The influence of the Bible is world-wide. Its mighty power has affected every department of human activity. The contents of the Scriptures have supplied themes for the greatest poets, artists and musicians which the world has yet produced, and have been the mightiest factor of all in shaping the moral progress of the race. Let us consider a few examples of the Bible's influence as displayed in the various realms of human enterprise.
Take away such sublime oratorios as |Elijah| and |The Messiah,| and you have taken out of the realm of music something which can never be duplicated; destroy the countless hymns which have drawn their inspiration from the Scriptures and you have left us little else worth singing. Eliminate from the compositions of Tennyson, Wordsworth and Carlisle every reference to the moral and spiritual truths taught in God's Word and you have stripped them of their beauty and robbed them of their fragrance. Take down from off the walls of our best Art Galleries those pictures which portray scenes and incidents in the history of Israel and the life of our Lord and you have removed the richest gems from the crown of human genius. Remove from our statute books every law which is founded upon the ethical conceptions of the Bible and you have annihilated the greatest factor in modern civilization. Rob our libraries of every book which is devoted to the work of elaborating and disseminating the precepts and concepts of Holy Writ and you have taken from us that which cannot be valued in dollars and cents.
The Bible has done more for the emancipation and civilization of the heathen than all the forces which the human arm can wield, put together. Someone has said, |Draw a line around the nations which have the Bible and you will then have divided between barbarism and civilization, between thrift and poverty, between selfishness and charity, between oppression and freedom, between life and the shadow of death.| Even Darwin had to concede the miraculous element in the triumphs of the missionaries of the cross.
Here are two or three men who land on a savage island. Its inhabitants posses no literature and have no written language. They regard the white man as their enemy and have no desire to be shown |the error of their ways.| They are cannibals by instinct and little better than the brute beasts in their habits of life. The missionaries who have entered their midst have no money with which to buy their friendship, no army to compel their obedience and no merchandise to stir their avarice. Their only weapon is |the Sword of the Spirit,| their only capital |the unsearchable riches of Christ,| their only offer the invitation of the Gospel. Yet somehow they succeed, and without the shedding of any blood gain the victory. In a few short years naked savagery is changed to the garb of civilization, lust is transformed into purity, cruelty is now kindness, avarice has become unselfishness, and where before vindictiveness existed there is now to be seen meekness and the spirit of loving self-sacrifice. And this has been accomplished by the Bible! This miracle is still being repeated in every part of the earth! What other book, or library of books, could work such a result? Is it not evident to all that the Book which does exert such a unique and unrivaled influence must be vitalized by the life of God Himself?
This wonderful characteristic, namely the unique influence of the Bible, is rendered the more remarkable when we take into account the antiquity of the Scriptures! The last Books which were added to the Sacred Canon are now more than eighteen hundred years old, yet the workings of the Bible are as mighty in their effects today as they were in the first century of the Christian era.
The power of man's books soon wane and disappear. With but few exceptions the productions of the human intellect enjoy a brief existence. As a general rule the writings of man within fifty years of their first public appearance lie untouched on the top shelves of our libraries. Man's writings are like himself -- dying creatures. Man comes onto the age of this world, plays his part in the drama of life, influences the audience while he is acting, but is forgotten as soon as the curtain falls upon his brief career; so it is with his writings. While they are fresh and new they amuse, interest or instruct as the wise may be, and then die a natural death. Even the few exceptions to this rule only exert a very limited influence, their power is circumscribed; they are unread by the great majority, yea, are unknown to the biggest portion of our race. But how different with God's Book! The written Word, like the Living Word, is |The same yesterday, and today, and for ever,| and unlike any other book it has made its way into all countries and speaks with equal clearness, directness and force to all men in their mother tongue. The Bible never becomes antiquated, its vitality never diminishes and its influence is more irresistible and universal today than it was two thousands years ago. Such facts as these declare with no uncertain voice that the Bible is endued with the same Divine life and energy as its Author, for in no other way can we account for its marvelous influence through the centuries and its mighty power upon the world.