Category Archives: Rev. John Brown of Haddington

Theory > Practice > Wisdom

John Brown’s Self-Interpreting Bible (1859)

from The Self-Interpreting Bible, 1859 edition, by Rev. John Brown of Haddington. “An Introduction to the Right Understanding of the Oracles of God,” chapter 2, “Of Rules for Understanding the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.”

3. We must earnestly study to reduce all our Scriptural knowledge to practice. Not any number of the best rules can make an apprentice to understand his business so much as a considerable practice therein. When serious contemplation of Scripture and experimental feeling and practice of it meet together, true Scriptural knowledge must needs be greatly enlarged and sweetened. The man that doth Christ’s will, he shall know of his doctrine whether it be of God. If God’s commandments be ever with us, and be kept by us, they will render us wiser than our enemies, wiser than the ancients, or even our teachers.

Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.

John 7:16-17 NIV

Your commands are always with me

    and make me wiser than my enemies.

I have more insight than all my teachers,

    for I meditate on your statutes.

I have more understanding than the elders,

    for I obey your precepts.

Psalm 119:98-100 NIV

Humility, Prayer, Study and Meditation

Title Page to Brown's Self-Interpreting Bible

Title Page to Brown’s Self-Interpreting Bible

The following continues a series of excerpts from “An Introduction to the Right Understanding of the Oracles of God,” by the Rev. John Brown of Haddington, as published in his Self-Intepreting Bible (1859 edition). (Punctuation and Scripture references have been modernized).

Chapter II


  1. Let us labor, in much fervent prayer and supplication, for the powerful influence and inhabitation of the Holy Ghost (who perfectly understands the Scriptures, and indited and appointed them for our spiritual edification,) that he may effectually interpret and apply them to our heart. He is the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ; He it is who searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God:–He is the Anointing, that is Truth, and teacheth all things. He can enlighten our eyes, and make us to know things freely given us of God, and to see wondrous things out of God’s law; can make us by the Scriptures,–wiser than our teachers—wise unto salvation (Ephesians 1:17-18; 3:16-19; 1 Corinthians 2:10, 12; 1 John 2:20, 27; Psalm 119:18, 96-109; 2 Timothy 3:15-17).
  1. Being renewed in the spirit of our minds, and having in us the mind of Christ, we ought, under a deep sense of God’s presence and authority in the Scripture, earnestly, and with much self-denial, to search the Scriptures, by much serious reading and meditation thereon; chiefly that we may spiritually know the mind, behold the glory, and feel the effectual power of God therein, in order to our faith in, and obedience to them. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: it is the man who feareth God to whom he will teach his way, and reveal the secrets of his covenant;–it is the man who hat the Spirit of Christ, the mind of Christ–who hath seen the Lord, and tasted that he is gracious—the man who hath had his eyes opened, that can discern, judge of, and understand the matter or manner of Scripture revelations (1 John 2: 20, 27; Psalm 25:12, 14; 1 Corinthians 2:14-16; John 14:21-23; Luke 24:45; Psalm 114:18). A deep sense of our ignorance, and of our absolute need of Scripture influence, must animate us to the earnest study of knowledge. He, who thinks that of himself he knows divine things to any purpose, knoweth nothing as he ought to know—only with the lowly is wisdom. God, who resisteth the proud, giveth grace to the humble: the meek will he guide in judgment; the meek will he teach his way. The mysteries of the kingdom he hides from the self-conceited, wise, and prudent; and reveals them unto babes (1 Corinthians 8:2; Proverbs 11:2; James 4:6; Psalm 25:9; Matthew 13:11; 11:25). Scarcely can anything then more effectually to blind the mind, and harden the heart, than the searching of the Scriptures in a philosophical manner, regarding merely or chiefly the rational sense of the passage. Hence multitudes of preachers, who daily study the Scriptures for the sake of their external performances, are of all men the most ignorant how Christ’s words are spirit and life. The god of this world blinds their minds; so that hearing many things, they never open their eyes; and seeing many things, they never behold one truth, or the subject thereof, in its glory (Isaiah 6:9-10; 42:18-19; 56:9; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

“Heart knowledge” of Scripture’s Self-Attesting Evidences Persuades of Its Divine Inspiration and Authority

Brown's Self-Interpreting Bible (1859 edition)

Brown’s Self-Interpreting Bible (1859 edition)

The following continues a series of excerpts from “An Introduction to the Right Understanding of the Oracles of God,” by the Rev. John Brown of Haddington, as published in his Self-Intepreting Bible (1859 edition).

