THE WORD OF GOD
|When ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of man, but as it is in truth, the word of God.| (1 Thessalonians 2:13.)
THE Apostle here testifies that he believes himself to be the bearer of a revelation direct from God; that the words he speaks and the words he writes are not the words of man, but the Word of God, warm with his breath, filled with his thoughts, and stamped with his will.
In this same epistle he writes:
|For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord.| (1 Thessalonians 4:15.)
The preposition |by| is the dative of investiture as well as means, and is Paul's declaration that what he is writing to the Thessalonians are not his ideas, clothed in his own language, but ideas and thoughts whose investiture, whose very clothing, is no less than the word of the ascended Lord -- he who is none other than the |Word of God.|
Writing to the Corinthians he says:
|Which things we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but (and grammar requires us to understand) in the words which the Holy Ghost teacheth.| (1 Corinthians 2:13.)
According to Paul's testimony, therefore, the fourteen epistles which he wrote to the churches are not letters written by a mortal man, giving expression to the ideas and thoughts of man, but are the very words of the infinite God, giving utterance by the Holy Ghost to the thoughts of God.
An examination of the other epistles of the New Testament will show the same high and unqualified pretension. The apostles write (all of them) not as men who are giving an opinion of their own, but as men who know themselves under the domination of the Spirit, and as giving authoritative expression to the mind and will of God.
Nor is this peculiar to the writers of the New Testament.
Constantly, the writers of the Old Testament introduce their message with the tremendous sentence: |Thus saith the Lord.| Again and again they declare the Lord has spoken |by| them. David says: |The words of the Lord were in my tongue.| Jeremiah says the Word of the Lord came to him and the Lord said: |Take a roll of a book and write therein all the words that I have spoken to thee.| Then we are told that |Jeremiah called Baruch, the son of Neriah; and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the Lord, which he had spoken unto him, upon a roll of a book.|
After these words had been read to the princes of Israel, they asked Baruch, saying, |Tell us now, how didst thou write all these words at his mouth?| Then Baruch answered them, |He pronounced all these words unto me with his mouth, and I wrote them with ink in the book.|
The process is clear enough. The Lord spake his words in Jeremiah. Jeremiah received the words direct from the Lord, dictated them word for word to Baruch, Baruch wrote them as they were pronounced in a book; and when written, the words were the written words of God.
Ezekiel declares when the Lord commanded him to speak to the children of Israel, he said to him: |Speak with my words unto them.| Ezekiel not only speaks them, he writes them in the book of his prophecy. Ezekiel gives an account of how the Lord spake to him and inspired the book which bears his name. He says: |The Spirit entered into me when he spoke to me; . . . the spirit entered into me and spake with me.| The Spirit said unto him: |When I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say unto them, thus saith the Lord.|
The Apostle Paul, speaking in commendation of Timothy because from a child he had known the Holy Scriptures (and by Holy Scriptures the Apostle meant the Old Testament from Genesis to Malachi -- these were the Scriptures Timothy as well as every Jew knew as such), tells him that all Scripture (and of course any decent exegesis of the passage with its weight of context would recognize that the Apostle was referring to the Scriptures Timothy had known from childhood, the Scriptures as we have them to-day from Genesis to Malachi) -- Paul tells Timothy in the most precise terms that all these writings are inspired of God.
The Apostle Peter, corroboratively speaking of these very Scriptures of the Old Testament, says they came not |by the will of man, but holy men of old spake as they were moved (literally, carried along) by the Holy Ghost.|
Thus, this book we call the Bible comes to us with the enormous and uncompromising claim that it is not a man-made book, but a book whose real and sole author is the living and eternal God.
This claim stands face to face with human need.
Here we are from birth to death, pilgrims on the highway of time, not knowing whence we come, nor whither we go. We need a guide to lead us, a light to shine when we stand at that parting of the ways -- where eternity becomes the end of time.
This book meets us and claims to be all that -- a guide through time, a light to shine upon the road that leads to God and to be, in every line and accent, the inspired, incorruptible, infallible Word of God.
How may we know it is all it claims to be?
Never more than now did we need to know it.
Voices in the air are crying that we have been deceived; that this book upon which our fathers pillowed their heads when at the end of life's journey, they laid them down to die; this book we have held as a lamp to our feet and a light to our path is, after all, at its best, only the word of man and not the Word of God at all.
Every now and then resounding blows are heard as they strike against the old foundation. Those who pretend to be working in the interest of the truth bid us stand aside, lest we and our hopes be buried in the impending ruin.
We need to know at any cost whether this splendid and sustaining faith has deceived us; whether this book we have looked upon as holy and divine is nothing more than the word of man, spoken with his stammering tongue and written with his stumbling pen.
We must know, and know for a certainty that will leave no peradventure to arise as a troubling after-ghost, whether this Bible is, as Paul says it is, in truth, the Word of God; and the question will insistently repeat itself:
|How may we know the Bible is the Word of God?|
The question need not make us tremble.
The answers are at hand.
The evidence is so great, its very wealth is an embarrassment.
That evidence stated, detailed, analyzed and elaborated, would require -- not a few pages -- but whole libraries.
One broad and general proposition may be laid down.
It is this:
The Bible is proved to BE the Word of God when it is shown to be NOT the word of man; and it is proved to be not the word of man when it is shown to be -- not such a book as a man WOULD write if he COULD; nor such a book as a man COULD write if he WOULD.
That it is not the word of man -- not such a book as a man would write if he could, is made clear enough by the picture it paints of the natural man.
This picture is so sharply drawn, the figures stand out in such living and apt delineation, that no one can mistake the import.
According to the Bible, man came direct from the hand of God. God created him body, soul and spirit -- a tripartite being. The soul was the person, the seat of appetite and passions. The spirit was the seat of the mind, the centre of reflection. Spirit and body were the distinct agents of the soul. The spirit, the agent to connect the soul with God -- the body, the medium of the soul's manifestation or materialization in this world, and the instrument for its use and enjoyment. The mind, seated in the spirit, was intended, under the influence of the spirit, to be the governor and regulator of the soul -- enabling the soul rightly to use its appetite and legitimately to satisfy its passions.
Thus organized, God set man up in the world to be his constitutional, moral, spiritual and governmental image -- his likeness morally -- his image (his representative) administratively.
Man turned his back on God, listened to the appetite of his soul, and surrendered to the demands of sensual hunger.
The soul, at once, sank down into the environment of the body. The mind sank down into the environment of the soul and became, henceforth, not a spiritual mind, but a mind |sensual,| |devilish,| a mind continually suggesting to the soul fresh and unlimited gratification of its desires. With the breakdown of soul and mind, the spirit lost its vital relationship to God, lost its function as a connecting link with, and a transmitter of, the mind and will of God; so that it could no longer enable man to know and understand God; and feeling the influence of the mind, instead of influencing it, followed it in its downward course into the environment of the soul.
Out of this dislocation the soul came forth dominant over mind and spirit. Soul appetite and soul desires became supreme; the body, the willing and active agent thereof. From this period on, man was no longer a possible spiritual being, but a |natural| man. The word |natural| is |soulical.| In Scripture it is twice translated |sensual.| The much-used word |psychological| is a derivation of it. In the Bible sense of the word, a psychological person is just the opposite of a pneumatical or spiritual person.
Man was now psychological, soulical, sensual. He had been transformed into a being no better than an intellectual animal, and the slave of his physical functions. Instead of being the master of his appetites, he was mastered by them. His passions intended, under right use, to be blessings, became curses; instead of angels, they became as demons. Instead of dwelling in the midst of his endowment in harmony with it and able to direct it, he found himself at its mercy, incessantly smitten by it and suffering his own equipment. Repudiating faith, walking by sight, talking of reason and governed by his senses, he threw himself open to invasion by the world, the flesh and the Devil.
As a result of his fall, man has become a degenerate, full of the germs of evil, |every imagination of the thoughts of the heart only evil continually| -- an incurable self-corrupter.
