“The Higher Criticism” [Second Edition]: Three Papers by S. R. Driver, D.D., Canon of Christ Church, and Regius Prof. of Hebrew Oxford; and A. F. Kirkpatrick, D.D., Master of Selwyn College, and Lady Margaret’s Prof. of Divinity (sometime Reg. Prof. of Hebrew), Cambridge. London Hodder & Stoughton, 27 Paternoster Row. 1905.
Dr. Kirkpatrick opens the first of these papers with words which sound well:- “The aim of the Christian student is truth; and the aim of the Christian teacher is to bring that truth to bear upon human character and life. The Old Testament forms an integral part of the Bible. It was placed in the hands of the Christian Church by its Founder and His Apostles as the record of God’s revelation of Himself to His chosen people and the manifold preparation for His own coming; as the source from which instruction in conduct was to be derived, and as the means by which the spiritual life was to be fed. We cannot therefore treat it as any other book: it is sacred ground: reverence is demanded of us as we approach it. But it is no true reverence which would exempt it from the fullest examination by all legitimate methods of criticism” (p. 3). Textual criticism as applied to Scripture has for its aim to set out the very words of the original, and the rejection of every intrusion, omission, or change through the copyist whether unintentional or designed. Such was the recognised task of the orthodox critic from the first; and the MSS., the Versions, and ancient citations furnished the materials which the critic employed to give, in his judgment, the most exact approach to the deposit of faith: a difficult and delicate work, which demanded spiritual discernment at least as much as patient research and multifarious learning. Such is the criticism alone considered “legitimate” till of late.
But this is not “The Higher Criticism,” which as a system is of comparatively recent date, and under cover of literary problems has raised fundamental doubts incompatible with divine inspiration in any real and honest sense. Individuals or parties may have indulged from early days in similar incredulity and on a small scale; but neology did not then spread, being reprobated by men of simpler faith, even if not very intelligent. Nor would Dr. K. dispute this, as one may gather from his page 5: “Now, what is the position of students and teachers of the Bible today? They are face to face with a treatment of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, which half, nay, a quarter of a century ago, would have seemed utterly irreverent, subversive of the foundations of the faith; and which still seems to many (it is not to be wondered at) irreverent and mischievous.”
In a note to page 14 (his last), he acknowledges, not the energy of the Holy Spirit acting on pious and prayerful souls distressed by the revived superstition and infidelity of our day, but “the influence of contemporary methods of study and modes of thought; and, in particular, how modern methods of examining literary and historical documents and the doctrine of development compel us to revise many of our traditional ideas in regard to the Old Testament.” Yes, there you have the impulse which has carried away in its sceptical current the crowd of literary speculators. It is not God’s grace, but the spirit of the age, applying the fashionable craze of development without faith or even fear of God in owning His word, but boasting of present-day methods of criticism, where we have no authentic history save what He has given by His servants the prophets, whose limbs they would rend into the galvanised factors of their unbridled imagination. Did not the Lord of glory, the “before Abram came into being I am,” know all the truth about the Bible? Did not the inspiring Holy Spirit? If both declare and sanction the common faith of God’s elect against the revolutionary scheme, where and what are the new critics?
The real position of the party represented by these two distinguished leaders in Cambridge and Oxford is, on their own showing, presumptuous to the last degree. It is a conspiracy against the confession of all the Christian martyrs and saints who have lived and suffered for righteousness and the Lord’s name for some 1800 years. It is rebellion against the plain yet profound and divinely inspired revelation, which the church of God received admittedly from its Founder, the Truth itself, and through Apostles, assured by Himself of the Holy Spirit’s power to guide them into all the truth. During many centuries were prophets of old raised up by God in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, children of no faith, but perseveringly addicted to idolatry. They warned Israel from the beginning of their national history; even the greatest of them before they entered on the promised land predicted their ruin for a while, His hiding His face from them because of their abominations, and also His moving them to jealousy with a no-people, and provoking them to jealousy with a foolish people (Deut. 32). And we Christians have the greatest of apostles interpreting these words in Rom. 10:19, as that which Moses said of the rejection of Israel and the present call of the Gentiles; yet looking onward in Rom. 11 both to the Gentiles cut off because of their unbelief, and to the restoration of Israel in sovereign mercy, by an everlasting covenant never again to rebel nor be defiled, when Jehovah’s sanctuary shall be in their midst for evermore.
It is too evident that these sponsors for the revolt against the Bible, as the Lord and His apostles undoubtedly taught, and the faithful in their measure have accepted with all confidence in Him and them (the foundation on which the church is built), have in no way profited either by the prophecy of Israel’s ruin or by the brightness of their glorious recovery, when Christendom falls under the unsparing judgment of its unbelief in yet richer privilege. But there is another warning still closer and more serious. The same Lord and His apostles solemnly assure us, that the Christian testimony would be corrupted as certainly as the Jewish one had been; that the evil was active even in the apostolic days, and that so far from being extirpated, it would surely work up to a head of entire revolt from God, the apostasy and the man of sin, the full and foul contrast of the righteous Man who never did but the will of God.
In presence of the many words of God pointing to this awful consummation before the present age ends, it were wise for the leaders and the followers of the new movement to weigh the Lord’s question, “When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8.) He goes far beyond the Roman sack of Jerusalem and dispersion of the Jews, and the city trodden down by nations still later till times of nations are fulfilled, which is clearly not yet come. He tells us of signs of sun, moon, and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity, the roar of the sea and rolling waves, men ready to die through fear and expectation of what is coming on the inhabited earth, for the powers of the heavens shall be shaken; and then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. If the moral end for man was his iniquity in crucifying the Messiah, God’s Son, He will come as the glorious Son of man to judge mankind and establish the world-kingdom of God which neither the gospel nor the church could do. He alone is competent and worthy (Rev. 11:15); but how overwhelming the judgments whereby the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness!
We know how little the new school cares for traditional views; and there in principle I cannot blame them. But few tradition-mongers are so ignorant of prophecy as they. It is well then before they fall into the same destructive criticism as to the New Testament, that they should lay to heart that the Lord’s approaching judgment of Christendom as well as of the world generally is the uniform testimony of the apostles and prophets. It is a day of Christ’s manifest triumph for faith, but of ruin for unbelief in teacher or taught.
“The night is far spent and the day is at hand” (Rom. 13:12). “Waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:7). “For indeed we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened; not that we would be unclothed but clothed, that the mortal might be swallowed up of life” (2 Cor. 5:4). “For we through the Spirit by faith wait [not for righteousness, being already justified, but] for the hope of righteousness,” i.e. glory with Christ (Gal. 5:5). For God’s purpose is to head or “sum up all things in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth; — in Him in whom we also obtained inheritance,” we being not the heritage, but heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Eph. 1:9-11). “For our citizenship is in [the] heavens, whence also we await the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour who shall transform” etc. (Phil. 3:20, 21). “When the Christ, our life, is manifested, then shall ye also be manifested with Him in glory” (Col. 3:4).
So we are told that from the very first the Thessalonian believers turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to await from the heavens His Son, whom He raised from out of dead [men], Jesus our deliverer from the coming wrath (1 Thess. 1:9, 10). If more were needed, much more could be added in proof; that as tradition has never known or kept up the true faith and hope, so none in Christendom could more thoroughly renounce revelation in this respect than this self-vaunting new party. Who ever heard of so much as one neologist absorbed, as all Christians ought to be, by “the blessed hope,” of any devoted, as not of the world, to the indisputably primitive and faithful attitude in awaiting Christ’s coming as our constant hope? Who can tell us of one new critic separate from the world, enjoying grace, suffering from Christ’s reproach and withal filled with joy?
But there is the dark and awful side which follows that hope, the day of the Lord’s judging the inhabited earth (Acts 17:31). His day for the everlasting downfall of all man’s worldly and fleshly glory (Isa. 2, 1 Thess. 5). It is grievous to say that the New Testament speaks unambiguously on the special guilt of false teachers in Christendom, whether sanctimonious like the traditionalists, or audacious and profane like most of the new pretenders to know the Scriptures better than the Lord and His inspired ambassadors, who in effect make Him and them to err in declaring, for instance, that Moses, David, Isaiah, Daniel wrote what they did not write. It is nonsense to talk, as rationalists habitually do, of the superiority of their own day, of modern progress, of new modes of thought and more searching methods of literary and historical investigation; as if God’s Word did not stand on ground peculiar to itself, and not therefore to be treated confessedly, “as any other work.”
Inspiration in any proper sense, and allowing for errors of copyists, etc., is essentially superior to the advances of knowledge in material things or in human experience. It is therefore unreasonable to expect that any increase of such knowledge should affect the truth committed to the church; so distinct are the things of man from those of God. As man’s spirit knows the things of man, and of the lower creation set under man, so the things of God knows no man but the Spirit of God. Are the leaders of this new movement, abroad or at home, such as could uprightly say, “Now we received not the spirit of the world but the Spirit that is of God, that we might know [consciously know] the things freely given to us by God?” I do not allude to the wilful disputers of this age, if men of this stamp ever were; but would the few reverent ones avow that they have the anointing Spirit abiding in them, which another apostle declares that the very babes of God’s family received from the Holy One? If they would not (and I have sure ground for saying that they venture not), are these, whatever their ability or acquirement, entitled to the least weight where angels would fear to tread? They are as a class restrained by no such scruple; for they have never learnt from God their own nothingness in His things; yea, if not renewed and indwelt by His Spirit, that they have only the mind of flesh which is enmity against God.
Hence, because they know not God by His teaching, they shrink from claiming life eternal as a present possession, and have never faced their sins before God so as to know themselves become His righteousness in Christ. They talk of His revelation as progressive. Now, the revelation of God is itself, and does not admit of that progress which man boasts. Take the grand intimation of deliverance from the serpent’s malicious and deadly power in man’s fall. Expressly was it not to be through the merit of virtue of fallen man; it stood in Another. And in this first announcement after sin and death entered, we cannot but see, unless we be blind, that the Deliverer is human because He is the woman’s seed, and that He is divine, for He will utterly crush the mighty angelic rebel, the liar and murderer from the beginning. If the Oxford and Cambridge Professors know of a revelation in the O. T. progressive beyond this, who would not hail the discovery with joy?
