Bible #2 - Inspiration

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” [2 Tim

How was the Bible written?-“Whence is it? From heaven, or of
men?”-Had the writers of the Bible any special or peculiar help in doing their
work?-Is there anything in the Bible which makes it unlike all other books, and
therefore demands our respectful attention? These are questions of vast
importance. They are questions to which I wish to offer an answer in this paper.
To speak plainly, the subject I propose to examine is that deep one, the
inspiration of Scripture. I believe the Bible to have been written by
inspiration of God, and I want others to be of the same belief.

The subject is always important. I place it purposely in the
very forefront of the papers which compose this volume. I ask a hearing for the
doctrines which I am about to handle, because they are drawn from a book which
is the “Word of God.” Inspiration, in short, is the very keel and foundation of
Christianity. If Christians have no Divine book to turn to as the warrant of
their doctrine and practice, they have no solid ground for present peace or
hope, and no right to claim the attention of mankind. They are building on a
quicksand, and their faith is vain. We ought to be able to say boldly, “We are
what we are, and we do what we do, because we have here a book which we believe
to be the “Word of God.”

The subject is one of peculiar importance in the present day.
Infidelity and scepticism abound everywhere. In one form or another they are to
be found in every rank and class of society. Thousands of Englishmen are not
ashamed to say that they regard the Bible as an old obsolete Jewish book, which
has no special claim on our faith and obedience, and that it contains many
inaccuracies and defects. Myriads who will not go so far as this are wavering
and shaken in their belief, and show plainly by their lives that they are not
quite sure the Bible is true. In a day like this the true Christian should be
able to set his foot down firmly, and to render a reason of his confidence in
God’s Word. He should be able by sound arguments to meet and silence the
gainsayer, if he cannot convince him. He should be able to show good cause why
he thinks the Bible is “from heaven, and not of men.”

The subject without doubt is a very difficult one. It cannot
be followed up without entering on ground which is dark and mysterious to mortal
man. It involves the discussion of things which are miraculous, and
supernatural, and above reason, and cannot be fully explained. But difficulties
must not turn us away from any subject in religion. There is not a science in
the world about which questions may not be asked which no one can answer. It is
poor philosophy to say we will believe nothing unless we can understand
everything! We must not give up the subject of inspiration in despair because it
contains things “hard to be understood.” There still remains a vast amount of
ground which is plain to every common understanding. I invite my readers to
occupy this ground with me today, and to hear what I have got to say on the
Divine authority of God’s Word.

In considering the subject before us, there are two things
which I propose to do:-

I. In the first place, I shall try to show the general truth,

that the Bible is given by inspiration of God.

II. In the second place, I shall try to show

the extent to
which the Bible is inspired.

I trust that all who read this paper will take up the subject
in a serious and reverent spirit. This question of inspiration is no light one.
It involves tremendously grave consequences. If the Bible is not the Word of God
and inspired, the whole of Christendom for 1800 years has been under an immense
delusion; half the human race has been cheated and deceived, and churches are
monuments of folly.-If the Bible is the Word of God and inspired, all who refuse
to believe it are in fearful danger;-they are living on the brink of eternal
misery. No man, in his sober senses, can fail to see that the whole subject
demands most serious attention.

I. In the first place, I propose to show the general truth,-

the Bible is given by inspiration of God.

In saying this, I mean to assert that the Bible is utterly
unlike all other books that were ever written, because its writers were
specially inspired, or enabled by God, for the work which they did. I say that
the Book comes to us with a claim which no other book possesses. It is stamped
with Divine authority. In this respect it stands entirely alone. Sermons, and
tracts, and theological writings of all kinds, may be sound and edifying, but
they are only the handiwork of uninspired man. The Bible alone is the Book of

Now I shall not waste time in proving that the Scriptures are
genuine and authentic, that they were really written by the very men who profess
to have written them, and that they contain the very things which they wrote. I
shall not touch what are commonly called external evidences. I shall bring
forward the book itself, and put it in the witness box. I shall try to show that
nothing can possibly account for the Bible being what it is, and doing what it
has done, except the theory that it is the Word of God. I lay it down broadly,
as a position which cannot be turned, that the Bible itself, fairly examined, is
the best witness of its own inspiration. I shall content myself with stating
some plain facts about the Bible, which can neither be denied nor explained
away. And the ground I shall take up is this,-that these facts ought to satisfy
every reasonable inquirer that the Bible is of God, and not of man. They are
simple facts, which require no knowledge of Hebrew, or Greek, or Latin, in order
to be understood; yet they are facts which prove to my own mind conclusively
that the Bible is superhuman, or not of man.

(a) It is a fact, that there is

an extraordinary fullness
and richness in the contents of the Bible.
It throws more light on a vast
number of most important subjects than all the other books in the world put
together. It boldly handles matters which are beyond the reach of man, when left
to himself. It treats of things which are mysterious and invisible,-the soul,
the world to come, and eternity, depths which man has no line to fathom. All who
have tried to write of these things, without Bible light, have done little but
show their own ignorance. They grope like the blind; they speculate; they guess;
they generally make the darkness more visible, and land us in a region of
uncertainty and doubt. How dim were the views of Socrates, Plato, Cicero, and
Seneca! A well-taught Sunday scholar, in this day, knows more spiritual truth
than all these sages put together.

The Bible alone gives a reasonable account of the

beginning and end of the globe
on which we live. It starts from the birthday
of sun, moon, stars, and earth in their present order, and shows us creation in
its cradle. It foretells the dissolution of all things, when the earth and all
its works shall be burned up, and shows us creation in its grave. It tells us
the story of the world’s youth; and it tells us the story of its old age. It
gives us a picture of its first days; and it gives us a picture of its last. How
vast and important is this knowledge! Can this be the handiwork of uninspired
man? Let us try to answer that question.

The Bible alone gives a

true and faithful account of man.
It does not flatter him as novels and romances do; it does not conceal his
faults and exaggerate his goodness; it paints him just as he is. It describes
him as a fallen creature, of his own nature inclined to evil,-a creature needing
not only a pardon, but a new heart, to make him fit for heaven. It shows him to
be a corrupt being under every circumstance, when left to himself,-corrupt after
the loss of paradise,-corrupt after the flood,-corrupt when fenced in by divine
laws and commandments, corrupt when the Son of God came down and visited him in
the flesh,-corrupt in the face of warnings, promises, miracles, judgments,
mercies. In one word, it shows man to be by nature always a sinner. How
important is this knowledge! Can this be the work of uninspired minds? Let us
try to answer that question.

The Bible alone gives us

true views of God. By nature
man knows nothing clearly or fully about Him. All his conceptions of Him are
low, grovelling, and debased. What could be more degraded than the gods of the
Canaanites and Egyptians,-of Babylon, of Greece, and of Rome? What can be more
vile than the gods of the Hindus and other heathen in our own time?-By the Bible
we know that

God hates sin. The destruction of the old world by the
flood; the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah; the drowning of Pharaoh and the
Egyptians in the Red Sea; the cutting off the nations of Canaan; the overthrow
of Jerusalem and the Temple; the scattering of the Jews; all these are
unmistakable witnesses.-By the Bible we know that

God loves sinners. His
gracious promise in the day of Adam’s fall; His longsuffering in the time of
Noah; His deliverance of Israel out of the land of Egypt; His gift of the law at
Mount Sinai; His bringing the tribes into the promised land; His forbearance in
the days of the Judges and Kings; His repeated warnings by the mouth of His
prophets; His restoration of Israel after the Babylonian captivity; His sending
His Son into the world, in due time, to be crucified; His commanding the Gospel
to be preached to the Gentiles, all these are speaking facts.-By the Bible we
learn that

God knows all things. We see Him foretelling things hundreds
and thousands of years before they take place, and as He foretells so it comes
to pass. He foretold that the family of Ham should be a servant of
servants,-that Tyre should become a rock for drying nets,-that Nineveh should
become a desolation,-that Babylon should be made a desert-that Egypt should be
the basest of kingdoms, that Edom should be forsaken and uninhabited,-and that
the Jews should not be reckoned among the nations. All these things were utterly
unlikely and improbable. Yet all have been fulfilled. Once more I say, how vast
and important all this knowledge is! Can this Book be the work of uninspired
man? Let us try to answer that question.

