vulgar errors!
The Lord pardon the necessity of recording the fearful
dilemma; but the
alternative is inevitable. Either Jesus Christ exaggerated and reasoned
ill when he thus quoted the Scriptures, or these daring and unhappy men
unwittingly blaspheme the Divine Majesty. Deeply painful it is to us to
pen such a sentence. God is our witness, that our first desire was to
forbear the expression of it, and afterwards to blot it out; but we can
venture to affirm, under a deep sense of what becomes us, that it is in
obedience and in love we have retained it. Alas! after the lapse of a
few years, these teachers and their pupils will be consigned to a
common tomb; they will wither like the green herb; but not one particle
of a letter of this divine book will then have passed away: and as
certain as the Bible is truth, so certainly shall we see the Son of Man
come in the clouds of heaven, and judge by this eternal word the secret
thoughts of all men. (Rom. 2:16; John 12:48; Matt. 25:31.) "All flesh
is grass, and all the glory of man is 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 is preached unto
us." - It is this word which will judge us.
We shall now proceed to complete our proofs, by sketching
point of view the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us follow him
from the age of twelve years to his descent into the tomb, or rather to
his ascent to the clouds in which he disappeared; and in all the course
of this incomparable career, let us see what the Scriptures were in the
estimation of Him who "upholdeth all things by the word of his power."
In the first place, observe him when twelve years old. He has
increased, like a child of humanity, in wisdom and stature; he is in
the midst of the Doctors, and his answers amaze all who hear him; for
(said they) he knows the Scriptures without having studied them. (John
Observe him at the time of entering upon his ministry. He is
with the Holy Ghost; he is led into a wilderness, there to sustain,
like the first Adam in Eden, a mysterious conflict with the powers of
darkness. The Unclean spirit ventures to approach, and seeks to
overthrow him; but how does the Son of God, he who was come to destroy
the works of the devil, resist him? With the Bible only. The sole
weapon in his divine hands during this threefold assault, was the sword
of the Spirit, the Bible. Three times successively he quotes the book
of Deuteronomy (8:3; 6:16; 6:13; 10:20; Matt. 4:1-11): at each new
temptation, He, the Word made flesh, defends himself by a sentence from
the oracles of God, and even by a sentence whose whole force lies in
the employment of one or two words: in the first place, of these words
(άρτω μόνω) bread alone
; afterwards of these, thou
shalt not tempt the Lord
Κύριον); and finally of these two words
προσκυνήσεις)thou shalt worship God.
What an example for us! His only answer, his only defence, is
- "It is
written." "Get thee hence, Satan, for it is written," - and as soon as
this terrible and mysterious conflict ended, angels came and ministered
But let us further and particularly remark, that of such authority is each word in the Scriptures in the estimation of the Son of Man, that the Unclean spirit himself (a being so mighty for evil, who knew the Saviour's estimate of the words of the Bible) could not devise a more secure way of operating upon his will, than by citing a verse of the ninety-first Psalm; and immediately Jesus to confound him, contents himself with once more replying, "It is written."
commenced his ministry - by the use of the Scriptures. And thus it was
that, soon afterwards, he entered upon his prophetic ministry - by the
use of the Scriptures.
Let us further follow him when, engaged in his work, he goes
to place doing good; in poverty, always exercising his power for the
relief of others, and never for himself.
He speaks, and things have being; he casts out devils, stills
tempest, and raises the dead. But in the midst of all these marvels,
observe how great is his regard for the Scriptures. The Word is always
with him. He bears it about, not in his hands, (he knows it entirely,)
but in his memory and matchless heart.
Observe him, when he speaks of it:- when he unfolds the sacred
it is as if a door in heaven were opened, to enable us to hear the
voice of Jehovah. With what reverence, with what subjection, does he
set forth its contents, commenting upon, and quoting them word by word!
This was now all his business - to heal and to preach the Scriptures;
as it was afterwards to die and accomplish them!
Observe him, "as his custom was," entering a synagogue on the
sabbath-day; for (we are told) "he taught in their assemblies." (Luke
4:15,16.) He enters that of Nazareth. What does he there? He, "the
eternal Wisdom, whom Jehovah possessed from everlasting, when there
were no depths, before the mountains were settled, or the hills brought
forth" (Prov. 8:22-25): he rises from his seat, takes the Bible, opens
at Isaiah, and reads a few sentences; he then closes the book, sits
down, and whilst the eyes of all assembled were fixed on him he says, -
"This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears." (Luke 4:21.)
