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these, as though they were the same; yet no two things can be more widely different. The truths implied in the sentiments, are essential, immutable, and have an intrinsic value: the words which compose the expression, are in their nature circumstantial, changeable, and have no other value than what they derive from the arbitrary conventions of men. That the Holy Spirit would guide the minds of the sacred penmen in such a manner as to prevent their adopting terms unsuitable to his design, or which might obstruct his purpose ; and that, in other respects, he would accommodate himself to their manner and diction, is both reasonable in itself, and rendered unquestionable, by the works themselves, which have the like characteristic differences of style that we find in other literary productions.

Can it be accounted more strange that the Holy Spirit should, by the prophet Amos, address us in the style of a shepherd, and by Daniel, in that of a courtier, than that by the one, he should speak to us in Hebrew, and by the other, in Chaldee? It is as reasonable to think that the Spirit of God would accommodate himself to the phraseology and diction, as to the tone of voice and pronunciation, of those whom he was pleased to enlighten; for it cannot be denied that the pronunciation of one person, in uttering a prophecy, might be more articulate, more audible, and more affecting than that of another-in like manner as one style has more harmony, elegance, and perspicuity, than another. Castalio says justly, “ Res dictat Spiritus, verba quidem et lin

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guam loquenti aut scribenti liberam permittit *$;" which is to the same purpose with what Jerom had said more than a thousand years before—“ Nec putemus in verbis scripturarum evangelium esse, sed in sensu 27.

Allow me to add the testimony of a late writer of our own-than whom none has done more to make men apprehend the meaning, and relish the beauties of the sacred poesy : Hoc ita sacris vatibus tribuimus, ut nihil derogemus Divini

Spiritus afflatui : etsi suam interea vim proprie cujusque scriptoris naturæ atque ingenio concedamus. Neque enim instinctu divino ita concitatur vatis animus, ut protinus obruatur hominis indoles : attolluntur et eriguntur, non extinguuntur aut occultantur naturalis ingenii facultates ; et quan

quam Mosis, Davidis, et Isaiæ, scripta semper spirent quiddam tam excelsum tamque cæleste, ut pla

ne videantur divinitus edita, nihilo tamen minus in üïs Mosem, Davidem, et Isaiam, semper agnosci


$ 3. In this there was an eminent disparity be: tween the prophets of God and those among the Pagans, said to be possessed of the spirit of Python, or


26 6 The Spirit dictates the things, leaving the words and language free to the speaker or the writer." Defensio contra Bezam,

56 Let us not imagine that the gospel consists in the words of Scripture, but in the sense.” Comment. in Epist. ad Gal. cap. 1. 28 De Sacra Poësi Heb. Præl, xvi. VOL. I.


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spirit of divination. These are reported to have ut . tered their predictions in what is called extasy or trance, that is, whilst they underwent a temporary suspension both of their reason and of their senses. Accordingly they are represented as mere machines, not acting but acted upon, and passive like the fute into which the musician blows. This is what has been called organic inspiration. In imitation of one remarkable class of these, the sorcerers and soothsayers among the Jews (who, like those of the same craft among Pagans, reaped considerable profit from abusing the credulity of the rabble), had acquired a wonderful mode of speaking, in which they did not appear to employ the common organs of speech, and were thence termed syyaspquv sol, ventriloqui, bellyspeakers. It is in allusion to this practice that Isaiah denominates them the wizzards 29 that peep and that mutter, whose speech seemed to rise out of the ground, and to whisper out of the dust 30.

Totally different was the method of the prophets of the true God. The matter, or all that concerned the thoughts, was given them : what concerned the manner, or enunciation, was left to themselves. The only exception the Rabbies mention is Balaam, whose prophecy appeared to them to have been emitted in spite of himself. But this case, if it was as they imagine, which may be justly doubted, was extraordinary. In all other cases, the prophets had, when prophesying, the same command over their own ac

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29 Isaiah, viii. 19.

30 Isaiah, xxix. 4.

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tions, over their members and organs, as at other times. They might speak, or forbear; they might begin, and desist, when they pleased ; they might decline the task assigned them, and disobey the divine command. No doubt when they acted thus, they sinned very heinously, and were exposed to the wrath of Heaven. Of the danger of such disobedience we have two signal examples, in the prophet who was sent to prophesy against the altar erected by Jeroboam at Bethel, and in the prophet Jonah.

But that men continued still free agents, and had it in their power to make a very injudicious use of the spiritual gifts and illuminations which they had received from above, is manifest from the regulations, on this subject, established by the Apostle Paul, in the church of Corinth. The words wherewith he concludes his directions on this topic are very apposite to my present purpose. The spirits of the prophets, says he , are subject to the prophets. Such is the difference between those who are guided by the Spirit of Truth, and those who are under the inAuence of a Spirit of error.

There is therefore no reason to doubt that the sacred writers were permitted to employ the style and idiom most familiar to them, in delivering the truths with which they were inspired. So far only they were over-ruled, in point of expression, by the divine Spirit, that nothing could be introduced tending, in any way, to obstruct the intention of the whole. And sometimes, especially

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1 Cor. xiv. 32

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in the prediction of future events, such terms would be suggested, as would, even beyond the prophet's apprehension, conduce to further that end. The great object of divine regard, and subject of revelation, is things, not words. And were it possible to obtain a translation of scripture absolutely faultless, the translation would be, in all respects, as valuable as the original.




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§ 4. But is not this doctrine, it may be said, liable to an objection also from the gift of tongues conferred on the Apostles and others, for the promulgation of the gospel ? In the languages with which those primitive ministers were miraculously furnished, it may be objected, they could not have any style of their own, as a style is purely the effect of habit, and of insensible imitation. This objection, however, is easily obviated: First, as they received by inspiration those tongues only, whereof they had previously no knowledge, it is not probable, at least it is not certain, that this gift had any place in the writings of the New Testament: that in most of them it had not, is manifest. But, 2dly, if in some it had, the most natural supposition is, first, that the knowledge of the tongue, wherewith the Holy Ghost inspired the sacred writers, must have been, in them, precisely such a knowledge and such a readiness in finding words and expressions, as is, in others, the effect of daily practice. This is even a necessary consequence of supposing that the language itself, and not the words of particular speeches (according to Dr. Mid

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