The Bible alone teaches us that

God has made a full, per
feet, and complete provision for the salvation of fallen man.
It tells of an
atonement made for the sin of the world, by the sacrifice and death of God’s own
Son upon the cross. It tells us that by His death for sinners, as their
Substitute, He obtained eternal redemption for all that believe on Him. The
claims of God’s broken law have now been satisfied. Christ has suffered for sin,
the just for the unjust. God can now be just and yet the justifier of the
ungodly. It tells us that there is now a complete remedy for the guilt of
sin,-even the precious blood of Christ; and peace, and rest of conscience for
all who believe on Christ. “Whosoever believeth on Him shall not perish, but
have eternal life.” It tells us that there is a complete remedy for the power of
sin,-even the almighty grace of the Spirit of Christ. It shows us the Holy Ghost
quickening believers, and making them new creatures. It promises a new heart and
a new nature to all who will hear Christ’s voice, and follow Him. Once more I
say, how important this knowledge is! What should we know of all this
comfortable truth without the Bible? Can this Book be the composition of
uninspired men? Let us try to answer that question.

The Bible alone

explains the state of things that we see
in the world around us.
There are many things on earth which a natural man
cannot explain. The amazing inequality of conditions,-the poverty and distress;
the oppression and persecution,-the shakings and tumults,-the failures of
statesmen and legislators,-the constant existence of uncured evils and
abuses,-all these things are often puzzling to him. He sees, but does not
understand. But the Bible makes it all clear. The Bible can tell him that the
whole world lieth in wickedness; that the prince of the world, the devil, is
everywhere,-and that it is vain to look for perfection in the present order of
things. The Bible will tell him that neither laws nor education can ever change
men’s hearts,-and that just as no man will ever make a machine work well, unless
he allows for friction,-so also no man will do much good in the world, unless he
always remembers that human nature is fallen, and that the world he works in is
full of sin. The Bible will tell him that there is “a good time” certainly
coming,-and coming perhaps sooner than people expect it,-a time of perfect
knowledge, perfect justice, perfect happiness, and perfect peace. But the Bible
will tell him this time shall not be brought in by any power but that of Christ
coming to earth again. And for that second coming of Christ, the Bible will tell
him to prepare. Once more, I say, how important is all this knowledge!

All these are things which men could find nowhere except in
the Scriptures. We have probably not the least idea how little we should know
about these things if we had not the Bible. We hardly know the value of the air
we breathe, and the sun which shines on us, because we have never known what it
is to be without them. We do not value the truths on which I have been just now
dwelling, because we do not realize the darkness of men to whom these truths
have not been revealed. Surely no tongue can fully tell the value of the
treasures this one volume contains. Set down that fact in your mind, and do not
forget it. The extraordinary contents of the Bible are a great fact which can
only be explained by admitting its inspiration. Mark well what I say. It is a
simple broad fact that, in the matter of contents, the Bible stands entirely
alone, and no other book is fit to be named in the same day with it. He that
dares to say the Bible is not inspired, let him give a reasonable account of
this fact, if he can.

(b) It is another fact that there is an

unity and harmony in the contents of the Bible,
which is entirely above man.
We all know how difficult it is to get a story told by any three persons, not
living together, in which there are not some contradictions and discrepancies.
If the story is a long one, and involves a large quantity of particulars, unity
seems almost impossible among the common run of men. But it is not so with the
Bible. Here is a long book written by not less than thirty different persons.
The writers were men of every rank and class in society. One was a lawgiver. One
was a warlike king. One was a peaceful king. One was a herdsman. One had been
brought up as a publican, another as a physician, another as a learned Pharisee,
two as fishermen,-several as priests. They lived at different intervals over a
space of 1500 years; and the greater part of them never saw each other face to
face. And yet there is a perfect harmony among all these writers? They all write
as if they were under one dictation. The style and hand-writing may vary, but
the mind that runs through their work is always one and the same. They all tell
the same story. They all give one account of man,-one account of God,-one
account of the way of salvation,-one account of the human heart. You see truth
unfolding under their hands as you go through the volume of their writings,-but
you never detect any real contradiction, or contrariety of view.

Let us set down this fact in our minds, and ponder it well.
Tell us not that this unity might be the result of chance. No one can ever
believe that but a very credulous person. There is only one satisfactory account
to be given of the fact before us.-The Bible is not of man, but of God.

(c) It is another fact that there is

an extraordinary
wisdom, sublimity and majesty in the style of the Bible,
which is above man.
Strange and unlikely as it was, the writers of Scripture have produced a book
which even at this day is utterly unrivalled. With all our boasted attainments
in science and art and learning, we can produce nothing that can be compared
with the Bible. Even at this very hour, in 1877, the book stands entirely alone.
There is a strain and a style and a tone of thought about it, which separate it
from all other writings. There are no weak points, and motes, and flaws, and
blemishes. There is no mixture of infirmity and feebleness, such as you will
find in the works of even the best Christians. “Holy, holy, holy,” seems written
on every page. To talk of comparing the Bible with other “sacred books” so
called, such as the Koran, the Shasters, or the book of Mormon, is positively
absurd. You might as well compare the sun with a rushlight,-or Skiddaw with a
molehill,-or St. Paul’s with an Irish hovel,-or the Portland vase with a garden
pot,-or the Kohinoor diamond with a bit of glass.1 God seems to have
allowed the existence of these pretended revelations, in order to prove the
immeasurable superiority of His own Word. To talk of the inspiration of the
Bible, as only differing in degree from that of such writings as the works of
Homer, Plato, Shakespeare, Dante, and Milton, is simply a piece of blasphemous
folly. Every honest and unprejudiced reader must see that there is a gulf
between the Bible and any other book, which no man can fathom. You feel, on
turning from the Scriptures to other works, that you have got into a new
atmosphere. You feel like one who has exchanged gold for base metal, and heaven
for earth. And how can this mighty difference be accounted for? The men who
wrote the Bible had no special advantages. They lived in a remote corner of the
civilized earth. They had, most of them, little leisure, few books, and no
learning,-such as learning is reckoned in this world. Yet the book they compose
is one which is unrivalled! There is but one way of accounting for this fact.

They wrote under the direct inspiration of God.

(d) It is another fact that there is

an extraordinary
accuracy in the facts and statements of the Bible, which is above man.

The Bible was
written by inspiration of God.
is a book which has been finished and before the world for nearly 1800 years.
These 1800 years have been the busiest and most changeful period the world has
ever seen. During this period the greatest discoveries have been made in
science, the greatest alterations in the ways and customs of society, the
greatest improvements in the habits and usages of life. Hundreds of things might
be named which satisfied and pleased our forefathers, which we have laid aside
long ago as obsolete, useless, and old-fashioned. The laws, the books, the
houses, the furniture, the clothes, the arms, the machinery, the carriages of
each succeeding century, have been a continual improvement on those of the
century that went before. There is hardly a thing in which faults and weak
points have not been discovered. There is scarcely an institution which has not
gone through a process of sifting, purifying, refining, simplifying, reforming,
amending, and changing. But all this time men have never discovered a weak point
or a defect in the Bible. Infidels have assailed it in vain. There it
stands,-perfect, and fresh, and complete, as it did eighteen centuries ago. The
march of intellect never overtakes it. The wisdom of wise men never gets beyond
it. The science of philosophers never proves it wrong. The discoveries of
travellers never convict it of mistakes.-Are the distant islands of the Pacific
laid open? Nothing is found that in the slightest degree contradicts the Bible
account of man’s heart.-Are the ruins of Nineveh and Egypt ransacked and
explored? Nothing is found that overturns one jot or tittle of the Bible’s
historical statements.-How shall we account for this fact? Who could have
thought it possible that so large a book, handling such a vast variety of
subjects, should at the end of 1800 years, be found so free from erroneous
statements? There is only one account to be given of the fact.-

(e) It is another fact that there is in the Bible

extraordinary suitableness to the spiritual wants of all mankind.
It exactly
meets the heart of man in every rank or class, in every country and climate, in
every age and period of life. It is the only book in existence which is never
out of place and out of date. Other books after a time become obsolete and
old-fashioned: the Bible never does. Other books suit one country or people, and
not another: the Bible suits all. It is the book of the poor and unlearned no
less than of the rich and the philosopher. It feeds the mind of the labourer in
his cottage, and it satisfies the gigantic intellects of Newton, Chalmers,
Brewster, and Faraday. Lord Macaulay, and John Bright, and the writers of
brilliant articles in the Times, are all under obligations to the same volume.
It is equally valued by the converted New Zealander in the southern hemisphere,
and the Red River Indian in the cold north of America, and the Hindu under the
tropical sun.

