Inspiration And Interpretation

A Fourth Dialogue On Essays And Reviews

W. Well, what do you say to Jowett? It has a different character from the other Essays. I cannot get so fast hold of it. The others rest on alleged facts or discoveries, which may alarm you if they can be maintained, and the deductions are just; but here there is nothing to lay hold of, and yet it leaves a painful impression on the mind that, if this be so, one has lost the word of God. It makes me not doubt of this or that, but doubtful of everything. J think it does me more harm than the others, if I am to have faith in God’s word. I may say to myself, in reading the others, Well, this is all very well, but it rests on science or chronology, and people differ about that, and perhaps their statements will not stand examination; and there one leaves it. But here there are some sensible rules for interpretation; and yet, in interpreting, I have at the end lost the thing to be interpreted.

H. I quite agree with you. There is greater sobriety of manner, a more moderate tone: Christ seems at least to be treated with more reverence. There are many principles which I should not deny, provided other principles which are not here were associated with them. He circles round the outside of the word, may make some just and more plausible remarks to remove traditional apprehensions. These approve themselves to the mind; but when he touches the core, the substance of the word, it is simply that God is not there for him. It is infidelity as to any possessed revelation of God, and the same taking for granted that all rationalist objections are gospel, if the evangelists were not, and the same entire ignorance really of the heart and substance of scripture. You must always remember that with this class of persons the love of truth does not mean that there is any truth they love, or any to be loved, but simple pyrrhonism—the keeping the mind always open to receive anything, and therefore always sure of nothing. Now this is not the love of truth. It is the love of making people doubt, and think there is no truth. Can you tell me one truth they have brought forward in their writings? Isaiah is not Isaiah, David is not David, the inspired word is not inspired. What is it? Mere expressions of men’s feelings and minds. Why, if that is all, I may get Dr. Temple’s renewal of inspiration, and have or give just as good now; perhaps, as the world is got so much wiser now, better still.

But we shall see that, as regards the word of God, Mr. Jowett is just as distinctly infidel as the rest. The others are as a stone rolled upon the mountain path I have to walk on, which bars my way. I look under, see it has no foundation at all, give it a tilt, and it is down in the valley, and the path clear. Mr. Jowett is like a green morass all across. It does not look such a hindrance, but there is no safe footing anywhere. If you had been in the bogs of Ireland, you would know that a green grassy spot is sure to be unsafe. It has no bottom, and if you tread on it, you are plunged in black mud: there are springs. There are springs of infidelity in Mr. Jowett. We must lay them bare, and the danger is over; they run in their own channel as infidelity, but the ground is dry.

I have looked at Mr. Jowett’s commentaries too. I confess I was surprised at their emptiness, and, I must say, their perverse-ness: notes to take away the apostles’ meaning, as received by faith in the word—not merely false interpretations, or wrong construction of Greek, or traditional notions, but all divine points and truth gone, and that is all.

They suggest to you probable or possible human circumstances which may have occasioned what is said, but deny, or, more truly, ignore all springs of eternal divine truth as the true source of the writings. It is—though the comparison is weak—as if one should point out circumstances in the life of a man of uncommon nobleness and energy and truth and generosity of character— circumstances in which his character had been developed, some of them possibly having as occasions done so, and attribute all to these circumstances, as if the character were caused by them. In such a case I should say of one who did so, That man does not know what the springs of truth and nobleness and generosity are. Circumstances may develop: he may think he is wise; but the spring is wanting in him which would enable him to understand the other, even supposing he was owned to be superior. The similarity of moral sentiment is wanting. So, when scripture is interpreted by these men, some of their remarks as to occasions, or the effect of circumstances, may be just; but, in thinking they have explained the matter, they shew they have nothing of the contents at all. As if a man should eat the hard skin of a pomegranate, and think he had tasted one, telling me that it was through that the pomegranate was ripened. Well, so it was in a sense; but he has not tasted the pomegranate for all that, nor does he know what the sun is either.

Such is the effect produced in me by Mr. Jowett’s writings, though in some respects far less offensive than others of the Essays, and containing expressions as to Christ which would give hope that the love of His excellency was not wholly wanting. But there is in all who follow this method, in point of fact, a profound ignorance of scripture, of the text, and of its bearing and connection, and of the mind of God as stated in it. You will ever find that what is evidently divine and experimental is difficult or unintelligible for them. They will satiate you with external motives and circumstances, but never study divine truth. They turn Semitism into Japetism with Baron Bunsen: that is not believing the scripture to have a divine source; they do not study it to know what God says and thinks, but merge it into the vague notions of their own mind, and get nothing beyond what they have without it. They reduce scripture to their minds, decently calling it their conscience, and, of course, have nothing beyond their minds, save by the irresistible and unescapable power of the word. And the plainest statements of scripture are neglected by them, so that they cannot be trusted as to its views in a single statement they make. In virtue of their system the knowledge of the mind of God—I do not say as a whole, for no man knows that (“we know in part”), but in the connection of its parts—is wholly and necessarily absent; for they do not believe there is one. To one knowing simply the statements of scripture there is an ignorance of them, and consequent mis-statements as to particular passages, which is almost inconceivable.

And further, with much even seemliness of manner, Mr. Jowett has the same pretensions. All have been ignorant till now the wise age of the world is come. The rationalists possess the wisdom of it. Now there is a freedom from many of these prejudices which cause glosses on scripture; and hence—and it is the case with Mr. Jowett himself—the circumstances of scripture become more real to them. They are looked in the face. And many who would think they must defend Christianity carry the glosses with them to defend. These glosses are but prejudices. Over such defenders of truth, as far as reasoning goes, the rationalists have an easy victory. This, however, for myself, and I suppose for you, has lost its power. Traditions and glosses have never had much influence over me since I thought of scripture, because it came to me as the word of God. All the rest was man —might profit me surely—but was man as to authority. I saw that tradition in all its shapes was man; I can give it all up, and think it gain to have done so—have, in purpose and principle, these thirty years and more, and am delighted when any remaining influence of it is shewn to me, that I may get rid of it. But I gave up traditions and glosses by and because of the power of the word of God, and this only, and have a profound and ever-deepening conviction that it is the word of God. I have given up glosses for that, trusting to learn humbly from that. They have given up the word because they have found the glosses are glosses; or rather, having only the glosses, and having detected them to be such, having nothing but some old books. But the word of God is quick and powerful, and, as they have confidence in themselves, and talk a great deal about it, they come athwart that power; and their ignorance of it, the folly of their views, becomes evident for every intelligent believer, yea, for every intelligent mind where there is not a will to disbelieve. The one difficulty is, that the full unclouded truth and glory of the word, as revealing God’s mind, is known to so few (because they do live on glosses and prejudices of education), that it is difficult to make it apparent— to say nothing of one’s own weakness.

I must recall to your mind, my dear W., another thing, not to be misled by words. These men use traditional words when they deny the things meant by them. I cannot say I think it an honourable system; but it is sufficient here to say we must keep it in mind. An upright mind suspects no guile, trusts the green grass, being used to see the green grass on solid ground, and finds itself, by its confidence, in the black mud.

To give an instance of what I mean, we have a treatise on the interpretation of scripture: it begins, “All Christians, receive the Old and New Testament as sacred writings.” Of course the unsuspecting reader supposes Mr. Jowett to present himself as a Christian with the rest, and consequently to esteem the Old and New Testament as sacred writings. We all suppose sacred writings to be such because they are inspired—the teaching of prophets, of Christ, and inspired apostles, or prophets, with no defined view of inspiration perhaps, but so as to receive them as having the authority of God, as God’s word.

W. Of course. Mr. Jowett’s paper is on interpretation; and I do not know what sacred writings mean for a Christian, except inspired ones.

H. My poor friend, as I told you once already, you are in the childhood of the world. Here is Mr. Jowett’s dictum: “Nor for any of the higher or supernatural views of inspiration is there any foundation in the gospels or epistles.”

W. But surely that is not true, though each book may not come and say, I am inspired. I see that infidelity is their common object.

H. We will come to the question itself. Of course I only notice it now, that you may never, with these rationalists, take common words to mean what is commonly meant by them. They deny nothing hardly. They shew that men have had all sorts of opinions; that the commonest subjects on which Christians are agreed have been spoken of under the influence of views prevalent at the time they lived; that men were under the influence of their times (all except themselves, of course); and hence, all is uncertain, everything that has been said doubtful. The Fathers were under the impressions of their age, the Reformers of theirs, Romanists of their system. Hence the truth itself is uncertain, because men are. Hence, doubting of every form of truth, truth itself is lost, because, everything being different, each is an opinion, a view of man. Now men do feel the influence of their age; they are poor weak creatures. But the argument from this to the uncertainty of truth is only a proof that they who use it have opinions, but no truth; the argument supposes God has never revealed any truth: otherwise we should say, there is a fund of absolute and sure truth. Men have varied, even those who have held it fundamentally; but, thank God, the truth remains the same. There would be an appeal from man’s uncertainty to God’s certainty; but they having only opinions—only man’s mind—nothing from God: the effect is, that apostles and prophets, all the inspired writers, fall into the same class as these various interpreters: they underwent the influence of their day, and there is no truth at all. The only difference is, that they were at the childhood, Mr. Jowett and his friends are at the mature age of the world and human race, and the representatives of it, so that they, in the freedom it gives, judge it all. The whole matter is this, they see only the circumstances and opinions, never the truth. They have no revelation from God at all, for, if we have a revelation from God, it must be truth, the truth; and, when the revelation is fully made, must express His mind, though this may be partially revealed or fully, a light shining in a dark place, or the dawn of eternal day.

W. I see plainly the working of their reasonings. If there is nothing supernatural in inspiration, of course I have no truth. I may come to conclusions, but never get truth—get nothing that is a revelation of it from God, nothing that is beyond the scope of the human mind. Hence, if various opinions are shewn to exist, all are doubted; all are the fruits of influence of one kind or another. I judge them all coldly, but have no opinion except the denial of inspired truth.

H. The whole system is simply this. There is the coolness which can judge what has exercised influence on others, so as to cast all they have said into doubt, all the shapes in which even real truth has been received into doubt, but no truth held at all. It is quite true that in a human mind truth is modified by circumstances in its form, for we are feeble and hold the truth partially and mixed with error. The Christian says, Yes; and what a comfort, therefore, to have the truth itself, which, though taking a human form that it may apply to the human heart, and have a witness of originating where it professes to have originated, by leaving the stamp of the time and circumstances as to its form, is yet the truth of God Himself; and the channels of its communications so guarded, that I should have it pure and exactly as God meant me to have it! What a rest for my soul to have truth from God! I can rely upon it. It is pure light in the confusion of this world. It is love too which has given it to our souls, wandering in the wilderness. Then comes in Mr. Jowett, and, seeing nothing of this in it at all, proves that Fathers and Reformers, and theologians, with systematic and conventional doctrine, are all under the influence of their age and its manner of judging, but declares that he and his friends are exempt from it; at any rate, so far exempt, that they can shew in each case the influences which acted on the doctors of the various ages, and gave a form to their views. You may be allowed to doubt whether they have got the truth themselves, provided you doubt of all the rest. And when I ask, Well, but about the apostles and writers of scripture to whom these different prejudiced persons refer their doctrine? Oh! says Mr. Jowett, you must throw them all in in the lump. They are, like all the rest, formed by their age, and you must judge them like any other book. This is Mr. Jowett’s Essay. He will tell you how Fathers erred by prejudice, how Reformers took the colour of their time, how modern interpreters are yet inferior, how the New Testament was formed from the influences of its day.

Natural conscience will judge of all this; but of truth, divine truth, inside of all this, revealed truth which is thus clothed or departed from, not an atom save what nature has. He, Mr. Jowett, and his friends, have made all this clear. But, I ask, where then is the truth? You are, he tells me, to walk in the love of it. I ask, where is it, to love? Oh, that is not what I mean, says Mr. Jowett. Love of truth is not truth being loved. It is not love of the truth: the truth has disappeared in the process. Love of truth merely means a readiness to reject what is not honestly what it pretends to be. It is really a pretension to be able to judge by my own competency of everything, submit everything to this test, and never to be convinced, but always ready to doubt, consequently never know that anything is truth; so that I cannot love it because it is truth. The moment I am assured anything is the truth, I can receive nothing contrary to it; if I do, I do not love the truth. But with them the love of truth means, never to do this, but readiness to doubt, because we never have the truth. This doubting God had taken away by His word. “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” says Christ, “if ye continue in my word.” “He that is of God heareth us,” says John. To the total absence of this truth we are brought back again by the rationalists. That was all the childhood of the world; we are now in the manhood of the world—at least sufficiently to cast off all this, and trust ourselves.

W. And believe what?

H. Well, I do not know—ourselves, and, if we please, Mr. Jowett.

W. But do you seriously mean that Mr. Jowett’s Essay throws scripture thus into the lump, as you say, with other prejudiced writers, so that we have no divine revelation, and so no standard of truth; and that they have the singular pretension that they only are enlightened to judge of it?

H. You shall judge of this yourself; we will go through his Essay. The only modification is, that perhaps they are only enlightened enough to learn that all before themselves have been wrong.

W. But what motive can they have?

H. I am satisfied it is a direct work of Satan, as I said; but it works thus:—They are enlightened intelligent persons—at least, think themselves so; they believe nothing, and have given up all that is divine and supernatural in Christianity, but, as yet like to retain the credit of being Christians; they think that every other intelligent person must give up the faith as they have, and they seek to lower Christianity to a point in which nothing properly divine remains, so that their intelligent friends may thus accept it. Men’s eyes do not like the light, and they want to dim or destroy its character, that men may look at and receive it: only, unfortunately, it is not the light they have received, and they remain content with the state that hinders their receiving it. When any truth is in question which requires divine faith, do not be so foolish as to peril religion on that, says Mr. Jowett; intelligent people soon will not receive it. Another truth comes up: Do not lead people to reject Christianity by defending that, he tells us.

W. But that is the love of intelligent people more than of the truth—the love of respectability. How dares he to speak of love of truth, and use such an argument?

H. It is a threat to induce people to degrade Christianity to his level of it; the poorest simplest saint fears no such threats; one word of Christ’s is more to him than a bookful of such reasoning. It proves that the writer has not or does not love the truth—does not know its value—has not the moral courage that belongs, through grace, to a divine acquaintance with it. The humblest believers pity such intelligent people, and with true charity. But what is divine is just what is precious to such souls. They know God hides these things from the wise and prudent, and reveals them unto babes; they can therefore well understand that those who call themselves intelligent and think highly of themselves will stumble—those who say, We see, “we are rich, and increased in goods, and have need of nothing.” Some intelligent ones (not many), the apostle tells us, may, by grace, be poor enough in spirit to receive the kingdom of God as little children. They have been warned by their Master of such pretensions to wisdom; but God’s words have been found by them, and they have eaten them, and they have been to them the joy and rejoicing of their hearts. They know they are divine; they have received them, as they are in truth, as the word of God, which works effectually in them that believe; they have not the most distant thought of being frightened out of their known treasure by the questionings of those who use human intellect to judge of divine things. They do not think this very intelligent, because they know God.

No, my dear W., threats of the intelligent not receiving divine truth may make us mourn, but not doubt. It was always so. They must become fools that they may be wise. It was Celsus’ reproach in his day; it is practically Mr. Jowett’s in this. But we will verify what we have spoken of. That men have sought to pull scripture their own way, as Mr. Jowett alleges, is most true; that we need not discuss. After describing how this is supposed or expected— i.e., by the cool observer—which is also true, we soon find who this observer is. “Philosophical differences are in the background, into which the difficulties about scripture resolve themselves. They seem to run up, at last, into a difference of opinion respecting revelation itself—whether given beside the human faculties or through them; whether an interruption of the laws of nature, or their perfection and fulfilment.”

Now this is rather early in the Essay (the first paragraph) for infidelity to ooze out; but “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” The Essay is on the interpretation of scripture, but it turns at last (at first, he should say) into a difference as to revelation—i.e., whether there is any. The question here is, though garbled in, “philosophical differences in the background.” “Is there inspiration, and are there miracles?” He could not keep it in. There is no truth in the statement whatever.

With the “Ultramontane and Anglican, the Protestant and Roman Catholic, the Bible-alone men of the Reformation school, or the Bible-and-Prayerbook advocates,” there is no question as to the scriptures being truly inspired, or miracles being true. They disagree on many points—on important points; but the points they do not disagree on are, the inspiration and authority of the word, and the truth of miracles. On this they all agree; their differences do not ever run up into them.

The only meaning of the sentence is, that Mr. Jowett’s paper is not an interpretation, but infidelity as to the thing to be interpreted; and, as I said, he makes the doubts and differences as to interpretation fall on the truth of scripture itself. It is poorly and dishonestly done. Others differ—he does too—from them. It is all one thing. Now this is false. All the others, unless “the Germans,” own God’s word and its divine character; Mr. Jowett does not. Their differences do not run up at last into this; it is not in “the background” nor in the foreground for them. They own the authority of scripture, whatever use they make of it. It is the whole ground for Mr. Jowett; his heart was too full of it to keep it in. An honest man, unless blinded by prejudice, could not say that differences as to doctrine to be drawn from scripture, because all held it to be divine, run up into the denial of its authority, its inspiration, and miracles. If all is opinion, and there is no faith, then Mr. Jowett’s opinion is as good, it may be, as another. But the fact is exactly the contrary of what he says.

They contended fiercely, because they declared they had divine authority for what they professed to be from scripture, and therefore insisted that that was from God. Had it run up into doubting the word, their conflicts would instantly have ceased. Mr. Jowett doubts of all, and hence of scripture.

W. It is clear he must have been in a great hurry to get out his infidelity; but what he says is evidently without the smallest ground of truth in it. It is, as you said, doubting of all forms of truth, to make it doubtful whether there is anything but form. But his doubt is not a consequence of, it is exactly the opposite in principle from, the discussions of the others. They did not doubt at all. All is avowedly a “difference of opinion,” even to whether there is a revelation. Truth, and the certainty of it, are gone—do not appear as a possibility.

H. The third paragraph contains the pretension to be the sole possessors of wisdom—at least, wisdom enough to doubt. “It has not been readily, or at once, that mankind have learned to realize the character of sacred writings… It is the old age of the world only that has at length understood its childhood (or rather, perhaps, is beginning to understand it, and make allowance for its own deficiency of knowledge).” I told you he would let you doubt even of his world’s old-age wisdom, provided you doubt of all the rest.

W. Well, it is tolerable self-sufficiency; and how opposite to the assertions of scripture! I do not see, after all, that there is less open infidelity here than in the other papers we have examined. He seems in a hurry to get at it. Scripture speaks of perilous days at the end; it pretends everywhere to miracles, and gives itself everywhere for inspired. I cannot see the consistency of pretending to be anxious to interpret rightly a book which, if their way of setting about it be true, is a universal lie.

H. The truth of that is, that the word, and Christianity which is revealed in it, have a power men must undergo while they seek to deny it. It has changed the world—has made the proudest hearts bow to its truth. Their pride may comment on it, but they are forced to own its power.

W. However, I see plainly that, under cover of speaking of principles of interpretation, Jowett, by looking at all interpretation of scripture as opinions formed by the day, brings in his own denial of Christianity, viewed as a miraculous revelation of God, as one of the opinions. It is not, in my opinion, brilliant in its honesty; but, perhaps, having only opinions, and no truth, he does not see any farther. But then that shews that the idea of truth is lost; all is “opinionum commenta” which “delet dies.”

H. I apprehend that is what is likely.

W. But there is excessive pretension in it. It reminds me of the bitter sarcasm you quoted from Job in a former conversation: “No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you.”

H. Many principles of interpretation—such as not taking scholastic divinity or the definitions of creeds to interpret scripture by—I entirely agree with. God may providentially have preserved the truth more or less in the visible church by them, when spirituality was gone. But scripture does not make creeds, but livingly reveals the truth of God: all this you and I have long recognized; though, where error and Alexandrianism, or Neo-platonism, and its kindred Gnosticism, invaded the Church, creeds may have had their use. All conventional interpretations we can let go without a regret; we will take up the principles of interpretation which touch on the “philosophical differences in the background.” The difference of opinion we come to at last— that is, whether there is divinely given truth. A great deal that is said on confounding application and interpretation, and using scripture to make out sermons, is very just, and no doubt, with the preachers Mr. Jowett has to say to, necessary; but it is common-place, and needs no remark. There is an abuse of scripture, in this respect, among ministers, in and out of the Establishment, which is a proof of a low state of mind as to scripture and apprehension of divine truth, which God, in His goodness, bears with, but is both painful to a mind which has studied scripture and injurious to all. But, at least, the authority of scripture—that is, God’s word—is owned; it is better than Mr. Jowett’s “interpretation.” Imagination works too.

Let all these remarks have their effect in the proper quarters; no sensible person will regret it. Let those who have these habits see the effect in Mr. Jowett’s treatise—that is, the charging the New Testament writers with doing the same, still being good men and apostles; so that all the authority of scripture is gone. Mutato nomine de te fabula narratur. “What preachers do,” urges Mr. Jowett, “the apostles and inspired writers did—accommodated scripture to their own ideas.” But we may come to principles of interpretation which affect scripture itself directly, as denying inspiration, or as evidently leading to the same conclusion. It is better to take up the statements in the essay than follow any order of our own on the subject. I will only, to break fairly into the subject, draw your attention to Mr. Jowett’s statement, which I have already quoted, that we may know what we are about.

Mr. Jowett says, “Nor for any of the higher or supernatural views of inspiration is there any foundation in the Gospels or Epistles;” that is the “background.” His other principle to which I have alluded I may quote only to set it aside. It is a base one. If inspiration be true, it is true; if not, let us give it up. If it be, let Christianity and philosophy take care of themselves: the day of judgment will settle who is right in principle. I do not expect—it would prove a book not inspired—a treatise on chemistry or geology, or an inspired instructor to speak any but the common language of men on this subject. An inspired man would say the sun rises, like another. It is the grossest and flattest stupidity to object to it—to think that the Holy Ghost, speaking to immortal souls, would stop to explain astronomy, or not use current expressions: the whole effect of what He said would be destroyed. It is, morally speaking, impossible. He would not sanction popular errors, though He might appeal to men’s belief of them as an argument of the unreasonableness of their unbelief, because then He only accepts the state of their minds, which is the truth as to their state; but He would not use the phoenix, as Clement does, as a proof of the resurrection. That men should insist on the language of scripture as scientific is absurd, and that is what the clergy did with Galileo, with his “E pur si muove.”

But Mr. Jowett’s principle is a hollow and base one. Speaking of chemistry and physiology, he says, “It is a false policy to set up inspiration or revelation in opposition to them—a principle which can have no influence on them, and should be rather kept out of their way.” I say, if God has spoken, let God be true, and every man a liar. I make no objection to chemical and physiological enquiry; but I do not trust man’s certainty, and I do God’s. And see how far Mr. Jowett’s principles go: “The sciences of geology and comparative philology are steadily gaining ground; many of the guesses of twenty years ago have become certainties, and the guesses of to-day may hereafter become so. Shall we peril religion on the possibility of their untruth? On such a cast to stake the life of man implies not only a recklessness of facts, but a misunderstanding of the nature of the Gospel. It is fortunate for science, it is perhaps more fortunate for christian truth, that the admission of Galileo’s discovery has for ever settled the principle of the relations between them.” Now the cool yet stupid audacity of this is somewhat singular. It amounts simply to this: the bigoted persecution of popish priests, and the judgment of the Inquisition, have exactly die same authority as the word of God; and if the movements of Jupiter’s satellites have proved the folly of popish persecution and applying their dogmas to science, the Bible must retire and hide itself before the guesses of geology, and get out of its way, as they may prove true. What think you of such a principle—of such love of truth? Is there a trace of the noble bearing of truth in it?

W. Not one.

H. There is not. I may be mistaken of course; I may misinterpret scripture: humility as to one’s own thoughts is always right. But I have what I believe to be the truth; I shall hold and own it as such, till I am convinced of the contrary; if I find it is not the truth, I shall give it up. If what professed to be inspired, or men supposed such (for I do not think a true revelation would occupy itself with such a subject), said Jupiter’s planets do not move, and it was proved they did, I might see if I had not misinterpreted, if it was not a traditional view supposed to be based on this writing; if definitively it said, as a revelation, they do not, and I found they did, or had when the writing spoke of them, I would say, I have been deceived: this, at any rate, is not inspired; it is not from God. Yet, even in this case, if the direct proofs of inspiration were absolute for other parts, it would only prove this spurious. If all the writing was identified with it on the same ground, I would say, I give up holding that I have an inspired book. A book with good things in it, I may have, perhaps, from spiritual people, but no book from God with a revelation of His. I would not call them sacred writings. No man that talks of false policy in this way has a right to speak of love of truth again. I repeat, I look for no science in scripture; I should at once be disposed to reject it as scripture if I found it; but this I avow boldly, I have no need to use policy about it. I may avoid bringing those weak in the faith to the deciding of doubtful questions. But I am not afraid of the question of inspiration, nor afraid of science. I do not apply scripture to the latter, but I am not going to deny inspiration—that is, the direct communications of my God in grace—for the untruthful and dishonest warnings of policy from those who want to keep their religious positions and give up their religion. However, so frightened is Air. Jowett that his recommendation is to give up the inspiration of scripture before a guess even of science. This guess may be true; that scripture is, or may be, no mortal knows—certainly not Mr. Jowett, or he, from “love of truth,” would keep fast hold and stand up for it. But scripture, yea, even “christian truth” itself, is all the same as the tenets of the Inquisition! Such is the man, such the doctrine, which is pretending to interpret scripture. But, as an argument, the reasoning has no ground whatever, because it assumes these Jesuitical tenets to be the absolute equivalent of what Mr. Jowett himself calls christian truth.

We may set aside all that part of the reasoning which refers to the fears of meddling with the text. The thought lasted for perhaps a century at the utmost after the so-called textus receptus. Since Mills’ or even Bengel’s time, the question has really ceased to exist. Save a rare timid spirit every one seeks a text critically exact. All this is throwing dust in people’s eyes. Persons who have the profoundest conviction of the divine origin of scripture seek, for that very- reason, to have it as pure as possible. The shewing that people have had to give way in prejudices as to the effect of changes has nothing to do with a denial of inspiration. In the supernatural sense Mr. Jowett denies inspiration. It is not the way of securing our having the thing, but whether there is anything to be had which is now in question. He uses fallen prejudices to produce universal uncertainty. Having got rid of all these artifices, for such they are, I meet Mr. Jowett’s statements in face on the point really in question, the inspiration of scripture.

No one denies that the structure of a sentence is to be sought, though it be not classical Greek, in the principles of the language, modified by its then state of decay, and the changes which entirely new ideas and subjects introduce necessarily into every language. But, I affirm, that the principle of Mr. Jowett, that it must be interpreted, when we come to the matter contained in it, by the plain use of words as other books, is a false and absurd notion. I interpret men’s words so, because men’s ideas have formed them, and therefore they can express those ideas which gave them birth. But if there be a revelation, however much God may condescend to men and speak through men amongst them, and even in His Son as a man, the ideas of men not having given rise to the words and thoughts, but God, it is impossible that language formed by man’s ideas can be an adequate expression of God’s, if we take that language, as Mr. Jowett would, in its simple use according to men’s ideas. Upon the shewing of the case, by the strictest scientific principles, the whole statement is wrong.

W. I see it plainly. Every one who has the least enquired into the subject, or even thought of it, knows that language is formed by, and expresses, the thoughts, habits, and mental objects of a people. It is their picture. It forms itself on their habits. But if this be so, a revelation from God cannot find its adequate expression in the language taken according to its human force, because, according to its human force, it expresses human ideas, not divine. But then this difficulty arises: we must have an inadequate revelation.

H. Inadequate, if we seek what is infinite in its completeness all at once. “We know in part and prophesy in part,” says the apostle. Intuitive knowledge of all at once is not come. But there are analogies of relationship, and the Lord Himself lays down expressly that the thought (the lovgo")must be known before the speech (the rJh'ma) is. This is not the way with man’s language. I explain the terms, and use them then to learn all relating to them, and unfold the relationships in which the things stand to one another. In divine things we must know the thing to understand the word. To take a familiar example, “We must be born again:” if I take this in the “simple universal meaning” of being born, I shall stumble with Nicodemus on nonsense. Take the word Son applied to Godhead: has it the simple universal sense it has elsewhere? “The Word was with God, and was God.” What does Word, or lovlo" mean? I affirm that in everything important referring to God, or even spiritual subjects, the words must have a meaning only to be known by those who have the divine key to it, whatever that is; because as human words they only express human ideas, and they are now used to express what is not the fruit of human thought but of divine. If I say, “Reckon yourselves to be dead unto sin”—”ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God,” can I take the simple meaning of the words as they apply to the human order of thought by which they have been formed? It is absurd, and contradicts itself.

W. This seems to me perfectly clear.

H. It is not that the language is not ordinary human language; it is because it is ordinary human language (though modified, as is ever the case with new ideas), and to be construed so, that interpreting it when used for divine things, as if the ordinary human meaning were the limit of the thought (and this is what Mr. Jowett wants), is unintelligent, yea, the grossest absurdity. And indeed Mr. Jowett cannot and does not deny it. He says, “There are difficulties of another kind in many parts of scripture, the depth and inwardness of which require a measure of the same qualities in the interpreter himself”—that is, everything that is of chief value does. And consequently he contradicts himself within a page or two expressly. “First,” he says, “it may be laid down that scripture has one meaning—the meaning which it had to the mind of the prophet or evangelist who first uttered or wrote, to the hearers or readers who first received it.” (p. 378.) Exactly two pages farther on he says, “All that the prophet meant may not have been consciously present to his mind: there were depths which to himself also were but half revealed.” (p. 380.) Yet I am told (p. 378), “scripture has one meaning, the meaning which it had to the mind of die prophet.”

W. It is impossible, where a man is not a hardened infidel, who will not see any force in the word of God, to escape the conviction of special depth and power in it.

H. Another passage in which Mr. Jowett most happily contradicts himself in this respect, shews the truth of what you say. “There are germs of truth which after thousands of years have never yet taken root in the world.” That is, really, that the ideas being not from a human source, but from a divine one, human language cannot express it as a human idea, to be received according to a human measure. “There are lessons in the prophets which, however simple, mankind have not yet learned even in theory, and which the complexion of society rather tends to hide; aspects of human life in Job and Ecclesiastes, which have a truth of desolation about them which we faintly realize in ordinary circumstances.” All this is saying (and makes one think Mr. Jowett above the heartless system he is propagating) that the forms into which the human mind is moulded, the state in which it naturally is, cannot seize the bearing and truth of aspect of the divine mind, however simply it is expressed. And what follows expresses it yet more distinctly: “It is perhaps the greatest difficulty of all to enter into the meaning of the words of Christ, so gentle, so human, so divine, neither adding to them nor marring their simplicity.” Now I rejoice in such phrases. I repeat, it gives one a bright hope that Mr. Jowett is above his system; that, in emancipating himself from traditional nullities, he has stumbled into the mud of the system next him, and that he will get out, confessing and knowing by experience that it is dirty mud and nothing else, and that the depth of the divine mind and grace will be his abiding portion.

W. One would trust so indeed from these words, and they are quite the truth; but it does most entirely contradict his statement that the scripture “has one meaning, the meaning which it had… to the hearers or readers who first received it.”

H. Yes; but we will rejoice in so happy an inconsistency— rejoice because the good side seems to be more truly Mr. Jowett himself. We must however, having gladly admitted this, follow the system to which his name is attached in this paper. Now with this depth in the mind of Christ or even the prophets, what may be called (though unjustly) many meanings becomes perfectly intelligible, and the necessary result. I do not take up Cocceius’ notion, though I understand it, I think, that the scripture had all the meanings it could have. It was merely awkwardly expressing in human feeling this—that the divine mind was so large that human expressions of it partially had no end. If I draw water from the well, I do not say at each bucket, This is different water. I say, No, there is a continually springing well. It is all water of the well, but my bucket can only bring a small part of it at a time. It is, as Mr. Jowett says, hard in doing this, “not to add or mar the simplicity. The interpreter needs nothing short of fashioning in himself the image of the mind of Christ: he has to be born again into a new spiritual or intellectual world, from which the thoughts of this world are shut out.” Now this is excellent, but the proof (not that the words of scripture are not simple, but) that, from the natural mind being formed in another train of thought, it cannot enter into what is divine. It says what scripture says: “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit.” But it denies at once the theory that scripture can be interpreted as having the meaning it had to the hearers or readers who first received it. Scripture, divine truth, never is really received but in the measure in which the mind is formed into the spiritual state capable of apprehending it. Not that the words are not simple, or that the statements are not— they are; but that the mind is not morally open to them: they are foolishness to it. So of the use of a passage of scripture. As my water from the well, I may use it to drink and quench my thirst, to wash, to quench the fire, to make the plants of my garden grow. It is not changing anything in the water: God so formed it as to be properly applicable to all these things.