There was a very different revelation of divine wrath, recorded early in the same book of Genesis, which swept away all mankind, save eight persons, the family of Noah, whom grace preserved for the righteous man’s sake who believed. Do they count this progressive as compared with God’s announcement of the bruised Deliverer from the coming wrath? It is hard to conceive that any could so reckon who know God or themselves. Again, we have the self-centring pride of man judged at Babel, and the hitherto united race confounded by the difference of languages and nations, but (as we learn from Joshua 24) serving other gods. And the God of glory appears to call Abram to Himself from the strange gods of which we then first hear (a call of grace so absolute as to separate him from country, kin, and father’s house), the depository of promise for a seed both fleshly and spiritual (see Rom., Gal., and Heb.), the grand result for heaven and earth being not yet seen. But can even that or its repetition to Isaac and Jacob be rightly deemed progress on the woman’s Seed and, after suffering, His triumph over the power of the wicked one?
Then long after, the law-giving at Sinai, so awe-inspiring and terrific as to make Moses its mediator “exceedingly fear and quake,” was a revelation of God to all Israel which every true Christian accepts literally as recorded in Ex. 19, 20. Is it the fact that the new school are as incredulous of the display at Sinai as of the creation recorded in Gen. 1, 2? Are not their German leaders as scoffingly infidel in regard to both as the French Encyclopaedists, T. Paine and G. Bradlaugh? Do the best of the British guides differ at heart, or is it only in decency of tone, whilst equally unbelieving? But as to progressive revelation, was the law at Sinai an advance on the woman’s Seed? or even on the promises to Abraham and to his seed? On these the apostle argues with care and energy to show their precedence by 430 years, and the unconditional grace they held out to the believers, in contrast with the law which was added for the sake (not of sins, but) of transgressions until the Seed came to whom the promise was made. Does not the apostle Paul thereby refute this progressive theory? The promises assuredly were the support of faith through the ages; as the law, right, wise and needed in God’s ways with man, could only condemn the guilty and destroy all hopes of a standing or escape on that ground.
It is needless to enumerate the divine interventions that studded the history of the chosen nation, which equally refute the progressive assumption. God had taken care that grace on His part should precede law, not only from the lost paradise of Eden but in the world that now is from the call of Abram; and whatever was vouchsafed in fresh revelations only confirmed both the one and the other which met in Christ. Then when the people were ruined and driven out of His land for their idolatry, and the unbelief of the returned remnant to still greater sins and severer punishment rejected His and their Messiah, it was not only revelations from God but God Himself revealed in His Son Jesus our Lord, in His person, His life, His death, His resurrection, and His ascension to God’s right hand and throne in heaven.
This, no doubt, is beyond comparison. It is not promise merely but accomplishment, the ground of God’s glad tidings of grace and of Christ’s glory, the soul’s redemption secured to God’s glory, the church united by the Spirit to the Head, in readiness to save the last member of the body for Christ’s coming and His subsequent revelation before the universe manifestly put under Him. Does the new school truly believe in this glorious issue as God reveals it? Does it accept in God-fearing simplicity any one of these revelations past, present, or future? To think of progress, since the fulness of the Godhead dwelt and dwells in Christ, is such presumptuous unbelief as to be no less than blasphemy against the necessarily complete and final revelation of God in His person. May they be preserved at least from that revolt! what can one think of any one so deceived by the enemy? Christ is not a divine dealing or a doctrine merely, but a divine person in manhood fully revealed for life eternal, redemption, and glory.
Some, we know, speak of their faith in inspiration; and personally one may have clung to hope against fear that the faith might be living under the wretched incubus of their complicated cobweb on cobweb, woven by the brains of Teutonic legendmongers, without a single solid fact. A most amiable apologist puts it thus: — Jehovist1, J2, J3; Elohist1, E2; J E combination of Jehovistic with Elohistic; D Dh Dp, the author of the Urdeuteronomium with two later redactors; J E D, combination of J E with Deuteronomy; P P1 P2 Px, the author of the priestly code with its later editions (Px=P3 P4 P5 etc.); Rj, the editor who combines J and E; Rd Rd2, two authors or editors, the first of whom combines J E with P, contributes to Joshua and Judges, and writes most of Kings, while the second is a later redactor of that work; Rp, the editor who combines J E D with P!
The credulity of the incredulous is proverbial. When did inspiration enter this extravagant patchwork? Was it with the first or the last? or were all these cobblers inspired? He who cites gravely such speculations from another’s scheme tells us that this critical apparatus goes up to the furthest limits “as yet reached.” He may be assured that so wild an appetite must grow without end. He speaks of the “enormous amount of labour which will be apt to seem wasted;” but such minds as leave God out of labour, “accurate” as they may think, must always waste it. Only he who does God’s will abides for eternity; and was any thing farther from God’s will than this nothingarian quest? He magnifies His word above all His name, and will avenge the insult done to Scripture on all the guilty. He may warn those that add to or take from the things in one book, peculiarly the scorn of erudite unbelief; but His indignation is not limited to that book. It is deplorable to look to any specialists who trust in themselves and each other but not in the word and the Holy Spirit who imparts it, and alas! “our own scholars!” “to decide judiciously.” “Thus saith Jehovah; Cursed is the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from Jehovah.” May the Christian profit by Israel’s danger, a danger never more real than now. It is the precursor of the apostasy (2 Thess 2:3).
Prophets wrote the O.T. books; prophets authenticated the original drafts, and added as they were led of the Spirit such confirmations at a later date as were called for in the days of the kings, and the still more factious time of the return from captivity when the Jews were subjected to the Persian, Greek, and Roman powers. But the crowning mercy was the presence of Messiah, the Son of God, not only to suffer for our sins but to give to believers understanding to know Him that is True. Hence the all-importance of His pronouncement on the O.T. and promise of the Holy Spirit for the apostles and prophets as to the final scriptures in the tongue of the Gentiles. No moment was so wise and necessary or auspicious. Never was the O. T. so verified and honoured, as when the so-called N. T. was to follow, all given before the first century A. D. closed.
For the Lord did strikingly seal the truth of the law of Moses, and the Prophets, and the Psalms, not only in the days of His flesh but in His risen state (Luke 24:44). Even His own when raised shall be superior to the prejudice of time and sense and shall know as they are known. Both He and His inspired servants alike bear the testimony of divine authority to all, and particularly to Moses, David, Isaiah, and Daniel, the most assailed by vain and empty sciolists, the last men in the world to trust for origin, date, literary structure, character, or meaning of scripture, because their system does its worst to unsettle for themselves and the faithless world godly heed, and find pleasure in doubt. As a Christian student, I may be allowed to say that I have been tolerably familiar with the arguments of the new school long before these Professors of Oxford and Cambridge; and I fail to recall a single service of value any one of them has rendered to revealed truth. How could it be otherwise? Since it is the essence of rationalism to deny God’s authority and mind in scripture as a whole, not one of them can rightly estimate any of its parts. Is anything more “settled,” as the first article of their unbelief, than that there is not nor can be for most of them true miracle or prophecy? Yet every Christian knows that scripture itself is both miraculous and prophetic, to say nothing of the many miracles and prophecies it attests.
But the extraordinary and distracting phenomenon presents itself of a crowd of speculators who still claim the name of Christian and busy themselves, not on the Koran or the Hindu Vedas or the Parsee Avesta, but on the O.T., and represent “an enormous amount of labour, which will be apt to seem wasted” if on fabrications and priestly impostures. Does it not rather seem the homage which infidelity pays to the truth they dislike, dread, and fain would destroy, yet in vain and, alas! to their own destruction, unless they repent? It is the more extraordinary that the people whom the critics despise as so prejudiced transmitted to us as sacred those very prophecies which denounced their disobedience, corruption, and idolatries, and predicted their consequently present anomalous state. “For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king and without prince, and without sacrifice, and without pillar, and without ephod and teraphim.” Who but an infidel can deny that Hosea 3:4 is fulfilled? Which of the new school believes that his ver. 5 will as surely be to the joy of all the earth? “Afterward shall the children of Israel [mark, Israel] return and seek Jehovah their God and David their king; and shall come with fear to Jehovah and to his goodness at the end of the days.” Blinded as the Jews are judicially, they are not so unbelieving as the neologists.
Let us now come to the earliest charge of “false science” in Gen. 1 laid by the Lady Margaret’s Prof. of Divinity, Cambridge. “It was once as easy as it was natural to regard the first chapter of Genesis as a literal account of the way in which the universe was brought into being; now that we have read the records of the rocks, and learnt some fragments of the mystery of the heavens, we know that it cannot be regarded as literal history” (p. 4). Dr. Driver (Regius Prof. of Hebrew, Oxford) is if possible more curt and peremptory (p. 52), and alludes to Gen. 1 as “this imperfect and in many respects false science.” Is such language becoming from professing Christian teachers about God’s word? It is calm and deliberate, and therefore far more guilty than from an avowed enemy of revelation. Now I distinctly affirm that these two Professors do not understand the chapter. There is no collision whatever between it and the ascertained facts of geology. It is ignorance in both to affirm any such contradiction. Room is left for the geologic ages of science, with the strata and their fossils before the six days; but scripture is silent thereon. There is therefore no excuse for the evil insinuation, invented by infidel scientists, and repeated by these D.Ds.
The chapter starts with the grand truth of creation, of which many geologists really are as ignorant now as the ancient philosophers of every age and school: a truth which idolatry of old as willingly ignored as modern science in its desire to forget and exclude God. From neither was it learnt. “By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which do appear.”
Thus it was, even before Moses wrote, known from Adam downward among the faithful. And from Rom. 1:19, 20 it appears that creation was not doubted for a long while afterward. For we do not hear of idolatry till after the deluge. But when Moses wrote by God’s inspiration, details were added of the deepest import, far beyond the general truth. What was the testimony on which faith rested? Mainly and literally on these opening words of the Bible: a truth subversive of heathenism and immeasurably nobler, higher, deeper, and more spiritually instructive than all the discoveries of astronomy, geology, and of other sciences put together.
No science, ancient or modern, ever taught this great truth, any more than later Gentile tradition. The heathen oracles assumed and gave out falsehood on eternal matter which issued in atheism and pantheism, or what Gibbon, ever heartless, called the “elegant mythologies of Greece and Rome,” the basest and most demoralising of all, reducing their divinities to very wicked males and females like themselves. Here the oracles of all science are dumb now as ever. For science as science knows nothing beyond its own subject matter and cannot speak aright of God. Hence men the most disposed to cry up the triumphs of science are compelled to allow its total failure in this respect. J. S. Mill (Logic, 8th ed., 398), owns that “we can give no account of the origin of the permanent causes themselves” [such as the earth’s rotation]. So H. Spencer says of science, “It conducts us to a blank wall by a method which is wholly powerless to penetrate the mystery which lies behind.” How strange that the professedly Christian teachers should not acknowledge where geology and every other science failed! Moses was inspired to communicate this fundamental revelation, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”: a sublime truth, stated in as noble simplicity, to begin the Bible, as God alone knew and made it known through His servant by the Holy Spirit.
