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Concerning The Assumptions Of Destructive Criticism by S. E. Wishard

VII. GOD'S REPLY TO THESE ASSUMPTIONS.

|Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?| Rom. ix.20.

|At the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.| Deut. xix.15.

|Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.| Rom. xv.4.

|Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples; and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.| 1 Cor. x.11.

|My people shall know my name, therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak, Behold, it is I.| Isaiah lii.6.

In the New Testament we have in the Gospels and the Epistles God's teachings concerning the Old Testament. The writers of the New Testament had the promise of our Lord that |The Comforter, who is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.| (John xiv.26.)

In the fulfillment of this promise they have given us the testimony of God, the Holy Spirit, on all the subjects of which they have written. What, therefore, is their testimony concerning the author of the book of Isaiah? Did that prophet write the book, or is it a patched book from various authors?

Matthew, the inspired author of the book that bears his name, quotes from Isaiah xl.3: |The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.| (See Matt. iii.3.)

The critics inform us that this prophecy was not given by Isaiah, but by some unknown prophet, and was bound up with Isaiah's prophecies, and labeled as his. Matthew informs us that it was a prophecy concerning John the Baptist, and was given by Isaiah himself, and not by another. He says (iii.3), referring to John the Baptist: |For this is he that was spoken of through Isaiah the prophet, saying:

|The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make ye ready the way of the Lord, Make his paths straight.| (R.V.)

Again, in Matt. viii.17, the author of this gospel quotes a passage from the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. The critics have handed this fifty-third chapter over to the Unknown prophet or prophets. They affirm again that the theme and literary style of this chapter are such that Isaiah could not have written it. They base their affirmation on their own literary discoveries, their ability to detect the footprints of some other prophet, though they do not inform us who that prophet is. They are sure that it was not Isaiah, for they have already placed him under such limitations that, according to their critical decision, he could not write the chapter. Of course, their conclusion is reached by practically denying the Holy Spirit's agency -- logically denying that |holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.| (2 Peter i.21.)

The inspired author of the gospel of Matthew had a different conception of the Holy Spirit's agency in giving prophecy to the world. He had not discovered the limitations of the prophet, which the critics profess to have found. Hence, in giving the history of God's gracious and miraculous work of casting out demons and healing the sick, he declares (Matt. viii.17), without a shadow of a mistake, that Christ wrought these miracles, |that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities and bare our diseases.| (See also Isaiah liii.4.)

As Matthew is on the witness stand, the reader will be interested to hear his testimony further. In his gospel (xii.17-21) he testifies that Isaiah wrote the forty-second chapter of the prophecy that bears his name. Matthew quotes the first four verses of the chapter, in explanation of the fact that Christ found it necessary during his ministry to retire from the public excitement which his teaching and miracles had produced. He says that Christ pursued that course |that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying, Behold my servant whom I have chosen; my beloved in whom my soul is well pleased; I will put my Spirit upon him and he shall show judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive nor cry, neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory, and in his name shall the Gentiles trust.|

This quotation is from Isaiah, forty-second chapter, and first part of the chapter. The reader will remember that the critics deny this testimony of Matthew. This forty-second chapter which he (Matthew) assigns to Isaiah is a part of the book which they affirm has come to us from some unknown source.

It is worthy of repetition that three times Matthew, the inspired author of the first gospel, has affirmed without equivocation that the passages which he quotes were |spoken by Isaiah the prophet.| The critics say |No.| Which will the reader believe?

The author of the third gospel, describing our Lord's visit to Nazareth, says: |As his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah, and when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.| Luke iv.16-19.

Luke informs us that it was |the book of the prophet Isaiah| from which our Savior made this quotation. We turn to the prophecy and discover that the passage is found in the sixty-first chapter and first and second verses of the book. But the critics who are correcting our Bible for us (?) inform us that their same literary discovery holds good here -- that this part of the book was not written by Isaiah. They assume to hand over this part of the book, knowingly, to the |Great Unknown| and unknowable prophets. The testimony of Luke contradicts the critics. He gives Isaiah full credit as the author of the statement. The reader will doubtless accept the fact that the inspired writer, the author of Luke's gospel, obtained his information at first hand, from God himself, who inspired the record.

Again Luke contradicts the critics when he puts on record Philip's interview with the eunuch, as we find it in Acts viii.30-33. When Philip joined himself to the eunuch, by direction of the Spirit, he |heard him reading Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah liii.7), and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?| ... Now, the passage of the Scriptures which he was reading was this: |He was led as a sheep to the slaughter and as a lamb before his shearer, dumb, so he opened not his mouth. In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: his generation who shall declare? For his life is taken from the earth,| (R.V., Acts viii.30-33.)

