Dear Brother Beebe: We read, Gal. iii. 8, “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” My mind is perplexed on the above passage, particularly on the words, And the Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the heathen, &c. I have always taken the Scriptures to be the inspired writings of the Old and New Testaments. Daniel says in chapter x. 21, “I will show thee, that which is noted in the Scriptures of truth,” and Christ told the Jews to search the Scriptures, for in them they thought they had eternal life, and that they testified of him. Again, “This day is the Scripture fulfilled,” &c. And again, the Scripture cannot be broken. Christ died according to the Scriptures, and rose again according to the Scriptures. I could mention various other passages, where the term Scriptures is used in reference to the inspired writings, but in the passage first named, I cannot see that it refers to the Old or New Testament. You see howl am difficulted? believing the Old and New Testament to be the Scriptures, how could they foresee? or does it refer to the inspired men who wrote the Scriptures, or to the I AM, who created all things; for it is God alone who knows, governs and foresees all things, and manages all things after the counsel of his own will. He declares the end from the beginning, and known unto God are all his work from the foundation of the world. Then is it him that foresaw that he would justify the heathen through faith?
When you receive this, in all probability the old year will be numbered with the things that are past, and a new year will be calling upon us to adore him who has spared us to see it. Let me, as one of your patrons, greet you: Well done, thou good and faithful servant of the Most High God, and as you advance in age, may you grow in grace, and by faith lay hold of this promise, and enjoy its consolation. “Even to your old age I am he, and even to hoar hairs will I carry you; I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.” - Isa. xlvi. 4. And may the God of all grace, long preserve you as a watchman to root out and pull down and destroy, and to throw down error and heresy, by whatever name it may be called, and may you build up and strengthen God’s little ones in the faith of his elect.
Yours to serve,
JOEL T. HALBERT.
Columbus, Miss., Dec. 26, 1859.
Reply: We understand the apostle to refer to the inspiration by which the Scriptures were written. The literal meaning of the word Scripture, signifies anything that is written, but the term applies in a Bible sense to the written testimony of God which is recorded in the Old and New Testament; the records, which by way of distinction from profane records, are called the Holy Scriptures, and we are told by Paul, 2 Tim. iii. 17, that they are all given by inspiration of God; and that they are profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to every good work. As the Holy Scriptures are to perform all these offices; reproving, correcting, instructing, &c., they must reflect the perfections of their divine Author to some extent, at least. Not the mere ink and paper, but the inspired testimony of God. Hence the Scriptures are spoken of as speaking, as testifying, and as seeing, &c. These books are of themselves only of earthly composition, paper and ink, totally inanimate, and having no power to see, hear, or speak, yet the testimony which they have recorded in them, is the inspired wisdom of God himself, and as the inspiration of God they see all things past, present and to come. How could they testify of things of which they had no perception? Indeed, the peculiar excellency of the Bible is that it does foresee, and foreseing, it foretells what God has in store for them that love him, and are the called according to his purpose. So far as the mere book is concerned, the terms are used figuratively, but in its application to the inspired testimony of God, it is not figurative nor allegorical. As the inspiration of God, the Scriptures foresee, foreknow and foretell; they declare the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things which are yet to be accomplished, saying, God’s counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure. If in this sense the Scriptures did not foresee, they could be to us but a record of the past, and unable to instruct the man of God in righteousness, or to point us to that heavenly abode in glory, which is yet to be enjoyed by the saints, when time shall be no more. Thus the Scriptures foresaw that God would justify the heathen through faith, that is, the inspiration, or testimony of the Scriptures anticipated, predicted and declared beforehand that in Abraham all nations should be blessed, that distant ages, and remote tribes of the earth were by the unchanging decree of God, interested in the blessings of Abraham. The inspired Scriptures are a perfect transcript of the mind, will, purpose and decrees of God, who spake to the fathers by the prophets, and subsequently to us, by his Son. But their being written or spoken did not give them pre-science. What are to us now literally the Scriptures, were the testimony and truth of God before they were written, and they foresaw, not only in Abraham’s days, but from everlasting, what blessings our covenant God in Christ had treasured up for us poor Gentiles. Hence the Scriptures were given. By whom? By inspiration of God. Where were they before they were given? They were securely hidden in the cabinet of the gracious giver; and could foresee as well before they were given, as afterwards.
January 15, 1860.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 4
Pages 296 - 298