"And that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
It will be observed that the Scriptures spoken of in this passage must needs be the Old Testament Scriptures; because the New Testament was not then extant. And the Apostle declares the Scriptures of the Old Testament, if read, to be able, conjoined with faith in Christ Jesus, to make men wise unto salvation. You will observe that it is declared that these Scriptures were inspired of God. It is no where explained what inspiration means. There is no theory or philosophy of it propounded in any part to the Sacred Books. It is manifest that it is a Divine influence, and inbreathing of God, upon those who wrote - but the theories of inspiration are modern and human. We may take it as stated in general that the Sacred Books were composed and given to the Church under Divine direction or influence.
The weight of this passage is not rested on the fact that Scripture is authoritative because it is of God. Very little emphasis is put upon that anywhere. It is stated, it is recognized, but it does not appear that that was deemed a matter of great importance. The weight of this passage is put upon the power of Scripture upon human character and conduct. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine" -that is, for teaching - "for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
The Scripture makes the test of its own validity to be in what it can do. Modern philosophy is disposed to look back and test Scripture by its origin; but the Scripture itself insists upon its validity all account of its moral power. To be sure, to some extent that very power is affected by the question of its origin and authority, but not to such an extent as Theologians have been wont to suppose. For, it once being conceded that the contents of the Bible are truths, it makes no difference whether they were inbreathed upon martyrs and Prophets, or whether those martyrs and Prophets found them out of their own accord. For the truth is of God, whether it be found out miraculously, or from natural causes; whether it be found out through science, or through processes of economy. The authority of truth is that it is true. It is unquestionably the case that there may be exigencies in which whether a thing is true or not will be largely determined by the question of its origin; but there is no dispute in respect to the great moral and spiritual truths of the Bible. On all the essential truths of Scripture there is an agreement between all Christians, and I might almost say between all men. As far as these are concerned, there is no longer any question as to their validity.
When things are conceded as true, there is no more power given them by the fact that they come from one or another source. A great truth declared by a child is just as potent as though it was declared by Bacon or Milton. When a thing is once known to be true, then it stands on its own merits. Although beforehand it makes a great deal of difference what bow is in the hand of the warrior, when he has drawn the bow, and the arrow has smitten between the joints of the harness, it no longer makes any difference what bow it is. And so it is with truths. When the question is how they shall authenticate themselves, and gain a lodgment in the minds of men, then it is important to know what bow sends them; but after they have been sent, after they have struck, after they have been admitted to be truths, after they have proved themselves to be Divine, then it makes no difference whether they came in through the door of Prophecy or through the door of science.
We are living in a time when the Bible is becoming an object of close examination. Our religious journals are full of notices of books, criticisms, discussions, doubts, and apprehensions, on the subject of the Bible. If the history of the Book had not been what it has for eighteen hundred years, I might have some apprehension; but the Bible has been going through, substantially, such an ordeal as it is now going through, ever since it had an origin. Nevertheless, nothing is more common than that, when there is a fresh examination or assault of the Bible, the faith of some is undermined, the confidence of many is shaken, and not a few give themselves up to levity, and glad to throw off moral restraint, exclaim that the end of this Book has arrived, and that hence forth men are to be released from Priest craft based upon its authority.
I do not propose so much to go into a general discussion of this subject, as to throw out for your practical advantage some few suggestions in consequence of the movement of the public mind in the matter of the validity of the Scriptures.
Consider, in the first place, what this Bible is - for our education leads us into a chronic misconception of it. We speak of it as if it were one Book, symmetric and related in all its parts like a Book from any single mind. But the Bible is made up of fifty-seven separate Books. They were written by thirty-six different writers, living hundreds of years apart, speaking different languages, being subject to different governments and different institutions, and having no knowledge of each other's work. These fifty-seven separate books or tracts have been gathered up, and the binders have made them one - that is all. There is a moral coherence about them, there is a central moral unity to them; but as objective existences they are made to be one by the simple circumstance of juxtaposition. The writings of Jeremiah have no more relation to the writings of Moses than in the line of succession the writings of the latest chemists have to the writings of the earliest. Those of the latest include all that there was in those of the earliest; and they have the unity which consists in having the same truths in some part; but that unity is an accidental or providential one.
