Considering the purpose which the historical parts of the Scriptures were intended to serve, in exhibiting the character and power of God, and his uninterrupted agency in the government of the world, and in pointing to Him who is the end of the law, we have sufficient reason to be convinced, that neither Moses, nor the other sacred historians, nor all the angels in heaven, though acquainted with all the facts, and under the direction, and with the aid, both of superintendence and elevation, were competent to write the historical parts of the Word of God. They possessed neither foresight nor wisdom sufficient for the work. In both respects, every creature is limited. Into these things, the angels, so far from being qualified to select and indite them, “desire to look,” and, from the contemplation of them, derive more knowledge of God than they before possessed, and have their joy even in heaven increased. In those histories, the thoughts and secret motives of men are often unfolded and referred to. Was any one but the Searcher of Hearts competent to this? Could angels have revealed them, unless distinctly made known to them? If it be replied, that in such places the sacred writers enjoyed the inspiration of suggestion, that is, of verbal dictation, we ask, where is the distinction to be found? It is a distinction unknown to the Scriptures. And so far from a plenary inspiration not being necessary in its historical parts, there is not any portion of the sacred volume in which it is more indispensable. But even admitting that verbal inspiration was not in our view essential in those parts of the book of God, is this a reason why we should not receive the testimony of the sacred writers, who nowhere give the most distant hint that they are written under a different kind or degree of inspiration from the rest of it; but who, in the most unqualified manner, assert that full inspiration belongs to the whole of the Scriptures?
The words that are used in the prophetical parts of Scripture, must necessarily have been communicated to the prophets. They did not always comprehend the meaning of their own predictions, into which they “searched diligently.” And in this case, it was impossible that, unless the words had been dictated to them, they could have written intelligibly. Although they had indited the Scriptures, it was necessary to show them “that which is noted in Scripture of truth,” Dan. x. 21. The writings of the prophets constitute a great portion of the Old Testament Scriptures, and God claims it as his sole prerogative, to know the things that are to come. We are therefore certain that they enjoyed verbal inspiration; and, as we have not any where a hint of different kinds of inspiration by which the Scriptures are written, does it not discover the most presumptuous arrogance to assert that there are different kinds? The nature of the mission of the prophets required the full inspiration which they affirm that they possessed. God never intrusted to any man such a work as they had to perform, nor any part of such a work. It was God himself, “who, at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers, by the prophets.” That work, through which was to be made known “to principalities and powers in heavenly places, the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus,” was not a work to be intrusted to any creature. The prophet Micah, iii. 8, says, “ But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.” It was not the prophets then who spoke, but the Spirit of God who spoke by them.
Of the complete direction necessary for such a service as was committed to him, both of lawgiver and prophet, Moses was aware, when the Lord commanded him to go to Pharaoh, and to lead forth the children of Israel from Egypt. In that work he in treated that he might not be employed. This proved the proper sense he entertained of his own unfitness for it. But it was highly sinful, and evinced great weakness of faith, thus to hesitate, after the Lord had informed him that he would be “with him.” Moses was accordingly reproved for this, but the ground of his plea was admitted; and full inspiration, not only as to the subject of his mission, but as to the very words he was to employ, was promised. In answer to his objection, the Lord said unto him, Exod. iv. 11, 12, “Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou wilt say.” Moses still urged his objection, and the same reply was in substance repeated, both in regard to himself and to Aaron. The full inspiration, then, which was at first promised to Moses in general terms, was, for his encouragement, made known in this particular manner, and the promise was distinctly fulfilled. Accordingly, when, as the lawgiver of Israel, he afterwards addressed the people, he was warranted to preface what he enjoined upon them with, “Thus saith the Lord,” or, “These are the words which the Lord hath commanded, that ye should do them.” In observing all the commandments that Moses commanded them, and in remembering the way by which the Lord had led them, Israel was to learn, that “man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord.” Signs were shown to Moses, and God came unto him in a thick cloud, in order, as he said, “that the people may hear thee when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever.” Exod. xix. 9.
