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as completely as is necessary, and as clearly and widely as possible. We must first determine the relation of theology and the Bible to the natural sciences in general, and then ascertain where we may look for teaching from the Bible and where from natural science, which questions revelation and which natural science shall decide. It will then be necessary to examine and explain the first chapters of the Bible, and to ascertain what things the Bible asserts to be matters of faith and what it has left to human discovery; which passages and expressions have, according to the rules of hermeneutics, a distinct meaning which may not be departed from, and which passages and expressions on the other hand are capable of divers interpretations, and so leave room for human inquiry. In addition to this, we must ascertain in what way and with what success men have tried to bring the results of scientific inquiry into harmony with the Mosaic history. We shall then treat the following chapters of Genesis in the same way.
AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLICAL STATEMENT-THE BIBLE
AND THE BOOK OF NATURE.
BEFORE entering on the discussion of the relation of divine revelation to human inquiry in general, I must explain how far the primæval history which we find in the first chapters of Genesis is to be looked upon as a divine revelation. In investigating this point we need not enter into the question of the Mosaic authorship of Genesis. The book may be by Moses or by a later writer, but at all events from our ecclesiastical standpoint we must acknowledge it to be an inspired book. Now, when the Church asserts that any books of the Old or New Testament are inspired, she means at least to imply (apart from theological controversies about the exact definition of inspiration) that the authors have received special assistance from the Holy Spirit, in consequence of which they have been enabled to communicate either the results of supernatural knowledge and revelation, or of their own natural personal knowledge, experience, and observation, in such a manner that their communications bear the stamp of a divine confirmation : they must therefore be accepted with faith as the word of God in a more or less strict sense. The prophet—I use the word in its widest sense—was supernaturally enlightened about future events, or other things which are hidden from the
unassisted human intellect; and then he was moved by the Spirit of God, and enabled, for the edification of contemporaries and posterity, so to write down his inspirations or his prophecies that his book gives us a faithful and trustworthy account of the divine truths which were revealed to him. On the other hand, the primary function of the Biblical historian was to collect and write down those things which he had either himself experienced, seen, or heard, or which he had received from trustworthy witnesses, or which had been handed down by a credible tradition, or, lastly, which he had obtained from older literary sources. But although in this respect the Biblical historian practically resembles other trustworthy historians in all essential points, yet a historical book to which the quality of inspiration is ascribed, that is, a historical book in the Bible, differs substantially from other histories. First, we must assume that the literary activity of the Biblical historian was the result, not, of human free choice, but of a divine ordinance, that therefore this activity must be ascribed to a divine impulse, an inspiration, by which these writers, either knowingly or unknowingly, felt themselves impelled to write. Further, we must assume that the Biblical writers were supported in their work in a special way by divine assistance, and were guided according to the divine will, and that this divine help preserved them in a special manner from every error which would counteract the divine object; so that the writings composed in consequence of that higher stimulus, and by the divine assistance, are not to be regarded as mere human productions, like other literary works. Such is
the theory of inspiration as it is now practically unanimously held by the most eminent of those theologians who believe in the doctrine at all. This is not the place for discussing the scientific confirmation of this doctrine, or for investigating the theological controversies which are attached to it. I will only add that many theologians, and some of them Roman Catholics, admit that it is allowable to believe that the assistance of the Divine Spirit, by which error was averted, only extended to such things as stood in immediate and necessary connection with the religious truths of the Bible; and that with regard to other things, which are unimportant from a religious point of view, the Biblical writers had no further divine assistance than is vouchsafed to other honest, pious, or holy writers ; ' and that therefore this divine assistance assures us, not that every word is true, but that nothing in the Bible, rightly understood, can mislead us with respect to religion, faith, or moral conduct. According to this, therefore, we might assume that the Biblical writers may have erred on such points of history, chronology, and archæology, etc., as are not important to the religious contents of the Bible. It is not necessary to examine this opinion here, as I do not mean to make it a starting-point for my inquiries.
I will now proceed to apply what has been said about the inspiration of the Bible to the Biblical narrative of the creation and the earliest history of the world. The author of the first chapters of Genesis might have
H. Holden, Divinæ fidei analysis, i. 1, chap. 5, sec. 1 (Bibliotheca regularum fidei, ed. I. Braun. Bonn 1844. I. p. 39; cf. p. 271).
? Walworth, Brownsons, Quarterly Review, 1863, p. 337.
acquired the knowledge of what is stated in those chapters concerning the fate of the first man, and the earliest history of mankind, by verbal tradition, or by older writings; and therefore in a purely natural manner. If we admit this possibility, we are not justified in assuming that he acquired his knowledge in any other way; for instance, by an immediate divine revelation. We have therefore in these chapters an account of the traditions of the forefathers of the Jewish people, but an account which is the result of a divine impulse, and has been brought about by divine assistance. It is different, however, with the first chapters of Genesis, which treat of the creation of the world, and of the development, improvement, and history of the earth and its inhabitants before the first appearance of man. No man witnessed these events; and therefore the account given of them cannot be ascribed to human tradition, as with the contents of the following chapters. To what source, then, must we ascribe this first section?
It has been supposed that Moses may have obtained the knowledge of the origin of things, which he displays in the first chapters of Genesis, through observation and thought,-as we should say, through philosophic speculation and scientific inquiry. But this theory, although theologically admissible, seems to me less consistent with the facts than the other, namely, that the contents of the Hexæmeron must be ascribed to a divine revelation. The whole form of the Mosaic account of creation certainly does not strike the unprejudiced reader as an expression of the results of human thought and inquiry; and such short, decided, and apodictical sentences would not be written by one