« הקודםהמשך »
find; for it has been well said,* that the Scriptures are a 'record of the moral destinies of man, and therefore altogether unconnected with any exposition of the phenomena of the natural world, and the laws by which material things are held together.'
Some have conceived that in darker ages, ere the mind of man had unfolded itself to the varied wonders of the world around and within him which modern science has disclosed, a necessity existed for veiling truth in terms, not solely ambiguous and obscure, but imperfect, and even, in some instances, of doubtful verity, to meet the ignorance and prejudice of the times. But the necessity hinted at is purely one of their own invention. He who has all ideas, all language, all creation at His command from whom all laws take their rule—to whom the past, the present, and the future, are all one, with all their occurrences-needs not to stoop to human imperfections in conveying His thoughts or the knowledge of His acts and works even to the most ignorant and illiterate. To the Infinite, the Omniscient, the Almighty, it is as easy to select terms which are in themselves correct, as words of inferior force-terms which will need no reforming hand to suit them to the endless changes which time unfolds, and which keener search and increasing light unceasingly add to the sun of human knowledge.
alone, that we contend ; and the arguments we have adduced—which may be found drawn out at greater length, and with fuller illustrations, in works expressly on the subject—while they establish the fact for the Sacred Volume in general, at the same time involve the Inspiration of every portion of it.
Sedgwick's Discourse on the Studies of the University of Cambridge.
Those, moreover, who feel inclined to regard this early portion of Scripture as parabolic, or given in vision, I would ask, What end is answered by such an hypothesis ? That the Omniscient should afford us glimpses of futurity through the disguise of symbolic imagery and figurative language is what we might expect; for prophecies must be more or less obscure, otherwise they might be made a pretext for the most atrocious crimes. But the case is different with positive statements, assuming to be narratives of the past : if any statement at all were to be made respecting the past, there is no conceivable reason why it should not be the simple truth. The only effect of clothing facts in a fabulous disguise would be, to mystify what might just as well have been made perfectly intelligible.
What I contend for is, that the first eleven chapters of Genesis, being inspired by God, must be free from all error. Where terms are used and facts are affirmed, which belong even to the natural world alone, they can in no instance be wrong, nor involve any error; though they may communicate no philosophic truth and teach no physical law. We may have to modify our interpretations, to cast aside long-cherished prepossessions by which in our ignorance we and our forefathers had long enveloped and perverted the language of Scripture; but in the midst of all this (as I have attempted to show in the First Part by many examples), Holy Scripture still stands forth as the infallible Word of God, without blemish and without defect.
ON THE SURPASSING IMPORTANCE OF THE FIRST ELEVEN
CHAPTERS OF GENESIS.
It is possible that some who feel unable to gainsay the preceding argument for the Historical Character and Plenary Inspiration of this portion of the Word of God, and who are willing to admit that the discrepancies alleged against it are satisfactorily explained, may, nevertheless, have a lurking feeling that, after all, these earlier chapters are of comparatively small importance, and that Christianity would still stand intact were they even blotted out: and that, therefore, there is but little use in attending to them, or in taking such pains to vindicate them from the charge of being at variance in some of their statements with the facts of Science.
That this is a very mistaken view, I propose now to show. I have, in a previous page, pointed out in how many particulars our Lord and His Apostles have referred to these chapters, and drawn from them facts, arguments, and illustrations of the greatest importance. There are other matters to which I will now draw attention.
At the twelfth chapter of Genesis commences the history of Abraham and his descendants, which runs through the whole volume of the Old Testament to the end, relating the wonderful things God did in the preparation for the coming of the Saviour of the world. The first eleven chapters may be regarded, therefore, as the introduction to the rest of Scripture, the brief history of the world before the days of Abraham, and are a most precious relic of antiquity and treasure of divine revelation.
1. In the first place, as an HISTORICAL DOCUMENT this portion of Scripture stands unrivalled, as no other history in any nation under heaven can come near it in point of antiquity. The are of unrivalled
antiquity. duration of the human race may be divided into three nearly equal portions of 2000 years each :from Adam's creation to the time of Abraham is about 2000 years; from Abraham to the birth of Christ 2000 years; from Christ to the present day, nearly the
As we ascend the scale backwards from the present day, we possess the history of some branches of the human race through the last of these periods up to Christ, and of Greece and Rome through one quarter only of the second or middle period; but it is Scripture alone which supplies any authentic or intelligible account of the long vista of years up to the beginning of this middle period; while in reference to
. the whole of the first period of 2000 years antiquity is profoundly silent : no vestige of history is to be found, except this sacred record to which I am now directing attention. We see, then, its great value in a merely historical point of view.
ORIGIN OF THE WORLD.
They tell us of
2. But these chapters give us information concerning various most important matters : for example, the
How many conthe origin of jectures and guesses on this subject do we find among
the ancient philosophers of Greece and Rome, and also in the East ? And yet how important it is to have some certain information regarding the relation of the Creator to the universe, that we may know our own position and our own duty.
One class of Greek philosophers conjectured that matter is eternal; that all the order and harmony we see in nature is the result of chance; and that the gods take no concern in the affairs of the world.
The ancient Persians, before the change in their tenets brought in by Zoroaster, conceived that there were two independent first causes, the one light, or the good god, who was the author of all good, and the other darkness, or the evil god, who was the author of all evil, and that from the action of these two, in continual struggle with each other, all things were made. *
* According to the “ Vendidád” (the sacred book of the Parsees] Hormazd [the good deity] was opposed by Ahriman [the evil deity] in all his works. When Hormazd created Eriném véjo, similar to behisht, or paradise, Ahriman produced in the river the great adder, or winter ; when he created Soghdo, abundant in flocks and men, Ahriman created flies, which spread mortality among the flocks; when he created Bakhdi, pure and brilliant in its colours, Ahriman created a multitude of ants, which destroyed its pavilions; when he created anything good, Ahriman was sure to create something evil. The power thus ascribed to Ahriman, that of creation, is greater than can be possessed by any created being, and the doctrine which teaches its exercise substantially promulgates the monstrous dogma of two eternal principles, which, though not unknown to the ancient Persians, is altogether unreasonable, as inconsistent with the predominance of order, regularity, and goodness