And so His divine word. Man’s limited nature makes limited things (we spoil the instrument in applying it to something else) and limited words. God’s infinite and creative nature has, in His revelation, given what is according to His nature, though suited to man’s. The source is infinite; the application is to what is finite. Hence what is simple in itself is various in application. Hence, even in the language which expresses it, we have a finite instrument used to express an infinite mind. This must be different from a finite instrument used to express a finite mind. Even in the last case it is imperfect, as the comparison of the different languages shews; but, in respect of God’s thoughts, though He who uses it is God (and hence it is perfectly used for thoughts not learned but only to be expressed), that which is used must have a fulness and elasticity and power, which it had not with man. He who would reduce the force of language used for inspired communications—as the rationalists, and alas! inconsistent Mr. Jowett—to the measure of the mind of the speaker or hearer, denies the inspired communication altogether. Hence, too, the language of scripture is eminently figurative. It uses physical facts and terms to express moral ideas; but the consequence is, we must have the moral ideas themselves to understand the words, as Jowett admits. But then the force of the words is measured by the ideas I have, not by the simple theory expressed by the words at all. All language is figurative when any moral subject is spoken of. I talk of a lovely picture of virtue, and so on. Our life is spent in such figures the moment I leave materialism. But man cannot speak of divine things truly, because he does not know them; his language cannot in itself be formed directly on them, save in falsehood. When God speaks of them (and this is revelation), He does for our sakes condescend to use human language, but fills it with that which is divine. And the intelligence of the language is in the measure of the intelligence of the truth conveyed. He who would reduce the meaning to the human meaning of the words denies the thing altogether, makes nonsense of it besides, by making divine things human in their conception. He is simply an infidel in fact that denies the communication of the divine mind. That God should communicate His thoughts to man, to sinful, corrupt, narrow-minded man, and all be understood according to the human limit of human expressions, is an absurdity upon the face of it. It denies what it professes to admit, and this is Mr. Jowett.

W. But does not this leave room for very wild imaginations?

H. To be sure it does. But this is a moral question under God’s hand and government, like all others. Man’s mind runs wild without scripture, and it runs wild with scripture if it trusts itself. And the mightier the instrument, the more the wildness appears. If I run about with a perambulator, I may perpetrate some mischievous folly; but if with a steam-engine, I may jeopard a multitude of lives. But that is the fault of the person who does so. That this danger should not exist, we must give up materially and morally all that has power. And it is God’s will that man should be thus tested.

The humble mind learns according to the power of God’s truth. The self-conceited wields a weapon to his own, perhaps to others’ hurt; but he has not, morally speaking, scripture as God’s word, but as so many thoughts, and, when wielded by man’s mind, always false, because man cannot wield God. He is subject to Him, and the power He gives is subject to the moral guidance of the Spirit working in man. This is what the apostle means by “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” God may use man as an instrument, but he must first be emptied of self. Hence the humble soul prospers, has God’s own word, feeds in these green pastures, and, as the expression of what is become himself, may become a blessing to others. The self-confident mind has never approached God in His word at all; for, had he, he would have ceased to be self-confident. Whenever I see a man confident in himself (and we are all of course liable to it, at any rate in detail), I have no confidence in him. The truth is, all divine things are a riddle, because (man having departed from God) the introduction of God again is necessarily the destruction, the setting aside, of man, viewed in his present state, but thereupon it is the filling the man who receives it with grace, and so with divine confidence, and a delight in holiness that he would never have had otherwise. And he is strong in virtue of being nothing, and in the measure in which he is; as Paul says, “When I am weak, then am I strong.” But this is in principle the total putting down of man as he is, and this man will not bear, and will meddle to his hurt with what is given to the new man. And God will deal morally; He will not give His power (unless as some particular exceptional exhibition to shew it is Himself) otherwise than morally, certainly not at all the knowledge of Himself, and it is of this we are speaking now.

And it is right it should be so: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself.” And is it not right that God should thus deal morally with man? Is He to give intelligence of His mind to mere human will and self-sufficiency? He presents it in the word as adapted to man, to every one. But the understanding of its contents does depend on moral condition of soul; and ought, though it may work by grace, to produce that condition. But this the rationalist denies as well as the other.

I affirm then that, as Mr. Jowett is perfectly right, his system is intellectually a contradiction and an absurdity; because it supposes a revelation of divine thoughts of which language confessedly formed on other thoughts is the expression, and says it is to be understood according to the simple apprehension of the hearers. It is immoral, because it supposes the moral condition of men to exercise no influence in the intelligence of divine things.

W. But yet the Lord surely made things plain, or rather presented things plainly to men.

H. Undoubtedly. If He had not, it would not have tested man; being plain, it condemns him, by shewing that his will and moral condition are in question—are the real hindrance. Light was surely in the world: nothing so simple as light. But men loved darkness rather than light. The Lord therefore came not to judge, but in judgment—not only is light, but gives eyes to one born blind; that they which see not might see, and they which see might be made blind. And so it is now. “How can ye believe who receive honour one of another?” He sowed the seed in the heart. Often it was by the wayside, hard as the nether millstone— the highway of this world’s folly and self-will; part was choked by cares, riches, and lusts; part lost by self-deception.

Hence, too, we have what stupid, most stupid, rationalists would call contradiction. He spoke to them in parables as they were able to bear it. Yet He spoke to them in parables, that hearing they might hear and not perceive. It was perfectly suited to them in grace, but to a nation which would not the truth so communicated, that, where the prejudice of will was, all should be dark. Those who had judged themselves, who had repented, believed and glorified Him. The Pharisees rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of John.

I will now cite the positive testimony of the Lord to this principle of having the divine thought in order to understand the divine words. “Why do ye not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my word.” So in Proverbs: “It is all simple to them that understand, and plain to them that keep knowledge.” How the Lord shews in John 4 that conscience is the inlet to intelligence in divine things! and thus the heart becomes engaged. Rejected and driven out from Judasa, He sat weary on the well of Sychar. A woman, lonely (it was not the hour when women go forth to draw water) and weary with sin, evidently a strong and ardent nature that had sought happiness with eager pursuit, and sank through it into sin, and not found rest to her spirit (how many such are there in the world!) dragged on a life of toil, and, in the midst of it, thought sometimes on Gerizim and Jerusalem, and knew there was a Messiah to come. There might be happiness and rest somewhere; she had none. Toil and weariness she had, and the last evidently in spirit as well as body. Jesus had toil and weariness too, but through love, not through sin, save the sin of others, and this could not weary love, and He knew where rest was—He was it. The Son of God, the Judge of all, had, humanly speaking, put Himself in a position where He was debtor to this woman for a drink of cold water. But He soon draws her out; He speaks of the gift of God, of a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. All was dark in the Samaritan woman’s mind. She moved in the circle of her own weariness; this she felt, the fruit of her sin and toil after happiness. And (with all the movings within that predominated and filled her mind, for, in fact, what had she else?) what does the Lord do? “Go, call thy husband, and come hither.” “I have no husband.” “Thou hast well said,” replied the Lord, “I have no husband: thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that speakest thou truly.”

Now a ray of light breaks in. “Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.” The word of God by the Lord has divine authority in her heart, because it has reached her conscience. She has found a man who has told her all that ever she did. Who knew that? The prophet’s word has divine authority. Yet she does not yet get to wells of water. The divine communications made to her were quite unintelligible; but much was done. He who knew all her life, all her sin, had been sitting in grace by her, willing to be helped by her. Grace was there as well as truth. She had found the Christ, and leaves her water-pot and her care with it, and becomes a messenger of that which is good news for all. Gerizim and Jerusalem are all alike, and alike nothing. The Father is seeking worshippers in spirit and in truth.

Now here we find a picture of the opening of a soul to understanding and the reception of divine things. The presenting of divine things of the highest character in grace does not do it. The natural heart remains closed. Even when there are moral wants and cravings, divine things are not understood at all. God makes His way through the conscience. Then the word is received. At the moment the heart does not get farther than its present capacity. Still what has been spoken of has been spoken of for it; and grace makes all its own. Jesus in grace has been with it. Oh, what a difference—man’s speculations, and God seeing the field white for harvest! The Lord refreshing His spirit when rejected by the pride of man, not with the water of the well, but with love finding its bliss in hearts filled with wretchedness, drinking of the one refreshing well-spring that has visited this world! He had meat to eat His disciples knew not of. What a place for this poor Samaritan, what a place for us; to refresh, stupid creatures that we are—the heart of Jesus, because He is love! Nothing brighter, nothing more genuine, than the effect of her new-found joy, which makes this poor woman the messenger of God’s visiting this world to the self-satisfied inhabitants of Sychar. She was just the one that suited the Lord.

W. It is a lovely picture, and I think the moral elements you have touched justly given; but on this men may differ. Thereby we see evidently how the estimate of the force of passages depends on the individual spiritual state.

H. Of course, and there is nothing like the picture itself here. What Mr. Jowett says is true. All explanations mar. They are only the expression of our feelings and moral perceptions of that which in itself is complete and perfect.

But remark another thing here, shewing how absurd it is to speak of just the simple meaning to the hearer—that is, man’s measure according to the words used: we have here the full power of eternal life as in one who drinks of the water Christ gives; the whole of His person in humiliation; “who it is that saith to thee Give me to drink;” His relationship to sinners; how the divine word reaches the conscience; the passing of grace out of ceremonial Judaism, where it was according to promise, to bring mercy to the vilest; the place Jesus takes thus as rejected; His human estate as weary with us, not having where to lay His head, yet giving as God; the substitution of worship in spirit and truth for Jerusalem and Gerizim, yet salvation of the Jews; the revelation of the Father acting in grace, seeking to have such worshippers; the total change in the soul, when once it is taken possession of by Christ, however ignorant. These, which I recall only from memory, are all directly before the soul in this short but touching interview. How much more, who can say?

The ‘mere literal facts, read as any other history, cannot bring the mind at all into the apprehension of what is here spoken of. If I take the commonest words—as Son, the Son of God, the Son of the Father—a mere literal apprehension affords me nothing, or error; or the Word made flesh. I shall be told, these are mysteries; but the language is simple, and what I am shewing is that, with the simplest language, there must be divine apprehensions in the soul to understand scripture; and that understanding it as Thucydides or Sophocles is just simple nonsense. They have human ideas, and are understood humanly. If there are divine ideas, they must be understood divinely. Yet I have only human language, and hence my way of understanding it must be different; and, I must add, the way of writing it, because the way of thinking it must be different. Whether it be by inspiration is the question we have to come to: only I say here that to give divine ideas with certainty, or to be the truth, they must have a divine source, a divine author. Man’s ideas about God were utterly false and degraded without it. His power of thought, as such, cannot be adequate to form the idea, or clothe it in language so as to be a communication of truth, an authentic revelation of God’s mind.

I conclude” that, as to the general principle of interpretation proposed by Mr. Jowett, he contradicts himself in the first place, and happily so; next, the system is intellectually an absurdity; thirdly, it is contradictory to the facts of the case; and fourthly, the Lord Himself assures us, as do His apostles, that it is not true. The ideas and subjects of scripture being divine, and language human, formed by human ideas, to understand it simply as it is expressed by a human interpretation of the words, is a manifest contradiction and absurdity. Let us get the best text to have what is to be interpreted, and be relieved from traditional glosses; let us have the most accurate knowledge of Hebrew and Greek at our command: all this is every way to be desired. But, when you have all, in the nature of things the text cannot be interpreted as the words would strike the hearer who stood as a natural man with human thoughts, I may boldly say, in any case whatever. For what is wrong in principle is wrong always. When God is in the world, His ways and actions have, and must have, a meaning which a mere man’s cannot have, because He is God. If a Jew had ridden into Jerusalem on an ass, what would it have been? Nothing. If the Lord did, in one sense the history of the world turned on it as a last public testimony. It was a moment which made the Lord weep, and God perfect praise out of the mouths of babes and sucklings to still the enemy and the avenger. Had these held their peace, the stones would have immediately cried out.

I cannot conceive anything more absurd than the thought that the works or the words of the Lord in the earth are to be taken jiist as another’s words, and so understood. They cannot, for He says things none else could say, and does what none else could do; but were they the same, the bearing would be quite different. Does Mr. Jowett believe that the Lord was in the world, or that the word of God is a revelation at all? or, if he does, have they no more weight or bearing than another’s, supposing he has the text and grammar all clear? He has told us he does, and told us he does not. If his heart is cleft in twain, may he throw away the worser part of it!

W. I do feel what a solemn question it all is. Your reference to John 4, though so brief, again led the heart back to these fresh springs which make one taste that one is in a region that nothing else is like. It is a folly, a horror, a senselessness no term can reach, to compare the movings and speakings of a God walking in love in this world with the writings and actings of other men. If they were such, He was not that at all; and I thoroughly agree with you, that no human language, taken in its ordinary terms as expressing ordinary things, can express that. The statement contradicts itself. It is still a question, Is there a revelation? Has God revealed Himself or not? Let the language be made grammatically clear, of course: it is the vehicle God has been pleased to use, and as a vehicle I employ it. But when you come to the meaning, the interpretation, we enter on a divine order of thought, and must be in it ourselves to understand. Here we are dependent on God, as in everything else.

H. Surely; and hence it is that—though they may be bad commentators, of course, as to the text—the poor and unlearned, who are really exercised in conscience and in divine truth, understand the truth better, as to the substance of it, than the learned man “who leans to his own understanding;” because they have personally learnt where the connection between an exercised soul and God is formed—they have learnt it by their spiritual wants; and Christ is that connection, and the mind of Christ is in the scripture, and thus they have the key to it. If they pretend to interpret texts, they may very likely go astray; but as to the doctrine of scripture, their faith is clear and sure. No exercise of human understanding can give this; no chemist, even if his analysis be right, knows what water is, like to a man who is ready to die of thirst.

I conclude therefore, as to the general principle of Mr. Jowett (and especially as to the first part), that he is fundamentally wrong. “The true glory and note of divinity in these latter,” he says [Jewish and Christian scriptures], “being, not that they have hidden, mysterious, or double meanings, but a simple and universal one.” Now I look for neither mysticism nor logic; I reject them, as such, both. When Mr. Jowett speaks of double meanings, if he means that two distinct meanings of the words are to be taken—”good meanings,” as theologians used to say—it is at once to be rejected; but if he confines the meaning of the scriptures to the narrowness of human wording and thought, his principle is false. In the communication of divine thoughts in human language, the bearing of the sentences, from the richness of the truths in them, is various. If I say “God is a Spirit; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeketh such to worship him,” I may justly take up the contrast with Jerusalem and Gerizim, and the whole question of God’s dispensations; or I may justly take up God’s being a Spirit, which in the nature of things requires a spiritual worship—it must be such. I may also press the difference between God in His nature requiring such, and the Father (as a name of grace and relationship) seeking such; and how now, in this double name, He gave His character to all approach to Him; as the Lord said, “I go to my Father and your Father, and my God and your God;” and in the Ephesians, “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”

I add, as Mr. Jowett complains of connecting passages by some hidden connection, that when I find, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty,” I may insist on the need of separation from an ungodly world and evil, in order to be in relationship with God; or I may note that there are three scriptural relationships with God (two expressly noted and distinguished in the Old Testament—Almighty, and Lord or Jehovah; the first to Abraham, the second to Israel and Moses), and that He who bore them both takes here that of the Father. Now all these are not double senses, but divine truths coming from an everlasting source, and being the expression of it, and of Him who, in infinite richness of being and character, must be in relationship with all things—above ail, through all, and in all believers—the statement of these truths must carry all that God is as spoken of in the statement, or displayed in the acts contained in the passage. Of course, all passages are not alike full. It is not logical conclusions which are not in the passage, which I find or seek; nor mystic inventions which are not there either; but the mind of God found in it, that I look for.

To say that this is not mysterious is, as to many passages, begging Mr. Jowett’s pardon, absurd. A religion which depends on the Word being made flesh, and the Son of man sitting at the right hand of God, and sending down the Holy Ghost to make our bodies temples; which tells us that we are members of Christ’s body, of His flesh and of His bones; which shews God become a man, and obedient as such, and dying as such, and other truths I need not enlarge upon, must be mysterious in the true sense of the word, and, indeed, in every sense. I do not know if Mr. Jowett denies all these things. What angels desire to look into can well be supposed to be so. Christ made sin; our dwelling in God and God in us; our being, in this world, as Christ is, so as to have boldness in the day of judgment; the miraculous birth of Christ;—all speak with one voice. He who excludes mysteries from the word excludes sense from it, instead of making it intelligible. I do not mean by mysterious that it cannot be understood. The scripture meaning of mystery is that known only by revelation, not by human knowledge. The initiated know mysteries, the uninitiated not—that is the meaning of the word; but the true initiated are those taught of God. If God reveals, there must * be mysteries; and, from the nature of what He reveals, true initiation must exist to understand it. Its expression cannot be at the level of human ideas.

All the deepest expressions of good and evil are brought together. God and sin meet in the cross. Christ is God, and is forsaken of God. Christ is the power and Prince of Life, and He dies, but through this destroys the power of death. You cannot have such things brought together in the same act without mysterious truth. When all that is perfectly good in God and evil in man meet, and are centred indeed in one person, or the condition he takes, the human mind must be taught of God to know it; and God alone, who knows all things perfectly, can reveal it simply, because He does know perfectly; but He reveals all in man, all in Himself, and all in Christ in it. I know, as one may see in Mr. Jowett’s Commentary, a person may rest on the surface, and seek to destroy all depth in them, and bend them to the standard of the human mind and scope of human thought. But I do not see any great sense in this that such a fact as God becoming a man should not suppose immense depths of thought, purpose, and moral truth, and reveal them. If Mr. Jowett denies all this, then I get simple infidelity. I know what I have to deal with. If not, I have a Christianity in which the depth of my moral nature, old and new, and in the exercises and conflicts of both, meet God where He and sin have met, and Christ in the consummation of ages is come to put it away. And perfect love and divine righteousness find their manifestations and ground.

The simplest expressions of scripture awake profound depths in our moral nature. What does putting away sin mean? What Christ the Son of God appearing to do it? What does the Lamb of God mean? It is easy for philosophers to avoid all these expressions, and make a Christianity of their own. Only it is in no part the Christianity that is revealed or known in the word. But interpreting the Christianity that was revealed in scripture, and has possessed men’s minds for ages, by saying that the true divine in it is not having mysteries, is false in fact, and absurd in idea. Mr. Jowett gives pages on conversion and change of character to excuse and suppose it possible, at least in uneducated persons! And—what I trust shews that he may have tasted it, but shews how ashamed he is of owning it before educated persons—excuses it thus: “It was the quiet fancy of a sentimentalist to ask whether any one who remembers the first sight of a beloved person could doubt the existence of magic. We may ask another question: Can any one who has ever known the love of Christ doubt the existence of a spiritual power?” I hope from this it is true in the writer’s case; but it is very low ground to take in speaking of the dying and living love of the Son of God. It may suit an Oxford theologian seeking to emancipate himself from the trammels of conventional doctrines and creeds. A serious Christian hopes for the writer, and passes over an expression of the truth so unworthy of one who has felt it.

I would add a few words on the contrast between double meanings of prophecy in general, and the application of the simple meaning of the words as a hearer would understand them with one meaning. The idea is entirely false. Mr. Jowett admits, “They must speak as from one with whom a thousand years is as one day, and one day as a thousand years; but,” he says, “not so as to connect distinct and distant objects.” Now I think this also unphilosophical, contradicted by the facts and statements of scripture, and untrue. If the prophecies are to be interpreted as the words of One with whom “a thousand years are as one day,” as Mr. Jowett says, it is impossible not to see that the bearing of these words must be something of larger wider import than the circumstances of the moment, and must reach on to epochs where the thoughts and words of such a one will be fulfilled. In this day of a thousand years, all in man’s hand changes, shifts, is subverted; new things are set up, new interests created. If the word of one divine day can reach over to the end of it, it must be occupied with a plan that runs through it all, through all these human changes, which are but the risings and fallings of a tumultuous sea, where the equal tide below the surface pursues its constant course. There is a divine plan above and beyond all the local circumstances.

As Peter says, “No prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation”—does not solve itself in the individual circumstances which occasion it, but enters into the great plan of God. Yet, in the love of God, we may say they must connect themselves with those to whom they are addressed. I doubt not, therefore, that the prophecies were often occasioned by present circumstances, and comfort given to saints at the time by them; but to say they did not look out to a future of blessing to Israel, of the final setting aside of the power of evil, of the coming in of a great promised deliverer, is to fail in recognizing the most obvious fact in all prophecy. Jews, and rationalist infidels who think that the prophets were national poets, apply it, no doubt, to Israel; and if we are to listen to the dull rhapsodies of Drs. Bunsen and Williams, Jeremiah is the sufferer; but Mr. Jowett is not yet there. He owns God has something to do with scripture, and we will not return to these foolish and stupid imaginations.

Take Joel. There it is not to be doubted that a famine through locusts and insect ravages is the occasion referred to. But do you or I believe, or any reasonable person, to say no more, that He whose words are to be interpreted as the words of One with whom a thousand years are as one day has written a book for all ages to determine the result at that time of an inroad of caterpillars, the effect of whose ravages, however trying, would disappear in a few years? Could any one read the book and not see that God’s present judgments and mercies are made the occasion of drawing the attention of Israel to their state, and lead the awakened conscience to God’s judgment of evil, and full deliverance for those who repented and called upon the name of the Lord, when the people should never be ashamed, the Spirit poured out on all flesh, and Judah dwell for ever, and every temporal blessing be theirs; and, finally, the harvest and vintage of the whole earth be reaped and trodden—God dwelling there in Zion? The famine connected the present circumstances with this promise of plenty and blessing, but no one can but see that the prophet is rapt into future times. Now if this is meant by a double meaning, it is true. That is, that the Lord does give what is a present comfort, yet clothes it in language which leads on to His ultimate plans, so as to keep the godly hope of His people up, and often passes entirely into that with which the present is not linked at all. The point of transition may be sometimes obscure. But the general principle is undeniable, and such a character of prophecy worthy of God, and indeed alone worthy of Him. In Jeremiah and in Isaiah it is in vain to deny that, with encouragement suited to the occasion, the prophet refers to the coming of Messiah, and a time of unparalleled and continued blessing. It is incredible to suppose that God had not His own plans in view, and the great result of His government of the world when man had been fully tried on the ground of responsibility.

W. I must say I think principle and fact concur to prove this. I mean that God held out the hope of a great coming deliverance and blessing, whatever momentary encouragement He might give; and that this time in which His plans would be accomplished must be mainly in view, though present circumstances would draw the prophet’s attention, and give rise to exhortation and warning. And we must not forget that in fact Israel was waiting for this time, and that in all die East, as Tacitus tells us, the expectation prevailed.

H. Nor is this all. Almost the earliest prophecy (Balaam’s, which reaches to the Star of Jacob, was earlier) declares that the order of the world was all arranged in respect of Israel. (Deut. 32:8.) And, further, that Israel would be given up into the hands of their enemies, and afterwards restored, and the Gentiles associated with them, through overwhelming judgments, when “God shall arise to judgment, and to help all the meek of the earth.”

Isaiah (6) shews us Israel given up too, and for a long period, and yet preserved in a remnant; and the rejection of Him (chap. 1) who found none to answer when He came and called, as the cause of their being laid aside, yet this followed by the fullest promise of restoration and glory. So Hosea declares they shall remain many days desolate, without true God or false, but seek Jehovah their God and David their king at the end. So Micah declares they will insult and reject the Judge of Israel born at Bethlehem, and therefore be given up; but that this same man will be their peace. And again, the largest and fullest blessing is promised to a remnant through Him, while judgment will be executed on the nations, who yet will be blessed as by the dew from heaven which tarries not for men.

Now my object is not, of course, to explain here all prophecy, but to note that there was a reference to a great scheme or plan, such as must be in God’s mind, though He may encourage and comfort at the time; and not only so, but that there was something more specific—a giving up Israel, the beloved people, for a time (during which God would be found of them that sought Him not); that that, whatever other sins they had, was caused by their rejection of Jehovah coming as a man in mercy; that this caused their divorce from Him; and that then a long undefined interval would elapse, and blessing afterward arrive, but introduced by judgments—the Lord pleading with all flesh. This gives a uniform plan, declared in statements verified before our eyes in the state of the Jews consequent on Christ’s coming. This necessarily threw on the application of scripture prophecy to the end, when alone the plans of God would have their decided and full result, evil be set aside, and the earth blessed under Messiah. This principle the New Testament confirms (Matt. 23:39; Rom. 11:25, 26; and other passages).

We find the Old testifying, in one entire passage, of One coming in grace and gentleness, and then judgment. The New quotes what relates to the grace, and stops short of the judgment. Thus, Luke 4:19, from Isaiah 61:1. So Matthew 21:5, from Zechariah 9:9. The New Testament leads us itself to the same point. Thus, Matthew 10: “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of man be come.” Now, He was there; but there was a presenting of Him to human responsibility, and bringing Him in in power. So the Lord personally tells them they should not see Him till they said, Blessed be He that cometh. Till then their house should be desolate. I refer to these to shew that scripture constantly refers to a. divine accomplishment of a plan to be fulfilled, which seemed at first to fail—a failure which was the occasion of bringing in the Church on quite different principles, the mystery hidden from ages and generations, Israel being set aside. Even the Epistles follow the same order. The quotation of Psalm 68 in Ephesiahs 4 goes only so far as it does not apply distinctly to Israel.

Finally, I take up Daniel, and I find a declaration of a period appointed to Jerusalem for God to bring in righteousness and blessing—the famous period of seventy weeks; but when this is entered on in detail, we have seven weeks of trial to build the city, then sixty-two weeks to Messiah the Prince, who is cut off and takes nothing (for that is the true sense of the words; not, “and not for Himself”). Then comes a long undated period of war and desolation. And when is the promise of the preceding verses supposed by the prophecy to be fulfilled? It must come after the end of the war: till then there are desolations—the city and sanctuary being destroyed already. It is put off for an unknown length of time, and the unfinished period of seventy weeks gets its conclusion at the end. This is the unequivocal structure of the prophecy. (Daniel never goes on to the blessing beyond the times of the Gentiles.) That is, the prophets suppose a rejection of Israel for a long period, the cutting off of Messiah, and afterwards the bringing in of full blessing through Him. I am not now saying they are real prophecies to be fulfilled; nor, as to this point, does it alter the case, absurd as the theory is, if Daniel wrote in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes.

My assertion is, that the prophets have a scheme of this kind— an appearing of grace, as Christianity expresses it, teaching us to wait for the appearing of the glory—a putting off to a remote period of earthly blessing, introduced by Messiah and judgments, the accomplishment of these prophecies, and of the blessing of Israel; Messiah being rejected meanwhile by Israel, and Israel therefore given up. But, whatever particular warnings and consolations there may have been, this shews that, while addressed to these generations, and often occasioned by their circumstances, prophecy always looked out farther in its true scope. I am speaking of its plan, not of its accomplishment. He who would interpret it with that kind of simplicity which would leave this out, leaves all the clearly demonstrable intention of its author out, and this is a bad way of interpreting.

W. I seize clearly the purport of what you say, and it binds the whole together, from the Pentateuch to Revelation, and brings in the New Testament into its place in the organization of the whole. I feel that if God gives a revelation, and that, as entering into the wants of His people as scripture professes to do, He must enter into local circumstances, and present events so as to meet these wants; and yet God must have a plan and a purpose. And scripture clearly points out that He has. But the Church seems to stand on peculiar ground.

H. Doubtless it does. The testimony of Paul takes up man as wholly ruined in nature, and reveals a heavenly man and a new creation; and associates those called, during the rejection of the true heavenly man, with Him in heaven, so that they are heavenly. He was the Lord from heaven. They, as new created, have a part with Him, and, having the Spirit, are united to Him, and become His bride and His body, are joint-heirs with Him the first-born among many brethren. But the current of promise runs on too in connection with the original promise to Abraham. The Jewish branches were broken off, and we grafted in; but the chain of promise was unbroken, though there are blessings above promise in the mystery of union with Christ. Thus the Church is associated with Him for ever.

W. And when the blessing comes in?

H. She will joy and minister in it as thus united to Him and joint-heir with Him, and blessedly so, though her highest joy be Himself.

W. Where is this at all drawn out of scripture?

H. The bringing as children into the inheritance, and the tree of promise, in Romans 8, 11; the relationship with our God and Father, and all His counsels in Christ, in Ephesians, specially chapter i. Our having personally all with Christ is still more brought out in the last chapters of John’s gospel. It is this testimony of a second Adam, a last man, which alone gives its true divinely moral character to the New Testament, and gives the just sense of the real bearing of Christianity for us, animating with a heavenly energy, and imprinting a heavenly character on our whole position.

W. Then comes in the gospel, in its full character, in a suspension of the regular course of prophetic promise?

H. Exactly. And the Jews are obliged to come in as a Gentile, in mere mercy; yet all promise will be fulfilled to them. This it is that makes the apostle adore the depths of the riches of God’s wisdom. The promises meanwhile run on; yet a heavenly people is formed. All in heaven and earth is to be gathered up into one head in Christ. Besides individual salvation and blessing, there are two great topics in scripture—God’s government of the world, and the Church. In Christ both find their Head. He will rule over all, Israel being the earthly centre, while the Church is united to Him. Meanwhile, as He has perfectly revealed God and the Father, we are brought into full personal relationship with what God is in Himself, and as children, or sons with a Father, a relationship of which He Himself is the pattern as man, His redemption work being the basis of all, in the power of which He fills all things.

W. It does give a divine completeness to the revelation of the mind of God, which is full of interest though we see but corners of it, yet corners of a whole worthy of God. The time will come when we shall know as we are known, and, better still, enjoy God Himself fully.

H. This is indeed our one chief joy, though we shall admire Him in all His plans and ways. The place of Christ is lovely too in this. The glory of God enlightens the heavenly city. But such a bright blaze of glory, though needed to know Him, has nothing personal in it; it dazzles more than it concentrates the affections: but the Lamb is the light thereof. Here the heart finds its home and centre: One known, One who has loved us, One who is divinely at home there, and the very light of that glory, but has never lost the character in which He has served us in the depths of love. For where love is active, it serves.

But I turn to another point of the prophetic revelation of God before we leave this part of our enquiry. We have accepted interpreting prophecy as the words of One with whom a thousand years are as one day. But, if this be so, then there is one Author really of the whole, though divers instruments; and, though surely adapting His words in grace by those instruments to various circumstances that arise (as grace would do), yet, I must find one mind as to the substance and purpose of the whole. And, though interpreting each part simply and just as I find it as to the direct meaning of the passages (which I think very important myself), taking what a prophecy says as it says it, yet the one mind from which all flows and which runs through all I shall surely find and do find; and consequently (not a similarity or a copying, but) a fitting of each part into the whole, and into its own place in the whole, each part being suited for that very reason to its own object and part in that whole; and thus secondly a connection, not immediate but through the whole, of each with every other part; as the members of the body different entirely in service, yet serve the whole, and serve each other.

I get Jews, Gentiles, Israel, Messiah, their history developed in multifarious ways; but all treated by one mind to whom all belong, history bringing out the thoughts of that one mind by each one in the sphere they belong to, and by a revealed bearing one upon another—law, the opening up of wider thoughts by prophets, obedient royalty, punishment of evil, absolute Gentile dominion, Messiah, sacrifice, endless principles brought out in germ, death, resurrection, promises, and all running into one another in one great scheme. For it is a remarkable fact that Judaism has given rise (whatever people think of it) to a more enlarged unfolding of every question as to good and evil, and man’s relationship with God—has more touched all the springs of human nature, than anything that ever claimed the attention of the heart of man. A being separate from good, that is, from God, yet capable (by grace) of it; one who had a will of his own, but was responsible-; who had acquired the knowledge of good and evil, conscience—yet was under the power of evil: who had been made in the likeness of God, but had set up to be independent and do without Him—such a being must be exercised in this way to know himself and be restored to God.

W. When you say Judaism, do you not think Christianity does so?

H. Every restored soul must in principle be so exercised; but I look at Christianity itself rather as the answer—the divine and blessed answer to all the questions that have been raised. Thus far then, W., of the general principles raised by Mr. Jowett, as far as a conversation of the kind can meet them. I conclude with him that we must interpret prophecy, the Old Testament, as the words of One with whom a thousand years are as one day. But I do not think he has wisely weighed what the import of such a statement is. We may next follow him into details as far as they affect the principle.

W. But, before you go on to these, I should like to ask you a question.

H. Well?

W. You do not, I am sure, receive all the spiritualization, as it is called, and endless applications of scripture made by men’s minds. I thought you took prophetic scriptures in their direct and plain meaning.

