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Who Wrote The Bible by Washington Gladden

CHAPTER XII. HOW THE BOOKS WERE WRITTEN.

The books of the Old Testament were originally written upon skins of some sort. The Talmud provided that the law might be inscribed on the skins of clean animals, tame or wild, or even of clean birds. These skins were usually cut into strips, the ends of which were neatly joined together, making a continuous belt of parchment or vellum which was rolled upon two sticks and fastened by a thread. They were commonly written on one side only, with an iron pen which was dipped in ink composed of lampblack dissolved in gall juice.

The Hebrew is a language quite unlike our own in form and appearance. Not only do we read it from right to left, instead of from left to right, but the consonants only of the several words are written in distinct characters on the line; the vowels being little dots or dashes standing under the consonants, or within their curves. These vowel points were not used in the original Hebrew; they are a modern invention, originating some centuries after Christ. It is true that it was the belief of the Jews in former times that these vowel points were an original part of the language; their scholars made this claim with great confidence, which shows how little reliance is to be placed on Jewish tradition. The evidence is abundant that the Hebrew was originally written without vowels, precisely as stenographers often write in these days. We know from the testimony of old students and interpreters of the Hebrew that they constantly encountered this difficulty in reading the language. Write a paragraph of our own language without vowels and look at it. Or, better, ask some one else to treat for you in the same way a paragraph with which you are not familiar, and see if you can decipher it. Undoubtedly, you could with some difficulty make out the sense of most passages. It would puzzle you at first, but after you had had some practice in supplying the vowels you would learn to read quite readily. Stenographers, as I have said, have a somewhat similar task. Nevertheless, you would sometimes be in uncertainty as to the words. Suppose you have the three consonants brd, how would you know whether the word was bard, or bird, or bread, or board, or brad, or broad, or bride, or braid, or brood, or breed? It might be any one of them. You could usually tell what it was by a glance at the connection, but you could not tell infallibly, for there might be sentences in which more than one of these words would make sense, and it would be impossible to determine which the writer meant to use. Now the old Hebrew as it came from the hands of the original writers was all in this form; while, therefore, the meaning of the writer can generally be gained with sufficient accuracy, you see at a glance that absolute certainty is out of the question; that the Jewish scholars who supplied these vowel points a thousand years or more after the original manuscripts were written may sometimes have got the wrong word.

Jerome gives numerous illustrations of this uncertainty. In Jer. ix.21, |Death is come up into our windows,| he says that we have for the first word the three Hebrew consonants corresponding to our dbr; the word may be dabar, signifying death, or deber, signifying pestilence; it is impossible to tell which it is. In Habakkuk iii.5, we have the same consonants, and there the word is written pestilence. Either word will made good sense in either place; and we are perfectly helpless in our choice between them. Again, in Isaiah xxvi.14, we have a prediction concerning the wicked, |Therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them and made all their memory to perish.| The Hebrew word here translated |memory| consists of three consonants represented by our English zkr; it may be the word zeker, which signifies memory, or the word zakar, which signifies a male person. And Jerome says that it is believed that Saul was deceived, perhaps willingly, by the difference in these words (I Sam. xv.); having been commanded to cut off every zeker -- memorial or vestige -- of Amaiek, he took the word to be zakar, instead of zeker, and contented himself with destroying the males of the army and keeping for himself the spoil. Jerome's conjecture in this case is sufficiently fanciful; nevertheless he illustrates the impossibility of determining the exact meaning of many Hebrew sentences. This impossibility is abundantly demonstrated by the Septuagint, for we find many undoubted errors in that translation from the Hebrew into the Greek, which have arisen from this lack of precision in the Hebrew language.

When, therefore, we know that the Bible was written in such a language -- a language without vowels -- and that it was not until six hundred years after Christ that the vowel points were invented and the words were written out in full, the theory of the verbal inerrancy of the text as we now have it becomes incredible. Unless the men who supplied the vowel points were gifted with supernatural knowledge they must have made mistakes in spelling out some of these words. I do not believe that these mistakes were serious, or that they affect in any important way the meaning of the Scripture, but the assumption that in this stupendous game of guess-work no wrong guesses were made is in the highest degree gratuitous. The substantial truthfulness of the record is not impeached by this discovery, but the verbal inerrancy of the document can never be maintained by any honest man who knows these facts.

