« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you (9).” Thus it was promised that the Holy Ghost should not only bring all things to their remembrance, which the Apostles had heard from their divine Master; but he was also to guide them into all truth, to teach them all things, and to abide with them for ever; that is, the Holy Ghost was to enable them to recollect every thing which they had been taught by Christ, and was likewise to furnish them with all the additional knowledge which might be necessary respecting Christianity; and moreover, this divine Instructor and Guide was, by his constant superintendence to direct and assist them in communicating that knowledge to others. It is material to remark, that these promises of supernatural instruction and assistance, plainly shew the insufficiency of common instruction, and the necessity of Inspiration in the first teachers of the Gospel; and we are positively assured that these promises were accurately fulfilled. After the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost visibly descended upon the Apostles, they are represented as “full of the Holy Ghost,"
speaking as the Spirit gave them utterance, uniformly teaching and acting under his immediate influence, and confirming the Divine authority of their doctrines by the performance of
(9) John, c. 16. v.13 & 14.
miracles. Of the eight writers of the New Testament, five (r) were among these inspired preachers of the Word of God; and therefore, if we admit the Genuineness and Authenticity of the books of the New Testament ascribed to them, no reasonable doubt can be entertained of their Inspiration. If we believe that God sent Christ into the world to found an universal religion, and that by the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost he empowered the Apostles to propagate the Gospel, as stated in these books, we cannot but believe that he would, by his immediate interposition, enable those whom he appointed to record the Gospel, for the use of future ages, to write without the omission of any important truth, or the insertion of any material error. Is it to be supposed that the Spirit would guide and direct the Apostles while they were orally delivering the religion of Christ, and that he would withdraw his influence when they sat down to write that same religion? Would they be exempted from all the mistakes and frailties of human nature while they were preaching to a few, and be left liable to them when they were writing for many? Would they be supernaturally secured against deceiving their contemporaries while they personally instructed
(v) Matthew, John, James, Peter, and Jude.
them? and are they to be considered as merely fallible men, when they inculcated and enforced the same truths, not only upon their contemporaries, but upon all succeeding generations? The assurance that the Spirit should abide with the Apostles for ever, must necessarily imply a constant Inspiration, without change or intermission, whenever they exercised the office of a teacher of the Gospel, whether by writing or by speaking.
It may perhaps be questioned, whether this reasoning will apply with equal force to the writings of St. Mark and St. Luke, who were not themselves Apostles, but only companions and assistants of those who were Apostles. But though it be true that these evangelists were not of the twelve Apostles, nor were they miraculously called to the office of an Apostle, like St. Paul, yet we have the strongest reason to believe that they were partakers of the extraordinary effusion of the Holy Spirit granted to the disciples of Christ; and such was the unanimous opinion of the primitive Christians. It is moreover generally believed, that the Gospels of St. Mark and St. Luke were respectively approved by St. Peter and St. Paul, and that they both received the sanction of St. John; and it is universally acknowledged, that these two Gospels, and the Acts of the Apostles, were considered as canonical Scripture from the
earliest time. “If the Church had not heard from the Apostles, that the writings of their assistants were divine, these writings would not have been received in the sacred canon; and if they had not been in the canon at the end of the first century, they would not have been received in the second and following centuries so generally, and without contradiction (s).” There is also a perfect harmony between the doctrines delivered by St. Mark and St. Luke, and by the other writers of the New Testament; and we can indeed scarcely conceive it possible, that God would suffer four Gospels to be transmitted, as a rule of faith and practice to all succeeding generations, two of which were written under the immediate direction of his Holy Spirit, and the other two by the unassisted powers of the human intellect. .
We are told that the Gospels contain but a very small part of the transactions of our
(s) Marsh's Michaelis, vol. 1. page 93. This argument, quoted in the first two editions of this work, by a singular mistake in the marks of reference in my note book, as the opinion of Michaelis, is introduced by him as commonly urged in support of the doctrine which he endeavours to refute. But whoever will examine the passage as it stands in his work, must, I think, perceive the point in question to be greatly strengthened by the weakness of the learned Author's answer to this argument.
Saviour's life, “ And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written (s). We are therefore .to conclude that the Evangelists were supernaturally enabled to make a proper selection from this great mass of materials, and that they were directed to record such things as were best calculated to convey a just idea of the Religion of Christ. It seems impossible that St. John, who wrote his Gospel, as will hereafter appear, more than thirty years after the death of Christ, should have been able, by the natural power of his memory, to recollect those numerous discourses of our Saviour which he has related: And indeed all the Evangelists must have stood in need of the promised assistance of the Holy Ghost to bring to remembrance the things which Christ had said during his Ministry. We are to consider St. Luke in writing the Acts of the Apostles, and the Apostles themselves in writing the Epistles, as under a similar guidance and direction.
St. Paul, the only writer of the New Testament who remains to be considered, in several passages
(s) John, C. 21. V.25