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The relation between the Divine and human elements in Holy Scripture : eight lectures preached before the University of Oxford in the year MDCCCLXIII .. online

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found to exist in all respects unsullied; the mural difficulties
admitting ol'a similar explanation.



On the other hand, the reality of the divine element is manifest, as
objective in its origin, perfect in its moral and religious teach-
ing, broad in its grasp of fundamental principles, and embody-
ing a deeper sense beneath the letter.

Verification of the induction by the application of some reasonable
conditions : —

1. The principles found to be such as man could not have
discovered :

2. The duplex sensus being real, and capable of a sufficient
explanation ;

3. The work being in all respects above the compass of
the human writers.

II. Lessons to be drawn on the subject of Scripture interpretation : —

1. That interpretation must be spiritual ; and must differ
from that of any other book, so far as Scripture itself is dis-
tinguished from any other book by its possession of a divine
as well as human authorshijj.

2. It must also be comprehensive ; not rested on isolated

3. It must be widened to embrace both sides of teaching,
on any subject where a narrower view would be the mistake
of half-truths for truths. Practical illustration, in the blind-
ness of the Jews on the Divinity of Christ.

4. It must cover all parts of Scripture, even those of which
the present application is obscure. Fatal tendency of the opposite

Conclusion. — The deep practical importance of passing on from
enquiries into the inspiration of Scripture, to seek the living
inspiration of a holy life.


On Lecture I. .
On Lecture II. .
On Lecture III. .
On Lecture IV. .




On Lecture V. .
On Lecture VI. .
On Lecture VII.
On Lecture VIII.




Romans viii. 16.

' The Spirit itself bearetli witness with our spirit, that we
are the children of God.'

THROUGHOUT the argument completed in the
context of this passage, St. Paul unfolds the secret
operation of the Holy Spirit, which rescues our spirits
' from the law of sin and death,' a to give them a living
interest in the incarnation of Christ. But our depen-
dence on that gracious presence is not to be confounded
with the dumb expectation of inferior creatures ; nor
need we limit our exposition to that contrast with the
legal system which gave shape to the immediate rea-
soning of the Apostle. In a broader sense we may
accept his teaching, that the Divine Spirit addresses
us as sons, not as servants ; that it uses the language of
adoption, not of bondage ; that it bears its witness with
a spirit in ourselves ; that it never supersedes our own
responsibility, nor subjugates our natural faculties.
The ground of our salvation is wrought out for us by
our Lord; the work of our renewal is wrought out
with us by His Spirit. That deathless principle, which

a Rom. viii. 2.


was once so degraded, which now hears His voice and
follows His guidance, and yields to the gentle influence
of restoring grace — that principle was planted when
man was created ; and, however carnalised it may be
by transgression, has never been completely silenced
or destroyed (1). We still at our very worst estate
retain it, like the lingering element of health, which
the Good Physician uses as the groundwork for His
healing process : it listens when the Spirit whispers
of the love which moved the Father to send His Son,
and moved the Son to die for man ; it speaks in the
feeble tones of prayer, while ' the Spirit itself maketh
intercession for us, with groanings which cannot be
uttered.' a

In this doctrine we trace a twofold truth, which
admits of universal application through religious
history and thought. The character of God's moral
government would lead us to believe that when He
made man in His own image, b He gave him all the
faculties he needed for working out the end of his
creation. But a just conception of the source of holi-
ness would connect this belief with the corresponding
conviction, that the grace of God was always indis-
pensable, before any excellence in the creature could be
achieved — that it was requisite before, and with, and
after every movement, to prevent, cooperate with, mid
crown the work (2). It cannot be supposed that there
was any exception in Paradise to that supremacy
of the Divine sanctity, which claims every form and

a Rom. viii. 26. b Gen. i. 26, 27.


