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moment for the beginning of the rite was carefully
fixed, and served to mark the time of day. When
the cloud of fragrant smoke ascended, the people
outside the Temple bowed in prayer, hi accordance
with the ancient association of prayers and incense
(Ps 141 2 ). In the primitive Semitic cultus the
perfume which rose into the upper air was supposed
to give a sensuous pleasure to the Deity ; but when
more spiritual thoughts of the Divine nature and
character prevailed, the incense, if it was to be re-
tained, had to be regarded as a symbol of the
prayers breathed from earth to heaven. In Rev
JJM. (which may, however, be a gloss) the golden
bowls full of incense are expressly identified with
the prayers of the saints. In Rev 8 4 the smoke of
incense goes up before God out of the angel's hand



612



INCORRUPTION



INSPIRATION AND REVELATION



for [so RVm, more accurate than with, RV] the
prayers of the saints. Some interpreters think
that the incense added by the angel is here sup-
posed to give some kind of efficacy to the prayers ;
but, while interceding angels and archangels
appear in the Book of Enoch (ix. 3-11, xv. 2, xl. 7,
xlvii. 2, civ. 1), the thought in Rev. is probably
no more than that the prayers of earth are ratified
in heaven. The prophet's symbolism indicates
that the saints are praying for things agreeable to
God's will, so that their petitions cannot fail to be
granted. JAMES STRAHAN.

INCORRUPTION. See UNCORRTTPTNESS.

"'INSPIRATION AND REVELATION. Definition

of terms. Revelation is the 'discovery' or 'dis-
closure ' (a.TroKd\v\fns) of God (i.e. of the heing and
character of God) to man. Inspiration is the
mode, or one of the modes, by which this discovery
or disclosure is made ; it is the process by which
certain select persons were enabled, through the
medium of speech or of writing, to convey special
information about God to their fellows.

It will be obvious that the two terms must be
closely related. To a large extent they are strictly
correlative. Revelation is in large part the direct
product of inspiration. The select persons of whom
we have spoken imparted revelation about God
because they were inspired to impart it. So far as
revelation has been conveyed by speech or writing
we call the process inspiration ; we say that holy
men of old spoke and wrote as they were moved



by the Holy Ghost (2 PI 21 ),
this we shall explain later.



What is meant by



A. REVELATION. Revelation is the wider term.
There is such a thing as revelation by facts, as well
as by words. And revelation by facts is again of
two kinds : there is the broad revelation of God in
Nature ; and there is also a special revelation of
God in history.

1. Revelation by facts. (a) Bevelation of God
in Nature. The Jew under the OT rose up from
the contemplation of Nature with an intense belief
in Divine Providence. For him the heavens de-
clared the glory of God, and the firmament showed
His handiwork. The sight of the heavens brought
home to him the contrast between the majesty of
God and the littleness of man. The phenomena of
storm and tempest heightened his sense of Divine
power and of the goodness which intervened for
his own protection. The beneficent ordering of
Nature turned his thoughts to thankfulness and
praise (Ps 65 104). The tendency of the Hebrew
mind was towards optimism. His religious faith
was so strong that the darker side of Nature did
not trouble him ; its destructive energies only filled
him with awe, or else he regarded them as directed
against his own enemies and God's. The questions
that perplexed him most arose not so much from
Nature as from the observation of human life.

The most pressing problem of all was the suffer-
ings of the righteous and the prosperity of the
wicked. To this problem are devoted several
Psalms and the whole Book of Job. But, how-
ever urgent the problem might be and however
imperfect the solution, it never shook the deep-
rooted faith that was Israel's greatest heritage.
The same may be said even of the complicated
questions which exercise the author of Ecclesiastes
a late and comparatively isolated phenomenon.

(6) Revelation of God in history. The truth
which Israel grasped with the greatest tenacity
was the intimacy of its own relation to God as the
Chosen People. Not all the shocks which it en-
dured in its political career, tossed to and fro as a
shuttlecock between its more powerful neighbours,
could weaken its hold on this. It idealized its



history emphasized its deliverances, dwelt on its
few moments of comparative greatness and pros-
perity, and explained its own decline as due to its
faithlessness and disobedience. It saw the hand of
God throughout, even through suffering and failure,
guiding it in unexpected ways towards the better
fulfilment of its mission. The nation became a
Church ; and even in exile and dispersion Israel
still bore witness to its God. Then, on the top of
all this, comes Christianity. Another apparently
insignificant series of facts the Life and Death of
One who lived as a peasant in an obscure corner of
the Roman Empire is followed by enormous con-
sequences. A wave of religious enthusiasm passed
over an exhausted world, and its veins were filled
with new life which has lasted down to the present
day.