X. Though the above arguments are sufficient to silence gainsayers, and to produce a rational conviction that the Scriptures are of divine original and authority, it is only the effectual application of them to our mind, conscience, and heart, in their SELF-EVIDENCEING DIVINE LIGHT and POWER, which can produce a cordial and saving persuasion that they are indeed the word of God. But, when thus applied, this word brings along with it such light, such authority, and such sanctifying and comforting power, that there is no shutting our eyes nor hardening our hearts against it; no possibility of continuing stupid and concerned under it: but the whole faculties of our soul are necessarily affected with it, as indeed marked with divine evidence, and attended with almighty power; 1 Thes. 1:5; 2:13; John 6:63.

Divine Inspiration Evidenced by the Miracles of Scripture

Lithograph of the Reverend John Brown of Haddington
Lithograph of the Reverend John Brown of Haddington

The following continues a series of excerpts from “An Introduction to the Right Understanding of the Oracles of God,” by the Rev. John Brown of Haddington, as published in his Self-Intepreting Bible (1859 edition).

VII. Multitudes of MIRACLES, which only the infinite power of God could effect, have been wrought for the confirmation of the doctrines and facts mentioned in the Scriptures, and for evincing the divine mission of the principal publishers thereof. The wisdom and goodness of God required him, especially when in the days of Moses and Christ he was establishing a new form of worship, to mark the important declarations of his will with some distinguishing characteristics, awakening to consideration. Nothing appears more proper for this end than a series of uncontrolled miracles, which no power could check, and which supported nothing but what was agreeable to reason, so far as it could conceive of it. Neither reason not experience can admit that the infinite wisdom and goodness of God could permit one, much less multitudes of uncontrolled miracles wrought in confirmation of the Scriptures have every favorable circumstance that could be wished. Their number was almost beyond reckoning, and all of them calculated to answer some great and benevolent end. According to the nature of the broken law, many of those wrought by Moses, Elijah, and Elisha, were tremendous and dreadful. According to the nature of the gospel which they published, the miracles wrought by Jesus Christ and his apostles were generally of a benevolent nature and tendency. Moreover most of the miracles mentioned in Scripture were performed in so public a manner that both friends and foes had the fullest access to a thorough examination of their nature and certainty. Most of them were wrought when the concurrent circumstances of Providence loudly called mankind to observe and examine them. Most of them—as the passage of the Hebrews through the Red Sea and through Jordan; the forty years’ sustenance of the people in the Arabian desert, by manna from heaven, and water from a rock; the stoppage or retrograde motion of the sun; the feeding of thousands with a few loaves and fishes; and the raising of dead persons—were of such a nature, that nothing less than absurdity itself can suppose the senses of the witnesses to have been deceived, or that any power less than divine could have produced them. Besides, all these miracles were wrought in confirmation of a religion the most holy, pure, and benevolent; and most of them by persons who were eminent patterns of virtue. And that such miracles were wrought, is in part attested by the inveterate enemies thereof, whether Jews or heathen.

An Introduction to the Right Understanding of the Oracles of God by Rev. John Brown of Haddington.