It is the only book, moreover, which seems always fresh and
evergreen and new. For eighteen centuries it has been studied and prayed over by
millions of private Christians, and expounded and explained and preached to us
by thousands of ministers. Fathers, and Schoolmen, and Reformers, and Puritans,
and modern divines, have incessantly dug down into the mine of Scripture, and
yet have never exhausted it. It is a well never dry, and a field which is never
barren. It meets the hearts and minds and consciences of Christians in the
nineteenth century as fully as it did those of Greeks and Romans when it was
first completed. It suits the “Dairyman’s daughter” as well as Persis, or
Tryphena, or Tryphosa,-and the English Peer as well as the converted African at
Sierra Leone. It is still the first book which fits the child’s mind when he
begins to learn religion, and the last to which the old man clings as he leaves
the world.2 In short, it suits all ages, ranks, climates, minds,
conditions. It is the one book which suits the world.

Now how shall we account for this singular fact? What
satisfactory explanation can we give? There is only one account and

The Bible was written by Divine inspiration. It is the book
of the world, because He inspired it who formed the world,-who made all nations
of one blood,-and knows man’s common nature. It is the book for every heart,
because He dictated it who alone knows all hearts, and what all hearts require.

It is the book of God.

(f) Last, but not least, it is a great fact that

the Bible
has had a most extraordinary effect on the condition of those nations in which
it has been known, taught, and read.

I invite any honest-minded reader to look at a map of the
world, and see what a story that map tells. Which are the countries on the face
of the globe at this moment where there is the greatest amount of idolatry, or
cruelty, or tyranny, or impurity, or misgovernment, or disregard of life and
liberty and truth? Precisely those countries where the Bible is not known.-Which
are the Christian countries, so-called, where the greatest quantity of
ignorance, superstition, and corruption, is to be found at this very moment? The
countries in which the Bible is a forbidden or neglected book, such countries as
Spain and the South American States.-Which are the countries where liberty, and
public and private morality have attained the highest pitch? The countries where
the Bible is free to all, like England, Scotland, Germany, and the United
States. Yes! when you know how a nation deals with the Bible, you may generally
know what a nation is.

But this is not all. Let us look nearer home. Which are the
cities on earth where the fewest soldiers and police are required to keep order?
London, Manchester, Liverpool, New York, Philadelphia,-cities where Bibles
abound. -Which are the countries in Europe where there are the fewest murders
and illegitimate births? The Protestant countries, where the Bible is freely
read.-Which are the Churches and religious bodies on earth which are producing
the greatest results by spreading light and dispelling darkness? Those which
make much of the Bible, and teach and preach it as God’s Word. The Romanist, the
Neologian, the Socinian, the deist, the sceptic, or the friends of mere secular
teaching, have never yet shown us one Sierra Leone, one New Zealand, one
Tinnevelly, as the fruit of their principles. We only can do that who honour the
Bible and reverence it as God’s Word. Let this fact also be remembered. He that
denies the Divine inspiration of the Bible, let him explain this fact if he can.3

I place these six facts about the Bible before my readers,
and I ask them to consider them well. Take them all six together, treat them
fairly, and look at them honestly. Upon any other principle than that of divine
inspiration, those six facts appear to me inexplicable and unaccountable. Here
is a book written by a succession of Jews, in a little corner of the world,
which positively stands alone. Not only were its writers isolated and cut off in
a peculiar manner from other nations, but they belonged to a people who have
never produced any other hook of note except the Bible! There is not the
slightest proof that, unassisted and left to themselves, they were capable of
writing anything remarkable, like the Greeks and Romans. Yet these men have
given the world a volume which for depth, unity, sublimity, accuracy,
suitableness to the wants of man, and power of influencing its readers, is
perfectly unrivalled. How can this be explained? How can it be accounted for? To
my mind there is only one answer. The writers of the Bible were divinely helped
and qualified for the work which they did. The book which they have given to us
was written by inspiration of God.4

For my own part, I believe that in dealing with sceptics, and
unbelievers, and enemies of the Bible, Christians are too apt to stand only on
the defensive. They are too often content with answering this or that little
objection, or discussing this or that little difficulty, which is picked out of
Scripture and thrown in their teeth. I believe we ought to act on the aggressive
far more than we do, and to press home on the adversaries of inspiration the
enormous difficulties of their own position. We have a right to ask them, how
can they possibly explain the origin and nature of the Bible, if they will not
allow that it is of Divine authority? We have a right to say,-“Here is a book
which not only courts inquiry but demands investigation. We challenge you to
tell us how that Book was written.”-How can they account for this Book standing
so entirely alone, and for nothing having ever been written equal to it, like
it, near it, or fit to be compared with it for a minute? I defy them to give any
rational reply on their own principles. On our principles we can. To tell us
that man’s unassisted mind could have written the Bible is simply ridiculous. It
is worse than ridiculous it is the height of credulity. In short, the
difficulties of unbelief are far greater than the difficulties of faith. No
doubt there are things “hard to be understood” if we accept the Scriptures as
God’s Word. But, after all, they are nothing compared to the hard things which
rise up in our way, and demand solution if we once deny inspiration. There is no
alternative. Men must either believe things which are grossly improbable, or
else they must accept the great general truth that

the Bible is the inspired
Word of God.

II. The second thing which I propose to consider is

extent to which the Bible is inspired.
Assuming, as a general truth, that
the Bible is given by Divine inspiration, I wish to examine how far and to what
degree its writers received Divine help. In short, what is it exactly that we
mean when we talk of the Scriptures as “the Word of God”?

This is, no doubt, a difficult question, and one about which
the best Christians are not entirely of one mind. The plain truth is that
inspiration is a

miracle; and, like all miracles, there is much about it
which we cannot fully understand.-We must not confound it with intellectual
power, such as great poets and authors possess. To talk of Shakespeare and
Milton and Byron being inspired, like Moses and St. Paul, is to my mind almost
profane.-Nor must we confound it with the gifts and graces bestowed on the early
Christians in the primitive Church. All the Apostles were enabled to preach and
work miracles, but not all were inspired to write.-We must rather regard it as a
special supernatural gift, bestowed on about thirty people out of mankind, in
order to qualify them for the special business of writing the Scriptures; and we
must be content to allow that, like everything miraculous, we cannot entirely
explain it, though we can believe it. A miracle would not be a miracle, if it
could be explained. That miracles are possible, I do not stop to prove here. I
never trouble myself on that subject until those who deny miracles have fairly
grappled with the great fact that Christ rose again from the dead. I firmly
believe that miracles are possible, and have been wrought; and among great
miracles I place the fact that men were inspired by God to write the Bible.
Inspiration, therefore, being a miracle, I frankly allow that there are
difficulties about it which at present I cannot fully solve.

