IN the preceding Lectures I have referred in passing to the objections which have been urged against the unity and Divine inspiration of Holy Scripture, based chiefly, or to a great extent, on the varied names of God, more particularly the names, "Elohim," and "Jehovah," which alternate so remarkably throughout the Pentateuch. My object was not to enter on the question of the nature and inspiration of the Bible; for I was addressing believers, who accepted Christ's words as truth, that "no jot or tittle of the law should fail," and that, though "heaven and earth should pass away, His words should not pass away." I rather desired to open to my brethren what the Lord by grace had opened to me, of the riches of that Word or Book, which the Apostle describes as "a light that shineth in a dark place" (2 Pet. 1:19), and which I had long proved to be "a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105). Of course I was aware of the so-called "conclusions" of "scientific criticism." I had weighed them again and again, only to be increasingly astonished at the recklessness of assertion and assumption, which takes the place of proof with some on this question. But believing that error is ever better answered simply by the truth than by pursuing and running down the falsehood, I did not care, in these pages at least, to enter into any detail of what I am convinced is a mistake, though, like most mistakes, it may contain a measure of perverted truth in it.
I may however add here a few lines to note what appears to me the fundamental error of the critics and their so-called "scientific criticism." Not one of them, so far as my experience goes, seems ever to have considered under what conditions a Divine revelation can be given to fallen creatures, or the qualifications necessary to recognise and rightly apprehend such a revelation. Hence these critics have acted, and could not but act, just like the Jews of old, who stumbled at the human form of the Divine Word, and therefore unhesitatingly judged and rejected it, though, to those who felt their need, that Incarnate Word had abundantly ministered health and deliverance, through the very form which learned scribes only mocked and stripped and crucified. For in mercy to lost men, and to reach them where they were, the Word of God had come in a form, whose earthly lineage could be plainly proved, and whose susceptibility to injury was manifest to all. Therefore its judges assumed, and thought they had proved, that it could not be Divine. Just so, and for the same reasons, has the Written Word been judged. But "the Scripture cannot be broken." As surely as Christ rose, and ministered to men His Spirit, so will His Word in Holy Scripture conquer all, spite of all the judgments of those who brand it as a "Deceiver."
The fact is that every one of the objections which so-called "scientific criticism" has brought against the Bible,—that it is an outcome of man's heart, and has grown with men, and bears their likeness, and is therefore marked throughout with man's infirmities,—may equally be brought, not only against the Incarnation, but in substance also against the books of Nature and Providence; so that the Incarnation, and Nature, and Providence, may all be arraigned at the bar of man's understanding, as bearing proofs that they are faulty, and cannot be of God. Look at the Incarnation. What would learned men have found in Christ's body, had they, instead of endeavouring to learn from it as a living Teacher, only dissected it as a dead thing, as the scientific critics have been so busy dissecting Scripture? Would they have found, with the eye of sense at least, that that body had been divinely formed, and was in a very special way God's chosen tabernacle? Could not the dissectors have shewn that it was human, born of an earthly mother, and bearing in its form marks, not only of her likeness, but of those from whom she came, that is, that it was of Jewish lineage; nay, might they not have gone further, and proved that the very particles it was composed of had, before they became parts of the body of the Lord, been component parts, either of some animal or vegetable, and concluded that therefore that Human Form could not possibly be Divine? In like manner might it not be said, that, as Nature is manifestly composed of heterogeneous substances, thrown together into their present form, to the eye of sense at least, with no little confusion, and with marks that they have all pre-existed in some other form, such a fact is proof that even Nature cannot be the handiwork of God. Certainly whatever may be said against the Bible, on the score that it is, or may have been, made up of previously existing materials, may no less be urged against Nature and the Flesh of Christ, both of which have in them precisely the same peculiarities. It is just the same with Providence, which may be and has been arraigned by some as guilty of acts unworthy of a God, and which, if done by men, would bring them to the gallows. What then? Is not Christ's flesh of God? Is not Nature also His building? Is not Providence His work, spite of its many apparent anomalies? And does not the fact, that Holy Scripture has the same apparent anomalies, which are indeed marks of the state of the creature whom it is meant to serve, witness that the one even as the others, though there yet are mysteries in all, is the work of the same One Divine Artificer? Let not believers be afraid. The books of God are not going to fail, because "scientific criticism" has been so learnedly busy, and declares itself dissatisfied with them.