2. Revelation in word. Ideally speaking, it
might be supposed that the historical panorama
roughly sketched above would impress itself on
the mind of all observers ; that, so far as it con-
tamed a revelation of God, that revelation would
be intuitively apprehended. But to expect this
would have jbeen to expect too much, especially
when we think of the poor and low beginnings
from which the human race has gradually risen.
It has always needed leaders and teachers. Large
and penetrating views, such as those involved in
the process we have been describing, have always



** Copyright, 1916, by Charles Scribner's Sons.



have been mediated to the many through the few.
In this way it will be seen that revelation by facts
has had to be supplemented by revelation conveyed
in words. The facts have been there all the time ;
but, apart from Divine stimulus and guidance,
working upon minds sensitive to them, the great
mass of mankind would have allowed them to pass
unheeded. The pressure of mere physical needs is
so great that ordinary humanity would be apt to
be absorbed in them, if it were not for the influence
of a select few more highly endowed than the rest.
But these select few have never been wanting
not in Israel alone but in every race of men, and
conspicuously in those races that we call the
'higher.' The Divine education of mankind has
always worked in this way by an infinite number
of graduated steps, leading men onwards from one
truth to another, from truths that are simple and
partial and rude in expression to other truths that
are more complex and more comprehensive, more
nicely adjusted to the facts which they embrace.
_ There is thus a natural transition from revela-
tion by fact to revelation by word. The fact comes
first ; it is there, so that all who run may read.
But it is not read, because it is not understood ; it
is a bare fact ; it needs an interpreter. And the
interpretation is supplied by the inspired man who
speaks and writes, who seizes on the secret and
then publishes it to the world.

3. Apostolic treatment of these matters. This,
then, is substantially what we find in the OT, and
in the Jewish writings which follow upon the OT.
The prophets and psalmists and wise men lead the
way in expressing the feelings aroused by the con-
templation of God in Nature and in history. Such
Scriptures as Ps 19 1 ' 6 65 104, Is 40 12 ' 17 are spontane-
ous outbursts excited by the external world ; such
passages as Job 38 39 (cf. 2 Mac 9 s ) enforce the
lesson of Ps 8 3f - ; Ps 77 11 ' 20 105 106, Hab 3 are
tvpical retrospects of the hand of God in Israel's
history ; Pr 8 22 ' 31 , Job 28, Sir 24, Wis 7 8 are
equally typical examples of the praise of Divine
Wisdom as expressed in creation and in the order-
ing of human life.

All this the apostolic writers inherited, and they
go a step further in philosophizing upon it. __ They
not only give expression to the feelings which the
contemplation of the works of God excites in them,



INSPIRATION AND REVELATION



INSPIRATION AND REVELATION 613



but they distinctly recognize the different forms of
external revelation as parts of the method of Divine
Providence in dealing with men. The most instruc-
tive passages from this point of view are to be
found in the speeches of Acts, both in those ad-
dressed to heathen (as in Ac 14 15 - 17 17 22 ' 31 ) and in
those addressed to Jews (as in Ac 7 13 16 ~ 41 ). We
need not enter into the question how far these
speeches represent what was actually spoken on
the occasions referred to, and how far they embody
what the historian thought appropriate to those
occasions. A comparison of the speeches attri-
buted to St. Paul with the contents of the Pauline
Epistles would suggest that, however much the
shaping of the discourse may be due to the his-
torian, he probably had before him some authentic
notes or traditions of the discourses actually de-
livered (cf. JThSt xi. [1910] 171-173). Inany case,
the views expressed seem to have been practically
common to all the leaders of Christian thought.
We may, therefore, proceed to set them forth with-
out discriminating between different circles. At
the same time the major part of the extant evidence
is derived (mediately orjimmediately) from St. Paul.
(a) Of the revelation of God in Nature. It is
to be noted that, although St. Paul shared to the
full his countrymen's horror of idolatry both as
inherently wrong in itself and because of its cor-
rupting influences he nevertheless clearly recog-
nized the elements of good in heathen religions,
and regarded them as having a place in the wider
order of Divine Providence. The heathen, too
with God's revelation of Himself in Nature before
them had ample opportunities of knowing God,
and it was only by their own deliberate fault that
thev suppressed and ignored this knowledge (Ro