Our critics have robbed Isaiah of this passage. It was written, so their literary skill claims to have discovered, by some prophet who has successfully concealed himself, and finally disappeared from sight, leaving no hope that his name will ever be discovered.

Luke informs us that he knew who the prophet was that penned that touching description of the coming Messiah, and that his name was Isaiah. This question he has settled.

Turning to the gospel of John, we are furnished the testimony of one of whom our Lord said, |Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of woman, there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist.| This witness comes before us, therefore, indorsed by Jesus Christ himself, |The faithful Witness.| We ask him, therefore, to speak for himself as to who is the author of that part of prophecy which the critics are attempting to wrest from Isaiah.

When the priests and Levites came to ask him, |Who art thou? That we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?| he replied, |I am the Voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said Isaiah the prophet.| (See John i.22, 23, R.V.)

This was his testimony, first concerning himself. We believe him. And this was his testimony, secondly, concerning the author of the prophecy which he quoted: |Isaiah the prophet.|

Again we believe him, and as confidently, concerning the second statement as the first. And the Apostle John was so confident of its truth that he put it on record.

The passage quoted (Isaiah xl.3) belongs to that part of the book which our critic and his fellow critics have decided was predicted by some stray prophet, unknown to the world, to the Jewish people or the church. We prefer the statement of John the Baptist, and its indorsement by John the Apostle.

The reader will now recall that we have already heard Matthew's corroboration of the testimony of John the Baptist concerning Isaiah's claim to this prophecy. (See Matt iii.3.)

In the gospel of the Apostle John he puts on record his personal testimony concerning the author of the book bearing Isaiah's name. Explaining the amazing unbelief of the Jews, he says (xii.37, 38): |But though he (Jesus) did so many signs before them, yet they believed not on him: that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake:

|Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?| (R.V.)

The reader will see that this inspired writer of the fourth gospel is quoting from Isaiah liii.1, thus testifying to Isaiah's authorship.

Our literary critics have decided that this chapter was forbidden ground to Isaiah, that, if we are to believe them, he had no connection with this prophecy.

We are asked to believe that the author of this fifty-third chapter, the most minute and tender prophecy concerning the Messiah's sufferings for his people, and rejection by them, has dropped out of sight! We are asked to believe that the name of the prophet who gave this dramatic picture of what was to take place on Calvary seven hundred years later, has been lost in the fog of the passing centuries! We are asked to believe that the name of the author of the first thirty-nine chapters, the less important part of the book, has been preserved, but oblivion has overtaken the author of the book from the fortieth chapter to the end.

The assumption is an affront to the intelligence of the ordinary reader of the Bible. It is an impeachment of the honesty of the authors of the gospels, which the unshaken faith of God's people can never concede.

The reader can now sum up the testimony of Matthew, Mark (see i.3, R.V.), Luke, John, and John the Baptist, all of whom with one voice contradicts the critics. We also prefer, with these witnesses, to discredit the men who are picking out clauses, verses and chapters here and there, and guessing them off to authors of their own invention, who have never been known or heard of.

It is not sufficient for the critics to say that these New Testament authors knew better, but deferred to popular sentiment, based on tradition. That can not satisfy our estimate of them as God's divinely appointed teachers, chosen to make record of the momentous truth on which the salvation of a lost world hangs. Men, ready to lay down their lives for the truth, were not the men to play fast and loose with the Word of God, in deference to a supposed popular sentiment.

Further, our critical friends have assumed to decide for the prophets that they must prophesy out of their immediate surroundings in such a marked way, with such continued reference to the events of the period, that the prophecy must be located in that period. If the critic cannot find these particular local earmarks, he must push the prophecy to a point of time with which he can make it synchronize, and which will satisfy his literary judgment. By this law of determining dates, the critics claim that the book of Isaiah is a composite work, produced by different authors and at different times.

On this assumption the latter part of the book of Revelation was not a revelation to the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos. The first part of the book may be adjudged as his. But presently the matter of the book passes into a realm beyond the time and circumstances that belong to that period, hence may not claim him as its author. An assumption that sets aside the claims of Scripture, as to authorship, in order to harmonize the book with one's literary and critical judgment, may be dismissed on its own lack of merit.

The proposed law above referred to, as a method of locating prophecy as to time, or determining the author, is arbitrary, and an absurd attempt to destroy all the testimony of inspired writers, who have settled the question of authorship and the date of prophecy.

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