phase of good as the direct operation of the Spirit of
the Lord. It cannot be doubted that the Holy Spirit
bore witness with man's spirit in its original state of
purity ; inspired it with filial love for its Heavenly
Father ; and taught it the lessons of obedience which it
required for the guidance of a holy life. When man's
moral trial had issued in his sin, and when sin had
grieved his Divine visitant, and had brought discord
and weakness into his forsaken nature, we have no
reason to think that his punishment involved the loss
of any organic endowment which he had previously
possessed. Through the gradual training of our
restoration, we still trace everywhere the continued
working of this double law, whether in Gentile ex-
perience, or in Jewish revelation, or in Christian light.
That law combines a divine and human element in
every holy deed or thought of man. Our recovery is
the work of the Spirit of God; yet man, though so
fallen, retains a moral right of will, which resists com-
pulsion even in the act of salvation, and can be
renewed and restored upon no other principle than by
the leading and guiding persuasion of grace. On the
one of these laws rests all morality, which assumes the
free responsibility of man ; on the other of these laws
rests all theology, which teaches us the necessary
dependence of the creature on the energy and help of
God. If we deny that man was created as in some
sort a law unto himself, a we break the very main-
spring of the moral system. If we admit that man

a Rom. ii. 14.

R 2


possesses any independent virtue, by which he can
perform good actions without assistance from the
grace of God, we sanction the disposition to rebel
against God's supremacy which tempted our first
parents to their fall. The two principles, we doubt
not, would have worked together in perfect harmony,
had not the balance been disturbed by the intrusion of
sin. The restoration of that balance does but readjust
the relation which it was not the will of God to cancel.
It is still through the witness of the Holy Spirit that
we learn to know ourselves to be His children ; but we
could not understand that witness if we did not retain
a spirit in ourselves, which can recognise and answer
to the voice of God.

It will be my object, through the course of
Lectures on which we are now entering, to call
your attention to the completeness of the divine and
human elements in the Holy Scriptures, which we
receive as the result of the highest operation of God's
Spirit on the spirit of man (3). In carrying out
this design, it is my wish to base the suggestions
which I shall venture to otFer on the wider principle
which I have endeavoured to explain. If God's
dealings with us seem to rest in all cases on the
assumption that the organisation of man is complete
within its own province, and is only elevated and
enlightened, but never superseded, by the help of
God, then we may expect to find that in that purest
form of spiritual influence to which we owe the
Holy Scriptures, we shall be able to trace the


presence of both elements; existing, indeed, in their
highest known perfection, but not departing from
the general relation which prevails throughout all
lower spheres.

The doctrine which we are now concerned to
establish must be guarded on both sides against two
opposite, but not equally imperfect, theories; in the
one of which the divine is made to exclude the
human, while in the other, by a far worse error,
the human is allowed to blot out the divine.

It is possible, on the one hand, to become so
absorbed in the thought of the Divine Giver, that
the writer ceases to be recognised as anything more
than the mere lifeless instrument through which
the Spirit makes itself heard, and is reduced to an
agency so purely mechanical, that the human factor
is really destroyed.

It is possible, on the other hand, to dwell so
strongly and unduly on the proofs of human agency,
that the work of the Inspiring Spirit is reduced to
the vague influence, which might be said to preside
over any great work of human genius. On this
view, which can be subdivided into several separate
opinions, the guarantee of a distinctly divine element
is equally cancelled and withdrawn.

But it must not be supposed that, in maintaining,
against these extremes, the completeness of both the
divine and human elements hi Scripture, we are
bound to attempt the determination of a frontier
line between them ; any more than we are bound, by
the Catholic faith, to draw a similar frontier through


that union of the divine and human natures in the
person of Christ, which there is a growing dis-
position to accept, as the model for our belief upon
His written Word (4). Nor, again, can any attempt
be made to explain the mode in which the mind
of man has, in this or any other case, been moved
and influenced by the Spirit of God. But, though
the mode of operation must remain undefined, the
avenue through which the Holy Spirit reaches us
is explained beyond all doubt in Scripture. The
witness of God's Spirit is addressed to the spirit in
ourselves. All practical religion must assume the
principle, that man is endowed with spiritual faculties,
which enable him to enter into communion with God.
The starting-point of our enquiry, then, must be
sought for in the doctrine of Inspiration; to which
we shall find that the doctrine of Revelation supplies
the proper counterpart and completion (5). These
two terms correspond, though not with exact pre-
cision, to the distinction which we should draw
between the sacred writers and the subject-matter
of their record. The doctrine of Inspiration belongs
mainly, though not exclusively, to the one head;
the doctrine of Revelation belongs mainly, if not
exclusively, to the other. The sacred writers were
inspired to record what was revealed; and their
works preserve the substance of the revelation, under
the guarantee which their inspiration furnished.
The revelation, then, implied a corresponding in-
spiration, to enable men to receive and transmit the
Divine message; and it was necessary that this