It is unsafe and mischievous to indulge in a priori reasonings about inspiration; we have had too much of that; but the following proposition is unassailable: If the Divine Wisdom had proposed to deliver to man an infallible book, he would not have had it recorded in a language whose written words consist only of consonants, leaving readers a thousand years after to fill in the vowels by conjecture. The very fact that such a language was chosen is the conclusive and unanswerable evidence that God never designed to give us an infallible book.

We are familiar with the fact that the Old Testament writings in general use among the early churches were those of the Septuagint. The Christians from the second to the sixteenth centuries knew very little Hebrew. But during all these ages the Palestinian Jews and their successors in other lands were preserving their own Scriptures; it was they who added at a late day -- probably as late as the sixth century -- the vowel points, which were invented in Syria; and when, at length, under the impulse of Biblical study which led to the Reformation, Christian scholars began to think of going back to the original Hebrew, they were obliged to obtain from the Jews the copies which they studied. It is somewhat remarkable that the Jews, who were the exclusive custodians of the Hebrew writings up to the sixteenth century, had not been careful to preserve their old manuscripts. After the vowel points had been introduced into the text, they seem to have been willing that copies not written in this manner should pass out of existence. Accordingly we have few Hebrew manuscripts that are even supposed to be more than six or seven hundred years old. There is one copy of the Pentateuch which may have been made as early as 580 A. D., but this is extremely doubtful; aside from this I do not know that there are any Hebrew Bibles which claim to be older than the ninth century. Of these Hebrew manuscripts nearly six hundred are now known to be in existence, but the greater part of these are only fragmentary copies of the Pentateuch or of single books. There are two classes of these -- synagogue rolls, prepared for reading in the way that I have described, and manuscripts in the book form, some on parchment and some on paper.

The variations in these manuscripts are few. Compared with the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, the accuracy of these Hebrew codices is remarkable. It is evident that the care of the Scribes to guard their Scriptures against error has been scrupulous and vigilant. Doubtless this intense devotion to the very letter of the sacred books has been exercised for many centuries. We know that in the earliest days this precision was not sought; for the Septuagint translation, made during the second and third centuries before Christ, gives us indubitable proof, when we compare it with the Hebrew text, that changes, some of them radical and sweeping, have been made in the text of the Hebrew books since that translation was finished. But it is evident that the Scribes at an early day, certainly as early as the beginning of the Christian era, determined to have a uniform and an unchangeable text. For this purpose they chose some manuscript copy of the Scriptures, doubtless the one which seemed to them most accurate, and made that the standard; all the copies made since that time have been religiously conformed to that. Consequently, all the Hebrew manuscripts now in existence are remarkably uniform. The Old Testament contains more than three times as many pages as the New Testament; but while we have more than one hundred and fifty thousand |various readings| in the Greek manuscripts and versions of the New Testament, we have less than ten thousand such variations in those of the Old Testament. It must be remembered, however, that this uniformity has its source in some copy chosen to be the standard hundreds of years after most of the Old Testament books were written; and it does not guarantee the close correspondence between this copy and the autographs of the original writers. [Footnote: For an interesting discussion of the preservation and transmission of the Hebrew text, the reader is referred to Mr. Robertson Smith's The Old Testament in the Jewish Church, Lectures ii. and iii.]

Our chief interest centres, however, in the Greek manuscripts of the Bible preserved and transmitted by Christians, and including both Testaments. All the oldest and most precious documents that we possess belong to this class.

The original New Testament writings which came from the hands of the apostles and their amanuenses we do not possess. These were probably written, not on skins, but upon the papyrus paper commonly used at that day, which was a frail and flimsy fabric, and under ordinary circumstances would soon perish. Fragments of this papyrus have come down to us, but only those which were preserved with exceptional care. Jerome tells us of a library in Cassarea that was partly destroyed, owing to the crumbling of its paper, though it was only a hundred years old. Parchment was sometimes used by the apostles; Paul requests Timothy, in his second letter, to bring with him, when he comes, certain parchments that belong to him. But these materials were costly, and it is not likely that the apostles used them to any extent in the preparation of the books of the New Testament. At any rate the autographic copies of these books disappeared at an early date. This seems strange to us. Placing the estimate that we do upon these writings, we should have taken the greatest care to preserve them. It is clear that the Christians into whose hands they fell did not value them as highly as we do. As Westcott says, |They were given as a heritage to man, and it was some time before men felt the full value of the gift.|

At the close of the second century there were disputes concerning the correct reading of certain passages, but neither party appeals to the apostolic originals, -- showing that they must before that time have perished. In after years legends were told about the preservation of these originals, but these are contradictory and incredible.