Ver. 2 is most important in its way: for it reveals without limitation of date, yet as a subsequent fact, that the earth was made waste and empty, with darkness upon the face of the deep. Not only does the expression of the Hebrew verb in the 1st clause lend itself to this (for so is it used often even in this chapter as elsewhere), but Isa. 45:18 is to my mind decisive in its favour. “For thus saith Jehovah that created the heavens, He is God; that formed the earth and made it, He established it, He created it not a waste; He formed it to be inhabited.” He did not create it in the chaotic state, but for good and wise reasons threw it into that state. We can readily understand that only so could man when it was inhabited get at the coal, the marbles, and the metals, etc., so useful afterwards. For as the chapter itself shows that acts of creating followed the origination, so there may have been of destructive and temporary breakup as the strata sufficiently indicate to the geologist. It is here that the geologic times would come in, but this could be no matter of revelation. That science like others was left for man. But room is left for it, before the “days” of getting ready the earth as it was to be for Adam and his race. These begin with ver. 3; and “the evening and the morning” point to literal days, so suited to and connected with man on the earth, not with the vast periods when other conditions prevailed, and man was not. And this is corroborated by the sabbath that followed man’s creation, which a prolonged geologic age would not.
Is it not plain that this is the genuine meaning of Gen. 1 - 2:3? Does it not refute the hasty misinterpretation, not confined to mere men of science, but common among the theologians of Christendom who read this scripture without sufficient waiting on God to apprehend its comprehensive scope and the exact bearing of its distinct parts? Yet not a few have thus seen and taught for more than the half century of a modern Gothic irruption, which may damage romancists, but is powerless against the word of God. British Darwinism, like the kindred metamorphosis of Lamarck, is no doubt set aside as an unbelieving dream by the distinct species attributed to God’s will in Gen. 1 to both the vegetable and the animal kingdoms with which the human race is conversant. Yet there are men of science apart from faith who refuse the fashionable decease which undermines the fixed laws that God has thus impressed, without which science could not be, with a decision which puts to shame these higher critics so ready to believe it, and not God. Development to that extent is absurd and would destroy science. What scheme more unworthy of God or even man ever was invented by his feverish brain?
Take only the swamping of the human race with the brute in contrast with the affectingly solemn and self-evidently true place assigned to man, as the chief ruler of creation in Gen. 1, and in moral relation to God as well as the creature in Gen. 2 where we hear of Jehovah Elohim inbreathing his soul alone of all beings on the earth. Is this nothing? or is it “false science?” The fact is that it is not science at all; and the exactest science could not attest it. It is the revealed light of God, which is the truth, and immeasurably above all science. One can only grieve over professing Christians beguiled by such conundrums; but we must be indignant that they claim to be Christian ministers, seeing that they slight the scriptures though divinely inspired, and bow to the passing delusions to which scientists are notoriously liable like others. Never has any savant of any land or tongue produced an account of creation to compare with Gen. 1, still less with its profound and necessary supplement in Gen. 2.
Gross ignorance of and positive fall from the light of Christianity appear on Dr. K.’s own showing: “Times of change must be times of trial. They call for faith, courage, patience, sympathy: — for faith that God is still teaching His Church, as He taught it of old,
πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως, ‘by divers portions and in divers manners’ (Heb. 1:1); for courage to go forward trustfully, following the light of the reason which God has given us,” etc. (pp. 4, 5). Now the scripture cited contradicts the sense for which it is cited. Of old God spoke thus to the fathers in the prophets; at the end of these days He spoke to us in a Son. There had been revelations from God on a deliverer, on the deluge, on promise, on law, on a kingdom in Israel, on Gentile dominion; prophecies fully while Israel so existed; prophecies sufficiently when Israel became Lo-ammi. Now it is Himself revealed in the person and redemption work of His Son: a revelation absolutely perfect, of which it is not only false but blasphemous to think that it admits of development. Those who pretend to progress after this are apostates, even if they call themselves Christians. Nor is it the great apostle only who taught so, but the Gospel of John (John 1:18), and emphatically his First Epistle (1 John 2:24-27), as also 2 John 3. Equally does Dr. K. offend when he substitutes for the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit the characteristic power of the Christian and of the church, “following the reason which God has given us;” as if we were no better off in this respect than the most benighted heathen! Could any one ask clearer proof that Higher Criticism leads even its ablest guides into the ditch of infidelity?
Next we are told whereby these moderns trust to subvert not merely what the church has believed for many centuries, but what the Lord and the apostles taught of the scriptures. 1, Textual criticism, which is in no way their province. 2, Linguistic criticism, which surely belongs to competent Christian students. 3, Their pet “higher criticism,” the most visionary attempt to imagine a variety of interpolators instead of the alleged author. 4, Historical criticism, sought to be distinguished from the Higher, it is hard to say why. 5, Archaeology and comparative religion. In these and other ways they hope to revolutionize men’s thoughts of the Bible, and urge the clergy to understand their methods, to estimate its results, and to consider how these affect their teaching (pp. 5-7).
Now in the face of this conspiracy of soi-disant experts to shake the O.T. to its centre and cast the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets avowedly into a sea of uncertainty, we have the sure fact of infinite comfort to every believer that the incarnate Son of God ruled the divine authority of these very scriptures, and that, risen from the dead, when prejudices disappear from the weakest of saints. The Lord authenticated them as testimonies to Himself in the flattest contradiction of modern criticism. So did the Holy Spirit sent forth from heaven from Him glorified, and this both to such ecclesiastical rulers as Timothy and Titus, and with no less freedom and fulness to the mass of the faithful in the Epistles, remarkably anticipating the sceptical attacks on Moses and David, Isaiah and Daniel, by declaring each the writer of the books attributed to them, as for instance of the latter part of Isaiah no less than the former. “He [Moses] wrote of Me.”
To faith this is and ought to be the end of controversy. Splitting such investigation into higher and historical or others makes no difference worthy to speak of; nor does calling it “literary” mitigate the awful presumption of giving the lie to the Son of God, or of the unbelief that attributes ignorance of what must have been known to a divine person. Think of Him who is to judge quick and dead, and who searches the reins and heart of every child of man, not knowing who wrote the Pentateuch! Think of those who call themselves Christians and Christian teachers denying to His face that Moses wrote of Him, and seeking by all sorts of vain perversions to make it seem a patchwork, contributed by a rabble of nobody-knows-who; and this last pretended largely to be Jehovah’s words spoken to Moses for His people, yet designated as “the God-given record of God’s special revelation of Himself through Israel in preparation for the Incarnation, and as such of permanent significance for the Christian Church” (p. 7)! Is not this to betray with a kiss?
That the world hearkens to these men in our day, beyond the old Encyclopaedists or individual freethinkers who preceded them, is true. They are, therefore, encouraged to dare greater things. Believers on the contrary are all the more distressed, both for the dishonour done to God’s word, and for their guilt who are not only misled but misleaders. In 1 Timothy 4 the apostle referred to the ascetic and legend-loving spirit which early led some to apostatize from the faith; but in 2 Timothy 3 he speaks of a later and more prevalent departure from God, when men having a form of piety should deny its power, and advance in evil. In 2 Tim. 4 he says that the time shall be when they will not bear sound teaching, but according to their lusts will heap up to themselves teachers, having an itching ear; and they will turn away their ear from the truth, and will turn aside to fables. In fine, as he wrote in 2 Thess. 2:3, the apostasy will come, the rejection of Christian truth by Christendom itself. Can any means be conceived more suited to bring this about than the modern criticism? Their denial and despising of prophecy will blind them so much the more to the godless movement. For this is what will characterize the consummation of the present evil age, and bring on not only God’s preparatory dealings in judgment, but the Son of man’s appearing in the clouds of heaven to trample His enemies under His feet. The universal establishment of God’s world-kingdom follows (Rev. 11:15; 19, 20).
In p. 10 Dr. K. admits that “The results of literary [or Higher] criticism are at best only probable, though in many cases the probability amounts to practical certainty” (!); but literary criticism has been pushed to the wildest extremes, as for instance when we are told that we have “no genuine writings of the prophet Jeremiah except,” etc. Now this discloses in its confession what we know from the entire spirit and language and aim of the school, that, like Romanism, modern criticism has no divine faith. Its results are at best only “probable.”
The school of literary criticism comes to the same result in principle as the school of ecclesiastical tradition. The faith of both turns out to be without absolute truth to rest on. Such only is scripture, the word of God who cannot lie. This was what Cardinal Newman laid down in his Grammar of Assent when a full-blown Romanist, confounding the church “probability” men must act on with the certainty of a divine testimony to faith. As begotten of God I believe Him because He has written, and believe neither the church on the one hand (for how often has it erred!), nor these modern critics who believe in man’s disproof of what the Son of God authenticated, as well as the apostles and prophets inspired by the Holy Spirit. If as a Christian I am bound to reject the church intervening between God and my soul as to His revelation, how much more to reject men who evince their unspirituality by their ignorance of His mind in scripture, and flee to Babylonian, Assyrian, Egyptian, and other heathen sources of the flimsiest kind for that external knowledge of which they never weary of boasting!
On his three points wherein modern criticism, he says, affects theology, we need not dwell now: the mode of revelation, the character of prophecy, and the nature of inspiration. The use of “revelation” is a blind; for, in the growth they contend for, God is really excluded, as really as in the imaginary development of nature with which it is compared. In both the believer owns divine design — in scripture, and even in creation defaced as it is by sin. But it is an utter mistake that the Lord taught us anything inconsistent with its divine authority. He was, as befitted His person, introducing the heavens’ light with His Father’s name for those destined to the Father’s kingdom; but He insists in the plainest terms on its divine authority for God’s end in it. “Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy but to complete. For verily I say to you, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments shall be called least in the kingdom of the heavens; but whosoever shall do and teach them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of the heavens” (Matt. 5:17-19). If God spoke in the scriptures, woe to those who say I must judge them first! His word will judge them at the last day. It is not so that any man was ever brought to God; he believes God and is blessed; as those who set up to first pronounce on all the canon are going the direct road to lose their own souls. The enemy lures these to hope that the way of “modern criticism” is to have “our theology” liberated, deepened, and strengthened. The more they seem to succeed in their blind glorying in man, the sooner will fall divine retribution on their inventions against the word which abides for ever. You might challenge the entire multitude to produce a single truth of God which the Higher Criticism has rescued from the darkness of unbelief. What future can rationalism have but judgment for despising God’s word and God’s Son? Unbelief may destroy as far as God allows, but can produce nothing.