Consider how men reason about the Bible. They say that it contradicts itself. They say that it lacks the marks of a Divine work. Consider that it is not one Book, like a book on the constitution of the globe, like a book on the laws of government, or like any other book composed by one mind. It is not a book according to the modem way in which books are made. On the contrary, it is the religious works that appeared for thousands of years. It is all the religious literature of ages. It is the religious light that was developed in the world through long periods, brought together merely for convenience. There might be fifty-seven separate volumes instead of one. And between the first and the second there would be a thousand years; between the second and the third a long period would intervene; and so on. And there were thousands of years in which there was not the scratch of a pen, so far as we know. And between the writing of the first and the writing of the last, empires rose, and flourished, and stumbled, and fell, and went out of remembrance; new languages spread, and decreased, and passed away. Time performed its greatest exploits between the beginning and the ending of this so called one Book.
It is necessary, then, that we should come to the examination of Scripture bearing these facts in mind. We are to remember that it is not the production of a single author. We are to take into consideration its remarkable relations to time. We are not to forget how it comes to be gathered up and formed into one volume. And if it should be found, upon examination, that parts of the Bible are not to be held, it would not invalidate the book; because it is one book only by accident.
It has been said by a great many that the Book of Esther is not a religious book. The name of God is not mentioned in it. It is the history of an Oriental dispensation; and an extraordinary history it is. Many declare that the Canticles are but the love songs of Solomon, and cannot be justly claimed to be religious books. Then suppose these were to be slipped out of the Bible? Many would say, "Now, where is your Bible?"
Well, suppose you have a package of twenty-five titles and deeds, and suppose, as you look them over, you find among them the record of a journey to Androscoggin, and you say, "That came here by accident," and throw it out; and suppose your son, sitting by, should say, "Father, if that is not genuine, how do you know that the rest are?" The fact that by mistake a paper that does not belong there gets into the bundle, does not destroy the validity of the papers that are in it which do belong there. Each paper stands on its own merits. And because you put a strap around the whole, they are not so connected that if you take some out those that are left are good for nothing. And binders leather about the Bible does not make all the books of it so one that if you impair the authority of any you impair the authority of others. You might take out Esther - I should not like to lose it; you might take out the Songs of Solomon - they are very good where they are; but that would not change the validity of the Psalms of David, nor alter the genuineness of the prophets, nor take away the authenticity of the evangelists; for these do not derive any authority or power from the fact that they stand together, and they do not lose any authority or power because any one of the Books with which they are bound is shown to be unworthy of a place in the record.
I am not speaking as though I thought that any of the books of the Bible should be withdrawn; but, putting the case in the strongest light, if it were true that certain parts of the Old or New Testament should be found to be false, the Bible, as it is constructed, would not be invalidated. Bishop Colenso thinks he has shown that there are mistakes in the writings of Moses. Very likely. And suppose it should be shown that Moses did not write them at all, what then? It would be shown, that is all. And suppose they should be taken out of the Bible, what then? They would be taken out, that is all. And how would it be with those that were left? Why, they would be left, that is all.
In an apothecary's shop there stand twenty vials labeled with the names of the things that it is professed are in them; and upon examination it is found that two or three have nothing in them but water, instead of containing remedial agents. And they are removed. And what about the rest? Why, if they have in them that name of which is written on them, they are not invalidated because this and that bottle have been taken away. And if you take out of the Old Testament - what you cannot take out- the Pentateuch, you do not on that account destroy the validity of Ezekiel, or Job, or David, or Solomon's Proverbs, or the Evangelists, or the matchless Epistles of the Apostles. They are what they seem to be, even if some things are not.
I make these remarks that it may be suggested to you that there is not so much importance as some attach to it in the validity, or want of validity, of some parts Of Scripture; and that if this Book or that should be taken from the Bible, it would not alter the fact that in that Book you have a body of Divine truth revealed of God, inspired by God, and "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
Consider, also, the method of making the Bible. The light and the instruction which was vouchsafed to the best men in any age was drawn up into a record - and that record represented the ripest truth to which the human mind had attained in religious ideas in that age. But we should never forget that, as everything in this world is subject to development, so is revelation itself; that as the truth could not come much faster than the human mind could receive it, the early revelation of truth, being addressed to the yet undeveloped moral sense of the world, was comparatively scant; and that there has been a constant augmentation of light from the beginning down to the present. The truths of the earlier books of the Bible, then, were relative to the age in which they were written, and they do not profess to contain the whole truth, but only as much as had been revealed in that age. They must, therefore, stand related to us differently from what those do which have been written since.
