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cided; as by them sufficient evidence has been laid before us to upset our faith in the truth of the scriptural records. Of these their discoveries in the science of evidence, Mr. Greg proposes to act as interpreter.
With our own theological writers Mr. Greg seems to have little acquaintance. Dr. Arnold and Mr. Coleridge, whose genius, bright as it was, did not lie in close reasoning, are his types of two classes of divinity students; and he has given some of their thoughts, and not some of their best digested thoughts, as expositions both of their own views, and of the general views of theological writers. Mr. Greg has an advantage rather apparent than real over these writers; he reasons well on premises which he has taken for granted, and his conclusions therefore have the air of truth. It is wonderful, indeed, to what a degree an imposing style of writing may dress up, so as to seem plausible, anything, however at variance with every one's own experience and knowledge, especially when, to a considerable talent for logical arrangement, is joined a very confident assurance that so and so is actually beyond the possibility of a reasonable doubt. The modest reader is appalled by strong assertion, and consents perhaps to some decision which, if stated in plain terms, his plain sense would reject as non-proven, and even wholly unworthy of serious attention. Such, we think, is frequently the case in the present work, and such its chief danger,-a danger to which a work of logical pretensions always exposes its reader; for the study of logic, it may be remarked, is just now in that state which makes a boastful pretension to it peculiarly likely to overawe a large portion of readers. Thirty years ago, a writer would have been more likely to meet with derision than with respect who should have professed himself a logician: and thirty years hence, perhaps, the study may have so far extended itself, that ordinary readers will be qualified to require some proof of the proficiency of any one who makes such a profession. But just at present,, men are disposed to rate highly the importance of logical reasoning, and at the same time to give any one credit for it (especially if he makes confident pretensions) who does but arrange his arguments in a logical form, so as to give to his style the appearance of accuracy.
But it must be remembered also, that even the most perfect logical correctness is no security against an author's drawing the most absurd conclusions, if he does but take the liberty of assuming, from time to time, as his premises, whatever may suit his purposes; even as the writer now before us is enabled very logically to prove several of his conclusions from principles arbitrarily laid down by himself,—taken for granted without any proof at all,—and open to complete dis-proof.
It is not our purpose to enter into a critical discussion of all
Revelation and Inspiration.
141 the objections brought by Mr. Greg in detail, against the truth of the Old Testament history; there are writers of all denominations among us who are learned and acute enough to take up this subject either as a whole or in its several parts. Mr. Greg's most popular objections relate to the inspiration of Scripture. We shall concern ourselves principally with the relations of that doctrine to the Old Testament records, leaving the German critics to other hands, and merely noting down a few of the observations which occurred to us on passing through the pages before us, concerning the difficulties or objections which Mr. Greg has set forth; most of which, however, have been brought forward from time to time by older writers of the same class, and more recently by Mr. Newman.
Mr. Greg's general view of the Scripture records is, that the books of the Old and New Testament contain a human history of a divine revelation, and that their writers are consequently “ to be treated as Niebuhr treated Livy, and Arnold Thucydides." The term revelation may, however, mislead readers not versed in modern phraseology; we must therefore premise, that certain modern writers apply that term to all true histories, whether of facts in human life, or discoveries in natural science; and that this language has been adopted by some of our recent poets and essayists.
The external evidences for the truth of Christianity are so strong, that Mr. Greg is unable to reject them altogether, though he impugns many of them singly; and we can scarcely conceive that a mind so clear and acute in its judgments on other subjects, should fail in this, but through the influence of some unhappy antagonist causes at work within. One of these causes, and the most important we believe to be, the erroneous notions which he appears to entertain (in common, we must acknowledge, with some sincere and able Christian writers) on the subject of Inspiration. As, however, the views which are taken by some of the soundest Divines of the present day meet most of the objections against the validity of the sacred record which are brought forward in the present work, we shall endeavour to state them as briefly as possible, rather than discuss those objections singly.* Their theory on the subject of inspiration seems to be, that the sacred writers were guarded by the Holy Spirit against error in everything which relates to doctrine ; that their main business was to record and to teach—not scientific truth,—not historic truth,—but religious truth; and that they were concerned with facts, with historic truth, that is, only so far as it contained those doctrines, or that revelation of God's will and purposes, which we call religious truth; and that the books of the Old Testament, in particular, set forth this religious truth in the
* See particularly Bishop Hinds’s “ History of the Rise and Early Progress of Christianity."
records which they contain of the divine teaching, and of the divine dealings with one particular nation (and with some others in relation to that one) which they relate; together with intimations and prophecies of some future transactions—of some new revelation in which the whole world was to be concerned. The history of these transactions—of this new revelation of God's will—is the religious truth set forth in the New Testament, in the recording of which the sacred writers claimed to be inspired by his Holy Spirit. And the simplest, as well as the soundest view of this miraculously tested inspiration seems to be, that it was given to aid them- 1st, in bringing (according to especial promise) “all things to their remembrance, whatsoever” their Master “had said unto them;" 2d, informing them concerning some portions of his life and teaching which they had not personally witnessed; and 3d, in guarding them from error, both with respect to doctrine and to all points at all connected with doctrine.