It seems bold to speak of “prophesy” as Dr. K. does; for he knows well that scarce any conclusion is more “settled” and accepted by the great majority of his school than that there is neither prophecy nor miracle in any real sense. A few like himself admit prediction to a small extent. But all reduce it more or less to what the apostle Peter stigmatises as of “private interpretation” i.e. its own particular solution, instead of each one forming part of the divinely given scheme of predictive testimony to God’s glory in Christ, which is to sum up in Him, the head, all creation in heaven and on earth (Eph. 1:10). Is any one of his company, even of those who shrink from applying the knife to the N.T. as they do to the O.T., really living with that divine purpose of glory for Christ before his soul as his living hope? Is one of them truly waiting for His coming again to reign over the universe heavenly and earthly to God’s glory?
Now no system, Patristic, Papal, or Protestant, however short of what scripture contemplates, is so directly opposed to this purpose of God in the written word as that of modern criticism; for it is essentially infidel. God’s word is incompatible with the assumption of human growth or patchwork. Disbelieving in any real unity given to all scripture by the inspiring Spirit, they exclude the governing counsel of God in its every part, and thus lose every true conception of His mind, and only deceive themselves in calling their motley aggregate “a message from God.” The liberation claimed is from divine authority, which leaves no room for man’s wisdom and will; the deepening is but in external research which swamps all seeking for and delight in the Christ of scripture; the strengthening is in value for the dust and dry bones of heathen history. The effect is departure from the fulness of God in Christ so richly revealed as to leave no room for development, save in the imagination of those who say that they see; whose sin therefore remains.
How far the school is from believing that “the one” — not — “far off divine event” — the establishment of His kingdom, over the world and all the universe, must be preceded by the day of the Lord in unsparing judgment, not only of Israel and the nations, but of Christendom yet more sternly because of its greater privilege, as man will share the apostasy, to which sceptical criticism of scripture is one of the guiltiest incentives and ingredient.
II. — The Old Testament In The Light Of Today.
But let us turn to what Dr. Driver says as to this. He is most jubilant over the spirit of the age and its successes. “A great intellectual awakening” he claims for it, as well as “great discoveries”; sciences new, yet “arrived at a vigorous and independent manhood”; and the older branches worked as never before by better methods “to startling and unexpected results.” It is not so that their best living representative, Lord Kelvin, spoke at his jubilee in Glasgow a short time ago. And as he is neither pessimist nor optimist but known for his sobriety, no less than his depth and extent, for his own discoveries as well as his practical power in turning them to every day use, such a testimony on what has been the most ardent and distinguished work of his life outweighs a host of men comparatively in no way his equals. “One word characterises the most strenuous of the efforts for the advancement of science that I have made perseveringly for fifty-five years, and that word is — failure. I know no more of electric and magnetic force, or of the relation between either electricity and ponderable matter, or of chemical affinity, than I knew fifty years ago.”
But if the progress in natural and experimental science were ever so immense (and I should not wonder at it where God is forgotten or made light of), what is the worth of any such or of knowledge morally even? God’s revelation stands on wholly different ground, has a character necessarily peculiar to itself, and is for the end of His glory in the spiritual blessing of the soul, with an eternity of bliss or of woe, the issue for every child of man who believes or who does not. This must differentiate scripture from all else that is written or spoken, or in any way appeals to man. The inspired word of God, first in trying man by a commandment, and then by His law and every help of ordinance, and priest, etc. in the O.T.; next by revealing Himself in His Son in the N.T., with the Holy Spirit given to the believer as never before, with suited words to explain and yield power and enjoyment as well as an answer to every other want. To argue from the natural to the supernatural, from man to God, is not only false but unbelieving to the last degree. Though it is sought to conceal the impiety of putting in question the written word of God, by the plea that it is only the exterior that is challenged on literary grounds, and historic investigation, or the like, no book has ever been subjected as the Bible to such extravagance of imagination as to its construction. Where is one solid fact to countenance such a manipulation in denial of the writings and writers accepted by faith, and with blindness to the effect of obliterating all its just claim to be God’s word, inspired by Him, and possessing His authority no less than if He directly addressed each as from heaven?
There is another awful consequence of this baseless pride of knowledge, that it involves the destruction of confidence in the Son of God and of His inspired servants, who are beyond doubt and thoroughly committed to the honour and certainty of scripture, both O.T. and N.T. So radical is the opposition of the sceptical criticism, that its more open advocates do not hesitate to say, as the necessary inference, that they know the growth of the Bible as did neither the Lord nor His apostles! Such daring unbelief and irreverence ought to alarm the feeblest saint, as every intelligent Christian must abhor it as an exhalation of the bottomless pit. The last writer of the N.T. is he who insists most on this safe-guard in the last hour of many antichrists, “Let that therefore abide in you which ye heard from the beginning” (1 John 2:24).
From the beginning our Lord decided beforehand against the modern imposture, which is quite independent of Hebrew or Greek erudition, and springs out of real ignorance of the truth of God. It is due to reckless fancy in perverting the divine names and their accompanying difference of thought and expressions, into supposed difference of legends, compiled very late, they say, and in times really unsuitable to the O.T. as a true history. Confessedly the Lord and the apostles sustain the faith in scripture which all the saints and martyrs of early Christian times confessed, and leave no room for the wild insinuation of Astruc, which modern Germans have sought to swell into the most gigantic of fables. The believer’s safety and joy is to depend on Christ, who came at the interval when the old things came to an end, and the new had to be ushered in on divine authority. And He has taught us with divine authority that the scriptures even of the O.T. are to be received as they then existed with simple trust. So more than one apostle vouched no less for the N.T. Thus “the light of today” in its presumptuous unbelief was anticipatively condemned and excluded. The modern theory by their own showing was unknown as having the smallest credit “from the beginning”; but room was left for it as a “fable,” which men love who are weary of the truth, and delight in the fruit of man’s ingenuity.
Thus in p. 20 says Dr. Driver. “I may assume on the part of those who hear me a general familiarity with the new light in which, to those who do not refuse to open their eyes, the Old Testament appears today. The historical books are now seen to be not, as was once supposed, the works (for instance) of Moses, or Joshua, or Samuel!” Not a few who read the new brochure have examined for half a century the new criticism, and are assured that it is the darkness of the natural mind, yielding to speculative fancy on the surface of the scriptures, and destitute of the Holy Spirit’s guidance, because they evade and despise the authority of Christ who pronounces against them, root and branch. He and His apostles accepted the scriptures as written by Moses and David, etc., to Isaiah, Daniel, and even to Malachi, as Christians have held for many centuries, and leave no room for this development of scepticism. “Have ye not read (said He) in the book of Moses,” etc. (Mark 12:26)? “And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah; and when he had opened the book, he found the place (Isa. 61) where it was written, The Spirit,” etc. (Luke 4:17). To Luke these men dare to give the lie, pretending the writer to be unknown. “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them” (Luke 16:29). “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:31). “Behold we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning (not an “ideal” sufferer, but) the Son of man shall be accomplished” (Luke 18:31). “David himself saith in the book of Psalms,” etc. (Luke 20:42). “Had “ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me” (John 5:46). “The scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). So in John 12:38-41, Isaiah is quoted as such from Isa. 53:1 no less than from Isa. 6:9, etc., as is also “Daniel the prophet” in Matt. 24:15.
How is it then that these critics reject the positive testimony of the Lord and His apostles? If believed, it overthrows their system. But they far prefer their own thoughts to scripture. Alas! they do not believe the Lord. To them applies as to sceptics in His day, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God” (Matt. 22:29). Nor does anything strike one more than, with indefatigable research on external appearances easily misapplied, they seem wholly insensible to God’s mind, and thus sink into the ready service of the enemy for defaming and seeking to destroy divine revelation, though they think the contrary.
For there is scarce anything in which the new critics more generally agree than in finding not a few Elohists and Jehovists in the Pentateuch and elsewhere. Now this depends mainly on the repeated occurrence of one or other of the O.T. divine names of God with a corresponding difference of words and subjects, out of which they invented the notion of different documents. This was mere ignorance flowing out of unbelief. For the names have respectively an exact propriety, which demands their usage for the different truths intended, and moreover requires other thoughts and words suitable for each. Elohim is God in the history, and in His sovereign operations, as in creation; Jehovah is His name in relationship and moral dealings. So it is in the Psalms, and Prophets, where differing writers would be out of the question. But these critics trust themselves and do not trust God or His word, and hence are of all schools the most pretentious and the most superficial; as all must be who fail to see one divine mind, which amidst wonderful variety impresses a general design on the scriptures as a whole, and on each particular as contributing its special design in its own part. But their system ignores and denies both a general and a special design, quite above the understanding of the writers generally if not universally. It is a dream no better than of a fortuitous concourse of atoms which others imagined for the universe. The reality of God actually moving in every part of this spiritual creation is foreign to their minds and incompatible with their reveries. Theirs is the characteristic principle of infidelity; and they even call the product of so many cobblers inspiration, scripture, and God’s word! Does this improve matters? It enables them to retain their chairs, canonries, etc.
Hence one must deny, not of course different groups of laws in the Pentateuch, but that there is the least solid basis for insinuating different strata at widely different periods of the national life. The attempt to vilify Deuteronomy as an invention of Josiah’s day, instead of being the closing book of Moses, is in itself a fraud of which no mind could be capable but of an enemy to God and His word. It is remarkable as the book which our blessed Lord honoured at each of His temptations by Satan; and even this was as due to that inspired book of Moses as to His own position when tempted. Of both this system incapacitates for seeing, because devoid of faith it cannot please God or know His word.
“The Old Testament in the Light of Today” is the title of Dr. Driver’s First Paper. It shows clearly enough where the new school is. Their eyes are turned away from the light of God, from Christ the true Light to the darkness of man to-day, the darkness of “this present evil age” which He is soon coming to judge and punish. “If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is the darkness!”
When God spoke in His Son, what the believer knows to be the Light shone not only on the O.T. but on every person. Indeed every thing was thus manifested as it is. He is the truth objectively, as the Holy Spirit is in power for the believer (1 John 5:6), who therefore becomes light in the Lord. Never does scripture treat man’s thoughts or discoveries as anything of the kind; still less to allow the least comparison with Him that speaks from heaven (Heb. 12:25) and will speak “once” more in a judgment which will shake not only the earth but also the heavens. Hence for the Christian all is out in the light of God through His word. Flaws there are through man’s weakness or wrong, both in text and in translation, and intelligence may be at fault. But the truth is completely revealed as to both God and man, and this right on to “the day of God, by reason of which heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and elements shall melt with fervent heat. But according to His promise we await new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:12, 13).