Memoir of the Rev. John Brown, Part 11

John Brown's Self-Interpreting Bible (1859)

John Brown’s Self-Interpreting Bible (1859)

The Character of John Brown

Among the things which obviously claim our attention in the character of Mr. Brown, we must not pass over the astonishing extent of his scholastic acquirements. Though possessed of no very considerable fund of originality, his capabilities for the acquisition of almost every species of literary knowledge was such, that he outran most of all his contemporaries, though possessing every advantage of a regular education, and that from their infancy. Ordinary attainments, whether in languages or science, could by no means satisfy the ardour of his inquisitive mind. With a memory strongly retentive, a solid and discriminating judgment, and an inflexible and persevering assiduity, with the blessing of God on his labours, he acquired and secured an uncommon share with which, from a child, he had cultivated a very particular acquaintance, so that he could repeat almost every text, and state its meaning and connexion. His feet were early turned into the paths of wisdom. Apprehended by the grace of God while his mind was yet young and tender, he made choice of his law as the rule of his life, and solemnly devoted himself to his service. In prayer, public, secret, or domestic, he overstepped the rules of almost any prescribed routine; even amid the ordinary business of life, the breathings of his soul were continually breaking forth in ejaculations of gratitude and praise, particularly while composing, or committing his discourses to memory. He possessed such an habitual evenness of temper, that hopes realized or disappointed seemed neither to elate nor greatly depress his spirits. He lived always conscious of God’s presence, and as one who had learned to lay down the sinful suspicion that men by nature have of Him. On hearing a peal of thunder he remarked, “that is the low whisper of my God.” His Christian Journal, which presents a good index of the general tone of his mind, bears this inscription, “The soul that is ever attentive to God never hears a voice that speaks not to Him; the soul, whose eye is intent on Him, never sees an atom, in which she does not discern the face of her best beloved.” He was scarcely ever seen to weep, unless it were from the impressions of divine truth on his own heart, or compassion for perishing souls. Bodily pain, or the death of relatives, he suffered without a tear; but when warning sinners to flee from the wrath to come, and, in Christ’s stead, entreating and beseeching them to be reconciled to God, his heart got frequently too big for utterance.

Memoir of the Rev. John Brown of Haddington


Divine Inspiration Evidenced by the Providential Preservation of the Holy Scriptures


Lithograph of the Reverend John Brown of Haddington

Lithograph of the Reverend John Brown of Haddington

VI. The providence of God has, in a most marvellous manner, PRESERVED the scriptures of the Old and New Testament from being lost or corrupted. While perhaps millions of other books, once of considerable fame in the world, and which no one sought to extirpate, are lost and forgotten, the Scriptures, though more early written, and though Satan and his agents unnumbered have hated them, and sought to cause their memory to perish from among men, or to corrupt them, still remain, and remain in their purity.

In great wisdom and kindness, God, for their preservation, ordered an original copy to be laid up in the Holy of Holies (Deuteronomy 31:26); and that every Hebrew king should write out a copy for himself (Deuteronomy 27:18); and appointed the careful and frequent reading of them, both in private and public. With astonishing kindness and wisdom has he made the contending parties who had access to the Scriptures–such as the Jews and Israelites, the Jews and Samaritans, the Pharisees and Sadducees, the Jews and Christians, and the various parties of Christians–MUTUAL CHECKS upon each other for almost three thousand years past, that they might not be able either to extirpate or to corrupt any part of them. When the Christians had almost utterly lost the knowledge of the Hebrew originals, God, by his providence, stirred up the Jewish rabbins to an uncommon labour for preserving them in their purity, by marking the number of letters, and how often each was repeated, in their Masoras.

By what tremendous judgments did he restrain and punish Antiochus Epiphanes, the Syro-Grecian king; Dioclesian, the Roman emperor; and others who attempted to destroy the copies of Scripture, in order to extirpate the Jewish or Christian religion! And he has bestowed amazing support and consolation on such as have risked or parted with their lives rather than deny the dictates of Scripture, or in the least contribute to their extirpation or misinterpretation.

By quickly multiplying the copies or the readers of the Scriptures, he rendered it impossible to corrupt them in anything important, without causing the corruption all at once to start up into every copy dispersed through the world, and into the memories of almost every reader;–than which nothing could be more absurd to suppose. Nay it is observable that of all the thousands of various readings which the learned have collected, not one in the least enervates any point of our faith or duty towards God or man.