If the words of Moses had not been the words of God, had he not been conscious of the full verbal inspiration by which he wrote, would the following language have been suitable to him, or would he have ventured to use it? Deuteronomy, iv. 2: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it, that ye may keep these commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” Deut. vi. 6: “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children.” Deut. xi. 18: “Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your head that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou, walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door-posts of thine house, and upon thy gates.” From these passages, we learn that Moses was conscious that all the words which he spoke to the people were the words of God. He knew that it was with him as with Balaam, to whom the Lord said, Numbers, xxii. 35, 38, “Only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak;” and in the language of Balaam, Moses could answer, “The word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak.”
As “the word of the Lord,” was communicated to Moses, so it also came to Gad, to Nathan, and to the other prophets, who were men of God, and in whose mouths was the word of God. “Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth,” 1 Kings, xvii. 24. The manner in which the prophets delivered their messages, proves that they considered the words which they wrote, not as their own words, but dictated to them by God himself. Elijah said to Ahab, “Behold I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity.” On this Mr Scott, in his Commentary, observes, “Elijah was the voice, the Lord was the speaker, whose words these evidently are.” This is a just account of all the messages of the prophets. They introduce them with, “Thus saith the Lord,” and declare them to be “the word of the Lord;” and is it possible that the prophets could have more explicitly affirmed, that the words which they uttered were communicated to them, and that they were only the instruments of this communication to those whom they addressed? In the place where we read, “Now these be the last words of David, the sweet psalmist of Israel,” David says, “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue,” 2 Samuel, xxiii. 2. In like manner it is said, “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the Lord,” “To fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah,” “That the word of the Lord spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished,” 2 Chron. xxxvi. 12, 21, 22. “Yet many years didst thou forbear them, and testifiedst against them by thy Spirit in the prophets,” Nehemiah, ix. 30. Isaiah commences his prophecies by summoning the heavens and the earth to hear, “for the Lord hath spoken," Isa. i. 2. In the same manner, Jeremiah writes, “The words of Jeremiah, to whom the word of the Lord came.” “Then the Lord put forth his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said unto me, Behold I have put my words in thy mouth.” “I will make my words in thy mouth fire,” Jeremiah, i. 1, 2, 9; v. 14. “Thus speaketh the Lord God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book." Jeremiah, xxx. 2. Again, in the prophecies of Ezekiel, “Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak my words unto them.” “Moreover, he said unto me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee, receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears, and go get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them and tell them, Thus saith the Lord God.” Ezekiel, iii. 4, 10, 11. Hosea says, “The word of the Lord that came unto Hosea ;” “The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea.” i. 1, 2. It is in similar language that the other prophets generally introduce their predictions, which are every where interspersed with “thus saith the Lord.”
All, then, that was spoken by the prophets in these several recorded passages, was spoken in the name of the Lord. When false prophets appeared, it was necessary for them to profess to speak in the name of the Lord, and to steal his words from their neighbour. “I have heard what the prophets say, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord. Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith,” Jeremiah, xxiii. 25–31. They were the words of God, therefore, which the false prophets stole from the true prophets of Jehovah.
The uniform language of Jesus Christ, and his Apostles, respecting the whole of the Old Testament Scriptures, proves that, without exception, they are “the Word of God.” On what principle but that of the verbal inspiration of Scripture, can we explain our Lord's words, John, x. 35, “The Scripture cannot be broken?" Here the argument is founded on one word, “gods,” which without verbal inspiration might not have been used; and if used improperly, might have led to idolatry. In proof of the folly of their charge of blasphemy, he refers the Jews to where it is written in their law, “I said ye are gods.” The reply to this argument was obvious:— The Psalmist, they might answer, uses the word in a sense that is not proper. But Jesus precluded this observation, by affirming, that “the Scripture can not be broken,” that is, not a word of it can be altered, because it is the Word of Him with whom there is no variableness. Could this be said if the choice of words had been left to men? Here, then, we find our Lord laying down a principle, which for ever sets the question at rest. The Apostles, in like manner, reason from the use of a particular word. Of this we have examples, 1 Corinthians, xv. 27, 28, and Hebrews, ii. 8, where the interpretation of the pass ages referred to depends on the word “all.” Again, Galatians, iii. 16, a most important conclusion is drawn from the use of the word, “seed,” in the singular, and not in the plural number. A similar in stance occurs, Hebrews, xii. 27, in the expression “once more,” quoted from the prophet Haggai.