The geography that I studied when I was a child would do me but little good now. I have outgrown it. And yet it was true, every word of it, and it was suited to my wants. Clothes that fit a child now he will soon outgrow. And truths that are revealed in the infancy of the race will not be adequate to its wants after it has advanced beyond a certain point. It will soon grow so as to require other and different truths. And in the history of mankind later periods will find - what? That what was revealed to the earlier periods was not true? No; but that it was only partial truth, that it was adapted to the special wants of those earlier periods, and that they now stand related to men differently from what they did at first.
The laws of New England that were passed during the first hundred and fifty years after the settlement of this country by the whites, although they are of great interest and of vital importance, do not bear the same relation to the people now that they did then. Subsequent legislation has included them all, and more, and they have a historic value; but they are not the same to us that they were to those whom they first concerned.
It is universally conceded that the whole religious economy of the Jews has passed away, and no one supposes that any part of the Old Testament which relates to the ceremonial law is obligatory upon us. Many things have ceased simply because better processes have, in the course of time, come in.
The books of the Bible, then, had a first work; and when they had accomplished that, they passed to a secondary use. They were more important, some of them, to the periods in which they were first revealed, than they have been to later periods, or than they are to our own time. But they have not on that account lost their use. They are valuable still, as showing the way in which man has been developed, as illustrating the method of Divine teaching, and as preserving many great moral truths - but in so far as we are concerned, in this age, the Bible must he judged from what it can do for us.
A Book, consisting of a large number of separate compositions which have preserved the light of religion and knowledge through long periods of time; a Book that has centered about it the ripest and best religious developments of races and centuries has been put into our hands; and the question with us is this: What is that Book to us? Can it do anything for us? Can it teach us anything? What does it prove itself to be?
It proposes, in the first place, a schedule of human nature and human condition. It was not necessary to teach us that men were creatures of sorrow and trouble. It was not necessary to teach us that human passions were rampant and rioting. It was not necessary to teach us that the world groaned and travailed in pain. All history and all experience taught us that. But it was necessary to teach us that we had some relation to essential wickedness in man. It was needful to interpret the misery to which we are subjected, by some authentic statement of moral causation. It sprang from the imperfection of the human mind, and from the sin that flowed out of that imperfection. The explanation of this is indispensable to us, and nothing could ever take it out of the Bible. Go back from the time of Moses, and you will not find one single delineation of wickedness that will have to be changed. Go through all the prophets, and you will not find any delineations of pride, or selfishness, or avarice, or cruelty, or any way in which the passions of the human mind show themselves, that need to be altered by a single letter. They were true then, and they are as true now. And today, if you wish to describe the tyranny of monarchs in Europe, or of monarchs of the plantations in our own midst, you can nowhere else find such language and such illustrations as are given in these too often discarded books, the Old Testament. The delineations of the wickedness and depravity of the human race which are found in the Bible from beginning to end, are wonderful and masterly, and their function will never cease.
The Bible also proposes to teach us the Divine disposition and will respecting sinful man. It reveals to us the lenity and amenities of God. The most important thing that the world ever learned is that God, the just Judge, is a God of love; that while He looks upon transgression with hatred and abhorrence, He looks upon the transgressor with sorrow and yearning - and that while He forbids sin, He so forbids it as to rescue the sinner by the revelation in God's Word of the disposition of God to heal, and not to slay - to recover, and not to denounce; to restore, and not to punish. It is the most marvelous revelation of time that God loved the world, and gave His Son to die for it; that, after intimations and limits, with brighter and brighter teachings all the way down, at last arose the Sun of Righteousness, whose light burst over the whole world, and which shall never set until it has filled the world with truth and redemption through the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Will anything ever change that? Suppose the arithmetic in Moses's books is not correct, what has that to do with this? Suppose a man should undertake to prove to me that, because my mother, in writing to me, had spelt my name wrong, the love that filled that letter was good for nothing. A letter from my mother may be addressed to me at a place where I never was; it may spell my name B-e-a-c-h-e-r instead of B-e-e-c-h-e-r; it may leave out a verb here and a noun there; it may be full of mistakes; the vehicle may be as faulty as you please; but, tell me, suppose precious ointment is brought to you in a vase that is cracked and unseemly, is it not precious ointment still? And if a mother has poured out the wondrous wealth of her soul upon her child, is it of no account because the paper is coarse and old, because there are errors in the writing, and because a hundred incidental things are out of the way? The main thing, the significant thing, is, "I love thee, I gave thee life, and I will give my life for thee again"; and all the mistakes cannot take that away. And in all the Bible there is nothing that shall take away this: God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son to save souls. Cipher away about Moses, fools! I will cling to the hope of Christ, and salvation by Him.