In him there is not one thing that commends him to a holy God; and even should he succeed in living a life of perfect morality, his best righteousness in the sight of God would be no better than a bundle of filthy and contagious rags.
There is no power within him by which he can change the essential character and determined trend of his life. Men do not gather grapes of thorns, nor figs of thistles. All the effort that the most devoted and laborious of men might give to the culture of a hedgerow of thorns would not succeed in producing one grape. Though men spent life and fortune in cultivating a field of thistles, they would not gather a single fig. No sooner (says the Bible) can the natural man bring forth the fruit of righteousness unto God. The Ethiopian may change his skin, the leopard his spots, before a natural man can change himself into a spiritual man. |The carnal mind is enmity with God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.| |The natural man (the word 'natural' is psuchikos, soulical) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually (pneumatikos, pneumatically) discerned.| |The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?| meaning thereby that God alone can sound the depths of its measureless capacity for sin and iniquity; therefore, he says: |I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins.|
The end of man is to die.
Such an end is not natural.
It is unnatural.
It is violent.
It is penal.
It is an appointed punishment: as it is written: |It is appointed unto men once to die.| |By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed (literally, passed through, pierced man;| the seeds of death entered him for himself and all his posterity). When he dies, therefore, be he never so moral and upright, his death is judicial, his taking off is the execution of a criminal.
He is to be raised from the dead as to his body (in the meantime, his soul is |dragged| downward to the prison of the underworld, where in conscious suffering he awaits the second resurrection and the judgment hour), he will be raised, judged, found guilty and cast forth into the lake of fire (which is the second death), from whence there will be no resurrection of the body (the body will perish in the fire -- for an immortal body belongs only to the sons of God -- the participants in the First Resurrection); then, as a disembodied spirit -- a ghost -- he will go forth with an inward, deathless worm, and an inward, quenchless fire, to be like |a wandering star unto whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever,| an exile from God, outside the orbit of divine grace, love and life -- a hopeless, an eternally hopeless -- human derelict, upon the measureless sea of night and space.
That is the Bible picture of the natural man.
Is that the picture the natural man paints of himself?
I trow not!
Man looks upon himself as a son of God by nature, having in himself all the elements of divinity, and all the forces necessary to shape his life aright. He is proud of himself, and talks of the dignity of human nature. He describes himself in panegyric, magnifies his virtue and minimizes his vice.
He flatters himself in his own eyes.
The two concepts -- that of the Bible and that of the natural man -- are as far apart from each other as the heavens are from the earth.
To man, the Bible concept is false, belittling, wholly disastrous and degrading, the death knell to any possible inspiration for human effort and attainment. It is a concept against which he revolts with all the nature in him, and hates with an exceeding great hatred.
In the very nature of the case, then, the Bible concept of man is not due to man; it is not such a concept that he would write if he could.
The picture which the Bible paints of sin is not such a picture as the natural man has ever painted.
The Bible declares that sin is something more than fever or disease or weakness, it is high treason against Jehovah, it is a blow at his integrity, a rebellion against his government, a discord to his being and a movement whose final tendency would be to dislodge him from his throne.
The Bible hates sin and has no mercy for it.
The very leaves of the book seem to curl and grow crisp under the fire of its hatred. So fearful is its denunciation that the sinner shivers and hastens to turn away from a book whose lightest denunciation of sin has in it the menace of eternal judgment. Like a great fiery eye it looks into the very recesses of the heart and reveals its intents and purposes. It sees lust hiding there in all its lecherous deformity and says, he who exercises it solely in his mind is as guilty in God's sight as though he had committed the act. It looks into the heart and sees hate crouching there with its tiger-like fangs and readiness to spring, and says that he who hates his brother is already a murderer.
The Bible has no forgiveness for sin until it has been fully and fearfully punished. In this it simply echoes the law stamped and steeped in nature. Nature never forgives its violated law until it has punished it. The Bible demands satisfaction, complete and absolute, before it offers even the hint of forgiveness. It takes the guilty sinner to the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ and shows him God's hatred of sin to be so great, that the moment his holy and spotless Son representatively takes the sinner's place, he smites him and pours out upon him a tidal sweep of wrath in a terror of relentless judgment and indignation so immense, that the earth quivers like an aspen, rocks to and fro, reels in its orbit till the sun of day refuses to shine, and the moon of night hangs in the startled heavens like a great clot of human blood.
The Bible declares that forgiveness of sin can come to the sinner only by way of the anguish and punishment of the cross; and that no sinner can be forgiven till he has accepted the downpour of the wrath of God on the cross and the substitutional agony of the Son of God as the punishment he himself so justly deserves.
The Bible teaches that in the awful cry, |My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?| the sinner should hear the echo of his own agony, as of one forsaken of God and swept out of his presence forever; and that the only ground of approach to this righteous God is the atoning blood of his crucified Son; that he who would approach God, find forgiveness and justification, must claim that crucified Son of God as his sin-offering, his vicarious sacrifice, his personal substitute. By the hell of the cross alone can he find the heaven of forgiveness and peace.
Is this man's attitude to, and definition of, forgiveness and peace?
It is not.
Man does not hate sin. He loves it. He rolls it as a sweet morsel under his tongue. He condones it in its worst form. To him it is genital weakness or an overplus of animal life -- an exuberance of the spirit. It is a racial inheritance and not an individual fault. It is temperamental and not criminal.
The Bible concept and the natural concept of sin contradict each other; both, therefore, cannot have the same author.
The Bible concept of holiness is not the concept of the natural man.
In the Bible, holiness is not goodness and kindness, nor even morality. Holiness as the Bible sets it before us is the correspondence of the soul with God, the soul reflecting the intent, desire and innermost character of God; so that, were God to enter into the soul, he should find himself as much at home as upon his own exalted throne.
Such a definition as that makes human perfection and all its claims to holiness seem no better than a painted wanton dressed in the garb of purity and mouthing the words of virtue and chastity.
Whence comes this wisdom of holiness which makes the loftiest ideal of man no higher than the dust of the roadway, his best righteousness criticizable goodness and altogether a negligible quantity?
If it is from man, it must arise from two sources -- human experience or human imagination.
It cannot come from human experience! no natural man in the past has experienced it -- none today experience it.
It cannot come from imagination; for a man cannot imagine what he has not seen, known or experienced. As he has not experienced holiness he cannot imagine it.
In the nature of the case -- the Bible concept of holiness did not originate with man, and that much of the Bible, evidently, is not of man.
That the Bible is not the word of man is shown by its statements of accurate science, written before men became scientific, and while as yet natural science did not exist.
The record of creation is given in the opening verses of Genesis.
Whence came the wisdom which enabled the writer in a pre-scientific age to set forth a cosmogony in such a fashion that it does not contradict the latest findings of the geologist?
The Bible says the earth was without form and void.
Science says the same thing. Over a hot granite crust, an ocean of fire, and beyond that an impenetrable atmosphere loaded with carbonic acid gas.
Cuvier, the founder of paleontology, says in his discourse on the revolutions of the globe, |Moses has left us a cosmogony, the exactitude of which is most wonderfully confirmed every day.|
Quensted says, |Moses was a great geologist, wherever he may have obtained his knowledge.| Again he says, |The venerable Moses, who makes the plants appear first, has not yet been proven at fault; for there are marine plants in the very lowest deposit.|
Dana, of Yale College, has said that the record of creation given by Moses and that written in the rocks are the same in all general features.
Whence came the wisdom which kept Moses from hopelessly blundering?
Moses places the account of the original creation in the first verse. In the second, he states the earth fell into chaos. |It became (not was) without form, and void.|
Isaiah, the prophet, declares definitely that God did not create the earth without form and void -- God never was the author of chaos -- he made the earth habitable from the beginning.
The first verse of Genesis records the creation of this original and habitable earth. The second verse shows, as the result of some mighty cataclysm, that the original earth fell into a state of chaos. The second verse, and the verses following, are the record of the making over of the earth after it had fallen into a state of chaos.