Memoir of the Rev. John Brown, part 10

Celebrated Author

But Mr. Brown was not only distinguished as a minister of the gospel, and a teacher of divinity, he is celebrated also as an author. A strong desire to contribute towards the moral and religious improvement of mankind, and that he might, in some measure, be useful to the church of Christ, when he rested from his labours, weighed down every consideration of either profit or applause connected with his writings; indeed the pecuniary reward of all his labours, in this way, was but a matter of small account, never exceeding forty pounds. It was reserved, however, for his booksellers to reap a much more bountiful harvest; several of his works having already appeared in upwards of thirty, and some even in forty editions.

His first attempt as an author was his large work on the Catechism, which appeared in the year 1758; the next was a lesser work, also on the Catechism; and the rest of his works succeeded one another as circumstances seemed to render them necessary. (A modern edition is available from Reformation Heritage Books) That the doctrines he taught might appear with all the solidity and perspicuity in his power, he was at the extraordinary pains of writing his manuscripts thrice, and occasionally four times over, before they went to press; and frequently, after all this trouble in correcting, adding, and retrenching them, to request some one of his brethren to examine, and give his candid opinion concerning them.

But on none of his works has he bestowed so much labour as on his Dictionary of the Bible; a book of such diversified information, extensive research, and generally acknowledged utility, that it is doubtful if any work, of equal size, has hitherto appeared better calculated for assisting in the study of the Holy Scriptures, although now from the increased amount of information on scientific, historical, and other subjects, it necessarily is imperfect as compared with what he doubtless would have made it, had he possessed the opportunities of our day.

Memoir of the Rev. John Brown of Haddington

Memoir of the Rev. John Brown, part 9

Lithograph of the Reverend John Brown of Haddington

Professor of Divinity

On the death of the Rev. J. Swanston of Kinross (1768), the professor of divinity for the Burgher branch of the Secession, Mr. Brown was elected to fill the vacant office; nor were they at all disappointed in their choice. The ability and attention with which he fulfilled the various duties of that important charge, met with universal approbation. He found it was absolutely necessary to support the dignity of a teacher amongst his students, but could not help discovering, at the same time, the affection and anxious solicitude of a father for his children, which, on their parts, was rewarded with confidence, love, and obedience.

He treated them with the greatest impartiality; or, if piety, talents, application, or exemplary conduct, in any case inclined him to a preference, he was careful that it should never be observed. To promote their best interests, he was unwearied in his labours of love. That he might satisfy himself that the young men were improving their time, he used to visit them at their lodgings early in the morning, to see that they were properly engaged.

The ordinary course of attendance on the divinity lectures was five sessions, of two months each. In his View of Natural and Revealed Religion, and the Cases of Conscience subjoined to his Practical Piety, we have a connected view of the substance of all these lectures. His General History of the Church, as well as that of the British Churches, were originally intended for the use of his students. He ever considered personal piety the most essential qualification for successfully discharging the various and important duties of the ministerial office; and accordingly pressed on his students the pre-eminent interest they themselves had in the doctrines they were to preach to others; assuring them, that divinity was to be studied in a very different way from that of a system of philosophy; and that, without heart-religion, they must necessarily continue unprofitable students of theology.

He urged, moreover, by all means to make themselves thoroughly acquainted with the oracles of God in the original languages; and, next to these, with the writings of Turretine, Owen, Boston, Fisher’s Marrow of Modern Divinity, the Erskines, and Hervey’s Theron and Aspasio, with his Defence against Wesley. The serious and solemn manner in which, on particular occasions, he was in the habit of addressing his students, but especially on parting at the end of the sessions, seldom failed in melting both the speaker and hearer into tears and of leaving the best impressions on their young minds; and the many able and acceptable ministers, in Great Britain and Ireland, who had been trained up under his tuition, afford the most convincing proof of his success in this department of his manifold labours.

Memoir of the Reverend John Brown of Haddington

Memoir of the Rev. John Brown, part 8

John Brown’s Self-Interpreting Bible (1859)

Presbyterian Polymath

The pastor of a large congregation has but little time to spare from the duties of his office, compared with one engaged with a less numerous charge. In this respect Mr. Brown found himself in his proper element at Haddington. There, without trenching on the duties of his office, he could devote a very considerable portion of his time to study; and this privilege he improved to the best advantage.