The exact manner in which the minds of the inspired writers
of Scripture worked when they wrote, I do not pretend to explain. Very likely
they could not have explained it themselves. I do not admit for a moment that
they were mere machines holding pens, and, like type-setters in a
printing-office, did not understand what they were doing. I abhor the
“mechanical” theory of inspiration. I dislike the idea that men like Moses and
St. Paul were no better than organ pipes, employed by the Holy Ghost, or
ignorant secretaries or amanuenses who wrote by dictation what they did not
understand. I admit nothing of the kind. I believe that in some marvellous
manner the Holy Ghost made use of the reason, the memory, the intellect, the
style of thought, and the peculiar mental temperament of each writer of the
Scriptures. But how and in what manner this was done I can no more explain than
I can the union of two natures, God and man, in the person of our blessed Lord
Jesus Christ. I only know that there is both a Divine and a human element in the
Bible, and that while the men who wrote it were really and truly men, the book
that they wrote and handed down to us is really and truly the Word of God. I
know the result, but I do not understand the process. The result is, that the
Bible is the written Word of God; but I can no more explain the process than I
can explain how the water became wine at Cana, or how five loaves fed five
thousand men, or how a word raised Lazarus from the dead. I do not pretend to
explain miracles, and I do not pretend to explain fully the miraculous gift of
inspiration. The position I take up is that, while the Bible-writers were not
“machines,” as some sneeringly say, they only wrote what God taught them to
write. The Holy Ghost put into their minds thoughts and ideas, and then guided
their pens in writing them. When you read the Bible you are not reading the
unaided, self-taught composition of erring men like ourselves, but thoughts and
words which were suggested by the eternal God. The men who were employed to
indite the Scripture spake not of themselves. They “spake as they were moved by
the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter i. 21.) He that holds a Bible in his hand should know
that he holds “not the word of man but of God.” (1 Thess. ii. 13.) Concerning
the precise extent to which the Bible is inspired, I freely admit that
Christians differ widely. Some of the views put forth on the subject appear to
me erroneous in the extreme. I shall not shrink from giving my own opinion and
stating my reasons for maintaining it. In matters like these I dare not call any
man master. Painful as it is to disagree with able and gifted men on religious
questions, I dare not take up views of inspiration which my head and heart tell
me are unsound, however high and honoured the names of those who maintain them.
I believe in my conscience that low and defective views of the subject are doing
immense damage to the cause of Christ in these last days.

Some hold that some of the books of Scripture are not
inspired at all, and have no more authority or claim to our reverence than the
writings of any ordinary man. Others who do not go so far as this, and allow
that all the books in the Bible are inspired, maintain that inspiration was only
partial, and that there are portions in almost every book which are
uninspired.-Others hold that inspiration means nothing more than general
superintendence and direction, and that, while the Bible writers were
miraculously preserved from making mistakes in great things and matters
necessary to salvation, in things indifferent they were left to their own
unassisted faculties, like any other writers.-Some hold that all the ideas in
the Bible were given by inspiration, but not the words and language in which
they are clothed,-though how to separate ideas from words it is rather hard to
understand!-Some, finally, allow the thorough inspiration of all the Bible, and
yet maintain that it was possible for the writers to make occasional mistakes in
their statements, and that such mistakes do exist at this day.

From all these views I totally and entirely dissent. They all
appear to me more or less defective, below the truth, dangerous in their
tendency, and open to grave and insuperable objections. The view which I
maintain is that every book, and chapter, and verse, and syllable of the Bible
was originally given by inspiration of God. I hold that not only the substance
of the Bible, but its language,-not only the ideas of the Bible, but its words;
not only certain parts of the Bible, but every chapter of the book,-that all and
each are of Divine authority. I hold that the Scripture not only

the Word of God, but

is the Word of God. I believe the narratives and
statements of Genesis, and the catalogues in Chronicles, were just as truly
written by inspiration as the Acts of the Apostles. I believe Ezra’s account of
the nine-and-twenty knives, and St. Paul’s message about the cloak and
parchments, were as much written under Divine direction as the 20th of Exodus,
the 17th of John, or the 8th of Romans. I do not say, be it remembered, that all
these parts of the Bible are of equal importance to our souls. Nothing of the
kind! But I do say they were all equally given by inspiration.5

In making this statement I ask the reader not to
misunderstand my meaning. I do not forget that the Old Testament was written in
Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek. The inspiration of every word, for which
I contend, is the inspiration of every original Hebrew and Greek word, as the
Bible writers first wrote it down. I stand up for nothing more and nothing less
than this. I lay no claim to the inspiration of every word in the various
versions and translations of God’s Word. So far as those translations and
versions are faithfully and correctly done, so far they are of equal authority
with the original Hebrew and Greek. We have reason to thank God that many of the
translations are, in the main, faithful and accurate. At any rate our own
English Bible, if not perfect, is so far correct, that in reading it we have a
right to believe that we are reading in our own tongue not the word of man; but
of God.

Now the view for which I contend,-that every word of the
Bible is inspired,-is not accepted by many good Christians, and is bitterly
opposed in many quarters. I shall therefore mention a few reasons why it appears
to me the only safe and tenable view which can be adopted, and the only one
which is free from innumerable objections. If I err in maintaining it I have the
comfort, at any rate, of erring in good company. I only take up the same ground
which almost all the Fathers occupied; which Bishop Jewell, and Hooker, and
Owen, took up long ago; and which Chalmers, Robert Haldane, Gaussen, Bishop
Wordsworth, M’Caul, Burgon, and Archdeacon Lee of the Irish Church, have ably
defended in modern days. I know, however, that men’s minds are variously
constituted. Arguments and reasons which appear weighty to some are of no weight
with others. I shall content myself with setting down in order the reasons which
satisfy me.

(a) For one thing, I cannot see

how the Bible can be a
perfect rule of faith and practice
if it is not fully inspired, and if it
contains any flaws and imperfections. If the Bible is anything at all it is the
statute-book of God’s kingdom, the code of laws and regulations by which the
subjects of that kingdom are to live,-the register-deed of the terms on which
they have peace now and shall have glory hereafter. Now, why are we to suppose
that such a book will be loosely and imperfectly drawn up, any more than legal
deeds are drawn up on earth? Every lawyer can tell us that in legal deeds and
statutes every word is of importance, and that property, life, or death may
often turn on a single word. Think of the confusion that would ensue if wills,
and settlements, and conveyances, and partnership-deeds, and leases, and
agreements, and acts of parliament were not carefully drawn up and carefully
interpreted, and every word allowed its due weight. Where would be the use of
such documents if particular words went for nothing, and every one had a right
to add, or take away, or alter, or deny the validity of words, or erase words at
his own discretion? At this rate we might as well lay aside our legal documents
altogether. Surely we have a right to expect that in the book which contains our
title-deeds for eternity every word will be inspired, and nothing imperfect
admitted. If God’s statute-book is not inspired, and every word is not of Divine
authority, God’s subjects are left in a pitiable state. I see much in this.

(b) For another thing, if the Bible is not fully inspired and
contains imperfections, I cannot understand the language which is frequently
used about it in its own pages. Such expressions as “The oracles of God;”-“He
saith;”-“God saith”-“the Holy Ghost spake by Esaias the prophet;” “the Holy
Ghost saith, “Today if ye will hear His voice,”-would appear to me inexplicable
and extravagant if applied to a book containing occasional blemishes, defects,
and mistakes. (Acts vii. 38; Rom. iii. 2; Heb. v. 12; 1 Peter iv. 11; Ephes. iv.
8; Heb. i. 8; Acts xxviii. 25; Heb. iii. 7; x. 15; Rom. ix. 25.) Once grant that
every word of Scripture is inspired, and I see an admirable propriety in the
language. I cannot understand “the Holy Ghost” making a mistake, or an “oracle”
containing anything defective! If any man replies that the Holy Ghost did not

speak by Isaiah, I will ask him who is to decide when He did and when
He did not? I see much in this.