In truth the criticism of the critics is so open to correction, and is often based on such mere assertion and assumption, that almost every fresh critic finds something to correct and judge in all his predecessors. As with the rejectors of the Christ too, "their witness does not agree." But what will not unbelief believe, especially when it boasts its superior wisdom and enlightenment? It might astonish a simple Christian to know that the Book which has for ages fed the Church, and which has been teaching, and successfully teaching, righteousness and truth, as no other book has ever taught these, is, according to the critics, based throughout on fraud and falsehood, merely the work of a "Jehovist," and of an "Elohist," improved by a "second Elohist," then by a "Deuteronomist," and lastly by some unknown "Redactor," till it has become the confused and heterogeneous thing which it now is in the eyes of critics, fit only to be condemned and demolished by their criticism. Well may the Apostle ask, "Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?"
For, spite of the critics, the Book, in its grandeur and fulness, still lives, and goes on feeding hungry souls, and giving living waters for the thirsty. There it stands, as saints have seen, human and yet no less Divine, meeting men at every stage, in forms which they can profit by; in the letter full of lessons for our guidance through this present world, while in spirit it reveals yet veils the depths of God's wisdom. I will not repeat here what I have said elsewhere as to the way in which the Bible, in its varied books, having first shewn us all the outcome of Adam, gives us instruction as to every stage of the appointed way out of the Fall, shewing our dangers, our failures, our deliverances, and our sins, till out of every bondage, every wandering, every conflict, and every sin, man is brought even through death into the new creation and the heavenly city of his God. Every fact recorded, nay, every word, is to the opened eye a revelation, not only from God, but of God, shewing, in the oft-repeated and manifold discovery of the creatures' need, the unfailing fulness of that grace and truth, which is indeed sufficient for us and all creatures.
I cannot go into all this here. It will be sufficient to remind believers that, in the Gospels, our Lord again and again speaks of Moses as the author of the books which have always gone by his name; and connects with him the legislation which our modern critics refer to the so-called "Jehovist," the "Elohist," and the "Deuteronomist," and to widely different and even post-exilian periods. The following are some of our Lord's allusions to the law; first to the law of leprosy; Matt. 8:4; Mark 1:44; Luke 5:14 : then as to divorce; Matt. 19:8; and Mark 10:3, 9 : then as to reverence for parents; Mark 7:10 : then as to resurrection; Luke 20:37 : then as to circumcision; John 7:22, 23 : then as to the brazen serpent; John 3:14 : and to the bread from heaven; John 6:32. In other passages, as in Matt. 23:2, and John 7:19, Moses and his law are referred to, without any distinct commandment being specified. In three other places, namely Mark 12:26; Luke 16:29, 31; and Luke 24:44, our Lord, speaking of the Old Testament, either in whole or in part, refers to it as the "Book of Moses," "Moses and the Prophets," or "the law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms;" and lastly, in John 5:45-47, He again appeals to the "writings of Moses," as witnessing of Him, telling the Jews, that "if they believed Moses, they would also believe Him, for Moses wrote of Him." All this is nothing to the critics. We cannot therefore be surprised that the witness of the Apostles, who in not less than some thirty places refer the Pentateuch to Moses, or quote it as of Divine authority, should be set aside as curtly as the testimony of our Lord. And all this in the country of Luther! Faith in the Church has long since been gone: faith in the Scriptures is fast going. How long will even the profession of faith in Christ remain? Men must be asleep or blind if they do not see what is fast coming upon Christendom.
In conclusion may I say, that I believe one main cause of objections to the Bible lies in its power over man's conscience? The Book will speak for God, whether men will hear or whether they will forbear. But all critics are not so open as the poor East-end lecturer, who, when asked by one of his hearers,—"Why is all your criticism turned against the Bible, instead of against Shakspeare or Homer? Why don't you let the Bible alone?" replied with English outspokenness,—"Why don't I let the Bible alone? Because the Bible won't let me alone." It ever has been a witness for God, and still will be, while men need light in a dark place. When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
Meanwhile be it remembered, that, as the Bible was written by men, to whom the spirit-world had been more or less opened, and who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, it can never be fully understood, except by those to whom the same world is now opened by the same Spirit. The great opening is even now at hand. Blessed are they who by grace are waiting for it.
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