A Few Words on Modern Criticism

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 10
In almost all the critical works of our times, we find a deep-seated deadness of the mind to the real essential character of the divine word; a blindness which is incapable of seeing the spiritual and heavenly character of Scripture. It is only by remembering this sad fact that one can comprehend how it was possible for criticism to subject the text to such cruel tortures: only thus one can account for the cool indifference with which such indignities to God's word are regarded, even where they are not received. And this disorder in spiritual things arises simply from the fact, that the fundamental relations of the heart to God and divine things are not right; that there is wanting fear and reverence before His majesty, not to speak of confidence in His love; that light and darkness are not really distinguished, and carefully kept separate. (Isa. 66:22For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. (Isaiah 66:2); see also chaps. 5:20, 21; 1:10, 11). From olden times it has been thought a heinous crime to remove landmarks;' but it is the boast of our day to blot out the holiest of all boundary-lines, that between truth and error. Man Satan-invents something intermediate, and is applauded for boldness and originality of thought. He who emancipates himself from subjection of the conscience to the word of God, is an 'unbiblical critic. Let us not sever, on any point, knowledge and the conscience; let us give way to no sophisms, however specious, but adhere in questions of all kinds in divine things to moral bearings and connections. This is, above all, an imperative obligation in the case of those sacred writers whom God used as His penmen, to whom we are indebted for all the revealed light we possess, and of whom we find throughout, that their sense of God's authority and truth was strong and delicate in a most eminent degree (1 Tim. 2:77Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. (1 Timothy 2:7); John 19:3535And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. (John 19:35); 2 Peter 1:1616For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. (2 Peter 1:16)). It is by no means narrow-minded to proceed from such a starting point; it is inward liberty from the thraldom of human wilfulness; it is a sound principle which alone leads us to a right, holy, and thorough understanding of the truth. Men have lost faith in the supernatural, not because they have gained, but chiefly because they have lost knowledge of nature, no less than of what is above nature.
Modern theology deeply needs to be reminded of that word, " God made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions." I know from my own experience, in which I was not spared the passing through the furnace of criticism, that it is the simple foundation truths, to which our conscience bears witness, that form the decisive and all-pervading element, and that they are able to refute the dazzling deductions of a science (falsely so called), which refuses to place itself in the light of God's all-righteous countenance. In a time like ours, when the gospel, not only in its links with the mysteries of Christ, but even in its most simple and essential elements, is foolishness to the Greeks, yea, to the noblest among them, it is of paramount importance to be faithful to these first principles, which, however insignificant they may appear, are the foundation of all the rest.