« PreviousContinue »
"So that you have been nearly fifty years a disciple?"'
"Yes, ma'am, nearly."
"And your way has been smooth, to judge by your look."
Betty shook her head. "Ups and downs I have seen, not always a smooth way, as that lady's father knows well; often very rough, but always right, as I found out whenever tribulation had worked patience, and patience experience."
"And, now that you have had so much experience, Betty, I suppose you feel strong and safe."
"Only in the Lord, ma'am. The older I get, the more I feel my weakness. I do not mean bodily, that I must expect; but my soul's strength is shown to be such weakness out of Christ; and only in him have I either righteousness or strength."
"Then, have you made no progress in all the years you have been a Christian?"
"I hope I have learned to submit more willingly to my Father; to feel how unworthy I am of his favour, and more able to trust him even when I walk in darkness. But if by progress you mean more able to walk alone without his grace and guidance, why then I am sure I do not get on at all, for I feel more and more a 'guilty, weak, and helpless worm,' every day that I live."
"Betty, I believe you; and I think all true Christians are like you. St. Paul says after long and devoted obedience, 'Not as though I had already attained;' and Jacob called the years of his long life, 'few and evil.' The longer we learn of Christ, the more we see our need of his teaching."
*' That is my experience, miss, I do assure you; and I have had a hard battle with the world, and sin, and Satan. Often and often have I feared I should never win at last; but here I am, though bereft of kindred, deprived of former means, in bad health, and having outlived the friends of early and middle life, still supported, my temporal wants all supplied, my prayers daily answered, friends raised up at my need, and my heavenly home only waiting till my Saviour has made me meet for it. Truly God is good to Israel."
"And not the least of his mercies is the gift of a thankful, contented mind," said the lady, as she rose to take her leave. "That blessing God has given you, Betty."
"Then for that and every other good thing let me give
him the glory," said the good woman, as she showed her
visitors to the door amid her thanks.
"How plainly godliness hath promise of the life that
now is!" said the lady to her young friend as they walked
homeward. "That old woman has more enjoyment than
many of the wise and wealthy worldlings who would
despise her state and circumstances."
"And what a contrast she is to old Anna."
"Ah! yes, it is religion and that only that gives to
character true dignity, to age real honour, and to life's
lessons due force and value."
INSPIRATION OP THE NEW TESTAMENT.
In the Octoher No., 1861, is a paper entitled " The Inspired Word " in which this argument is urged:
"The question stands thus. The history of Jesus Christ, as given in the New Testament is a true history, that is, a true statement of real facts. From that history being true, it follows that Jesus Christ was what he claimed to be, 'Emmanuel, God with us;' 'The Word' which was 'God,' which 'was made flesh, and dwelt among us.' Hence it also follows that all he said was true.
"Now the Lord Jesus Christ testified in many ways that the Scriptures then existing were from God and true. To say then that these Scriptures are untrue is to deny Jesus Christ himself, which is a vain thing while the history of Jesus Christ remains established and unshaken."
After giving many attestations of our Lord to the Divine inspiration of the Old Testament Scriptures, the conclusion is arrived at as follows :—
"The testimony of the Lord himself is full and decisive to the facts that the books of the Old Testament contain the authentic word of God; and the sayings of the apostles and disciples contained in the New Testament are a continuation of the same testimony by the Holy Spirit to the same fact. Whosoever hears them, hears the Saviour; and whosoever despises them, despises him.
"Finally, in every difficulty, it is well to have a strong, unfailing support. Thus amidst the perplexing disputes of the present times, as to the truth of the Holy Scriptures, it is satisfactory to have this simple argument in which plain minds may rest—Jesus Christ is true: his word and his testimony to the Scriptures are therefore true."
The argument above referred to hinges on two facts: namely, the truth of the history of our Lord, and his own truthfulness; and the same facts take rank with the arguments for the inspiration of the New Testament.
Some of the arguments are here briefly given.
"The Scriptures of the New Testament, from their later origin, cannot receive the same amount of direct proof of their Divine inspiration and authority from the lips of Christ himself, which the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms had.
"The proof of their Divine inspiration rests upon the combination of three different kinds of indirect evidence— the analogy of early Scripture, the promises of Christ, and scattered intimations in the later books of the New Testament.
