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a Weekly Itlagazine,
OF CHRISTIAN EXPOSITION AND ADVOCACY.
Who knows not that truth is strong, next to the Almighty; she needs no policies, nor stratagems, nor licensings to make her victorious, those are the shifts and the defences that error uses against her power.-—MILTON.
THE DISCUSSION AT HALIFAX BETWEEN THE Rev. BREWIN GRANT AND MR. JOSEPH BARKER, ON THE
ORIGIN AND AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE.
This public discussion commenced on the evening of Monday, the 23rd January, 1855, and is arranged to continue for ten nights. At an early hour the doors of the Odd Fellows' Hall were besieged by large numbers. “Very shortly after the doors were opeaed, the hall, which we should think capable of holding fifteen hundred persons, was crowded in every part, principally by working men who seemed eagerly to anticipate the debate, and to hold sundry minor discussions among themselves with not a little spirit. A little before the hour appointed, the chairman with the disputants appeared on the platform, and at half-past seven precisely, James Stansfeld, Esq., who, it had been arranged should preside on the occasion, commenced the proceedings of the evening by saying:
Ladies and Gentlemen :-It is not without some hesitation and reluctance that I have consenied to preside over yo'ı to-night, becarise it carrot be supposed that the subject of debaie is one on which a man, who has lived upwards of forty years in the world, has forired no decided opinion, and it may be thought that depth of conviction, in my position, may not conduce to impartiality. It is rot, however, my duty to give judgment, but to see that justice is done to both parties; and I shall endeavour to hold the scales as evenly as I can.
There is a still more serious difficulty. The subject, being one of the most vital importance, cannot easily be approached without offending the most cherished feelings of many hearts. The speakers, I trust, will pay respect to those feelings. The laws of our country, while providing liberty of conscience and
No. 5, Vol. 1.
of speech, do forbid the employment of the shafts of ridicule against sacred truth and make it blasphemy to call Christ an impostor. This remark applies especially to Mr. Barker.' I hope there will be no difficulty in carîying out the arrangement, to which you have pledged yourselves in the purchase of tickets, that there shall be “no signs of approbation or disapprobation, and that no person shall in any way interrupt the meeting.”
“Mr. Joseph Barker undertakes to prove the following proposition ;—The Rev. Brewin Grant undertakes to prove the opposite :
That there is no evidence of the Supernatural Origin, or Divine Authority of the Bible ; that there is evidence in abundance of its Human Origin ; and that the doctrine of its Supernatural Origin and Divine Authority is injurious.
January 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 26th, 30th, and 31st, and February 1st, 2nd, 6th, and 8th, are the evenings fixed for the debate.
The discussion to continue for two and a half hours each night. The first night each speaker to occupy an hour with his opening speech, and fifteen minutes with his closing one; and on the following nights each speaker to have two periods of thirty minutes each, and one of fifteen minutes.
Mr. Barker to open the discussion the first night, Mr. Grant the second night, and alte: nately through the discussion.
Each committee shall have control over half the tickets. One competent reporter to be employed, who shall be expected to do equal justice to both parties in the discussion ; his expenses to be defrayed out of the proceeds of the sale of tickets; the reporter to furnish a full and accurate report of the discussion within thirty days after its close. When approved by both the disputants, this report to be published, under the direction of the joint committees; but neither side to be allowed to introduce any new matter, nor suppress any argument or statement actually adduced ; and both parties to consider themselves pledged not to sanction the publication of any other report of the discussion than the one published by the joint committees.”
Such are the conditions of this debate. For myself, I have not the slightest fear of the freest discussion. For å season truth may be clouded by prejudice and clamour, but it will ultimately rise with greater splendour. I beg now to introduce to you as the first speaker, Mr. Barker, who will occupy an hour.
MR. BARKER said, Mr. Chairman, Ladies, and Gentlemen ;-I need not repeat what has just been stated. The subject which we have met to discuss is of great importance. We all know it, and feel it to be so. Any apology for the course we pursue is quite unneeded. In stating my views on the origin and authority of the Bible, I am using a liberty of which none of you would like to be deprived. While I speak with freedom and plainness, I shall endeavour to shock no one's feelings, except so far as the interests of truth and of humanity demand. * - The Bible exists in three forms ;-Translations, Greek and Hebrew compilations, and manuscripts. In none of them is it or divine authority; in all of them it bears the marks of human imperfection. - The Translations which we have of the Bible, are the work of imperfect men. This is not our view merely, it is the opinion of those who defend the Bible as the word of God. These trarslations may be better, o' they may be worse than the original, but none of them can be of divine authority. Christiars do not consider themselves bound by them. ' A pássage in a translation is not allowed to settle a controversy regarding any doctrine. How often do you find an appeal made from a translation to the original. The Bible in common use is, there. fore, the work of imperrect and fallible men. They were not so learned that they could not use words that do not express the sense of the original; nor were they so truth-loving that they could not wilfully misrepresent that sense. The common version may be of royal and ecclesiastical, but cannot be of divine authority.". * Nor are the Greek and Hebrew Bibles of any higher authority. They are compilations made by men liable to err. Some may be better, others may be worse; some more, others less, accurate; but none of them can be perfect."