(c) For another thing, the theory that the Bible was not
given by inspiration of God, appears to me utterly

at variance with several
quotations from the Old Testament
which I find in the New. I allude to those
quotations in which the whole force of the passage turns on one single word, and
once even on the use of the singular instead of the plural number. Take, for
instance, such quotations as “The Lord said unto my Lord.” (Matt. xxii. 44). “I
said, Ye are gods.” (John x. 34.) “To Abraham and his seed were the promises
made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed,
which is Christ.” (Gal. iii. 16.)-“He is not ashamed to call them brethren,
saying, I will declare Thy name unto my brethren.” (Heb. ii. 11, 12.)-In every
one these cases the whole point of the quotation lies in a single word.6
But if this is so, it is hard to see on what principle we can deny the
inspiration of all the words of Scripture. At any rate, those who deny verbal
inspiration will find it difficult to show us which words are inspired and which
are not. Who is to draw the line, and where is it to be drawn? I see much in

(d) For another thing,

if the words of Scripture are not
all inspired, the value of the Bible as a weapon in controversy is greatly
, if not entirely taken away. Who does not know that in arguing with
Jews, Arians, or Socinians, the whole point of the texts we quote against them
often lies in a single word? What are we to reply if an adversary asserts that
the special word of some text, on which we ground an argument, is a mistake of
the writer, and therefore of no authority? To my mind it appears that the
objection would be fatal. It is useless to quote texts if we once admit that not
all the words of which they are composed were given by inspiration. Unless there
is some certain standard to appeal to we may as well hold our tongues. Argument
is labour in vain if our mouths are to be stopped by the retort, “That text is
not inspired.” I see much in this.

(e) For another thing,

to give up verbal inspiration
appears to me to destroy the usefulness of the Bible as an instrument of public
preaching and instruction.
Where is the use of choosing a text and making it
the subject of a pulpit address, if we do not believe that every word of the
text is inspired? Once let our hearers get hold of the idea that the writers of
the Bible could make mistakes in the particular words they used, and they will
care little for any reproofs, or exhortations, or remarks which are based on
words.-“How do you know,” they might ask us, “that this word, about which you
made such ado yesterday, was given by the Holy Ghost? How do you know that St.
Paul, or St. Peter, or St. John did not make a mistake, and use the wrong word?
That they could make mistakes about words you yourself allow.”-I know not what
others may think. For myself, I could give no answer. I see much in this.

(f) Last, but not least, the denial of verbal inspiration
appears to me to

destroy a great part of the usefulness of the Bible as a
source of comfort and instruction in private reading
. Where is the true
Christian student of the Bible who does not know that words, particular words,
afford a large portion of the benefit which he derives from his daily reading?
How much the value of many a cherished text depends on some single phrase, or
the number of a substantive, or the tense of a verb? Alas! there would be an end
of all this if we once concede that each word is not inspired; and that, for
anything we know, some much loved favourite substantive, or verb, or pronoun, or
adverb, or adjective, was an Apostle’s mistake, and the word of man, not of God!
What others might think I know not. For myself, I should be tempted to lay aside
my Bible in despair, and become of all men most miserable. I see much in this.

Now, I freely grant that many excellent Christians think that
the view I maintain is open to serious objections. That the Bible, generally
speaking, is given by inspiration, they firmly maintain. But they shrink from
maintaining that inspiration extends to every word of Scripture. I am sorry to
differ from these worthy people. But I cannot see the weight and force of their
objections. Fairly and honestly examined, they fail to carry conviction to my

(a) Some object that there are occasional statements in the
Bible which

contradict the facts of history. Are these all verbally
inspired?-My answer is that it is far more easy to assert this than to prove it.
There is nothing of which we have so few trustworthy remains as very ancient
history, and if ancient uninspired history and Bible history seem to disagree,
it is generally safer and wiser to believe that Bible history is right and other
history wrong. At any rate, it is a singular fact that all recent researches in
Assyria, Babylon, Palestine, and Egypt, show an extraordinary tendency to
confirm the perfect accuracy of the Word of God. The lamented Mr. Smith’s
discoveries at Babylon are a remarkable example of what I mean. There are buried
evidences which God seems to keep in reserve for these last days. If Bible
history and other histories cannot be made to agree at present, it is safest to

(b) Some object that there are occasional statements in the
Bible which

contradict the facts of natural science. Are these all
inspired?-My answer is again, that it is far more easy to assert this than to
prove it. The Bible was not written to teach a system of geology, botany, or
astronomy, or a history of birds, insects, and animals, and on matters touching
these subjects it wisely uses popular language, such as common people can
understand. No one thinks of saying that the Astronomer Royal contradicts
science because he speaks of the sun’s “rising and setting.” If the Bible said
anywhere that the earth was a flat surface,-or that it was a fixed globe round
which the sun revolved,-or that it never existed in any state before Adam and
Eve,-there might be something in the objection. But it never does so. It speaks
of scientific subjects as they appear. But it never flatly contradicts science.7

(c) Some object that there are occasional statements in the
Bible which are

monstrous, absurd, and incredible. Are they really
obliged to believe that Eve was tempted by the devil in the form of a
serpent,-that Noah was saved in an ark,-that the Israelites crossed the Red Sea
between two walls of water,-that Balaam’s ass spoke, and that Jonah actually
went into the whale’s belly? Are all these statements inspired?-My answer is
that Christ’s apostles speak of these things as historical facts, and were more
likely to know the truth about them than we are. After all, do we believe in
miracles or not? Do we believe that Christ Himself rose from the dead? Let us
stick to that one grand miracle first, and disprove it if we can. If we do
believe it, it is foolish to object to things because they are miraculous.

(d) Some object that there are things mentioned occasionally
in the Bible which are so

trifling that they are unworthy to be called
inspired. They point to St. Paul’s writing about his cloak, and books, and
parchments, and ask if we really think that the Apostle wrote about such little
matters by inspiration of God?-I answer that the least things affecting any of
God’s children are not too small for the notice of Him who “numbers the hairs of
our heads.” There are excellent and edifying lessons to be learned from the
cloak and the parchments, as Robert Haldane has shown most convincingly, in his
work on the Evidences of Divine Revelation. After all, man knows very little
what is great and what is small in God’s sight. The history of Nimrod “the
mighty hunter” is dispatched in three verses of Genesis, and the history of a
Syrian dwelling in tents, called Abraham, fills up no less than fourteen
chapters. The microscope applied to the book of nature, can show us God’s hand
in the least lichen that grows on the top of Scawfell as well as in the cedar of
Lebanon. The veriest trifles, as they seem to us in the Book of Scripture, may
turn out to be most striking confirmations of its truth. Paley has shown this
admirably in his “Horae Paulinae,” and Professor Blunt in his “Undesigned

(e) Some object that there are grave discrepancies in some of

Bible histories, especially in the four Gospels, which

cannot be
made to harmonize and agree
. Are the words, they ask, all inspired in these
cases? Have the writers made no mistakes?-I answer that the number of these
discrepancies is grossly exaggerated, and that in many cases they are only
apparent, and disappear under the touch of common sense. Even in the hardest of
them we should remember, in common fairness, that circumstances are very likely
kept back from us which entirely reconcile everything, if we only knew them.
Very often in these days when two honest, veracious men give a separate account
of some long story, their accounts do not quite tally, because one dwells on one
part and the other on another. All well-informed students of history know that
the precise day when Charles I erected his standard at Nottingham, in the
Parliamentary war, has not been settled to this hour.

(f) Some object that

Job’s friends, in their long

said many weak and foolish things. Were all their words
inspired?-An objection like this arises from an illogical and confused idea of
what inspiration means. The book of Job contains an historical account of a
wonderful part of the old patriarch’s history, and a report both of his speeches
and of those of his friends. But we are nowhere told that either Job or Eliphaz
and his companions spoke all that they spoke by the Holy Ghost. The writer of
the book of Job was thoroughly inspired to record all they said. But whether
they spoke rightly or wrongly is to be decided by the general teaching of
Scripture. No one would say that St. Peter was inspired when he said, “I know
not the Man,” in the High Priest’s palace. But the writer of the Gospel was
inspired when he wrote it down for our learning. In the Acts of the Apostles the
letter of Claudius Lysias was certainly not written by inspiration, and Gamaliel,
and the town clerk of Ephesus and Tertullus were not inspired when they made
their speeches. But it is equally certain that St. Luke was inspired to write
them down and record them in his book.

(g) Some object that St. Paul,

in the 7th chapter of the
1st epistle to the Corinthians
, when giving certain advice to the Corinthian
Church, says at one time, “Not I, but the Lord,” and at another, “I, not the
Lord.” And they ask, Does not this show that in part of his advice he was not
inspired?-I answer, Not at all. A careful study of the chapter will show that
when the Apostle says “Not I, but the Lord,” he lays down some principles on
which the Lord had spoken already; and when he says “I, not the Lord,” he gives
advice on some point about which there had been no revelation hitherto. But
there is not the slightest proof that he is not writing all the way through
under direct inspiration of God.

