[The following excerpt is taken from theologian Louis Gaussen’s excellent book on the inspiration of Scripture, God-Breathed: The Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures (The Trinity Foundation, 2001).]
“But, farther, let us turn from the apostles, prophets as they are—men sent by God for the establishment of his kingdom, the pillars of the Church, the mouths of the Holy Ghost, ambassadors of Jesus Christ; let us, for an instant, turn from them as men who had not yet quite thrown off their Jewish traditions and clownish prejudices, and let us go to the Master. Let us inquire of him what the Scriptures were in his view of them. Here is the grand question. The testimonies to which we have appealed are peremptory, no doubt; and the doctrine of a plenary and entire inspiration is taught as clearly in Scripture as that of the resurrection of the dead can be; that ought of itself to be enough for us; but we repeat, nevertheless, here is an argument which for us renders all else superfluous. How did Jesus Christ appeal to the Holy Bible ? What were his views of the letter of the Scriptures ? What use did he make of it, he who is its object and inspirer, beginning and end, first and last? he whose Holy Spirit, says St Peter, animated all the prophets of the Old Testament (2 Peter i. 21), who was in heaven in the bosom of the Father at the same time that he was seen here below, dwelling among us and preaching the gospel to the poor ? Among the most ardent defenders of their ver . bal inspiration, we know not one that ever expressed himself with more respect for the altogether divine authority and everlasting endurance of their most minute expressions than was done by the man Jesus. And we scruple not to say, that were any modern writer to quote the Bible, as Jesus Christ did, with the view of deducing from it any doctrine, he would forthwith have to be ranked among the most zealous partisans of the doctrine we defend. I am asked, What is your view of the Holy Letters ? I answer, What tTiought my Master of them ? how did he appeal to them ? what use did he make of them ? what were their smallest details in his eyes ?
Ah ! speak to them thyself, Eternal Wisdom, Uncreated Word, Judge of judges ! and as we proceed to repeat to them here the declarations of thy mouth, show them the majesty in which the Scriptures appeared to thee—show them the perfection thou didst recognise in them, that everlasting endurance, above all, which thou didst assign to their smallest iota, and which will make them outlast the universe, after the very heavens and the earth have passed away !
We are not afraid to say it: when we hear the Son of God quote the Scriptures, every thing is said, in our view, on their divine inspiration—we need no farther testimony. All the declarations of the Bible are, no doubt, equally divine; but this example of the Saviour of the world has settled the question for us at once. This proof requires neither long nor learned researches ; it is grasped by the hand of a child as powerfully as by that of a doctor. Should any doubt, then, assail your soul, let it turn to the Lord of lords; let it behold him in presence of the Scriptures!
Follow Jesus in the days of his flesh. With what serious and tender respect does he constantly hold in his hands ” the volume of the Book,” to quote every part of it, and note its shortest verses. See how one word, one single word, whether of a psalm or of an historical book, has for him the authority of a law. Mark with what confident submission he receives the whole Scriptures, without ever contesting its sacred
canon; for he knows that ” salvation cometh of the Jews,” and that, under the infallible providence of God, ” to them were committed the oracles of God.” Did I say, he receives them? From his childhood to the grave, and from his rising again from the grave to his disappearance in the clouds, what does he bear always about with him, in the desert, in the temple, in the synagogue ?’ What does he .continue to quote with his resuscitated voice, just as the heavens are about to exclaim, ” Lift up your heads, ye everlasting doors, and the king of glory shall come in ?” It is the Bible, ever the Bible; it is Moses, the Psalms, and the prophets : he quotes them, he explains them, but how ? Why, verse by verse, and word by word.
In what alarming and melancholy contrast, after beholding all this, do we see those misguided men present themselves in our days, who dare to judge, contradict, cull, and mutilate the Scriptures. Who does not tremble, after following with his eyes the Son of Man as he commands the elements, stills the storms, and opens the graves, while, filled with so profound a respect for the sacred volume, he declares that he is one day to judge by that book the quick and the dead ? Who does not shudder, whose heart does not bleed, when, after observing this, we venture to step into a Rationalist academy, and see the professor’s chair occupied by a poor mortal, learned, miserable, a sinner, responsible, yet handling God’s Word irreverently; when we follow him as he goes through this deplorable task before a body of youths, destined to be the guides of a whole people—youths capable of doing so much good if guided to the heights of the faith, and so much mischief if tutored in disrespect for those Scriptures which they are one day to preach ? With what peremptory decision do such men display the phantasmagoria of their hypotheses; they retrench, they add, they praise, they blame, and pity the simplicity which, reading the Bible as it was read by Jesus Christ, like him clings to every syllable, and never dreams of finding error in the Word of God! They pronounce on the intercalations and retrenchments that Holy Scripture must have undergone — intercalations and retrenchments never suspected by Jesus Christ; they lop off the chapters they do not understand, and point out blunders, ill-sustained or ill-concluded reasonings, prejudices, imprudences, and instances of vulgar ignorance.
May God forgive my being compelled to put this frightful dilemma into words, but the alternative is inevitable ! Either Jesus Christ exaggerated and spoke incoherently when he quoted the Scriptures thus, or these rash wretched men unwittingly blaspheme their divine majesty. It pains us to write these lines. God is our witness that we could have wished to recall, and then tp efface them ; but we venture to say, with profound feeling, that it is in obedience, it is. in charity, that they have been penned. Alas! in a few short years both the doctors and the disciples will be laid in the tomb, they shall wither like the grass; but not one jot or tittle of that divine book will then have passed away; and as certainly as the Bible is the truth, and that it has changed the face of the world, as certainly shall we see the Son come in the clouds of heaven, and judge, by his eternal Word, the secret thoughts of all men! . . . “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you;”2 this is the word which will judge us.