So with manuscripts. They were neither written nor attested by God. They are only human transcripts and all of them imperfect. They differ from each other. They are of no higher authority than the others. We have not then, either in translations, Greek and Hebrew Bibles, or in manuscripts, any Bible of divine authority.
But where are the originals? We answer, They are lost. Suppose it could be proved that there was once a perfect Bible, it cannot now be found. The manuscripts which we have, differ from each other in many respects, and in many places; and as the originals are lost, there are no means of correcting the manuscripts, and of telling which are mosi erroneous, and which are least so. This, therefore, settles the question. But suppose it proved that our present Bibles are correct copies of the lost originals, we have no evidence that they were written by God.
The contents of the Bible furnish proof of its human origin. Throughout it bears marks of human imperfection almost infinite in amount. I intend tonighỉ, giving you a portion of that proof: ard I shall, first, draw your attention to a class of passages less important in themselves, but which prove that this book is the work of men, because they contradict each other.
In the first and second chapters of Genesis we have contradictory accounts of creation. In chapter 1. 26, 27., God is represented as making man and woman on the same day; in chap. 2. 18, 25., he is represented as making Adam first, and woman a considerable length of time after man. It is found not Igood for man to be alone; a help meet for him is not found among the lower animals. Sa a deep sleep is made to fall upon him ; a rib is taken from his side, made into a woman; and man is then satisfied.
Equally contradictory is the accounts of the creation of herbs, and plants. In chap. 1. 11, 12., grass, herbs, and trees, we are told, were brought forth by the earth; in chap. 2, 4. 5. they seem to have been made before they were put into the earth; which could not cause them to grow till softening mists had watered its surface. Chapter first represents the waters as bringing forth fowls; chapter second says that God made them out of the ear:h. The accounts differ all through. They give different names to the Creator. The first God or Gods, the second, Lord God. The first divides the cime into days, in the second it is not divided. The first speaks about God resting on the seventh day, the second says nothing about that. The language of the second leaves the impression that woman was made many, many days after the creation of man. The lower creatures are brought to Adam, and after an experiment, continuing over a serious length of time, there is not found a help meet for him, and then woman is made. It seems noi like a day or two, but like two or three weeks. The two accounts appear to be fragments from two different authors. To the end of the 3rd verse in chap. 2nd seems one fragment ; and from verse 4th to the commencement of chap. 5th there are indications of another author.
We have widely differing accounts of the number of animals taken into the ark. In Gen. 6. 19, 20., Noah is required to take two of every sort; in chap. 7. 1, 2., he is told of every clean beast to take to him by sevens.
The statements in reference to Abraham are scarcely less incredible. The Lord pays Abraham a visit when he is 99 years old, and Sarah not much younger, promises to return to him, and that Sarah should have a child. (Gen. 17. 17.) says that Abraham laughed ; another (18, 12.) says that Sarah laughed. Paul in writing to the Romans mentions the case of Abraham as one of strong faith,—“Who against hope believed in hope, that he might be: come the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, so shall thy seed be, and being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb; he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith giving glory to God.” Allusion is made to the same case in
One passage How many
Hebrews in these words :--"Sarah was delivered of a child, when she was even past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there of one, , and he as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude." After the birth of Isaac, Sarah lived thirty seven years. And yet after her death, Abraham, who was as good as dead, is represented as marrying again, and becoming the father of a large family by Keturah. “She bare him Zimram, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Iskbak, and Shuah.” daughters, we are not told, Mr. Sargeant, Independent minister of Sheffield, has attempted to account for this by saying that his renewed youth was continued to him, but the Bible does not say so. One child is represented as the result of supernatural interposition, and yet without any hint of the way in which it was accomplished, he appears young enough to marry again. The book of Genesis seems to be a compilation carelessly made from pre-existing documents, and the earlier portion of it contains the most marked contradictions.
In Exodus we have extraordinary accounts of the plagues of Egypt. In chap. 1.6., we are told that all the cattle of Egypt died” of a murrain. And in verse 8th, Moses is commanded to “take a handful of ashes and sprinkle towards heaven, that it might be a boil breaking forth upon man and upon
beast.” How could it break forih upon beasts, when the beasts had just died. Again to escape the hail they are commanded io gather together and bring home all the cattle in the field, lesi they should die. And yet again we are subsequently told that all the first-born of beasts were smitten. How could this be when they were all previously destroyed. We have no acccunt of any new stock being imported, and the facilities were not then so great as (hey are now.