No manuscript is now in existence which was written during the first three centuries. But we have one or two that date back to the fourth century; and from that time through all the ages to the invention of printing many copies were made of the Sacred Scriptures, in whole or in part, which are still in the hands of scholars. It is from these old Greek manuscripts that our received text of the New Testament is derived; by a comparison of them the scholars of the seventeenth century made up a Greek New Testament which they regarded as approximately accurate, and from that our English version was made.

The number of these old manuscripts is large, and the first general division of them is into |uncials| or |cursives,| as they are called; the uncial manuscripts being written in capital letters, the cursives in small letters more or less connected, as in our written hand. The uncials are the oldest, as they are the fewest; there are only one hundred and twenty-seven of them in all; while of the cursives there are about fifteen hundred.

Yet most of these manuscripts are fragmentary. Some of them contain only the Gospels or portions of them; some of them contain the Acts and the Catholic Epistles; some of them the Epistles of Paul or a single epistle; some are selections from the Gospels or the Epistles, prepared to be read in church, and called lectionaries.

Professor Ezra Abbot gives us a classification of these manuscripts which will be found instructive.

|For the New Testament,...we have manuscripts more or less complete, written in uncial or capital letters, and ranging from the fourth to the tenth century; of the Gospels twenty-seven, besides thirty small fragments; of the Acts and Catholic Epistles ten, besides six small fragments; of the Pauline Epistles eleven, besides nine small fragments, and of the Revelation five. All of these have been most thoroughly collated, and the text of the most important of them has been published. One of these manuscripts, the Sinaitic, containing the whole of the New Testament, and another, the Vatican, containing much the larger part of it, were written probably as early as the middle of the fourth century; two others, the Alexandrian and the Ephraem, belong to about the middle of the fifth, of which date are two more, containing considerable portions of the Gospels. A very remarkable manuscript of the Gospels and Acts -- the Cambridge manuscript, or Codex Bezae -- belongs to the sixth century.... I pass by a number of small but valuable fragments of the fifth and sixth centuries. As to the cursive manuscripts ranging from the tenth century to the sixteenth, we have of the Gospels more than six hundred; of the Acts over two hundred; of the Pauline Epistles nearly three hundred; of the Revelation about one hundred, -- not reckoning the lectionaries, or manuscripts containing the lessons from the Gospels, Acts, and Epistles, read in the service of the church, of which there are more than four hundred.| [Footnote: Anglo-American Bible Revision, p.95.]

Out of all this vast mass of extant manuscripts, only twenty-seven contain the New Testament entire.

The three oldest and most valuable manuscripts among those named by Professor Abbot, in the passage above, are the Sinaitic, the Vatican, and the Alexandrian manuscripts.

Of these old Bibles perhaps the oldest is the one in the Vatican Library at Rome. It was enrolled in that library as late as the year 1475; what its history was before that time is unknown. By whose hands or at what place it was written, no one can tell. Some have supposed that it was brought from Constantinople to Rome, in the fifteenth century, by John Bessarion, a learned patriarch; some that it was written in Alexandria, when that city was the metropolis of the world's culture; some that it was produced in Southern Italy when that region was celebrated for its learning. The signs favor the latter theory. The form of the letters is like those found on papyri in Herculaneum; and other manuscripts of the Bible found in southern Italy agree remarkably with this one in many peculiar readings. But this is all guess-work. Nobody knows where the old Bible came from or who brought it to Rome.

Some things, however, the old book plainly tells us about its own history. It bears the unmistakable marks of great antiquity. The scholar who is familiar with old Greek manuscripts can judge by looking at a document something about its probable age. By the form of the letters, by the presence or absence of certain marks of punctuation, by the general style of the manuscript, he can determine within a century or so the date at which it was written.

This old Bible is written in the uncial or capital letters; this would make it tolerably certain that it must be older than the tenth century. We have scarcely any uncial manuscripts later than the tenth century. But other unmistakable marks take it back much farther than this. The words are written continuously, with no breaks or spaces between them; there are no accents, no rough or smooth breathings, no punctuation marks of any sort. These are signs of great age. Another peculiarity is the manner of the division of the books into sections. I cannot stop to describe to you the various methods of division adopted in antiquity. The present separation into chapters and verses was, as you know, a quite modern device. But the divisions of this old Bible follow a method that we know to have been in use at a very early day; and the conclusion of all the scholars is that it must have been written as early as the year 350, possibly as early as 300.