(h) Some object that there are

many various readings
of the words of Scripture, and that we cannot, therefore, feel sure that we have
the original inspired Word of God. I answer that the various readings, when
fairly examined, will prove to be absurdly exaggerated in number and importance.
Dr. Kennicott, Bengel, and others have proved this long ago. No doubt we may
have lost a few of the original words. We have no right to expect infallibility
in transcribers and copyists, before the invention of printing. But there is not
a single doctrine in Scripture which would be affected or altered if all the
various readings were allowed, and all the disputed or doubtful words were
omitted. Considering how many hands the Bible passed through before printing was
invented, and who the transcribers were, it is marvellous that the various
readings are so few! The fact that about the immense majority of all the words
in the old Hebrew and Greek Scriptures there is no doubt at all, is little short
of a miracle, and demands much thanksgiving to God. One thing is very certain.
There is no ancient book which has been handed down to us with so good a text
and so few various readings as the Bible.

(i) Finally, some object that occasional parts of the Bible
are taken out, copied, and

extracted from the writings of uninspired men,
such as historical chronicles, and pedigrees, and lists of names. Are all these
to be regarded as inspired?-I reply that there seems no reason why the Holy
Ghost should not direct the Bible writers to use materials made ready to their
hands, as well as facts which they had seen themselves, and by so directing
them, invested such words as they used with Divine authority. When St. Paul
quoted lines from heathen poets he did not mean us to regard them as inspired.
But he was taught by God to clothe his ideas in the words which they had used,
and by so doing he very likely obtained a favourable reading from many. And when
we read such quotations, or read lists of names taken from Jewish chronicles and
registers, we need not doubt that Bible writers were taught to use such
materials by inspiration of God.

I leave the objections to verbal inspiration at this point,
and will detain my readers no longer with them. I will not pretend to deny that
the subject has its difficulties, which will probably never be completely
solved. I cannot perhaps clear up such difficulties as the mention of “Jeremy
the prophet” in Matthew xxvii., or reconcile the third and sixth hour in St.
John’s and St. Mark’s account of the crucifixion, or explain Stephen’s account
of Jacob’s burial in the seventh chapter of Acts, to my own entire satisfaction.
But I have no doubt

these difficulties can be explained, and perhaps will
be some day. These things do not move me. I expect difficulties in such a deep
and miraculous matter as inspiration, which I have not eyes to see through. I am
content to wait. It was a wise saying of Faraday, that “there are many questions
about which it is the highest philosophy to keep our minds in a state of
judicious suspense.” It should be a settled rule with us never to give up a
great principle, when we have got hold of it, on account of difficulties. Time
often makes things clear which at first look dark. The view of inspiration which
presents to my own mind the fewest difficulties, is that in which all the words
of Scripture, as well as the thoughts, are regarded as inspired. Here I take my

Remember what I have just said. Never give up a great
principle in theology on account of difficulties. Wait patiently, and the
difficulties may all melt away. Let that be an axiom in your mind. Suffer me to
mention an illustration of what I mean. Persons who are conversant with
astronomy know that before the discovery of the planet Neptune there were
difficulties which greatly troubled the most scientific astronomers, respecting
certain aberrations of the planet Uranus. These aberrations puzzled the minds of
astronomers; and some of them suggested that they might possibly prove the whole
Newtonian system to be untrue. But just at that time a well-known French
astronomer, named Leverrier, read before the Academy of Science at Paris a
paper, in which he laid down this great axiom, that it did not become a
scientific man to give up a principle because of difficulties which apparently
could not be explained. He said in effect, “We cannot explain the aberrations of
Uranus now; but we may be sure that the Newtonian system will be proved to be
right, sooner or later. Something may be discovered one day which will prove
that these aberrations may be accounted for, and yet the Newtonian system remain
true and unshaken.” A few years after, the anxious eyes of astronomers
discovered the last great planet, Neptune. This planet was shown to be the true
cause of all the aberrations of Uranus; and what the French astronomer had laid
down as a principle in science was proved to be wise and true. The application
of the anecdote is obvious. Let us beware of giving up any first principle in
theology. Let us not give up the great principle of plenary verbal inspiration
because of apparent difficulties. The day may come when they will all be solved.
In the meantime we may rest assured that the difficulties which beset any other
theory of inspiration are tenfold greater than any which beset our own.

Let me now conclude this paper with a few words of plain
application. Let us lay aside all deep discussion of hard things about the
manner of inspiration. Let us take it for granted that, in some way or other,
whether we can explain it or not, we hold the Bible to be the Word of God. Let
us start from this point. Let my readers give me a hearing, while I say a few
things which appear to me to deserve their attention.

1. Is the Bible the Word of God? Then mind that you do not
neglect it. Read it! read it! Begin to read it this very day. What greater
insult to God can a man be guilty of than to refuse to read the letter God sends
him from heaven? Oh, be sure, if you will not read your Bible, you are in
fearful danger of losing your soul!

You are in danger, because

God will reckon with you for
your neglect of the Bible in the day of judgment.
You will have to give
account of your use of time, strength, and money; and you will also have to give
account of your use of the Word. You will not stand at that bar on the same
level, in point of responsibility, with the dweller in central Africa, who never
heard of the Bible. Oh, no! To whom much is given, of them much will be
required. Of all men’s buried talents, none will weigh them down so heavily as a
neglected Bible. As you deal with the Bible, so God will deal with your soul.
Will you not repent and turn over a new leaf in life, and read your Bible?

You are in danger, because

there is no degree of error in
religion into which you may not fall.
You are at the mercy of the first
clever Jesuit, Mormonite, Socinian, Turk, or Jew, who may happen to meet you. A
land of unwalled villages is not more defenceless against an enemy than a man
who neglects his Bible. You may go on tumbling from one step of delusion to
another, till at length you are landed in the pit of hell. I say once more, Will
you not repent and read your Bible?

You are in danger, because

there is not a single
reasonable excuse you can allege for neglecting the Bible.
You have no time
to read it forsooth! But you can make time for eating, drinking, sleeping,
getting money and spending money, and perhaps for newspaper reading and smoking.
You might easily make time to read the Word. Alas, it is not want of time, but
waste of time that ruins souls!-You find it too troublesome to read, forsooth!
You had better say at once it is too much trouble to go to heaven, and you are
content to go to hell. Truly these excuses are like the rubbish round the walls
of Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s days. They would all soon disappear if, like the
Jews, you had “a mind to work.” I say for the last time, Will you not repent and
read your Bible?

Believe me, believe me, the

Bible itself is the best
witness of its own inspiration. The men who quibble and make difficulties about
inspiration are too often the very men who never read the Scriptures at all. The
darkness and hardness and obscurity they profess to complain of are far more
often in their own hearts than in the book. Oh, be persuaded! Take it up and
begin to read.

2. Is the Bible the Word of God? Then be sure you always

read it with deep reverence.
Say to your soul, whenever you open the Bible,
“O my soul, thou art going to read a message from God.” The sentences of judges,
and the speeches of kings, are received with awe and respect. How much more
reverence is due to the words of the Judge of judges and King of kings! Avoid,
as you would cursing and swearing, that irreverent habit of mind into which some
modern divines have unhappily fallen, in speaking about the Bible. They handle
the contents of the holy book as carelessly and disrespectfully as if the
writers were such men as themselves. They make one think of a child composing a
book to expose the fancied ignorance of his own father,-or of a pardoned
murderer criticising the handwriting and style of his own reprieve. Enter rather
into the spirit of Moses on Mount Horeb: “Put thy shoes from off thy feet; the
place whereon thou standest is holy ground.”