inspiration should first exist in the spirit of the
writer, though we can detect its presence in the
message also, because that message is often freighted
with a deeper store of spiritual meaning, and exerts
a living influence of greater spiritual power, than its
original recipient could foresee.

But some confusion has arisen from overlooking
that these two words are not co-extensive, either
with each other or with the sacred record. Both
may be applied, with more or less propriety, to
phenomena which lie outside of Scripture: and
while it is maintained that every part of Canonical
Scripture is inspired, it is needless to claim Revela-
tion for those portions of the narrative which could
be derived from ordinary human sources. On these
points, therefore, we may offer, in the outset, a more
detailed explanation.

I. The doctrine of Inspiration, on its human side (6),
implies that recognition of man's spiritual na-
ture, which distinguishes the mental analysis of
Scripture from divisions with which a hasty obser-
vation might confound it. On the other hand, the
doctrine of the province and operations of the Spirit
rests in turn upon certain positions on the source
and nature of that higher element, which philosophy
might reject as theological limitations, 3 but which
Scripture assumes as the basis of its teaching, on
the relation between man and his Maker. ' The
Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit.' This

a Sir W. Hamilton's Lectures on Metaphysics, i. 134.


is the simplest statement of the point of contact
between our inspiration and its source in God.
When the usage of Scripture goes on to distinguish
between the spirit and the soul, it indicates the
exact difference between the lines that can be traced
by human science and the proper sphere of the
religious element. This distinction is maintained,
with an accuracy which bears witness to its im-
portance, through the long series of Scripture writers
— from the history of the Creation to the latest
forecast of the future exaltation of the resurrection
body. We learn, in the beginning, that from dust
came the materials of which our body was composed ;
that from God came the inspiration, which breathed
into our frame the spirit of a higher life; and that
these were united in the ' living soul,' a to which
mental analysis is more commonly confined. Pass
to the other end of Scripture, and we find that
the same distinction gives its deep significance to
St. Paul's account of the glories which shall elevate the
risen body, when the frame, which is now adjusted
to the needs of the soul, shall be fitted for the higher
functions of the emancipated spirit. 5 We trace it
through the Old Testament, in the many passages
which tell us of the glory of the spirit and its gifts.
We trace it in such language as that of Isaiah, 'With
my soul have I desired;' 'with my spirit within
me will I seek Thee early :' c in such passages as
that great prophecy in the 16th Psalm, ' Wherefore

a Gen. ii. 7. b 1 Cor. xv. 44.

c Isa. xxvi. '.*. Cf. Gen. xlix. 6; Ps. vii. 5; Prov. xx. 27.


my heart was glad, and my glory rejoiced ; my
flesh also shall rest in hope : ' a in such words as
those which meet us at the beginning of the
Magnificat, ' My soul doth magnify ; ' ' my spirit hath
rejoiced.' b And the special teaching of the Gospel
is everywhere coloured by the same discrimination,
which causes the distinction between flesh and spirit
to differ so widely in significance from the common
distinction between soul and body; and which finds
its highest expression in such contrasts as the words
of Christ, ' That which is born of the flesh is flesh ;
and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit ; ' c or
in the words of His Apostle, ' to be carnally minded
is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and
peace.' d

The Scripture trichotomy, then, of spirit, soul, and
body e (7), is distinguished by its combination of the
physical and theological aspects, which science deals
with under different methods. We are familiar with
the process by which the heathen philosopher advances f
from one series of vital phenomena to another, ar-
ranging them as though it were in stages, like the
concentric steps of some great pyramid : first, the signs
of mere organised growth, like that of plants ; then
the signs of sensibility, like that of animals ; then the
moral feelings; then the intellectual faculties ; in each
of which progressions we trace the gradual perfecting
of attributes which are faintly shadowed forth in

a Ps. xvi. 10; Acts ii. 26. b Luke i. 46, 47.