Observe him traversing Galilee. What does he there? Still
"the volume of the book," explaining it line after line, and word by
word, and claiming our respect for its least expressions as much as he
would for the law of the "ten commandments" uttered upon Mount Sinai.
Observe him again in Jerusalem at the pool of Bethesda. What
call upon the people to do? - "Search the Scriptures." (John 5:39.)
Observe him in the holy place, in the midst of which he does not shrink
from declaring, "that in this place there is One greater than the
temple." (Matt. 12:6.) Follow him before the Pharisees and Sadducees
whilst he alternately rebukes both, as he had done Satan, in these
words, - "It is written."
Hear him answering the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection of the body. How does he refute them? By ONE SINGLE WORD from an historical passage in the Bible; by a single verb in the present tense, instead of that same verb in the past. "Ye do greatly err, (said he to them,) BECAUSE YE KNOW NOT the Scriptures."
not read what God has declared unto you, in saying, I am the God of
Abraham?" It is thus that he proves to them the doctrine of the
resurrection. God, on Mount Sinai, 400 years after the death of
Abraham, said to Moses, not "I was," but "I am the God of Abraham"
(Matt. 22:31,32); I am so now. (יהלא יכנא מהרבא, which the Holy Ghost
translates, Έγώ είμι ό
There is therefore a resurrection; for God is not the God of a few
handfuls of dust, of the dead, of annihilated humanity: he is the God
of the living. Those you speak of, therefore, live before Him.
Observe him afterwards among the Pharisees. It is still by
the letter of the word that he confounds them.
Some few who had already followed him to the borders of Judea
Jordan, came and inquired his doctrines respecting marriage and
divorce. What did the Lord Jesus do? He might certainly have answered
with authority, and given his own laws. Is he not himself King of kings
and Lord of lords? But not so: it is to the Bible he appeals in order
to show the foundation of the doctrine, and this he does in a few
simple words taken from a purely historical passage in the book of
Genesis (1:27; 2:24). "HAVE YE NOT READ, that He who made them at the
beginning, made them male and female; so that they are no longer two,
but one single flesh? What therefore God has joined, let not man
sever." (Matt. 19:4,5,6.)
But hear him especially, when in the temple he desires to
other Pharisees, from the Scriptures, the divinity of the expected
Messiah. Here again, in order to demonstrate it, he lays stress upon
the use of A SINGLE WORD, selected from the book of Psalms. "If Messiah
be the Son of David (he observes), how then doth David BY THE SPIRIT
call him LORD, when (in Psalm 110) he said, Jehovah said unto my LORD,
Sit thou at my right hand? If David call him Lord, how is he his son?"
How was it, that among the Pharisees there were none to answer
What! would you insist upon a single word, and this too in a sentence
taken from an eminently lyric composition, in which the royal poet
might without risk indulge a fervid style, and use exaggerated
expressions, and words which doubtless he had not theologically weighed
in his mind ere he put them into his psalmody? Would you pursue the
method, at once fanatical and servile, of minutely interpreting each
expression? Would you revere the Scriptures even to the very letter?
Would you ground a doctrine upon a word?
Yes, answers the Saviour, I would - yes, I would rest on a
because that word is from God, and with one word he created light. To
cut short all your objections, I declare to you that it was BY THE
SPIRIT that David wrote all the words of his Psalms; and I ask you,
how, if the Messiah is his Son, David could BY THE SPIRIT call him
Lord, when he said, "Jehovah said unto my Lord?"
Students of the word of God, and you especially who are
designed to be
its Ministers, and who as a preparation for preaching it, desire, in
the first place, to receive it into an honest and good heart, see what,
in the estimation of your Master, was each utterance, each word of the
book of God. Go therefore and do likewise!