3. Is the Bible the Word of God? Then be sure you never read
it without

fervent prayer for the help and teaching of the Holy Spirit.
Here is the rock on which many make shipwreck. They do not ask for wisdom and
instruction, and so they find the Bible dark, and carry nothing away from it.
You should pray for the Spirit to guide you into all truth. You should beg the
Lord Jesus Christ to “open your understanding,” as He did that of His disciples.
The Lord God, by whose inspiration the book was written, keeps the keys of the
book, and alone can enable you to understand it profitably. Nine times over in
one Psalm does David cry, “Teach me.” Five times over, in the same Psalm, does
he say, “Give me understanding.” Well says John Owen, Dean of Christ Church,
Oxford, “There is a sacred light in the Word: but there is a covering and veil
on the eyes of men, so that they cannot behold it aright. Now, the removal of
this veil is the peculiar work of the Holy Spirit.” Humble prayer will throw
more light on your Bible than Poole, or Henry, or Scott, or Burkitt, or Bengel,
or Alford, or Wordsworth, or Barnes, or Ellicott, or Lightfoot, or any
commentary that ever was written.

The Bible is a large book or a small one, a dark or a bright
one, according to the spirit in which men read it. Intellect alone will do
nothing with it. Wranglers and first-class men will not understand it unless
their hearts are right as well as their heads. The highest critical and
grammatical knowledge will find it a sealed book without the teaching of the
Holy Ghost. Its contents are often “hid to the wise and prudent and revealed to
babes.” Remember this, and say always, when you open your Bible, “O God, for
Christ’s sake, give me the teaching of the Spirit.”

4. Finally, is the Bible the Word of God? Then let us all

from this day forward to prize the Bible more. Let us not fear
being idolaters of this blessed book. Men may easily make an idol of the Church,
of ministers, of sacraments, or of intellect. Men cannot make an idol of the
Word. Let us regard all who would damage the authority of the Bible, or impugn
its credit, as spiritual robbers. We are travelling through a wilderness: they
rob us of our only guide. We are voyaging over a stormy sea: they rob us of our
only compass. We are toiling over a weary road: they pluck our staff out of our
hands. And what do these spiritual robbers give us in place of the Bible? What
do they offer as a safer guide and better provision for our souls? Nothing!
absolutely nothing! Big swelling words! Empty promises of new light! High
sounding jargon; but nothing substantial and real! They would fain take from us
the bread of life, and they do not give us in its place so much as a stone. Let
us turn a deaf ear to them. Let us firmly grasp and prize the Bible more and
more, the more it is assaulted.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter; God has given
us the Bible to be a light to guide us to everlasting life. Let us not neglect
this precious gift. Let us read it diligently, walk in its light, and we shall
be saved.


The following quotations about inspiration, from the works of
four eminent British theologians, I venture to think deserve attentive perusal.
They are valuable in themselves on account of the arguments which they contain.
They also supply abundant proof that the high view of verbal inspiration, which
I advocate in this paper, is no modern invention, but an “old path,” in which
many of God’s ablest children have walked, and found it a good way.

1. Bishop Jewell, author of the “Apology,” was unquestionably
one of the most learned of the English Reformers. Let us hear what he says:-

“St. Paul, speaking of the Word of God, saith, ‘the whole
Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable.’ Many think the
Apostle’s speech is hardly true of the whole Scripture,-that all and every part
of the Scripture is profitable. Much is spoken of genealogies and pedigrees, of
lepers, of sacrificing goats and oxen, etc. These seem to have little profit in
them: to be idle and vain. If they show vain in thine eyes, yet hath not the
Lord set them down in vain? The words of the Lord are pure words, as the silver
tried in a furnace of earth refined seven times. There is no sentence, no
clause, no word, no syllable, no letter, but it is written for thy instruction:
there is not one jot but it is sealed and signed with the blood of the Lamb. Our
imaginations are idle, our thoughts are vain: there is no idleness, no vanity,
in the Word of God. Those oxen and goats which were sacrificed teach thee to
kill the uncleanness and filthiness of thine heart: they teach thee that thou
art guilty of death, when thy life must be redeemed by the death of some beast:
they lead thee to believe the forgiveness of sins by a more perfect sacrifice,
since it was not possible that the blood of bulls or of goats should take away
sins. That leprosy teacheth thee the uncleanness and leprosy of thy soul. These
genealogies and pedigrees lead us to the birth of our Saviour Christ, so that
the whole Word of God is pure and holy. No word, no letter, no syllable, nor
point or tittle thereof, but is written and preserved for thy sake.”-

on the Holy Scriptures

2. Richard Hooker, author of the “Ecclesiastical Polity,” is
justly respected by all schools of thought in the Church of England as the
judicious Hooker.” Let us hear what he says:-

“Touching the manner how men, by the Spirit of Prophecy in
Holy Scripture, have spoken and written of things to come, we must understand
that as the knowledge of that they spake, so likewise

the utterance of that
they knew
, came not by those usual and ordinary means whereby we are brought
to understand the mysteries of our salvation, and are wont to instruct others in
the same. For whatsoever we know, we have it by the hands and ministry of men,
who led us along like children from a letter to a syllable, from a syllable to a
word, from a word to a line, from a line to a sentence, from a sentence to a
side, and so turn over. But God Himself was their instructor. He Himself taught
them, partly by dreams and visions in the night, partly by revelations in the
day, taking them aside from amongst their brethren, and talking with them as a
man would talk with his neighbours in the way. Thus they became acquainted even
with the secret and hidden counsels of God; they saw things which themselves
were not able to utter, they beheld that whereat men and angels are astonished,
they understood in the beginning what should come to pass in the last days. God,
who lightened thus the eyes of their understanding, giving them knowledge by
unusual and extraordinary means,

did also miraculously Himself frame and
fashion their words and writings
, insomuch that a greater difference there
seemeth not to be between the manner of their knowledge, than there is between
the manner of their speech and ours. ‘We have received,’ saith the Apostle, `not
the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the
things that are given to us of God: which things also we speak, not in words
which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost doth teach.’ This is that
which the Prophets mean by those books written full within and without; which
books were so often delivered them to eat, not because God fed them with ink and
paper, but to teach us that so often as He employed them in this heavenly work,

they neither spake nor wrote any word of their own, but uttered syllable by
syllable as the Spirit put it in their mouths
, no otherwise than the harp or
the lute doth give a sound according to the direction of his hands that holdeth
it and striketh it with skill.”-

Hooker’s Works. Vol. iii. pp. 537, 540.

3. John Owen, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, was the most
learned and argumentative of the Puritans. Let us hear what he says:-

“Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
When the word was thus brought to them it was not left to their own
understandings, wisdom, minds, memories, to order, dispose, and give it out; but
they were borne, actuated, carried out by the Holy Ghost, to speak, deliver, and
write all that, and nothing but that,-to very tittles,-that was so brought unto
them. They invented not words themselves, suited to the things they had learned,
but only expressed the word that they received. Though their mind and
understanding were used in the choice of words (whence arise all the differences
in their manner of expression), yet they were so guided that their words were
not their own, but immediately supplied unto them. Not only the doctrine they
taught was the word of truth,-truth itself,-but the words whereby they taught it
were words of truth from God Himself. Thus, allowing the contribution of proper
instruments for the reception and representation of words which answer to the
mind and tongue of the Prophets in the coming of the voice of God to them,-every
apex of the written Word is equally divine, and as immediately from God as the
voice wherewith, or whereby, He spake to us in the Prophets; and is therefore
accompanied with the same authority in itself and to us.” -

Owen on the Divine
Original of the Scripture.
Vol xvi. p. 305.

