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

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 029:116 (Oct 1872)
Article: Revelation And Inspiration
Author: E. P. Barrows

Revelation And Inspiration

Rev. E. P. Barrows

No. XI.

Inspiration Considered In Its Sphere

The sphere of inspiration is that which the wisdom of the Infinite Spirit has prescribed to himself, taking counsel of no created intelligence. It was never his plan to give indiscriminately, in all the departments of human activity, that special illumination and guidance, called inspiration, which, as we have seen, raised its possessors above error, and invested their words with divine authority. This heavenly gift was ever rigidly restricted to the supernatural revelations connected with the plan of redemption through Jesus Christ. We acknowledge, indeed, with devout reverence, the providential guidance of God in all the affairs of human history. It was not without his appointment, for example, that our

own land was colonized at such a peculiar crisis in English history, and by men of such a peculiar character. His hand was in the discoveries of Newton and Laplace; in the invention of the telescope, microscope, steam-engine, power-loom, railroad, and electric telegraph; and in all the wonderful results of modern science. But inspiration has ever gone hand in hand with revelation; and both have been concerned only with the way of salvation contained in scripture.

But there are limitations which the Divine Spirit has prescribed to himself in the sphere of revelation itself, and it is concerning these that we are now to inquire. We may say, at the outset, that, inasmuch as they have the Spirit of truth for their Author, they cannot be of such a nature as to frustrate, in any degree, the end of inspiration, which is to furnish men with a divinely authoritative and sufficient rule of faith and practice. Rather must their effect be to disentangle the truth from all needless complications, and thus make it available to all men, in all ages and in all grades of society.

1. The first limitation which we notice has respect to the phenomena of nature. The facts of the physical world are always described according to popular apprehension, not according to any scientific formula. For this there was an antecedent necessity, lying in the divine plan for the culture and training of the human family. God has committed to men the task of developing, under his providential guidance, all the truths of natural science by a slow process, involving many temporary mistakes and misapprehensions, but eminently adapted to elicit the best powers of the human intellect. Meanwhile, he has revealed to men, from time to time, as the way was prepared, truths pertaining to their salvation, in which the laws and operations of nature are described according to appearance; so that the des...

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