It is not, however, a roll, but a book in form like those we handle every day. Before this date manuscripts were generally prepared in this way. Martial, the Latin poet, who died about 100, mentions as a novelty in his day books with square leaves, bound together at the edges.

The Vatican Bible is a heavy quarto, the covers are red morocco discolored with age, the leaves, of which there are 759, are of fine and delicate vellum. It contains the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, except the first forty-five chapters in Genesis and a few of the Psalms, which have been torn out and lost. Of the New Testament writings, the last five chapters of Hebrews, First and Second Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and the Apocalypse are wanting. Otherwise both Testaments are complete.

We may recall another fact, to which allusion has been made, that this old Bible contains among the Old Testament books those books which we now call apocryphal, and that these apocryphal books, instead of being divided from the rest in a separate group, are mingled with them, the order of the books being quite unlike that of our Bibles or of the Hebrew canon. The apocryphal First Book of Esdras precedes our Book of Ezra; while our Book of Ezra is united with Nehemiah, forming the Second Book of Esdras. Judith and Tobit follow Esther, and next comes the twelve minor prophets, and so on.

The same thing is true of all these oldest Bibles; they all contain the apocryphal books, and these books are mingled with the other books, either promiscuously, or by some system of classification which accepts them as equal in value with the other Old Testament writings. There is no indication in these old Bibles that the apocryphal books are any less sacred or authoritative than the others.

Another manuscript Bible, scarcely less venerable and no less precious than the Vatican Bible, is the one known as the Sinaitic manuscript This was discovered by Constantine Tischendorf, a German scholar, in an ancient convent at the base of Mount Sinai. The first journey of Tischendorf to the Sinaitic peninsula was undertaken in 1844, for the express purpose of searching in the old monasteries of this neighborhood for ancient copies of the Scriptures that might be preserved in them. The monks of this old convent admitted him to their ancient library, -- a place not greatly frequented by them, -- and there in the middle of the room he found a waste basket, filled with leaves and torn pieces of old parchment gathered to be burned. In looking them over he discovered one hundred and twenty leaves of a Bible that seemed to him of great antiquity. He asked for these leaves, but when they found that he wanted them, the monks began to suspect their value, and permitted him to take only forty-three of them. In 1853 he returned again, but this time could not find the rest of the precious manuscript. He feared that it had been destroyed long before, but this was not the case. Stimulated by his desire to possess the loose leaves, the monks had made search for the rest of the volume, and, using as samples the leaves they had refused to give him, they had found them all and secreted them. Upon his second visit they did not show him the book, however, nor reveal to him in any way its existence.

Six years later, in 1859, he returned again, this time fortified with a letter from the Emperor of Russia, the head of the Greek Church; and this mighty document made the monks open their treasures for his inspection. He obtained permission, first, to carry the old Bible to Cairo to be copied, and finally, under the imperial influence, the monks surrendered it, and suffered it to be removed to St. Petersburg, where since 1859 it has been sacredly kept.

|The Sinai Bible,| says Dr. F. P. Woodbury, |contains the New Testament, the Epistle of Barnabas, a portion of the Shepherd of Hennas, and twenty-two books of the Old Testament. The whole is written on fine vellum made from antelope skins into the largest pages known in our ancient manuscripts. While most of the oldest manuscripts have only three columns to the page, and the Vatican Bible has three, the Sinai Bible alone shows four. The letters are somewhat larger than those of the Vatican and much more roughly written. The book contains many blunders in copying, and there are a few cases of willful omission. Its remote age is attested by many of the same proofs that have been mentioned in the description of the Vatican Bible.| [Footnote: From an interesting sketch of |Three Old Bibles,| in Sunday Afternoon, vol. i pp.65-71.]

It is known that the Emperor Constantine, in the year 331, authorized the preparation of fifty costly and beautiful copies of the Holy Scriptures under the care of Eusebius of Caesarea. Tischendorf himself thinks -- and his conjecture is accepted by other scholars -- that this is one of those fifty Bibles, and that it was sent from Byzantium to the monks of this convent by the Emperor Justinian, who was its founder. At all events, it is incontestably a manuscript of great age, certainly of the fourth century, and probably of the first half of that century.