H. Surely I do. I reject entirely this mystifying of the Old Testament. There are great spiritual principles and truths which are found, and must be found, in all that divinely unfolds God’s relationships with men: God’s faithfulness, His mercy, His patient goodness; man’s trust and integrity of heart, his humbleness, the fear of God. But when I seek the meaning of a passage, I seek simply what God meant, where it is His testimony; or in what light He seeks to put man’s conduct, if it is a history of this, or what is His purpose, as a whole, in the narration. I have already spoken of the difference of encouragement or warning afforded at the time, and its passing on to give the subject its place in the general purpose of God to be accomplished in a future day. What I object to is the unintelligent and, if you please, un-philosophical irrational way of looking for the plain meaning. “The office of the interpreter is not to add another (interpretation), but to recover the original one.” Now here we are entirely agreed, but then, it is added, “The meaning, that is, of the words as they struck on the ears, or flashed before the eyes of those who first heard and read them.” I affirm this to be in every case false, if the fine language means any thing. I have already referred to the soberer expression, “the meaning which it had to the mind of the prophets … or to the hearer or reader.” Now, if I am reading or hearing a statement, I do not in any way look to the effect on the hearers. This may be a casual help, but no more. If I seek the meaning, I must seek, not the effect on others, but the intention of the speaker or writer—this as simply as you please, and nothing else. I have nothing to do with the impressions produced on hearers. There may have been none, or a false one, according to previous prejudices, or an imperfect impression; or even a right one as regards themselves, yet not taking in the full scope of what was said. If I am to believe scripture, the prophets themselves, so far from receiving a first impression and abiding by it, enquired into the sense of their own prophecies, and were taught of God that they referred, in the great topics connected with the purpose of God and deliverance, to after times. See 1 Peter 1:11, 12.

But it is surely useless to reason to prove that if I am interpreting a writing or words, I must seek simply the purpose and meaning of the speaker and nothing else. Now, this only one right thing Mr. Jowett leaves wholly out; it never occurs to him to think of it. I say, therefore, that his whole system is irrational and false. He is so full of the borrowed idea that they were temporary themes, referring in oriental language simply to the national hearers of the day, that he takes this as the measure of the meaning, and thus lays down a principle which is as false as can be. But that is all borrowed. This is German Mr. Jowett; but the other Mr. Jowett, I trust the true one, tells us we are to listen to them as the words of One with whom a thousand years are as one day; One of abiding unfailing counsels, which everything tends to bring about, who is not slack concerning His promise.

The effect of the great fact that it is God who speaks, I have already spoken of. Let me add another example from Ezekiel. He refers to the last days in the most explicit manner, and with developed details. Yet, in the final scene he declares that the mighty one Gog who comes up, had been often spoken of. (Ezek. 38:17.) Hence, if I take the prophets as they present themselves, and as Ezekiel speaking in God’s name declares, they were certainly (under the name of a then existing power) speaking of a mighty one at the end of the world’s course when Jehovah would make Himself known in His government.

It is remarkable, that, when the prophecy goes out of the geographical name by which it is identified, it uses language intelligible at the time, as far as shewing it was beyond the limits of their geographical designation (Isaiah 18), a land beyond the rivers of Cush (that is, the Euphrates and Nile). The prophet connects it with Israelitish ideas, but goes far away beyond, as he must, to fill up the picture of the last days. But I should go too much into detail if I pursued this farther.

Only remark that the prophets (we shall come to the New Testament) were simple impostors if they were not inspired, for they give their burdens as oracles, as directly the words of God: “thus saith Jehovah;” or, “the word of Jehovah came to me,” or a vision was given. If then Mr. Jowett rejects the prophets as inspired, he must hold them for impostors. If not, then there is direct inspiration, a communication of the mind of God through a man, as he was, moved by the Holy Ghost, in words which entitled the prophet to say, Thus saith the Lord; and the apostles certainly did not hold them for impostors, but refer to them as true prophets who had prophesied about Jesus. I suppose Mr. Jowett would hardly hold that to be the direct and only meaning as received by the first readers or hearers. But if this be so, the question takes a new form. Is the New Testament entirely deprived of those divine communications which abounded before, and form the Old Testament? And is that which is given us by apostles and evangelists to reveal the perfect religion of God less from Himself than the communications which were given to Israel in their imperfect and preparatory state? This is hard to believe.

But all this leads us to the second point, in these days an all important one: is there inspiration, and what is it?

W. It is an important question, and is even more embarrassing as to the New than as to the Old; because the New pronounces on the Old. But I see plainly, as to the question of the inspiration of the Old Testament—of the prophets at least (and, indeed, the Lord cites the whole volume), they must be inspired, or impostors giving as the Lord’s words what were not so. But then the Lord’s statements are insurmountable. “The scriptures cannot be broken,” for instance; for He must have known it if they were impostors, yet cites them as true prophets, and declares they must be fulfilled, that they spoke of Him. But if the prophets were inspired, we have direct inspiration, and the mind of God as far as given to them. And this, and this only, is what we have to seek, and the only question is, as you say: Is Christianity founded on a less explicit revelation from God than Judaism? You cannot say it was founded on Christ, and this is sufficient; for He wrote nothing, and I do not know what He was, with any divine faith, if the writings of the New Testament were not inspired. I see the question is a most grave one; while it is of the utmost weight to see that the Old Testament is certainly inspired, because the fundamental question is settled, and the casting the New Testament out of the limits of inspired communications is a poor idea altogether then. To say that an imperfect revelation is inspired, a perfect one not, is somewhat hard to believe: still we must see from scripture itself.

H. Surely that is the way as to enquiry; for it really proves itself its divine power in the conscience. And this last is the only true knowledge of inspiration. I know rationalists try and put off with an air of superiority, as rejected by enlightened people (that is, themselves), what they have not got, and therefore cannot feel the force of; but I am not afraid of avowing, in the fullest extent, the doctrine of the Reformation, which is necessarily the doctrine of every believer, that scripture proves itself by its own power. I go further—it never proves itself, never can prove itself, if it be true, in any other way. And so, moreover, it declares: “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.” “The law of Jehovah is perfect, converting the soul. The entrance of thy word giveth light, it giveth understanding to the simple.” If what is called light requires something to shew it, it is a proof that it is not really light. In the nature of things light shews itself and all else. It is not what we mean by light, what a man who has eyes knows it to be by having eyes, if it has to be shewn. It does require eyes to see it. If a man has not eyes, he cannot of course see it or know what it is at all. Nor can any one tell him what it is, or make himself understood in speaking of it. He wants the faculty of what is to be proved. If a man does not see the word of God to be such, it is a proof that he has no moral eyes, no faith. A man asks me how I can prove honey to be sweet. I say, if you cannot taste it, you must remain ignorant. And note, if there be a word of God, it must be moral light and perfect light, divine light—cannot be otherwise. If what is presented to me be not such, I say at once, then it is not God’s word. It may be dawn, or shine through clouds, or be noon-day, but it is in its nature light, or it is not God’s word. Hence, in the nature of things it must reveal itself. If it do not, it is not God’s word. Whether a man has eyes to see is another question: but one who has knows he sees the light.

Hence I am not afraid of the language of another of our Essays. “Calvin did not shrink from saying that scripture shone sufficiently by its own light. As long as this could be kept to, the Protestant theory of belief was whole and sound—at least it was as sound as the Catholic. In both, reason, aided by spiritual illumination, performs the subordinate function of recognizing the supreme authority of the Church and of the Bible respectively. But learned controversy and abatement of zeal drove the Protestants generally from the hardy but irrational assertion of Calvin.” I dare say they did. That is, as men lost faith, they lost conviction of the divine authority of the word. How could they do otherwise? It is stating the same thing in other terms. But Calvin, as every believer, could not say otherwise, because it had shone thus in his own soul and in no other way. The Church was against it, nature was against it, interest was against it. God’s word was too mighty. But I say more: if the scriptures be not thus received, they are never received at all. It professes to be the word and testimony of God. If a witness has to be accredited, and proved to be true, the witness is not believed at all on his own testimony. Hence, as long as scripture has to be proved by reason, or accredited by the Church, God is not believed because He has spoken, that is, there is no real faith. Such reasoning or accrediting may lead me to believe it afterwards, so far as leading me to examine the testimony, which thus may acquire force over my soul as true. But, as long as reasoning or accrediting is the reason why I believe it, I do not receive it as the word of God. I do not believe God in it. I do not receive it as His word. If I believe Thomas because James has said that what he has said is true, I do not believe Thomas at all.

W. Yes; but if James has said that Thomas was truthful, not that what he said was true?

H. I do not want any one to tell me God is truthful. What is wanting is to know that it is His testimony. And, mark, if I cannot without James’s testimony know that Thomas’s word is to be trusted, it is a proof that I do not know Thomas, and that I am incapable of myself of discovering the truthfulness of his statements. He is true, but I cannot mid it out. So with the rationalist. He cannot find it out if it be God’s word, if the testimony is truthful. It is his incapacity. He may be an open infidel. But, if not, all his state means is, that he is incapable of discerning the word of God. He has the will to make difficulties, because he does not like to have a word directly from God; but he cannot say it is not—he cannot help me in judging if it be. And, indeed, if I believe Thomas only because James says he is truthful, I still do not know Thomas myself; and if this be true in the case we are speaking of, I do not know God still, and my believing His word is of no real use whatever; for the knowledge of God is its true value. But more than this—if God has spoken, either He has not so spoken as to bind my conscience, that is, He has spoken to no purpose at all, and badly, or He has spoken so as to bind my conscience, and it is not according to the rationalist bound. I therefore am guilty and blind; for I do not receive and bow to what ought to bind my conscience. If revelation be not therefore wholly denied, either God has spoken incompetently and badly, or I am bound to receive and bow to it.

W. That is true; and it is easy to decide which is the case. But do you mean sound reasonings cannot be a means of convincing the mind that the scriptures are the word of God?

H. They cannot give faith in it. They may lead to it in this way, namely, in that they prove the absurdity of what is said to deny it, and prove thus the absurdity of denying it, so that the mind bows to it, and the word is left to its own force; but there is never faith till it has exercised this force.

W. I see, it may open all the way to the Bible, but the Bible must do its own work.

H. Exactly.

W. Well, it is true if you did not believe me till what I said was accredited by another, it would not be believing me.

H. And note, in passing, how this applies to the Romanist ground. The word or testimony of God may of course act on souls there as elsewhere by its own power; but as to faith—real divine faith—in the soul, as long as I believe on the Church’s warrant, I do not believe God at all; that is, I do not believe anything divine. I believe in the Church, but not yet on God or His word. The Roman Catholic ground of faith is total unbelief. They say I cannot believe the word of God till the Church accredits it. Now I hold it a great mercy to be brought up to receive the Bible to be the word of God, because I go to it as a little child, and it is free to exercise its power over me. But I have not faith till it does.

We will now turn to Mr. Jowett’s statements as to inspiration. The greater part is utter fallacy, or fancies of men which are only to be left to their own worthlessness. He gives various views of inspiriation as contradictory, in order to shew the uncertainty of men on the subject, when, in fact, all are compatible and true, so that there is no dilemma at all, unless what is said of the kind of inspiration of particular books. All this is throwing dust in people’s eyes. What the upright soul wants to know when it takes up a Bible, is, I can trust this; I will sit down to know what God will say to me, what He has said, what His mind is. As to the manner of inspiration, he knows nothing about it. What he reads must be the word of God for him. He must trust it, bow to it as such, and looks for the aid of the Spirit which indited it. And the doctors in theology know no more about it than he does, nor can they; because they are not inspired, and can have no consciousness of the manner of the Spirit’s action. The apostle could not explain it. Mr. Jowett says it is held by some that there is an inspiration of superintendence, and by others an inspiration of suggestion. Now I believe both fully. If the evangelists, as eye-witnesses, had facts to record which they remembered, the Spirit had only to take care they were rightly used, Himself so to use the memory, and not permit the narrator to narrate them otherwise than according to His mind. There is an inspiration of suggestion, as the history of creation or prophecy. And Christ expressly promises both: “The Spirit of truth will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself, but what he shall hear that shall he speak, and he will shew you things to come.” And again: “He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance.” Of course the Essayists know better about it than the scriptures. But Mr. Jowett tells us we are to take scripture’s account of itself.

Next we have opposed an inspiration in which the inspired person is passive, and an inspiration which acts through the character of the sacred writer. But here there is no opposition. If God has formed the character as a vessel, He can use it so that the will should be in no exercise, and what sets the character in activity should be simply the Holy Ghost moving it, and it remaining as an instrument what it was, as I have no doubt was usually the case. There are different kinds of inspiration as to form recognized in scripture, closely connected with this remark. I may speak the words willed by God, and not understand them, or I may understand and speak them. This last, though a less apparently inspired and glorious form, the apostle prefers. But both were inspired. An example of one was tongues, or Old Testament prophecy; the other was prophecy under the New. So when the communication of the facts and ordinary knowledge of facts are contrasted, the contrast has no ground. The Spirit brought to their remembrance. It was the memory of things known when they had taken place, but recalled in the perfection proper to the mind of God to the memory of the inspired person, or, if needed, revealed if unknown. What I look for in inspiration is, that the words should be so ordered by the Spirit as to convey perfectly what it was the intention of the Spirit to communicate.

Again, when an apostle spoke he was as inspired, when it was the intention of God he should be so, in speaking as in writing. When not, he was like another man speaking or writing—perhaps more spiritual—not necessarily so; but his words had no inspired authority. The writing was different in this—it was to abide, and hence had a permanent character of inspiration. Although, as to this also, Paul might have written uninspired, though spiritual letters, or not inspired for permanent use. But I shall shew that the apostles do pretend to inspiration, and affirm it of all scriptures; that they distinguish between personal spirituality and inspired communications having the authority of the Lord.

After making all kinds of false logical divisions and confusions, so as to puzzle the reader, Mr. Jowett comes plainly to the point, and asserts—“Nor for any of the higher or supernatural views of inspiration is there any foundation in the gospels and epistles.” Now this is simply, totally, and entirely false—an incredible statement, and slurs over the question of inspiration in a way I must call disingenuous; because, by saying gospels and epistles, the Old Testament is passed over in silence. And does it mean the gospels and epistles do not pretend to it themselves, or do not affirm it of scripture? But it is false in any case. We read thus, “No prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation; for 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.” Paul says, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly [here we are in the New Testament] that in the last times some shall depart from the faith.” He declares that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God;” it is proper to make the man of God perfect. The Old Testament writers are positive—“Thus saith Jehovah,” they say. And David, “The Spirit of Jehovah spake by me, and his word was in my tongue;” and Christ, in spite of rationalists, declares they testify of Him, and that all must be fulfilled. He appeals to scripture as an irrefragable and divine testimony, and declares, in Luke 16, that it bound the consciences of its readers as much as His own resurrection did. But St. Paul is more precise. He ascribes, in New Testament communication, first the revelation, next the communication, thirdly the reception of divine truth, exclusively and absolutely to the direct operation of the Spirit: thus only can it be, he says. “What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of a man that is in him? Even so knoweth no one the things of God, but the Spirit of God.” Next, “Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, communicating [such is the force] spiritual things by a spiritual medium.” Then they are only so received. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit… for they are spiritually discerned.”

He distinguishes between his experience, in which he had the Spirit acting in himself, and the revelation which made his communications the commandments of the Lord. “But I speak this by permission, not of commandment. Unto the married I command; yet not I, but the Lord… But to the rest speak I, not the Lord. Now concerning virgins, I have no commandment of the Lord; I give my judgment as one that has obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of the Lord.” Here then he distinguishes between his judgment, as to which he could yet appeal to them as having the Spirit to form and guide his experience, and a revelation from the Lord which constituted a commandment. Hence he says as to the body of his epistle not thus formally excepted,” If any man think himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” Some would allege, from his saying “I have no commandment,” that all is not inspired. Yes, he was inspired; and modern attempts prove the immense importance of the precision of the God of grace pointing out the difference between the expression of his experience by the Spirit, and a revelation by the Spirit which had the direct force of a commandment.

But as to the gospels, Mr. Jowett pleads that their declaring the record to be true, inasmuch as the writer saw that of which he spoke, is a proof that there is no inspiration. This is a mistake, the Lord had said the Spirit should bear witness of what they could not see—the heavenly glory of Christ; the disciples of His life, as they had been with Him; but for this last, that all might be according to the perfection of the Holy Spirit, He would bring to their remembrance what Christ had said. That is, the Holy Ghost reveals the heavenly glory of Christ and doctrine flowing from it, and calls to remembrance the earthly teaching of Christ, which they had already heard. The fitting the vessel in every way is no proof of the Lord’s not using it Himself. When the Lord is tempted by Satan, He quotes the scriptures as absolute authority against him, and Satan can make no reply to it at all.

There cannot be a more unfounded or false assertion than that the gospels or epistles do not present the Old Testament and themselves as inspired. They formally claim inspiration both for Old and New. Pa'sagrafhV qeovpneusto" does not simply apply to the Old Testament. It is the assertion of the character of pa'sa grafhV. And in Romans 16:26 prophetic writings (for this is the true force) are said to be means used for propagating the truth;, and Peter, in his second epistle, refers to Paul’s epistles as scriptures. Scripture is not an essay on inspiration. Nor does it in every epistle or book set about to say “I am inspired.” It would be a proof that it was not, and feared people should say so; but there are the most distinct testimonies, when the occasion occurs, that it is so. What can be stronger than saying—“The scripture foreseeing that God would justify the heathen by faith?” It is treating the scripture as if it were God Himself, because it is God’s own expression of His mind which scripture gives. The Lord Himself gives testimony to inspiration, and to the inspiration of scripture, which is what rationalists deny. The referring merely to the New Testament is a subterfuge; and the New Testament gives the plainest declaration of the inspiration of the testimony by which Christianity was founded, and that the New Testament, as other scriptures, is inspired.

W. I do not think it possible for any one reading the New Testament to call in question its inspiration.

H. Impossible. Where it does not speak of inspiration it gives its contents as definite revelation. I refer now to the epistles. They speak of mysteries, that is, things known only to the initiated by revelation; and speak of them avowedly as so given. Where Paul gives only his experience by the Holy Ghost, he states it to be different, as we have seen. A large part of it is avowedly prophecy. And the Apocalypse is revealed or an imposture. Some is said to be by the “word of the Lord,” where it is a then given revelation; and the most ordinary directions are said to be “the Lord’s commandments.” The Apostle Paul consequently took the greatest care, adding a salutation as a testimony that all was right. However our present object is to consider Mr. Jowett’s Essay, not to give a treatise on inspiration.

W. But how do you account for the details of human life, and difference of style, and special occasions of writing the epistles?

H. It is just the perfection of the New Testament. The very essence of Christianity is God manifest in flesh; what is divine clothed in all the details and entering into all the circumstances of human life. Of course the revelation partakes, and must partake, if it be a true one, of the nature and character of what it reveals. And this is what we find: first the connection of man with what is heavenly in Christ, which could be only known by revelation; and thus the introduction of divine principles into every part of human life. Under the old covenant God was hidden behind the veil, and sent out messages with “Thus saith the Lord:” there could not be the familiarity there is under the new.

But though Christianity is infinitely higher, yet God is revealed. It has introduced God into this world in man, and man into heaven in Christ. This is unfolded in doctrine; the former specially by John, the latter by Paul; and while the latter makes the believer capable of drawing his principles from above, the former stamps its character on all his ways, and is given as the model of all our walk. Thus, in Philippians 2, also you get Christ coming down, a pattern of our subjective state—our mind; in chapter 3, of our activity and giving up all, through the objective power of the glory seen in Him. For the former no circumstance is too minute, for Christ was perfect in all, from childhood to the cross; the latter makes every sacrifice light. All is dross and dung compared to it. The supposition of a promise given to the apostles of guidance by the Holy Ghost in every respect for their service, and that what they most deliberately gave to the churches was without it, is in itself a moral absurdity. Impossible that they should do so; impossible that God should allow it. This promise of the Comforter as their guide, and as managing all, is the characteristic feature of what Christ told them on going away. His last injunction was, they should not stir in their work till He was come and they were endued with power from on high. Yet we are told that what was to guide the Church in all ages, and to be its sure safeguard in perilous times, was not given under this power!

W. It is utterly incredible. And while direct testimonies from scripture prove the assertion of Mr. Jowett to be utterly false, it is well to see that it is as unnatural as it is untrue, and contrary to the whole method of scripture.

H. Paul too, remember, positively declares, in speaking of the mystery, that it was made known to him by revelation. We have seen he communicated it by words taught of the Holy Ghost.

We will pass to other points of objection. Mr. Jowett declares that Paul was corrected by the course of events in his expectation of the coming of Christ. For this there is not the smallest possible ground. At the extreme close of his career, he urges Timothy to keep the commandment unrebukably till Christ’s appearing, which the only Potentate was to shew in its own time; that is, he uses exactly the same language then as in his earliest epistle. (1 Thess.) It was a time the Father had put in His own power. Of that day knew no one; but they were commanded to be always expecting the return of the Master. Paul never knew—for it was not revealed; he always expected, for Christ had told men to do so, and made it the difference of the faithful and unfaithful servant; and the Spirit kept it alive in his soul. Christ had marked the Church’s unfaithfulness, by the servants saying, “My lord delayeth his coming.” Into this Paul did not fall. The Lord at the same time prophetically declared that, while the bridegroom tarried (no man knew how long), the virgins would slumber and sleep. He has tarried, and the early expectation of the Church has been lost. It went to sleep. Its worldliness and corruption and the loss of this expectation went on together. The midnight cry which awakes her is recalling her to this expectation. Mr. Jowett has not the expectation which brightened and animated the labours of Paul, and the course of events has more power over his mind than the words of Christ. The Second Epistle of Peter tells us the blessed motive of the delay: God is not slack concerning His promise, but is long-suffering, not willing that any should perish. His long-suffering is salvation.

W. I see no ground at all for this assertion. It is a mere human comment imposed on scripture, and evidently not drawn in any way from its contents. It has always seemed to me (for I have heard it elsewhere) mere ignorance of the word and its principles, be those principles true or false. And it is quite evident that this expectation stamped its character on Paul’s labours, and gave them an unworldliness wholly lost now, but which was no loss to him. The virgins got in somewhere to rest, and had to be called out again when the bridegroom was really coming.

H. Another objection to inspiration is drawn from the introduction to Luke. The statement of the fact, though not peculiar to Mr. Jowett, as little advanced by these Essayists is, is entirely unfounded. Luke does not say a word of setting forth in order a declaration of what eye-witnesses delivered. Others (Luke states) had done this according to what eye-witnesses had delivered. As they had done this, he says that he who had parhcolouqhcovti a[nwqen pa'sin ajcribw'", had followed up accurately—had an intimate knowledge of—everything from the very beginning, thought good to write to Theophilus that he might have certainty about them. That is, because the others were insufficient, he did it so as to give certainty. This remark, simple as it is, is as old as Origen, who refers to “taken in hand” as a mere human undertaking in contrast with Luke. This is not a question in itself of inspiration, but of a suited instrument. But the statements made on this subject are the exact opposite of the truth.

How Mr. Jowett can say that Matthew supposes Bethlehem to have been the dwelling-place of Joseph and Mary, I cannot tell. It is a pure fable. There is not a word of their dwelling-place, good or bad, nor allusion to it, nor a supposition of it.

As regards other objections. In Luke we have a full account of the state of the godly remnant in Israel, a most perfect and lovely picture, the dominion of the Gentiles over Israel, but God’s providential ordering of their political movements to bring about His own designs announced in prophecy—the movement being arrested as soon as ever the design was accomplished. The genealogies are in perfect accordance with the design of each gospel. Luke, after the first two chapters, unfolds the character of Christ as Son of man, and grace towards men; Matthew, the presentation of the Messiah Emmanuel to Israel, and His rejection, and the substitution of the Church and the kingdom for that people in their then standing before God. Hence Luke traces the genealogy to Adam; Matthew, from David and Abraham. That men cannot explain them is very true. This may prove man’s ignorance, but nothing as to the genealogies. They were available to those of that day directly; for us they rest on the authority of His word. Matthew does mention, in the most general way, the thieves blaspheming, because he is giving the extent of Christ’s sufferings. The very thieves insulted Him, as I might say a mob attacked the queen and outraged her, though only two used insulting language: Luke, as is constantly the case with him, gives a full moral detail on a particular point (so he does as to the two at Emmaus; so as to Legion); it is possible that both thieves did; but not the least necessary to the account in Matthew. As to the narration of the woman’s anointing the Lord’s feet, it is a mistake. Mary’s anointing at Bethany was evidently a wholly different occurrence.

Mr. Jowett speaks of a cycle of traditions, beyond which the tradition of the early fathers never travels, “though the world could not contain the books if all were written.” And in these short narratives we ought to estimate the “accumulative weight” of the discrepancies. So of prophecy how far “the details were minutely fulfilled.”

Now the fact that the early fathers never travelled beyond these narratives proves this, that beyond a written revelation they knew nothing about the matter; that all knowledge of the life of Jesus was confined to a written revelation—a very important point in its nature, as proving, at the least, that the positive revelation about it was from the first so absolutely owned, to the exclusion of all else, that every other tradition dropped into oblivion at once. A pretended oral tradition really falls to the ground. This alone was owned and trusted from the beginning. These alleged traditions had no place at all in what was known; and I think we may fairly say that this could not have been the case without the divine will and power. A divine account was to, and did, supersede all human accounts. There must have been such; and Papias tells us there were, and that his delight was to listen to eye-witnesses telling of them; yet none appear. The apocryphal gospels are not worth referring to. The gospels were written apart from one another, probably at different epochs, yet with much of the same matter, and there is nothing at all outside them.

W. This is a striking fact, and, alleged as it is by Mr. Jowett, of weight in the enquiry as to discrepancies; but I should be glad that you would say a little more on this point. The objections seem to me to have very little weight, and to prove, by their futility, rather the will to attack than the difficulty of defence. But I should like a little more on this point in principle.

H. The details as to the gospels we will speak of in a moment. I will speak now of general principles. If a man write a book, he must have some design in doing it; and if a consistent man, he follows out that design. If God inspires one, He must have a design, and He must follow it out perfectly: and this is stamped on every page of scripture. In this perfectness all details will come in; not that every detail has the same importance.

If God is shewing the whole relationship of God with man, and His dealings with man, I must get man as he is; and I may get special dealings, not in the measure, or on the ground, of eternal truth, while I shall get the true light too. All this, as I have previously remarked, we have. It is only the stupidity of the objectors to suppose that all the things related or said are inspired. The wickedness and unbelief of man is largely set forth; this was not inspired by God. But the writers were inspired to give it, as it really was in truth, that I might have a true divinely given account of this state for my own heart and conscience. God may deal and has dealt specially with man in all patience. To know the real state of things I must have these dealings, or I shall know most superficially the human heart, and God’s ways, and His love, and how the heart has been tested, and what it is under these tests. My moral knowledge will else be shallow. Now I have all this in scripture, and the full light in the New Testament on them. Mr. Jowett is ignorant enough of the purport of scripture thus to describe all this. “It [inspiration] is reconcilable with the mixed good and evil of the characters of the Old Testament, which nevertheless does not exclude them from the favour of God, with attribution to the divine Being of actions at variance with that higher revelation which He has given of Himself in the gospel.”

W. But I do not exactly see what that has to do with inspiration. Those of whom an inspired account speaks may be good or evil.

H. Of course they might. It has no more to do with it than the man in the moon. Nay, prophecy would, as to the greater part of it (we may indeed say all), have had no opportunity for its exercise if evil had not been there. It was the sustaining witness of God when evil was there. And just see the “nevertheless does not exclude them from the favour of God.” What has that to do with inspiration? Supposing God sends an inspired message to one on whom His favour rests, but who is at the moment going astray:—it shews patient grace, and no allowance of evil. But what is there in that which has to do with inspiration? It is utter blundering, and nothing more. The path which led to it is evident. It is this: he would shew that, if evil be there, there cannot be inspiration. It is an attempt to discredit scripture by the fact of evil being there. But that is confounding the inspired word given about the evil, which rebukes it even, with the evil itself. What shews the animus of the passage is that the evil does not, according to the inspired book, exclude from God’s favour. But if a mixed state of good and evil is to exclude from God’s favour, every man in the world must be excluded from it. But the whole argument is a mere blunder, and a very stupid one. Inspired history is true history, and gives the evil as well as the good. A mere panegyrical history would prove itself not inspired, like the legends of the saints, or a human biography. As to prophecy, I may say, it is constant invective against evil. That the patience of God went on rising up early and sending -them, till there was no remedy, Mr. Jowett, I regret to say, casts in God’s teeth; I adore Him for it, as for all His goodness.

W. I really begin to think Mr. Jowett has one of the most inexact and illogical minds I ever saw.

H. I thoroughly agree with you; I can hardly say I begin to think so. But this is a very excusable infirmity. But it seems more specious to say actions are attributed to God “at variance with that higher revelation which He has given of Himself in the gospel.”

First, note the way christian language is used; God has given a higher revelation of Himself in the gospel. Is there a revelation without any inspiration? Don’t let us dispute about the word. I prefer revelation—it is plainer. Is there a revelation without direct or inspired communications from God? If so, what is a revelation? Now God, in patient grace, did deal with men on lower grounds than the gospel—put them under the schoolmaster up to Christ. But there was no contradiction in it. It took the ground of man’s responsibility to God; and God dealt in partial temporal judgments, and even in cutting off the people, as shewing the true result of being on this ground, which the gospel fully confirms; though this way of dealing be not the gospel. The former history was promise or law; the gospel is neither, but perfectly consistent with and illustrating the excellency of both, while putting man on another ground (and that is redemption), where the true light can fully shine, grace and heavenly blessing reign through righteousness. God’s way of meeting man under promise, and, still more, His way of meeting man under law, must be different from His relationship with them under redemption; but promise told the redemption would come, and law made the need of the redemption felt, by putting man on the ground of responsibility to God, so as to make redemption a far clearer and more felt thing, and God’s goodness far more distinct and intelligible. But Mr. Jowett, who judges of all as one system by his own thoughts and views, insists on the variance as if it were a contradiction, and hence all could not be divine. It is about as much sense as if I should insist on the contradiction of a man’s bringing seed, and putting it into a field, and then reaping it, and taking it all out.

The truth is, I think I never met with a person who had bewildered himself in attempting to deal with divine questions as Mr. Jowett has, and proved his entire ignorance of all God’s ways by the judgment which, in his own strength, he has passed upon them. Think of a man writing an elaborate commentary or essay on the Romans (I say essay, for even in the notes it is the expression of his own thoughts, explaining how the apostle was governed in his expressions by local prejudices and habits of thought of his day; from which, of course, Mr. Jowett is quite free); but think of his coming to this result—“Sin is not simply evil, but intermediate between evil and good, implying always the presence of God within.”

W. What!

H. Ay, that is it totidem verbis.

W. Well, but what can he mean?

H. Well, it is the result of a man’s reasoning from his own ideas to St. Paul’s epistles (of course, believing that this higher revelation is not inspired), instead of learning from it, or even expounding it. He continues, “If we are surprised at St. Paul regarding the law—holy, just, and good as it was—as almost sin, we must remember that sin itself, if the expression may be excused, as a spiritual state, has an element of good in it.” You know how indignantly the apostle rejects the thought of law being so. But what shall we say of one coming to such a conclusion presenting himself as an interpreter of Paul, and an instructor of men how to interpret scripture? “It was the nature of the law,” he tells us, “to be good and evil at once.”

W. But there must be some peculiar explanation of this.

H. He takes sin to mean the consciousness of sin (without this there can be no sin), and sin as the transgression of the law. But all this is blunder on blunder. He takes sin as guilt: hence sin is the consciousness of sin, i.e., sense of guilt. But sin is a very different thing from the sense of guilt; were it not, a perfectly hardened sinner could have no sin at all. But, besides, when he says sin is intermediate between good and evil, he is making the faculty which judges the sin the same thing as the sin it judges; that is, conscience, and not merely the actual consciousness of sin, but the sin we are conscious of, to be the same thing! In the next place, he confounds paravbasi" novmou and ajnomiva as equivalent, a mere acceptance of traditional mistake about which he is so loud. Sin is the principle of self-will or lawlessness, which does not own God, and leads a man to gratify his own lusts without acknowledging any rein upon them.

Mr. Jowett too makes all these blunders, referring specially to a chapter in which the apostle speaks entirely otherwise of sin, namely, that it took occasion by the commandment to work lusts and become exceeding sinful. It was an active principle, as elsewhere a law of our nature. And again, having made the blunder of saying that sin is transgression of law, he makes the apostle correct himself, as if he had said it was, and then contradict himself by saying that sin was in the world without law, by declaring (softening it down) that he meant it was not imputed. There can be no transgression when there is no law. What is there to transgress? But self-will and lust, lawlessness, there may be. It is the state of fallen man: only the law makes sin exceeding sinful.

Every word in all he says is a blunder, not only as to Paul’s meaning, but as to intellectual apprehension of moral truths. He has no idea of any such thing as truth. Hence Anselm has one set of ideas, the Schoolmen another, the Fathers another, Paul another, arising from his age, from which ours is different; so that our views of truth, i.e., what is truth for us must be different from what was truth for Paul, and Mr. Jowett clears it all up thus: “We acknowledge that there is a difference between the meaning of justification by faith to St. Paul and to ourselves. Eighteen hundred years cannot have passed away, leaving the world and the mind of man, or the use of language, the same it was.” And the truth of God—the truth of this matter itself, if you please? It does not even occur to him there is or can be such a thing. The ideas of the day are really, for Mr. Jowett, the Christianity of the day. They are all that he can see. Not that he does not admit that other ages have clothed it in their own garb, but that he holds he is entitled to think Paul, in every respect, did so too. And this age, and these philosophical men, are capable of divesting it of mediaeval and scholastic forms, and Pauline forms arising from his habits of thinking and apostolic conflicts with Judaism, and give it to us purified by modern philosophy.