And yet all was not lost. God had implanted
in the human breast the desire for Himself ; men
were seeking Him, if haply they might feel after
Him and find Him ; even pagan poets had realized
that mankind was His offspring (Ac 17 27 ' 28 ). He
took care that they should not be left without
witness to His goodness, in that He gave them
from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, filling their
hearts with food and gladness (14 17 ).

We observe how the Apostle singles out at once
the best and the most prominent side of pagan
religion, making abstraction of its worst features.
The most urgent of human needs was that the
earth should bring forth fruits in their seasons.
Men were conscious of this, and they were really
thankful for the bounty of Nature. At the bottom
of most of the pagan cults that prevailed over the
East as, for instance, in the wide-spread worship
under the names of Osiris, Adonis, Attis was the
celebration of seed-time and harvest. What there
was of evil mixed up with such worship was a pro-
duct of the root of evil in the human heart, and
was capable of being eliminated without loss to
the fundamental idea.

The revelation of God in Nature was thus not
altogether in vain. And there was another form
of revelation which came really under this head.
There was a certain reflexion of God in the heart
of man : His will was made known through the
conscience. And here, too, there was many a
pagan who, though without the privileges which
the Jew enjoyed through the possession of a written
law, faithfully observed such inner law as he had.
St. Paul fully recognized this, and used it as an
a fortiori argument addressed to his own Jewish
converts, and to those whom he desired to make
his converts.

Another point that may be worth noting is that,
when St. Paul appeals to the revelation of God in
Nature, he singles out in particular those attri-
butes of God as revealed which the impression



derived from Nature is best calculated to convey:
'the invisible things of him since the creation of
the world are clearly seen, being perceived through
the things that are made, even his everlasting
power and divinity' (Ro I 20 ; cf. Wis 13 1 ). The
truths that Nature can tell us about God are not
the whole truth ; it can tell us of His power and
majesty and Divine sovereignty, but it cannot of
itself make known the infinite tenderness of His
love. Nature has its destructive aspect as well as
its aspect of beneficence ; and even Nature, as we
see it, appears to be infected with the taint which
is seen most conspicuously in man. To judge from
external Nature taken by itself, it might well seem
that a malign as well as a gracious Power was at
work behind it. Caliban on Setebos is not wholly
without reason. For a complete revelation of God
we must supplement the data derived from this
source by those which are derived from history,
and especially from the culminating series of events
in all history the events bound up in the origin
and spread of Christianity. It is these pre-
eminently, and indeed these alone, which bring
home to us the full conviction that God in the
deepest depths of His being is essentially and
unchangeably Love. (For strong indictments of
Nature as it actually exists, see J. S. Mill, Three
Essays on Religion, London, 1874, pp. 28-31 ; and
the hypothesis of a Cacoda^mon in R. A. Knox,
Some Loose Stones, do., 1913, p. 25 f.).

(b) Of the revelation of God in history. When
the apostles or Christians of the first generation
preach to Jews, their preaching, so far as we have
record of it, is always an appeal to history, some-
times on a larger scale, sometimes on a smaller.
When the preaching is fullest and most systematic,
it starts from a survey, more or less complete, of
the history of Israel as a Heilsgeschichte or scheme
of Redemption, pre-determined in the counsels of
God and worked out in the history of the Chosen
People. This begins of right with the choice of
Abraham and the patriarchs (Ac 7 2 ' 16 13 17 ; cf. 3 13 ).
Then come Moses and the deliverance from Egypt
(720-36) an( j tne r0 y a i ii ne culminating in David
(7 45f. 13 2 2 15 i6) Both Moses and David prophesied
of One who was to come in the aftertime Moses,
of a prophet like himself (3 22f 7 37 ) ; David, of a de-
scendant of his own who should not see corruption

