By James H. Brookes
OLD TESTAMENT AND CHRIST.
If the manner in which the writers of the New Testament speak of the Old, is a proof of its supernatural origin and inerrant inspiration, the evidence is greatly strengthened by the reverence our Lord Jesus Christ paid to the Book known as the Scriptures. He never gave a hint that they contain “errors,” “mistakes,” “myths,” “legends,” “contradictions,” “forgeries,” and He never discovered that some of the books were not written by the men whose names they bear. To Him it is evident that “God spake all these words.”
At the very beginning of His public ministry He was tempted by the devil, and He repelled the first assault by saying, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Notice that the defence is, “It is written,” and the declaration is, the word proceeds out of the mouth of God. The devil attacks Him in another way, and is repulsed by “It is written.” Once more the devil approaches Him, and is met by “It is written,” Matt. iv. 1-10. It is a striking fact that the writings from which our Lord quotes as His sufficient panoply are taken from the book of Deuteronomy, as if He would shield it from the infamous accusation of Higher Criticism, which pronounces it a forgery. “Then the devil leaveth Him, and behold, angels came and ministered unto Him.” He had honored the Word, and angels honored Him.
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled,” Matt. v. 17, 18. The jot is the smallest Hebrew letter, like a little comma, and the tittle is a mere turn or twist of a letter. Yet so sacred is every word, every letter, every shape and stroke of every letter, that it would be easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than to disregard one of them. On another occasion our Lord repeats the testimony: “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail,” Lu. xvi. 17; and He raises the very letters of the law to the high plane of His own everlasting words, when He says, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away,” Matt. xxiv. 35.
He charges the Pharisees and Scribes with “laying aside the commandment of God. . . . And He said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God. . . . Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition,” Mark vii. 8, 9, 13. Here, quoting from the law, He does not hesitate to speak of it as “the commandment of God,” and “the word of God,” adding His authority to its divine origin and infallible inspiration. “Have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying,” Matt. xxii. 31. So He tells us that “David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool,” Mark xii. 36. Observe, our Lord positively states that David wrote the 110th Psalm, notwithstanding the audacious denial of Higher Criticism; that he spoke by the Holy Ghost, and that the Lord said. When we have His word for our faith, what does a believer care for the foolish guesses of conceited and self-constituted critics?
To one healed of leprosy our Lord said, “See thou tell no man; but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded for a testimony unto them,” Matt. viii. 4. The gift is required in Lev. xiv., a book which Higher Criticism tells us Moses never saw, but the Son of God says, “Moses commanded”; and if our Lord knew what He was talking about, and uttered the truth, Moses was the author of Leviticus. The Pharisees inquired of Him, “Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so,” Matt. xix. 7, 8. Both the Pharisees and our Lord refer to Deut. xxiv., a book which Higher Criticism tells us Moses never saw; but which He, who announced the law, assures us was written by Moses. “Did not Moses give you the law?. . . Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision,” Jno. vii. 19, 22; for it was re-enacted and re-enforced by Moses in Lev. xii.
From our Lord’s respectful and reverential treatment of the Old Testament, we are not surprised to hear Him say, “The Scripture cannot be broken,” or “loosed” or “untied,” Jno. x. 35; not in a chapter, or word, or verse, or syllable, or letter of it, for it is immutable and invulnerable like God Himself. Well may Bishop Ryle say, “Few passages appear to me to prove so incontrovertibly the plenary inspiration and divine authority of every word in the original text of the Bible. . . . There is no other standing ground, I believe about inspiration, excepting the principle that it is plenary, and reaches every syllable.” Hengstenberg also, as far superior in scholarship to the ordinary class of Higher Critics as light is to darkness, reminds us, “It cannot be doubted that the Scripture is broken by those who assert that the Psalms breathe a spirit of revenge—that Solomon’s Song is a common Oriental love song—that there are in the Prophets predictions never to be fulfilled—or by those who deny the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch.”
Our Lord would not set aside a letter of Scripture even to save His own life. He said to Peter, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? . . . But all this was done, that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled,” Matt. xxvi. 53-56. He had only to lift His finger, to cast a glance upward for help, and thousands of angels, standing on the battlements of heaven, would have hurled themselves like thunderbolts upon His tormentors and murderers, to strike them dumb or to strike them dead. But He would not cry nor entreat, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.
When hanging on the cross, the soldiers gambled for His seamless robe. They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the Scripture might be fulfilled, they parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.”.. It was a small prophecy, but it was strictly fulfilled. “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.” He would not consent to give up His life, over which He had complete control, Jno. x. 17, 18, until the least Scripture, one little word in the original, was literally fulfilled. The soldiers broke the legs of the crucified robbers, but they did not break His legs, “that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of Him shall not be broken,” Jno. xix. 24, 28, 86. If we go back to the fundamental passage, we find it in an obscure verse of an Old Testament chapter, which tells us of redemption through the blood of the Passover lamb, Ex. xii. 46.
Among the last words that fell from the lips of our ascended Lord was the solemn warning, “I testify unto every man that heareth the words o*f the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book, of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book,” Rev. xxii. 18,19. While this startling admonition, refers principally to the closing book of Revelation, it is a fearful sin to add to any part of Scripture, or to take away from it, in the least degree. Surely the immense number of professing Christians, now enrolled among the Higher Critics, do not understand their presumption, and danger, and once more may the prayer of the wounded Saviour ascend in their behalf, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” Lu. xxiii. 84.
Suppose that a man had left a will, disposing of a large estate. But also suppose that after his death experts discover a number of erasures and interpolations, so mixed up with the genuine document, it is impossible to distinguish them. Here Prof. Briggs’ words fitly apply; it would make that will “invalid and without force.” This is precisely what he and others of his school are trying to accomplish for the entire Bible. They do not pretend to give us any rule to separate the false from the true, but leave the whole Book in inextricable confusion. The Professor in his “Biblical Study,” p. 243, has calmly and deliberately written, “Higher Criticism comes into conflict with the authority Of Scripture, when it finds that its statements are not authoritative and its revelations are not credible.”
But according to this, it is obvious that we have no Bible at all, for each man must determine for himself what is authoritative and what is credible. The Higher Critics, with all their boast of learning and enormous egotism, will hardly dare to proclaim, that they are competent to decide what all the rest of the world must believe; and apart from their illy-matured and irreverent opinion, there is no rule whatever of faith and practice. If one may reject a part of the Bible as not authoritative and credible, another may reject some other portion on the same ground, and soon there will be no Bible of the slightest value to anybody. The plain old man was right, who had heard his pastor preaching Higher Criticism and telling his people what not to believe, and went to him at last holding in his hands the lids of the Bible, from which the pages had been cut, saying, “This is all you have left me.” It is ten thousand times, and millions of times, better to receive the benediction which our Lord Jesus Christ pronounced, “Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it,” Lu. xi. 28; and to do as the Son of God did, “I speak to the world those things which I have heard of HIM,” Jno. viii. 26.