Where is Dr. Driver’s faith of God’s elect and knowledge of truth which is according to godliness? Far from me to judge him personally. His heart one leaves to the blessed God. We would speak only of his testimony as to revealed truth. What we have throughout his paper is but glorying in man, and especially the men of this day. They if modest and wise must see their nothingness, and measureless need of God’s pity and grace, instead of repeating the old folly which Job reproved in his friends, “No doubt ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you.” Alas! indeed men now look for indefinite progress. But what a shock to Christian conscience, when scholars bearing the Lord’s name, and in the position of clergymen as eminent and influential as they could well attain in great seats of learning, boast of things, compared with the grace and truth of Christ, as the advances in our experimental science, and their dependent mechanical arts, in Anthropology, Archaeology and other such sciences, as with other branches of human knowledge! These investigations may well be left, like the hewing of wood or the drawing of water to those who enjoy not the title of entrance into the holies; but they are beneath those who by grace are made kings and priests to God.
I do not think the slight of the A.V. as compared with the Revision in our day justified. It is true that there were singular mistakes and shortcomings in the old version, and more correctness in some respects in the oldest English translation of W. Tyndale. But there are not a few errors of such deep import in the Revision that one can only thank God that as yet so great a failure has not gained general acceptance. At any rate crying up our own day in this respect seems strangely uncalled for. Even Bishop Lightfoot to whom Dr. Driver refers, great scholar as he was, proves that a deeper knowledge of Christian truth than he possessed is essential to guard from e.g. the evident and serious blunder he made, followed by the Revisers in 2 Cor. 5:14, 15. For he translates it so as to favour a sense not only false in itself but contrary to its own context; for it contrasts the universal death of man outside Christ, for whom He died, with those who live to Him who also rose to this end. It is therefore the death of all in their sins, not death with Christ which is the portion only of those who live to Him, as they live in Him, which “all” are very far from.
Take further, if we only glance at the beginning of Luke, such plain error as the Revisers adopted in Luke 2:14; and their failure to see that the true parenthesis in Luke 3:23 is “being the son as was supposed of Joseph,” leaving the genealogy to begin with “of Eli” (etc.) whom even the Talmud admits to have been father of Mary. This line is here given, not Joseph’s in the Solomonic branch which Matt. 1 requires, each suiting its own Gospel according to that specific divine design which the books of Scripture possess by inspiration.
Again what ignorance and presumption to omit the amply supported “second-first” in Luke 6:1! No doubt its singularity made it unintelligible to most, and led to its omission in some MSS. and versions. But it has an important sense, if any intimate with that season would feel for Jewish hearts subject to the law. It is unaccountable unless genuine. Again in ver. 35 can one conceive anything more beneath scripture than their rendering “never despairing”? May it remain alone in its shame among all versions, good, bad and indifferent! In some of these and many more, such as Rom. 3:22, in the Epistles, the Revisers have changed the more correct readings and renderings of the A.V. for the worse. The vaunt of present-day exactitude is unbecoming.
It is hardly necessary to say that one regards with horror what is said in p. 23, that “the tablets brought from the library of Asshur-banipal have disclosed to us the source of the material elements upon which the Biblical narratives of the Creation and the Deluge have been constructed.” That the Gentiles had widely spread traditions about the earth’s origin and man’s, and of the deluge, is true and long known, but withal corrupted everywhere with their false gods to whom they were adapted. But that fabulous traditions, such as Asshur-banipal’s tablets represent, disclose the source of the Biblical account is a slander of which infidelity is alone capable. The fact is that as far as I am aware not one Gentile first or last can be proved to have believed that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” It is a truth which faith alone receives; and I fear that the new school no more believe it than Asshur-banipal did; for it is avowed that the doctrine of development goes along with the new literary method. It is an abuse of language for a Darwinian to speak of crediting creation, as it is for the new critic to say that he believes in inspiration. In both cases it is a growth, not God’s work.
It is painful in the extreme to read the words of professed teachers of revealed truth; a glorying in man which is natural to an unbeliever who lauds the progress of the age and claims for the present generation an advance beyond parallel. “It may have been most conspicuous and brilliant in the physical sciences, and in the great mechanical arts based upon them; but it has been not less real in many other branches of knowledge, in language, in history, in archaeology, in anthropology. How much, in all these departments of knowledge is known now, which a century ago was unknown, and even unsuspected! . . . But the same spirit of scientific study and research which has inspired new life into so many other departments of knowledge, and even in some instances created them altogether, has also pervaded Biblical and Oriental learning; and there is hardly any branch of these subjects, whether language, or literature, or antiquities, or history, in which the stimulus of the nineteenth century has not made itself felt, and in which improved methods of investigation have not conducted to new and important results” (pp. 18-20). Are not we today the world’s wonders?
Is this the mind of one delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of the Son of God’s love? Could one consciously so blessed put these accessions of human knowledge, supposing it ever so real and great, side by side with that of scripture imparted by the operation of the Holy Spirit? Yet who in it cries up the letter that kills? Is it not the Spirit that quickens? The world’s knowledge which the natural man can acquire leaves sin unremoved and judgment with its dread issue awaiting its votaries. Did not God in the cross of Christ make foolish the wisdom of this world? “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom knew not God, it was God’s good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save those that believe” (1 Cor. 1:21).
To lump, after this fashion, the Bible with such acquisitions is blindness to the truth of God, and a heinous offence against grace and truth. It is well to have the word in its integrity and freed from accretion; but the incomparably more momentous thing is to have and enjoy the fruit, which all this external activity does not enable a single soul to taste. “For who of men knoweth the things of man, save the spirit of the man which is in him? even so the things of God none knoweth save the Spirit of God. But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is of God; that we might know the things granted to us by God” (1 Cor. 2:11, 12). As a dog, no matter how sagacious, cannot understand a watch, which as a human work a man can; so a man is incapable of entering into revealed truth save by the Spirit of God; not only born anew, and redeemed, but needing and having received the Holy Spirit to this end. Not all the possible human progress in profane or sacred departments avails. One must be “taught of God” wholly above man, as the Lord declared according to the prophets.
Nor can there be a more superficial or unbelieving inference than what is drawn in p. 22: “The net results of these discoveries is that the ancient Hebrews are taken out of the isolation in which, as a nation, they formerly seemed to stand; and it is seen now that many of their institutions and beliefs were not peculiar to themselves; they existed in more or less similar form among their neighbours; they were only in Israel developed in special directions, subordinated to special ends, and made the vehicle of special ideas.” Even Balaam, wicked man and false prophet as he was, uttered under the compulsion of God’s Spirit the truth which flatly contradicts such Gentile pride. “Lo, a people that shall dwell alone and shall not be reckoned among the nations’’ (Num. 23:9). Nor is God’s thought about Israel only separateness to Himself, but in ver. 21 their justification in sovereign grace; in Num. 24:5-7 their given beauty; and in 17-19 their glory when the Star out of Jacob shines in power. Doubtless this seems strange, as the O.T. is the history of their failure under the law. But they are kept for Messiah and the new covenant, when the Unchanging One, to whom they are still blind, shall change all things in their favour. And the mind of God regularly looks on to that day in His love for His people.
Alas! the next p. 23 is daring infidelity. “The monuments of Egypt and Babylon combine to establish the presence of man upon the earth, and the existence of entirely distinct languages, at periods considerably more ancient than is allowed for by the figures in the Book of Genesis; and the tablets brought from the library of Asshur-banipal have disclosed to us the source (!) of the material elements upon which the Biblical narratives of the Creation (!) and the Deluge have been constructed”!! Thus openly does the Hebrew Professor of Oxford dare to avow that he believes the vain monuments of men, and gives the lie to God’s testimony. The Confusion of Tongues, as well as the accounts of Creation and of the Deluge, are fables constructed out of the heathen tablets of the noble Asnapper’s library! What French or German has defamed scripture more daringly?1
It is an assumption without the smallest proof save of ill-will, and no indication whatever “that in the early chapters of Genesis we are not reading literal history.” The Lord and the apostles have decided otherwise, and as Christians we believe them, not in the least degree the Higher Critics, whom we can only regard as infatuated enemies of revelation.
So also we regard the speculation on the poetical books and prophets, as abandoning light for darkness in all spiritual respects. The divine who defined prophecy as “the history of events before they come to pass” was celebrated for his metaphysical power and his evidential prowess against Deism, in no way for his knowledge of scripture,2 which gives a larger and deeper thought of prophecy, and was so recognised by intelligent students quite apart from the neologian school. Indeed it is evident not only in the O.T. but also in the N.T. So the Samaritan at Sychar when she told the Lord, who had then said not a word about the future, “I perceive that thou art a prophet.” Yet immediately He told her of the profound change which no man on earth knew, when Jerusalem and its national worship of Jehovah should pass for the incomparable blessedness of Christianity, and the true worshippers to worship the Father in spirit and truth. Crasser ignorance spiritually cannot be than to learn that “the materials afforded by the inscriptions of Assyria and Babylonia,” whatever their trifling use externally, yielded one ray of light on the prophets. The prophets’ writings are the only and the full proof that they dealt morally with their own generations on God’s behalf, but with the richest certainty of the future, when His intervention by the Son of man, the rejected Messiah, shall put down all evil and enemies, establish His righteous reign, and fill all the earth with His glory. The first intimation is announced in Num. 14:21, quite as clearly as in the varied forms of Isaiah 11:9, and of Hab. 2:14. Not one sprang out of the circumstances of the then age, but out of God’s purpose, whatever might be the occasion: it is worthy of God, in contrast with all those varying times of evil, and suited, but no natural reason.
Hence the Jews, dark as they were, were not so depraved as these modern pretenders, and justly called the writers of the O.T. historical books “the early prophets,” as distinguished from the later where there is little or no history. Again the prophetic element is still more manifest in the poetical books; but they all have the predictive in plain words, in type, or expressive figures, with its glorious issue, wholly independent of anything then visible or at work, and only possible for God to declare and insure. Nothing more opposed to the empty ideas of the new school, whose knowledge is human and sets up nature, not God and His word.
It is plain too that the apostle designates the Epistles in Rom. 16:26 as “prophetic scriptures,” not “the scriptures of the prophets,” which is the strange and certain blunder of the Revisers no less than of the A.V. The context is no less incompatible than the phrase itself. For a mystery or secret is in question which “had been kept silent, but was now manifested and by prophetic scriptures made known, according to the eternal God’s commandment, for obedience of faith unto all the nations.” This was done pre-eminently afterward in the Epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians. It clearly gives “prophetic scriptures” a wider and deeper scope than is usually seen. Now the mystery of Christ and of the church is inseparable from the exaltation of Christ and His joint-heirs over all the universe in the day of glory. It includes the bright future according to God’s own grace and power.
