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sublime attributes, his righteousness and mercy, his perfect ways
of working, his glorious character, on tlie minds and hearts of

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108 The Divine Valuation of Truth. [March,

men. In order that he may, through the agency of the Holy
Spirit, change them into his own image. The object of preach-
ing is to present God to men.

Man is so constituted that God is to him intuitively his high-
est possible idea of excellence. It is naturally impossible for
the mind of man to conceive of any virtue or excellence higher
than that which it ascribes to the Divine Being. If its ideas of
God are vague and low, its ideas of virtue, of justice, and all
moral qualities, will be correspondingly vague and low. God is
to man the fountain of moral ideas ; and the stream can not rise
higher than the fountain. Man is to become wise, pure, just,
benevolent, holy, in proportion as he becomes penetrated and
filled with a sense of the divine wisdom, purity, justice, benevo-
lence and holiness. It is manifest that whatever of error be-
comes mingled with these great truths of God, tend just to that
extent to defeat the grand design of man's recovery. Men are
to be sanctified through the truth, but unbeUef cuts ofi^, at a
stroke, the whole influence and tendency of truth ; and hence
unbeUef is necessarily the damning sin. Hence the reasonable-
ness of God's declaration, that he is a jealous God. For the
sake of the influence on men, he must guard his honor, his
name, his attributes, his methods, his system of divinity with
jealous care, and, if necessary to this end, no severity must be
spared, even to the "visiting the iniquities of the fethers upon
the children to the third and fourth generation."

The whole history of religions, true and felse, in the world,
establishes the constant and universal connection which exists
between a people's conceptions of God and their own moral
character. If the elements of a sense of right and wrong, of
justice, of benevolence, of truth, are innate in the mind of man,
they are so in connection with, and in dependence on the innate
ideas of God. For no nation, or tribe, or person, has ever been
found possessing, at the same time, low and erroneous views of
God, and high and correct views of moraUty ; nor high and cor-
rect views of God, and comparatively low and erroneous views
of moraUty. The mythology of the Greeks, the Latins, the
Hindoos will give, at any time, the moral ideas and character of
the people. If the gods of a people carouse, are tricky or

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1868.] The Divine Valuation of Truth: 109

drunken and impure, no power can prevent the people from be-
ing the same ; and the only possible method of elevation for such
a people begins with the correction and elevation of their con-
ceptions of God. The Apostle Paul reveals the cause of the
dark and sad condition of the whole heathen world in one sen-
tence in the first chapter of Romans : "Even as they did not like
to retain God in their knowledge^ God gave them up to a repro-
bate mind, to do those things which are not fit ; being filled with
all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, mah-

God's method of recovery appUed to his ancient people and
to aU eminent Old Testament saints was, most manifestly^ this
of revealing his own true character to them, and impressing
upon them his own moral attributes. It was, at last, when God
revealed himself more fully and impressively to Job through
several of the most sublime chapters of the Bible, that the con-
troversy closed with Job's confession and humiliation : "I have
heard of thee by the hearing of the ear ; but now mine eye
seeth thee ; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and
ashes." Isaiah saw the Lord "sitting upon his throne, high
' and lifted up," and heard the Seraphim shouting "holy, holy,
holy is the Lord of Hosts" ; and he, too, was overwhelmed with
a sense of his own "unclean" and "undone" condition, and be-
came the most sublime and the most Gospel prophet. Paul was
caught up into the third heaven and heard unutterable things ;
and he became a flame of zeal and energy surpassing all the
other apostles. Who can tell the effects, in all after life, upon
Moses, of seeing what he saw, and hearing what he heard at
the burning bush ? God impressed the Israelites with a much
needed awe of him when he appeared to them amid the thun-
derings and lightnings of a smoking, quaking mountain, pro-
claiming himself a God that would visit iniquity fearfully upon
the guilty. He required much sprinkling for purification, to
impress them with his own purity. He gave the minute pat-
tern of the tabernacle and all the service, to teach them that
he waa a God of order, thus developing ord^r in them. He
brought them out of Egypt with a high hand, and wrought
great wonders before them in the wilderness, that they might