Whence the wisdom which taught Moses what science in our day is only beginning to spell out, that the present earth is not an original creation, but a remaking; that the original creation goes back beyond the time of shifted crust, of tilted rock, of ice and fire and mist and formless chaos?
Whence came the wisdom and knowledge which led Job to say that it is impossible to count the stars for number, when it was possible in his day, and is equally possible in our day, to count them with the naked eye?
How did he know, what the telescope alone reveals, that the number of the stars as flashed forth in the field of these telescopes is utterly beyond our computation; and that in the attempt to number them, figures break, fall into dust, and are swept away as the chaff of the summer's threshing floor.
How did he, looking up with that naked eye of his, how did he know that in the Milky Way there are countless thousands of suns -- and these the centres of other systems? How did he know that world -on-world ranges in the upper spaces of the silent sky, so multitudinously that each increase of the power of the telescope only adds unaccountable myriads until, looking from the rim of those nightly searchers, the eye beholds reach on reach of luminous clouds, and learns with awe profound, that these clouds are stars, are suns and systems -- but so far away from us and from one another that they cannot be separated and distinguished by the most powerful glasses; and that these clouds, if we really could separate them and bring them within the field of our particular vision, would reveal themselves as suns and systems so numerous, that only, the Creator himself could number them?
How did Job know all this in that far day when he sat at his tent door in the beauty of the cloudless sky and without a telescope? How did he know all this so that he could tell us with absolute certainty what we now know only by the aid of modern science -- that the stars cannot be counted for number?
How did he know what only the modern telescope reveals, that the North is stretched out over the empty place? How did he know that there in the Northern sky there is a space where no star does shine -- a dark abyss of fathomless night -- as if, suddenly, the universe of worlds had come to an end?
How did he know, at the moment when the wise men of his day were saying that the earth was supported on the shoulders of a giant, that the giant stood on a platform made of the backs of elephants; that the elephants stood on the back of a mighty tortoise, but where the tortoise stood none of them said; how did he dare at that time to write that God hangeth the earth on nothing?
How did Isaiah know that the world is round? How did he learn to speak of |the circle of the earth,| at the time when the scientific men of his day said that it was four square and flat?
How did he know of that imponderable ether in which the stellar universe is said to float? Who taught him to say that God spread out the heavens as |thinness,| when the wise men of that hour were teaching they were a solid vault? How is it that he made use of the most scientific term when he speaks of the heavens as |thinness|? It is true in our English version he is made to say that God spread out the heavens as a |tent|; but the word |tent| in the Hebrew is (doq) and its root meaning signifies a thing that has been beaten out or stretched into thinness -- an elastic thinness; it is a word accurately describing the ether which scientific men tell us is so thin that a teacup full of it may be blown out into a transparent bubble as large as the earth, and, even then, its attenuation would seem no greater than at the beginning.
How did Isaiah know all this?
Evidently his knowledge and wisdom did not come from the knowledge and wisdom of his day.
That the Bible did not come from man is seen in the fact of fulfilled prohpecy.
Page after page of this book is filled with prophetic announcements.
History and human experience record their amazing fulfilment.
The prophet Daniel gives the history of four great world empires, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome.
The rise and fall of these empires are foretold centuries ahead.
The total ruin and perpetual desolation of Babylon were announced when the city shone forth in the zenith of its splendor.
Daniel writes an account of Alexander the Great two hundred and fifty years before he is born, calls him the first king of Greece, describes his march for the conquest of the East, the battle of the Grannicus, his sudden death at Babylon, and the division of the empire among his four generals.
At the hour when Rome was practically passing through her travail pains of national birth, Daniel foretold its ascension to power, and described it as a wild beast, trampling down the nations, absorbing into itself the three kingdoms which preceded it, occupying the territory once possessed by them, and becoming the supreme governmental power of the earth. Centuries before it took place he foretold the division of the Roman Empire into two equal parts. He announced, also, that it should be the last universal political power till Christ the Lord should come to set up his worldwide kingdom. Centuries have passed since Rome ruled the world. From that day to this it has remained the last supreme world-power. The territory once ruled by it is filled with mighty nations -- not one of them, great as it may be, is a universal world-power.
Where did Daniel get the foresight which enabled him to look on down through two thousand years of human history and, in the face of battle, intrigue and change, declare, what so far has come to pass, that Rome should be the last universal empire till Christ came?
Ezekiel, the prophet, said that the great and populous city of Tyre should be taken, cast down, and never rebuilt; and that the Lord would make it to be like the top of a scraped rock to spread nets upon.
The city was taken and destroyed. The people moved to an island just off the mainland and there built a new city. Two hundred and fifty years after Ezekiel made his prophecy, Alexander came, besieged the new city; and, in order to take it, built a causeway from the mainland. In doing this he tore down and utterly demolished the ruins of the old city; took its stones and timber and cast them into the sea; and then, actually, set his soldiers to work to scrape the very dust that he might empty it into the waters. From the hour when it was overthrown to this, the city has never been rebuilt; and for centuries it has been, and is to-day, like the top of a scraped rock -- a place where fishermen spread their nets.
Where did Ezekiel get this knowledge?
Certainly not from man.
It will not do to say he guessed it!
Egypt was a land of cities and temples. The cities were populous, the temples and monuments colossal. Avenues of gigantic sphynx led to gateways whose immense thresholds opened into pillared halls, where the carved columns seemed like a forest of stone. Pyramids rose as mountains, and their alabaster-covered sides flashed back the splendor of the cloudless skies. The land bloomed as a garden. The papyrus grew by the banks of the Nile. The fisheries of the mighty river filled the treasury of kings with a ceaseless income. Art, literature, knowledge and culture were enthroned supreme -- yet was it a land of false gods and a people given over to their worship.
Speaking in the name of God the prophet announced the coming desolation of Egypt. It should be cast down. Its fisheries should be destroyed, its papyrus withered, its cities and temples overthrown and the ruins scattered over the plain, no native prince should ever again sit upon its throne, it should become the basest of kingdoms.
It has become such.
Its cities are destroyed. Its temples are roofless, its columns fallen, the statues of its kings lie face downward in the dust, the pyramids, stripped and bare, stand scarred and silent in the sun. The singing Memnon are as songless from their chiselled lips as the tongueless Sphynx half buried in the yellow sand. The fisheries are gone, the papyrus has withered; for centuries no native prince has been seated on the throne. It is a land of the dead. The dead are everywhere. At every step you stumble over a mummy, the mummy of a dead cat, a dead dog, or a dead and shrivelled Pharaoh. Its greatest asset is its departed glory, and every grain of sand blown from the mighty desert, and every wave of reflected light flung back from the Lybian hills, proclaims the terrific fulfilment of the prophet's words.
The prophets foretold the final siege and destruction of Jerusalem. It should be trodden down of the Gentiles. The people should be carried away captive and sold into all lands. They should be scattered from one end of the earth to the other. All nations should despise them. They should become a by-word, a hissing and a scorn. They should be hunted, hounded and persecuted. Their sufferings should be unparalleled, horrible, unspeakable. The sound of a shaken leaf should startle them. They were to become the people of the trembling heart and the wandering foot.
The prophecies have been singularly fulfilled.
Jerusalem was besieged by the Romans. The city was taken. The city and temple were destroyed. Hundreds of thousands perished by famine, by fever, by fire and by sword. Titus, the Roman conqueror, drove a ploughshare over its smoking ruins. The people who remained alive after the general slaughter were carried away captive. They were scattered from one end of the earth to the other. They have found their dwelling place among all nations. They dwell everywhere and are at home nowhere. They have been a by-word, a hissing and a scorn. Every hand has been turned against them. They have been hunted on the mountains. They have been chased through the valleys. They have been walled up in the narrow and filthy ghettos of cities. Their goods have been stolen. Their wives and daughters have been ravished. They have been whipped and racked and tortured. They have been broken on the wheel, burned at the stake, buried alive, and sent to sea, thousands of them, in sinking ships. Every cruelty that the ingenuity of man and the inspiration of fiends could suggest has been practised upon them, until the heart revolts and the soul sickens at the mere recital of their blood and woe; and to this hour, through twenty long centuries, Jerusalem, as announced, has been trodden down of the Gentiles; all nations have tramped through her streets, overridden her people and torn down her walls.