4. Dr. Chalmers was probably the most intellectual and
deep-thinking theologian that intellectual Scotland has ever produced. Let us
hear what he says:

(a) “The subject-matter of the Bible had to pass through the
minds of the selected Prophets and Apostles, and to issue thence in language ere
it comes forth in the shape of Scripture upon the world. Now it is here that we
meet the advocates of a partial or mitigated inspiration, and would make common
cause against one and all of them. There is not one theory short, by however so
little, of a thorough and perfect inspiration,-there is not one of them but is
chargeable with the consequence, that the subject-matter of revelation suffers
and is deteriorated in the closing footsteps of its progress; and just before it
settles into that ultimate position, where it stands forth to guide and
illuminate the world. It existed purely in heaven. It descended purely from
heaven to earth. It was deposited purely by the great Agent of revelation in the
minds of the Apostles. But then we are told that when but a little way from the
final landing place, then, instead of being carried forward purely to the
situation where alone the great purpose of the whole movement was to be
fulfilled, then was it abandoned to itself, and then were human infirmities
permitted to mingle with it, and to mar its lustre. Strange, that just when
entering on the functions of an authoritative guide and leader to mankind, that
then, and not till then, the soil and the feebleness of humanity should be
suffered to gather around it. Strange, that, with the inspiration of thoughts,
it should make pure ingress into the minds of the Apostles; but wanting the
inspiration of words should not make pure egress to that world in whose behalf
alone, and for whose admonition alone, this great movement originated in heaven,
and terminated in earth. Strange, more especially strange, in the face of the
declaration that not unto themselves but unto us they ministered these
things,-strange, nevertheless, that this revelation should come in purely to
themselves, but to us should come forth impurely, with somewhat, it would
appear, with somewhat the taint and the obscuration of human frailty attached to
it.-It matters not at what point in the progress of this celestial truth to our
world the obscuration has been cast upon it. It comes to us a dim and desecrated
thing at last; and man instead of holding converse with God’s unspotted
testimony, has an imperfect, a mutilated Bible put into his hands.”

(b) “Such being our views, it is the unavoidable consequence
of them that we should hold the Bible, for all the purposes of a revelation, to
be perfect in its language, as well as perfect in its doctrine. And for this
conclusion it is not necessary that we should arbitrate between the theories of
superintendence and suggestion. The superintendence that would barely intercept
the progress of error, we altogether discard, conceiving, that, if this term be
applicable to the process of inspiration at all, it must be that efficient
superintendence which not only secures that, negatively, there shall be nothing
wrong,-but which also secures that, affirmatively, there should at all times
have emanated from the sacred penmen, the fittest topics, and these couched in
the fittest and most appropriate expression. Whether this has been affected
partly by superintendence and partly by suggestion, or wholly by suggestion, we
care not. We have no inclination and no taste for these distinctions. Our cause
is independent of them; nor can we fully participate in the fears of those
alarmists who think that our cause is materially injured by them. The important
question with us is not the process of the manufacture, but the qualities of the
resulting commodity. The former we bold not to be a relevant, and we are not
sure that it is a legitimate inquiry. It is on the latter we take our stand; and
the superabundant testimonies of Scripture on the worth and the perfection and
the absolute authority of the Word-these form the strongholds of an argument
that goes to establish all which the most rigid advocates for a total and
infallible inspiration ought to desire. Our concern is with the work, and not
with the workmanship; nor need we intrude into the mysteries of the hidden
operation, if only assured by the explicit testimonies of Scripture that the
product of that operation, is, both in substance and expression, a perfect
directory of faith and practice. We believe that, in the composition of that
record, men not only thought as they were inspired, but spake as they were moved
by the Holy Ghost. But our argument for the absolute perfection of Holy Writ is
invulnerably beyond the reach even of those who have attempted to trace with
geographical precision the line which separates the miraculous from the natural;
and tell us when it was that Apostles wrote the words which the Spirit prompted
them, and when it was that they wrote the words which the Spirit permitted them.
To the result, in our humble apprehension, it positively matters not. Did they
speak the words that the Spirit prompted,-these words were therefore the best.
Did they speak the words which the Spirit permitted,-it was because these words
were the best.

The optimism of the Bible is alike secured in both these ways;
and the sanction of the Spirit extended, both in respect of sentiments nod of
sayings, to every clause of it. In either way, they effectively are the words of
the Spirit; and God through the Bible is not presenting truths through the
medium of others’ language. He in effect has made it His own language; and God,
through the Bible, is speaking to us.”

(c) “It is the part of Christians to rise like a wall of fire
around the integrity and inspiration of Scripture; and to hold them as intact
and inviolable as if a rampart were thrown around them whose foundations are on
earth and whose battlements are in heaven. It is this tampering with limits that
destroys and defaces everything; and therefore it is precisely when the limit is
broken that the alarm should be sounded. If the battle-cry is to be lifted at
all, it should be lifted at the outset; and so on the first mingling, by however
so slight an infusion, of things human with things divine, all the friends of
the Bible should join heart and hand against so foul and fearful a

Chalmers’ Christian Evidences, Vol. ii. pp. 371, 372, 375,
376, 396.



1 Carlyle’s estimate of the Koran is given, in
“Hero-worship,” in the following words. “It is a wearisome, confused jumble,
crude, recondite, abounding in endless iterations, long-windedness,
entanglement, insupportable stupidity. In short nothing but a sense of duty
could carry any European through the Koran, with its unreadable masses of

John Owen says, “There are no other writings in the world,
beside the Bible, that ever pretended unto a divine original, but they are not
only from their matter, but from the manner of their writing, and the plain
footsteps of human artifice and weakness therein, sufficient for their own
conviction, and do openly discover their own vain pretensions.” (

The Reason
of Faith. Works
, vol iv., p. 34, Johnston’s Edition.)

2 “I have always been strongly in favour of secular education
in the sense of education without theology. But I must confess I have been no
less seriously perplexed to know by what practical measures the religious
feeling, which is the essential basis of conduct, could be kept up in the
present chaotic state of opinion on these matters without the use of the Bible.”

“Consider the great historical fact that for three centuries
this Book has been woven into the life of all that is best and noblest in
English history;-that it has become the national epic of Britain, and is as
familiar to noble and simple from John o’ Groat’s Home to the Land’s End, as
Dante and Tasso once were to the Italians;-that it is written in the best and
purest English, and abounds in exquisite beauties of mere literary form,-and
finally, that it forbids the veriest hind who never left his village to be
ignorant of other countries and other civilizations, and of a great past,
stretching back to the furthest limits of the oldest nations in the world. By
the study of what other book could children be so much humanized and made to
feel that each figure in that vast historical procession fills, like themselves,
but a momentary space in the interval between two eternities, and earns the
blessings or the curses of all time, according to its effort to do good and hate
evil, even as they also are earning their payment for their work?”-Professor
Huxley on School Boards (

Huxley’s Critiques and Essays, p 51.)

3 “The Bible is the fountain of all true patriotism and
loyalty in States,-it is the source of all true wisdom, sound policy, and equity
in Senates, Council-chambers, and Courts of Justice -it is the spring of all
true discipline and obedience, and of all valour and chivalry, in armies and
fleets, in the battlefield and on the wide sea;-it is the origin of all probity
and integrity in commerce and in trade, in marts and in shops, in banks and
exchanges, in the public resorts of men and the secret silence of the heart; it
is the pure, unsullied fountain of all love and peace, happiness, quietness and
joy, in families and households.-Wherever it is duly obeyed it makes the desert
of the world to rejoice and blossom as the rose.”-

Wordsworth on Inspiration,
p. 113.

4 “The little ark of Jewish literature still floats above the
surges of time, while mere fragments of the wrecked archives of the huge
oriental empires, as well as of the lesser kingdoms that surrounded Judea, are
now and then cast on our distant shores. “-

Rogers on the Superhuman Origin of
the Bible
, p. 311,

5 “We affirm that the Bible is the Worn of God, and that it
is not marred with human infirmities. We do not imagine, with some, that the
Bible is like a threshing-floor, on which wheat and chaff lie mingled together,
and that it is left for the reader to winnow and sift the wheat from the chaff
by the fan and sieve of his own mind.”-

Wordsworth on “Inspiration.” (P.

6 It would be easy to multiply texts in proof of this point.
I will only name the following: Heb. ii. 8; iii. 7-19; iv. 2-11; xii. 27.

7 “The language of Scripture is necessarily adapted to the
common state of man’s intellectual development, in which he is not supposed to
be possessed of science. Hence the phrases used by Scripture are precisely those
which science soon teaches man to consider inaccurate. Yet they are not on that
account the less fitted for their purpose, for if any terms had been used
adapted to a more advanced state of knowledge, they must have been
unintelligible to those to whom the Scripture was first addressed.”-

Philosophy of Inductive Science.
Vol. i., p. 636.

This updated and revised manuscript is copyrighted 

© 1998 by Tony
Capoccia. All rights reserved.