(2 29-31 13 34-37) Thig leadg Qn to ft bol( j affirmation

of the fulfilment of these and of other prophecies
in the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ

( 2 22-24 313-15. 24 10 39-43 ^23-37 26 22. 23). J n tfce EpistleS

especial stress is laid upon the two salient facts of
the Crucifixion and the Resurrection (1 Co 15 3f -,
Ro 4 24f -, and in many other places). These two
great acts have a significance beyond themselves,
as the basis and guarantee of the Christian's hope
of salvation. The historic scheme is completed by
the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, itself also a
fulfilment of prophecy (Ac 2 16 ~ 2 *- 33 ).

The long series of historical facts is given, and,
taken together, they constitute a broad, definite,
objective revelation. But if that revelation had
remained alone without comment and interpreta-
tion, it would have passed unregarded, or at least
imperfectly realized and understood.

(c) It is at this point that the other form of
revelation comes in revelation by word. And at
the same point we may also cross over to the con-
sideration of that other great factor in our subject
the inspiration by which the revelation is con-
veyed. There is what may be called a classical
passage in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, in
which the two conceptions meet in a way that
throws clear light upon both.

B. INSPIRATION. 1. The fundamental passage
-1 Co 2 7 " 16 . We cannot do better than begin our
discussion of inspiration with this passage, which



614 INSPIRATION AND REVELATION



INSPIRATION AND REVELATION



must be given in full: 'We speak God's wisdom
in a mystery, even the wisdom that hath been
hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds
unto our glory : which none of the rulers of this
world knoweth : for had they known it, they would
not have crucified the Lord of glory : but as it is
written, Things which eye saw not, and ear heard
not, And which entered not into the heart of man,
Whatsoever things God prepared for them that
love him. But unto us God revealed them through
the Spirit : for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea,
the deep things of God. For who among men
knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of
the man, which is in him ? Even so the things of
God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God. But
we received, not the spirit of the world, but the
spirit which is of God; that we might know the
things that are freely given to us by God. Which
things also we speak, not in words which man's
wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth ;
comparing spiritual things with spiritual. Now
the natural man receiveth not the things of the
Spirit of God : for they are foolishness unto him ;
and he cannot know them, because they are spiritu-
ally judged. But he that is spiritual judgeth all
things, and he himself is j udged of no man. For who
hath known the mind of the Lord, that he should
instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.'

2. The two modes of inspiration. We have
seen that there are two distinct modes of revela-
tion, which may be called primary and secondary,
or objective and subjective : the one a series of
facts, the other embodying the interpretation of
those facts. Inspiration corresponds to the second
of these modes ; it has to do with interpretation ;
it is the process by which God has made known
His nature, His will, and His purpose in regard to
man. But there is some difference in the way in
which inspiration works, according as it is (a)
intermediate between the series of facts and the
interpretation, dependent upon the facts and co-
extensive with them, or (b) as it were, a new begin-
ning in itself what might be called a direct com-
munication from God. Speaking broadly, it may
be said that the prophetic inspiration of the OT
was mainly of this latter type, while the Christian
or apostolic inspiration of the NT was mainly of
the former. Such distinctions are indeed only
relative. The prophets also frequently presuppose
those objective revelations through Nature and
history of which we have spoken. And yet the
great difference between the prophets and the
apostles is just this, that the outstanding Christian
facts the Incarnation or Lite, the Death, and the
Resurrection of Christ have intervened between
them. In the one case a preparation had to be
made, the first advances had to be taken and the
foundation laid ; in the other case the foundation
was already laid, and the chief task which re-
mained for the Christian teacher was one of inter-
pretation. We shall return to this distinction
presently, when we try to map out the course
which the Christian revelation as a whole has
taken. But in the meantime we must go back to
our fundamental passage, and seek with its help
to acquire a better understanding of the nature of
inspiration.

3. The psychology of inspiration. We begin
by observing that the passage is descriptive speci-
ally of the Christian or apostolic inspiration. It
is, indeed, possible to generalize from it and to
treat it as applying to the inspiration of the OT
as well as of the NT. Yet the passage implies
throughout what we have called the Christian
facts the whole historical series of revelations
culminating in Jesus Christ. The preaching Which
the Apostle has in his mind has for its object that
those to whom it is addressed might know i.e.



intelligently know, grasp, and understand the
things that were freely given to them by God,
the whole bountiful purpose of God in Christ, the
Incarnation with all that led up to it and that
followed from it its consequences nearer and
more remote.