c John iii. 6. d Rom. viii. 6.

e 1 Thess.v. 23; Heb. iv. 12. f Ar., Eth. N.I. xiii., &c.


creatures of a lower order. He thus constructs, I say,
a pyramid of being, which reaches its culminating point
in man. All this is perfectly clear and intelligible.
But when all this has been set forth, in its neatest and
most finished form, we have seen no more than to, t%
\J/u;£% /*sfV the description of man still lacks its
noblest element — the spirit which descends upon him
from a higher sphere, to meet the ascending principle
of vitality and fill it with celestial light (8). The
labours of physiologists have suggested a scale by
which we can measure, more or less exactly, each
step in the series, and can span by an interval of fixed
degrees the gulf which intervenes between the highest
capacity of the most perfect brain in brutes, and the
meanest capacity of the least perfect brain in man (9).
But they can no more measure the difference which
the presence of the spirit introduces, than they could
complete the description of a material pyramid by
gauging the sunlight which crowns its apex with a
brightness streaming straight from heaven.

When ancient poets wished to point the contrast
between the shame and glory of our compound nature,
they borrowed from religion the ennobling thought,
that our spirit is a portion of the breath of God. a
Let us only be careful to exclude the Pantheistic
conception — that God's gift was a part of His own
essence; that man's spirit is itself divine — and we
trace in such words the vivid recognition of that
religious faculty, which flushes through the naked

a llor., Sat. II. ii. 79, &c.


framework of our earthly organisation, and transfigures
it with heavenly radiance. Our text alone would
guard us from the error of confounding the created
spirit of man with the uncreated and eternal Spirit
of the Lord.

In the universality of this endowment we find the
natural explanation for the prevalence of certain fixed
religious ideas among mankind (10). But this capacity
to receive an inspiring energy from higher sources
exerts an influence which reaches far beyond the
range of the religious emotions, and embraces within
its quickening impulse far more than those who call
themselves religious men.

The gifts of God are always found to overflow the
narrow limits which are recognised by the faint gra-
titude of man. And it is scarcely too much to say,
that the spiritual principle is the true crown of
dominion which secures our superiority over the
beasts that perish. At all events we cannot doubt that
it exerts the chief influence in producing that general
elevation of all rudimentary capacities which seems
to constitute the true differentia of our race. We
should touch with diffidence on scientific controversies
which have absorbed the deep attention of so many
highly qualified enquirers (n) ; but amidst views so
diversified as those which have been urged, we may
reasonably ask whether it is not possible that the true
solution may be found in a sphere which lies beyond
the range of science ; namely, in the endowment of
man with a spiritual element, which is identical with
no one faculty, but which enters into each of our


higher faculties, and raises them all to a loftier power.
What else but some special gift of a diviner character
could enable us to rise above the faint traces in ani-
mals of love for their offspring, and homage for their
master, up to the wide range of the moral emotions, and
the ennobling influences of the religious life? And
may it not be the collateral operation of the same high
principle which lifts our mental processes from obser-
vation to abstraction, which empowers us to express
our thoughts in articulate language, and to pass up-
wards from fixed instincts to governable habits, from
the stationary sensibility of brutes to the ' progressive
and improvable ' intelligence of man ? It can scarcely
be doubted, I repeat, that this capacity supplies the
source and strength of man's loftiest endowments:
the kindling eye, with its ' splendid purpose ; ' the
tameless resolution of the steadfast will ; the force of
character which binds even worldly aims into a sem-
blance of the unity which lies beyond this earthly
sphere. Surely nothing less than such an element
could exalt fancy into imagination, and understanding
into reason, and conscience into faith. Nothing less
could transform man from the noblest of animals into
the image and likeness of God.