Not only does the Bible teach the love of God to us that are sinners, but it points out to us, with particular minuteness, in all the phases of human life, the method of religious development. There is an importance to be attached to every part of Scripture; but I really apprehend that the parts to which we are apt to attach the most importance are the least important -namely, the schedule of moral government, and the analysis of the Divine character. I do not discourage speculation and reasoning. Without them I do not think that the piety of any age can have large proportions. But we may over estimate them. I think that the evidence of the Divinity of the Bible rests more in moral precepts than in great truths which relate to God's administration and attributes. For example, the moral teachings, "The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister," and, "Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant" - these turn human nature end for end. I will defy anybody to find any such teachings outside of the Bible. Reason does not whisper them; nature does not speak to us of them; experience does not evolve them - and I declare that Christ's instruction is more profitable than anything else in the whole Bible. The doctrines of humility; of meekness; of gentleness; of non-resistance under injuries; the whole schedule of Christian dispositions which were marked out by the Savior, shine as though they were so many gems and jewels brought down from the bosom of God.
The Bible likewise reveals and inspires the hope of a blessed immortality beyond the grave, conferred by the power of God through the love of Jesus Christ. Who wishes to take that away?
A man has long sat in a dungeon, wearing chains that will not permit him to move his length, and eating the bread and water of affliction. At last the bounty of the jailer takes off the chains, and gives him the liberty of walking round the dungeon. And what would you think of a man, who, under such circumstances, should beseech his jailer to put on the chains again? There is one little window through which the sun finds its way into the cell, to kiss the wall and dispel the darkness, and through which the noise of the outward world comes to his ear; and suppose he should request the jailer to stop up that window, that no found of bird, or sweet influence of nature, or light of the sun, should come through? Just like such a man is he who would take away from the teachings of the Bible the truth of immortality, and the hope of glory beyond this world. For this world is but one great dungeon. I would not live if there were only this world to live in. Blessed is he that may take his departure from it! But chains, and sorrows, and sicknesses, and troubles, are glorified the moment we perceive them to be instruments of a higher life. The moment we perceive them to be disciplinary experiences, they become so many rounds of ladders like the ladder on which Jacob saw angels ascending and descending; and on them we shall ascend to glory!
Now, you have not touched these great truths when you have made any amount of criticisms upon texts. You may shift books, and change the names of authors, and show that parts of the books of Moses were written after Moses died, and discover errors in chronology, and take the crown from the head of one monarch and put it on the head of another; you may show that there are innumerable mistakes in the vehicle of revelation; but does anything change the great central truths in which the destiny of man is wrapped up, and on which the hopes of the human family rest? They are not changed.
The questions, then, which every one of us should propound in respect to Scripture, are these: Does it teach the truth on these fundamental matters? Does it teach that which is important? Are the things that it teaches authenticated in the experience of men? Is there any other motive or instruction that should be substituted for it? We have had this Book for thousands of years. Generations of wise men have grown up under it. And can you show me any treatise, or any file of sermons, bearing on the subjects of which it treats, that is anything more than a weak dilution of Bible? A sermon is generally a large tumbler of water, and the text is a lump of sugar. The lump of sugar diffused through a great quantity of fluid makes a sermon. A sermon is a weak decoction of Bible. And among all that has been published on ethical subjects, on science, on sociology, on physical economy, can you find any Book that so inspires courage and hope, and correct judgment, and love of holiness, as the Bible does? Where is the book that could take the place of it? Does not the world want it? Are men trooping with such hot haste toward Heaven, and away from hell, that we can afford to lay aside all means of Grace? Is pride so nearly eradicated that we can afford to put away the how? Are the weeds of the human soul so well managed that there is no further need of cultivation? On the contrary, is not the old heart in man throbbing, throbbing, and throbbing yet? Are not the customs of the world as much as ever toward animalism, and pride, and selfishness, and avarice? Is there not the same need of setting spiritual truths home to the conscience and understanding of men that there was a thousand years ago, or five hundred years ago, or a hundred years ago? There is that boiling, seething cauldron of sin, the human heart, and here is this power of truth, and of the Divine Spirit, by which to cleanse and purify this fountain of iniquity; and is there no need of the application of such a power? Or, is there any substitute for it?
