« ZurückWeiter »
the interior of the conduit pipes with a solution of arsenic is one of the most wholesome practices that the ingenuity of man has ever devised. If you will have water from our company, you must take it in our pipes, use our ducts and our cisterns, or not one drop shall you get for breakfast, dinner, or tea.” What would be our answer? “Gentlemen, you have a right to entertain your opinion about the excellency of arsenic, but I am convinced that it is very poisonous, and if you will not give me water without arsenic, I will apply to another company, that will give me cleanwater without any such chemical preparation as you have prescribed.” So with the Church of Rome. If she will not give us pure water, just as it wells from the fountain of living water, we will turn our backs, and have recourse to other springs that God has dug in his beneficence, and get living water from the ocean and fountain of life, not only without arsenic, but, what is nearly as good, without money and without price. It is a most interesting and precious fact, that the Bible is now written, or, if we prefer a more modern expression, printed. The commentaries of man vary; they change their form and their hues like the clouds that follow the setting sun; but the great rock remains the same when the shadow is upon it, and after the shadow is gone. The sand drifts rise and float about the pyramids, but the pyramids remain. The comments and controversies of man, of divines, of ministers, of laymen, have raised the smoke, and stirred the dust; but they have been all outside the book, which still remains a stereotpye, a fixture, like the Rock on which it is spread for reading—the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. If the truths of Christianity had been left till now to oral transmission, they had become a complete travesty by this time. Like a snowball starting from the mountain top, it
would have rolled downward, accumulating all sorts of rubbish, till it became one frozen and useless mass, lying in the valley below. But, blessed be God, whatever is changed, the Bible is the same; whatever creeds have been mended, the Bible remains; whatever new schools have been instituted, the Bible abides, it is still an accessible fixture; “The grass withereth, and the flower fadeth, but the word of the Lord endureth for ever.” The Bible is pronounced by an Apostle to be 680xwevotos, inspired, or breathed into, by God. We do not here enter upon the nature and the limits of inspiration. I am one of those who unfortunately differ from some very great men, to whom I am not fit to hold the candle, who do not believe that every word in this blessed book is the very best for the purpose that could have been selected— that the Bible is verbally inspired as a record by God; so that when I listen to it I listen as if to the spoken word of God, sounding like a voice amid the gorges of the hills, reverberated in a thousand repetitions, but every-echo and reverberation the voice of my God and of my Father. This holy book is the only image of himself that God has bequeathed to mankind. There is one exception, if I may use the expression, to a part of the second interdict of his law; and it is the Bible, which is the very likeness of God. I could never bear to see pictures of our blessed Lord in churches; I think they are not lawful. When one sees a picture of Christ, what is it really? A man upon the cross; so was the thief at each side of him. I can see one bearing a tree, but not bearing my sins; — I can see an agonized sufferer, but I cannot see the satisfying God;—I can see the outer man, which is the least important, but of the inner man, where the curse was felt, where the satisfaction was made, where the atonement lay, no picture (and I have seen the choicest and noblest on the continent of Europe) can convey to me any just or adequate idea. But we have one true sketch of Christ in the fifty-third of Isaiah: this is the true crucifix. I wish we could break down all the wooden or priestly ones, and substitute Isaiah's in its stead. The whole Bible itself is the image of Christ, as he is the image of God. It is remarkable that the church which has worshipped images of wood, and stone, and brass, and silver, and gold,—images of men that were not, images of men that were not worthy to be, and images of men that ought not to have had images at all,—has never, in this rage for image-worship, thought of worshipping the likeliest image of God, the Bible ! Why? Because if she had bowed down to adore it, its great voice would have said, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” This blessed book, while it is thus the voice of God, is yet given in varied strains. If the Bible had been written as a large didactic essay, or a very eloquent oration, it would have been nothing like the book that it now is. The very fact that Paul's style is in it, and that Peter's style, and John's style, and Matthew's style, in all their varieties, are perfectly preserved, but all inspired by the same breath, makes the Bible come home to my bosom and business with far greater and richer effect. We have all the variations of this harmony, but one key-note; we have manifold instruments to constitute the choir, but all the instruments are pervaded by the breath of the Almighty. The Bible has been translated. The translation of the Bible is “a great fact,” that Protestants glory in. It is one of our deepest convictions, that the Bible should be in a language understood by the people. It was translated by Tindale, in 1530; by Coverdale, in 1535; by Cranmer, in 1539; at Geneva, in 1560; by the bishops, in 1568; and by the celebrated authorized translators, as they are called, the most accomplished scholars and eminent divines of their day, in the year 1611. With all its faults, our translation is matchless; and (what is far better than any eulogium of mine) all the alterations that have taken place in its opponent and rival the Douay version — I have followed them, and do not speak at random — are approximations to the authorized translation of 1611. It is very singular that, wherever there is a difference between the two versions, (although I would engage to prove to any Roman Catholic that the creed of Pius IV. and the canons of the Council of Trent are wrong, out of his own version,) there is often seen not a little inclination in the Douay translation to help a very crotchety dogma, that had been established some hundred years before. We add one more remark, which we should never fail to do when speaking of the defects of our translation, — that if all these defects in our own translation were adjusted, and the words literally and strictly rendered, it would only tell more markedly in favor of evangelical and Protestant Christianity. This blessed book is circulated the most extensively of all books. It is, by the blessing of God, the cheapest book; it is, in the providence of God, the most widely circulated book. It is found in the soldier's knapsack on the field of battle; it is discovered in the sailor's hammock as his vessel rolls upon the stormy sea; it is to be seen in the pedler's pack; it is in the cabinet of princes, and in the cottage of peasants; the sun never sets upon its glorious page. Its words have gone out into all the earth; it has been translated into every tongue: its grand promises mingle with the murmurs of the Black Sea, and with the chimes of the Mediterranean; and increasing numbers are listening every day to that great voice that tells them how to live and be holy, how to die and be happy. Like a stream that
has risen from a distant spring, it pursues its course, sometimes amid obstructions, sometimes under ground, sometimes above, but always making a belt of rich vegetation, flowers, and verdure beside it, until it sweeps on, reflecting the sheen of palaces and the smoke of cottages, and is lost only in that unsounded ocean towards which we are voyagers, and pilgrims, and travellers. There is not a child upon its mother's knee, or a queen upon her father's throne, that is not a happier child or a happier woman that this book was written, translated, and circulated. The Bible is perfectly sufficient for all the great purposes for which it was meant. Both the Protestant and the Roman Catholic admit that the Bible is sufficient; but both allow that it is not always efficient. A book may be sufficient for a great purpose, but it may fail to be efficient; that is, it may be sufficient to make us wise unto salvation, but it may not always actually do so. But the two parties give different solutions: the Roman Catholic Church says the fault is in the book, and therefore she adds to it, in the hope of making it perfect; the Protestant says the fault is in the reader of the book, and he should pray that God may make him. capable of being enlightened by it. The Roman Catholic adds to this sufficient book, in order to make it an efficient one; the Protestant prays to the Author of the book, that he would make the heart of the reader susceptible of the truth, and that thus the sufficient book may become an efficient book. The Protestant says, the way is to open the blind man's eyes; the Roman Catholic says, No, it is to let him remain blind as he is, but to increase the light ten thousand fold. But all the light in the skies will not make a blind man see. He only that said “Ephphatha” to the ear, and “Be opened” to the eyes, can enable the blindest to see the tiniest light, and even that light will be a guide that will lead him to glory.