Charles Henry Mackintosh

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.

The Bible