The prophets said God would make a full end of the nation which persecuted them; but he would not make a full end of them, he would preserve and multiply them.
The promises have been kept.
Rome has become a past tense. With thoughtful steps we pause amid her ruins, painfully locate the palace of her kings, the arenas of her pleasure, the abodes of her vice; on fallen column or broken tablet, we read the story of her past victories, her mighty conquests, and standing beneath a crumbling triumphal arch, gaze on the sculptured figures of Jewish captives who once followed in an emperor's triumphal train, more enduring to-day with their stony faces than the ruined city which lies prostrate at their feet; for while Rome has passed away, the Jew still lives, he has been preserved and has multiplied. The Jews to-day number twelve millions of people; and these represent but two tribes out of the twelve; so that the two are four times as numerous as the whole nation when it came out of Egypt under Moses. Their vitality is phenomenal -- it is miraculous -- their multiplication is against all the laws and precedents of history. Persecution and trial have but increased their fecundity. Like the burning bush ever burning but never consumed, they continue to exist; and when you draw nigh and consider their strange story, out of the midst, as of old out of the bush, the voice of him who is the |I am, that I am| is heard saying -- |These are my disobedient but covenant people, whom I have sworn shall be to me as the 'apple of mine eye'|; saying, |Whosoever toucheth them toucheth me.|
It was foretold that in the closing hours of this age and as a prelude to their final restoration, they should bud and blossom and fill the face of the whole world with fruit.
If to-day you seek a representative person in every department of human genius and achievement, you will find that representative in a Jew.
The Bible testifies, and testified it centuries ago, that in the closing hours of this age, the Jews should turn their faces towards Palestine and ask (or plead) their way to Zion.
The prophecy has been, and is being, fulfilled to the letter. The faces of thousands of Jews are being turned towards Palestine; thousands of Jews are asking how is it possible to return to Zion. Zionism has passed from the realm of dreams to the solid ground of fact. Everywhere over the earth societies are formed among the Jews to emphasize the return to Zion and the setting up of the Jewish State.
It was further foretold that many should return thither in radical unbelief and open materialism; that at the entering in of the gates of Jerusalem land should be bought and sold and speculation become rife.
To-day there are more Jews in Palestine than at any time since the return from Babylon. Land is bought and sold at the gates of the city, and speculation in real estate values is running high. There is the hum of expectation in the sacred city. Palestine is being colonized by Jews. The Turkish government has taken off the ban, the Jew is owned as a citizen and may become a representative in its administration. The deserted cities are being occupied. Millions of Mulberry trees are being planted, the desert and the waste places cultivated. The lowing of cattle and the bleating of sheep are heard once more. In Jerusalem, the wailing place of the Jews is more crowded than ever. The penitential psalms are recited, tears are shed and the cry goes up with keener lamentation that the city, beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, has become the prey of the Gentiles; that the walls are broken down, the holy places laid waste, |our holy and beautiful house,| they cry, |where our fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste. Wilt thou refrain thyself for these things, O Lord? Wilt thou hold thy peace, and afflict us very sore?| And the prayer ascends with ever-increasing supplication that Jehovah will again make bare his arm in the sight of the Gentiles, build up the place of the holy assemblies, beautify Jerusalem and establish his people. Synagogues are built within the shadow of the sacred rock, the one-time threshing floor of Ornan, which David bought and whereon the holy temple stood. The latter as well as the former rains are falling. Everywhere it is evident that the land is reviving, and the thought of Judah as a kingdom and power among nations, finding utterance on the lips -- both of Gentile and Jew.
And all this activity and Zionward movement taking place with the Jew in a condition of spiritual blindness, unbelief and godless materialism -- as foretold. The very leaders of Zionism (some of them) the most outspoken in their repudiation of our Lord Jesus Christ as Messiah of Israel.
The Bible foretold that the Jews as a people would never receive the Gospel: |As concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sakes| (the Gentiles). On the other hand, it was announced that the Gentiles, who despise the Jews, should receive the Gospel, accept a rejected and crucified Jew as Israel's king, and own and acknowledge him as the redeemer and saviour provided for themselves.
This prophecy has been fulfilled.
For nineteen hundred years the Jew -- as a Jew -- has steadily rejected a crucified Christ. Here and there an individual, paying the penalty of scorn and contumely from his own people, has believed the Gospel and owned the crucified and despised man of Nazareth as his very Lord and God. He has done so according to that election of grace which the Bible foretells (an elect remnant is seen through all the ages, under one dispensation or another, responding to the call of God -- like the seven thousand who would not bow the knee to Baal; and belonging to that election of grace the believing Jew stands out marked and sealed of God) but the Jew as a nation with unbroken solidarity refuses to-day the only Jew who can establish him in the land of his fathers and fulfil the covenant promises.
Equally fulfilled is the other side of the prophecy.
The Gentiles, who, racially considered, despise the Jew and everything of the Jew, to-day own and accept this rejected and crucified Jew of Calvary, not only as Israel's Messiah and king, but as the redeemer and saviour provided of God for Gentiles; so that the Gentile world now worships and adores him as very God, holding up the cross of his shame and death as the symbol of highest honor and most radiant glory.
The Bible has predicted the final characteristics of the present age in terms precise and clear.
By type, figure and direct prophecy it announces that the last form of government among the nations just previous to the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ will be democracy -- the rule of the people: |The government of the people, by the people, and for the people.|
That prophecy practically has been fulfilled.
Democracy is, nearly, the universal mode of government. England in some respects is more democratic than the United States. France, Portugal and Switzerland are republics. Spain, Italy and Greece are constitutional monarchies; that is to say, the people are recognized as the ultimate authority. The Northern nations, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland and Belgium, are liberal kingdoms. The monarchy is simply a fashion -- the people are the rulers. Germany is a military nation. The Kaiser, speaking at times as the war lord, gives the impression that he is absolute emperor. He is far from it. The socialists count their votes by millions, and while the German people accept the empire, they do so because it is the most satisfactory agent for their business and prosperity. The German people behind the throne are the absolute power; and the voice of democracy makes no more radical utterance and demand than in the German kaiserreich. Recently, in a public interview, the Kaiser is reported to have said, he expected his son to be the last emperor of Germany, as within fifty years the whole world would become democratic. Austria is still more or less under the influence of Caesarism, but beneath the surface, the various peoples and nationalities constituting that empire are restless, feverish, and full of democratic ideas. Turkey has been shaken by a revolt of |The Young Turks,| and the demand for more popular government. Japan has broken loose from the customs and traditions of centuries -- her flag is the symbol of the rising sun, and indicates that she is seeking to take her place in the new dawn of popular sovereignty. China, the oldest civilization and the mightiest population, has become a republic, her young men returning from the universities of Europe and America having sown broadcast the seed of democracy and the claim of the people. Russia, alone, remains absolute in name, but the absolute has been shattered even there -- it is supported only by bayonets and drawn swords. Every now and then a sullen sound is heard, dying away to be renewed in deeper tones; it is the voice of the people, in spite of the knout, the prison and Siberian exile, calling for what they claim to be their |rights.|
Everywhere the evidence is manifest that the prophecy of Daniel announcing the rise of the |clay| (Daniel's symbol of the people) and the warning of Isaiah that |the nations should rush like the rushing of many waters,| and |make a noise like the noise of the seas,| are being fulfilled.
After |Clay,| or Democracy, there remains only anarchy, or power in the hands of an absolute ruler. That absolute, world-wide ruler is declared by all the prophets to be the Son of God, and his kingdom is symbolized by a stone -- a stone is the very opposite of clay.