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110 The I>ivine Valuatim of Truth. [March,

learn his omnipotence. He searched out and punished Achan
to impress the nation with his omniscience and his justice. He
Ufted up the brazen serpent in their camp of death, that he
might point them to a coming Saviour and assure them of the
wonderfiil mercy of his nature, and the profound compassion
of his heart. A besotted, idolatrous nation, emerging from the
darkness of slavery, was to be educated and prepared to ftunish
Prophets, Revelation, and a sin-bearing Saviour for the whole
w<Mrld ; and so he led them on step by step, through impressive
symbols and supernatural manifestations, to know, as no people
had ever known, the attributes, the thoughts, the requirements
and ways of the infinite God.

But the worship of images and external objects is not the
only or the chief idolatry. That of the imagination may be fiur
more subversive of great moral truths, and therefore fer more
ofiensive to God. In ages and countries in which intelligence
and civilization have made progress, the images which stand
"before," or in place of, Jehovah must be of a more subtle and
plausible character. An unwillingness to accept the God of
the Scriptures leads to all sorts of cunning devices of the rea-
son, and pleading inventions of the imagination. Instead of*
"the smith with the tongs" who "worketh in the coals, and
fashioneth it with hammers, and worketh it with the strength of
his arms," the pen, the printed page and the pulpit are em-
ployed, and the cultivated idol-maker "worketh it with the
strength of his" intellect, his will and his affections. After all
the "soldering" of partial science, and the fastening "with nails"
of ingenious logic "that it should not be moved," the more re-
fined idolater of this age, as truly as his ruder brother of any
former period, *4alleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and
prayeth unto it, and saith : Deliver me ; for thou art my god."

It is strange that a multitude of persons, calling themselves
Christians, and even scientists, have yet to be told that man can
not make God ; that it is no more in the power of a cultivated
man than a heathen man. Of course the inventor and maker
of a god will not invent and make a god that will condemn him
as a sinner by nature and practice, a sinner utterly lost without
a new birth from above. He will not invent and make a god

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1868.] The Divine Valuation of Truth. Ill

that is incomprehensible or mysterious in the mode of his ex-
istence, in his provisions for salvation, and in his purposes and
works. He will not make a god who is strict to mark iniquity,
who opens but a narrow gate and strait way to heaven, and
who appoints a day of general judgment and eternal retribu-
tions. He might as well accept the true God as such an one.
He may not even give him any real foreordination, nor any
real power over the human will. He may make his decrees
dependent on his foreknowledge and his foreknowledge depend-
ent on what he chooses to foreknow. But whatever the imagi-
nary god, which is brought forth with all his study and learning
and experiment and toil, the very "mountains laboring," it will
be as much, and more "an abomination" to Jehovah as the
heathen's **stock of a tree" ; and these ominous words of God
by Isaiah, as truly apply to him as to any grosser idolater of the
past : "He feedeth on ashes ; a deceived heart hath turned him
aside, that he can not deliver his soul, nor say : Is there not a
lie in my right hand ?"

And who can say that it is not as great a work, requiring as
persevering and severe discipline on the part of God to break
up and root out the fidse gods of men's inventions in these latter
ages, as it required to overcome the idolatry of the Jewish na-
tion ? As the new dispensation waited so long and painftdly
for the thorough establishment of the spirituality of God against
idolatry, so now the promised Millennium waits through all these
long and painAil struggles for the establishment of the true
Gtxl against all the inventions of men's reason and imagina-
tion. It is plain that little progress can be made in Christiani-
zing the nations until these fundamental doctrines concerning
God, which we call divinity and theology, are more generally
accepted. For subtle false gods are sure to mislead and degrade
men ; and as sure to stand in the way of true religion, as were
any and all the grosser forms of idolatry which have always
darkened and corrupted the heathen world. Does not God see
that to establish these essential truths is worth all the delay
and the conflict which the world is now witnessing ? Is not
this the divine valuation of truth ? Does it not reveal that the
mightiest struggle of all is to be over the question. Has God

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given to men, in a clear and grand revelation, his own true
character and will and government, those by which he must be
known and served and worshipped ? Does it not show that the
battle is to be fought out for doctrines; and what is God's
opinion of their importance ?

