Revelation And Inspiration -- By: E. P. Barrows

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 029:115 (Jul 1872)
Article: Revelation And Inspiration
Author: E. P. Barrows


Revelation And Inspiration

Rev. E. P. Barrows

No. X.

Inspiration Considered In Its Mode

It was shown in the preceding article that the end which the inspiration of the record has in view is that of giving to men, under the sanction of divine authority, a sure rule of faith and practice; and that this end is accomplished in the writings of the New Testament (to which the present inquiry has special reference), they coming to us with the two attributes of infallibility and sufficiency, both of which are included in their divine authority. The reader may naturally ask: Why, then, pursue the investigation any further? If the scriptures come to us with the sanction of divine authority, and contain an infallible rule of faith and practice, what more do we need? We answer: Nothing more, if men would only be content to rest here. But they are not thus content. From the consideration of the end of inspiration they have proceeded to that of its mode. They have propounded untenable theories concerning it; and some of them have identified with these theories the very essence of inspiration, denouncing in unmeasured terms those who dissent from their conclusions. It becomes necessary, therefore, to inquire, in a reverential spirit, what light we have from scripture, from the constitution of the human mind, and from the nature of language, respecting the mode of the Spirit’s operation when “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” or wrote under a like guidance for the instruction of the church in all coming ages.

We begin with the distinction already noticed in a cursory way,1 between that form of revelation which is purely outward (objective), and that which is wholly inward (subjective); between which lie some forms of an intermediate character. The purely objective form, addressed to men through the medium of their outward senses, they being awake and their minds in a normal state, is manifestly the very highest mode of revelation. A notable example of this we have in the giving of the law from Mount Sinai. “All the people,” we are told, “saw the thunderings and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking.” 2 “These words,” says Moses, “the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the mount, out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice.”3 Such also was the entire revelation made to men by Jesus Christ. He was more than a prophet speaking by inspiration of God. He was himself God clothed wi...

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