In the summer months his constant rule was to rise between four and five, and during the winter by six. From these early hours, till eight in the evening, excepting the time allotted to bodily refreshment, family worship, or when called away on the duties of office, he continued to prosecute his studies with unremitting application. To a mind so ardent in the acquisition of knowledge, with a judgment so clear, a retentive memory, and exertions so intense, it was by no means surprising that he became greatly superior to most men engaged in discharging the same sacred duties.

In acquiring the knowledge of languages, ancient or modern, he possessed a facility altogether his own. Without an instructor, unless for one month to start him in the Latin, as formerly mentioned, he soon got so far acquainted with that language as to relish its beauties; and, left to his own resources, though frequently but indifferently provided with the proper books, he soon became critically acquainted with the Greek, and especially the Hebrew. Of the living languages, he could read and translate the Arabic, Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic, the French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, and German.

With him natural history, civil law, natural and moral philosophy, were particular objects of research; but divinity, and the history of human affairs, sacred or civil, were his favourite studies; and his success in these departments of knowledge are visible in his various works.Among the writers on divinity with whom he was versant, we find that Turretine, Pietet, Mastrecht, and Owen, with Boston, Erskine, and Hervey, were the chief; which shows that he accounted sound divinity and accurate sentiment a far better recommendation of his author, than the flowing fancy, the brilliant style, or the harmonious period.

Though stimulated by a sense of duty, and strongly excited by inclination, to the study of divinity, such was his anxiety to become a universal scholar, that he made himself acquainted with the whole round of the sciences. In his reading, especially important works, he was in the habit of compendizing his author as he went along. In this way he abridged the whole of Blackstone’s Commentaries, the ancient Universal History, and a number of other important works. This, however, is a method concerning which the learned hold different opinions. To lay aside the book, and abridge entirely from memory, and that in the writer’s own language, without regarding the style of the author, will make the substance of the work more his own; which, with other reasons that might be named, seems to render it the more eligible method.

Memoir of the Reverend John Brown of Haddington

Memoir of the Rev. John Brown, part 7

Lithograph of the Reverend John Brown of Haddington

When the religious clause of the burgess’ oath came under discussion in the Associate synod, it appeared that the members entertained very different views of the subject ;  the mournful consequence of which was a complete separation of the opposing parties into two distinct synods ;  the one denominated the Burgher, the other the Antiburgher synod. Though not as yet officially connected with the Secession Church, yet as a conscientious member, Mr. Brown could not allow the question to pass without duly deliberating for himself and determining the path of duty ;  the result of his deliberation was, that though not fully satisfied with regard to the lawfulness of the oath, he did not consider it a matter of sufficient magnitude to break up all Christian communion and fellowship ;  but rather held it as a proper subject for the exercise of mutual forbearance. He consequently ranked with the adherents of the Burgher synod; of which body he continued a zealous and respected member till his death.


Licensed to preach.

During the vacations of his school, Mr. Brown attended the classes of philosophy and divinity under the superintendence of the Rev. Ebenezer Erskine and James Fisher ;  till having gone through the several courses, he passed trials before the presbytery of Edinburgh, and was licensed by that reverend body at Dalkeith, in 1751, to preach the gospel in their connexion. On this sacred service, he entered deeply impressed with the awful responsibility of his office ;  nor could he help being seriously affected with a coincidence, which one might think sufficient to shut the mouth of every calumniator ;  namely, that about the same time, if not on the same night, on which he was licensed, and sent forth, in acknowledged innocence, a commissioned messenger of Christ, the author and principal propagator of those malicious imputations, from which he had suffered so much (see this post), was excommunicated by his own supporters.—His probationary labours were of short duration, two calls having been got up almost simultaneously for discharging the duties of the pastoral office ;  the one from Haddington, the county town of East Lothian ;  the other from Stow, situated on the southern border of the shire of Edinburgh. The presbytery left him the choice of the two situations ;  and Mr. Brown accepted of Haddington, partly in consideration of several disappointments that congregation had sustained, and partly also because it was the smallest, and likely to afford him the more leisure to prosecute his studies. In gratitude to the people ofStow, for the predilection they had shown for him, and as a small compensation for their disappointment, he preached for them several Sabbaths, and continued to examine them every year till they were supplied with a pastor of their own.