The whole moral government of God, with all its adaptations
to our nature and condition, and with all its provisions of jus-
tice and grace, is one continued and luminous testimony to the
divine valuation of truth. Moral principles are as fixed and in-
evitable as natural laws. Whoever resists, neglects, or even
mistakes them must suffer the tremendous consequences, conse-
quences from which the human mind, in its feebleness, starts
back appalled. The truth of God is one and indivisible, a
very millstone of good or evil according to the relations in
which we put ourselves towards it. "On whomsoever it shall
fall it will grind him to powder." For God to tolerate the per-
version of essential truth, or to justify the neglect or ignorance
of it, even in the case of the heathen, would be to abandon his
. pity for men, and to abdicate his throne of righteous govern-
ment. "If we deny him, he also will deny us ; if we believe not,
yet he abideth faithful ; he can not deny himself."

A false theology, either heathen or civilized, enthrones a fidse
god, either material or imaginary ; and of course dethrones and
casts down the true God, makes all his truth a lie, and renders
the elevation and salvation of the race an impossibility. The
rejection of the truth, the perversion of the truth, the unbelief
of the truth are fatal. And yet, throughout Jiis eternal and
unchangeable government, God, in infinite benevolence as well
as justice, adheres to his truth ! Such is the priceless value
which he sets upon it I It is this value which gives energy to
his command to teach all nations. Millions are perishing
through ignorance. All their false worship is corrupting and
tends downward. No worship is elevating and saving, but the
worship of God in truth as well as in spirit.

It is of infinite importance that Bibles and preachers and
missionaries be multipUed. It is of infinite moment that error
be exposed and destroyed. Nothing is of consequence com-
pared with what we, our children and neighbors accept as re-

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1868.] Moses Stuart. 118

ligious trath. It is Wisdom which saith to every mortal : "Buy
the truth and sell it not." It was Him who is the way, the
the truth and the life who declared before Pilate : "To this end
was I bom, and for this cause came I into the world, that I
should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the
truth heareth my voice."


God in his providence takes time to instruct. Ages inter-
pret events. Generations have to pass before an influential life
is seen in its completeness. The time has not come for a full
estimate of Moses Stuart and his work ; but half a century's
results are indicating the purpose of his calling and election to
be a master of Israel.

Moses Stuart was bom in Wilton,- Connecticut, March 26,
1780. His youth showed that he was bom to do something.
He put his intellect into a strong leading string by reading
**Edwards on the Will," at twelve. He was graduated at Tale
College in 1799. He was ordained in 1806 ; and in 1810 was
inaugurated Professor of Sacred Literature in the Theological
Seminary at Andover. There he lived and labored until he
entered into his partial rest by retiring from his pubKc duties in
1848. On the fourth of January, 1852, he entered into his
final rest.

From this outline of his life we see that it is nearly sixty
years since Mr. Stuart went to Andover as an instructor in
biblical Kterature. When he left Connecticut he was con-
fessedly unprepared for his new duties. He was not accus-
tomed to travel, like Andrew Melville, with his Hebrew Bible
"slung in his belt." He could read it, but only "after a fash-
ion." But he had in him the making of a scholar. He had a