But the error comes out plainly in the discussion of “inspiration” that follows from p. 26. The Oxford Professor could count on a pretty cordial appreciation of his own unbelief from his congregational audience. It is not true that among believers there is any haze on that essential truth. Explanation of literary structure is academic guess; prying into the manner of God’s communication is irreverent, even if possible beyond the inspired. Faith is demanded to the exclusion of theory. But there is the divine dictum: “every scripture [is] God-breathed,” or “being God-breathed [is] . . . profitable” etc. (2 Tim. 3:16): in the first rendering asserted; in the second, assumed; so that the main truth remains intact either way.
This too is confirmed by the facts of its own statement throughout. That the inspired drew their narrative from the heathen, out of whom they were separated at all costs as the first of duties to Jehovah their God, is an abominable and baseless slander; that the heathen had traditions of Creation and of the Deluge which they clothed with their idolatries, is true. But take the law and its stages in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, and the equivalent in Deuteronomy. The constant word generally is, “And Jehovah said to Moses.” To deny its possibility is clearly infidel and irrational. Is it true or false? Take again what David says (2 Sam. 23:2), “The Spirit of Jehovah spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue. The God of Israel said, the rock of Israel spoke to me,” etc. Law or Psalm, it was God’s word, and scripture; and this is what inspiration means, and what the faithful believe. Is it necessary for every writer to present himself as in the opening of a play of Euripides? Would this suit the simple dignity of God’s messengers to His people “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for Jehovah hath spoken,” says one of the greatest of prophets. “Thus speaketh Jehovah of hosts” says Haggai, one of the least, as the very last opens with the “Burden of the word of Jehovah.” Was all this a flourish, a literary fiction, or the solemn truth of God? It is a theory, and a theory of unbelief, that God inspired His servants, and withal left them like other men to write mistakes, instead of its resulting essence to be the perfect communication of His mind. If God’s Spirit moved in the work, was it to effectuate God’s will? or to leave it after all imperfect and misleading? The human element was in individual style; not in error, which could only frustrate the express aim and object of scripture. There had better be no inspiration than to give divine authority to what was man’s erring word, not God’s. The scripture, and every scripture, is God-breathed authenticity and authority as His word.
So in what follows in p. 25 on the Prophets and the Psalms, the effect is to reduce to man’s mind and circumstances, and exclude the supernatural energy of the Holy Spirit. No one denies that there was, or may have been, a present experience, as the occasion. As the rule, it was Israel’s growing wickedness and ruin. This the prophet was raised up to judge, but also to disclose both God’s final dealing and a partial one nearer then, the pledge of the complete, when the glorious hope of Messiah’s Kingdom will be realised without a word of exaggeration “in that day.” No doubt the Fathers, the Romanists, the Reformers, the Puritans, and the divines of Christendom who followed, Nationalist and Dissenting, have applied to themselves what really awaits repentant Israel at the end of the age. This the new school in a slight measure see. But do any of them truly believe in the revealed purpose of God to set the Lord Jesus as Head over all things heavenly and earthly, with the glorified saints on high, and Israel here below with all the nations in subjection and peace with universal joy even for the long groaning creation? They write vaguely if such be their living and assured hope, perhaps unwilling to wound the great mass of their incredulous associates who believe in prophecy no more than in miracles, seemingly little more than dead men. An ideal vision is not a real prophecy. Many were the true and even minute predictions of Christ’s first advent; very many more and on the largest scale await His second. Do they frankly believe this? So at least say the scriptures.
The question is then raised, (1) How do the facts bear on the inspiration of the O.T.? (2) How do they affect our estimate of its moral and doctrinal value? (3) What practical conclusions may be deduced? 1) But to my mind, they are not facts but flimsy speculations on the surface of scripture, and total lack of God’s teaching by it. 2) The effect is to lose, in contrast with the first man, Christ the object of the Spirit throughout. 3) The practical result, is to turn from the light of God’s word to fill souls with the darkness and vanity of man’s records, as if these shed light on scripture. Even when they cannot but fully confirm the revealed word, how can one call this “light”? It may prove the folly of unbelief, and silence an objector. But Christ only, the word of God, the truth, sheds divine light.
Before his own answers, Dr. D. emphasises a double element in scripture, a human not less than a divine. No intelligent Christian denies but recognises it. Only he means the human element left to its weakness and mistakes, instead of the divine sustaining it against error. As it was in Christ’s person, so it is in scripture. Nothing short would have weight with a believing soul. But these critics lower Christ as much as the scriptures; for they regard Him as knowing no better than the scribes, or, if He did, accommodating Himself to the ignorance of His day! He cites in a note 2 Tim. 3:16, 17, not from the A.V. but the R.V. which is far from being accepted as the true construction3. What unbounded presumption in themselves! What blind confidence in petty knowledge of any in what is not God’s word! “The use of the word will not guide us; for it occurs only in the passage referred to. Clearly the only course open to us [i.e. granting the misconstruction] is to examine, patiently and carefully, the book which is termed inspired, and ascertain what characters attach to it” (p. 28) Now inspiration, though equally divine, did not always assume the same form, though we are told little, and perhaps could not learn more, about it. Why should we? Let us hear then the scriptures.
If we take the central book of the Pentateuch, what does it distinctly claim? “And Jehovah called unto Moses, and spoke unto him” etc. “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When any man” etc. And so, with slight historic exceptions the book of Leviticus attaches to itself the character of direct dictation from Jehovah throughout. But these critics flatly refuse to believe. Faithful men accept it as literal truth, the law given through Moses. This is surely inspiration; and He who revealed it empowered the human medium to communicate it, not only piecemeal by the way, but written as a whole.
Would it not be an eminently human way to expect every or any book of scripture to open with “I am inspired” or its equivalent? No creature witnessed creation. None but God could vouch for it. Adam and his sons were called into being long after. Legends could but guess unless God made it known, as He assuredly did to Moses, if we believe our Lord. Was this so wonderful as to give him to write of Christ? The first of his books presents the far simpler and nobler words, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”: a truth which had been utterly forgotten and denied long before the days of Moses. Where is its truth in one of those boasted monuments of Babylon, Nineveh, or Egypt, which professing Christians, and Christian teachers in the highest position, are not ashamed to allege against the word and authority of scripture? They of the monuments, one and all, worshipped idols or strange gods; and so the error was not secondary but fundamental. Their religion was based on a deadly falsehood which vitiates all possible reliance on them for truth or holiness. What can one think of men so infatuated; as to impute the Bible to heathen trash? Is not this what all neo-critics do without a blush? Can it be denied with the least appearance of candour? Now who could speak as Moses writes authoritatively, of creation but the Creator? That Babylonians and others borrowed and corrupted the tradition is the homage that lies pay to the truth. Wickedness alone would make their forgeries the source of scripture.
But even Genesis is full of prophecy from the beginning, as well in direct terms (partly fulfilled, more to be so, and not to faith only but manifested to every eye), as indirectly yet more largely in its types throughout, save to blind eyes. Who but God could have thus revealed? Where is its reality outside scripture? Here most of these critics are as sceptically depraved as D. Hume and E. Gibbon, or as frivolous as J. J. Rousseau and A. de Voltaire.
Next Exodus attests stupendous miracles on which the monuments are as dumb, as they ignore and defy the Ten Words, and the judgments of God on Egypt’s king and people; and the annexed copies of the things in the heavens shown to Moses inspired for communication to Israel for their worship and our still deeper instruction. Here the records of all the monuments are silent; but these critics grow bolder in their unbelief. For they dare to speculate, on the simple finding (after much disorder and idolatry) of the long-neglected book of the law in Josiah’s day, that it must be a fabrication then got up, pretending to a Tabernacle after the Exodus, if ever there was an Exodus. Can they believe that the true God gave no better revelation to Israel than a bundle of lies, which contradict each other? or that Israel (yea — the Lord) had to wait for German sceptics to find it out?
Then in Leviticus, which is almost entirely characterised by the words, “And Jehovah spoke to Moses,” and ends with “These are the commandments which Jehovah commanded Moses for the children of Israel in Mount Sinai,” how daring is the impiety which allows a doubt! Here they have not the plea of heathen writers for confirmation, whom they venerate as they distrust the scriptures. It is the love of doubt which they confound with the love of truth, the assurance of systematic self-will and independent speculation, and not the faith of God’s Son and God’s word.
Numbers seems to be equally impossible to be attributed to any other than Moses, making allowance for an inspired editor’s slight additions. For it presents the circumstances of the march through the wilderness with the suited commandments of Jehovah, It has (if we believe the apostle in 1 Cor. 10) a spiritual bearing on the Christian pilgrim which only divine wisdom could have combined, yet characteristic of the prophets, and of one only inferior to the highest, who had ample leisure and conferred power to indite as God enjoined, with love for Israel and yet more for Jehovah. This spared neither the people nor the misleaders, neither Aaron, nor Miriam, nor himself. Is not this as edifying as it contrasts with any pretended sacred book of man?
Deuteronomy closes the law, and is so self-evidently Mosaic with its personal pathos, that one may wonder that any man of spiritual perception could fail to recognise that none but the saintly legislator could have written it, as he intimates himself with death immediately in view, yet with undismayed spirit, and natural force unabated, and all his profound affections for Israel just about to enter the land of promise from which he was debarred. This and more necessarily gave a peculiar solemnity, adapted to the new generation who had not personally shared the departure from Egypt, the law imposed at Sinai, and but little of God’s discipline through the wilderness, which form its wondrous rehearsal for instruction, encouragement, and warning, quite unexampled in the O.T.