The other great Bible is the one known as the Alexandrian, which was presented, in 1628, to King Charles I of England by Cyril Lucar, patriarch of Constantinople, who had brought it from Alexandria. It was transferred in 1753 from the king's private library to the British Museum, where it is now preserved. It is bound in four folio volumes, three of which contain the text of the Old and one of the New Testament. The portion which contains the Old Testament is more perfect than that which contains the New, quite a number of leaves having been lost from the latter. |The material of which this volume is composed is thin vellum, the page being about thirteen inches high by ten broad, containing from fifty to fifty-two lines on each page, each line consisting of about twenty letters. The number of pages is 773, of which 640 are occupied with the text of the Old Testament and 133 with the New. The characters are uncial, but larger than the Vatican manuscript. There are no accents or breathings, no spaces between the letters or words save at the end of a paragraph, and the contractions, which are not numerous, are only such as are found in the oldest manuscripts. The punctuation consists of a point placed at the end of a sentence, usually on a level with the top of the preceding letter.| [Footnote: Encyc. Brit., i. p.496.] The general verdict of scholars is that this manuscript belongs to about the middle of the fifth century.

The contents of this old Bible are curious, and they are curiously arranged. The first volume contains the Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, the two books of Samuel, the two books of Kings, and the two books of Chronicles. The second contains, first, the twelve minor prophets (from Hosea to Malachi), then Isaiah, Jeremiah, Baruch, Lamentations, The Epistle of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Esther, Tobit, Judith, Esdras I. (the apocryphal Esdras), Esdras II. (including our Nehemiah and part of our Ezra), and the four books of the Maccabees. The third volume contains An Epistle of Athanasius to Marcellenus on the Psalms; The Hypothesis of Eusebius on the Psalms; then the Book of the Psalms, of which there are one hundred and fifty-one, and fifteen Hymns; then Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, Wisdom of Solomon, and Ecclesiasticus, or Sirach. The fourth volume contains the four Gospels, the Acts, the seven Catholic Epistles (one of James, two of Peter, three of John, and one of Jude), fourteen Epistles of Paul (including the one to the Hebrews), The Revelation of John, two Epistles of Clement to the Corinthians, and eight Psalms of Solomon.

This, it will be admitted, is a generous Bible. It contains most of the apocryphal books, and several others that we do not find in the other collections. It is probable that the works of Athanasius and Eusebius on the Psalms were admitted rather as introduction or commentary than as text; but the rest, judging from the positions in which they stand, must have been regarded as Sacred Scriptures.

These, then, are the three oldest, most complete, and most trustworthy copies of the Sacred Scriptures now in existence. By all scholars they are regarded as precious beyond price; and any reading in which they agree would probably be regarded as the right reading, if all the other manuscripts in the world were against them.

I have suggested that these old manuscripts do not always agree. The fact is that no two of them are exactly alike, and that there are a great many slight differences between those which are most closely assimilated. Of these differences Professor Westcott says that |there cannot be less than 120,000, -- though of these a very large proportion consists of differences of spelling and isolated aberrations of scribes.| It is not generally difficult for the student on comparing them to tell which is the right reading. A word may be misspelled, for example, in several different ways; the student knows the right way to spell it, and is not in doubt concerning the word. |Probably,| says Mr. Westcott, |there are not more than from sixteen hundred to two thousand places in which the true reading is a matter of uncertainty, even if we include in this questions of order, inflection, and orthography; the doubtful readings by which the sense is in any way affected are very much fewer, and those of dogmatic importance can be easily numbered.|

The ways in which these errors and variations arose are easily explained. The men who copied these manuscripts were careful men, many of them, but all of them were fallible. Sometimes they would mistake a letter for another letter much like it, and change the form of a word in that way; sometimes there would be two clauses of a sentence ending with the same word, and the eye of the copyist, glancing back to the manuscript after writing the first of these words, would alight upon the second one, and go on from that; so that the clause preceding it would be omitted. Sometimes in copying the continuous writing of the uncial manuscripts, mistakes would be made in dividing words. For example, if a number of English words, written in close order, with no spaces between them, were given you to copy, and you found |infancy,| you might make two words of it or one; and if you were a little careless you might write it |in fancy| when it should be |infancy,| or vice versa. A case might arise in which it would be difficult for you to tell whether it should be |in fancy| or |infancy.| Such uncertainties the copyists encountered, and such mistakes they sometimes made.