Such he declares is the task of modern interpretation. I cannot, of course, now pursue a critique of Mr. Jowett’s volume on the Romans; but so entire a misconception of Paul’s meaning and all moral truth, and all justness of thought, I could hardly have supposed possible in an intelligent person, as Mr. Jowett surely is. There is just activity of mind enough to make him blunder largely and livelily. “Who would speak,” he asks, “of the un-regenerate heart of Caesar and Achilles?”… “Those who never heard the name of Christ, who never admit the thought of Christ, cannot be brought within the circle of christian feelings and associations.” Now, I do not touch on the doctrinal force of unregenerate, which is true of every one till he is regenerate. It is the excessive blundering of Mr. Jowett’s mind. What have christian feelings and associations to do with unregenerate? Cannot Christianity pronounce on the state of men outside its pale? Does it not do so? Is not a salvation sent into the world because of that state, to the consciousness of which, where effectual, it brings them? Is not the Epistle to the Romans an elaborate discussion of the state of the heathen and of the Jew, leading to the conclusion of the need of Christianity, of justification by faith, because of that state? Does it not declare that they that have sinned without law shall perish without law, and they that have sinned under law shall be judged by the law? Regeneration is not the aspect of Paul’s doctrine as much as justification. But “except a man be born again” applies to Caesar as it does to others. But the notion of Caesar not being in the circle of christian feelings, and hence not to be called unregenerate, involving as it does a denial of Christianity’s pronouncing on his state, whatever it is, according to its feelings, is, especially in a Commentary on the Romans, as great a blunder as can well be conceived. It has no sense, because if he speaks of a heathen’s not having christian feeling, it is an absurdity; if he means that Christianity does not pronounce on the heathen state according to its feelings, it is, in commenting on the Romans, a greater absurdity still. It is founded on the proposition of Mr. Jowett’s, that “the guilt of sin is inseparable from the knowledge of sin.” But what even has that to do with holding a heathen to be unregenerate? All are MM-regenerate that are not regenerate. The question of guilt follows. I must say, he is the most inaccurate writer, morally and logically, I ever met with. That he should be ignorant of the communication of divine life, so as to assert the impossibility of such contrasts, is too evident in the whole book to cause any surprise here.

W. It is a singular absence of all true moral apprehensions, and forces itself on one’s notice in a commentary on a book which goes into all the depths of these apprehensions in the conscience.

H. You have a specimen of his way of judging of truth in the following on Romans 5:12: “[aJmartiva] Neither original sin, nor actual, nor the guilt of sin as distinguished from sin itself (for such differences had no existence in the apostle’s age), nor like aJmavrthma, confined to the act of sin.” Think of a revelation being given of God in order to give us the notions of the apostle’s age, obscured by receiving the colour of each successive age for the last 1800 years, and then only brought to light by what is the task of philosophy! I will add the explanation this philosophy gives: “aJmartiva describes sin rather as a mental state or in relation to the mind.” [Do you understand?] “It is often the power of sin, or sin collectively; sometimes, as here, a personification.” That gives the meaning of” sin entered into the world.”

W. He is a singular person to write an essay on the interpretation of scripture.

H. Yet it seems the bent of his mind. We will return to the Essays.

Of scripture testimony to its own inspiration, and of the force of prophecy, we have spoken, and of imperfect presentations of truth. Presentations of moral relationship with God according to the responsibility of man, and the actual results of the fall, or the search after happiness “under the sun,” and of discipline when grace is not fully known, nor redemption revealed as accomplished, we do find in scripture. But this is most gracious of God, and full of the deepest instruction. As to any opposition between that and Christianity, such a thought is only a confusion between man’s standing on his own responsibility, man in flesh as scripture speaks, and grace meeting the consequences of all this by redemption, and so man in Christ. As to reconciling science and scripture, Mr. Jowett’s next topic, I have spoken of it already. Let God be true and every man a liar. I deny the contradiction and abhor the principle of policy. Let us have the truth at all events.

As to infidel theologians’ facts, admitted facts, I have learned to distrust them all. Of the long existence of the earth I have little doubt; of man upon it, I most certainly have. Mr. Jowett would give all up in fear, before it is proved, to have his own ideas of inspiration; I am not afraid. I see infidels repeating the notions and hypotheses of enemies of the truth as certain; and because they all take it for granted, declaring it is an admitted fact. They are the most unhistorical class I know, searching the least of all into facts. Strauss himself has declared that their objections to the gospels are utterly untenable, and therefore made a myth of it all (about as absurd as the other system, if once it is examined: indeed, it has died out). One proves that the second of Luke, if by the same author as the first, must have also had lyric poems in it, as the disciples praised God; the first therefore is certainly a poetical morsel tacked on, being written by another. And this is by no means to be counted an extreme example.

W. This habit of making their assumption that prophecies, miracles, &c, cannot be true, and judging of all according to their own notions to prove they are not true, is too constant and of too gross a character to need your saying much more about it. None can have read any of these statements without noticing this. Daniel’s prophesying of Antiochus Epiphanes is the proof, as we have seen, that his prophecy is spurious; because there cannot be a prophecy, and the writer must have lived then. Then he becomes in their language the Maccabean Daniel, and all is settled. And the English come, and (credulous as our nation is, and apt to think others wiser than itself) all passes for gospel with them.

H. But Mr. Jowett, inconsistent as he is, adopts this petitio principii, which, starting from the assumption that prophecy is impossible, proves thereby that those that pretend to be prophets are not. He complains that Isaiah’s mentioning Cyrus is not taken, as it would be in another book, as a proof that it must have been written after his time, which is simply the a priori argument that there cannot be a prophecy. We must continue a litde with some further details, as they harass the mind when passed over.

Mr. Jowett quietly takes for granted—leaves it to be supposed —that if Schleiermacher has spoken of discrepancies in the narrative of the infancy, it is all true, and we must turn to what is called setting free by the truth to escape it, but let inspiration down to a nullity. And this is what is done, but nothing said about it. Now I deny altogether these discrepancies. If I admit traditions as to the infancy as told by Matthew, there may be. But in the gospels there are none—only the account in Matthew is so brief, or rather, there being no account of Jesus’s birth at all, the circumstances narrated by Luke have no chronological place in Matthew.

Mr. Jowett refers to the natural meaning of “Why are they then baptized for the dead?” Now, the natural way of knowing what a person means is to pay attention to what he says. You may remark that verses 20-28 form (what Paul is singularly fond of, and what Mr. Jowett more singularly objects to in his commentary—one would say really with the object of making all obscure—that is) a parenthesis, and 29 refers to 18, and 30, &c, to 19. Baptizing is, in the nature of Christianity, baptizing unto death; and the case of those filling up the ranks, as has been said, when some were actually dead, is referred to as shewing the folly of the whole christian course, if there was no resurrection. The dead had perished; the living were the most miserable of all men. What ever should men become Christians for, or jeopard their lives, if it were thus? At any rate, Mr. Jowett leaves us to divine what true interpretation would afford us.’ If he refer to a subsequent superstition of baptizing over dead bodies, it is a gross anachronism, and unworthy of Christianity; but that is no matter for a rationalist. It is an objection, and that is everything, though they are as much in the dark as others.

The difficulty as to “this generation shall not pass away” is a prejudice flowing from the English use of the word “generation.” It is quite as much used for a moral class in scripture, as for the period marked by human life; and if Deuteronomy 32:5, 20 (where this very subject is treated of) be referred to, the sense is plain. And here we have a minute and most striking fulfilment:— the generation is not passed away; the Jews remain a perpetual witness that there are other thoughts in scripture than those of rationalists—an objective fact witnessing to God’s government of the world according to the words of the prophet and of the Lord.

As to “Upon this rock I will build my church,” you will ever find rationalists favouring popery, because they are indifferent to truth and dislike scripture. Christ does not declare He will build His Church on Peter, but gives that name to him, “a stone” —for so it is; because in his confession he had a part in the power of that truth on which He would build it—not that He was only the Messiah, nor Son of God, King of Israel, but what Simon had confessed, and the Father had revealed to him, that Jesus was the Son of the living God. This, proved in resurrection, was the basis of the Church of God. All this side of Christ’s grave was, save Christ Himself, in death’s power; and He willingly put Himself there; but, as Son of the living God, He could not be holden of it. And he who had his seat in the gates of Hades had no power over what was passed beyond his realm and dominion. Resurrection of Christ’s person, in whom the power of it (and righteousness of it too) was, was the overthrow of and beyond the power of Satan, and laid the foundation of the Church—Christ’s person as Son of the living God. That could not be held by death. Hence Peter clings to this word in his epistle: “He hath begotten us again to a living hope.” Christ is the living stone to whom we come, and come as living stones.

As to Philippians 2:6,1 believe it to be a contrast with the first Adam, and a magnificent one. I do not desire to rest the argument on “thinking it no robbery.” The word is a very difficult one indeed—never used, I believe, elsewhere; its form may be active, and not the object or thing done. The force I believe to be, He did not do as Adam (who, when in the form of man, sought as a robbery, a booty to be acquired, to be equal with God), but, being in the form of God, emptied Himself of the glory He had. It does suppose Christ to be in the state of Godhead, as Adam in the state of a man; but the special force of the proof does not rest in the word “robbery,” as contrasted with “booty,” or object of robbery—for that is the only question in the passage, because it is aJrpagmoVn, not a}rpagma.

As to Romans 3:25, Air. Jowett rests on his statement in his own commentary, in which he follows De Wette and Meyer, and still more Winzer, and translates “through faith by his blood.” I do not see what he gains by it. He grounds the translation on “faith in” not being used, which is a simple mistake, which a concordance would have rectified. If a man is justified by faith, by His blood, I suppose the blood of Christ must be efficacious to justify him—as, indeed, is expressly said—and his faith in it is right. But faith “in” is used. The words “faith in his blood” are not found elsewhere; but “justified by his blood,” “redemption through his blood,” so as to present its efficacy as the subject-matter of faith, is often found. His gloss on Galatians 3:26, seems to me an utterly false interpretation. His allegation is, that “faith, like all other christian states, is often spoken of as existing in Christ.” I am not quite sure what this lucid phrase means— whether it is that Christ had faith, or whether Air. Jowett refers to the general expression “in Christ” as a position in which anything was realized. At all events Galatians 3:26 cannot be interpreted in either way. “We are all the children of God through faith in Christ Jesus “seems to me as plain as possible. 2 Timothy 1:13 may be taken as characteristic as a position: “Faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.” Chapter 3:15 is clearly faith in Christ Jesus; so is, beyond all question, Ephesians 1:15, and Colossians 1:4; and, if Teschendorf is to be believed, John 1:15, which however may be doubted. Fritzsche, whose commentary has been called a Greek grammar, insists that, on grammatical grounds, there is no foundation for the assertion. Doctrinally I could have no objection; the words “his own” would incline me to connect ejn tw' aujtou' aJi{mati with iJlasthvrion. Aujtou' is emphatic, and a propitiation in [the power of] His own blood, [and that] through faith, is perhaps clearer than faith in His own blood. Were aujtou' after ai{mati, I should be disposed to take it as in our English translation. But the ground Mr. Jowett takes is untenable, and the use of it here, as any perversion, quite unfounded. There is nothing to struggle for; nor in Romans 15:6. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the well-known expression of scripture, as putting us so blessedly in the same place with Himself in John 20, and Ephesians 1, where the blessings to be referred to each name are distinguished in verses 4 and 5. And the prayer of chapter 1 is founded on one name; of chapter 3 on the other. I do not think these complaints quite free from being disingenuous.

As to 1 John 5:7, it needs no remark; and as to 1 Timothy 3:16, it is a question of criticism, which orthodox and rationalists have alike discussed, perhaps both with prejudices.

As to Romans 9:5, it is certain all the Fathers took it as said of Christ, all the Reformers, and the vast majority of moderns; and, as far as I am aware, Erasmus first proposed the change. The moderns, who wish it otherwise, do so on doctrinal grounds. So Meyer, Fritzsche, Tischendorf, Wetstein, and others. De Wette declares nothing satisfactory. Holding the deity of the Lord Jesus as the foundation of all my faith, the usual punctuation of a full stop after cataV savrca seems to me to have no sense. And if all do not refer to Christ, I should set the stop after “over all,” “Of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, He who is over all things, God [be] blessed for ever. Amen.” I rather think Erasmus spoke of this too, but cannot exactly say. This stopping leaves the question undecided. It depends on the insertion of [be]. All these attempts to throw discredit on ordinary interpretation have an evident animus. And Mr. Jowett and his companions have not left it to nice criticism on passages admitted to be difficult to have their orthodoxy called in question. This part of Mr. Jowett’s argument I leave. No one wishes to hinder sound critical enquiry into the reading or interpretation of the text.

W. He who believes it to be inspired would be the first to desire it.

H. Clearly so. I turn briefly to another point. These interpreters have created an immense difficulty for themselves, partly incident to their position, but more connected still with their doctrine. Denying the distinction of the regenerate, of the Church, of what scripture calls saints, this being for them only a forced and unnatural position of Christianity, and then all the world being, by an effort of imagination, christianized, they seek to apply the precepts of Christianity to civil society. Hence I read “the frame of civilization, that is to say, institutions and laws, the usages of business, the customs of society; these are for the most part mechanical, capable only in a certain degree of a higher and spiritual life. Christian motives have never existed in such strength as to make it possible to entrust them with the preservation of social order.” Moral light Christianity has, I admit, brought in; it has, I admit, acted beneficially on society. Men do not do in the light what they do in the dark. But what the “spiritual life,” “of usages of business” is would be hard to tell.

But what is the result? Christianity is taken as a kind of essence, an infusion, which is to influence men; and followers of Christ disappear. “Are its maxims to be modified by experience, or acted on in defiance of experience? Are the accidental circumstances of the first believers to become a rule for us?… That can hardly be, consistently with the changes of human things.” Now that you cannot frame politics on Christianity I do not deny. It is felt to be impossible; but Mr. Jowett concludes, not that the Christian is to abide by what is properly christian, but “our Lord Himself has left behind Him words which contain a principle large enough to admit all the forms of society or life. My kingdom is not of this world”—a singular proof of it, that because it is not of it at all, it admits them all. What means “admit them?” Does it mean, has common principles with them all? This cannot be. Is exclusively one? That it is not. It directs obedience to human authorities as of God. Or is it, that it has its own directions for its true followers, not the letter perhaps, but its own guidance for those who follow Christ as pilgrims and strangers, gives a divine path through the world, guiding in all real common duties, but giving a heavenly path through them? “If ye live in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit.” “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be.” “Whatsoever ye do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Is it spiritual direction for those who are strangers and pilgrims, declaring plainly that they seek a country; or an arrangement to have an inward life, and do at Rome as they do at Rome?

W. I cannot doubt for a moment that Christ has left us an example that we should follow His steps, and that the precepts of the New Testament form and guide our path—that he who loves God keeps His commandments, and that they are not grievous, for he that is born of God overcometh the world; and all that is in the world is not of the Father. Alas! I feel I come very short; but I cannot doubt an instant that the principles you refer to, if I have rightly understood them (and in reading the Essays this part struck me as giving a key-note to much, I mean the mingling Christianity with the world, swamping it in it), are destructive of all that is heavenly, of all that is Christian, of all that lifts the whole spirit of a man out of the wretched motives of self and the world into Christ’s motives. I am persuaded that it is that which has destroyed the testimony of Christianity in the world. Men, alas! thinking of self too, have put out almost the light under the pretext of winning men to look at it. But we have lost our own joys and dimmed the witness to Christ by it.

H. I am glad to hear you say so. We are, alas! short, very short; but it is well in such a matter to have a fixed principle of conduct. Mr. Jowett, having shewn the impossibility of framing society on christian principles (Christ’s kingdom being not of this world), then lets down individual Christianity in this way— “It is a counsel of perfection, and has its dwelling-place in the heart of man…” “That is the answer to a doubt which is also raised respecting the obligation of the letter of the gospel on individual Christians. But this inwardness of the words of Christ is what few are able to receive.” So, in result, you have the words of Christ inward in the heart, and all forms of society and of life admitted, because Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, so we are not to bring it into it. It is a comfortable mysticism which, by professing to have the words inwardly, can have any form of life and worldliness outwardly. Now I admit the letter kills. We have the spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind. But this is merely the denial of the authority of scripture in the largest sense—“be not conformed to this world.”

I would arrest your attention a moment on another passage here, as very deeply characteristic of the low ground on which all these reasonings rest. Mr. Jowett complains of the “extraordinary and unreasonable importance attached to single words… divorce, marriage with a wife’s sister, inspiration, the personality of the Holy Spirit, infant baptism, episcopacy, divine right of kings, original sin.” Now really a person must have been in a very singular school to give such a list. Lightness in divorce is an abomination in the sight of God; and in my judgment marriage with a wife’s sister is the destruction of the free happiness of families. Episcopacy and infant baptism have their importance through their connection with more general truths. Kings have a divine right as long as God keeps diem on the throne; that is, they have, however they get there, their power from God. But to mix up these subjects with inspiration, the personality of the Holy Ghost, and original sin, shews an absence of the spiritual element truly remarkable. If there be no inspiration, I have no communication from God—the greatest privilege I can have on earth—the only thing that puts me, in a sure and divine way, in relationship and intercourse with God. The personality of the Spirit is perhaps the most practically important truth, the most characteristic of Christianity, not as foundation, but, as to state and power, of all in scripture; and original sin, whatever view we may have of it, the foundation question of all man’s relationship with God. And these Mr. Jowett casts in with episcopacy, and questions, serious no doubt in detail, but some of mere forms of thought. Instead of rising above his age, he is immersed, and, as to his mind, the divinest truths with him, in the comparatively petty questions which absorb the attention of the narrow circle in which he moves. I do not charge him with design in it, but singular narrowness. If he had said, See what they have reduced Christianity to—questions of forms of church government, and divorce, and ordinances, I should have understood him, though he would have found assailants; but he reduces Christianity to this level, for he puts that on which as a present thing Christianity rests (for redemption is the foundation), questions as to our alienation in nature from God, the reality of blessed communications from God Himself, and His living personal presence with us, on the same footing, in the same category of importance, as episcopacy and the marriage of a wife’s sister.

W. It is surprising. But I think it shews he does not believe himself in any of these things; he could not class them thus if he did.

H. Surely, he does not. We have already heard what he says as to inspiration, and we will look at what he says as to the others. But let us note for ourselves: if there be no inspiration, there is no communication from God which is from Himself which is the communication of God’s mind from and by God, which gives to man’s intelligence divine thoughts—to his heart the witness that God delights to give them to him; all that has enlarged the intelligence, fed the heart, sustained the faith of all that have trusted God in all ages, and in all forms of church government; what has marked the spiritual tone of every divinely taught and spiritually elevated mind is gone. And they know, the poorest and most ignorant believer (I do not say Mr. Jowett) knows, what he means by inspiration. He could not define it perhaps, does not know what “define” means, but he knows that he has communications from God in which his soul drinks of living water, a word of God, sharper than any two-edged sword, discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart; he eats the words of God, as Jeremiah says, and they are the joy and rejoicing of his heart. They have an authority over him which he delights to obey; reproofs, if needed, his heart bows to; promises his faith leans on; a Saviour revealed whom his soul loves; and all this because he receives it with a divine faith as inspired, as God’s word, as God’s having condescended (taken pains, shall I say?) to speak to him for every want here, and the brightness of .heavenly hopes hereafter. He has seen his Saviour quoting them as authority, using them to repel Satan—the apostles proving the truth by them, or declaring that their own words were God’s commands. He takes them as all this, and there is constant intercourse between God and his soul.

Mr. Jowett will quibble on qeovpneusto", and quibble wrongly. I deny that 2 Timothy 3:16 is spoken of the Old Testament. It is carefully worded so as to leave no pretence for such a statement— pa'sa grafhV qeovpneusto". Whatever comes under the title grafhV it applies to, is meant to apply to. The scriptures were held then to be a character of writing which had irrefragable authority, could not be broken. Holy men had spoken as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. They had not come of the will of man. Whatever was that, had divine authority. Before Christ there was only the Old Testament, of course. Mr. Jowett, at least, has owned the New Testament to have this character, has owned that the Lord has caused all holy scripture to be written for our learning. St. Paul speaks of the comfort of the scriptures. Our enquiry here is, not what books belong to it, but, whether prophetic scriptures are a blessed communication from God Himself to men. Does Christ treat them so Himself, use them so, declaring from them, and for Himself, that men live of every word that comes out of the mouth of God? Does He obey them, fulfil them, declare that they must be fulfilled, all that is written in them concerning Him? Was it what man had invented or God had revealed that was to be fulfilled? Have words proceeding out of the mouth of God no hold on Mr. Jowett’s heart? Does he mean to say that the New Testament is not holy scripture, which God has caused to be written for our learning? If it be pa'sa grafhV qeovpneusto", it is inspired. He has declared, more than once I believe, that the New Testament is holy scripture. I know in the estimation of Essayists subscriptions are elastic things, and conscience as to them still more so. However this may be, those who have found words out of the mouth of God full of grace and truth to their souls cling to them as the tokens, and precious and profitable tokens, of God’s love.

They have seen the apostle carefully distinguishing his own spiritual experience and his authoritative communication of the divine mind. And they believe, as Mr. Jowett professes to believe, that the New Testament is scripture, and hence, that it is qeovpneusto", divinely inspired, and they have no doubt what that really means for them. They have the words that came out of the mouth of God. They believe St. Paul when they hear him saying, that what he had been taught by the Holy Ghost he has communicated “not by words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth,” and they bless God for so infinite a treasure. If Mr. Jowett has it not—does not believe it, they pity him. He has lost what is the greatest treasure—communications of God Himself to their souls.

W. Oh! how I agree with you. One feels one has to do with God; and whether it be for comfort, the strength flowing from feeling such a One’s mind guiding you when weak and beset, or the joy it gives when the mind is free; the way it suits our weakest, aye, our worst moments, and yet in our most elevated reaches out beyond all our thoughts with divine fulness; one learns daily more it is the word of God. It makes me think of the words of the apostle as the revelation of what he is there speaking of the fulness of, “That being rooted and grounded in love, we may be able to comprehend with all saints, the breadth and length, and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that we may be filled with all the fulness of God.” A largeness which he cannot go out into, a nearness of that love, known, and yet which passes knowledge, leading the heart, rooted and grounded in love, into all the fulness of God. Surely he is speaking of the things themselves; but what reveals it but the word? Can man do it?

H. Well, we will leave this, to use it through grace as our own resource in daily life; and turn to the second point, which Mr. Jowett seeks to sink as far as possible.

W. The personality of the Spirit?

H. Yes. Here, as wherever there is spirituality, our Essayists are utterly at a loss. Surely we are all most poor in these things, without any false modesty in saying it. But I do not mean that., They have not the thing to be poor in. “In the fourth example the words are mysterious (John 14:26; 16:15), and seem to come out of the depth of a divine consciousness.” Now what does this mean?

W. Well, I really do not know. All Christ’s words came out of the depths of a divine consciousness.

H. Surely they did; but, coupled with “mysterious,” it intimates, I apprehend, that they are unintelligible. It is added, remark, “They have sometimes, however, received a more exact meaning than they could truly bear. What is spoken in a figure is construed with the severity of a logical statement.” It is thus “mysterious,” not of the supposed “exact” meaning, cannot “bear” it, and “spoken in a figure.” Thus the immense and all-important fact of the presence of a divine person, who is sent, wills, distributes, comes, guides, teaches, is God, who is lied against—is all a figure. And this is the more pointed, because in the quoted passage He was another Paraclete, who was to take the place of the Son of God personally with them on earth. Now that, if a divine person dwell in us, so that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost, He should work in a power and influence difficult to express in a single form of words; that He will be a source of thoughts and feelings which are ours and yet His, so that expressions necessarily vary to get the whole of the truth, I fully admit. It must be so. That this effect will be spoken of as the Spirit, and the divine person who produces it as the Spirit apart from the effect, is the natural consequence of His working in us when present. And scripture so speaks; but it unfolds, develops, and does not weaken the truth of the divine presence. It makes power, but not a figure of it. Thus I find, “He who searcheth the hearts [that is, me] knows what is the mind of the Spirit;” there it is the effect that is wrought by it; “for he maketh intercession for the saints according to God;” there it is the Spirit personally. This scripture largely teaches, but it does not make a figure of so great a truth. These, for Mr. Jowett, are passages “of an opposite tenor.”

Now John 14, 15, 16 are specially occupied with the truth of the Comforter’s coming when Christ went away. It is after unfolding what Christ was in the world, to the end of chapter 7, and the rejection of His word in chapter 8, and of His work in chapter 9; the witness given to His being Son of God, Son of David, Son of man, in chapters 11, 12, and the washer of His people’s feet whom He had cleansed, that they might have a part with Him on high, in chapter 13 (the great subject which follows on His going away). After declaring, in the beginning of chapter 14, that there was place for them on high, and He would come again and fetch them there; that they knew where He was going— for He was going to the Father; and they had seen the Father in Him, and they knew the way, for in coming to Him they came to the Father; He proceeds to tell them the great blessing of their position while He was away—and this was His obtaining another Comforter, the Holy Ghost, whom His Father would send on His going away, and who would bring to their remembrance what He had said when living; and then, in chapter 15, whom He would send from the Father, so that He would bear witness as well as themselves; and thus His heavenly glory, which they did not know, would be known. In chapter 16 He unfolds all the Comforter would do when He came; first, as to the world, and then as to them.

Now in this we have the plain, however momentous, declaration, that as He, the Son, had been with them bodily, so another Comforter, the Holy Ghost, would be with them when He went —they would not be left alone. And the difference is distinctly put as to how He could be known in the world. The world did not see Him or know Him, and hence could not receive Him. The world ought at least to have received Christ; but there was no question of its receiving the Holy Ghost. He was given to them that believe (John ever speaks individually, not of the assembly); with the disciples He could abide (which Christ as He then was could not), and would dwell in them (Christ had only dwelt with them). And thus they would know Him. Now this does confine the true knowledge of the Holy Ghost to those in whom He dwells. That He wrought in special service, to render the disciples competent witnesses, is most precious but no figure. It makes us know what inspiration is, and how, while eye-witnesses, they were divinely competent to be so. They were human witnesses, but their record divine, and witnesses by the Holy Ghost. This is what a person, who denies anything supernatural in inspiration, of course must make “a figure” of, “not take exactly!” All that we understand—understand it well; but it is because it is too plain that, by those who deny inspiration, it is said to be mysterious and a figure (just as Strauss, because he saw the folly of rationalism, but would not believe, made the whole history of the gospels a myth)—not because it is not plain. Of course one verse does not exhaust the subject; but we are speaking of the verse referred to by Mr. Jowett.

Can anything be plainer, however solemn and blessed, than this—“But the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you;” that is, all divine truth and needed remembrance of Christ’s living words? I have only to believe it, and all is plain. I do believe it. I believe, when Christ went up on high, the Father did send the Holy Ghost in Christ’s name, that He did teach the apostles, and bring what Christ had said to their remembrance, and that they acted and taught and witnessed of Christ by this power. What means a figure here? Did not Christianity spread by this means? Is not, in the Acts, the presence of this Comforter the salient fact which stamps its character on all their proceedings? That the Spirit wrought in a new life, was a Spirit of adoption, made men to abound in hope, shed the love of God abroad in believers’ hearts, and ministered a thousand other blessings, is most true. A Christian’s career is designated by walking in the Spirit. But the passage we are considering is plain enough to those that understand, to those that believe.

In John 16:15, it is another side of the Holy Ghost’s work, but .the same truth. The Holy Ghost reveals to believers (His work in the world had been spoken of) the glory and riches of Christ—not merely recalling what He had said on earth, or leading unto truth. All things the Father has are Christ’s (it was not as if Christ, or the Father, had some independent things); hence the Holy Ghost takes of what is His, and shews it. And, as the Father was known in the Son on earth, so the fulness of all that belongs to the Father is known as the Son’s, now He is in heaven, by the Holy Ghost’s teaching. Depth surely there is; but the passage is plain enough. You may remark how the blessed Persons in the Trinity are associated in both cases—i.e., of Christ on earth and Christ in heaven. The Holy Ghost comes, and “My Father and I will come and make our abode with him.” When Christ, as Son, was working miracles on earth, the Father that was in Him did the works, and He cast out devils by the Spirit of God. They are distinct, yet cannot be separated. Now that on such subjects we are in divine depths is most true; but the passages we are referring to are most simple and plain. They affirm the coming of the Comforter, and what He was to do; and He came and did it, and He abides in true Christians who thus know Him, and with the true assembly for ever.

W. It is simple. What we want is to believe it more. There is very little faith in the presence of the Holy Ghost.

H. Alas! there is not: yet it is appealed to so distinctly as a known thing in scripture, as to make us ashamed. The apostle, in speaking of such a thing as fornication, says, Know ye not that your bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost, which ye have of God? So to the Galatians, who were in a sad state, he asks,” How did you get the Holy Ghost?” On that there was no obscurity. So as a motive to avoid evil and the measure of it, “Grieve not that Holy Spirit of promise with which ye are sealed for the day of redemption.” So “Hereby know we that we dwell in him (God) and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.” It ought to be an elementary point of faith, that the Holy Ghost dwells in the assembly and in the true Christian. These two truths, on which Mr. Jowett casts all the slur and dimness he can, are the hinges of the whole condition of the assembly and of the individual saint—the word of God and the Spirit of God. In the first alone we have the mind of God; in the second alone spiritual understanding and power; and so, as John tells us, fellowship— wondrous word!—with the Father and the Son, the living objects of daily faith. May we be found here simple and dependent, “as new-born babes!”

W. It is very hard to be simple.

H. It is in itself perfection; true simplicity is forgetfulness of self. And there is only one way to arrive at it, for it is, as all spiritual life, a matter of overcoming; and that way is, being much with God, and God known in grace, because then self, which is the opposite of simplicity, dies down, so to speak.

W. I am sure it is the way. Nothing replaces that communion; and then, there is a perception of divine power and enlargement which is not found anywhere else. Our eyes see, as Peter (negatively) expresses it, afar off. We are not muwpavzonte". But pursue your subject.

H. The next point is, original sin. Now I have no love for scholastic terms: I prefer scripture ones infinitely. But I do not want to lose things in getting rid of words: mine may be no better. We are all by nature the children of wrath. Mr. Jowett speaks thus of it: “The justice of God who rewardeth every man according to his works, and the christian scheme of redemption, has (have) been staked on two figurative expressions of St. Paul, to which there is no parallel in any other part of scripture.” (1 Cor. 15:22; Rom. 5:12.) The first has really nothing, or only in an indirect way, to do with it. The second is an elaborate statement on the subject. But to say that there is no parallel in scripture, if the doctrine and not the form be referred to, is to ignore all vital truth in it. The history of the Bible is the history of original sin; the doctrine of the Bible is the doctrine of God’s putting it away for ever.

W. You must explain yourself a little.

H. I will. Does not the history of our race (I do not say our creation) begin with the declaration that Adam, fallen and driven out from God, begat a son in his image after his likeness, the fruit being shewn in sin against his brother, as Adam’s sin had been against God, and so death being actually brought into the world, but the death of the pious marking the predominance of evil?

W. It does.

H. That is the early history of original sin—sin attached to our origin and so in our nature. Further, when the Flood had swept away the insupportable violence and corruption of the world, and the world began again in Noah, in whom rest was given concerning the work of men’s hands, and the curse taken so far off the ground, did he not turn the blessing into drunkenness— he to whom government had been entrusted, and shame and a son’s wickedness inaugurate the new career of man?

W. Yes.

H. This is the history of original sin. Did not man then sink —what there is no appearance of his doing before—into idolatry, having built a tower to establish his own will?

W. True.

H. This too is. The form of the world in nations and peoples is founded on it. God then called out Abraham from the midst of this idolatry, and after a lapse of some 400 years, so that a people should be formed, brings them out of Egypt with a high hand, leads them to Sinai to give them His law—the rule of life for a child of Adam. What did they do before they had time to get it graven on stone, though they had heard the voice of God out of the midst of the fire?

W. They made the golden calf.

H. Such then is man according to the history of the Bible; and so you will find it throughout. Before the consecration of Aaron and his sons was over, Nadab and Abihu had offered strange fire and were slain; and Israel, responsible under the priesthood, closed its history by the ark’s being taken, and judgment coming on the priesthood itself in Eli: so that the whole system was closed, for without the ark there was no regular association with God at all. God interfered by a prophet; but this was sovereign grace. When the royalty was established, Solomon fell into idolatry. And at last Lo-ammi, Not my people, was written on the chosen people of God; where He had set His name that it might be owned in the midst of the universal corruption and idolatry of the world, and where grace and warning had dealt “till there was no remedy.” When God set up a head of Gentile power in Nebuchadnezzar, he sets up an idol and persecutes the saints, and the whole series of these monarchies takes the character of unintelligent ravenous beasts. But, chief and last of all (save special mercy on His intercession), when God declared—“I have yet one Son, it may be they will reverence my Son when they see him;” when they saw Him, what did they do?

W. They said, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours.”

H. They had then “no cloak for their sin.” “They had both seen and hated both him and his Father.” There was a reprieve through His intercession on the cross, and the Holy Ghost (that figure of Mr. Jowett’s) announced a glorified Christ, and the open door of repentance, but they would not go in. They closed the history of man with this word of judgment—“Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” A judged world, a broken law, persecuted prophets, the slain Just One, a resisted Spirit, sum up the history of man, the history of original sin. Man “must be born again.”