1. “God-breathed,” then, is ample to convey the source, character and authority of scripture to a believing soul. As to the manner in which the Divine will was communicated to the writers, the Church, as it could say nothing reliable, was still less authorised to speculate presumptuously. And what more inconsistent with reverence than to propound “a theory” on “its literary structure”? or the stages by which historically inspiration proceeded? But the same apostle long before his last Epistle had given light from God, which it is seasonable to recall. 1 Cor. 2 lets us into much of the deepest interest and importance, (which the Higher Critics gloss over,) in impressing on the light-minded Corinthians the fulness and variety of the Holy Spirit’s operation in this respect and in others for the blessing of the faithful. Even what Isaiah confessed to be hidden from man’s eye, ear, and heart, is now revealed to the Christian since Christ’s redemption, and the Spirit’s descent (vers. 9-12); “which things also we speak, not in words taught by human wisdom; but in those taught by the Spirit, communicating (or expounding) spiritual things by spiritual” [words]. For it is evident to any who inspect with care that the apostle is here treating of the further stage of communicating the revelation in ver. 13, before carrying it on to the reception of the inspired words in vers. 14, 15; where the reception by the Christian is declared to be by the same Holy Spirit in contrast with the inability of the natural man. “Comparing” therefore, though quite right in the different context of 2 Cor. 10:12, does not give the sense of
συγκρίνοντες here as the intermediate act. Nor does “combining” which is here without any intelligible force, but “interpreting” as in the Revisers’ margin, though the simpler “communicating” seems in so peculiar a connection the fittest of all.
This being the apostle’s pronouncement, how can any professing Christian doubt “that an inspired writing must be absolutely consistent in all its parts, and free from all discrepancy or error”? The Bible both makes and satisfies these requirements. This is inspiration’s account of inspiration. The “words” are Spirit-taught no less than the ideas. But the gift of the Spirit is essential to receive them. The lack of the Spirit is the true reason for insubjection to the truth, and the invention of such terms as “Bibliolatry,” “verbal” inspiration or other such slurs. No intelligent believer denies but asserts individuality of style: what he abhors is that God’s Spirit sanctions or allows error. There is nothing in the plea that it is “man’s word,” with which the apostle contrasts it expressly in 1 Thess. 2:13: “when ye received from us God’s word of message (or, report), ye accepted not men’s word but even as it is truly God’s word which also worketh in you that believe.” But these critics do not so believe God’s revelation. They believe in themselves and their unbelieving leaders; and so continuing they “shall both fall into a pit.”
It is false therefore that “the inerrancy of Scripture . . . is a principle which is nowhere asserted or claimed in Scripture itself” (p. 31). “Theologians” on the contrary, as the rule, are habitually weak from the beginning, like Origen, the most learned of the Greek Fathers, who read allegory, and not history in the fall of Adam and the primitive state. It is no question of à priori any more than à posteriori, but of faith. Before Scripture and doctrine claimed to be in Spirit-taught words, no one put such honour on it as the Lord of all when He set it as authoritative testimony (John 5:47) above His own oral words, though they were of life eternal, spirit and life as He Himself asserted. And what means His declaration in John 10:35 that “the Scripture cannot be broken”? Does this imply that man’s infirmity could enter to vitiate it? or does it not mean that the Holy Spirit wrought to make it absolutely true? Nor is it so, as the Prof. says that “it is the facts which force upon us the necessity of a revision of current theories of inspiration”; for as to “current theories” of it, a Christian is entitled to disregard them all. The age is full of unbelief, and therefore abounds in fables on this head and almost every other. But the very passage in 2 Tim. 3 which these men seek to weaken is the great safeguard in the grievous times of the last days, against those who deceive and are deceived; and therefore the effort to annul its weight and meaning! The neo-critical principle is not only arbitrary, unbelieving, and excessively artificial, but at direct issue with the Lord and His apostles, and scripture itself, which all join to prove that the foundations of faith are undermined by the blasphemy that God’s word contains error in its Spirit-taught words.
2. To say that “the vital truths declared in the Bible appear . . . wholly unaffected by critical inquiries or critical conclusions” may seem natural to their zealous propagandist, but it is egregious to a believer. If the words are God’s; as they so often claim to be in the O.T., if the greatest apostle in the N.T. declares that they and not the thoughts only are Spirit-taught, do they not compose “the external form . . . . in which these truths appear”? It is not sense to say that “the truths themselves lie beyond its range.” The apostle as we have seen asserts that the Spirit of God is the true author of both. How can the truth be untouched if you touch the form? And what presumption for any man to meddle with the Spirit-taught words! Dr. D. is obliged to admit that some of the leading spirits are plainly unbelievers (avowed Unitarians, etc.), but covers such infidelity as ‘‘some anterior philosophical principles.” No wonder that “evil communications (or, company) corrupt good manners.” Ought not others if they fear God to awake up righteously? If they believe with heart, why join arms in divine things with such as have no knowledge of God? As to “different degrees” of inspiration (p. 33) it is unknown to scripture, which does state difference in form.
But “every scripture” is asserted or assumed to be God-breathed. The revelation of God in His word differs essentially from the testimony of nature fallen as it is. As we own in Christ a “human element “ as well as the “Divine”; but as he who abuses this union to lower the perfection of Christ’s person is fundamentally heterodox, so is he, if only in a less degree, who thus degrades God’s written word (p. 34). It is a Psalm of David (Ps. 19) which declares that the law (the O.T. word) of Jehovah is perfect, converting or restoring the soul as nothing else can do; His testimony trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple (what else does?); His precepts upright, rejoicing the heart; His commandment pure, giving light [spiritually] to the eyes. Yet the law, as Heb. 7 says, perfected nothing. This was from no defect in God’s word, but because the Lord had not yet come to give life eternal and to accomplish everlasting redemption for such as believe; who thereon are anointed of God and receive the earnest of the Spirit in their hearts. Even Dr. D. is obliged to own “some special charisma of supernatural insight into the ways of God” granted to the O.T. religious teachers (p. 36). Scripture claims immeasurably more.
3. On the practical suggestions of pp. 37-43 I would say little, as one cannot doubt that his first is sound: that a first-hand knowledge of the Bible itself is the basis for a Biblical scholar. But that the young should be impregnated with the critical notions against the text of scripture is an advice which comes only from one who knows not the scriptures as taught of God, but as perverted by incredulity. What he calls “a natural consequence of the condition under which the authors [of the O.T.] wrote” (p. 43) flows from his unbelief in the power of the Holy Spirit, the true author of all scripture. This is the first and last requisite.
But his error, the ordinary false assumption as to Luke, calls for a more particular notice. “No historical writer ever claims to derive the materials for his narrative from a supernatural source (cf. Luke 1:1-4); and so far as we are aware, it has not pleased God in this respect to correct, where they existed, the imperfections attaching to the natural position of the writer” (p. 44). This passage was long the refuge of open infidels in Germany, England, etc., to make believe that a so-called inspired Evangelist disclaims anything supernatural in writing his Gospel, and that he founded it like any other literary man from eye-witnesses in all care and diligence for its accuracy. The Oxford Reg. Prof. of Hebrew uses it for the self-same purpose, as others much less carried away, like the late Dean Alford and many more.
This however is not to read Scripture aright, but slovenly misinterpretation through evil influence. Let us heed what is written. Of the Four, the third is the one inspired to present the Son of God as man in the walk of every day, surrounded by all sorts and conditions of men, the perfect manifestation of grace, finding utter weakness and alienation, with enmity from those who trusting in themselves despised others and hated the Holy One of God. He gives all that exercises the conscience, purges the heart by faith, and strengthens disciples in a walk of love, patience and holiness without anxiety, blessed in being found watching for Christ’s coming, and also working for Him as His faithful bondmen. Accordingly Luke alone tells from the outset John the Baptist’s birth, and Christ’s earliest and youthful days in this aspect; alone tells of the Lord’s genealogy up to Adam, of the initiatory scene in the synagogue at Nazareth, of Simon searched yet drawn by faith at the lake; of the widow’s only son raised again at Nain; of the sinful woman forgiven and sent away in peace, of the seventy and their final message, of the good Samaritan, of Martha and Mary discriminated, and, to cut short the list, of the prodigal and his father’s love, and of the robber following the Lord from the cross to Paradise the same day. He is the great moralist but in a divine way, as beseemed such a life of Jesus; man’s heart detected, God’s heart revealed in grace. He alone with the same divine design writes a preface with his motives to a fellow-saint. And this furnishes the occasion for free-thinking malice to deny his inspiration, of which divine power the book itself is the best witness, like the other three, though not one presents it as Luke does.
Hence at the start our Evangelist shows his heart drawn out to one begotten of God that needed the truth fully, a Gentile of rank if not actually a governor, with “his excellency” dropped in Acts 1:1, as no doubt he would prefer when more matured. This marked personal dealing would appeal all the more to other hearts, Jews as well as Gentiles. “Whereas many undertook to draw up a narrative concerning the matters fully assured among us, even as they that from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having closely followed up from the outset all things accurately, to write to thee in regular order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightest fully know the certainty concerning accounts (words, or things), wherein thou wast instructed.” These words distinguish the statements of many, though founded on what eye-witnesses and ministers of the word delivered to us. For instead of referring Theophilus to what they had drawn up, he tells us that it seemed good to him also, as having followed closely all things from the very first
(ἅνωθεν) and thus having thorough acquaintance of all, to write accurately to him in regular order, that he might fully know the certainty concerning accounts in which he was instructed. He does not, like a literary man, explain his sources or authorities. Far from saying that he compiled his Gospel from eye-witnesses as others had done, he simply avers his own careful perfect acquaintance with all from the outset, and his writing accurately and in order, that the one addressed might fully know the certainty respecting the accounts wherein he was instructed. The narratives he refers to might be correct and interesting. But they could not give God’s mind and specially as his who was inspired. Only instead of asserting inspiration, he like the other three leaves this to prove itself by its character. But unlike them he adds the loving desire of his heart to help his brother young in the truth in accordance with the spirit of his Gospel pre-eminently.
Many who had taken it in hand did not satisfy him; and therefore he wrote to supply the lack. But he goes into no details of his own work, unless to affirm its thoroughness and accuracy more than any did. Hypothesis is vain here. Far from apologising for “imperfection,” all he says is to inspire perfect confidence, for which nothing can account to a believer but “a supernatural source.”
It is admitted that God did employ eye-witnesses, as for instance two such in Matthew and John as to their Gospels. But He employed two who were not, Mark and Luke; and who can deny that they are minute and graphic? Yet even in the case of the apostles themselves we find them rising above eye-sight by divine power, according to the design He impressed on the particular writer or the book written, which quite overthrows the unbelieving theory. Take John 18 as the proof. John alone recounts the Lord’s answer to the armed band that came to arrest Him, “I am [he];” which caused them to go backward and fall to the ground. Yet Matthew who beheld it says about so striking an event no more than Mark or Luke. It did not come within God’s design for their Gospels, but distinctly for John, who accordingly attests it. On the other hand, John is totally silent on the same occasion as to the agony in Gethsemane, on which the other three dwell, though he alone was of the favoured three whom the Lord took apart from the rest to be comparatively near in that hour of deep sorrow and bloody sweat. Yet it was given to Matthew, and even to Mark and Luke to record it, as dwelling not on His deity but His human sufferings in accordance with the design in each of their Gospels. But God is not really in the thoughts of these critics, but man; and this incapacitates them from seeing the truth, as the Christian is entitled to do.