Read all the excerpts at this link.

“Fundamental of all true religion”


“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang tall the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:36-40 KJV).

“These two commandments include the substance of the whole moral law, which is fundamental to all true religion. They include the whole natural law, which was originally written in the heart of man; the obligation of which can never be dissolved, and which all the revelations of God are founded on, and designed to enforce.”

Commentary by Rev. John Brown of Haddington from The Self-Interpreting Bible 1859.

Memoir of the Rev. John Brown, part 6

John Brown’s Self-Interpreting Bible (1859)

It’s been a while since I last posted an excerpt from the Memoir of the Reverend John Brown of Haddington as it is found in his Self-Interpreting Bible, but a comment from his great great great Granddaughter spurred me to get back on the job. The following excerpt summarizes Brown’s move …

…From shepherd to salesman to schoolmaster.

Some short time after the spreading of this report, and probably owing to the disagreeable situation in which it had placed him, our shepherd abandoned his crook, and undertook the occupation of a pedlar or itinerant merchant ; a profession, however, in which he made but an indifferent figure. His mercantile excursions were chiefly confined to those parts of the country lying between the Forth and Tay. He seldom took lodging in any family that was not characterized for religion. The first thing he did in his new lodgings, was to turn over their books, and finding one to his mind, the sale of his wares was forgotten, and every mercantile consideration quenched in the more congenial traffic of literary knowledge. His friends and well-wishers frequently hinted the impropriety of neglecting his business; and some of them ventured to apprize him of his danger, and the difficulties into which his carelessness was likely to involve him ; but all their admonitions went for nothing—although he was often obliged to any kind person who would arrange his ill-assorted pack, while he pored for an hour over some book which had fallen into his hand. The acquisition of wealth, unless in so far as it tended to promote the more important acquisition of knowledge, was, in his opinion, a matter about which no wise man would greatly concern himself.

 During these perambulations, Charles Stuart the pretender had effectd a landing in the north, and boldly laid claim to his grandfather’s forfeited throne. The partial success attending his opening career, and the alarm it produced, had thrown the country into considerable disorder. The Presbyterians, in general, were loyal ; those of the Secession were universally so. There were many amongst them who had been eye-witnesses of the cold-blooded butcheries, the unqualified tyranny, and ruinous spoliation sanctioned by the last of the Stuarts, and shuddered at the thought of their return. They were inclined, of course, to stand by the king and a Protestant succession, at all hazards; nor was it ever known that one of their body joined the ranks of the pretender. Mr. Brown was imbued with the same political principles ; and observing one day a party of Highlanders approaching him, he had the address to conceal himself till they were gone ; when, pondering on the unsettled state of the country, which he considered unsafe for one of his profession, he came to the resolution of relinquishing his present employment, at least till quieter times. In pursuance of this new scheme he concealed his pack in a peat-stack, and enlisted in a corps of volunteers that had been raised in the neighbourhood in support of government ; with whom he did duty in Blackness, and latterly in the castle of Edinburgh, till the rebellion was extinguished by the decisive battle of Culloden.

 On the breaking up of his regiment, he retired to the scenes of his former wanderings, withdrew his deposit from the peat-stack, and recommenced his former employment, which he seems to have followed for at least another year. Tired at last of this uncongenial and wandering life, and wishing to get into a more direct road to his ultimate design, he undertook at the suggestion of several friends the toilsome and troublesome vocation of a teacher. In 1747 he opened a school at Gairney Bridge, a village in the vicinity of Kinross ; which he superintended for two years with remarkable success. His experience, as a self-taught scholar, enabled him with more ease to lead them through those elementary difficulties that stand in the way of the young scholar ; while his patience and conscientious assiduity, which peculiarly qualified him for an instructor of youth, attracted scholars from every quarter. While thus unwearied in carrying them forward in the various branches of education, he laid hold on every proper opportunity to impress their young minds with the importance of practical religion ; particularly on Saturday, before dismissing his school, he made it his constant rule to address them on the duty, the propriety, and urgent necessity of remembering their Creator and Redeemer in the days of their youth ; and the happy result of his pious endeavours may be partly gathered from the astonishing fact, that, though only two years a schoolmaster, eight or nine of his scholars were afterwards ministers of the gospel. His strenuous endeavours to press others forward in the paths of wisdom and usefulness, however, did not retard  his own motion, or relax his industry. He has been known to commit to memory fifteen chapters of the book of Genesis in an evening after dismissing his school ; and after all this unparalleled exertion, to allow himself only four hours in bed.