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114 Mo9e% Stuart. [March,

vigorous intellect, untiring perseverance, an impulsive spirit, a
fearless heart, a regenerated soul. Some thought him adven-
turous to a dangerous degree. He was candid to criminality in
the eyes of the wise and prudent. Providence has unfolded
itself fdLT enough to show that he was mentally built for his
work. His first efforts were made upon himself. His self-
education was perhaps his greatest achievement. From com-
parative poverty of learning he rose to a scholarly affluence.
Unaided, except by books whose language he had to master, he
became one of the ablest expositors. Apart from intensity
of study, he underwent the most approved course of discipline.
Emphatically, Stuart fought his way. Like him whose name
he bore, he had his forty years in the wilderness. He had
assault from without, and vexation from within the camp. Yet,
after his conflicts, he stood with his unworn garments and un-
clouted shoes, his eye not dim, nor his mental force abated, and
saw the possession awaiting the advancing church. Humanly
speaking, without his so-called peculiarities, he could not have
broken his way through his own ignorance, to say nothing of
sustaining himself amid the ignorance of others. It is clear,
now, that his qualities were not for himself alone. Enthusiasm
is infectious, and from the instructor took hold of the in-
structed. To this end was he called, that he might impart his
own self to others. Before his day, the original text of Scrip-
ture was not examined by theological teachers. Not being
expounded to students it could not be explained by them.
Grammar was no part of "divinity" then. Indeed, according
to Professor Bela B, Edwards, before 1810 there were but
eight or ten Hebrew scholars in America. President Dunster
of Harvard, Samuel Whiting of Lynn, John Cotton of Boston,
the Jewish teacher Morris, President Styles and Dr. Cutler of
New Haven, were the only names worthy of mention as Shem-
itic scholars. But in a few years after Stuurt's influence was
felt, the smallest denominations had their professors of exegeti-
cal theology. And, looking out of America, this scholar's
influence is found in the uttermost parts of the earth. The
world hardly contains the books written by those who caught
the passion for languages at the feet of Moses Stuart.

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1868.] Mo$e$ StuaH. 115

Bat the life and work of the Andover recluse did not end
with himself; nor is his influence exhausted upon his pupils and

. contemporaries. It is finding its completeness in the progress
of sacred learning. It is doing so, mainly, because he began
this march of inteUect in the interests of truth, of Grod's truth,
if such a qualification is necessary, since all truth is Grod's.
Had the triumph, or even the advantage of a sect, called
Mr. Stuart to Andover, he, of all men, would have betrayed
the secret. But no one who heard him, and no one who reads
him, thinks of his studying for any end other than to' discover
the truth. He bums the truth into his reader. The young
expositor who ^4ooks at Stuart" is ashamed to be uncandid.
He may not accept the opinion, but he is forced to respect the
spirit of the critic. He can not evade this teacher's grammati-
cal fervor. Stuart's Greek particles breathe the breath of life.
Everything he can move, he will move, to reach the truth, and
get others to see it. He was more anxious to get the meaning
of a text than to establish its orthodoxy. He did not find any
particular system in the fifth of Romans. He did not please
any party by his views of the seventh and eighth of Romans.
Time justifies him. He told the truth in items. That was his
work. What say the words? Let others wield the truth into
shapes, comely or uncomely, as they please.

The history of exposition in America has developed this
spirit. Mr. Stuart's pupils, in so far as their writings have met
the critics, have never been blamed, either for artificial twisting
of texts, or disingenuousness of spirit. Stuart's love of truth
begat and fostered this. It would be a libel on our modem
commentators to say that their own characters, and the themes

' they handle, would not secure an upright treatment. But is
not a teacher's metliod and spirit a power in the formation of a
scholar's habits ? Had Stuart been a Jesuit, the commentaries
of his pupils could hardly have escaped Jesuitical taints.

But the goodly company of authors and preachers on whom
he exerted more influence than they can measure, with one
consent declare that good it is for them that they sat before a
teacher who ridiculed folly and hated meanness; who ab-
horred dishonesty and loved the truth, and the labor of finding

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116 Mose9 Stuart. [March,

it. And they may well count it to their honor that in their
writings may be inserted what is found in his:

"I tremble lest, through the deceitfulness of the human heart, some- •
thing may have escaped me which may prove prejudicial to the pro-
motion of real truth. If you see this, tell me where, and what it is.
We have no real interest but to know, believe, and obey the truth."

But beyond himself, and the generation he taught, the influ-
ence of this Christian scholar is discernible.

During Mr. Stuart's career, the Bible underwent as severe a
trial as it can undergo. The destructive critics were spending
their first, if not their best powers. He was the man for his
day. He was made to meet first things, and not knowing fear,
he ingenuously entered the arena. He inarched into the camp
of the rationalists. This was thought a dangerous place. So
it was — for the rationalists. What has been the result?
Stuart captured? Andover surrendered to Tiibingen? The
new science, turned into a science felsely so called? Just the
reverse. Before their writings were circulated in English, he
had mastered them, and assured the churches that they were
harmless. Moses Stuart had seen too much of the power of
the Holy Spirit in the revivals in Connecticut to doubt the
divine interposition in the salvation of man. What he found
the Germans desirous to cast away, ^^he could not but speak as
things of God he had seen and heard." He read and under-
stood and warned the ministry. He wrote and caused them
to understand and armed them. Time, the great teacher,
shows that he obviated the dangers he was said to incur. No
wonder that a New England author, of no mean repute, says
that after years of study, he finds Stuart right, and his own
former opposition to him wrong.