And now we must try to analyze the passage
and see what it contains. There are two trains of
thought.

(a) The knowledge which inspiration imparts is
wholly exceptional and sui generis. It is not
possessed by the worldly-wise or by the most
powerful of secular rulers. It was then- ignorance
of it which led to the terrible mistake of not
recognizing but crucifying the Messiah when He
came. It is a knowledge chiefly of values, of
values in the spiritual sphere, of the spiritual
forces at work in the world. The knowledge of
these values is hidden from the mass of mankind.
Any criticism of those who possess it by those who
do not possess it is futile. It is as if the critics
were devoid of a natural sense like the varied
hues of Nature to the colour-blind, or the world of
musical^ sound to those who have no ear. The
expert in this new knowledge stands apart by
himself : he can judge, but he cannot be judged ;
he is superior to the world around him.

(b) If it is asked how he came by this know-
ledge, the answer is that it was imparted to him
by the Holy Spirit acting upon his own spirit. It
is a well-known peculiarity of the psychology of
St. Paul that he often mentions the Divine Spirit
and the human spirit together in such a way that
they seem to run into each other. It is often hard
to tell whether 'spirit' should be spelt with a
capital or not ; the thought passes backwards and
forwards with the finest shades of transition. A
good example may be seen in several passages of
Ro 8 : e.g. v. 9f - : 'But ye are not in the flesh, but
in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwelleth
in you. But if any man hath not the Spirit of
Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ is in you,
the body is dead because of sin ; but the spirit is
life because of righteousness ' ; and again, v. 14f :
'For as many as are led by the Spirit of God,
these are sons of God. For ye received not the
spirit of bondage again unto fear ; but ye received
the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba,
Father.' In the former passage, the domination
of the spiritual part or higher self of man is
brought about by the operation of the Spirit of God
(or of Christ) which is described as 'dwelling in
him,' and the result is that the human spirit is
instinct with life and immortality, and triumphs
over death. In the latter passage, a like operation
of the Divine Spirit results in an attitude of the
human spirit ; without any line of demarcation
between to indicate where the one ends and the
other begins. The reason for these subtle transi-
tions would seem to be that, while the subject of
them is conscious of Divine influence within him,
that influence is felt in a part of his being which is
beyond the reach of conscious analysis ; it is one
of those sub-conscious and unconscious motions
which are known only by their effects and do not
come within the cognizance of the reflective
reason. There is something more than an affinity
between the human spirit and the Divine ; when
the one is in contact with the other, it is beyond our
power to distinguish the point of junction or to say
with dogmatic precision, ' Thus far and no further.'

When it is said that the Spirit searches the deep
things of God and then bestows a knowledge of
these deep things on men, it is not meant that
there is a mechanical transference of information.
The process is dynamic, and not mechanical.
What is meant is that the same Holy Spirit which
mirrors, as it were, the consciousness of Deity, so



INSPIRATION AND REVELATION



INSPIRATION AND REVELATION 615



acts upon the human faculties, so stimulates^and
directs them, as to produce in them a conscious-
ness of God which is after its own pattern. _The
self-consciousness of God must needs be in itself
altogether transcendent and incommunicable ; the
reflexion of it in the heart of man is not absolute,
but relative ; it is expressed in human measures ;
it is still a reaching forth of the human soul to-
wards God, feeling after Him if haply it may find
Him. But it is such a reaching forth as is KCIT-A 6e6v
(Ro 8 27 ), what God would have it to be, a human
product stamped with Divine sanction and approval.

i. Prophetic inspiration. The above is an ex-
planation so far as explanation can be given of
the process of inspiration. It really covers all the
varied forms that inspiration can take. But it is
natural to ask in what relation it stands to the
prophecy of the OT.

The prophetic inspiration is really the outstand-
ing phenomenon of the OT. It is the fundamental



Online LibraryJames HastingsDictionary of the apostolic church (Volume 1) → online text (page 197 of 234)