But what if men say, "Suppose it is all so, how do we know that the Bible is true?" Here is a medical book that is said to have been found in the Pyramids, and that purports to have been Divinely authorized. It is a book that teaches the nature of diseases, and the appropriate remedies for them. On looking at the contents, we find fevers, and dropsies, and wounds, and the various ailments to which the human body is subject, treated and, as we read over the methods of treatment, they strike us as being wise methods. Now, what would be the proper test of this book? Would it not be to take the diseases for which it prescribes, and treat them according to its prescriptions, and see what the effect would be? And suppose a man should take twenty five or thirty fevers, and treat the first according to the book, and have the patient get well; the second according to the old method, and lose the patient; and the third, the fourth, the fifth, and all the rest according to the book, and have them all get well; suppose he should find that so far as the prescriptions were followed the patients recovered, and that where they were not the patients died, would you want any other test of the book than that upon practice it proved itself to be true?
You see a recipe for making bread. What is the way to test that recipe, but to put the materials together according to its direction? If the bread is good, the recipe is good, is it not? If it is good, I do not care where it came from - I do not care if King Pharaoh wrote it; and if it is not good, I would not care any more for it if it came from the angel Gabriel. If the devil gave me a recipe, and on trial it was found to be good, I should not care any less for it on account of the source from which it came. It is the thing that proves the thing. The effect proves what is the nature of the cause. And if there are prescriptions in God's Word to heal pride, and selfishness, and all forms of sin and diseases, and on trial the prescriptions are found to do what they profess to be able to do, the effect justifies the cause.
Now, the Bible does not profess to be a book of theories or philosophies. It professes to be "profitable for doctrine, for reproof" - it is the best book in this world for all sorts of reproof addressed to the weaknesses and wants of human life - "for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." Where a man wants to be a good man, where a man wants to be thoroughly furnished, and he goes to the Bible, he will have the best evidence that any man can have that it is a Divine book; for it will furnish him with those things which his experience shows him he needs.
Here is a roll of charts of a difficult harbor. They were drawn, it may be, by Robert Small. They are handed by him to Admiral Dupont. The Admiral, the moment he sees them, laughs right out, and says, "Do you call this a chart?" It was made with a burnt stick. Robert Small, you know, was a slave; and he had to get his knowledge as other slaves get theirs. He was a pilot in Charleston harbor, however, and he knows where the shallow places are, where the deep places are, where the obstructions are, and where it is clear sailing; and he makes a rough sketch of the whole vicinity, and puts it into Admiral Dupont's hand; and the Admiral says, "Do you suppose I am going to steer my ships by a chart that a nigger made?" Or he says, "When did you make this? On what kind of a table did you make it? What did you use to make it with?" Does he say this? Under such circumstances what would Admiral Dupont do, who is a sensible man, and who has so much sense that he knows how to employ Negroes, and take the advantage of their aid? He would say to those under him, "Take a cutter, man it, and go out, and sound, and see if the chart is correct"; and they would find the shoals and channels to be just as they were represented to be; and after they had put the chart to proof, and found it to correspond to the fact, they would report to him, and he would say, "That is a good chart, if a black man did make it. It is true, and that is the reason why it is good."
Now, the Bible is a chart. It teaches men how to steer where that sand bank of temptation is; where that rock of danger is; where that whirling vortex of passion is. The Bible is a chart of salvation; and if a man only knows his course by this, he will go through life, with all its storms, and come safely into the port of Heaven.
The way to test the Bible is not to criticize it, and compare its rude marking with the more modern ways of making charts: the way to test the Bible is to put your sounding lines into the channel, and try it, and see if it is not true. But that is the test men do not employ.