When the Pharisees came to Jesus, and desired an answer respecting divorce, he replied, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning, made them a male and female; and said, for this cause,” &c. Thus, what is said in the history by Moses, at the formation of Eve, is appealed to as spoken by God, and as having the authority of a law. But nothing that Moses could say, unless dictated by God, could have the force of a law, to be quoted by our Lord. What, therefore, was then uttered by man, was the Word of God himself.
The Lord Jesus Christ constantly refers to the whole of the Old Testament, as being, in the most minute particulars, of infallible authority. He speaks of the necessity of every word of the Law and the Prophets being fulfilled. “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled.”—“It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the Law to fail.”—But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled?—That all things which are written may be fulfilled.—That the word might be fulfilled that is written in their Law.—That the Scripture might be fulfilled—“The Scriptures,” he says, “must be fulfilled.” In numerous passages the Lord refers to what is “written” in the Scriptures, as of equal authority with his own declarations; and, therefore, the words which they contain must be the “words of God.”
The Apostles use similar language in their many references to the Old Testament Scriptures, which they quote as of decisive authority, and speak of them in the same way as they do of their own writings, “That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the Apostles of the Lord and Saviour,” 2 Peter, iii. 2. Paul says to Timothy, “From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith, which is in Christ Jesus,” 2 Tim. iii. 15. In this way he proves the importance of the Old Testament Scriptures, and the connexion between the Mosaic and Christian dispensations. The Apostles call the Scriptures “the oracles of God,” Rom. iii. 2. What God says is ascribed by them to the Scriptures: “The Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee.”—“For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” “What saith the Scripture? Cast out the bond woman and her son.” So much is the Word of God identified with himself, that the Scripture is represented as possessing and exercising the peculiar prerogatives of God: “The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Heathen;”—“The Scripture hath concluded all under sin.”
From the following passages, among others that might be adduced, we learn the true nature of that inspiration which is ascribed to the Old Testament by the writers of the New: Mat. i. 22, “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet.” Mat. ii. 15, “And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.” Mat. xxii. 43. “ He saith unto them, How then doth David, in spirit, call him Lord?” Mark, xii. 36, “For David himself said by the Holy Ghost.” Luke, i. 70, “As he spake by the mouth of his Holy Prophets, which have been since the world began.” Acts, i. 16, “Which the Holy Ghost spoke by the mouth of David.” Acts, xiii. 35, “He (God) saith also in another Psalm, Thou shalt not suffer. thine Holy One to see corruption.” These words are here quoted as the words of God, although addressed to himself. In the parallel passage, Acts, ii. 31, the same words are ascribed to David, by whose “mouth” therefore God spoke. Acts, xxviii. 25, “And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word: Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet, unto our fathers.” Rom. i. 2, “Which He had promised afore by his prophets in the Holy Scriptures.” Rom. ix. 25, “ As He saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her Beloved, which was not beloved.” I Cor. vi. 16, 17, “What I know ye not, that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith He, shall be one flesh.” Here the words of Moses are referred to by the Apostle, as they had been by the Lord Jesus Christ himself, as the words of God. Eph. iv. 8, “Wherefore He saith, when he ascended up on high.” Heb. i. 7, 8, “And of the angels He saith;”—“But unto the Son He saith.” In these passages what was said by the Psalmist, is quoted as said by God. Heb. iii. 7, “Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost saith, To-day if ye will hear his voice.” Heb. x. 15, “Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us, for after that He had said.” 1 Peter, i. 11, “Searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” And how was it possible that the Prophets could find language in which to express intelligibly the mysteries of God, which they so imperfectly comprehended, unless the Spirit of Christ which was in them had dictated every word they wrote? 2 Peter, i. 20, 21, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation, for the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” In this passage the Apostle Peter, having, in the preceding verse, directed the attention of those to whom he wrote, to the “sure word of prophecy,” has given an equally comprehensive and explicit attestation to the verbal inspiration of all the prophetic testimony, which comprises so large a portion of the Old Testament, as the Apostle Paul has given, 2 Tim. iii.16, to that of the whole of the Scriptures, Acts, iv. 25, “Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the Heathen rage?” Heb. i. 1, “God, who at sundry times, and in diverse manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.” The words, then, spoken by the Prophets, were as much the words of God, as the words which were spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ himself.
Robert Haldane, The Books of the Old and New Testaments Proved to be Canonical, and Their Verbal Inspiration Maintained and Defended