Although Moses Stuart's life was mainly given to language
and its laws, indirectly his contributions to systematic theology
are invaluable. He found the science of interpretation bound
in the systems of the schoolmen. Doctrines were sometimes
stated, and proved by the "analogy of faith" ; that is, the doc-
trines interpreted the texts. In other cases, philosophies were
kept at hand, as chemists keep testing fluids, and texts were
submitted to a process of reasoning before a meaning was

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1868.] Moses Stmrt. 117

given them. While others, like Daniel Hofiman, Professor of
Divinity at Helmstadt, maintained that truth was divisible; and
that different truths opposed each other; and what was true in
philosophy was fidse in theology.

The doctrines of salvation were wrested from Rome ; but up
to the close of the sixteenth century, and even later, the
"words" of the Lord were yet bound. There was little minute
criticism. There was no method. The doctrines are on a bet-
ter basis than ever. Their proofs are better, because the Bible
is better understood. It is not without hesitation that some al-
low that there can be^an "improvement" in doctrinal theology.
Strictly speaking, there can be no improvement in theology :
the doctrine of God can be neither altered nor amended. But
can not statements be clearer ? May not proofs be multiplied
and purified? Has the Light of the World no intellectual
beams ? Does not spiritual insight improve the understanding ?
The decrees of God, true before, appear more clearly true by
the testimony of the rocks. The shovel of the excavator has
cast up ft^sh proofs of Christ's divinity and power. Standing
in a modem library, with one third of its bulk and value in the
literature of the Bible, it is difficult to understand why Moses
Stuart was feared as a innovator. Christendom was thrilled
when Chalmers's telescopic views of God's works were
preached. Why object when Stuart pres^ted his microscopic
investigations of God's words? His minute and protracted
studies have resulted m pdvantage to Christian doctrine. Its
proofs are without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Instead
of being an innovator, the exegete is the true conservative. The
basis of doctrine is the Bible — the words of the Bible fairly
read. This is the rule of faith and practice, and the best means
of proof. Significantly, Moses Stuart's class room was on the
ground floor.

It has been asserted that in his efforts to aid doctrinal the-
ology, Mr. Stuart was too generous, that he gave up texts to the
adversary which a truly cautious expositor would have retained.
Perhaps he was too generous. Take an apology for him from
the words of a living scholar : "The rich man can afford to be
generous : the strong man need not be constantly anxious ; a


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118 Mo%e% Stuart. [March,

scientific and rigorous orthodoxy should ever look out of a
beaming, and not a sullen eye." ^

He was too impulsive to be trusted, it is said. The same was
said of Luther and Knox. But they were trusted ; and, for all
their rashness and mistaken zeal, not in vain. In essentials all
three are appealed to even now, and their words treated as the
words of the wise. But it must be acknowledged that some of
his personal characteristics stood in the way of the highest at-
tainment. Although foremost in position, he was not first in
raiik. He was not sure-footed. He was not so accurate as the
men he taught have become. True ; and yet as he appears to-
day, there is. an allowance for him. Every year has added aids
to accuracy. He labored to make himself of little use. This
the devoted scholar saw ; and proposed to re-write his most la-
bored compositions. Aptly has he been called the pioneer of
his profession. To handle "the whole grain — the pure wheat"
of a modem commentary and have no thought of the arm that
cleared the way for such wheat to grow, is an injustice to the
memory of Moses Stuart.

To end in keeping with the opening thought, see the life and
work of this laborious man as providence is completing them.

He enters his chair with no Hebrew instruction in the semin-
aries, and no apparatus to prosecute it ; with a public distrust in

Online LibraryLouis BallonThe Congregational review → online text (page 12 of 58)