Except a man be converted, and become as a little child, he shall in no case come into the Kingdom of Heaven. The natural man understandeth not the things of the Spirit, because they are to be experimentally learned. It is experience that is wanted. You do not believe the Bible. Why? Because you do not practice it. It is very hard for a man to say, "I have done wrong." A man's whole nature revolts at it. The Bible says to him, "I will prove to you that I am a Divine book, if you will acknowledge that you have done wrong, and earnestly say that you are willing to repair it, and to the utmost of your ability endeavor to do right." That is one of the proofs of the Bible; for the moment you have done that there will be such an evidence in you of the wisdom and power of the Book, that you will say, "It must be of God."
The Bible makes a declaration in respect to happiness, as founded on the law of love. It says that it is more blessed to give than to receive. All the world disbelieves it, and insists on trying the other thing. Men everywhere are trying to be happy: one by pride, another by selfishness; another by lust; another by ambition; another by power; and all by things addressed to the senses. When the Word of God is standing and crying, as by the voice of one in the wilderness, "It is more blessed to give than to receive," we are all insisting upon it that it is more blessed to receive than to give; and so the heart, ever greedy, swirls like a vortex, and draws what it can, and is still drawing, unsatisfied and unhappy. Here and there a man has put the Bible to the test, and found happiness, and peace, and joy; and men, looking at him, say, "It is strange that men should be happy in such circumstances of life as his." But what are circumstances of life to a man whose heart is right with God?
The Bible is a book that was meant to renovate human nature, and prepare men to live here, and in the world to come; and a few experiments in respect to its moral instructions will go farther towards establishing its validity than all the criticisms and philosophies in the world.
Lastly, let none be alarmed lest the Bible should lose ground. It would not make any difference if you took away half of it. Do you suppose that when the cluster is crushed it is gone and lost? Its juice goes to wine, and is saved. You are not going to crush the Bible to do anything more than to turn it into wine. Its external form may be changed; the mere historical methods by which its teachings were communicated to men may be modified; but in so far as it is a vehicle of real truths, it will endure, and you cannot prevent it.
There is this about the Word of God: it coincides with the fundamental nature of man. It interprets that nature. It has hit upon a way in which it may be reorganized, and carried above the animal to the spiritual, and made partaker of the Divine nature. That has been found out, and nothing can destroy the knowledge of it. You cannot turn it back. You cannot overlay the truth. And the Book that contains this inestimable treasure is not going to be dispossessed or laid aside.
I beg, therefore, that any who are timid on this subject, and who fear that the foundations of faith are about to be removed, will be reassured. Why, the foundations of faith have been on the point of being removed five hundred times, and have never yet been stirred. The Lord standeth sure; and if there is authority in the Bible, and in the Spirit of God, that goes with a faithful hearing of the truth, and an attempt to practice it, you need not be disturbed. Do not be afraid that the stars will be taken out of the Heavens because astronomers are quarreling among themselves. It makes no difference what astronomers do, the stars are there, and will be forever. Men have their theories about the Bible, some of which are true, and some false; and the result of investigation may be that some of these theories will come to naught; but in the main, the Word of God, being the repository of the mightiest truths in the world, will move like the stars in Heaven, which are so high that the storms never reach them, and the winds never blow them out.
Avoid, I beseech of you, that shallowest, meanest, and most contemptible of all experiences, the rattle brain experience of those scientists who say that the Divinity of the Bible is disproved, and that its authority is destroyed. There are many persons who seem to think that they are called upon to express skepticism. They seem to think that it is manly to doubt. On the contrary, manhood is built up by believing; and a man recedes from manhood just in the proportion in which he doubts, and doubts permanently; and of all unbelieving, that of a fool is the most to be despised.
Let scholars, then, to whom this inquiry appropriately belongs, conduct their investigations. Let the shell, the rind, the crust of Scripture, take its fate. It will come out right in the end. Meanwhile, that which is the essential thing in the Word of God - its power to cleanse the heart, and change the life, and prepare the soul for immortality - is yours. Take that; try it; follow it.
I wish I could have infused into the memory of every young man and maiden of my charge the Proverbs of Solomon, the Psalms, the Evangelists, and the three or four last chapters of the Epistles, where the arguments, being finished, are applied to the ethical side of life. Those, committed to memory, would give you more practical wisdom, and would do you more good, than all the other Books of the Bible.
Study God's Word, not for curiosity, not for controversy, and not for philosophy; but to see how it is the man of your counsel, and your guide. It may lead you from step to step, through purity, to immortality and glory.