Then is repeated the wholly fanciful notion of “two writers” in the opening chapters of Genesis, and the absurd assumption that “the Hebrews” thus pictured the beginning of the world and the early history of man: a task immeasurably above the Higher Critics or any that ever lived without God’s inspiration most absolutely; and the shameless invention that, even as to this, “borrowing their materials in some cases from popular tradition or belief, in others, directly or indirectly, from the distant East, they had breathed into them a new spirit, and constructed with their aid narratives replete with noble and deep truths respecting God and man;” etc., etc. How any with the fear of God could thus speak is past comprehension if one did not bear in mind the blinding, defiling, and deadly influence of scepticism. No doubt the history of Israel is rife with their readiness to depart from Jehovah and to adopt the loathsome idolatries of the nations, which the true prophets resisted till there was no remedy. But that the Bible denounces any such importations as the worst sin against the One True God is as plain as words can speak from Genesis to Malachi. In pp. 44-46 is nothing but human fancy and indifference to God’s majesty and truth in the O.T. Nor can one conceive less moral feeling than to impute to the inspired word His breathing a new spirit of holiness and truth on narratives drawn from the lying productions from wicked and rebellious heathens and the unclean spirits which misled them. Compare Deut. 4, 7, 8, 12, 13, 15, 17, 29.
“These things hast thou done, and I kept silence: thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before shine eyes” (Ps. 50:21).
III. The Permanent Religious Value Of The O.T.
The closing paper is, like the second, by Prof. Driver, D.D.
The less may here be said because it has been already reviewed briefly when it appeared in the Interpreter for January, 1905.
In pp. 51-56 Dr. D. lays down that the “first and primary claim, then, to permanent and religious value which the O.T. possesses, consists in the surprisingly lofty and elevated conceptions of God which prevail in it,” more than can “be found in any other literature, save only in that of the N.T.” But no such elevated conceptions can long bear the strain put upon the O.T. if it fails in real truth, and is only “an accommodation to the immature stage of religious belief,” colouring the narratives and even the prophecies with “‘particularistic’ features” unworthy of God. Here he begins with the “imperfect” and even “false” (!) science of Genesis. How can godly souls regard such an unholy alliance as emanating from God Himself? Where science might come in for describing the great geologic successions, there is silence. God left this to man to find out as he has done, in a general way at least. In the first two verses we have the principle of God creating, and then of a chaos that followed. Some of the best informed experts have given excellent reasons for inferring that these changes in the crust of the earth have recurred some twenty-nine or thirty times, of great moment for the race that was to be, and demanding great differences as well as almost equally indispensable destructions, from which man was to derive profit as he discovered the rich provision made for him, and more or less laid bare by the violent upheavals which occurred from time to time. In these two verses we have only the principle. Had details been given it would have been science taught by scripture; but this is exactly what the Bible avoids. Nevertheless room is here left for all those great changes which followed the primary creation of the earth.
Verse 3 opens the work of God after the geologic ages, and dwells upon what God created with a direct view to man, account of whom also is given within the six days. But it is revelation and not science given us in the verses that follow to the end of the chapter: the earth formed for the immediate appearance and dwelling of man upon it. This is what scripture supplies for our instruction. It has moral roots which could not be where the work was purely material. God would have every man to understand in a general way that form of creation of which he is the head.
Is it not striking that mere scientists and philosophers who are avowed rationalists are more intelligent as to this question than the new critical divines? I refer again to two eminent philosophers who do not pretend to derive anything from scripture, but allow and even insist on that which overthrows this first example which the new critics of all lands pervert to disparage the Bible.
John S. Mill and Herbert Spencer little knew or even suspected that they laid their axe to the root of theological scepticism as far as Gen. 1 is concerned. They and others who differ from them acknowledge boldly that science can give no account of permanent and primary causes of the universe as it is. Science begins where creation ends. Science can investigate the effects of creation but can give no account of the wonderful powers which wrought in creating. Science is the discovery of the movements, the cause of which it knows not, from the facts before man’s eyes; however governed by general laws, — fixed laws as they call them. But it acknowledges that it can give no account of these primeval causes. So Mill declares in words already cited; and Herbert Spencer (of a distinct school of philosophy) cites his words with approval and adds that the only thing science can do is to conduct its students to a blind wall, on the other side of which lies the solution wholly outside science. This it is which, not science but, the Bible reveals with a simplicity and majesty and truth peculiar to God’s revelation.
How strange that these scholarly divines seem so unacquainted with that which the philosophers admit of the limits of science, and its essential inability to explain what God’s word makes plain to every believer. Of creative power and ways they confess that science knows nothing and can say nothing. They confess that there must have been such powers, to produce the facts which, carefully observed and adequately generalised, are the fixed laws, so called, of science. These necessarily only began to exist, long after that to be adequately generalised into various departments of physical science.
But even the most extreme materialist sage acknowledges that science knows nothing of that creating of which Gen. 1 treats. Yet here we have these learned divines boasting of what science wholly ignores and cannot possibly reach. For on the assumption that true science does know better than Gen. 1, they manifest their own lack of acquaintance with the confessed ignorance of science, and venture to ground on that ignorance the charge of false science on God’s word. They are therefore guilty of setting up science against scripture which the experts of science admit to be unfounded. The higher criticism was too eager to impute mistake even to the first chapter of the Bible. Nor does it require science to see that these theologians are less candid and less intelligent than the experts of rationalistic philosophy. It is false that “the science of this chapter is antiquated.” There is no science in the chapter. There is divine light on God’s work which must precede all science. This the scientists themselves, however sceptical, confess as a necessary principle. It is the divines in their hurry to disparage scripture who assume that science explains creation differently from the Bible. Whereas the fact is that science confesses its total ignorance, because it lacks the faith to believe the word of God. How sad that these professedly Christian teachers should assume a triumph for science which worldly rationalists admit to be absolutely non-existent!
The truth however, is that these men explain away the second and third chapters of the same book as an allegory rather than a history, and talk of anthropomorphism, instead of seeing the beautiful simplicity in describing God’s ways where His special interest in man is thus expressed, however real the facts.
We need not follow Dr. D. to the inspired prophecies. He is obliged to confess that Amos, Hosea, and Isaiah represent the God of Israel (however long-suffering to the people of His choice) as the God of all the families of the earth, the contrast of Jewish narrowness, and looking onward to the day when He must expel Israel from the land because of their iniquity, and open wide the day of grace to the Gentile; who in their turn shall forfeit His favour, for the full and final restoration of penitent and believing Israel. Then also He will bless all the nations of the earth when Messiah shall reign over it and fill it with blessing and glory.
II. Dr. D. claims for the O.T. permanent value on account of the clearness and emphasis with which it proclaims the duty of man both toward God and toward his fellow-man. Here again if the Bible be not the truth of God, a clear statement of duty will never preserve its authority over the conscience.
III. Any religious sanction of the more general duties also must fail for the same reason.
IV. How can examples of high character in the O.T., which is candid as to their failures also, sustain absolute authority over the conscience, if the word of God be stained, as these divines insist, with mistakes and falsehoods attributed to God Himself?
V. The same remark applies to the devotional portions like the Psalms, etc. Wonderfully as they may express the heart’s feelings in distress, confession, supplication, confidence and faith, as well as thanksgiving and praise, to set scripture against scripture is the work of the enemy and still more to insinuate falsehood against the God of truth, as represented by the O.T.
VI. Still less can the great idea of human life and society in the O.T. redeem itself and the God who speaks throughout it from the libels endorsed by the higher critics. No doubt the grosser pollutions of heathenism are, since Christ, ashamed to be seen in the light, and retreat into congenial darkness. But as to real advance for the world, the N.T. does not flatter any more than the O.T. Both show that the end of this age will be profoundly wicked and utterly godless save for little remnants of Jews and Gentiles; and divine judgment will surely be executed upon the whole earth, on Jerusalem especially, on the Beast and the False Prophet, as well as on the N.T. Babylon. It will be the apostasy and the man of sin, the lawless Beast of Rev. 13 and his religious associate the antichrist, or all civil and religious iniquity. This is the consummation which both Testaments announce by the holy Prophets. It is direct contradiction of scripture that human endeavour shall ever realise the restitution of all things; for it is reserved only for the one Man, the glorified Son of man, to make good the kingdom of God in manifest power and glory. All others have failed and have been saved wholly of grace. He only is the worthy One, the power and the wisdom of God. For Him at His coming again is this glory here below reserved, and then, as now in the heavens. Only then do we see power exercised and glory displayed. Man as such is to be brought low, and judgment on the quick take place, before the times of refreshing shall come from God through our Lord Jesus for the long guilty, weary, and misled earth.
VII. The stress laid upon a pure and spiritual religion did not avail of old any more than the gospel now to make good the glory of God here below. No believer doubts its reality and especially in that which Christ introduced for the N.T. when the hour came for Jerusalem and Samaria alike to disappear, and the worship of the Father in spirit and truth was revealed. It is man that fails, the first man. The grand change awaits the Second Man to judge the first as living on the earth and to maintain God’s glory in the highest and peace on earth. This He will surely accomplish. But even His kingdom on earth will be followed by an uprising of rebellion which God will destroy by fire from heaven. Then will come His judgment on the great white throne, when all the wicked dead since the world began shall be judged, and eternity issues with a new heaven and a new earth in the fullest sense, as well as the lake of fire for all the cowardly, unbelieving, false, corrupt, and wicked. No qualities can condone lack of truth.
1 * The note from Dr. F. Watson at the bottom is an instance of these slovenly perversions; for the Bible does not describe the plain of Babylonia as “the aboriginal home of the human race,” but as the land to which they journeyed some 1500 years after the aboriginal home, and some time even after the Deluge.
2 * Bishop Jos. Butler never realised even the gospel of salvation for his own soul till he came to his dying illness, having been up to that a prey to doubts and fears.
3 * The Revisers say, “Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable,” etc. They turn a plain construction into one not only awkward but ambiguous. For their rendering might mean “as being inspired,” and thus it would only differ in assuming what the A.V. gives as asserting; which would not help the desired end. But taken to mean “if inspired,” it contradicts the N.T. norma loquendi of
γραφή which is appropriated therein to no writing but God’s inspired word. Not so
γράμματα in ver. 15, which required
ἱερα; to designate the O.T.;
πᾶσα γραφὴ here means “every scripture” old or new. Every such is inspired.