W. It is a sad and solemn picture.

H. It is, and ought to be brought home to one’s own heart, in which it is all morally true. But it brings this comfort with it, that it shews the new blessing brought in by the second Adam to be itself entirely apart from the corrupt first Adam, though moral intelligence be brought out by their conflict, and the need of God’s grace be surely found in it. But Christianity has its basis in resurrection after the work of redemption; that is, a passage into a wholly new state, after God’s perfect goodness, and His righteousness too, had been proved as to the old.

W. It is a glorious thing, Christianity: one sees it is divine when once we know it. It is deplorable, this effort to shut us down into the first Adam.

H. In truth it is. And that is what one feels in reading the works of all these rationalists when one has the new man. One finds also one’s dependence on God in their reasonings; for the vast and divine largeness of scripture, full of thoughts which can be only divine, is not their field of view at all, nor the richness and fulness which a divine person and a new creature give to it. You might as well talk of a beautiful view to a blind man. The blending of all the richness of lights and shadows, the striking features, and soft distances, and enlivened details, do not exist for their faculties at all, nor faculties to apprehend them. So speaks the Lord Himself, “Why do ye not understand my speech? because ye cannot hear my word.” And so the apostle— “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit; they are foolishness to him.” One cannot but answer their statements as the Lord—“If he called them gods to whom the word of God came;” he shews them their injustice on their own ground, still by the word.

In what we have been searching into, I have deeply felt the absolute impossibility of meeting unbelieving objections by this depth and riches of scripture, which to a believer carries the absolute evidence of their divinity. Paul sums up the great truth in saying “we are all the children of wrath;” and then, “but God who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ;” “we are risen together,” “created again in Christ Jesus:” and this makes death and resurrection the great topic of the epistles. “Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, and alive to God through Jesus Christ.” So Peter, though less fully and elaborately, “We are begotten again to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead;” and “as Christ hath suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind.”

Am I not right in saying that the history of the Bible is the history of original sin—of one who had to confess, if he knew himself, “Behold, I was shapen in wickedness, and in sin did my mother conceive me?”

Accompanied by marvellous long-suffering and gracious dealings, but which only brought out the sin, till, the tree having been digged about and dunged, it was proved no care could make a bad tree bring forth good fruit; and the Lord says, “Now is the judgment of this world”… “The world seeth me no more;” but this only to bring in redemption, and set man on a wholly new footing beyond evil and in the glory of God; so that it should be said, “When we were in the flesh,” “but ye are not in the flesh.” And this true and divine dealing with our nature, according to the revelation of God, is what is fully brought out in the Romans, and hence deserved condemnation, atonement, death, and resurrection. Indeed, in doctrine it goes no farther, not on to the ascension, because it is laying the great moral ground of sin and putting it away, in guilt and power alike; and man’s acceptance with God on a new footing. It only once just states the result of ascension as a final fact in the chain. The passages referred to by Mr. Jowett are merely summing up the great universal truth in scripture in the two heads of the respective races, so to speak, of carnal and spiritual life.

But the same truth is insisted on once and again, as in the passages I have quoted. So in experience: “I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.” “The flesh is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” “It lusteth against the Spirit.” “They that are in the flesh cannot please God.” “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” I suppose this is “Oriental” for Mr. Jowett. But if so, his heart is following its own imaginings, and he does not know it. God has not said in vain, “All the imaginations of his heart are only evil, and that continually;” and this said too in grace,” I will no more curse the ground for man’s sake, for the imaginations,” &c. It was not merely the previous wickedness of the antediluvians. They were gone. It was His motive for dealing with the race no more in that way. So the Lord, “Out of the heart of man proceed evil thoughts, adulteries,” &c. Did you ever see it stated in scripture that good things came out of his heart naturally? God has tried it in every way. It was lawless, broke law, killed His Son, resisted His Spirit.

W. I see what you mean by scripture being the history of original sin; and in truth it is so. The dealings of God in patient mercy, which we find there, in truth only brought this out, so that we might have a scriptural delineation, a history which proved that sin; which, after all, is the history (however far that sin may be developed in them) of our own hearts. For self-will, law-breaking, slighting Christ, resisting the appeals of God, was not confined to antediluvians or Jews.

H. No; it is the picture of my heart brought carefully out. The scripture hath concluded all under sin, that all might come on the ground of pure mercy. And you will see that, developed only in promise in Adam’s time, then by prophecy, in figures under the law (in spite of senseless rationalist judgment as to them), in accomplishment in Christ, in testimony to His glory by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, the putting of it away is the great doctrine of scripture. “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin [not the “sins,” as often falsely cited] of the world.” It is changing the whole principle on which the world, as such, stood, as we saw before. So again,” But now once in the consummation of ages”—these times of testing responsible man from Adam to Christ—“he hath appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” This is morally founded, as to the glory of God, on the death of Christ; and man after Him is introduced by resurrection into the new condition, beyond sin, consequent on that glorifying of God. At the same time there is the bearing of sins for the redeemed; but that is not our subject now.

W. I conceive you clearly now, and I think it brings the heart into a most healthy moral atmosphere, because it is not merely feeling safe, but one sees that God is glorified; that all—speaking reverentially—His moral nature is fully displayed, and glorified in that wonderful sacrifice. It gives a depth to Christ’s sacrifice which mere salvation, precious as it is to us, could not do, though we come into it so. But I understand better, “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him; and if God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.” And note this wondrous word: it is “The Son of man.”

H. Most just. And hence, while, as you say, we must come in as sinners by the cross, or there is no truth in the inward parts, and sin is not judged in ourselves, without which there is no moral deliverance, and by which, if I may so speak, we morally side with God against ourselves as sinners, and against sin; yet, when we have entered in by this new and living way, it is not a standing without, in the hope that by the blessed One’s bearing our sins on the cross we may be safe; but that though this has, and where it has, been fully realized in us as the needed and only way (and it is morally necessary it should be), we have now passed within, by the new and living way, and contemplate the cross in peace, so to speak, from the divine side, and see all the absolute beauty of it. And there is nothing like it—nothing in which God is thus morally glorified. “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life that I might take it again.” He does not even say “for the sheep;” it is the thing itself which is so excellent. And this makes me so often feel mere evangelical teaching so poor even where true, as I thankfully say it is, as far as it goes. It leaves the Christian outside, hoping and thinking only of himself, instead of on the deep conviction that there is no good thing in himself at all, bringing him in by an accomplished work; and then looking that, as within, he should display the character suited to it.

W. But they dread Antinomianism.

H. They are right to dread every inconsistency, and to distrust themselves. But I suspect that the true secret of putting Christians under the law (which Christianity does not, and that these rationalists see, because their consciences are untroubled by it, clear enough) is, that, having nothing of the discipline of the primitive assembly, they are obliged to modify the gospel, and make the law a schoolmaster after Christ to keep men in order. Then all fall naturally into it. Because man has the keeping of it, it flatters man; if he has a tender conscience, it tortures him, as we often see; if not, he thinks of himself, takes for granted some failure is to be there, judges it perhaps pretty easily—will really sorrow over it, if the new nature be there; but, in any case, he can think of himself, and this the heart likes. A man likes thinking badly of himself, ay, and saying so, better than not thinking of himself at all, and simply displaying Christ’s gracious life by thinking on Him only. We have to judge ourselves; but our right state is thinking of the Lord alone.

W. You are severe on men.

H. Is it not true? Is not having done with self the really difficult thing? Is it not the aim of Christianity, settling first in a divine way the question of sin righteously with God by atonement? And is not power there to deliver from self or flesh, and give us the victory, though we may fail?

W. I do not deny it. But it is a humbling thought that we are such.

H. It is so. But it is better to know ourselves; and the largest supplies of grace, and divine objects, are there to take us out of ourselves. In the Philippians we have the pattern of it in one of like passions with ourselves. There, in the picture of the christian normal state, the flesh (save having no confidence in it) and sin are not mentioned. Yet the writer had a thorn in the flesh to keep it down. If we were perfectly humble, we should not need humbling; but we do, all of us, even Paul, as we see in this case. Christ, then, has been manifested to put away sin out of God’s sight, out of man’s heart, and out of the world. The great work which does it is accomplished, the results not all accomplished in power. He who has not judged original sin has not that estimate of the new nature animated by the Spirit of God which is on God’s side against sin. I judge the individual in no way. He may hate what he sees in himself of actual sin. I speak of abstract moral truth. He who does not see the principle and nature and guilt of sin, as it stands in man’s self-will, has not the estimate which the knowledge of a holy nature in reconciliation to God gives. We have made a long excursion, but we will return to our Essay. But the subjects lie at the root of the matter.

W. Clearly they do. I was struck, as by a kind of providence, how, in this strange list of subjects in the Essay, these three great vital points which are at the root of the question—inspiration, the Holy Spirit, original sin—are dragged in. And it is of them we have been speaking, and scripture is quite clear as to them.

H. We will continue, then, our enquiry into the principles of the Essay. I feel how tedious entering into these details is, but it is impossible to meet the system without doing so in a measure.

W. Do riot fear to do so. It is better to meet it fully, because the difficulties are raised, and the doubt thrown on the whole truth and its sources by them, on the spirit in which we are to read scripture, can only be met by taking up the details. One returns to simplicity by it, and the word to its full and simple authority in the soul.

H. Well, we will proceed, then. It is the character of what follows, as in general of the Essay, to mingle a mass of conventional ideas and scriptural precepts or doctrines together, and, by proving the groundlessness of men’s comments, to throw like doubt on scriptural statements; and hence the need of some detail.

But there is a deadly principle running through all—making men’s present habit of thinking the measure of the fitness of the word of God; and thus gradually leading to the belief that it was the product of the age and country it was written in. True, it may be said it is only its form and expression. But, as we have biblical truth only in that expression, if” I change it for what suits the west and the nineteenth century, I shall soon change it for what suits myself, who live there at that epoch, and we might as well not have it at all. It is pretended to save it by great principles; for I cannot but think that the word has power in Mr. Jowett’s soul. Yet such is the result of his system. I call your attention with pleasure to such expressions as “But, at any rate, they (the precepts of Christ) are not to be explained away; the standard of Christ is not to be lowered to ordinary christian life, because ordinary christian life cannot rise even in good men to the standard of Christ.”

W. That is excellent, surely.

H. Undoubtedly. It is the same happy inconsistency with what I quoted before, which we have already noticed; and even here, in the same page, speaking of our Lord’s remarks on the danger of riches, and recommendation to sell all, he says, “Precepts like these do not appeal to our own experience of life.” “Religious sects or orders who have seized this aspect of Christianity have come to no good.” And then it is all melted down in the following words, while lauding some rare stars, to a truth of feeling: “Let not the refinement of society make us forget that it is not the refined only who are received into the kingdom of God,” &c. Now, I find scripture owning the rich as such when the gospel had spread: “Charge them that are rich in this world.” But that does not weaken in the smallest degree the contrast between Lazarus and Dives, or the extreme danger to true heavenly mindedness of treasure in this world.

At no time, as Peter says to Ananias, was it claimed from any one that they should give their goods to the assembly, nor mentioned to them. It was the free power of the Holy Ghost working in love to others. There was no community of people or goods established at all, but a voluntary giving up of one’s own where it could be made available; and most blessed it was, and acting in the spirit of it will be always blessed, though there be no apostles at whose feet I may lay what I have to dispose of. Riches are as dangerous now as then, devotedness as acceptable now as then. There is in principle no great difference in these respects, though in forms of life there may be. All this however is a mere question of worldliness or its degrees. “The friendship of the world is enmity with God, and whosoever will be the friend of the world is the enemy of God.”

Mr. Jowett refers to “Swear not at all.” As this question comes often into public, I will just refer to this too. The same principle which hinders my swearing of myself, makes me take an oath, as it is called, before a magistrate. I bring in God lightly in one case; I own Him in the magistrate, as I am bound to do, in the other. The Lord and James speak only of voluntary oaths —what comes from self. Whatsoever is more than this comes of evil (i.e., more than yea, yea, and nay, nay, in our conversation). So the Lord speaks of vows, i.e., voluntary swearing to the Lord. But in Leviticus 5 we find adjuring and a man bound to utter it; and, consequently, the Lord answers before the high priest. The oath imposed by a magistrate is adjuring, and I judge a man to be wholly in fault who does not take the oath; he disowns God’s authority in the magistrate.

Other details I pass by, only remarking that the instruction contained in the parable of the good Samaritan is grace contrasted with law. In answer to the question, Who is my neighbour whom I am bound to love? we find love acting as a neighbour to need, and this is God’s principle. But in all these cases, important no doubt in practice, we have more a pastor’s or an expositor’s work.

But then Mr. Jowett—men’s minds being thus thrown into uncertainty—suddenly plunges us into doubts on the fundamental truths of Christianity, such as the divinity of Christ, justification by faith, the state of condemnation in which sinners are lying—the doubt being always applied to the truth. Now this seems to me somewhat disingenuous. He compares the Athanasian Creed, which he must be supposed to have signed and uses, with the words, “Neither the Son,” in Mark 13:32. He says we do not readily recall the verse when maintaining the Athanasian Creed. Now as to doctrine (what may seem strange) I like the Athanasian Creed the best of all, though it be far too scholastic in form. But I maintain no creed, but I do maintain the proper divinity of the Lord Jesus. That He was in a personal relationship as Son to Father, every one who believes in His divinity, unless a Sabellian, owns. But it is to me as clear as the sun at noonday, that Christ was the Jehovah of the Old Testament, who could say, “Before Me there was no God: I know not any.” All the fulness of the Godhead dwelt in Him, and dwells, of course, bodily. He was Immanuel—His .name called Jesus (Jah, the Saviour), for He shall save His people from their sins. When Isaiah, in chapter 6, saw the thrice holy Jehovah of Hosts, he saw, says John, Christ’s glory, and spake of Him. If the Son of man was brought to the Ancient of days, the Ancient of days came (Dan. 7). If the blessed and only Potentate, King of kings, and Lord of lords, shewed the appearing of Christ in Timothy, Christ when He appears is King of kings and Lord of lords.

It is to me as evident as possible historically, that the Allan doctrine came direct from Philo, at least from the Alexandrian school of philosophers, or Platonist Jews, who held that the supreme God could not be directly connected with the material creation; and spoke of the lovgo", the Word, as between the supreme God and the creation, begotten perhaps rather than made; yet after all existing as a creature by the will of the Creator, the supreme God. Now, save the dear good old Irenaeus, and a word or two from Polycarp and Ignatius, all the earlier Greek Fathers were of this school. Justin Martyr, a Platonist, taught this doctrine; so Clemens, so Origen. It was Platonism, not Scripture, and deeply infected the assembly. These Fathers are no way to be trusted; they shew it, and this spread west too, in the existence of the words ejndiavqeto" and proforicov": all that is directly and verbally from the Philo school. I accept none of this. I find it met in face by John and Paul, carefully and fully met. I read, “In the beginning was the. Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Wherever my mind can go back to as a beginning as to time, there He was. And that there may be no plea of ejndiavqeto", that is His inherence as reason without being a person, he adds, “He was in the beginning with God”—always a distinct person. And lest any inferiority should be alleged, Paul tells us, “All the fulness was pleased to dwell in him,” for this is the true force of the passage. And so the fact is declared to have been, “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” As a person He emptied Himself, eJautoVn ejcevnwsen. He could not have done so save as God. A creature who leaves his first estate sins therein. The sovereign Lord can descend in grace. In Him it is love. Then, as in that position, He receives all. All the words He has are given to Him. He is, though unchangeable in nature as God, yet in His path a dependent man. He fives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God—is sealed by the Father; the glory He had before the world is now given Him of the Father. Now in this state of obedient servant, with a revelation which God gave to Him, the day and hour of His judicial action was not revealed. “It is not for you,” He says to His disciples, “to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power.” And to this exactly Psalm no answers (as has been observed by another), “Sit on my right hand till I make thine enemies thy footstool.” When? Sit there in this place of divine glory till—; no more is said. Now, I do not pretend to explain—God forbid I should!— how this is.

I see in scripture in the full (not qeiovth" merely, but) qeovth" of Christ maintained by the truth—that none can know the Son but the Father; the Father we do: He is simply the adorable God. “No man knoweth the Son but the Father, and no man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son shall reveal him.” The Son’s divine nature seemed, so to speak, exposed to danger by His blessed humiliation; not so the Father. It is secured (I mean, of course, as to thought) by His being thereby absolutely unfathomable. Such I believe He is. I know He is the Son; I know He is a true proper man. I know He is “I AM,” “the true God.” How to put this together I do not know, though I see and know they are together—am glad I do not as a creature. Did I know, I should have lost that divine fulness, which, if capable of being fathomed when in manhood, was not truly then divine. God, through grace, I know; man too, I know, in a certain sense; but God become a man is beyond all—even my spiritual thoughts. Be it so; it is infinite grace, and I can adore. I am sure for my soul’s blessing He is both; and the Son of the Father too—for the persons are as distinct as the nature is clear. Say to a Christian, The Son sent the Father, he would instinctively revolt at once. That the Father sent the Son is the deepest joy of his soul. All heresies are met by scripture—Sabellian, Arian, or others: but the Son is not known but of the Father. The Father He declares. I accept no creeds, but I do bow to the perfect divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ; the fulness of the qeovthto" is in Him.

It is painful to see Mr. Jowett (not say what he believes, but in the midst of questions of practice) throw a doubt, and more than a doubt, on the Lord’s divinity—hold his mind in a Pyrr-honic balance as to everything.

Into the Calvinistic controversy it is hardly necessary to enter here. I believe scripture precise, and should shock partisans, I suppose, on either side. I believe Christ died for all. I believe in an elect people.

Article XVII gives a very nice statement of the doctrine. It is equally painful but common with this class to see a lift given to Popery over the stile. I believe the assembly is founded on the Rock—the Rock, Christ, as Augustine even says, and that the gates of hell will never prevail against it. I believe Peter had the keys, not of heaven, nor of the assembly—men do not build with keys, there are no keys of the assembly at all thought of in scripture—but the keys of the kingdom. I believe Peter used them. It was a common expression for administrative power, and he had and exercised it, as we see in the Acts. I believe moreover, according to Matthew 18:18, that what the apostles bound on earth in the exercise of their ministry was sanctioned by heaven; and, further, that what is told to the assembly, and in which the assembly so acts, will be sanctioned; and that wherever two or three are gathered in Christ’s name, Christ is; but what the pope has to do with two or three gathered thus, I know not. This may suffice here.

There is not a tittle of ground for the corruptest system that ever was on earth to stand upon. The word “Church” may deceive; but say first, Go yourself, then two or three, then tell it to the assembly (which is what is said), and all popish reasonings and rationalists’ objections dissolve in air. This is not freedom from, but bondage to, conventional teaching in Air. Jowett.

I know not to what he refers in 1 Corinthians 3:15, unless it be purgatory, a notoriously modern doctrine. The early Fathers’ doctrine of a middle state had nothing whatever to do with purgatory. Augustine vaguely hints at it; but his doctrine is as loose as can be. He speaks of the judgment-day being a purgatorial fire. Gregory the Great first propounds it as possible for any very little sins. That is, it was invented some 600 years after Christ; and the plainest historical proofs exist of its modern character. Tertullian is treated as unsound by Romanists themselves on it. But the doctrine of 1 Corinthians 3 applies to labourers, not simply to Christians; their work is tried and burnt. And, further, it is admitted by present writers among them, that this cannot be applied to purgatory (though they do so where men are ignorant), because here all are to go through it, and this is not their doctrine; for the saints do not in their system.

The prayers for the dead, on which dishonest Roman Catholics found their doctrine, included, in the earlier ages, even the Virgin Mary, as Epiphanius says, “to distinguish all from Christ.”

But what is the result of all these doubts? “Nor is it, indeed, easy to say what is the meaning of proving a doctrine from scripture.” It is easy enough. It is finding it there, learning it there, and shewing where you have learned it. Those who have creeds, and dogmas, and articles to prove at all costs, are naturally embarrassed. They have to adapt scripture to the formularies of men—to what scholasticism, or partial knowledge, has laid down. But what I have really learned from scripture I can, with God’s help, easily prove from it. And that is the secret of their embarrassment. They have not learnt their doctrine from scripture, and they do not know how to prove anything by it. And then see where you are landed. “Nay, more, it is a book written in the east, which is in some degree liable to be misunderstood” (I read, “Then opened he their understanding to understand the scriptures”], “because it speaks the language and has the feeling of eastern lands. Nor can we readily determine, in speaking the words of our Lord or St. Paul, how much even of the passages just quoted is to be attributed to oriental style.”

I will just quote you another passage from Mr. Jowett’s commentaries, which will lead us somewhat farther in this path, only to Africa instead of Asia. After speaking of the tendencies of the Jewish mind, he says, “We cannot doubt that the entrance of Christianity into the world was not sudden or abrupt; that is an illusion which arises in the mind from our slender acquaintance with contemporary opinions. Better, and higher, and holier as it was, it was not absolutely distinct from the teaching of the doctors of the law; either in form or substance; it was not unconnected with, but gave life and truth to, the mystic fancies of Alexandrian philosophy. Even in the counsels of perfection of the sermon on the mount, there is probably nothing which might not be found, either in letter or spirit, in Philo or some other Jewish or eastern writer. The peculiarity of the gospel is, not that it teaches what is wholly new, but that it draws out of the treasure-house of the human heart things new and old, gathering together in one dispersed fragments of truth.” I wish I could quote what follows, but it would lead me too far.

Mr. Jowett turns round and says there remains what eludes criticism—processes of life, about which we know nothing; the figure which St. Paul applies to the resurrection of the body (except it die), “is true, also, of the renewal of the soul, especially in the first ages, of which we know so little, and in which the gospel seems to have acted with far greater power than among ourselves.”

W. How singular! Mr. Jowett puts me in mind of a person who, having lived blind and among blind people all his life, has just got his eyes open, and is telling us astonishing news—the first impressions he receives—as if never before discovered, yet reckons all distances wrong, and judges about all objects falsely; yet is no longer blind, but refers all things to his state of blindness, as he naturally must. It is so new that the poor man judges rightly of nothing. All is inconsistent, his head full of his old ideas mingled with new conceptions. Men are trees walking. What he would have known by touch, he does not yet by sight: as a dead orthodoxy may be truth, and is gone when the heart wants truth for itself.

H. I believe it is really the truth of his state. But it is a pity, in such a state, a man should set up to teach. Deeper wants in his own heart would have kept him from it. He would have wanted to have learned—I do not mean from man, but of Christ. He had the habit of teaching, I suppose. And then there is another thing: he got into the hands of others, inferior in this respect to himself—men still blind. He has got into this wretched system where there is no truth, and the most offensive pretensions and copying from one another. And thus his Essay is a treatise of contradictions. I pursue his system only, for others are injured by it. For himself, I would hope the best.

But see what his system comes to—his eastern rhetoric. The revelation of God is composed of Alexandrian philosophy and the scattered fragments of truth in the human heart. All is doubt. What is rhetoric in it, what truth? What comes from Philo? How can the human heart, in which masses of error are mixed with scraps of truth; while the scraps of truth only make the error more powerful, judge of the elements of truth gathered up here? Can error judge of truth? All is confusion. Now, I admit that there were dregs of traditional truth worked up by Satan (who can use truth in man’s mind, but not the truth as it is in God’s) into idolatry on the one hand, and philosophy on the other. I admit that the cravings of the human mind after God, and the knowledge of good and evil acquired at the fall, produced some apprehensions of partial truths. It was like the Achamoth of Sophia’s cravings after Bythos, in the Valentinian system, which probably was an effort of “eastern lands” to describe these atoms of truth in the sea of confusion, and was most poetical—a world formed of the sighs and tears, and I forget what else, of Achamoth, outside the Pleroma.

In the Alexandrian system, as we have it in Philo, and perhaps the Book of Wisdom, much had been borrowed from scripture, much from Plato, who, I cannot doubt, had got his notions from the Feroohers of Zoroaster, and which, except the Feroohers, is reproduced in Hegel and Schelling. Gentiles had traditions; Alexandrian philosophy had shreds of Judaism; but God was lost. Now God, who had compassion on man, took up every link where He could connect Himself in grace with man, while positively confirming His own revelation given in the Old Testament. He could take up the unknown God in Athens, the lovgo" in Alexandria, the Paraclete itself as a term. But what does He do? The unknown God is fully revealed with positive facts and divine truth. The Xoyog was introduced by Platonic Jews in Alexandria, because God could have nothing to say to the mere creature; and the lovgo" might form others, but remained alone in His own nature. For John the lovgo" is God, who Himself becomes flesh. The cravings which philosophy had made a false system out of, not knowing God, are met (not a system made out of them) by the revelation of God Himself, the truth of all they sought, and the perfect grace they needed. It put down the philosophy, while it met all the seekings of man in it. It took up the old thoughts thus far; but to say it did not so much bring in what was new is utterly false. All it brought in was new (save as the Old Testament revelation had spoken of it). But it did meet the hungerings of the human soul, which philosophy was wasting by ideas, and told the truth about the traditions which had been perverted into monstrous, idolatrous, and absurd legends.

It is impossible to go through the discussion of some childish and some useful, though perhaps imaginative, adaptations of scripture. But some points claim our attention. “It is admitted scripture has only one meaning.” We have partly spoken of this; but there are new points connected with it here. We are not now to decide whether scripture is wise in having one or more, but whether it has. Now, in the use made of it here, the proposition —that it has only one meaning—is wholly false. Mystical and allegorical interpretations of the Fathers I throw overboard at once. Scripture is not answerable for them; but our friend Philo and the Alexandrians mainly. But prophecy and symbolism of the gospel in the law are referred to. Prophecy we have spoken of; but symbolism means types of the Old Testament applicable to things in the New. Now I affirm that Old and New Testament concur in stating this to be so. Moses was commanded to make the tabernacle according to the pattern he had seen in the mount; nay, if God made such a system, we ought to expect some meaning in it more than gowns, and dresses, and curtains. When I read through the scripture, I find the whole form of language framed on such a symbolical use, and the great facts of the New the plain counterpart to the symbols of the Old. You must crush the whole structure of scripture in its most vital essences, tear the warp out of it so that it ceases to be a texture, before you undo this. Altars, tabernacles, the dwelling-place of God, sacrifices, priesthood, the rock, the water, the anointing, the holy place, the mercy-seat, the blood-shedding—I should go through every element of what constitutes its whole texture of thought, before I had closed the list of symbolical facts and objects presented in the Old Testament and taken up in the New, and which have entered, and that according to scripture, into the whole conception and framework of our religious thought. It is not a way of interpreting scripture, it is scripture itself. Christ is the Lamb of God. He is a great High Priest entered into the holiest. And Paul goes farther; he tells us as to the history itself, “All these things happened unto them for types, and they are written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the world are come.” One, and only one, true meaning therefore is not the fact in this case.

Say Moses was foolish, and Paul foolish; but if you so interpret scripture, you interpret it contrary to its nature and positive directions. That is, you do not interpret it, you correct it. I have the facts—important, very important, in the history of the people—important as a history of God’s dealings with the people; and I get them avowedly pattern facts. Keep the imagination in check—all quite right. Look for doctrines in doctrinal passages, and here for details and illustrations—all right. But do not pretend you are teaching us to interpret scripture rightly when you are directly contradicting it, and saying to it, You are wrong. It is not the Fathers who have said that Sarah and Hagar were an allegory. We do not follow them in such a point as saying, Does God take care for oxen?

W. On this point I do not think you need go farther. If I use scripture at all, and on the weightiest subjects, Mr. Jowett’s principle becomes impossible. It breaks down, as you say, the whole structure of scripture itself. And I see that he does not merely check the indulgence of imagination in it, which is quite right, but rejects the idea of more or less. He declares, that “in whatever degree it is practised, it is equally incapable of being reduced to any rule.” I do not know whether he rejects the Epistle to the Hebrews; but evidently that book is gone wholly if his principle be true, and countless passages throughout the whole New Testament.

H. Temporal and spiritual Israel, as commonly used, I give him freely up. It is a mere abuse of words. I say, as commonly used; because in the common adaptation of prophecies, prophecies explicitly referring to Israel are applied to the assembly, where the subject-matter and principles are completely opposed. Ordained forms, and facts of history, may have a symbolical application, but moral addresses refer to the objects and moral state of those addressed, and do not give us objects to interpret, but persons addressed. Zion means Zion when she is prophesied about. The prophecy concerns her because it speaks to her on the moral ground she is on, and the arbitrary application to the assembly is entirely false, because the principle of relationship with God is different. A general principle, as that God is faithful or good, may be of course applied, with just care to see how it is used; but the people addressed are not symbolical objects, but moral persons, and the facts to happen real. If we are to speak of the Lord’s prophecy as to Jerusalem, I apply the same principle, but I deny wholly that in Matthew, Titus, &c, are spoken of at all. There may have been something analogous; but its only direct application is to dealings yet to come, immediately after which the Lord will appear. I believe this because it says so. In Luke I have the siege of Jerusalem, and the language is carefully altered. I believe what is said in both passages. In Luke, whose gospel always looks out to Gentiles, the times of the Gentiles after the siege are distinctly spoken of before the signs that are to come.

Remark here how doubt is thrown on all. It is asked, Is the application of types “to be regarded as the meaning of the original text, or an accommodation of it to the thoughts of later times?” Now, note that the Lord instituted the Last Supper as taking the place of the Passover. The apostles apply in every passage these figures, so that the question is not if we are interpreting right; it extends to this—if the Lord and the apostles are merely accommodating these figures or not? What does Mr. Jowett think? He says, “Our object is, not to attempt here the determination of these questions, but to point out that they must be determined before any real progress can be made.” The answer is, for every Christian the matter is determined. They believe in the Lord’s and the apostles’ use of them—man’s uses now they judge by scripture to see if they are just.

W. I see no difficulty in the question. The use of any given type now is, of course, to be judged of when it is used. I find them most instructive, and, fitting in with positive doctrines which warrant what is drawn from them, they become living pictures and illustrations of what otherwise would escape you. They may not, in our hands, serve to found a doctrine as a first revelation of it; but as a vivid illustration and suggestion of truth they are invaluable.

H. Mr. Jowett insists on this because “The Old Testament will receive a different meaning accordingly as it is explained from itself or from the New. In the first case, a careful and conscientious study of each one for itself is all that is required; in the second case, the types and ceremonies of the law, perhaps the very facts and persons of the history, will be assumed to be predestined or made after a pattern corresponding to the things that were to be in the latter days.” Now, all this is confusion from beginning to end. It ignores the positive statements of the volume pretended to be interpreted. And further, if the book be inspired, one Mind has formed it from beginning to end, and we must look for a co-ordinated system. If it be not, we find there is an end of predestinating facts or even statements. But we have seen that, if it is a true history, the whole system of the tabernacle was made after a pattern, which the Epistle to the Hebrews largely and specifically declares to be a heavenly one, and the tabernacle a pattern of things in the heavens. But we have this even more specifically denned. The law was a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image. There were sacrifices: so Jesus was a sacrifice. But the Jewish were repeated, proving that sin was not for ever put away for him who came by them; Jesus’ was not repeated, because it was. There were many priests, because they died; for us but one, because He ever lives. There was a veil, and no one could go into the holiest; now the veil is rent, and we have boldness to enter. The high priest stood, because his work was never finished; Jesus is set down at the right hand of God, because His work is finished for ever, and so on. These were the outlines of this vast exhibition of God’s ways to be a key, so to speak, near the eye. But neither Testament is simply to be explained by the other. In some points there is contrast, as law and gospel; in others analogies; in others common principles; in others prophetic announcements. The only point we learn to have been hidden was the assembly. This could not be revealed because it was based on the casting down of the middle wall of partition, and the Jewish system on its being strictly kept up.

But if God be the Author of the sacred volume, it is monstrous to suppose there was not a preparatory leading on to the full revelation of God Himself, or that He revealed something which was wholly unconnected with and no way introductory to what followed. It was necessary to make distinct the difference between man’s standing on the ground of his own responsibility, and grace—between requiring, however justly, and giving. And this, though prophets point to the giving, there is. But promises came before law; and even under law (a ministration of condemnation and death) there were ordinances which prefigured the way of grace, while the exacting of righteousness, which man had not, led him to the sense of the need which grace met. The understanding of all this rests on this: “They shall be all taught of God.” Each part, as to its statements, is to be understood in itself; but, when simply understood, the correspondences and differences will appear, and rich instruction for man’s soul be acquired out of them.

All this division of Mr. Jowett’s, and its consequences, is in the air, and written without any kind of reference to the facts of the case. We do not assume anything about it. We take what is said in the book itself about itself, and find it verified in the richest and most instructive manner. One would think Mr. Jowett had never read St. Paul’s Epistles, or the Hebrews, or indeed any part of the New Testament; for, as I said, he does not reason on its interpretation here, but against its contents. And man’s fancies, and scriptural (that is, divine) expositions, are thrown together as of equal weight.