THE CLAY IS HERE!
Centuries ago the Bible declared that in the closing hours of this age the whole world would be under arms, preparing for a gigantic and final war; that each nation would turn itself into a vast army, and that the whole earth would become a military camp and field of manoeuvre.
This prophecy is being fulfilled.
A universal preparation for war is going on with maddening haste. Nations are seeking to outdo each other in their colossal preparation for the approaching strife. Armies are no longer mere levies or hired cohorts, every man in the nation capable of bearing arms or in any wise doing military duty is enrolled, and must take his place as a soldier. During the summer immense armies move out of their barracks and play seriously the game of war. Each nation has its field manoeuvres and theme of attack and defence. On every side is heard the tramp of marching feet, the sound of bugle call, the rumble of artillery, the sharp word of command.
Nations are vying with each other in the endeavor to cover the sea with the swiftest and most powerful battleships. Millions are being put into guns and ammunition. The money of the people is being poured out like water to obtain war material. Forges and foundries are working to turn out the most destructive implements. The arsenals are being gorged with cannon, with shot and shell. Enormous sums of money in gold are stored away in impregnable fortresses that, as the sinew of war, it may be ready to respond at a moment's notice. Never before in the history of the world has there been such a spectacle.
On land and sea men are silently, ceaselessly preparing for the irrepressible and impending conflict. Each nation feels its existence is at stake; not a thinking statesman who does not feel assured that, sooner or later, the clash will come. All feel it will be fierce, titanic, fateful and final.
The Bible foretold the great apostasy as manifested in the Roman Catholic Church, the rise of Protestantism, its ultimate breakdown in rationalism and open infidelity (that condition of which it should be said, |they will not endure sound doctrine|). It foretold the rising again of Romanism into the place of power and authority (as we see it to-day in the United States, where it holds the balance of political power and is fast becoming a social triumph).
Who would have had the hardihood to prophesy in the hour when Protestantism was delivering its terrible blows against Romanism, overturning the tables of the priests, who sold their infamous wares of papal indulgences, breaking idols and images in the churches, and driving the church of the priesthood, the mass and auricular confession swiftly downwards to the waters of the Mediterranean and, while it was repudiating this apostate church (which set up saints and images in the place of the Son of God, exalted works of merit instead of the cleansing power of the blood) continually cried aloud the glorious doctrine of justification by faith, and whose supreme watchword was -- |The Bible and nothing but the Bible|; who, under such conditions as these, would have had the courage to proclaim that in the closing hours of this age, this aggressive and biblical Protestantism should break up by self-division, become fragmentary, its leading thinkers and teachers repudiating the Bible as the infallible Word of God? Who would have dared to say that Rome would come back, ascend into the place of authority, sit upon the throne of the world's respect and receive its honors? Who would have said that this church which has set itself up above the Bible, claimed the right to change times and seasons in defiance of a |thus saith the Lord,| and has burned men at the stake for their love and devotion to this very Bible, should, at the last, by reason of the infidelity of Protestantism, its recognition of divorce and its indifference to a |thus saith the Lord,| come forth as the defender of the Bible, the champion of the home and the guardian of the sacredness of marriage, concentrating all its thunders against the shame and indecency of divorce?
Yet these prophecies are written on page after page of this book, and their complete and amazing fulfilment looks us in the face.
What a picture is painted for us in the words that follow:
|This know, also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.|
|The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine: but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables.|
It is a picture which finds its counterpart in the Protestantism of to-day -- a Protestantism full of worldliness, having a form of godliness, a great religious profession, but denying its only power (the Holy Ghost), repudiating doctrine and listening to every fable of rationalistic philosophy sooner than to the truth of God.
In the letter to the church at Thyatira it is written:
|That woman Jezebel which calleth herself a prophetess (a teacher) to teach and seduce my servants to commit fornication (fornication in the book of Revelation signifies idolatry -- image worship and, also, union with the principles and ways of the world) and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.|
Jezebel was the Pagan wife of Ahab, king of Israel. Jezebel stands for the union of Paganism and Judaism. But Jezebel here represents a professed church of Christ. In Jezebel, therefore, you have a professed church of Christ in which there is a combination of Paganism and Judaism. This symbolic Jezebel teaches the servants of Christ to commit fornication -- that is, not only identification with the world, but idolatry (image worship).
In its full detail, then, we have a professed church of Christ in which may be found a mixture of Paganism and Judaism. A church where the professed followers of Christ are taught to worship by means of images.
Could you find a better, more accurate delineation of the apostate Church of Rome -- a Church which borrows the priesthood of Judaism and the idolatry and image worship of Paganism?
In this book of the Revelation there is still another picture.
In the seventeenth chapter a woman is seen seated upon a scarlet colored beast. She is arrayed in purple and scarlet. She is decked with precious stones and pearls, and in her hand holds a golden cup full of the abomination and filthiness of her fornication (idolatry). She is seen to be drunken with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. The woman is, also, said to be seated on seven mountains and is, finally, spoken of as that great city which rules over the kings (nations) of the earth.
The woman is called |MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.|
In the twenty-fifth chapter of the book, the BRIDE OF THE LAMB, the true church of Christ, is symbolized by a city -- THE NEW JERUSALEM. Babylon and Jerusalem stand always opposed to each other. Babylon is the centre of Satanic power and testimony -- its name signifies mixture, confusion. Jerusalem is the centre of God's dealings and testimony -- it signifies peace and righteousness. If, therefore, the city of New Jerusalem is a symbol of the true church of Christ and the church of Christ is called a |mystery,| then this woman called Babylon, said to be a City and also called a |mystery,| is a symbol of the false church of Christ; and, being a harlot, and the mother of harlots, or churches like herself (and thus the Mother Church), and harlot signifying fornication, and fornication, idolatry -- image worship -- then a professed Church of Christ, which teaches and practises image worship.
The great city ruling over the kings of the earth in John's day and situated on seven mountains, or |mounts,| is ROME; as the city represents the woman Babylon who is the symbol of the false Church of Christ, then you have a false church of Christ seated (and remember, the word is |seated|) in Rome. A Church seated in Rome is a Roman Church; and as the city rules over the earth, over the world; and a world-wide rule is a universal rule; and the word for universal, worldwide, is, also, |catholic,| you have a catholic church; and, seated in Rome (Rome its capital centre), THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.
This Church is said to be drunken with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus; and the pages of history glued together with the blood of these same martyrs, and the burning, blistering record of the |Holy Inquisition,| affirm that the astounding picture is true in all its crimson and scarlet details.
But the striking feature in the picture, and the one that is first presented to us, is that the woman (the Church) is carried by a beast. This beast is a symbol of government and teaches that the Church |rules| over the governments of the world, is sustained by the State, has attained to |temporal power.| As the picture occurs in the third division of the book, and that division relates to things still future, we have here a distinct prophecy that this Apostate Roman Church shall again attain to temporal power, become a State Church, supported and carried officially by the nations of the earth.
The exactitude with which the picture has been painted, and that, too, at a time when Rome had not yet come into the place of full -blown apostasy and power; the startling way in which, step by step, the prophetic outlines have been fulfilled even in our day, are tremendously suggestive concerning the possibility of its complete and final fulfilment; and bid us ask most earnestly -- whence came the mental eyesight which enabled the writer of the book to sketch out for us centuries ahead of time, that which the page of after history reveals to us as facts?
The social, financial, governmental, religious and moral condition of the present time have been portrayed in the book we call the Bible. The coming of a special class called |rich| men as a particular characteristic of this age, the revolt of labor, and its cry against the wrongs of capital, were all set forth in the epistle of James, nigh two thousand years ago, with an accuracy that is not to be explained on natural grounds. So absolutely unnatural is it, that it is perfectly safe to say -- these things are not such as a man could write if he would.
That the book is not to be explained on natural grounds is evident from the fact that it is not a CONSTRUCTION, but a GROWTH; not an ORGANIZATION, but an ORGANISM, growing up from Genesis to Revelation like a tree from root through trunk and branch to leaf and fruit.