We may here remark, in connexion with the general question of inspiration, that, with respect to an objection to Paul's accuracy, (founded on 1 Thess. iv. 15,) urged by Mr. Greg, * the Apostle appears to be speaking, not of himself or his friends, but of such among us human Beings, “ as shall be alive at the Lord's coming” ––ημείς οι ζώντες οι περιλειπόμενοι-« we the living and the remaining” persons of mankind. In truth, the very next chapter seems to shew that when he is speaking to the Thessalonians of " times and seasons,” he is alluding to the times and seasons of their own death; and that “the day of the Lord” is this day of summons, which comes to all of us “ as a thief in the night”-and not that last great day and hour concerning which he must have been aware that its times and seasons were not even revealed to the angels of God. Indeed, if we consider the repeated references made by Paul to his own expected death, at Jerusalem and elsewhere, we cannot suppose him to have believed that the resurrection was at hand, and that he should be alive at the Lord's coming on that day. “By the end of another century we shall probably have telegraphic communications all round the world.” Now, who would infer that a person uttering such a sentence as this, meant to express his conviction that he himself should live a hundred years longer ?
From moral errors in conduct, the sacred writers claimed no exemption through the inspiration afforded to them; and the candid relation of their own faults and weaknesses which we find in their writings, is one of those internal proofs of their veracity which false witnesses would certainly not have been likely to supply, though Mr. Greg seems to regard it as fatal to their claims. Our author's confusion of thought on this subject, indeed,
* See Creed of Christendom, pp. 24, 25.
seasons of their and seasons,” he is speaking to the
Inspiration not of Degrees.
rd allodristians sharp and purifyinholy Spirit in an be applied
leads him to suppose that the term inspiration may be applied to that ordinary assistance of God's Holy Spirit in helping our infirınities, and renewing and purifying our moral nature, which all true Christians share with the sacred writers,—to which our Lord alluded when He said, “ye cannot tell whence it cometh or whether it goeth,” but which does not enlighten our judgments, or secure us from error, in any other way than by rendering us less liable to be misled by unworthy passions.
Mr. Greg well remarks, (p. 27,) that there can be no degrees of inspiration. This is true; for any question as to differences of inspiration, must be a question not of degree, but of quantity ; since, as has been rightly said, “one person cannot be more inspired on each point than another, though he may be inspired on more points.” The words of a logical writer of the present day, appear to meet this portion of the subject so suitably, that we shall be pardoned for employing them :-" It is probable that many persons deceive others and themselves, by confusing together in their minds differences of degree and differences of amount; and thence imagining (what a little calm reflection must shew to be impossible and indeed unintelligible) that there may be different degrees of what is properly and strictly termed inspiration ; that is, the miraculous influence under which we conceive anything that we call an inspired work to have been written. The existence or non-existence of this inspiration is a question of fact; and though there may be different degrees of evidence for the existence of a fact, it is plain that one fact cannot be, itself, more or less a fact than another. Inspiration may extend either to the very words uttered, or merely to the subject-matter of them, or merely to a certain portion of the matter;—to all, for instance, that pertains to religious truth,—so as to afford a complete exemption from doctrinal error, though not to matters of geography, natural philosophy, &c. But in every case we understand that to whatever points the inspiration does extend, in these it secures infallibility; and infallibility manifestly cannot admit of degrees."*
When, therefore, Mr. Greg complains of the dogmas of the Christian faith; he forgets that a revelation of God's will must consist of dogmas—for it must be infallible ; and that in rejecting these dogmas he must reject all inspiration but such as his own private judgment pronounces undoubtedly true. It is not therefore inspiration, but his own private judgment that he follows. A remarkable proof of this fact is given by him in a passaget in which, while he cavils at Sir Charles Lyell for declaring the Bible to be a vehicle of religious truth, and not of geology and astronomy—and at Dr. Whewell and Dr. Buckland,
* Infant Baptism (Appendix to) by Richard Whately, Archbishop of Dublin. † See pp. 49, 50.
for shewing that there is no discrepancy between the facts recorded in Genesis and the discoveries of modern science, he admits “the grand and sublime truth, that contrary alike to the dreams of Pagan and of Oriental philosophy, heaven and earth were not self-existent and eternal but created.” Now, on what ground Mr. Greg-denying the inspiration of Scripture-receives this dogma, we are at a loss to conceive, except that, as we have said, he relies on inspiration for such truths as approve themselves to his own judgment,-in other words, that he relies on his own inspiration.
This whole school of writers, however, appear to take for granted that abstract probability is to be the guide of our judgment in pronouncing what is or is not true; and that whatever seems improbable, accordingly, is to be rejected. Now, it may be replied, what can be more improbable than that a revelation should contain what we should have conjectured as probable, for, if so, why were we not left to make it out by conjecture?
Again, we have our author falling in to the strange mistake of expecting to find in the inspired writings a declaration of their own inspiration. Now, under ordinary circumstances, it is just what we should not expect to find, except in an imposture, such as the Koran. It is, indeed, most manifestly silly for any one (in addressing men of intelligence) to put forth, on his own authority, a bare assertion of his own infallibility, or, indeed of his credibility on any point. If his hearers are already convinced of this, why should he assert it? If they are not, why should they believe it on his word ? Our Lord and his Apostles, accordingly, appealed, where necessary, not to assertions of their own, but to proofs. “If ye believe not me, believe the works: ... The works which I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.” And so also Paul's "signs of an apostle” were not " enticing words,” but “ demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”
Dismissing, then, the subject of inspiration, and with it almost all the real difficulties which seem to have presented themselves to Mr. Greg's mind, we proceed,—not to reply in detail to the objections which he brings forward against the Old Testament writings, because this part of the subject has been sufficiently illustrated in our remarks on the “ Hebrew Monarchy,"—nor to discuss the critical proofs of their genuineness and antiquity, but to reply to his incredulity by certain plain questions, often indeed asked, though never answered.
Can the investigator into the records of the human race, we ask, discover in all the annals of history, ancient or modern, a second instance of a nation, existing in the most barbarous ages of the world, and far from being among the most civilized even of those times, arriving, alone and unaided, at the sublime doctrine of one Creator and ruler of