"I. First, the inspiration and Divine authority of the Old Testament, established so firmly by the words and actions of our Lord himself, are a strong and almost irresistible presumption that the writings of the New Testament have the same especial character, and share the same authority. All the reasons which explain the first gift of written revelation at the time of the Exodus, in the growing number and importance of the facts of God's providence, which called for lasting memorial, and in the increasing fulness of the precepts, promises, and doctrines revealed, apply with equal or even superior force to the times of the gospel.
"The higher dignity of Christ compared with Moses, and of the gospel compared with the law, made its careful transmission pure from human error still more plainly expedient and desirable. So that every reason, drawn from the existence of the Old Testament, would seem to make it certain that inspired writings, of similar authority, would be given to embody in a permanent form, for the use of later ages, the oral teaching of Christ and his apostles, and the wonderful truths of the incarnation, atonement, resurrection, and ascension of the Son of God.
"Secondly, this general reason, from the precedent of the Old Testament Scriptures, becomes doubly powerful from the special character of the new dispensation of the gospel. The authority of the law and the prophets is continually referred to one cause—that the writers were guided and actuated by the Spirit of God. But the gospel is eminently the dispensation of the Spirit. His presence after our Lord's ascension was to be so much more fully manifested, that by comparison it is said to be vouchsafed for the first time. 'For the Holy Ghost was not yet, because that Jesus was not yet glorified,' John vii. 39. The apostles were ministers 'of the new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.' 'How shall not the dispensation of the Spirit be rather glorious?'
"Now since one main work of the Spirit, even before the coming of Christ, was the gift to the Jewish church of the written revelations in the law of Moses, the Psalms, and the prophets, and a much fuller manifestation of his presence was distinctly promised under the gospel, it seems inconceivable that the writers of the New Testament should not have enjoyed at least an equal measure of his Divine teaching and guidance, have been equally preserved from error, and their messages have an equal claim to be called 'the words of the Holy Ghost.' We must else allow that the new dispensation, while in other respects an advance on the old, in this most important and vital element underwent a strange retrocession, from the Divine to the simply human, from the teaching of the Spirit to the words of men; from pure truth, sealed with God's authority, to a mixed and imperfect record, subject to innumerable doubts, uncertainties, and abatements. In point of fact, scarcely an example can be found among Christians of a full admission of the Divine inspiration of the Old Testament, and of a denial that the same character is shared by the Gospels and other writings of the New Testament.
"II. The promises of our Lord to his apostles form a second branoh of evidence, which serves, in a more direct way, to prove the inspiration and authority of nearly the whole of the New Testament. Out of the twenty-seven writings of which it is composed, all, with three important exceptions, have sufficient and full historical evidence of an apostolic authorship. They are the writings of those Divinely commissioned messengers of the gospel, one of whom has described their credentials in these words: 'Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you, in all patience, in signs and wonders, and mighty deeds.' They were fully attested ambassadors of the words of Christ. And this evidence must confirm their written as well as their spoken messages, and even, if possible, in a higher measure. For speech is sudden and momentary, and far more liable to the intrusion of error through haste or negligence. But a written message is deliberate; it is open to revision, if the messenger were conscious of any negligence on his part, any intermission of the guidance of the Spirit of God, or any failure to abide in the light of his high commission. So that, while a general promise of Divine guidance would apply to all the oral teaching of the apostles of Christ, it must be conceived, from the nature of the case, to be doubly emphatic and full, when applied to writings deliberately composed by them in the fulfilment of their solemn trust.
"Now the promises of our Lord to the apostles are very full and strong, both in their first commission, and in its later renewal at the time of his own death and resurrection. First, he says to them in allusion to their testimony before rulers: 'It shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak; for it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.' It is true that the promise has direct reference to one kind of special emergency. But if this guidance of the Spirit was promised so strongly for a personal and temporary purpose, how much more must we conceive it to apply to an occasion still more important, when they were making provision for the lasting transmission of their message, and for the guidance and comfort of the whole church in every succeeding age! At the close of the same discourse we have the emphatic words: 'He that receiveth you receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet, shall receive a prophet's reward.' By the use of this title our Lord places their authority on a level with that of the earlier prophets. And since these writings are called 'the oracles of God' and 'words of the Holy Ghost,' we may infer that the writings of the apostles, in the fulfilment of their commission, would claim to be received with the same submission and reverence by all the true disciples of Christ. It would not be they who should speak their own words, but 'the Spirit of their Father would speak in them.' The words at the last supper repeat the same promise, and include in it the gift of prophetic illumination: 'When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you