There is another interesting question which he touches on— the origin of the first three gospels; but his conclusions—for he is one of the most illogical persons I ever met with—are in no way the consequence of his premisses. He is constantly making a false division, and the true conclusion is outside all he says. There is a difficulty as to the forms of recital of the first three or synoptical gospels. Marsh, who was educated in Germany, introduced into this country a modification of Eichhorn’s German theories. Eichhorn afterwards changed his somewhat in consequence, if I remember right. The singular fact is, that tantamount statements are found in these gospels, often verbally the same, and yet sometimes different, and the facts placed in different connection. The only difficulty, and that which all are really entirely ignorant of, is, how to account for it. It affords no difficulty in reading, but great help. The difficulty is, for critics, simply how it should have happened. Mr. Jowett supposes the main facts were preserved orally.

Now, till the gospels were written, that seems to me a matter of fact, not “a probable solution,” whatever use we may make of the fact. Only we have to remember that Christ told the apostles they should be witnesses, because they had been with Him from the beginning. That they were kept, according to the promise, to bring all things to their remembrance, as Jesus had said, I believe; and that they were graciously secured in their memory and use of facts; still they spoke of what they had seen. But this, while very simple, does not at all account for the phenomena, because one evangelist, even an apostle, recounts facts where he was not present, and another who was present does not recount them—as Matthew and John as to what passed in the garden of Gethsemane. The motive of the histories, and these had had their source in some motive, is not in the casualty of memory, nor in the documents possessed. The theory is, the writers had the same tradition to use. Now if there were no governing motive, which gave a form to the gospels, writers would have put the facts together according to the document men have imagined, or the current tradition. But they do not. The order is distinct. The allegation that they are not distinct witnesses is unfounded. They may, in particular parts, have used what all knew; but they are wholly in their accounts independent of one another. But I attach no importance to independent witnesses, because I believe all was inspired. But I find clear proof of distinct objects in the gospels, objects pursued in each, from one end to the other; which rationalists, who always rest on the surface, have never found a trace of, and which gives the clearest proof of the absurdity of their theories of the structure of the gospels.

But as to the question raised, the facts of the case prove the contrary to what is pretended. If all the evangelists simply used a common tradition, how comes it that the connection, order, and development of facts are so different, if there was not in each (as inspired, I believe) independent design? Men have a common tradition (it is only true of a part), and yet produce very different books. They are not memoranda thrown together unconnected, but a set of facts used in a definite, but diverse connection, so as to produce a different picture altogether of the Saviour’s life, and large portions wholly omitted, and large portions introduced, all in connection with this design. Yet, all together, they make up the full character of the Saviour seen on earth. It is declared, moreover, that there was a mass of other facts which they do not record, because these suit the purposes.

Again, whole scenes of labour and miracles are told in a few verses, where it met the point sought for; large details are given of single ones, when it revealed some trait of Christ’s life or principle of God’s dealings.

Let me, before I enter on this, a little notice Mr. Jowett’s conclusions from the statement I have quoted above:—(I.) There is no necessity to reconcile inconsistent narratives—the harmony of the gospels only means the parallelism of words. Now I object totally to all harmonies, as such; but the remark is unfounded. A certain number of passages are parallel in words; but, as to a vast quantity of the materials, it is not the case. A harmony is merely an attempt at chronological order.

W. But why do you object to harmonies?

H. Because they are the confusion of accounts which are each written with a distinct divine object. The facts are put together by the Holy Ghost, for I may speak as a believer with you, with an evident purpose, each gospel presenting both Christ and the ways of God in a different light. To throw them all together is to destroy this purpose, and obscure the intelligence of the gospels.

W. I understand: if there be such purpose in each, it must, of course, do so. Proceed.

H. The second conclusion of Mr. Jowett is, “There is no necessity to enforce anywhere the connection of successive verses, for the same words will be found in different connections in different gospels.” Now, the true conclusion is exactly the contrary. The Evangelists had some leading facts in common, containing, for they do so, important principles, and many other facts each to himself. They do not combine them alike, but form a picture different one from another, though combining into a whole; for no one who has examined the gospels carefully can deny this. Now, the difference of connection is one great mark of this design. And the different connections in which the statements occur are one great clue to the design, though by no means its only evidence.

Supposing I had this phrase: The Jews crucified the Son of God, the Lord of glory, at Jerusalem. And one writer went on— “Think of the wickedness of this people, this was their crowning sin. There, in the beloved city, whose children He would so often have gathered under His wings, these very children put their Messiah and Lord to death.” As far as this goes, I should conclude this writer is bringing out the guilt of this people in Christ’s death. And if I saw him going on afterwards to relate discoveries as to something else coming in, instead of Israel—as the assembly or kingdom—the bearing of his narrative would gradually open clearly to me. Supposing another gave the same words, and said—“See the Son of God Himself crucified; how deep is His love, how sad the guilt of man! and of those, too, who were nearest to Him, who had the best opportunity of seeing that He was indeed the Lord of glory, whom none of the princes of this world have known.” I should gather that this writer is bringing out man’s guilt in general, and that no evidence will correct the evil of the heart. If I found afterwards the most touching doctrinal and parabolic illustration of man’s evil and God’s love, and not the assembly or the kingdom, but heaven and another world, I should get hold (of course by study and divine help, and gradually) of the bearing and design of this writing also. Patient investigation and waiting on divine help, of course, are called for; but the difference of the connection in which the same words are found is so far a special guiding trace to the discovery of the spirit and aim of the particular gospel.

W. It is as evident as evident can be.

H. And what shall we say to Mr. Jowett’s conclusion—that there is no need to notice the connections because they are different?

W. We had better leave it.

H. Be it so. But you cannot be surprised if rationalists’ reasonings have no great weight with me.

He adds, (3.) “Nor can the designs attributed to their authors be regarded as the free handling of the same subject on different plans; the difference consisting chiefly in the occurrence or absence of local or verbal explanations, or the addition or omission of certain passages.” After what we have already seen, we cannot be surprised at this remark. I have only added just now to my example certain passages. But what can possibly be more absurd than this? It depends wholly on what is added or omitted, or what the local explanation is. I do not see how an explanation in this case can be anything but local (for we are talking of connection of passages), or than verbal (for we are talking of words, and additions or omissions complete the list). So it is only saying no connection can explain the design, which is simply absurd; for the addition or verbal explanation might be even a statement of the design, so that the conclusion is utterly foolish. But it is not the fact. The order of the facts is constantly different, so as to give a totally different colour to them. Save in a brief early part, when this is the main point, the choice of facts is totally distinct, though you see the same scenes.

And then the different order and the whole structure of each gospel mark clearly its object. The parables afford the strongest proof of the design of the gospels, and vary largely and abundantly; and in the last solemn scenes, while certain facts must be the same, the special adaptation to the character and design of the gospels is as evident as possible. But I go further. Certain leading facts are common to all, at least to the three; but even these prove design, not a tradition gathered up, as it might be, from memory. They are significant facts, characteristic facts, connected with the immense change that was taking place by the rejection of Christ, and leading to this change. We are assured that they had an immense mass of other facts; yet he who had them does not recount them, but declares what his design is in what he does recount. But the facts were there, remembered but not recounted; and those that are characteristic and common to all, differently connected with one another. I see then evidently design, I have no doubt divine design, but certainly design; a selection of facts for all. By whom? Yet (and here we see independency) these facts so differently used, and in such different connections, that they could not have joined in arranging them, nor could there have been collusion. They would have avoided the differences reproached to them. We have a vast number of facts known, not used—a choice of facts, to a certain degree common to all, hence brought together by some one; but not by the different writers together, for they use them all differently, and to different purposes, though all to present the Lord to us. And they have besides such a large number of other facts and discourses, which they introduce in the midst of the former, or all together—for both are true—completing evidently the specific design of each. Now I get here distinct instruments, distinct objects, each instrument following his own, but, at the same time, a common Mind which has guided and overruled it all.

As regards the traditions of the Fathers as to Mark and Luke, they may be true; between Luke and Paul there is certainly spiritual and historical connection; but they are of no sort of consequence. As they stand, they are vague and contradictory, and founded on an utterly false principle—namely, to trace each gospel to an apostle. At the very best they are curiosities of history, which, if a person believes the book divine, are of an entirely secondary interest.

W. But you must go through the gospels in this view a little.

H. It is a long task, but, to my mind at least, full of interest— an inlet into the mind and grace of our God, and not merely dry antagonism with rationalism.

W. Quite so. I desire it the rather for that reason; for though we may be called upon to occupy ourselves with these Essays, still, by going effectually into scripture, we get, with the arguments against them by the positive proof of what is good, food, divine food, for our own souls, which brings a conviction of a higher order.

H. Well, I will run through, then, as most strongly characteristic, the Gospels of John and Matthew, so as to mark their character; just referring to Luke—and Mark too, which, as you know, is a shorter one, and rapid in its course as to facts—to confirm the general principle.

I will begin with John, because it is perhaps the most easy to seize. John’s great doctrine is the Son of God on earth, and eternal life in Him, and the revelation of God in and by Him. In his epistle he goes on to the manifestation of this same life in the disciple. He is the eternal life which was with the Father, and has been manifested unto us. Then, “He that hath the Son hath life,” and so “which thing is true in him and in you.” The details are the traits of this life, the knowledge of the love of God in it through the Spirit, and fellowship with the Father and the Son. In the gospel, to which I will now confine myself, it is His person and the gift of the Comforter when He is gone.

I will run through the chapters of this Gospel, to see if there be not a leading idea running all through, to which the peculiar facts recorded are subservient. That idea is the Son of God, outside of and above all dispensational dealings, in the blessedness of His own person, though, as a man, and taking fully a man’s place. But it is, as I think I have remarked, not man taken up to heaven, but a divine person come down to earth.

In chapter 1 there are three parts, 1-18, 19-34, and thence to the end; but this continued in chapter 2:1-22. The first is the abstract glory of His nature. He is God, but a distinct person with God, and that in eternity, life, light: John was His witness. There was this singular phenomenon—light shining in darkness, and the darkness remaining what it was; and then the Word made flesh and dwelling among us—the only begotten Son in the bosom of the Father—who makes God known. Next we have what Christ does, His work, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and the baptism with the Holy Ghost. We then find Christ the centre and gatherer of the remnant of Israel. In the first of the two days, John the Baptist’s work to this end is spoken of; in the second, Christ’s. This last, I doubt not (like Matthew 10), goes down, in principle, to His return.

I would note, in passing, that we have here Christ as a divine centre, for none can be such truly but God; next the one only path through a world in which there is none for man, for there can be none for children who have wilfully abandoned their Father’s house till they turn back to it; and then the heaven open, and man (in Christ) the object of divine favour, and the mighty ones, the most exalted of creatures, His servants. Nathanael owned Him, according to Psalm 2. He takes His place according to Psalm 8. Here note, that the Jews and world, as such, are wholly outside, verses 10, 11 (the Jews are always treated as reprobates in this gospel), and those born of God alone owned, verses 12, 13. In a word, we have, not dispensational dealings, but the deep realities of the divine nature in relationship to men and the world, though it is fully owned that the Jews were God’s people.

Chapter 2, called the third day, I have no doubt intimates the double aspect of Christ’s reunion with His earthly people—the marriage and the judgment. I can quite accept that such a figure (though to me, from the connection, undoubted) may not be admitted. I do not complain of this, but, as I am saying what I think, I would not omit it.

In chapter 2:23-3:21 we have the great foundations of the new state of things—born of God, and the cross; the latter in the double aspect of the Son of man must be lifted up; the love of God has given His Son. The condemnation is, the coming in of light. (Ver. 22-36.) In the full aspect of the new state of things, and the absolutely heavenly character of the witness, are gone into.

After this introduction, for such it is (John was not yet cast into prison, and Christ had not yet presented himself), He leaves Judaea (chap. 4), practically driven out by the Jews, and in Samaria, where no promise was (salvation, He declares in the chapter, was of the Jews), unfolds the living power of the Holy Ghost, which He could give as God—for God was giving, not requiring—and which He was humbled, so as to be the weary One craving a drink of water, that man might have; and then finds the way to man’s unintelligent heart, as it ever must be, by the conscience. Nothing more lovely than this whole picture— the rejected and weary One finding His meat in shewing grace to this wearied but guilty heart; but I must not dwell on it here. It opened to His view the fields white for harvest at the moment He was cast out.

In chapter 5 we have the Son of God giving life to whom He will. The general picture is man’s incompetency to get healed by strength in himself; and Christ, in contrast, bringing life, and that eternal life, so as to escape judgment. The end of the chapter shews life in Him, with every evidence; and man would not come to have it. This is man’s responsibility as to Christ.

In chapter 5 He is the life-giving Son of God. In chapter 6 He is the Son of man, the object of faith come into the world, and dying, so that faith feeds on Him. The general picture is Christ satisfying the poor with bread, according to Psalm 132; owned Prophet, refusing then to be King, going up on high alone, while His disciples were tossed and toiling in His absence; He rejoins them, and they are at land: a Christ, the true manna (ver. 2-9), incarnate, and dying (understood in spirit), their true food.

In chapter 7, He cannot shew Himself at the feast of Tabernacles. The feast of Passover is fulfilled in Him; the Pentecost, on the day so called. But the Tabernacles, where Israel celebrated their rest after the harvest and vintage (known figures of judgment), are not even yet. He promises the Spirit meanwhile, as Israel had the water out of the rock in the desert; only now it should be in him who came to Him to drink, and flow forth as rivers in this desert world. Thus we have the triple fruition of the Holy Ghost giving life as born of Him, the spiritual power of life in us rising up to its full blessing as eternal life, and flowing forth in blessing from us as a river. This closed the direct communication of Christ as to His position on earth.

In chapter 8 His word is rejected; there He is light.

In chapter 9 His works; here He gives eyes to see. He gives eyes to a poor sheep cast out, who, having owned Him as a prophet, finds He is the Son of God. Then comes all He is for His sheep, from His entering in Himself by the door as a subject man, then laying down His life for them (of infinite value in itself also), to His being one with the Father.

In chapters 11 and 12, being thus rejected, He receives just testimony, in spite of men, to His being Son of God (resurrection and life), in Lazarus’ resurrection; to His being Son of David, in riding on the ass; to His being Son of man, by the Greeks coming mp. But He declares that, to take this place, He must die or abide alone. He must be lifted up to draw (not Israel as a living Messiah, but) all men. The evangelist then unfolds how it stood with Israel, and Christ how it stood with the world at large in respect of Himself.

He is now owned, so to speak, as crucified—i.e., His teaching takes up what is beyond it. He was come from God and went to God. The Father had delivered all into His hand. And now, if He could not abide with His disciples as a companion upon earth, He would make them fit to be with Him in heaven—to have a part with Him. They were washed, as completely regenerated by the word; but, as priests connected with the sanctuary and holy service, they must have their feet washed as to daily conversation: this He was their servant still to do. He then refers to His betrayal and Peter’s denial of Him—the perfect wickedness of flesh and its weakness; He declares the value Godward of the death of the Son of man and its fruit in His then entering into divine glory, and being no more (bodily) for any in the world.

In chapter 14 He unfolds His disciples’ position in consequence. He was not going to be alone on high, He was going to prepare a place for them; but, having revealed the Father in Himself, they knew where He was going, for He was going to the Father, and they had seen Him in Him; and they knew the way, for they had come to the Father in coming to Him. That was as already there; but on going away He would obtain another Comforter for them. In spirit He would come to them, manifest Himself to them, and the Father and Himself make Their abode with them. The path of obedience and responsibility on christian (not on Adam) ground is in this and the following chapter fully set out. He left what He could only give in leaving—for He made it by the cross —peace; He gave them His own peace; but He was truly a man, cared for their love; if they loved Him, they would be glad He was going to His Father, to rest and glory.

But there was a difficulty. What about the vine that God brought out of Egypt and planted? This He meets in the following chapter. Israel was not the vine, though as a people it were so. He Himself was the true Vine, they were the branches. He was not, as they thought of Messiah, the best branch of the old vine; He was the Vine, and they the branches. He then enlarges upon the way of bearing due fruit, dependence and obedience, and, if His words abode in them, asking what they would; most important instructions, which I regret passing over so rapidly, only that I must confine myself to my present object—the general idea. As He has returned to this rejection of the old provisional -vine, so to speak, He shews that to be without excuse, and as really having seen and hated (not Messiah, though He was such, but) Him and His Father. It is laid on its intrinsic moral grounds. Hence, when the Comforter was come—before, He had spoken of the Father’s sending Him, now of His sending Him from the Father to testify of Him glorified (as before, to bring to remembrance what He had said upon earth), they also having to bear testimony as with Him from the beginning.

In chapter 16, when the Comforter was come, He would bear witness in the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, in connection with His rejection and going away to His Father; and guide the disciples into all truth, shew them things to come, and glorify Christ (all that the Father had being His); and then places them in immediate confident relationship with the Father. For the moment they were to be in sorrow, and scattered.

In chapter 17, addressing His Father (wonderful thought that we should be admitted to hear!) He looks to taking His own place as Son on high, to glorify Him in virtue of His work which He had finished; the one our place, the other our title to it. He puts them in it, having manifested His Father’s name to them, and gives to them all the communications made to Him in it on earth, and prays for them, on the ground of their being the Father’s, and on the ground of His being glorified in them. He prays they may be kept in the name of the Holy Father; and divine names are the power of the thing named. Holiness, His holiness, and children; these are our place. This, that Christ’s own joy might be fulfilled in them. Then He gives, not the words, but the word, the testimony, and the world hates them. They are completely put in Christ’s place on earth in every respect, sanctified by the truth, and He Himself set apart, away from men, on high, to be the source of this their setting apart, by the revelation of what He was to their hearts. Next, He gives them the glory the Father had given Him, but, beyond all, will have them with Himself where He is; and, as partaking of His glory hereafter, He will prove to the world they were loved as He was; so that He manifests the Father’s name now, that the Father’s love to Him may be in them on earth, and He in them.

Having thus completed His disciples’ place in His absence, and even to their heavenly rest—of which John speaks little, barely in the beginning of chapter 14 and at the end of chapter 17, and this only in the full result—in chapter 18. He enters on the final history of the Lord’s days on earth. But this, even more than any other part, shews the divine person who is above all circumstances. John was one of the three present—as near as any could be—in the agony in Gethsemane. He gives not a word of it; while Matthew, who was present at what John recounts, tells nothing of that, but does of the agony.

Now if these contrasted circumstances were not characteristic they might not prove much, but they are most strikingly characteristic. I will briefly recall to you those mentioned by St. John. All point out the Son of God wholly above circumstances; the free offering up of Himself. Judas comes; the Lord advances and names Himself. They all go backward and fall to the ground. Had He sought escape, He had only to go away; but He asks again, and then says, “If ye seek me, let these go their way”— the blessed sign, as the apostle witnesses, how He stood in the gap, and, however poor and weak, the disciples escaped untouched. With this love we have perfect love to His Father, and perfect obedience. “The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?”—and no more. The miracle of healing, even, is not noticed by John, though he can give the servant’s name. So all His answers to the chief priest are in the calm superiority of one above all that surrounded Him, while the full guilt and madness of the Jews are fully brought out, as they are seen in all the gospel; and in rejecting Him they deny their own place: “We have no king but Caesar.” Christ’s answers before Pilate bear the same stamp as one above all. As we had no agony in the garden, so no “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” on the cross. Finally, Jesus, knowing now all was finished, a single passage remaining to be fulfilled, says, “I thirst,” and having drunk the vinegar says, “It is finished.” He then bows His head, and gives up His own spirit. Meanwhile, in perfect calmness, He committed His mother to John, and charged John with the care of her. No bone is broken, but Joseph and Nicodemus make Him to be with the rich in His death. Now, in all this—and John, mark, was with Him, as near as any could be in His agony, and standing by at the cross; all that marked the anguished Man is omitted, and all that presents the Son of God is introduced—I find design; that is, a blessed and beautiful appearing, as a true, lowly, and obedient man, no doubt, but an appearing of the Son of God as such, for faith on earth; revealing His Father all His life, and even in the circumstances of His death, Son of God still.

W. Though the whole synoptical analysis of the gospel is important to our purpose, yet the character of the last facts referred to, in connection with the blessed Lord’s death, is to me even more striking still. I do not see how it is possible to avoid seeing a divine design in connection with the purpose of the whole gospel, and the aspect in which the Lord is viewed throughout it; His person as the new foundation of all when He had been offered up in sacrifice, the Jews being wholly rejected. It is striking, too, that he does not mention what he alone of the evangelists might have been, in some measure, an eye-witness of.

H. Two chapters remain to consider, relating His history after the resurrection. They are throughout, I do not doubt, significative as to the dispensational dealings consequent on the truths already brought out. Such applications are not like doctrines : we must leave them to the judgments of others. But I will state them to you. Their orderly completeness, I have no doubt, proves the truth of the view I suggest. The fact of Christ’s resurrection known only by sight, without the testimony of God in the word that He must rise, produces no effect. They go home. But Mary, out of whom seven devils had been cast, wants Jesus Himself—in ignorance, no doubt, but in true affection. When this had been fully and most beautifully brought out—the world had nothing for her but Him—Jesus reveals Himself to her, and makes her the messenger of the witness of the believers’ position. He was not come back to be corporeally present for the kingdom, and reign over Israel. He could, through redemption, call His disciples brethren, and they were in the same relationship to His God and Father as He was. This gathers them, and He is in their midst, and pronounces peace—for He had now made it: then sends them forth, breathing into them the living power of the Holy Ghost. Afterwards Thomas believes on seeing; but full blessing arose from believing now without seeing. Now, I have no doubt, while this put the disciples historically in their true place and relationship to God, yet we have a picture of the whole period from Christ’s resurrection to the time of His return: first, the remnant who had known Him before; then the assembly formed without seeing Him, and in possession of peace with God, and His presence, as assembled, then sent forth in the power of the Holy Ghost with remission of sins for others; then the remnant of Israel in the latter days, who will believe by seeing. This introduces the millennium. The last chapter has avowedly in it that which is mysterious, and evidently intentionally so. I have no doubt myself that it follows on consecutively after the Lord’s return. Seen on earth, seen in resurrection, seen now the third time, i.e., when He returns. He puts Himself on the original ground of His associations with Israel only in power. The nets do not break, the ships do not sink. He has already gathered fish, but the great haul is then taken, and without the ensuing failure as it was in previous service.

Remark, too, we are in Galilee, and there is no ascension. This suits John; it is divine manifestation on earth, not man’s going to heaven; hence, it links on to the future display of power, not to Christ’s coming to receive the assembly which is united to Him while in heaven. Peter follows Christ, and is to be cut off, and, I believe, the whole Jewish church system with him. John is left in testimony to connect it with that which is to come, so that the disciples thought he was not to die, but this was not said. Now these last points I leave to the christian perception of every one who examines the gospel with care; but the facts prove the coordinated character of the history, from one end of the Gospel to the other, completing one distinct and clear exhibition of Christ outside legal Judaism, in every chapter up to His taking His sheep, which closed all recognition of the fold, being Christ in contrast with that Judaism, and presenting the setting up of .a new thing in Him. Peter’s ministry, who served in the circumcision, like Jesus, would end like His. But John’s, who represented ministry outside it, but not heavenly though leading individual there, would go on till Christ came.

W. All this requires study to verify the consistency of details, and the general character you give to it, where it is mysterious, which it evidently purposely is; but the fact of a definite character and design in the Gospel is evident.

H. There is another point I would note here on occasion of chapter 15. The notion of the application of the words in Hosea, “I have called my Son out of Egypt” to Christ, is ridiculed by rationalists. Now, I affirm distinctly that it is according to the tenor of scripture testimony and perfectly rightly applied. It is a great leading truth. If you look at Isaiah 49, you will see Messiah distinctly presented as taking the place of Israel. I think we have spoken, when on the pseudo-Isaiah of infidels, of the elect servant of Israel—Christ the elect servant, and the remnant the elect servant of the last days. But this chapter 49 is more definite. Israel is first presented as Jehovah’s witness in the earth, as the polished shaft in His quiver. “Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified. Then I said,” says Messiah, “I have laboured in vain, and spent my strength for nought and in vain.” And so it was with Christ on earth. “But now, saith Jehovah, who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of Jehovah, and my God shall be my strength. And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, and to be my salvation to the end of the earth.” That is, Israel is presented as the servant of the Lord; but when Christ comes, if it were so, His labour was in vain, and then Christ, though to restore the remnant in due time, is Himself God’s servant, and light goes forth to the Gentiles. This is the passage Paul so strikingly quotes as justifying his turning from the Jews to the Gentiles, when the former rejected his message. Christ takes the place of Israel under the law, Israel after the flesh. This He does all through John, though in a higher way, as revealed Son of God. Hence, in chapter 15, He proclaims Himself as the true vine. Israel was the well-known vine, and, as remarked before, Messiah was to be the best branch, the topmost bough. But Israel is set aside. The true vine, as the true servant, is Christ. Israel was Jehovah’s son, His first born; but Christ was .the Son, the true first born of every creature. Hence, as rejected by Israel, He begins Israel’s whole history afresh, and, as not deriving His position from the people, He is called out of Egypt to begin their history according to God.

Now, remark here, dear W., I am not saying whether scripture be wise or foolish; I believe it divinely wise; but that is not my question now. What I say is, it is the system of scripture to substitute Christ for Israel, the second Adam for the first, and, that what wholly failed as founded on the responsibility of man was taken up afresh in the perfect and unfailing .Son of God. Indeed, this is true, as we have seen, as to every principle of God’s dealings with men, but I now speak only of Israel. And hence Matthew and the New Testament, using the Old Testament scripture, use it rightly according to the intended use of scripture. People may quarrel with scripture, but they cannot say that Matthew quotes, “Out of Egypt have I called my son,” in a way not according to the intention of scripture. It is the system and plan of scripture, of the Old Testament itself, to transfer passages from Israel the provisional son to Christ the true Son thus.

W. Well, this is a new view of the matter. It is taking the bull by the horns.

H. I believe it to be the simple matter of fact. I think the real weakness of the defenders of scripture is, that they do not really believe in its perfection: they yield something to their adversaries. If it be divine, I cannot yield what is divine; if it be not divine, I have lost all scripture. If I believe it divine, I seek the divine meaning, and I shall be helped to discover it, and wait till I do. The moment you compromise, you are off the ground on which the Bible is of any value; or that contending for it is of any consequence whatever.

W. There I agree with you, and I think that, for Christians, these attacks will be of great value in this respect. For even orthodox persons were very loose in their estimate of God’s word, and of inspiration. The divine authority of God’s word, and the present action of the Holy Ghost were not really believed in.

H. An unconverted man cannot spiritually recognize either. He may be brought up with respect for the word of God, and it is a very great mercy. But his own thoughts, when he thinks, must be human as to it when he comes to the point, and he has none else. When he “has set to his seal that God is true,” all this is changed.

But we will now take up Matthew.

W. If you please. What is the aspect in which Christ is presented in this Gospel, as you suppose? What the ways and dealings of God as presented in it?

H. The Emmanuel, Jehovah-Messiah, promised and prophesied of, presented to Israel but rejected, and thus rejected Israel making way for the assembly and the kingdom; but all in earthly or Jewish connection, from that point of view. Hence, as in John, the final scene is in Galilee, and there is no ascension.

Let us now go through its general structure as the evidence of special design—of a design which has divine largeness of view and object. It begins with the roots of promise to come to the promised Seed,—Abraham, David, Christ. There are none of the lovely details of the state of the poor and godly remnant in Israel which we find in Luke, but simply the accomplishment of prophecy in the miraculous birth of Jesus, whose name was to be the expression of the coming of Jehovah to save His people.

Next we have the false king seeking to thrust Him out, the Gentiles having come to own Him, God’s wondrous testimony according to prophecy, and God providing, when once Jesus was thus owned, for the non-fulfilment of the blessing in legal Israel then, but a recommencing their history in His Son called out of Egypt. All this in Bethlehem, according to prophecy. The result is, that He is cast out into Galilee among the poor of the flock, to be brought up as the separated one from among His people.

Next comes the voice foretold in the wilderness to announce the coming of Jehovah calling for repentance to meet Him, disowning right by birth from Abraham as sufficient. They must meet God. The fan was there to cleanse His floor (Israel), the axe already at the root of the trees. John recognizes the glory of the person of Jesus, but Jesus takes His place according to Psalm 16 among the poor in spirit, and godly ones among the people, the excellent of the earth. There He is owned as Son of God, and anointed and sealed with the Holy Ghost for His service in the earth. Then He is tempted and put to the test, and answers by passages from Deuteronomy, the book which contemplated Israel, not in legal order but under a divine claim of obedience. John is cast into prison, and Jesus begins His ministry and carries it on on the same footing among the people as John, and begins to gather disciples to Himself. The last three verses give a general account of all His service in Galilee, preaching the glad tidings of the kingdom, and, by a display of power in goodness, drawing the attention of the whole country.

Thereupon, that there might be no mistake, He sits down and declares to His disciples, but in the audience of the crowd, who they were that would enter into the kingdom, and on what principles. This is the sermon on the mount. Israel was in the way with Jehovah to judgment. If he did not come to agreement, he would as to earthly government be cast into prison and remain till all was paid. Note, that rejection is supposed for the disciples. (Chap. 5:10, 11.) It is “the kingdom of heaven,” an expression peculiar to Matthew: that is, the rule of the kingdom is not on earth but in heaven, enlarged, when the full result is seen (Matt. 13), into the Father’s kingdom and the kingdom of the Son of man, a name which Christ takes on His rejection as the Christ, and always gives Himself, and which is the passage from the prophecy of Him in Psalm 2, in which character He was rejected and the kingdom not now set up, to His character in Psalm 8, in which He is Head over all things.

The special characteristics of the sermon on the mount are what is called the spirituality of the law, the claim of a sanctifying view and obedience, and the revelation of the Father’s name. In a certain sense this part of the gospel gives His whole position in Israel. After the sermon on the mount we have details fully bringing out the display of Emmanuel, and the effect on Israel, and the opening the door to Gentiles. These we will go briefly through. We shall see that it passes withal directly on to dealing with the people in the last days in connection with what was then going on.

In cleansing the leper He shews Himself as exercising Jehovah’s power in Israel, and yet subject to the law of Moses. In healing the centurion’s servant with a word we find Him owned as the divine disposer of all things; and He takes occasion by this faith, not found in Israel, to declare the bringing in of Gentiles to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the children of the kingdom of Israel after the flesh being shut out.

These great principles being established, we have His present condition—the blessed fulfiller of Isaiah 53, and an outcast in Israel—the Son of man, but one for whom all must be given up.

Next, a picture of the result of being with Him—to man’s eye, a storm which left no hope, at any rate they were in the same ship with Jesus; but He who seemed asleep (and was undisturbed by all), with a word commands all the elements, thus graciously rebuking their want of faith.

In the country of the Gergesenes His word dispels all the power of Satan; but occasion is given to display this power in the unclean, the swine (a figure, I have no doubt, of Israel’s subsequent history). At any rate those who have seen this power in Him, when fully informed, got rid of Him. Thus all His power, and Israel’s and the Gentiles’ history in connection with it, have been displayed.

Note herein the beautiful perfect display of the truth in the first case—Jehovah alone cleansed the leprosy. The leper saw His power, but doubted at least His goodness—could not reckon on it. Jesus, in words which God alone has a right to use declares His grace, “I will.” Now if one touched a leper, he was unclean. But His holiness and nature were such that He could exercise His love to the uttermost in the midst of evil, undefiled and undefilable. And He touches him and says, “I will”—Jehovah (whom none could defile)—a man, to bring perfect love in power to the vilest.

W. How a few words, a single act, in these divine records carry a volume of truth! How they prove their divine character by it! It has, we cannot doubt an instant, a divine Author and a divine subject. Much as your explanation interests me, the simple fact in the history you speak of says more than volumes of any explanation.

H. In truth it does. The soul taught of God is in contact with divine power in the word. We may, by God’s grace, serve as finger posts to it. He makes us, and it is gracious, helpful to one another; but all must be learnt with God. We will proceed.

In chapter 9, Christ is the Jehovah of Psalm 103. He forgives and heals at the same time. Next, He abounds in grace and calls the vilest; He comes as a physician to call sinners, not the righteous; nor can He put this new power of grace into the old bottles of Judaism. In the rest of the chapter—a picture, I do not doubt for a moment, of God’s ways in Israel—He comes to intercept death. When there was individual faith in the crowd of Israel, power went out to heal; but really the object of His compassion was dead before He came. Resurrection must restore Israel. And so it will be with them. Owned as Son of David, He opens the blind eyes and the dumb mouth to praise God.

Such was His work in Israel; but the Pharisees, the nation in its legal pride, committed itself fatally, and ascribed the divine power to Satan. Awful word! But patient compassion was not exhausted, and Jesus-Jehovah went healing everywhere, had compassion on the shepherdless multitudes, saw the harvest plenteous and the labourers few, directing His disciples to pray the Lord of the harvest He would send out labourers. This He does in the next chapter, but exclusively in Israel.