Each book of the Bible will be found on examination to stand related organically to one another; and that each occupies its necessary and sequential order.
In Genesis, you have the beginning of things, the germ and outline of everything afterwards revealed.
Exodus gives the redemption by blood of a people foreseen and covenanted in Genesis, their deliverance by the hand of God from the power of the king and the dangers of the land.
In Leviticus, the redeemed people draw nigh to God by virtue of the blood of sacrifice and find access to the presence of God through the intercession of a priest.
In Numbers, this blood-redeemed people are seen on their journey to the better land; we read of their trials, their temptations, their unbelief, their backslidings and continual moral failure by the way, and the never-failing grace and love of a covenant-keeping God who leads them in a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night.
In Deuteronomy, the people have the way over which they have come, and the dealings of God, rehearsed to them, and are instructed and prepared for the land whither they go.
In Joshua, the second generation (which stands always for regeneration) gets into the promised land.
Judges tells how, after being blessed with all covenant blessings in the covenant land, the people fell into a state where every man did that which was right |in his own eyes.|
Ruth, the Gentile woman, becomes the bride of a Hebrew Lord; and the covenant promise of God concerning Israel goes straightway down from a Gentile mother and a Hebrew father towards the throne which is set up in David and owned of God as the throne of Christ.
The books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles, take up the story of the kingdom, and the Old Testament leads us on through symbol, figure and open prophecy, to a Coming Messiah and a glorious kingdom till, when we reach the last verse in Malachi, we lean across four centuries of prophetic silence, waiting to greet that promised Christ who shall be born in Bethlehem; and who is to be called the Son of the Highest; who is to sit on the throne of his father David, |to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth even forever.|
We listen for the angelic song and the salutation to men of good will; and we are expecting, later on, to see Zion's king riding up the slopes to the Holy City and all the people coming forth to cry, |Hosanna to the Son of David,| and |Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord.|
When you open the New Testament you find four books -- Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
The order of these books is fixed -- it cannot be changed.
If Mark be substituted for Matthew, then the New Testament begins without an account of the birth or genealogy of our Lord Jesus Christ; no intimation is given that he is born king of the Jews, and is the expected Messiah.
If Luke be given the place of Matthew, little mention will be found of the Jewish kingdom of heaven; and our Lord will be seen with a leaning towards the Gentiles.
If the Gospel of John begin the New Testament instead of Matthew, then we shall read of him who is Son of God rather than King of the Jews, and the expectation raised by Malachi will seem unfulfilled.
But the moment the order named is followed all is perfect, all is harmony.
Matthew presents our Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of Abraham and Son of David; heir of the covenant land, and the covenant throne, and at once links the New Testament with the Old.
Mark announces that this King of the Jews came into the world to be the Servant of God and a blessing in his service to men.
Luke, although he announces our Lord Jesus Christ as King, sets him forth pre-eminently as The Man, going among men, eating and drinking with them, and speaking in such plain and simple terms that the |common people heard him gladly.|
In John, this Jewish King, this Servant of God and men, this Man among men, who received sinners and ate with them, is revealed as the Mighty God, the eternal Word, the Holy One of Israel, who came down to visit his people, was made flesh and |tabernacled| among them, as of old he dwelt in the tabernacle of the wilderness in the Shekinal glory above the Mercy Seat and between the outstretched wings of the golden Cherubim.
Take away the book of Acts, and nothing can be known of the origin of the church and its apostolic history. Without the book of Acts the epistles are wholly unintelligible when they refer to the Church.
Do without the Second epistle to the Corinthians, and you have no revelation of the state of the Christian dead either as to their location or condition.
Without the Second epistle to the Thessalonians you cannot fix the identity of the Antichrist.
Leave out the epistle to the Hebrews and there is no key to Leviticus.
Without the book of Daniel it is impossible fully to understand the book of Revelation.
No matter at what period the book of Revelation may have been written, it can have but one place in the Bible, and that the last. It must have this place because it shows us the foreview of Genesis fulfilled: the seed of the woman has bruised the serpent's head, Satan has been bound and Paradise is regained.
The Old and New Testaments stand related to each other as the two halves of a perfect whole. In the Old Testament the New is concealed; in the New Testament the Old is revealed.
Genesis finds its key in the first chapter of John's Gospel, and identifies the creator of heaven and earth with him who was made flesh and dwelt among us as the Son of God.
Exodus is explained by the First epistle to the Corinthians, in which we learn that |Christ| is the |Passover sacrificed for us.|
Leviticus is expounded by the epistle to the Hebrews.
Numbers has its correspondence in the book of Acts.
In Numbers you have the experience of the Children of Israel in their journey through the wilderness. In Acts we get the story of the Church in its pilgrimage through the world.
Deuteronomy is to be read with Colossians.
In Deuteronomy the people of Israel are being prepared for an earthly inheritance. In Colossians the Church is being prepared for a heavenly inheritance.
Joshua stands over against Ephesians.
In Joshua the redeemed people have to fight with flesh and blood in order to possess the covenant land. In Ephesians |we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against wicked spirits in the heavenly places.|
Judges may be understood by reading the first chapter of the first epistle, and the twelfth chapter of the second epistle to the Corinthians.
The book of Ruth is illuminated by the third and fifth chapters of the Ephesians.
In Ruth you have the Gentile bride of a Hebrew Lord, the kinsman, redeemer and advocate; who presents his bride to himself in the gate before all the assembled judges.
In Ephesians, the Gentile Bride is seen to be the Church, the kinsman, redeemer and advocate, our Lord Jesus Christ, who, having loved the Church and given himself for it, will |present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing.|
The books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles, may be read with the four Gospels and the book of Revelation.
In Samuel, Kings and Chronicles, you have the story of David, the anointed king, man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, triumphant warrior, exalted king -- Solomon, prince of peace, ruling over the established kingdom and the queen of Sheba coming from the uttermost parts of the earth to own and celebrate his glory.
In the Gospels we get the story of our Lord Jesus Christ as anointed king and man of sorrows. In Revelation he is seen coming forth at the head of the armies of heaven, a mighty warrior, a triumphant king and, at the last, as Prince of Peace ruling in splendor over his established kingdom; while the Gentiles, coming from the uttermost parts of the earth to Jerusalem, bow the knee before him and acknowledge his glory.
Ezra may be read with the latter half of the second chapter of the Ephesians.
In Ezra you have the building of the material temple. In Ephesus the building of the spiritual temple.
Nehemiah can be read with the twenty-first chapter of the Revelation.
Nehemiah gives us Jerusalem below. Revelation, Jerusalem above.
In the book of Esther the name of God is not once mentioned; but it shows us the unseen God acting in his secret providence to deliver his covenant people, the Jews, from the hand of the Gentile oppressor, and setting them in the place of authority and power over the Gentiles.
The eleventh chapter of the Romans explains the book of Esther.
In the eleventh chapter Paul shows that God has not forgotten the people whom he foreknew. The nation as such has been set aside. It is now, as Hosea says, Lo Ammi, |not my people,| not the people of God.
An election according to grace is going on among the Jews. These are being called into the Church and will form a part of the Body and Bride. The Gentiles have come dispensationally into the place of Israel, and God is sending his Gospel among them -- calling out those whom he has foreseen and known among the Gentiles. The nation as such would seem to be cast aside. The people are walking in darkness and the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their true God and only Saviour, is not owned among them; but while the Lord is thus denied by them, he has not forgotten them. His providences are round about them in their preservation and multiplication, and in his judgment of the nations which persecute them. Their present condition nationally is temporary. Paul warns the Gentiles that the Jews have been cut off and set aside because of unbelief. The Gentiles have been brought in, and stand alone by faith. It is well for them not to be |high-minded,| but |to fear|; for so surely as God spared not the nation and set it aside because of unbelief, just so surely will he deal with the Gentiles if the Gentiles fall into unbelief.