Read all the excerpts at this link

Divine Inspiration Required by the Character of the Penmen of the Scriptures

Lithograph of the Reverend John Brown of Haddington

The following continues a series of excerpts from “An Introduction to the Right Understanding of the Oracles of God,” by the Rev. John Brown of Haddington, as published in his Self-Intepreting Bible (1859 edition).

V. The manifest CHARACTER OF THE PENMEN further evinces the divine original of the Scriptures.

They everywhere discover the utmost candour and disinterestedness: they everywhere candidly publish the infirmities, or even faults of themselves, their friends, and nation. None of them ever gained anything in this world by their work but trouble and vexation; and, according to their own principles, they could obtain nothing in the next but everlasting destruction, if they indulged themselves in any imposture.

The matter and mannerof their work infinitely transcended their abilities. Setting their predictions aside for a moment, how could men of the best education, and especially men of no education, form such exalted schemes of sense, piety, and virtue? Or how could wicked men, inspired by Satan, publish and prosecute such a scheme of mystery, holiness, and morality?

Such is the character of Jesus Christ, drawn by the four evangelists, with every mark of simplicity and candour, and in which ignominious suffering is made a leading article, that the delineation thereof—and that too by persons of no uncommon knowledge—without a real and exactly answerable model, would, to every unbiased free-thinker, appear more incredible and impossible than even the incarnation, obedience, and death of the Son of God, therein attested, however astonishing. (emphasis mine)

Divine Inspiration Required by the Manner, Scope and Harmony of the Scriptures

Self-Interpreting Bible (1859 edition), Rev. John Brown of Haddington, original editor

The following continues a series of excerpts from “An Introduction to the Right Understanding of the Oracles of God,” by the Rev. John Brown of Haddington, as published in his Self-Intepreting Bible (1859 edition).

II. The MANNER in which these subjects are exhibited in the Scriptures is evidently divine; –wise, condescending, and yet majestic. The discoveries have been gradual, as men stood in need of them or were in a proper condition to receive them (Gen. 3,9,12,17 & c.; Heb. 1:1). The principal points; as of God’s new-covenant grant of himself to sinful men; his full satisfaction in and with Christ as our Mediator; and the law of the ten commandments; were declared from heaven with uncommon solemnity (Mat. 3:17; 17:5; Ex. 20:1-18, &c.). And, while these and other similar truths are announced in a style the most plain and simple, there appears therein something astonishingly sublime and majestic. While the dictates are authorized with a THUS SAITH THE LORD, the very style, particularly in Scripture songs, Job, Psalms, Lamentations, and Isaiah, and in our Saviour’s discourses, &c., is at once surprisingly suited to the dignity of the Author, the nature of the subject, and the condition of the persons addressed.

III. The manifest SCOPE of the Scriptures is to render sin loathsome and hated, and to promote holiness and virtue; to humble men, and reform them from their beloved lusts and sinful practices, and to exalt and glorify God to the highest. No good angel or man could dare to personate God in the manner of the Scriptures; nor could bad angels or men publish, and so warmly inculcate, what is so remarkably contrary to their own vicious inclinations and honour. It therefore remains that God alone must be the author and inditer of them.