Mistakes of memory they also made in copying, just as I sometimes do when I undertake to copy a passage from Mr. Westcott or Mr. Davidson into one of these chapters. I look upon the book, and take a sentence in my mind, but perhaps while I am writing it down I will change slightly the order of the words, or it may be put a word of my own in the place of another that much resembles it, as |but| for |though,| or |from| for |out of,| or |doubtless| for |without doubt.| I try to copy very exactly, but there are, unquestionably, now and then such slips as these in my quotations. And such mistakes were made by the copyists of the Old Scriptures.

There are some instances of intentional changes. Sometimes a copyist evidently substituted a word that he thought was plainer for one that was more obscure; a more elegant word for one less elegant; a grammatical construction for one that was not grammatical.

Other differences have arisen from the habit of some of the copyists or owners of manuscripts of writing glosses, or brief explanatory notes, on the margin. Some of these marginalia were copied by subsequent scribes into the text, where, in our version, they still remain. Some of them, however, were removed in the late revision.

The great majority of these errors are, however, as I have said, extremely unimportant; and nearly all of them seem to have arisen in the ways I have suggested -- through simple carelessness, and not with any intent of corrupting the text.

The translations of the Bible which were made in early days into other languages than our own must be dismissed with the briefest mention. The most important version of the Old Testament was the Septuagint, of which nothing more needs to be said.

You will remember that the Hebrew was a dead language while our Lord was on the earth, the Jews of Palestine speaking the Aramaic. For their use, translations of the Hebrew into the Aramaic, called Targums, were made. There is a great variety of these, and there are many opinions about their age; but it is not likely that the oldest of them was committed to writing before the second century A. D. They are curious specimens of the translator's work, combining text and commentary in a remarkable manner. Additions and changes are freely made; the simple sentences of the old record are greatly expanded; not only is a spade generally called a useful ligneous and ferruginous agricultural implement, but many things are said concerning the aforesaid spade which Moses or David or Isaiah never dreamed of saying.

For example, in Judges v.10, the Hebrew is literally translated in our English Bible thus: |Speak, ye that ride on white asses, ye that sit in judgment and walk by the way.| The Targum of Jonathan expatiates thereon as follows: |Those who had interrupted their occupations are riding on asses covered with many colored caparisons, and they ride about freely in all the territory of Israel, and congregate to sit in judgment. They walk in their old ways, and are speaking of the power Thou hast shown in the land of Israel,| etc. This may be pronounced a remarkably free translation; and the Targums generally evince a similar liberality of sentiment and phraseology.

Besides these, the ancient translations of the Bible, which must be mentioned, are the Old Latin, made in the second century, out of which, by many revisions, grew that Latin Vulgate which is now used in the Catholic ritual; an ancient Syriac version of about the same age; two Egyptian versions, in different dialects, made in the third century; the Peshito-Syriac, the Gothic, and the Ethiopic in the fourth, and the Armenian in the fifth; besides several later translations, including the Arabic and the Slavonic. These ancient translations are all of value to modern scholars in helping them to reach more certain conclusions respecting the nature of the Sacred Scriptures and the right reading in disputed passages.

The ages which we have been traversing in this chapter -- when the Bible was a manuscript -- were ages of great darkness. The copies of the book were few, and the common people could neither possess them nor read them. It is hard for us who have had the book in our hands from our infancy, who have gone to it so freely for light in darkness, for comfort in sorrow, for wisdom to work with, for weapons to fight with, to understand how men could have lived the life of faith without it; how a godly seed could have been nourished in the earth without the sincere milk of the word for them to feed on.

It was indeed a great privation that they suffered, but we must not suppose that they were left without witness. For there is another and even a clearer revelation than the written word, and that is a godly life. Godly lives there were in all these dark times; and it was at their fires that the torch of gospel truth was kindled and kept burning. There may be reason for a question whether we have not come to trust in these times too much in a word that is written, and to undervalue that other revelation which God is making of his truth and love in the characters of his children. For it is only in the light that Christ is constantly manifesting to the world in the lives of men that we can see any meaning in the words of the book. |The Christian,| says Dr. Christlieb, |is the world's Bible.| This is the word that is known and read of men. Let it be our care to make it, not an infallible, but a clear, an adequate, and a safe revelation of the truth and love of God to men.

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