The Gentiles must not be wise in their own conceits. The blindness and the setting aside of Israel will last only till the |fulness of the Gentiles be come in,| that is, till the election among them is complete; then the Lord will take up Israel as a nation again, and precisely as he delivered Mordecai and the Jews of Esther's and Ahasuerus' time and made them to be accepted and feared, so, it is written, the Lord himself will come forth in behalf of his ancient people. |There shall come out of (unto) Sion the Deliverer,| and, |so all Israel shall be saved.|
The book of Esther read in the light of the eleventh chapter of the Romans is illuminating as to the unchanging faithfulness of God and his unceasing love for the nation and people of his choice.
Thus book after book of the Bible may be studied; and the more they are examined and studied, the more manifest will be the intimate relation and marvellous correspondence between the Old and the New Testaments.
When you realize the fact that these Old and New Testament books, so remarkably related and inter-explanatory of each other, have been written by different authors, without possibility of collusion or agreed plan; that each part fits into the other; that it cannot have one book less or one book more; that to take from it would destroy the completeness, to add would mar the harmony; that it is perfect in itself, having the key of each book hung up at the entrance; that it gives but never borrows light; that it cannot be explained or interpreted outside of itself; that to him who diligently searches it, it will reveal itself and make him wise both for this world and for that which is to come; when all these facts are faced, it ought to be evident that in the Bible we have a living thing and not a mere handiwork wrought by man; that man can no more claim to be the actual author of it than of the mountains that are round about Jerusalem or the heavens that are high above them.
The unity of a book demands unity of objective.
This book has a great objective -- a supreme theme.
That theme is not Israel -- although two-thirds of the book considered as a whole are taken up with the history of that people. The great theme is not the Church of Christ -- although the Church in this age is the supreme thing in the sight of God. The one great theme, the one immense objective of this book towards which it moves through history and prophecy, through figure and symbol, through self -sustained prose and musical song -- the one great objective is --
OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.
It seeks to present him in his person, his work, his present office and coming glories.
It sets him before us as,
The Child born.
The Son given.
The Mighty God.
The Prince of Peace.
The Everlasting Father.
The Lily of the valleys.
The Rose of Sharon.
The Lord our Righteousness.
The Lord's Fellow.
The Man of God's Right hand.
He whose Goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
The Burnt Offering.
The Meat Offering.
The Peace Offering.
The Sin Offering.
The Trespass Offering.
The Sum of God's Thoughts.
The Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief.
Son of Abraham.
Son of David.
Son of Mary.
Son of Man.
God the Son.
King of the Jews.
King of Israel.
King of Kings.
Lord of Lords.
God the Creator.
God manifest in the flesh.
The Second Man.
The Last Adam.
The First and the Last.
The Beginning and the Ending.
The Way, the Truth, the Life.
The Light of the world.
The Bread of life.
The Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep.
The Great Shepherd who came again from the dead.
The Chief Shepherd, who shall appear with his flock in glory.
Our Great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
He who is.
He who was.
He who is to come.
He who before Abraham was, is, by his own announcement, the |I am.|
THIS SAME JESUS.
And to these might be added more than five hundred other names and titles, together with their cognates, to say nothing of the various characteristics assigned him, the things predicated of him, until it is found that he is the very warp and woof of the book.
To proclaim him, exalt him, make him known, set him forth in his many roles, his functions, his offices and his covenant glories, prophets recite their visions, a Psalmist sings his rarest songs, and apostles unfold their matchless doctrines.
When you contemplate the fact of this one objective; this tremendous unity of intention in the book, you have an overwhelming demonstration of the unity of its inspiration. Whether the inspiration be a true or a false one, it is beyond all question one inspiration. A book whose construction extends over centuries, written by men separated by time and distance from each other, with no possibility of personal or mental relation to each other -- all writing to one objective -- and that to set forth the Christ of God in his varied relations -- a book with such a unity of purpose demonstrates in the most self-evident fashion that the writers were moved by a common impulse and, therefore, a common inspiration.
And this unity of objective and inspiration coordinates with the wonderful fact that the book has but ONE KEY.
The key which can alone open this book and make every line intelligible from Genesis to Revelation is Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Take Christ out of the Bible and it is a harp without a player, a song without a singer, a palace with all the doors locked, a labyrinth with no Ariadne thread to guide.
Put Christ into the Bible, and the harp strings will be smitten as with a master's hand.
Put Christ into the Bible, and the voice of song is heard as when a lark from the midst of dew-wet grasses sings, as it soars aloft to greet the coming dawn.
Put Christ into the Bible, and all the doors of the palace are swung open and you may pass from room to room, down all the ivory galleries of the King, beholding portrait and landscape, vista of beauty and heaped-up treasures of truth, of infinite love and royal grace.
Put Christ into the Bible, and you will have a scarlet thread -- the crimson of the blood -- that will lead you through all the winding ways of redemption and glory.
Put Christ into Genesis, into the verses of the first chapter, and it will chime like silver bells in harmony with the wondrous notes in the first chapter of the Gospel of John, and tell you that he who created the heavens and the earth is he who in the beginning was the eternal Word, the voice of the infinite silence, and who, creating for himself a human nature, and clad in mortal flesh, walked on earth among the sons of men as Jesus of Nazareth.
Put Christ into the twenty-second, the twenty-third and the twenty -fourth chapters of Genesis, and you will have placed before you in perfect type the birth of Christ, the sacrifice, the resurrection on the morning of the third day, the setting aside of the Jewish nation as the first wife, the coming of the Holy Spirit in the name of the Father and the Son to find a Bride for the Son, the calling out of the church, the endowment of the church with the gifts sent from the Father in the name of the Son, the pilgrimage of the church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Second Coming of Christ, the Rapture and meeting of Christ and the church in the |field| of the air, and the marriage of the Son.
Put Christ into the dryest and dullest page of the book of Kings and Chronicles, and it will bloom with light and glory; and if you watch in faith, you will see the King's chariot go by, and catch a vision of the King himself in his beauty.
Put Christ into the Tabernacle, and it will cast its treasures like a king's largess at your feet.
You will see the brazen altar to be the cross, the brazen laver, the bath of regeneration, even the Word of God. In the Holy Place the table of shew bread will speak of him who once said, |I am the bread of life.| The golden candlestick will remind you that he said: |I am the light of the world.| The golden altar and the priest with his swinging censer of burning incense standing thereat will proclaim him as the great high priest. The beautiful veil of fine linen embroidered with figures of the cherubim in blue, purple and scarlet color is (according to a direct Scripture) the symbol of his flesh, his mortal humanity while on earth. Every board and bar, every cord and pin, the coverings, the curtains, the blue, the purple and the scarlet color, the golden vessels as well as the furniture, each and all, proclaim him, illustrate and illuminate him in his person, his work, his present office and coming glories.
All these are analogies, types, pictures, are so related to Christ that he alone explains them; the explanation is filled with such perfection of harmony in every detail, the relation between them and our Lord Jesus Christ as the Antitype is so strikingly self-evident, that any discussion of it would be useless.
When you find a key and lock which fit each other, you conclude they were intended for each other.
In the light of facts already cited, what other conclusion can be drawn than that Christ and the Bible were intended for each other?
And when you see this Bible coming together part by part, foretelling the Christ and explained alone by him, what sane conclusion is possible other than the book which is opened and explained by him who is not only the Christ but the Personal Word of God, must be, and is, THE WRITTEN WORD OF GOD!
Let your mind dwell for a moment on the style of the book.
It is so simple that a child may understand it; so profound, that the mightiest intellect cannot go beyond its depths. It is so essentially rich that it turns every language into which it is translated into a classic. At one moment it is plain narration; at another, it is all drama and tragedy, in which cataclysmic climax crashes against climax.
It records the birth of a babe, the flight of an angel, the death of a king, the overthrow of an empire or the fall of a sparrow. It notes the hyssop that groweth out of the wall and speaks of the cedars of Lebanon. It shows us so pastoral a thing as a man sitting at his tent door in the cool of the day, and then paints for us a city in heaven with jasper walls, with golden streets, and where each several gate that leadeth into the city is one vast and shining pearl.