The twelve are sent out, but the terms of their mission extend, without taking the assembly into account at all, to the time of Christ’s coming again. They are sent out in the midst of a hostile people, seeking the remnant, the worthy in Israel, and forbidden to go to Gentiles or Samaritans. But if rejected, judgment would come. He goes on to the time when the Spirit would be come, and till the time when the Son of man would be come. They had called the Master of the house Beelzebub (shewing His estimate of the character Israel thus took), how much more His servants. But He encourages them by every promise, and especially the Spirit’s help, and declares that all done to them would be considered as done to Him. This remarkable chapter shews the Lord, as we have seen the prophets before, passing over here from His first coming unbrokenly to the last days, leaving out wholly the present period—for He forbids any gospel to Gentiles.

The patience of Christ continued to deal with Israel; but, in a certain sense, this was a closing testimony, I mean as to its character and nature. This is supposed to continue, as we have said, or rather not to be completed, till He came.

What follows in the gospel discusses the moral character of His rejection, shewing where rest was to be found, and afterwards what would come in on His rejection. Thus, in chapter 11, on the enquiry by John, the character of His mission, and their reception of it, and of His own and their reception of that is unfolded, reproaching the cities with their unbelief, but shewing rest in Himself for the weary; and that the truth was, all was given to Him the Son; He alone knew the Father, and could reveal Him; and He was the Son: none at all could know Him but the Father Himself. But He did reveal the Father to those who came to Him.

He then shews the triumph of mercy over sacrifice—that a rejected David had eaten the shewbread, and that the priests profaned the Sabbath in the temple; and a greater than the temple was there. The seal of Israel’s covenant must give place to the Son of man. The same point is again insisted on with the Jews, and their whole system is judged. This was an all-important point. It was setting the whole system aside for grace. (Chap. 12.)

His silent and unobtrusive character is declared, but when the people own Him Son of David, the Pharisees repeat their blasphemy, and this leads to the formal judgment of the nation, and a prophecy of their last estate: that as the unclean spirit (of idolatry) had gone out, it would come back with seven worse ones to Israel. Then, on His mother and brethren (the links with Israel according to the flesh) coming, He will not own them, but only what is the fruit of His own word. This is fully unfolded in chapter 13.

There the Lord takes the character of a Sower, one who does not seek fruit from what is already planted, but brings with Him what is to produce fruit. Then, in the six following parables, He propounds the character and forms the kingdom of heaven would take while the King was hidden, and had not taken to Him His great power and reigned: in three its outer aspect to the multitude; in three its inner to the disciples. Its character as kingdom of the Father and of the Son of man is given at the close. They are things new and old, the new unlooked-for character of what had been told of in prophecy, which a scribe would already know.

In what follows we have the signs of the closing scene—John Baptist is beheaded, and the Lord retires. But, followed by the multitude, His compassions still continue. He acts as the Jehovah of promise, and satisfies the poor with bread; but then retires even from His disciples, and, returning to them, shews that He walks as on dry ground where they are tossed about, and can give power to faith to do it. All here depends on keeping the eye fixed on Jesus. Peter could have walked on a smooth sea no better than on a rough one. When they were in the ship the wind ceased. Who with any sense can doubt this was significant? Israel dismissed; Christ alone on high; His disciples tossed about, yet taught to walk on the water to come to Him. When in the ship all is peace, and, come to land (Gennesaret)—that world out of which He had been once expelled, they worship Him there. (Chap. 14.)

In chapter 15 we have the principles of the kingdom—truth in the inward parts contrasted with ordinances; man’s heart evil, but grace going out to the vilest of an accursed race, where there was faith. The Lord again feeds the multitude, the fact having a distinct character, which for the present I pass by.

In chapter 16, leaving the adulterous generation, the assembly is revealed, founded on His being the Son of the living God—as such He had never before been owned, it was proved in resurrection; and also the kingdom of heaven, whose administration was entrusted to Peter. This leads to the clear announcement to His disciples that He must be rejected and die. At this moment, consequently, He charges them to say no more that He is the Christ, the character in which He is presented to Israel.

In chapter 17 the glory of the kingdom is revealed. But the disciples even could not profit by the blessing and power then present, and He was soon to leave that generation. He owns His disciples as with Him sons of the Great King, but, not to offend, submits as yet to the temple’s demands.

In chapter 18 we have the spirit and flesh-judging principles of the kingdom. The meek and lowly, and little children, are on His heart; for now it was, not Christ to Israel, but the Son of man come to save that which was lost: and the assembly, not the synagogue, became the place of which within and without could be said. Forgiveness characterized the kingdom, but judgment when grace was not owned; and so it happened to Israel.

We then get spiritual power, judging and holding flesh as dead, while the relations formed of God are fully maintained—the law, the way of life to the Jew, supposing it to be kept; but the state of the heart spiritually judged and Christ to be followed. (Chap. 19.) All this is shewing the effect of bringing in new power, applied to what the law treated of. In relationships, flesh not being judged, the law had gone below the original order of God, which was restored, but new power brought in to live wholly to God. The truth of life by law, on the other hand, abstractedly owned, but the state of the heart judged in respect of it (not merely outward conduct), and Christ the true test of this. All this is of vast importance at this moment of transition. Riches, instead of being a reward of righteousness in God’s earthly government, were a snare to the heart as to its entrance into the kingdom of heaven; while giving up everything for Christ would surely not lose its reward: only man might judge amiss.

It was a new thing where (chap. 20) all was grace, and fleshly claim of reward for so much ran athwart the ways of one giving in grace. The Lord then renews His announcement of His immediate rejection; and, James and John looking for a good place in Messiah’s kingdom, the Lord shews them the Son of man was to suffer, giving His life a ransom, and they must take up the cross too: this was all He could give them, save as all was ordained of the Father. He that was least among them would be greatest. This closes the instruction.

The closing history commences here with the blind man at Jericho, as in all three gospels—an additional evidence of a common plan, yet unquestionably not formed by the human authors—and Christ in the presence of Israel takes the character of Son of David. He then rides in on the ass, according to prophecy, and is celebrated as Son of David coming in the name of the Lord. (Chap. 21.) The fig-tree, the figure of Israel, is judged. And then, in succession, He judges virtually (each class coming up in succession to tempt Him) the chiefs of the nation, the whole nation being God’s vineyard, who were at last rejecting the Son sent for fruit according to the old system. Here the kingdom of heaven according to grace is set forth (chap. 22), on which He gathers the Gentiles, but judges when they are come in; then the Pharisees and Herodians as to their connection with the Gentile monarchies; then the Sadducees. Then He takes out of the law its divine and eternal essence, and by one question confounds the Pharisees as to how the Son of David could be David’s Lord, and be taken up to God’s right hand, which was just about to happen. This closes His intercourse with the nation. They had all passed in review before Him.

In chapter 23 however He recognizes the seat of Moses still, and His disciples’ connection with it, owning still existing Judaism; but then judges in the severest way its state, declaring that their last hypocritical excuse would be taken away from them; that prophets and scribes (so He calls the gospel witnesses here, as in connection with the people) would be sent to them, and thus the measure of their guilt be filled up, and their house be left desolate till the last days, when the nation would own Him that came in the name of Jehovah.

In chapter 24 the disciples are told of the destruction of the temple, and then their ministry on to the last days is spoken of to verse 14; then the last half week of Daniel’s seventy weeks is referred to, at the close of which the Son of man would come. The whole history of the Jews in Judea, and the scattered remnant, is given to verse 31; thence to chapter 25:31, we have practical warnings and parables as to the duty of the Church and saints while He is away; thence to the end of chapter 25 the judgment of the nations in the earth when He shall be returned.

The historical close now comes—the attachment of Mary, the treachery of Judas, the closing of Christ’s association with them (shewn in not drinking of the wine then with them), till in a new way He drank it in His Father’s kingdom, the millennial world to come. Kingdom of heaven and kingdom of my Father (the latter its character when He takes it in heavenly glory) are peculiar to this gospel. Then we have fully the sorrows and sufferings of Gethsemane, but not what we found in John—only He could pray and ask His Father; but the scriptures must be fulfilled. He is in communion with the Father, but the suffering obedient man. So He answers when the high priest adjures Him, according to Leviticus 5, but even here refers to His being, from this out, only known as Son of man sitting at the right hand of power as He is now, or coming again in that character. The people give up Christ, and desire a murderer, and say, His blood be on us and on our children—their true judgment to this day.

We have the details of His humiliation on the cross too, though no stupifying Himself with the offered potion, but obedience to the end. It is marked that it is not by weakness He expires, but crying with a loud voice. But His death closed the whole system publicly; the veil was rent, the very characteristic of the Jewish state, where man had no access to God; and the bodies of saints (Jews) arose. At the close it is only His connection with His disciples in Galilee, where He had connected Himself with the poor of the flock, that is noticed, and there is no ascension. Thus it fits into the renewal of a place with Israel on earth when the time comes. The mission supposes this, and sends the gospel out only to the nations: all power being His in heaven and in earth, they were to make disciples of them.

Now no one can doubt that the whole course of this gospel is marked by a character wholly its own, the revelation of Christ to the Jews as theirs, but rejected by them; and thus the dispensational substitution of other things, the assembly and kingdom; while the connection of His disciples with Jewish things, only on a new footing, is distinctly marked and pursued to the last days, the assembly being overlooked in this part.

W. Your review of it makes it very plain, and gives an entire-ness to it which greatly facilitates the seizing the sense of the different passages.

H. You will see, too, if you examine the passages, that the historical order is neglected to put the events into a just succession with a view to God’s dealing with Israel. Where we have the same events in Mark and Luke, these, so far as Luke is chronological, follow the same historical order; but Matthew leaves it, to give a distinct character to Christ’s ministry; while in Luke, in the temptation, and from chapter 9 exclusive to the end of chapter 18, we have no chronological order at all, but events morally connected.

I will touch now on the Gospel of Luke. The first two chapters are wholly Jewish (except the heavenly song of the angels, more so than any part of the gospels). We have a most perfect picture of the state of the pious remnant, who knew and spake one to another; the priestly service, and God yet, in patience, blessing in connection with it, and the relationship Israel, or at least Judah, bore to the then Gentile monarchy. John’s ministry is brought in in connection with it, and Israel’s rejection of Him; but then, after this, Christ is genealogically traced as Son of man to Adam. Hence grace, and His associations with man, with sinners, and the principles on which those associations rested, characterize henceforth all the gospel. He is in the power of the Spirit, the moral temptation coming last in the wilderness. He begins His ministry by shewing sovereign grace and blessing sent outside Israel. (Chap. 4.) We find Him often praying. He was so when He received the Holy Spirit like a dove—was so all night before choosing His apostles—was so when He was transfigured. What he gives of the sermon on the mount speaks not of how people could enter, but of His disciples as separated actually to Him. We have not the dispensation change of Matthew 11, but only wisdom is justified of her children; and then (what is not found elsewhere) the touching account, in contrast with the Pharisee, of one of these children of wisdom, the woman in the city that was a sinner.

In the country of the Gadarenes the details of one of the cured men are given, a soul restored desiring to leave the world and be with Jesus, but sent back to tell of Him where He had been rejected; fuller details of the associations of Moses and Elias with Christ in glory, searching judgment of self in all its shapes when He came down; in the mission of the twelve, none of the directions which confined it to Jews, nor those which continued it to the coming of the Son of man. The different, and here historical order, I have alluded to.

From hence to chapter 18 there is no chronology, but great moral principles; among the rest the lost sheep, the piece of money, and the prodigal son; the use of riches, and the insight into a moral world unfolding grace and heaven, and a total change, not of dispensation, but of moral system—from earthly government to grace and heavenly hope. The parable of the good Samaritan, to the same purpose—answering to Matthew 13. Before this we have only the sower and the different soils; none of the parables of the kingdom of heaven, nothing dispensation, but a moral closing warning as to how they heard. The prophetic warning as to the revelation of the Son of man is given as a general warning to disciples, not in connection with Antichrist and Jerusalem. The parable of pounds (not of so many talents) rests on individual responsibility, and reward is proportionate: in Matthew, only “enter into the joy of the Lord,” for all alike. In the answer to the Pharisees He introduces the life of the souls of all after death.

In the prophecy answering partly to Matthew 24 we have definitely the then coming siege of Jerusalem, consequently no abomination of desolation, but the desolation of Jerusalem, till the end of the times of the Gentiles, and then the coming of the Son of man.

Christ’s personal feelings are more brought out as a man in the passover. There is a strife for greatness even then. In Gethsemane there appeared an angel from heaven strengthening Him. The Lord turns and looks on Peter when the cock crows, a touching and deeply interesting circumstance, not elsewhere. Pilate and Herod are made friends, another deep moral trait. Only here the conflict (agony) in Gethsemane is noticed, and His sweating as it were great drops of blood, presenting Him so deeply as the suffering man, more than the rejected Christ.

The remarkable history of the thief’s conversion, in which the happiness of a soul before the setting up of the kingdom, which last alone the thief expected, is revealed, and his being with Christ in paradise: the absoluteness of grace and the efficacy of the cross.

Then, while all the history of the women is thrown together in a few words, the history of Emmaus is very largely recounted, and He is known in the sign of death. Lastly, He assures their hearts that it is Himself. Repentance and remission is their gospel, and they were to wait for the power of the Holy Ghost promised; and the gospel, being from heaven, was to begin at Jerusalem—the Jew first, and also the Gentile. Here we find lastly the ascension, where Christ as from heaven blesses them with outstretched hands, and praise became the portion of His saints. Now, though I have gone very rapidly through this gospel, the character and design is as clear as that of Matthew.

W. My feeling is, that from its nature it is clear, because, while Matthew is dispensational, the moral character of this is so very evident, Christ’s connection with man, grace, the interest of the soul, the prodigal son or Gentile sinner, the praying of Christ, and the touching circumstances found in this gospel alone, give it a character not to be mistaken. But the comparison of them all leaves no cloud upon the fact, and I feel what you say now. What a feeble idea a harmony is, and how utterly senseless the remark of Mr. Jowett is, that the connection of the same facts with others could not be of importance, because they were differently connected in different gospels! Why it is the whole pith of the matter, and one chief thing which prints a special character on them. But what of Mark?

H. I have not much to say of Mark. It presents to us the prophetic service of Christ. Hence we have not His birth, but it begins with the testimony of John, then of Christ. Its order, the historical one, in spite of patristic statement, is, as remarked, the same as St. Luke, where the latter follows any historical order. In the passage answering to Matthew 13, we have only the sower, and no parables of the kingdom, save one in which he shews that Christ took personally part at the commencement, His prophetic service, and, after leaving it seemingly to itself, takes a personal part in the end at the harvest or judgment; and a second, in which the outward form of the kingdom during His absence is shewn. We have the call of the apostles, I do not doubt, coincident with the sermon on the mount, which is not found in Mark, being the principles of the kingdom whose character and dispensations are opened in Matthew. In Matthew we have the twelve only introduced afterwards, in exclusive connection with their mission to Israel, and reaching forward to the time when the kingdom will be set up in power.

I need not go farther into the details of this gospel, which is more rapid in its character, more of testimony than the unfolding of dispensations and dealings of God. But it seems to me that a special design is evident in each gospel, not perhaps of the writer, but of the Spirit which indited them, because all concur to one common end, but each is independent and treats the same subject differently—each pursuing its own object; but inasmuch just as the same facts are differently connected, shewing that each has a different one, yet all, by each pursuing a different one, completing a whole. The Prophet, the Son of David, the Son of man in grace, the Son of God, are respectively brought out, and in a great measure brought out wholly by the same facts.

W. It seems to me most striking, and to have a very divine character. For the design proves a designer; yet each independent document has a separate design of its own, and the general design is not from their writers, even if that of each particular document was, which I do not believe. There is a simplicity of relation which forbids me to think of a plan of composition, though I do not doubt the habits of thinking of the vessel were fitted to its task. It makes the gospels a very important part of scripture as to knowledge; though, I confess, the details of the Lord’s life are the most attractive and blessed aspect of them.

H. May it ever be so! I have found that, led to occupy myself with the epistles as divine reasonings on Christ’s work and place now, to get peace for my soul; when I had it, my heart turned back to the gospels to learn and feed on Him whose every footstep was light and grace. They are our constant food in this respect. I find I read scripture two ways: as study, and as a child to learn in heart and conscience, as God speaking to me that I may be comforted, searched out, and taught, and listen to God. And the last is the most important and every one’s; the former is more in the way of gift. Here we are studying it. Mark, too, that it is not each gospel choosing its facts, marking thus the writer’s design. Mr. Jowett’s own theory, as of others, is that they had a common testimony, and hence the proof that the design came from a higher source is very strong indeed.

W. It requires to study the gospels to have the proof of this, and happily souls enjoy and profit by them who never think of the difficulties presented or the answers to them. But when they are studied, I do not think we can hesitate a moment in seeing the justice of what you say. It brings to my mind your old charge of superficiality. One finds that, when anything is studied, the rationalists have remained wholly on the surface of things, and their crude difficulties disappear.

H. It is the beauty and blessedness of scripture as the word of God to work by its own power, and convey, through grace, its divine contents to the heart. Hence it does work, is blessed to the poor and ignorant, and to every simple mind which has received what is divinely given and found in it a certain proof of its divine nature, without ever perceiving the difficulties. All we do, who look into them, is to discover that they are trashy, and the fruit of minds who do not see beyond the surface. But the enquiry serves to shew that we are looking into depths which prove that all of us are, comparatively speaking, at the surface of that which is of infinite depth, its waters always pure, and all and always ours.

But we will return to our Essays. Mr. Jowett, after speaking of the gospels, says, “If words have more than one meaning, they may have any meaning.” This may sound wise, but it is most perfect trash. I take an example. When Christ died, it is said the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and then the resurrection of the saints after His resurrection and their appearing in the city is noted. Now this rending of the veil has one meaning. It is the history of the fact, and means only that. Now, I say, such an assertion is as senseless and foolish as it can possibly be. The rending is ascribed to Christ’s death, followed by resurrection of dead saints. The veil was the sign that God was hidden and could not be approached; now by Christ’s death He could be. The whole mighty change of dispensation was marked in it, and the full power of redemption in Christ’s death. These senses are indeed ascribed to it in the Epistle to the Hebrews, chapters 9 and 10. But they are evident. The talking of one meaning is simple folly, and if I speak of the uncertainty of interpretation, which of course is not infallible, am I to choose the judgment of an interpreter who has proved himself incapable of interpreting anything by embracing an evidently false and inapplicable principle, or of one who has a right one, though of course I must watch his use of it?

W. You may proceed, for the absurdity of their principle here is too evident to need a moment’s hesitation. We are too returning to an old ground, that they are attacking scripture, not interpreting it.

H. I do not think we have much more to examine, as much of the latter part of Mr. Jowett’s Essay speaks of general principles which we have discussed already. However we will run through it.

The beginning of his Part III is merely that dread of rationalists and their power which makes him anxious to reduce Christianity to the level at which they will not object to it, which is no level at all, and which would make it not Christianity, but a most pitiable and despicable imposture, which every one, but one sufficiently low intellectually and morally to be a rationalist, would repel with scorn. Their incessant occupation to prove it such, and then explain it, only proves their degradedly low moral state, which would accept such a system, and that the fang of divine truth is in their conscience, from which they cannot get themselves free. If Mr. Jowett rejects mere conventional Christianity and traditional interpretation, I have nothing against it. I can use criticism to get a pure text and real Christianity; but to get an imposture, and continue to use it, this I must leave to him. Nor will I use a double tongue to deceive myself, for I really do not suspect him of desiring to deceive others; such language I mean as this:—”They wish to preserve the historical use of scripture as the continuous witness in all ages of the higher things in the heart of man, as the inspired source of truth, and the way to the better life.”

Now whence did the higher things in the heart of man come? What does “inspired” mean here—“an inspired source of truth?” Any one would think it meant it had not come of the will of man, but that the Spirit of God had moved holy men of old to speak as they were moved by Him, and hence that it was a source of truth. And note, we cannot take up Old and New Testament inspiration here as distinct. It is a “witness in all ages.” Remember, then, we have been told that “not for any of the higher or supernatural views of inspiration is there any foundation in the Gospels or Epistles.” If he meant to shirk the Old Testament there, he cannot here. He speaks of the whole of scripture, and we soon find what this ambiguous language means.

I cannot here acquit Mr. Jowett of disingenuousness, though quite ready to admit that it is the influence of a lying system over his mind. We begin, with an “inspired source of truth.” Here you would think that an inspired source of truth must have its own proper and divine authority. But we find a kind of halfway house of uncertain tones in the following words: “The purer the light in the human heart, the more it will have an expression of itself in the mind of Christ;” the explanation of which, though still in ambiguous language, really reduces the word simply to the higher things in the heart of man. “The individual soul” finds a “sympathy with its own imperfect feelings in the broken utterance of the psalmist, or the prophet, as well as in the fulness of Christ.” Now, if it had said that the Psalms provide a divine utterance for feelings imperfect man knew not how, or dared not, to express when redemption was not fully known, I should have accepted it. For the unspeakable grace of God is shewn in this. But for Mr. Jowett it is a pious person, not inspired himself and imperfect, finding broken utterance of his own feelings in the higher things in the heart of man, i.e., in the utterance of others like himself. Sympathy there may be, but the scriptures are worth nothing more than any christian neighbour; only really that I, when on christian ground, am to go back to Jewish, and lose wholly “the increasing purpose” of revelation; for I hve in the light, and am to go back for the utterance of my feelings to those who had not got it.

But we reach the home of this thought a little farther on, what even the fulness of Christ is. “No one can form any notion of the power which Christianity might have, if it were at one with the conscience of man, and not at variance with his intellectual convictions.” Here we have the truth. My state of mind is to be the measure of revealed truth. The “inspired source of truth” is to be tampered with till it be brought into harmony with it—nay, Christianity itself is. What the use of having a source of truth or Christianity is, in that case, to me perfectly unintelligible. I should have thought that an inspired source of truth must, by its statements, have judged the state of the conscience; that Christianity was something positive, which could only be itself, and was a divine light, and divine facts for the conscience, and if not that, an imposture and false; that if I am going to make it one with the conscience, it ceases to be it at all. I cannot adapt a revelation to a faculty, because it is not then a revelation at all. It becomes a “gallus in campanili,” “ceases to have any meaning at all;” and to whose conscience is it to be conformed? It won’t do to talk of conscience (i.e., a faculty of judging of good and evil); because, in fact, I judge it by something, some judgment has been formed, conscience has its measure, unless, it may be, in crimes, and even in that. One had thought the fulness of Christ was a perfect light and measure which judged all in man, and formed the conscience —that it was the rule of it. It appears this is all a mistake. There is a Christianity, but man’s conscience, God knows whose (the majority rejected Christ), is to be made the measure, and Christianity is to be adapted to it. A pretty Christianity we should have; but, as I said, the statement is simple nonsense, because, when adapted, or if adaptable, then there is no such thing at all. But we have the system of the Essays. Christianity is no divine or divinely revealed religion.

Talk of the fulness of Christ if you will: the hind let loose will give you goodly words. It is the result in the year one of the, till then, higher things of the human heart, which is to be adapted to the conscience of Mr. Jowett and his friends. We may condescend to allow God to give an inspired source of truth: only He must bend and make Himself and His religion one with Mr. Jowett’s intellectual convictions. Why his next-door neighbour should not say the same I cannot tell, or an American Indian from a scalping party, or the Chinese (who are very particular in paying their debts the first of January, but have no scruple in robbing to do it, or throwing inconvenient daughters into the river); why not the chief priests, who would not put the price of blood into the treasury, but had no scruple in buying it?

Conscience of man—convenient word! what has it made of the world? If I may give it, thus used, Iapetic interpretation, after Baron Bunsen, it is man’s justifying his own thoughts, to please his own will, and subject divine to it.

W. But I can hardly conceive how any one can make such a statement as Jowett’s. It is so outrageous, not merely because man’s conscience has been so corrupted and hardened, which is, though true, the weaker side of the argument; but that it makes Christianity a mere paste to be suited to intellectual convictions; that is, makes it nothing at all—not a revelation, not divine, not truth (and yet calling it the fulness of Christ). It is a pure and simple absurdity.

H. It is; but we get exactly here what the system is. All previous adaptations of Christianity to other ages, that is corruptions, these writers hold for forms produced by the age, but their intellectual convictions, Christianity is to be made one with. They only deserve the name of man—their conscience is man— their intellectual convictions man. We see plainly too the road that has led them to this modest theory—”No one can form any notion from what we see around us of the power which Christianity might have if it were at one,” &c. Now people who feel that “what they see around them” is anything but what Christianity ought to be, which is not very difficult, and complaining and finding fault very easily, jump at this, and, having still faith in Christianity, they say, That is true; oh, if we had it in its purity!

I agree largely and heartily with this feeling, and have this thirty years, and more. So when he talks of the Bible’s beauty being “freshly seen, as of a picture which is restored after many ages to its original state,” it is delightful. But when I hear that it is to be by making Christianity one with the conscience of man, I say, But this is not its original state, it is the state of your conscience, your present intellectual convictions as you call them. That is no rule by which I judge of Christianity; it is denying it and its use altogether. They have by conscience, when the ways of those professing Christianity have sunk below natural conscience, judged that state, and then not gone back to correct their own state by the original revelation, but have assumed their conscience and present intellectual convictions to be competent to judge of revealed Christianity, and the inspired word itself. The reasoning is this: natural conscience has judged the corruption of Christianity around one; therefore it is the right judge of the divine revelation which has been misused. But this is poor logic, and worse morality, in the highest sense of morality.

There is a conscience which is disgusted at the hypocrisy of what bears the name of Christianity, but that does not make man’s intellectual convictions the measure of what revelation means. Speaking of a Christianity which can so be made one with the conscience of man is saying there never was any Christianity at all; if Christianity means a revelation from God, ay, a final revelation. If it be not, it is an imposition, and there is nothing to be adapted. But I am only shewing the total fallacy of the ground Mr. Jowett stands on, and how in fact he got on it. We should only go over the ground we have trodden, if I should remark how he urges, that from the fathers till now—till the German rationalists and the seven Essayists—“they read the scriptures in connection with the ideas which were kindling in the mind of their age.”

It is singular to say of Luther and the like, “The words of scripture suggest to them their own thoughts and feelings.” I thought, “the purer the light in the human heart, the more it will have an expression of itself in the mind of Christ;” so that I should have thought Luther and Calvin must have been perfect, if the words of scripture thus suggest to them their own thoughts and feelings. But then that was their age, this is Mr. Jowett’s; so that Christianity must be one with his intellectual convictions. A pretty thing Christianity must be, by way of “the inspired source of truth, and the way to the better life.” I certainly never read more incomparable nonsense; and yet flowing from a conscience greatly offended with the inconsistencies of Christendom, but continuing in false self-confidence, and in connection with the lowest and most contemptible system that ever a man drudged through, to find a crambe repetita of infidel stupidity and pretensions, and that is, German rationalists’ comments on scripture.

W. But is there not research in these German writers?

H. There is. If I seek mere verbal criticism, they are very useful; not to be trusted, because “they read the scriptures in connection with the ideas kindling in the mind of their age,” but still, as compiling materials most useful. But if I took a man who bought and hewed my wood to explain the nature of heat, or the tissues even of the wood, I should not get far on: only that the rationalist pretends to do it, as my woodman would not. But I speak of their comments and deductions, not of their research.

We have spoken of the principles of interpretation, and I only remark that, when Mr. Jowett speaks of design, what he says is utterly false—“There is no more design than in Plato or Homer” —“no proof of any artificial design.” Now only remark how God is wholly left out here. There is, I am satisfied, unless it be perhaps in the form of the Book of Job, not so much design as in Plato, as regards the writer; artificial, none at all, unless Job. But, supposing there is not more than in Plato, but God be the designer, what an immense fact that would be; how deep and divine the design must be! Now, with the usual superficiality of these writers, Mr. Jowett does not even take this into consideration. I could understand his denying it; but to leave it out is stupidity. As to human design extending beyond a book, or even an epistle, it is out of the question. The authors were mostly different, and of widely different ages; and where one, as, for example, Paul, his writings are chiefly occasional, and a general design equally out of the question. Hence the only real question is, Is there a design in it? Mr. Jowett has not even found out the question. That there is, I do not think any intelligent person who has read the scriptures carefully could doubt an instant. I believe every book of scripture finds its place, like the parts of a dissected map, and gives a whole which proves its own completeness.

His next rule is itself just as superficial and false, and. assumes that there is no inspiration. “Each writer, each successive age, has characteristics of its own.” That I fully admit, as does every one who has read them. In deigning to use instruments, God did not mean to destroy them. He gave them talents according to their ability. “These differences are not to be lost in the idea of a Spirit from whom they proceed, or by which they were overruled.” Even this I do not quarrel with, though its animus be evil. Its effect is to swamp inspiration in the differences of style, but I admit its terms—“The differences are not to be lost.” Be it so. But now the conclusion—Mr. Jowett is, I think, the most illogical writer I ever came across—“And, therefore, illustration of one part of scripture by another should be confined to writings of the same age and the same authors, except where the writings of different ages or persons offer obvious similarities.”

Now every one, except Mr. Jowett, knows that the later writers were thoroughly imbued with, their minds wholly formed by, what preceded; the prophets by the law, and the New Testament by the Old—that the New Testament, far the most dissimilar, is yet built in every thought on the basis of the Old; though the truths and state be wholly new, and in a certain sense set aside the whole system of the Old, yet nine-tenths of its language is unintelligible, unless we are versed in the Old. This is the more remarkable indication of the one divine Mind, because it was, as a system, the total setting aside of the Old. The cross made an impassable gulf between the Old and New, yet confirmed and adopted the Old; and the Old predicted and prepared the way of the New, which yet set it aside. As Paul says, “Now the righteousness of God, apart from law [cwriV" uovmou], being witnessed by the law and the prophets.” Now this remarkable phenomenon stands alone. Not that one system cannot borrow from another, but no two systems on earth stand in the same relation as these do to one another.

The principle of Mr. Jowett is the most futile of thoughts, contradictory of all the facts of the case. But his logic is no better. Because the differences, which we admit, are not to be lost in the idea of a Spirit from whom they proceed, or by which they are overruled, therefore they are not to be illustrated from one another. Now, if they proceed from one Spirit, I should, admitting the differences, expect them to throw necessarily light on one another; or even if one Spirit overruled them. Can the Spirit of God— that is, God—make an opening series of divine thoughts, which, communicated by different persons, are to issue in one great culminating fact—the revelation of Himself in Christ? Can there be “increasing purpose of revelation” brought out by these divinely accredited persons, overruled by one Spirit, without one part clearing up another? Be it that I first take each part by itself in its own context, an excellent and important rule which cannot be too strongly enforced; but is not so much as an illustration (I do not like the term), a clearing up of one part by another in the increasing purpose of revelation, to be found, if all proceed from one Spirit?

If Mr. Jowett means that it does not so proceed, let him say so honestly, and deny the scriptures as “an inspired source of truth.” But to speak of a Spirit from which they proceed, or by which they are overruled, and that with an increasing purpose, and that therefore we are not to illustrate one part by another, because each writer has characteristics of his own, is to say the characteristic is not overruled, and that I am not to look at the one divine power from which all proceeds, but only at the particular forms in which this one mind is conveyed. And this is just the system, and a more illogical and absurd one, upon the face of it, cannot be conceived.

I admit again, that I believe this inconsistency flows from Mr. Jowett’s feeling it does come from one Spirit. But a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways, and hence his exception as to obvious similarities. For, if this be of style, the exception hardly exists. After the captivity, the prophets went back to purer Hebrew, and there are a few resemblances of no importance; but if this saving have any meaning, it is as much as to say, Do not say that there is any light during the day, except when the sun is up. This inconsistency of Mr. Jowett is regularly shewn in a subsequent paragraph, “They have also a sort of continuity … and at length the idea arises in our minds of a common literature, a pervading life, an everlasting law”—no God, no Spirit, of course, in it.

But to proceed. “It may be compared to the effect of some natural scene, in which we suddenly (!) perceive a harmony, or picture, or to the imperfect appearance of design which suggests itself in looking at the surface of the globe. That is to say, there is nothing miraculous or artificial in the arrangement of the books of scripture; it is the result, not the design, which appears in them when bound in the same volume; or, if we like so to say, there is design, but a natural design which is revealed to after ages.” Did you ever in your life read anything like this extraordinary sentence? Were not God shut out so carefully, I should go round and round it, like the suddenly perceived beautiful picture, to admire—I hardly know what, except Professor Jowett’s naïveté. You cannot accuse such a man of any dishonesty. You do not like to accuse him of anything; bonum virum facile crederes, magnum lihenter. And who knows what he would make if he believed God had something to do with scripture!

Here you have him suddenly perceiving what every one else has believed these thousand years, a thought sanctioned by the Lord and His apostles, but combatted by Mr. Jowett till now; but, thank God, felt. And what is the effect it is hard to tell, in the pêle mêle of the phrase. This continuity, this harmony, appears in them when bound in the same volume. That is profound. But then the idea—what is to be done?—arises in our mind (i.e., you cannot help seeing it) of a common literature, a pervading life, an overruling law. I suppose that did not come from being bound in the same volume. Next, “it is the result,” I suppose, of something (that Mr. Jowett is silent upon): only it is the result, not the design, which appears in them when bound in the same volume. But the result of what? But, if we like to say so, it is the design; but a natural design which is revealed to after ages. Now, I grant the revelation to after ages, because, between you and me, the design of this harmonious whole could not be seen till the harmonious whole was there. But though revealed to after ages, the design, I suppose, was before it began—ajrchV th'" qewriva" tevlo" th'" pravzew". But then I would suggest, if there is a design, there must be a Designer of the whole; for the design is found in the whole before any of it was there. It proceeded from one Spirit, and was overruled by one. Who was the Designer of this which suggests one overruling law, the harmony of our picture? Ah! here is silence; nay, worse than silence, it was “a natural design.” What does that mean?