IV. Notwithstanding the dictates of Scripture are so extremely contrary to the natural inclinations of mankind, and were published without any concert by various persons, of very different conditions, and in different ages and places, yet such is the marvellous HARMONY of all the parts, in their whole matter and scope, as irrefragably demonstrates that these penmen must all have been directed by the same Spirit of God. One part of our Bible is so connected with, and tends to the establishment of another, that we cannot reasonably receive any part without receiving the whole. In the New Testament we have the historical narrative of the fulfillment of the typical and verbal predictions of the Old. In both Testaments the subsequent books, or subsequent parts of a book, are connected with that which went before, as a narrative of the execution of a scheme begun, or of the fulfillment of a prophecy declared. If we receive the history, we must also receive the prediction. If we admit the prediction, we must believe the history. To a diligent searcher of the Scriptures, it cannot fail to occasion a most pleasant astonishment, to find everywhere the same facts supposed, related or prepared for; the same doctrines of a gracious redemption through Jesus Christ exhibited, or supposed to be true; the same rules or exemplifications of piety and virtue, and motives thereto; the same promises of mercy, or threatenings of just misery, to persons, societies, or nations, exhibited without a single contradiction. When there is an appearance of contradiction, it will be found that the different passages do not respect the same thing or person, in the same respect, and in the same circumstances of time, place, or manner; and so there is no contradiction at all.

Divine Inspiration Required by the Subject Matter of the Scriptures

John Brown’s Self-Interpreting Bible (1859)

The following continues a series of excerpts from “An Introduction to the Right Understanding of the Oracles of God,” by the Rev. John Brown of Haddington, as published in his Self-Intepreting Bible (1859 edition).

I. The subject MATTER of them requires a divine inspiration. The history of the creation, and part of that of the flood, &c., therein related, were known only to God. Mysteries relative to the Trinity of persons in the Godhead; the covenant of grace; the incarnation of the Son of God; his undertaking, offices, and states, and our union with him; justification, adoption, sanctification, spiritual comfort, and eternal blessedness, in him, are therein declared;–which God only could comprehend or discover.

The scheme of religion therein prescribed is so pure and benevolent, that God alone could devise or appoint it. While it represents the Most High as everywhere present—as infinitely perfect, powerful, wise, and good—holy, just, and true—an infinitely gracious lover of righteousness, and hater of iniquity,–as our bountiful Creator and Preserver, and as the infinitely merciful Redeemer of our souls, by the obedience and death of his only begotten Son,–it requires us to know, believe in, and revere him with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength, as our Father, Friend, Husband, Saviour, and Portion in Christ; and confidently to depend on him, and ask from him whatever we need in time or eternity; and to obey him in all that he commands, as children whom he hath begotten again to a lively hope, and established as the heirs of his everlasting inheritance.

We are here taught how human nature may be truly improved and perfected, by our receiving Jesus Christ as made of God unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,–as an effectual principle and root of true holiness;–and by our walking in him by faith, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and living soberly, righteously, and godly, patiently, contentedly, and cheerfully,–setting our affections upon things above, where Christ is, and through the Spirit mortifying every sinful and selfish inclination. We are taught to love our neighbours as ourselves, perfectly fulfilling the particular duties of every relative station; and to lay aside all malice, envy, hatred, revenge, or other malevolent dispositions or passions; to love our enemies; to render good for evil, blessing for cursing; and to pray for them that despitefully use us. These laws of universal purity and benevolence are prescribed with an authority proper only to God, and extended to such a compass and degree as God alone can demand: and those sins are forbidden which God alone can observe or prohibit.


The most powerful motives to duty, and dissuasives from vice, are here most wisely proposed, and powerfully urged; motives drawn from the nature, the promises, the threatenings, the mercies, and the judgments of God; particularly from his kindness in the work of our redemption, and his new-covenant relations to us in Christ; and from advantages or disadvantages, temporal, spiritual, and eternal. And, while the most excellent means of directing and exciting to, and of exercising piety and virtue, are established on the most prudent forms and authoritative manner, the most perfect and engaging patterns of holiness and virtue are set before us in the example of Jesus Christ our Redeemer, and of God as reconciled in him, and reconciling the world to himself (Ex. 21:1-17; Lev. 18-20; Deut. 4-25; Mat. 5—7; Rom. 6:12—15; Gal. 5-6; Eph. 4—6; Col. 3:4; 1 Thes. 5; Tit. 2; Jam. 1-5; 1 Pet. 1-5; 2 Pet. 1; 1 John 1—5, &c., &c).

%d bloggers like this: