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418 KOTES.

the language in the latler part of the verse strongly corroborates this
view : " I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the
Lord to ^e faithful." Faithfulness has reference to a trust or com-
mission. Compare 1 Cor. iv. 1, 2. Acts xx. 27. On the present oc-
casion, he gives a judgment, or sentence, (y»«Atfl» i't S'iSuia.i) as one who
had obtained mercy to be faithful — that is, to his apostolic commis-
sion ; the nature of which faithfulness is described in one of the pas-
sages just referred to as consisting in " not shunning to declare the
whole counsel of God." The very mention of faithfulness, and not
of wisdom, experience, prudence, or sagacity, appears to show that
what he does deliver he delivers in his apostolic capacity.

Verse 26. " I suppose, therefore, that this is good for the present
distress," &c.

The word, rendered " I suppose," has for its primary signification,
I establish by law, I enact, — {ve/^tt^a, proprie lege sancio, leges fero, a
v^f*^s, lejc. Schieusner.) Its more extended signification is, I judge, I
reckon, I account, &c. &c. It does not imply the uncertainty which
we attach to our word, suppose. It expresses here decided judgment,
Che judgment of an apostle, of one who" had the mind of Christ."

Verse ^o. " But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment:
ami 1 think also that I have the Spirit of God."

The observations made on verse 25, apply to the former part of"
this verse. The latter part, so far from being favourable to the opin-
ion that Paul in this chapter disclaims inspiration, is, in my mind,
most decisive against it.

1. ^ye surely must not for a moment suppose, that the apostle did
not know, or was not sure, whether he was inspired or not. This
was a matter which could not possibly bo doubtful. Such a supposi-
)ion is pregnant with absurdity in itself, and leads to the fatal conse-
quence of completely and universally unsettling our confidence in in-
spiration. If these w Titers could be uncertain of their inspiration at
one time, they miglit be mistaken in deeming themselves inspired at
another: so that no evidence of their general inspiration could ever
give us the assurance of its universality, even in what they them-
selves thought to be of Divine authority, or impart full confidence to
our minds as to any thing at all which they had delivered.

2. Besides; for what end does the aposlle introduce this at all ?
When he says " and I think also that I have the Spirit of God," he
surely intended to give authority and ireight (o what he had been
saying. If it has not this meaning, it will be ditiieult to say what it
means. If therefore we believe that Paul really had the Spirit of



KOTES. 419

God at all, we must conelude that the judgment which he here pro-
nounces is the judgment of the Spirit. For it would obviously have
been notliing to his purpose, to introduce his " having the Spirit of
God" on other subjects, if it had indeed been the case that he was
giving only his private, uninspired, unauthoritative opinion on this.
The very circumstance, then, of his thus referring at all to his inspi-
ration, clearly shows, that it was more than his mere personal opin-
ion and advice that he intended to express.

3. The verb, translated "/f/tinfc," does not, by any means, of it-
self, imply suspicion or doubt ; but as naturally means thinking with
confidence^ — conviction, — knowledge. (See Schleusner's and Park-
hurst's Lexicons, on the verb S'oy.iu.) Compare John v. 39.

4f. The language of the apostle is a gentle, modest way of express-
ing a fact, of which he was fully confident. And in this view, it is
worthy of remark, it derives peculiar beauty from the circumstance of
his apostolic inspiration having been called in question at Corinth,
by the false teachers and their adherents. It is as if he had said : —
*' Whatever some may say, or may insinuate, I think I have the Spir-
it of God : I think I surely gave you sufficient evidence of this — did I
not ^ Have you any reason to refuse my authority ^ I tender you these
directions in love : and I think, from ' the signs of an apostle which
were wrought among you,' I may also consider myself as authorized
to ' enjoin upon you that which is convenient.' "

As for 1 Cor. xi. 17, the only other passage in Paul's writings
which has been thought to countenance the sentiment of his some-
times disclaiming inspiration, I need not dwell upon it. A number
of the general observations already made, apply to it in all their
force : and the expression, " after the Lord" (" That which I speak,
I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly in this confi-
dence of boasting,") — evidently refers not to the authority of the
Lord, but to his example. The " glorying," to which the apostle was
" compelled" by necessitating circumstances, he avows his conscious-
ness, was hardly, at least in appearance, accordant with the example
of him who " sought not his own glory." If Paul means more than
this — if he means to disclaim inspiration, when does his inspiration
recommence ? at what particular place does he begin again to speak
by the Spirit of God .?

Upon the whole, I am not satisfied, that there are any passages of
his writings in which this apostle can be fairly considered as disclaim-
ing inspiration.



4av. NOTES.

Note K. page 174.

Some time in the course of last year, the Glasgow Religious Tract
Society published, in a small pamphlet, certain Extracts from the
Strictures on the improved Version of the New Testament contained
in the notes to the third Edition of Dr. Magee's work on Atonement
and Sacrifice. To these Extracts a reply was soon after circulated,
written " by a Calm Inquirer after Revealed Truth." " This Calm
Inquirer" was generally understood to be Mr. Belsham, partly from
curreut report, and partly from the designation assumed by the writer,
and the singular congruity between the designation and the style in
which he writes, so remarkable for that gentle calmness, that mild and
modest sweetness, that total absence of every thing like bitterness and
violence, by which Mr. Belsham's compositions are so well known to
be characterized.

