INSPIRATION (literally, breathing into) is applied in theology to denote the action of the divine mind upon the human mind, whereby the latter is both supernaturally informed and qualified to communicate the information received. The term revelation is used more distinctively to express the first part of this action, and inspiration to express the second part. But, in truth, all inspiration. as the word itself bears, implies revela tion. There is a necessity for supernatural qualification in the utterance of truth, only where the truth is such as has not been reached by the ordinary exercise of the human faculties, but in seine degree at least supernaturally communicated. The prophet of apostle is inspired only as the utterer of knowledge beyond the ordinary reach of human intelligence.
The inspiration of the Scriptures signifies a supernatural qualification or special divine authority in the books of Scripture as depositories of truth. When the theolo gian asserts any book of the Bible to be inspired, he means that it possesses an author ity different from any other book, that it contains truth not merely as any ordinary book may do, but by a special divine impress. It is different from ordinary books, as conveying in a more immediate and direct, and therefore authoritative, manner divine truth. All orthodox theologians may be said to agree in ascribing this special divine character to Holy Scripture; but further there is no agreement. The mode of inspira tion, the degree and extent of it, are all subjects of dispute. On one side, there are the advocates of plenary inspiration, as it is called; then there are those who advocate various subordinate or partial degrees of inspiration. The advocates of plenary inspi. contend that the whole letter of Scripture is inspired, that its words were Mime. , (timely dictated by the Holy Spirit, and are literary the words of God, and not of man. ' The several writers of Scripture were nothing more than the penmen of the Divine Spirit, under whose control they vibrated as the strings of a ham in the hands of an artist. They were as a piece of mechanism touched by God himself. Those who
maintain this theory, speak, indited, of the individuality and diverse characteristics of the writers of the Scriptures, but only as one would speak of the different tones which the same artist would produce from one and the same musical instrument. The differences are not so much in or intellectual individuality- of the writers themselves, as in the diverse aims and uses with which the Holy Spirit employs them; for, according to this theory, the Divine is all in Scripture, and the human intelligence its mere vehicle or passive instrument. The words of Scripture are no less the words of God than if he were heard to litter them from heaven. It follows from the same theory that inspiration is essentially intermitting, It is not a higher quality of any soul, but a divine afflatus, seizing the soul at certain and abandoning it at others. While the canonical epistles of St. Paul and St. Peter are to be held inspired, the words of these apostles at other times may not have possessed any special authority. The authority of the Scripture which they have delivered, however, is absolute. The inspired or theopneustic document is throughout faultless, as the sole work of the Divine Spirit, faultless equally in its form and in its essence, in its spirit and its letter. It admits of no gradation; all is equally divine, and therefore equally accurate, whether it relate to some, ordinary fact, or to some great truth of the supernatural life, whether it treat of a dogma or of the details of a narrative. As one of its recent supporters writes: "Every verse of the Bible, every word of it, every syllable of it, every letter of it, is the direct utterance of the Most High." It follows no less that what God has thus miraculously written, he must have miraculously preserved. A providential canon is the plain sequence of a plenarily inspired Bible.