We have similar contradictions in reference to nations. Numbers 31st tells us that all the males of the Midianites were slain; ana in Judges 6th we are told that they were so powerful as to prevail against Israel and subjugate them for seven years. In 1st Samuel, 13th, Saul is represented to have utterly destroyed all the Amalakites with the edge of the sword; yet in the 30th chapter of the same book we find these same Amalakites destroying Ziklag. We are further informed that when David overtook them they were spread over all the earth, eating and drinking and dancing on account of the great spoil they had taken out of the land of the Philistines, and of Judah. They must have been a very large company to be spread abroad upon all the earth, and it is especially strange since they were totally expirtated during the previous reign. We have two contradictory accounts of David's introduction to Saul. In the first David not only is a cunning player but a valiant man, and a man of war. Shortly afterwards we find him one of Saul's favourites, and becoming his armour-bearer. Yet in the following chapter when David offers to meet Goliath, David comes from his fathers sheep-fold and Saul seems not to know him, but asks of Abner whose son he is. I am unable to account for the different stories on any other supposition than that the accounts were written by different authors, and they often ignorant of what they relate.
There are four contradictions in the account of David's numbering the people, in 2 Samuel 24th, and 1 Chron. 21st. In the first God's anger is kindled against Israel, and he moves David to number the people; in the second, Satan tempts David to do it. In the first, the number of Israel is eight hundred thousand, in the second, seven hundred thousand, a difference of a hundred thousand
In Samuel, Judah numbers five hundred thousand, in Chronicles, thirty thousand fewer. In the first God says, 'Shall seven years famine come unto thee? In the second, three years of famine is one of the alternatives. in Samuel David buys the threshing floor of Araunah for thirty pieces of silver. In Chronicles, he gives for them six hundred shekels of gold by weight.
We have a strangely conflicting account in reference to Ahaziah. Jehoram his father, we are told, in Kings 8th, was thirty two years old when he began to reign, and reigned eight years. In the same chapter we are informed that
his youngest son Ahaziah was twenty two years old wheu he began to reign, and reigned one year at Jerusalem. In 2 Chron. 22. we learn that the Arabians came to Jehoram's camp and slew all the eldest of his sons. Now as he was only 18 years older than his youngest son at death, how much was he older than his eldest? But this is not the strangest part of the story. In Chron. it is stated that he died when he was forty, and that his son Ahaziah was fortytwo when he commenced his reign, thus making the son two years older than his father.
We have a great number of contradictions in the books of Kings and Chronicles. In 1st Kings 4th, Solomon has forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and in 2 Chron. 8th, the number is put at four thousand. There are different reasons assigned why David did not build the Lord's house. One story (2. Sam. 7. 1–11. ) has it that God never had a house and did not want one; another, (1. Kings 5. 3.) that David “could not build a house for the wars that were about him on every side ;" and a third, the most creditable to God, (1. Chron. 22. 8.) says that he had not to do it, because he had “shed much blood on the earth.” “In 2 Sam. 10., David slays seven hundred chariots of the Syrians, and forty thousand horsemen. n 1. Chron. 10., the numbers are seven thousand chariots, and forty thousand footmen. In 1. Chron. 22. 14., we are told that David prepared for the Lord's house a hundred thousand talents of gold and a million talents of silver. In chap. 29th, the numbers are of gold three thousand talents, and seven thousand talents of silver. In examining the two books of Kings and Chronicles, we find one always outnumbering the other. It is impossible to account for this by the carelessness of transcribers, it must be traced to the unfaithfulness of the writers themselves. It is obvious that there were strong feelings between political parties. Israel and Judah were two contending courts, and the partizans endeavoured to magnify the one above the other. But admitting that these are but errors of transcription, what becomes of the much vaunted assertions that the Jews were so careful to preserve their books uncorrupted, and that God has taken such care of the scriptures. If any one wishes to see a fuller exposure of the contradictions of these books, they have only to read Francis William Newman on the Hebrew Monarchy, and they will see that no more dependence is to be placed upon those accounts than upon the fables of ancient Greece and Rome. If you read on the 132nd page of that work, you will see how it is proved that the writer of the Chronicles was in sympathy with Solomon, the great establisher of the priestly dignity, and suppresses all mention of his reverses. We do not know that in any of the narratives we have an honest and trustworthy statement.
in jother parts of the Bible we have contradictory accounts of the origin of sacrifice. In Exod. 3. 18., the Israelites request that they may be allowed to go into the wilderness to sacrifice; in Exod. 12. 1, 2., we have an account of the institution of the sacrifice of the passover; and yet, in Numb. 28. 6., we are told that it was ordained at Sinai; and Jeremiah (7. 21, 22.) represents God as saying, “ I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them on the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices." In many other passages God is represented as taking no delight in sacrifices, nor requiring them. Micah says that the Lord will not be pleased with thou. sands of rams, or with ten thousand rivers of oil; that it is vain to give our first-born for our transgression, the fruit of the body for the sin of the soul; and adds, “ He hath showed thee O man, what is good, and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” In the 50th, 51st, and other Psalms, similar statements are made. You must mark that God is not represented in these passages as preferring obedience to sacrifice, but as never having commanded sacrifice at all; thus charging the whole system with being a mere human invention. Micah represents justice, mercy, and humility as the only things with which God could be pleased. The