Such may we conceive to be the nature of that
higher principle, which enables us to hold intercourse
with Beaven. It would necessarily be the spiritual
element, in which man would suffer the deepest injury
from the Fall, when sin closed its direct communion
with the Holy Spirit, and dropped a veil of ignorance
and blindness over the abandoned heart. But thoinrh


clouded and weakened, it was never obliterated.
That darkness never wholly quenched its light, is
proved by all the holier aspirations which heathen
records bring to our knowledge ; by every word and
act of virtue which the heathen ever uttered or per-
formed. Its loss would have reduced us to the level of
mere animals, with a somewhat nobler organisation.
Its complete perversion would have had the still more
fatal effect of transforming us into the likeness of
the fallen angels.

And now let us turn from man to God, and con-
template the various forms of influence which the
Holy Spirit exerts throughout the universe, and to
some of which the term ' inspiration ' is with varying
propriety applied. That these forms must, from the
nature of the case, be manifold, a very short consi-
deration will establish.

What is true of the Divine Presence must be true
in particular of that peculiar presence of the Holy
Spirit which we understand by the term ' inspiration.'

But the Divine Presence is at once universal and
special (12). It is universal; for God is omnipresent.
It is special ; for the omnipresent God must everywhere
be distinguished from His creatures ; the denial of
which is formal Pantheism. There have always been
places, again, where He has been specially pleased
to fix His name. There have always been persons
in whose hearts He has been preeminently present.
There have been repeated theophanies, wherein
His peculiar presence has been revealed to mankind.


And though it follows, from the Trspi^w^a-ig of the
Blessed Trinity, that where one Person is present,
all in a sense are present — even as Christ said, ' He
that hath seen Me hath seen the Father ' a — yet it is
undoubted that the economy of revelation distinguishes
in each case between the modes of their presence and
the ways or degrees in which it is granted.

( 1 . ) The Father is God, and therefore He is omni-
present ; yet He dwells especially ' in the light which
no man can approach unto ; whom no man hath seen
nor can see.' b By another figure He is called a God
that liideth Himself ; dwelling ' in the thick darkness ; '
whose ' greatness is unsearchable ; ' whose ' footsteps
are not known.' c

(2.) The Son is God, and therefore He is omni-
present ; yet He told His disciples that unless He went
away, the Comforter would not come to them ; d and
since His departure from earth at His ascension, His
presence in His human nature has been confined to
His session at the right hand of the Father. But still
He continues to be present amongst us, in many spe-
cial ways, in, and through, and with His Holy Spirit.
He is present with His Church, according to His
promise, ' alway, even unto the end of the world.' e
He is present in prayer ; present in sacraments ; pre-
sent wherever l two or three are gathered together in '
His 'name.' f

(3. ) Now the same principle must be applied in the

a John xiv. 9. b 1 Tim. vi. 16.

c Isa. xlv. 15 ; 1 Kings viii. 12 ; Ps.cxlv. 3 (Bible v.) ; Ps.lxxvii. 19.

d John xvi. 7. e Matt, xxviii. 20. f Matt, xviii. 20.


case of the Holy Spirit ; and it would be as unreason-
able in this as in the former cases to insist upon con-
founding one form of the Divine Presence with another.

Thus the Holy Ghost is God, and therefore He is
omnipresent ; and yet there are countless different
manifestations under which His special presence is
made known. He is present in the works of nature,
as when He ' moved upon the face of the waters,' and
when He reneweth 'the face of the earth.' a He is
present in the higher forms of the human intellect
and will, giving skill to ' Bezaleel and Aholiab, and
every wise-hearted man,' b teaching the poet to sing,
and the ruler to govern, and the warrior in the cause
of truth to conquer ; putting the ' spirit of the holy
gods' in such as Daniel, 'light and understanding and
wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods.' c He is present
in man's moral nature, originating everywhere all
pure and holy thoughts that man can cherish ; — for
what can be pure and good and holy without Him ?
He fills, indeed, through all its functions, the entire
range of that created spirit, in which we have been
tracing the true honour of our race. And yet there
is a more peculiar sense in which He is present in the
spirits of all Christians, whose bodies are His temple, d
abiding there under the conditions of so distinct a

Online LibraryJ HannahThe relation between the Divine and human elements in Holy Scripture : eight lectures preached before the University of Oxford in the year MDCCCLXIII .. → online text (page 2 of 30)