W. Well, I really don’t know. A natural design! I do not see the connection of the ideas.

H. In one sense no human being can. It is a design which has no designer, but has grown up naturally—a mere contradiction of terms, a fortuitous concurrence of atoms to make a tree. It means that, if anything grows naturally, God is to be shut out as the cause. And he would have scripture so considered, lest God should be believed to be in it. He will, (the Lord deliver him from it!) at the cost of nonsense, shut out God. For if “natural” means springing up without a cause, it is a contradiction in terms to say a “natural design;” and it is Atheism. But you have a clue to it: “There is nothing miraculous or artificial,” he tells us, “in the arrangement of the books of scripture.” Now arrangement of the books is of his usual looseness. Is it of the contents or of the books themselves? But, take it in any way, there is nothing miraculous or artificial—i.e., neither of God or man—in it; it grew up naturally, yet was a design, not of God’s, not of man’s; of whose? a result which appears when bound in a volume!

Did you ever see a man labouring and toiling under a weight upon his spirit, in a labyrinth of his own mind, like this? And let me add, if I see a lovely and harmonious picture in nature, do I say it is a result? Was there no Designer, no Creator, no one who formed and made the lilies of the field, which the blessed One admired? Did God clothe the grass, which to-day is in the field, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, and not order, and arrange, and form His word, which abideth for ever, and by which, as by the sword out of Christ’s mouth, men will be judged in the last day? I see a creation around me, a harmony, ay, “the imperfect appearance of design,” in looking at the surface of the globe, perhaps at the starry heavens. I read the apostle telling me that His eternal power and Godhead who has ordained them are clearly seen [noouvmena caqora'tai] by the things that are made, so that men are without excuse. To Mr. Jowett it is a result, and he uses the comparison to make out a natural design which grows up where God and man are not. Yet he cannot deny design in a harmonious whole, and, to shut out God from scripture, uses an expression, “a natural design,” which is simple nonsense; while the object of it is simple and clear, from the exclusion of “miraculous and artificial,” that is, God and man. “Design” means, I cannot help perceiving God. “Natural” means, I will not at any rate have Him.

And see the foolishness of even that comparison. What is the analogy between a picture in nature and thoughts of men, and more, the thoughts of men as to Christ, and all that God has told us in scripture? Do they grow up like a tree whose seed is in itself after its kind? Is there nothing moral in them, nothing but natural consequences, no communications from God at all more than to a tree? Is that Mr. Jowett’s idea of “natural?” If not, am I to be guided, as the way to life, by mere human thoughts in dark ages? Who was Christ? Or, if God has revealed His thoughts, am I to have them spoiled, perhaps perverted, by human agency, and only so? Is He to give His Son to work redemption to deliver me, and I only to know it in such an oriental garb, and so mixed up with the ideas of the age, that I cannot tell what this Son or this redemption is? To say even that man, with religious thoughts, conflicting thoughts, divine thoughts, human thoughts, grows up like a tree, which has one unchangeable nature, is rank nonsense. And to call these thoughts a revelation, or the inspired source of truth, if it be not God’s own account of this, is trifling with words and things, and with the things of God too. The very breaks Mr. Jowett speaks of prove the folly of his thoughts. The harmony of a picture is a whole. But, as he says, we have centuries of Judaism without a word—nigh 2000 years of Christianity in their turn. If scripture be a harmonious whole, it is then something else than natural growth and development. For the development was interrupted for centuries in Judaism, and has ceased for near 2000 years, so that the harmonious whole must belong to the book in itself. But a design, which harmony denotes, means that there is a designer, and if a designer, a designer of the whole. And this says all. For, let it grow like nature, which is nonsense as to a revelation, or let each word be dictated to a machine, if the design be accomplished, the perfect expression of the mind of the designer is there. Did God (every word being according to His design, or there is not harmony if I look far enough) mean to teach me exactly the truth by His design, or not? Has He formed the scripture so as to do so, supposing I am willing to learn? If so, all this reasoning is the pretension of a candle in sunshine to shew us the sun, and clear up by it what light is.

W. But if you look at the details in a picture you lose the harmony.

H. To be sure I do, but I learn what makes it. But only think of the language of this sentence. There is a harmony, an overruling law, but a result, not a design, which appears when bound in one volume, yet a design, but a natural design. Did you ever see such a rocking of the mind, as the hull of a ship with no sail filled, no rudder to guide; every contradictory thought brought together, following each other like the waves; the beating about of the mind sensible of the force of what it is in, but without God, and unwilling to let Him in?

W. Well, I never did.

H. That there is progress in revelation, and in man under revelation, no christian child denies, or is ignorant of. But what has this to do with the authority and source of the revelation so given, and the account it affords of man under it all? Of the true present result in a church, they are wholly ignorant, and choose to ignore the facts. Mr. Jowett says, “But of all mankind, whom He restores to His Father and their Father, to His God and their God.” Now that it is for all the world is true, but Christ says this to His disciples only. “Not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before.” Of course those that believed came into it; but disciples are there, not mankind. The vagueness of all these men’s thoughts is singular. And it is a moral vagueness; for it supposes men to be in a divine position without one divine quality.

W. The whole series of the Essays gives me the idea of very unformed minds. Like half-fledged birds got out of their nest, they attempt the air—but it is not flying; neither the safety of the quiet goose, nor the liberty of the fledged wing; they tumble instead of flying, because they attempt to fly.

H. I leave you to your simile, but that is the necessary effect of man’s mind pretending to occupy itself with divine things in its own strength.

I will turn now to some passages, in which we have specimens of Air. Jowett’s interpretation, to shew how in every respect, as to the connection of the passages, the force of the statements, and the moral judgment of good and evil, his system has made him utterly incapable and incompetent ‘as an interpreter. First, Romans 3:19, he attacks Paul as false in logic, as arguing from a particular to the universal. The blunder is simply Mr. Jowett’s. The apostle had already proved the Gentiles wholly reprobate morally. But he could not deny that, however evil, as he had shewn, the Jews had special privileges, and particularly the oracles of God. They boasted that the law was theirs, and theirs only. All right, says the apostle: what the law says it says to them who are under the law; but it says that there is none righteous, that those it spoke to were together become abominable; but it spoke to Jews, therefore they were such by their own confession, and every mouth was stopped, and all the world become guilty. He had fully proved the Gentile so, and the Jew did not question it —only sought to justify himself and rest on his privileges. You have them, I admit, says the apostle, particularly the oracles of God; they are yours—speak to you: let us hear them, hear what they say to you. You are abominable. There is every mouth stopped. Nothing could be more conclusive with a Jew pleading privilege. Mr. Jowett, not having understood one atom of the argument, which is evident to a child, sees only the apostle applying to all the world what is said avowedly to the few.

Next, he takes Romans 1:16-18, and says, they (“the series of inferences which follow one another,”) are for the most part different aspects or statements of the same truth. Now yaq with Paul is very frequently no inference from what precedes, but from a principle he has laid down, or which is the ground on which his mind is going in argument. Thus “because” (chap, 1:19), and “because” (ver. 21), are two reasons for the same thing, namely, that the wrath of God was revealed: first, the rejection of the witness of creation; secondly, the abandoning the knowledge of God when they had it. So continually in Paul’s writings, though what the “for” refers to is not always so on the surface. But, further, saying that verses 16-18 are different aspects or statements of the same truth has no sense. He is ready to preach the gospel at Rome; for, however proud and great the city and people may be, &c, or whatever it may be, he is not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God to salvation. This is verse 16, and tells why he is not ashamed. Next follows why it is the power of God to salvation; because God’s righteousness was revealed in it when man had none; and thus it became available to faith, whether it was of Jew or Gentile, being on the principle of faith.

But what made all this necessary? How came it that it was by faith to any, Jew or Gentile, and so to all? There was another great truth that had to be remembered. It was not now a government of God in earthly judgments on the one family God had known, but God’s wrath from heaven morally, He being fully revealed, against all inconsistent with His nature, be the guilty ones where they may; and particularly, as in the case of the Jew (and now of the Christian), those who hold the truth, but in unrighteousness. “For the wrath” is not a direct inference from what precedes, but from the whole state of the case. All this, he says, is brought out, and my service and object; for, &c. To say that his not being ashamed of the gospel, the revelation of the righteousness of God, and the revelation of the wrath of God, is a statement of the same truth, could be found, I suppose, in a rationalist alone, and from the enlarged light he alone possesses.

Having referred to these three first instances of proofs of fitness for directing how to interpret, I leave all this part, in which are some just remarks, with evidence of utter immaturity as a whole, but nothing that requires particular notice.

But one statement I would advert to, simply because Mr. Jowett is advancing human experience to overthrow the essential point of all Paul’s teaching, which he advances distinctly as divine truth, against the false conclusion which Mr. Jowett draws. Logical “opposition is one of ideas only, which is not realized in fact. Experience shews us, not that there are two classes of men animated by two opposing principles, but an infinite number of classes or individuals, from the lowest depth of misery and sin to the highest perfection of which human nature is capable, the last not wholly good, the worst not entirely evil. But the figure or mode of representation changes these differences of degree into differences of kind.” Nor does Mr. Jowett fear to include in this logical opposition even the setting the sheep on His right hand and the goats on His left; so that not even judgment is to separate the evil and the good. Here it is resting on man’s judgment of good from outward conduct, in defiance of His who searches the heart. It is defying the sentence of God. It is perfectly clear that the foundation truth of scripture is that man is a sinner; not that men are criminals, but that “or even as this publican” is the proof of a hard heart, not of a good man—that he who thanks God he is not as other men is a Pharisee. It was Christ’s reproach that He was the friend of publicans and sinners; He avowed it— He did not come to call the righteous. The apostle’s whole doctrine is, in the most striking way, not as logical opposition, but as laboriously proved doctrine, that there is no difference, that men by nature are children of wrath; that all are gone out of the way, and need redemption and to be justified by blood. The Lord declares that the publicans and harlots were nearer the kingdom of God than those who take the ground Mr. Jowett does. The apostle insists that they that are in the flesh cannot please God. He knew that in him, that is in his flesh, dwelt no good thing. God would not curse the ground any more for man’s sake, for all the imaginations of the thoughts of his heart were only evil, and that continually. The true gardener knows a thistle with two leaves over ground, as well as with mischievous ripened seed.

There is many and many a person in the depths of misery and sin that has juster thoughts of God and of the truth than Mr. Jowett; many a judge upon the bench with a harder heart than the passionate criminal he is judging; many a Pharisee ready to cast a stone (ay, at Christ Himself morally), till he meets Christ’s eye, that goes away to save his character (not his conscience) from His eye, and leaves one undoubtedly guilty to the Lord of mercy. There is no good in sin, that is certain, but less in covering it. But, besides, Mr. Jowett’s paragraph destroys all the moral doctrine of scripture. A man, all men, must be converted, must repent, must be born again; he has not life, if he has not the Son of God. All is lost on Mr. Jowett. It is not his experience. And even this is moral blindness. His experience, and nobody else’s, in looking at this world, tells the secrets of hearts, the temptations, conflicts of the one in misery, or the cold heartless selfishness of the other decent and respectable moralist. The history of Christianity, the doctrine of Christianity, the path of the Christ of God, are all the formal, express, and careful denial of Mr. Jowett’s doctrine; the denial of it, because that doctrine was the ruinous self-deception of men’s souls. Mr. Jowett seeks to make words also uncertain; and, in order to avoid admitting that religion shifts with shifting modes of thought and speech (for the existence of truth does not seem to cross his mind, or enter as a possibility into his conception), he makes any fixity of thought immaterial to Christianity.

What is Christianity then? The statement that it is life, and not doctrine, while true, rightly used, is of no force—that is a doctrine—nor to say it is a revelation of God, because the revelation when stated is what is meant by a doctrine. To justify this looseness, he refers to a commentator, who appears willing to peril religion on the hteral truth of such an expression as, “We shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air;” and asks, Would he be equally ready to stake Christianity on the hteral meaning of the words, “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched?” On the truth, certainly; on the hteral meaning not; because not being as careless and loose as Mr. Jowett, he would know that one was a positive distinct revelation by the word of the Lord how certain things should happen, when some confusion had arisen in the minds of the saints, and the other is an avowed figure, taken from the end of Isaiah.

But rationalists soar above all the necessities of careful enquiry. They doubt of what God says, and pronounce by their own thoughts, and all is settled. They know how to quote and apply the Old Testament better than the Lord and the apostles. “Hardly any” (quotation), “probably none,” which they have made, “is based on the original sense or context.” It is one who has found out that sin is an intermediate between good and evil, and that sheep on the right hand and goats on the left is only a logical opposition, who can alone quote properly.

But what is the proof that the apostles and the Lord are wrong, and Mr. Jowett right? It is, that the way of quoting is in agreement with the ideas of the age or country in which it was written. That is, if it were so, those formed by the Old Testament and the teaching of the prophets; and here, mark, all superintendence, all care of the Holy Spirit is denied. And what is the conclusion? First, it is a reason for not insisting on the applications which the New Testament makes of passages in the Old, as their original meaning: and, secondly, it gives authority and precedent for the use of “similar applications in our own day,” which have thus as much authority and truth. Nor does he deny this last use to be sanctioned by the Lord and His apostles; so that the Lord Himself has sanctioned, according to Mr. Jowett, the total perversion of the Old Testament, though declaring it to be the word of God, and that it must be fulfilled. But how fulfilled, if it was applied wrong? Which was fulfilled—the sense it had, or the sense the Lord (may He forgive me for saying such a thing!) took wrongly out of it? These scriptures witnessed of Him. But, if they were all wrongly quoted and misapplied when cited as witnessing of Him, how could this be?

The confidence of these men in their own stupid opinions, in presence of the declarations of the Lord, borders on blasphemy; save that their looseness and carelessness, and the absence of all enquiry and research in what they say, make their emptiness an excuse for what would be otherwise wicked. Where they have lived, I know not; one would think among the traditions of the darkest corners of their land; for their efforts at looseness are only occasioned by traditional applications, exploded by every one who has carefully studied scripture—only that they have given up God and scripture with these traditions, as I have often seen poor Roman Catholics do, who, when they gave up taking a bit of bread for God, for a time had no God at all, believed nothing at all.

And, note, we make this very same use of scripture, and shew it is no perversion at all! And while insisting that scripture has only one meaning, it is curious to see how he would let it loose on his side the country. “Where, for our example, our Saviour says, ‘Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free,’ it is not likely that these words would have conveyed, to the minds of the Jews who heard Him, any of the perplexities of doubt or enquiry.” Nor to anybody else in their senses, I should think; because the context is, “If ye continue in my word, then shall ye be my disciples indeed, and ye shall know,” &c. “Yet we cannot suppose that our Saviour, were He to come again on earth, would refuse thus to extend them.”

Now the blessed Lord’s words seem to me very simple, for His time and every time. Divine truth sets a man, when really received, morally free. He is not a slave as he is when he is a sinner —lost. I suppose I am unfortunate; I avow I do not understand what Mr. Jowett means by “conveying… any of the perplexities of doubt or enquiry.” Does that mean, that setting free is giving doubt and enquiry, or delivering them from it who are doubting or enquiring?

W. Well, I really do not know; I do not understand them either. How knowing the truth can give doubt and enquiry, I do not understand; nor how the words should convey notions of doubt or enquiry: I am as much at sea as you.

H. I suppose he must mean, by what follows, freed from doubt. Of course, knowing the truth does free from doubt; but continuing in Christ’s word is not exactly what he speaks of. He says, “The Apostle Paul, when describing the gospel, which is to the Greek foolishness, speaks also of a higher wisdom, which is known to them who are perfect. Neither is it unfair for us to apply this passage to that reconcilement of faith and knowledge which may be termed christian philosophy as the nearest equivalent to its [what?] language in our own day.” Now the Lord’s declaration is, “If ye continue in my word, ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” This means, after doubt and perplexity, that reconcilement of faith and knowledge which may be termed christian philosophy; that is, not continuing in Christ’s word, but adding modern science, and so getting free. Again, in the passage referred to, the Apostle Paul declares of the wisdom in question, “Yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought; but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world to our glory.” This means geology, modern German criticism, and Bunsen’s wild Hege-hanism. The apostle describes it thus: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things that God hath prepared for them that love him, but God hath revealed them to us by his Spirit;” and then the apostle proceeds to shew how he taught them. This means now the removing doubt and enquiry, and the reconcilement of faith and knowledge termed christian philosophy.

W. But this is really puerile, as an interpretation of scripture; they cannot have read the passages.

H. Just puerile; but they had the texts running in their minds, and it is what we find everywhere, letting their own minds reason without research. But I do not exactly know where we have got to here, save happily nearly to the end of the Essay. Our master taught us, at the beginning of it, there could be but one meaning to a passage of scripture. Now, though it is inadmissible to accept the apostle’s use, because that gives the ideas of their age, passages are become so expansive, so india-rubber like, that “we have [now] only to enlarge the meaning of scripture to apply it even to the novelties and peculiarities of our own times;” “and we cannot suppose”—I almost regret quoting it from its want of reverence—”that our Saviour, were He to come again upon earth, would refuse thus to extend them.” And, further, the only meaning was that which would have presented itself to the minds of those who first heard it. Here it is not likely that their words would have conveyed to the minds of the Jews who heard Him any notion of the perplexities, &c; but “it is not unfair” to apply it now to Jowett’s interpretation and modern knowledge termed christian philosophy.

W. I suppose it is to give a full illustration of what I read in p. 372: “If words have more than one meaning, they may have any meaning. Instead of being a rule of life and faith, scripture becomes the expression of the ever-changing aspects of religions. The unchangeable word of God, in the name of which we repose, is changed by each age and each generation, in accordance with its passing fancy. The book in which we believe all religious truth to be contained is the most uncertain of all books, because interpreted by arbitrary and uncertain methods.” It is a singular description for a man to give of himself; but I suppose it is like Mahomet. His religion forbad any good Mussulman to have more than four wives, but, as he was the prophet of it, he took eighteen. It is a singular exhibition of the human mind, and of the pretensions and carelessness of these rationalists.

H. Well, dear W., we are happily drawing to a close, and though having had to wade through tedious details, the system is pretty well judged, I think; at any rate, it is for me, and the pretensions too.

W. They have not a feather’s weight in my mind, and their weakness only makes the divine word stand out in its simple strength.

H. A few more observations and I have done. We have looked at most of the observations which remain. I will just notice distinctly one or two.

“The original meaning of scripture is beginning to be clearly understood. But the apprehension of the original meaning is inconsistent with the reception of a typical or conventional one.” I have gone through the cases alleged to prove this. A -conventional one I give him up; but that a typical one is not to be received is simple folly, when half the book is typical, both as to ordinances and facts; and the whole New Testament and Christianity in its foundation based upon its being so. The man who asserts it must be out of his senses, or deny Christianity and the Lord’s whole history and place in it; and he refers expressly to these types. “We shall find it impossible to maintain it partially, e.g., in the types of the Mosaic law.”

Now, I say, either this or all scripture is simple nonsense; for Christ is the Lamb of God, our Passover, and it is impossible that the blood of bulls and of goats could take away sin. But there is an object, a bent of purpose in all this, which I would notice; perhaps I should say an effect rather than an object, for I would not exaggerate, but which is certainly Satan’s object. It is this. Having no truth at all they are indifferent to it, and like to be free; and, having nothing which they value as truth, they are content to leave others free too. It looks liberal, but is really caring for nothing as the truth. This you may have seen in their interpretation of the remarkable passage of the blessed Lord, “If ye continue in my word, ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”—an immense announcement of the love of God giving the promise of deliverance by certain known truth— and, it is added, by the Son—from all immoral influences, all that was not the truth.

This for them means now doubt and enquiry, and a mixture of philosophy and knowledge with faith, that is, with Christ’s word, which is the truth. Hence, as they have liberty for themselves, they must have it for others, that is, indifference. Hence, they say, a change is observable in the manner in which doctrines are stated and defended; it is no longer held sufficient to rest them on texts of scripture, one, two, or more, which contain or appear to contain similar words or ideas. That is, this divine standard of truth, “the inspired source of truth,” to use their own words, has lost its authority. “They are connected more closely with our moral nature,” i.e., we judge for ourselves of their truth and fitness—“extreme consequences are shunned, large allowances are made for the ignorance of mankind.” They are wise, they suffer fools gladly.

“It is held there is truth on both sides; about many questions there is a kind of union of opposites.” So “is it a mere chimera, that the different questions of Christendom may meet on the common ground of the New Testament”—each believing what he likes, of course, and meeting in—what? A kind of union of opposites. They will agree in receiving the New Testament; but, like inspiration, “it is one of those theological terms which may be regarded as great peacemakers, but which are also sources of distrust and misunderstanding. For, while we are ready to shake hands with any one who uses the same language as ourselves, a doubt is apt to insinuate itself whether he takes the language in the same sense.” (p. 344.) It is a kind of hope, or advice, which, he told us there, came from a bad quarter. “It is placed by Goethe in the mouth of Mephistopheles. Pascal severely charges the Jesuits with acting in a similar manner.”

“But this is not the way to heal the wounds of the Church of Christ.” To be sure it is not, but it serves for something else, to make men indifferent as to the truth. It is one of the great questions of the day—Is the unity of Christians to be founded on what scripture speaks of—Love for the truth’s sake, or indifference to it? And mark the fruit of it here: “Examples of this sturdy orthodoxy in our own generation rather provoke a smile than any serious disapproval.”

Again, “But that (the uselessness of a formal scheme of union) is no reason for doubting that the divisions of the christian world are beginning to pass away. The progress of politics, acquaintance with other countries, the growth of knowledge and material greatness, changes of opinion in the Church of England, the present position of the Roman communion; all these phenomena shew that the ecclesiastical state of the world is not destined to be perpetual.”

Again, “The recognition of the fact, that many aspects and stages in religion are found in scripture; that different or even opposite parties existed in the Apostolic Church; that the first teachers of Christianity had a separate and individual mode of regarding the gospel of Christ; that any existing communion is necessarily much more unlike the brotherhood of love in the New Testament than we are willing to suppose—Protestants, in some respects, as much as Catholics; that rival sects in our own day— Calvinists and Arminians; those who maintain and those who deny the final restoration of man—may equally find texts which seem to favour their respective tenets (Mark 9:44-48; Rom. 11:32); the recognition of these and similar facts will make us unwilling to impose any narrow rule of religious opinion on the ever varying conditions of the human mind and christian society.”

Now the incontrovertible departure from early devotedness and brotherly love, if we take the display of it in the Church as a whole as a standard, the New Testament has prophetically and even historically made known to us, assuring us that in the last days perilous times should come. That the Holy Ghost employed Peter and Paul, and John, and even James and Jude, and, indeed, the gospels themselves, to give us different aspects of Christ and Christianity, that we who know in part might have a complete and perfect apprehension of both, is full of the deepest interest to the intelligent study of scripture.

Of the extreme ignorance of scripture interpretation shewn in the quotation of Romans n:32 I say nothing. I notice purely the result of all that Mr. Jowett has observed, the effect of modern thinking and searching. It is simply to arrive at Pilate’s question, with the Truth, the eternal Son of God, before Him—What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out, and, though he found no fault in Him, it all ended in, “not this man, but Barabbas.”

If we turn to christian missions, the truth is equally given up. “You may take the purer light or element of religion, of which Christianity is the expression, and make it shine on some principle in human nature, which is the fallen image of it. You cannot give a people, who have no history of their own, a sense of the importance of Christianity as an historical fact.” The fact of the incarnation of the eternal Son of God coming into the world is to be dropped. “We want to awaken in them the sense that God is their Father, and they His children; and that is of more importance than anything about the inspiration of scripture. But to teach in this spirit, the missionary should himself be able to separate the accidents from the essence of religion; he should be conscious that the power of the gospel resides, not in the particulars of theology, but in the christian life.” So it was all a mistake to say the truth shall make you free.

Now, you will remark, all this is an effort to make truth immaterial. I am no stickler for conventional or traditional denominations, and, if anything is far from my thoughts, it is that the miserable things called denominations are one or another of them the aJro" of the plhvrwma of salvation. Mr. Jowett might take me rather, I suppose, for an Achamoth in the world composed of my sighs and tears, &c, for the state of things. But what I remark is, that having neither Christ nor allegiance to Him, nor the truth—and He is the truth—mentioned nor thought of, “the progress of politics, changes of opinion in the establishment,” are the real agents in dissolving “the christian world.”

Now I do not dispute this. But for him therefore, as “opposite parties existed in the apostolic Church,” Protestants are no better than Roman Catholics; Calvinists, and Arminians, holders of eternal punishments and deniers of it, may equally find texts which seem to favour their respective tenets; truth is all a fancy, and no one “will impose any narrow rule of religious opinion on the ever varying rule of the human mind and christian society.” Now that this is going on no one with his eyes open can deny. But a more absolute negation of truth, indifference to it, or rather unconsciousness that there is a Christ in Christianity, or truth in scripture or anywhere else, it is impossible to believe. It is not indeed astonishing in one who holds that the use of scripture in the New Testament, sanctioned by our Lord and the apostles, is in probably no instance based on the original sense or context, and liable to error and perversion; so that, as to them it is true, that, “if we are permitted to apply scripture under the pretence of interpreting it, the language of scripture becomes only a mode of expressing the public feeling or opinion of our own day;” so that what Christ and the apostles taught is only such a public opinion of their day, for they, Mr. Jowett declares, did so apply scripture; yet declaring that “we have only to enlarge the meaning of scripture to apply it to the novelties and peculiarities of our own times,” and that our Saviour would not refuse, if He were to come again now, thus to extend them, and that it is not unfair to use St. Paul’s statements thus, and sanction the views of our day—it is not astonishing, I say, that one who blames the Lord and His apostles, so as to make their use of scripture no kind of guide to its meaning or purpose, but assumes full right to get at the truth by giving his own application, and to get freedom promised by Christ through it, that he should put Christ and all truth out of sight in a christian world, look to politics governing it, and take indifference and no truth as his standard and his hope.

But it is all a delusion. Those who buy the truth and sell it not will hold to it, and take Christ’s word as the revelation and standard of it for their hearts, owning the apostles as ministers of it by the Spirit. Many will take refuge in it too from sorrow and passion’s rage on the other side, when the dissolution looked for takes place. But the present working will be this: the philosophical indifference of rationalists will palsy sturdy Protestant orthodoxy, which till now held its ground against Popery. Popery (which does not rest on truth a bit more, but on authority, and in its nature is essentially infidel) does not know what it wants and what it wills, and will pursue it constantly, cleverly, and energetically, and all hold of truth will be gone in the country. This state of things the Dissenters will help on, and then find how weak they are. The main effect of this rationalism will be giving power for a time to what knows its own mind, that is, to Popery. Rationalism itself has no future at all. Of what would it be the future? Of enquiring and waiting till the pope and infidels take the New Testament for a common ground? They can destroy perhaps faith in the truth (where it is not in the heart), but produce nothing.

W. You are somewhat a sombre prophet, though I see the truth of what you say in principle.

H. No; I believe the word of God abides for ever. I believe Christ, our blessed Lord, has all power in heaven and in earth; and for the soul who loves the truth, I believe it is a very bright and blessed time. I admit that what old associations may attach men to is disappearing. Every one sees it, though how much we have to thank God that in this country it is peacefully; though I doubt that christian or religious liberty will last very long as it is now—the revival will help to destroy it: but as outward props tumble and disappear, for those who have Christ in their hearts, and to whom the truth is precious, He will be more and more all, and the truth have infinitely more power and price. They will live more in Christianity, and less in the christian world formed by phases of the aijw'no" touvtou. I feel thoroughly that they are times most simple for those who love the truth, and blessed ones; soon I trust to be replaced by heavenly and better ones still. Only Christ and the truth must be of course all.

W. But it requires faith thus to see things.

H. Of course it does. Did you ever find the Lord propose our being happy without it? Can anything live above sight and sense, and its influences, but faith? No doubt we are all imperfect in this heavenly temperament that associates us livingly with what is divine and unseen; and therefore in being separated from earth in spirit, we may have trials and discipline where the flesh clings; even, it may be, what the Lord calls cutting off a right hand or plucking out a right eye. But for faith I read, “In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

It is a remarkable thing that the two things which the Lord refers to as setting us free, are both of them wholly out of sight, unmentioned, and unthought of by Mr. Jowett: “The truth shall make you free,” and “the Son shall make you free;” though he quotes this passage to make christian philosophy of it. But they do make us free, much as we may have to seek to know their power better. But it is a touchstone of their whole system, the total leaving out of the two things which the Lord Himself says make us free. But it could not be otherwise. Their system is doubt and enquiry (love of truth they call it), but never the truth loved or known.

I think we have pretty thoroughly gone through the system. The narrower fields of tendencies of religious thought in England and national churches, (which they say the heathen had too: such is their exclusion of Christ and the truth) I do not feel there is much need that we should enter upon.

I would only remark how singular the darkness as to the power of Christianity was a century or more ago, and thereby note the limit of proofs of Christianity. Butler’s “Analogy,” a standard book known to all, and not only first-rate for its age, but (to use the new word of the Germanizers) on its stand-point incomparable, when the author shews negatively the folly of those who, believing in a God of nature, would question revealed religion, breaks down in the most singular manner when he enters on positive christian ground. He shews that deists have no proof of anything; but he does venture a little on to positive ground. He reasons, however, from Aristotelian to christian principles. For happiness we must have virtue, for virtue victory and a formed habit. Then he says that this supposes that these propensions (lusts) must exist in heaven; “and for my part,” he adds, “I do not see how it could be otherwise.”

W. Is it possible?

H. It is a fact. It only shews what a different thing faith and the proof of Christianity are. A child that had faith (in any age since Adam, to say nothing of a Christian) would have rejected such a thought. But what? Except the kingdom of God be received as a little child, we shall in no case enter therein. But you and I, through grace—and, thank God, thousands more— have been given to believe in the truth, to know the Lord, and, feeble as it may be in us, to love Christ. May His grace keep us stedfast in faith, and in its fruits! The question for a soul now is Christ, that blessed person who reveals the Father; the truth of a living acting Spirit, the Comforter, given; and the revealed written word of God, the only source and the standard of truth; and that that which we are called on to confess is the truth, known by the Spirit from that word, known in the heart with God; and, while acknowledging we may be mistaken in a hundred points, knowing that we have the truth for which martyrs have died, and that we had rather give up our lives than lose or deny it. The Lord Jesus is at the right hand of God the Father. He may suffer us to be tried, but He is above all and will prevail; He watches over us always as the good Shepherd, and will, in the Father’s own time, come and receive us to Himself, that where He is we may be also.

W. I do heartily believe it, and thank God it is so; but I am sure Christians in these days ought to give a more distinct witness to whom they belong—I mean practically, as devoted to Him— by their profession, and the fruits which make it good. “Shew us thy faith” has all its force now.

H. In truth it has. If I contend for the truth, because Christ is the truth, I had rather one did not profess it than deny it in works. We are in serious, most serious, times; and there must be reality. Only the Lord keep us from pretended love of the truth, which destroys the truth we love; which has nothing to keep, and hence has nothing to lose, and can be always seeking. When conventional systems are crumbling around, and evil raises up its head, may men be seen who can walk peacefully because they possess what can never crumble, till God makes all things new according to the truth He has revealed.

W. I am glad we met; it has done me good: holding fast the truth, and feeling one has it (oh, what grace it is!) from God, always does. We may now turn to seek directly, and with humble thankfulness, into the treasure we have in the truth—the unsearchable riches of Christ, which is made over to us. It is yet happier work.

H. Adieu, then, for the present; may we be only found at our watch-tower, and, above all, humble and dependent.

I have not, after all, gone into the article in the Edinburgh. It is merely an attempt to justify infidelity, because it has prevailed for many years in Germany, so that even evangelical professors yield more or less to it; and an attempt to defend the Essayists, by proving the superior clergy to be as bad; and I do not really see how this affects the truth or falsehood of the principles themselves. I think many non-infidel professors in Germany have yielded, through want of faith, to the current; and I see the same tone prevalent in the clergy and dissenting ministers in England. They like the credit of being up in the progress of the age. And there is so very little faith in the intrinsic truth and power of scripture, in its being the word of God, that their estimate and defence of it necessarily fails on that side. The clergy must answer for themselves to the charges of the reviewer. They ought to be morally indignant at the article. But I do not see, if he proves the assailants of the Essayists dishonest, and to have been previously abettors of their views, what an upright mind will have gained or lost. It does not affect the question in the smallest degree, but merely the reputation of the clergy. I do not think much of an opponent who, when his friend is charged with being dishonest, declares he will prove the accuser as bad. The whole matter savours of want of principle and personality. Besides, many a mind may be led away from solid ground by new thoughts, which, when their ripe fruit is shewn, honestly discards them all. I think this Review a very poor thing—lowering eternal questions to personal ones, and not worthy therefore of any particular notice.