But there is more. Let us further hear him, even on his cross.
made his soul an offering for sin; all his bones were out of joint; he
was poured out like water; his heart was like wax, melted in the midst
of his bowels; his tongue clave to the roof of his mouth; and he was
about to render his spirit to his Father. (Psa. 22:16-18.) But what did
he first do? He strove to rally his expiring energies to recite a Psalm
which the church of Israel had sung at her festivals through a thousand
years, and which records in succession all his sufferings and prayers, Eli,
Eli, lama sabachthani
my God, why hast thou forsaken me?") He did even more; and let us well
remark it. There remained one little word of Scripture unaccomplished:
vinegar was to be given him on that cross. The Holy Spirit had declared
it, in Psalm 69 a thousand years before. "After this, Jesus knowing
that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be
fulfilled, saith, I thirst. - And when Jesus had received the vinegar,
he said, It is finished! then bowed his head, and gave up the ghost."
(John 19:28-30.) Could David, when he chanted this Sixty-ninth Psalm
upon Shoshannim, and the Twenty-second upon Aijeleth - could David, we
ask, have known the prophetic sense of each of these expressions? - of
the hands and feet pierced, of the gall and vinegar administered, of a
vesture appropriated by lot, of people shaking the head and pouting the
lip in derision? It matters little to us whether he understood it - the
Holy Ghost did; and David, says Jesus Christ, spake BY THE SPIRIT. The
heavens and the earth are to pass away; but there is not in this book
the particle of a letter which will pass away without being fulfilled.
Nevertheless, we are called to observe something yet more
it be possible. Jesus Christ rises from the tomb; he has conquered
death; he is about to return to the Father, to reassume that glory
which he had with him before the world was. Follow him in his remaining
rapid movements upon the earth. What words will flow from that mouth to
which utterance has been restored by resurrection from the dead? Words
of holy Scripture. Again he quotes, explains, and preaches it. In the
first place, we behold him on the way to Emmaus, accompanying Cleopas
and his friend; next, in the upper room; and afterwards on the borders
of the lake. What does he do? He expounds the Scriptures; beginning at
Moses, and continuing through the Prophets and Psalms, he shows them
the things concerning himself, he opens their minds to understand them,
and causes their hearts to burn whilst he talks with them. (Luke
But we have not yet done. All these quotations demonstrate in
estimation the Bible was held by Him "in whom are hid all the treasures
of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:3), and "by whom all things subsist"
(Col. 1:17). But we must further produce two declarations and one final
example of our Lord, touching the letter of Scripture:-
"It is easier," he has said, "for heaven and earth to pass,
one particle of a letter (κεραία) of the
Law to fail" (Luke 16:17); and by the term law,
Jesus Christ understood the whole of the Scriptures, and even more
particularly the book of Psalms. (John 10:34; 12:34.)
What words could be conceived which would express with more
precision the principle we are maintaining than do the foregoing? I
mean the principle of the plenary Inspiration, and everlasting
character of all the parts, even to the very letter of the Scripture.
Students of the word of God, behold then the theology of your Master!
Be such theologians as He was: have the same Bible as the Son of God!
But let us hear another declaration, pronounced by our Lord
in his sermon on the mount:-
"Until heaven and earth pass away, there shall not pass from
a single iota, nor the tittle of a letter" (Matt. 5:18). All the words
of THE SCRIPTURES, even to the least letter and particle of a letter,
are equal to the words of Jesus Christ
he has also said, "Heaven and earth shall one day pass away, but MY
words shall not pass away" (Luke 21:33).
The men who oppose these doctrines ask us, if we go so far as to pretend that holy Scripture is a law from God, even in its words, as hyssop or an oak is the work of God, even in its leaves? We answer, with all the Fathers of the Church,Yes, we do;-or rather, Jesus Christ our Saviour and Master, lifts his hand to heaven, and replies, Yes, even in its words - even to (ίωτα έν, ή κεραία) a single iota or particle of a letter!
Having recorded these two declarations, let us now consider
one of the
last examples of our Lord, to which we have not hitherto referred.
It is still Jesus Christ who is about to quote the Scriptures;
he does in claiming for their least words such an authority as compels
us to range ourselves among the most ardent disciples of a verbal
inspiration: nor do we think that, if all the writings of our
theologians, even the most decided in orthodoxy, were produced, there
could be found among them the example of so profound a reverence for the
of the Scriptures and the plenitude
of their Inspiration.
It was on a winter's day. Jesus was walking under the
colonnade of the
Eastern Porch of the Temple; the Jews come round about him; and he then
(John 10:27) says to them, "I give eternal life to my sheep; they shall
never perish, neither shall any one pluck them out of my hand. I and my
Father are one." They were amazed at his language; but he continued to
rebuke them unmoved, until at length the Jews accused him of blasphemy,
and took up stones to stone him, saying, "We stone thee, because, being
a man, thou makest thyself God." (John 10:27ff.)
