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(p. 117.)

[Remarks on Theories of Inspiration.—The ‘human Element.’]

“IT will be allowed by all persons accustomed to a calm and charitable view of Theological differences, that in those differences there is generally on each side some great truth wrongly held, because taken out of its due place, and wrongly set. Applying this topic to the subject before us, we are led to consider whether a mistake has not been made in bringing forward the Human Element of Inspiration, instead of permitting the eye to rest upon that which God presents to us,—the Divine. The Human Element no doubt is there; no doubt our Maker acts through our faculties in every respect; no doubt He is acting through laws when He seems to suspend laws; and even in Miracles, employs the powers of Nature instead of thwarting them; but then this is His machinery, which He has not explained to us. He presents Himself to us, acting sometimes supernaturally; i.e. in a way above nature as we understand nature. He made the Sun to stand still for Joshua; what refractive cloud came in and held the daylight that it should not go down is not made known to us; God said that it should stay, and it stayed; there was the miracle. To have set the Creation going two thousand years before in such a way and train that in that hour a cloud should rise to refract the sun’s rays for a time, because in that hour the Lord’s armies would need the interference, the prolonging of the daylight,—that was miracle enough. We say not that (Ion interrupts his own laws; nay, rather we believe that He hath them always in smooth and orderly operation. Similarly of Inspiration; we know not the way in which God acts on human minds, the Spirit on the spirit; for He hath not told us. But, as I said in the beginning, in an age like the present, where analysis of process is the work of men’s minds, the way in which man is feeling his strength in every direction, it is not very unnatural that the operations of this philosophy should have been carried beyond their due line; into the subject, namely, 270of the secret communication between the Divine Spirit, and the spirit and apprehensions of Men, i. e. the Work of Inspiration. To accept the Bible as the word of (Ion, just as a cottager or a child in a village school accepts it, is an inglorious thing. He whose intellect is his instrument, that which he is to work with, wishes to feel his intellect operating on any subject which he has to meet. He feels a desire, in apprehending a thing as done, to have as part of his apprehension, a view of how it is done, more or less. It is natural to him to take what he feels to be an intelligent view of a subject. In accepting the Bible therefore as the Word of God, he must have a view as to how it is the Word of God; the nature of the illapse which the Spirit from on high makes on the spirit and faculties of the man. In a word, he would get between the Creator, and man to whom the Creator speaks; and there would make his observations. But how little encouragement have we to do this in the ‘Word of God! When God sent prophets to speak to men, to convey a message to them from their Maker, or when He tells Apostles to speak to us, cloth He invite us to come within the veil with our philosophy, and examine? I shall offend the piety of those who hear me by pursuing the thought. But I cannot but think that something of this kind has been done by those who have presented us with theories of Inspiration, setting forth to us that which it cannot be shewn that God hath set forth to them, or to any one. Yes, they are right; our Creator makes use of our faculties; and when He hath given to one man faculties different from those given to another, faculties of whatever kind, of intellectual power or of moral temperament, He employs them all. Math He a message of Love? He employs a St. John to utter it, and to prolong the delightful note. Hath He a message of freedom, that liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free? He hath a Paul ready to accept and to fulfil the congenial errand. But God speaks, not man; and they who would have us be dwelling on the Human Element, when God invites us to be lost in the Divine, are doing not well. Yes, God employs all our faculties: He hath made us different, as He made the flowers of the field different, and Christianity shews us why He hath so made us; because He hath a work for each of us to do,—a work which none else could do so well. Doubtless He employs all our faculties, doing violence to none. This doubtless is His glory, that He can bring about his results by the means which He Himself hath made. Who has not felt, in reading some sacred narrative, the history, e.g. of Joseph, that the wonderful part of it was 271this, how naturally all came about,—all by natural operation of human motives and man’s free will? So in Inspiration. No doubt God’s instruments which He hath made are enough for His work; no doubt He employs men as they are; not their tongues only; but their minds and spirits, acting on them and employing them as they are. Only in that great process, the point which I call attention to is this,—God speaks of it as divine, and fixes the thought of those who hear Him on the divine element: we, dropping our view on the human, are not wise. He shews us providence; He condescends to shew us His work: we do not well when we shew an interest rather in lower parts of the scheme, especially when in those we may so greatly err, having so little information.”—Sermons, by the Rev. C. P. Eden, pp. 164-170.

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