I introduce this Reply here, for the sake of pointing out one in-
stance in it of most evasive sophistry ; not because it is the only one,
but because it relates to the subject here commented on, the authenti-
city of the two first chapters of the gospels of Matthew and Luke.

Dr. Magee had pointed out the glaring inconsistency of the Editors
of the Improved Version, in rejecting, on the alleged authority of the
Ebionites, the two first chapters of Matthew, while yet they retained
the three other gospels and Paul's Epistles, although the whole of these
were rejected by these same Ebionites. Now, how does the author
of the Reply vindicate himself and friends, from this charge of obvi-
oas and flagrant inconsistency ^ Let him speak for himself. " But,
(says the learned Professor,) will you not upon the same authority,
reject the remaining gospels and Paul's Epistles > I answer, JVU
AVhat ! (says the Professor,) are the Ebionite witnesses pronounced
on one side of the leaf, not credible, and on the other, witnesses of
such repute as to be relied upon in opposition to all Manuscripts and
Versions in the whole world .'* I answer. Yes ; because in the one
case I see reason to concur with them, and in the other to dift'er from
them : and I believe that I have good grounds for the discrimination."
What, then, are these grounds } The question whether Matthew
wrote these two chapters — whether they formed part of the original
Pecord — is a question pjtre?^ cHtical. On this ground, however, the
respondent was well aware, the authority of his friends, the Ebionites,
could not weigh a feather in the scale — for it was not so much as no-
ticed by critics of the highest eminence. He therefore very slily, (for
we can hardly conceive it to have been an oversight,) shifts his ground



NOTES. 431

entirely, and rests his concurrence with the Ebionites in this instance,
on what every one will readily believe to be its true foundation — the
mysterious, and consequently obno.rious nature of the contents of the
chapters themselves I ! " We should make fine work of ancient histo-
ry," continues he, "if this Dublin Professor's principle is to be admit-
ted, believe all or none, without discrimination. Livy relates, that
Hannibal crossed the Alps, and beat the Romans at the battle of Can-
nse ; and I believe him. The same Livy tells that an ox spoke ; but
I believe him not. "What ! (says one educated in the school of our
Dublin Professor,) is Livy pronounced on one side of the leaf to be
credible, and on the other incredible } Is a witness to be brought up
and turned down at pleasure ? Is he good and bad, as may servelhe
purpose ? If such reasoning satisfies the learned gentleman ; if he
cannot be content to believe the battle of Cannse, without believing
likewise that the ox spoke, he has my free consent to believe as much
as he pleases. Only, let him permit us on this side of the water, to
exercise a little common sense in judging of a report, and to discrim-
inate what is worthy of belief from what appears to be incredible, in
the works of the same author."

Apart altogether from the levity and impiety of the comparison
contained in this paragraph, who does not perceive its evasive soph-
istry } — There is sophistry not only in the shifting of ground, already
noticed, but in the very comparison itself The two questions, " Are
the contents of these chapters worthy of belief ?" and — ." Were these
chapters written by the historian .^" are perfectly distinct from each
other. Yet by this writer they are completely confounded together.
From its being recorded in Livy's history that an ox spoke, he never
thinks of inferring that this passage ivas not written by Livy himself
No. He only says, " Livy relates, that Hannibal crossed the Alps,
and beat the Romans at Cannse ; and I believe him. The same Livy
relates that an ox spoke; but I believe him not.^^ — Very well. We
have no objection to his saying, provided he does not insist that our
faith shall be regulated by his, " The Evangelist Matthew relates,
that Jesus of Nazareth died on a cross ; and I believe him. The same
Evangelist Matthew relates that Jesus of Nazareth was born of a
virgin ; but I helieve him not." — Let this writer by all means, " ex-
ercise a little common sense in judging of a report, and discriminate
what is worthy of belief, from what appears to be incredible in th^
works of the same a^dhorP Bui let him not, wherever he findRry
thing, which he may be pleased to deem incredible, unwa'-
and presumptuously conclude that it forms no part ofw^i^"^-' ='~-



4SS NOTES.

wrote! — What theu is the acknowledged amount of all the parade
about the authority of the Ebionites and of Marcion, against these
chapters of Matthew, and Luke ? It is nothing at all. By the con-
fession of this writer, it resolves itself into neither more nor less than
this : — " These chapters cannot be genuine ; for, in our opinion, they
contain what is not credible P^ — i. e. in other words, they contain what
is mysterious, and what does not comport with their system.

Note I. page 253.

To enoci itrx Gici) . " ISOS, vel Iras, jj, ov. 1. (vqualis, par, scilicet

quantitate, numero, magnitiidine, etc. ^ 2. idem, wqiialis et sim-

ilis natura. John v. 18. ;, eequalem se faciens
T)eo. Act. xi. 17. r^* le-ti^ Sm^cxv (SuKtv, iisdem donis instruxit. Vul-
gatus : eandem gratiam dedit. Philip, ii. 0. ovx, ec.p7rccyf/.ov ^y^jo-aro to
eii»i i« vvx-n — but somewhat more is actually said, " in the

same manner as in the night" — equally as in the night. Job xi. 12.

" Man is born, itra ov« £§}J;m,(t>i, like a wild ass's colt." The idea ac-
tually expressed is more than mere resemblance : " Man is born on an

equality with the wild ass's colt." Job x. 10. " Thou hast curdled

me,



Online LibraryRalph WardlawDiscourses on the principal points of the Socinian controversy → online text (page 35 of 36)