We would now invite especial attention to the several features
Lord's reply to this. He proceeds to quote an expression from one of
the Psalms, and on this single expression to found the whole of his
doctrine: "for," says St. John (chap. 5:18), "he made himself equal
with God." To defend the most sublime and mysterious of his doctrines,
and to commend to our belief the most marvellous of his pretensions, he
rests upon an expression of the Eighty-second Psalm. But, mark!
previously to uttering this expression, he deliberately pauses for a
moment, and then, in a solemn parenthesis, adds with impressive
authority, - "and the Scripture cannot be destroyed
!" (και ου
Have we sufficiently felt the force of this? Not only is our
argument founded entirely upon the use which the Psalmist has made of a
single expression; and not only does he proceed to build upon it the
most amazing of his doctrines; but further, in thus quoting the book of
Psalms, and in order to enable us to comprehend that in his estimation
the book is wholly and throughout a writing of the Holy Ghost, in whicheach word
ought to be to us a law,
Jesus calls it by the name of LAW, and says to the Jews, "Is it not
written in your law, I said ye are gods?" These words occur in the
middle of a psalm; they might appear to have been the result of
inconsiderate fervour on the part of the prophet Asaph, or a fanciful
creation of his poetic genius. And if the plenary inspiration of all
that is written
admitted, we might be tempted to view them as indiscreet, and to think
that their imprudent use by the psalmist might have led the people into
customs elsewhere rebuked by the word of God, and into idolatrous
notions. And here we would once more inquire, how did it happen that
some rationalist scribe, of the Israelitish universities, was not found
under Solomon's porch to say to him, "Lord, you cannot take that
expression as your authority. The use which Asaph has made of it may
have been neither considerate nor becoming. Although inspired in the
thoughts of his piety, he doubtless did not weigh his least words with
jealous apprehension as to the use which might be made of them a
thousand years after he should cease to exist. It would therefore be
rash to pretend to lay stress upon them"?
But now mark how the Saviour anticipates the profane temerity
an evasion. He solemnly calls to mind that he had just uttered words
which would be blasphemy in the mouth of an archangel, - "I and my
Father are one;" but he interrupts himself, and immediately remarks,
"Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?" He then pauses,
and fixing his eyes with authority upon the Doctors who surround him,
adds, "THE SCRIPTURE CANNOT BE DESTROYED." As if he had said, Beware!
there is not in the sacred books either an expression which can be
questioned, or a word which can be neglected. That which I quote to you
from the Eighty-second Psalm, is traced by the hand of Him who made the
heavens. If therefore He has been pleased to give the name of gods to men,
in so far as they were the
anointed, and types of the true Christ - of the supreme Anointed One -
being at the same time fully aware that they "would die like men;" how
much more will it become ME, doing the works of my Father, as him whom
God the Father hath sealed?
We will here ask every serious reader, (and we wish it to be
that our argument is entirely independent of the orthodox or Socinian
interpretations of these words of Jesus Christ) - we will here ask - Is
it possible to admit that the Being who made such a use of the
Scriptures, DID NOT BELIEVE IN THEIR PLENARY AND VERBAL INSPIRATION?
Had he imagined that the words of the Bible were left to the free
choice and pious fantasies of the sacred writers, would he ever have
resorted to the thought of grounding such arguments on such an
expression? The Lord Jesus, our Saviour and our Judge, believed
therefore in the most complete inspiration of the Scriptures; and for
him the first rule of all interpretation, and the commencement of every
exposition, was this simple maxim applied to the least expressions of
the written word, "AND THE SCRIPTURE CANNOT BE DESTROYED."
May, then, the Prince of life, the Light of the world, rank us all in His school. What He believed, let us receive. What He reverenced, let us revere. Let that word, to which his heart of redeeming love, and all the thoughts of his holy humanity were subject, let that word, we say, be bound upon our diseased hearts, and gain the mastery over every emotion of our fallen nature. Let us seek GOD in its least expressions; nourish with it daily all the roots of our being; that we may be like a tree planted by running waters, which yields its fruit in its season, and whose leaves never wither.
"We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the 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."
- 2 Peter 1:19-2.