The Bible —
Its Sufficiency and Supremacy
C. H. Mackintosh
We believe that the Bible, as written in the original Hebrew and
Greek languages, is the very word of the only wise and the only
true God, with whom one day is as a thousand years, and a
thousand years as one day, who saw the end from the beginning,
and not only the end, but every stage along the way. We
therefore hold it to be nothing short of positive blasphemy to
assert that we have arrived at a stage of our career in which
the Bible is not sufficient, or that we are compelled to travel
outside its covers to find ample guidance and instruction for
the present moment, and for every moment of our earthly
pilgrimage. The Bible is the perfect chart, in which every
exigency of the Christian mariner has been anticipated. Every
rock, every sand-bank, every shoal, every strand, every island,
has been carefully noted down. All the need of the Church of
God, its members, and its ministers, has been most fully
provided for. How could it be otherwise, if we admit the Bible
to be the Word of God? Could the mind of God have devised, or
His finger sketched an imperfect chart? Impossible. We must
either deny the divinity or admit the sufficiency of The Book.
We are absolutely shut up to this alternative. There is not so
much as a single point between these two positions. If the book
is incomplete, it cannot be of God; if it be of God it must be
perfect. But if we are compelled to betake ourselves to other
sources for guidance and instruction, as to the path of the
Church of God, its members or its minister, then is the Bible
incomplete, and being such, it cannot be of God at all.
What then are we to do? Whither can we betake ourselves? If
the Bible be not a divine and therefore all-sufficient
guide-book, what remains? Some will tell us to have recourse to
tradition. Alas! what a miserable guide. No sooner have we
launched out into the wide field of tradition than our ears are
assailed by ten thousand strange and conflicting sounds. We
meet, it may be, with a tradition that seems very authentic,
very venerable, well worthy of respect and confidence, and we
commit ourselves to its guidance; but, directly we have done so,
another tradition crosses our path, putting forth quite as strong claims on our confidence,
and leading us in quite an opposite direction. ...
But there is another very ensnaring dangerous resource presented
by the enemy of the Bible, and alas! accepted by too many of the
people of God, and that is expediency, or the attractive plea of
doing all the good we can, without due attention to the way in
which that good is done. The tree of expediency is a
wide-spreading one, and yields most tempting clusters. But
remember, its clusters will prove bitter as wormwood in the end.
It is, no doubt, well to do all the good we can; but let us look
well to the way in which we do it. Let us not deceive ourselves
by the vain imagination that God will ever accept of services
based upon positive disobedience to His Word. "It is a gift",
said the elders, as they boldly walked over the plain
commandment of God, as if He would be pleased with a gift
presented on such a principle. There is an intimate connection
between the ancient "corban" and the modern "expediency", for
"there is nothing new under the sun". The solemn responsibility
of obeying the Word of God was got rid of under the plausible
pretext of "corban", or "it is a gift" (Mark 7:7-13).
Thus it was of old. The "corban" of the ancients justified, or
sought to justify, many a bold transgression of the law of God;
and the "expediency" of our times allures many to outstep the
boundary line laid down by divine revelation.
Now, we quite admit that expediency holds out most attractive
inducements. It does seem so very delightful to be doing a
great deal of good, to be gaining the ends of a large-hearted
benevolence, to be reaching tangible results. It would not be
an easy matter to estimate the ensnaring influences of such
objects, or the immense difficulty of throwing them overboard.
Have we never been tempted as we stood upon the narrow path of
obedience, and looked forth upon the golden fields of expediency
lying on either side, to exclaim, "Alas! I am sacrificing my
usefulness for an idea"? Doubtless; but then what if it should
turn out that we have the very same foundation for that "idea"
as for the fundamental doctrines of salvation? The question is,
What is the idea? Is it founded upon "Thus saith the Lord"? If
so, let us tenaciously hold by it, though ten thousand advocates
of expediency were hurling at us the grievous charge of narrow-mindedness.
But let none suppose that one must be like a statue on the path
of obedience. Far from it. There are rare and precious
services to be rendered by the obedient one — services which can
only be rendered by such, and which owe all their preciousness
to their being the fruit of simple obedience. True, they may
not find a place in the public record of man's bustling
activity; but they are recorded on high, and they will be
published at the right time. As a dear friend has often said to
us, "Heaven will be the safest and happiest place to hear all
about our work down here". May we remember this, and pursue our
way, in all simplicity, looking to Christ for guidance, power,
and blessing. May His smile be enough for us. May we not be
found looking askance to catch the approving look of a poor
mortal whose breath is in his nostrils, nor sigh to find our
names amid the glittering record of the great men of the age.
The servant of Christ should look far beyond all such things.
The grand business of the servant is to obey. His object should
not be to do a great deal, but simply to do what he is told.
This makes all plain; and, moreover, it will make the Bible
precious as the depository of the Master's will, to which he
must continually betake himself to know what he is to do, and
how he is to do it. Neither tradition nor expediency will do
for the servant of Christ. The all-important inquiry is, "What
saith the Scriptures".
Extract from Miscellaneous Writings, by C. H. Mackintosh.