It is full of outlines -- outlines as large and bare as mountain peaks, and then it is crowded with details as minute as the sands of the sea. There are times when clouds and darkness float across its pages and we hear from within like unto the voice of him who inhabiteth eternity; in another moment the lines blaze with light, the revelation they give is high noon -- and all the shadows are under the feet.
It is terrible in its analysis and cold and emotionless in the hard impact of its synthesis. It describes moments of passion in passionless words, and states infinite conclusions without the hint of an emphasis. It shows us a man in hell (hades) and, although it describes sufferings more awful than mortal flesh can know, causing the soul to shudder at the simple reading of it, it takes on no quickened pulse, no feverish rush of added speech.
In a few colorless lines it recounts the creation of the heavens and the earth. In language utterly barren of excitement it describes the most exciting and soul-moving event that can occupy the imagination -- that moment when the heavens shall be on fire, the elements melted with fervent heat, the earth and the works therein burned up, and a new heaven and a new earth brought into view.
It is a book of prose and yet a book of sublimest poetry.
The book of Job is a poem by the side of which the hexameters of Horace, the drama of Shakespeare, the imagination of Milton, are not to be compared.
In all literature the book of Job alone introduces a spirit into the scene and reports its speech without utterly breaking down into the disaster of the commonplace.
Listen to the account which Eliphaz the Temanite gives. He says:
|In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth on men, Fear came upon me, and trembling which made all my bones to shake.|
Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up; It stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof; an image was before mine eyes; there was silence, and I heard a voice, saying, |Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall man be more pure than his Maker?|
Here is the threshold of the unseen. Before he sees or hears anything, the Temanite has the sense of fear -- the fear of something more than human. The unknown weighs upon him and presses him down, all the life and energy in him are at low ebb -- he feels as though the tides of life were running out. A spirit passes before his face. It is like a breath of scarcely moving air out of the night. The hair of his flesh (mark the psychological and physiological fact), the hair of his flesh stood up. It was as if a current of electricity had passed through him. Then the spirit stands still. It is as though this breath of air out of the night were no longer moving. He cannot discern any form. There is nothing fixed or stable enough for him to perceive. An image is before his eyes. He makes no vulgar attempt to describe it -- it is indescribable. There is a great silence; then, as the margin has it, he heard a still small voice -- not a loud and jarring voice -- but a voice low, soft, still; and yet! the utterance of that voice! what immensity of self-conscious power what authority and dignity -- the dignity of infinite integrity: |Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall man be more pure than his Maker?|
How the night is full of a sudden law of proportion. Mortal man and eternal God. You feel the distance widening and widening between them there in the stillness of the night. The justice of man! man! the unjust -- the law breaker; man, who is of yesterday and is gone to-morrow -- mortal man, more just than he of whom it is said, |Justice and judgment are the habitation of his throne.| Fallen man, man full of iniquity, shall he be more pure than he who made him; he who breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and made him a living soul; he whose name is holiness and righteousness and very truth? As the question lingers man shrivels and sinks into the dust, and the whole night is filled with stillness -- with the stillness and immensity of the all-pervading and holy God.
Read the thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth chapters.
They record the highest reaches of human language, so great that our own version cannot dim their splendor. Nothing ever written surpasses them, not only in the felicity of expression, but in the sense of deity pervading them. Each succeeding verse sustains the other and, at the last, you feel that God, very God, indeed, has spoken.
The Almighty answers the complaining Job.
He answers him, not out of the midst of a deep, unbroken calm, but out of the whirlwind; and yet, from the centre of that mighty vortex of unlimited force and energy and power, the voice comes forth with the calmness of one who knows himself superior to the whirlwind and the storm.
|Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?|
This is the abrupt and sudden question. It is the fitting question of him who knoweth the end from the beginning. In the very asking of it all the boasted knowledge, the attainment, the self-consciousness and vanity of man fade away, and man himself is as nothing -- God alone remains upon the vision -- all knowing -- all wise -- supreme.
This Bible is a book of history.
It will spend page after page in describing the doings of a rebellious king, and then compress the story of twenty-five hundred years into a few dozen lines, but will do this in such a way, by means of exact symbols, that the twenty-five centuries thus compressed will reveal a clearer outline and fuller vista than thousands of ordinary volumes could set forth in detail.
Mark the providence that has guarded the book.
Kings and potentates have sought to destroy it. It has been thrown into the flames. Volume after volume has been burned. But always, and at the critical moment, some copy has been preserved -- here in the cottage of a devoted peasant at the risk of his life, hidden in the crevice of a rock from the inquisitor's search, or cast aside by a careless hand and forgotten amid a pile of swept up dust in a neglected corner of some impregnable castle; from whence it has come forth to be copied by slow and painful, yet loving, toil, passed from house to house secretly as a priceless treasure, then printed on concealed presses and at last cast forth as living and fruitful seed.
Men have denounced it and demonstrated that it is false both in history and science; then, unexpectedly, the stroke of a pick or the turn of a shovel uncovers some startling witness of its exact truth and the excuseless folly of those who deny it.
The fourteenth chapter of Genesis has been set aside by the critics as historically worthless. The excavations in Babylon have brought to light a tablet with the name of Arioch, the fourth king mentioned in that chapter, stamped upon it.
The statement in Exodus that Pharaoh forced the Children of Israel while building his treasure cities to make bricks without straw, has been treated as a fable. The treasure chambers themselves have been found, the rooms divided by brick partitions eight to ten feet thick -- and great quantities of these bricks made without straw.
Luke says that Sergius Paulus was pro-consul of Cyprus. The critics denied it and proved thereby the fallibility of the New Testament.
The homely but truth-telling spade, and without consulting the critic, dug up some coins in the island of Cyprus itself, and on the coins were stamped both the image and the name of Sergius Paulus.
Luke declares that Lysannius was tetrarch of Abilene; and again the critics denied it and more than ever discounted Luke as an historian.
Renan, the plausible and analytical infidel, read the record carved on the stones of Baalbeck, and announced, openly, that Luke is correct.
From the ruins of Nineveh and Babylon, Tyre and Sidon; from the trenches of Tel el Armana; by the key words of the Rosetta stone and the black but speaking face of the Moabite stone; from newly discovered papyri and parchment, and the mystic page of cracked and crumpled palimpsest; from the rocks of earth, the depths of the sea and the heights of heaven -- and from the latest discoveries of science, there arise amazing witnesses, which speak in tones that cannot be hushed, with facts that cannot be denied, and bear testimony beyond all possibility of dispute to the truth and accuracy of the book; so much so, indeed, that such an one as Sir John Herschell, the great astronomer, has said: |All human discoveries seem to be made only for the purpose of confirming more and more strongly the truths contained in the Sacred Scriptures.|
Consider the vitality of the book.
In less than ten years a text-book is out of date, a cyclopedia worthless, and a library a cemetery of dead books and dead ideas; but this book keeps living right on -- keeps abreast of the times, has a testimony for every day, and every day borrows its youth afresh as from the womb of the morning.
Science has laughed it out of court. Two hundred and fifty years ago Voltaire said: |Fifty years from now the world will hear no more of the Bible.| Self-elected scholarship has pronounced it out of date and dead. Again and again its funeral services are held. Kind and condescending eulogiums are uttered over its past history and its good intent. With considerate hands it is lowered into its grave. The resquiescat in pace is solemnly pronounced and lo! before the critical mourners have returned to their homes it has risen from the dead, passed with surprising speed the funeral coaches, and is found -- as of yore -- in the busy centres of life, thundering against evil, revealing the secrets of the heart, offering consolation to the sorrowing, hope to the dying, and flashing forth from its quivering, vital pages the wonders of coming glory.
While copies of the classics -- Virgil, Zenophon, Caesar, Sophocles, Pindar and Martial -- are to be counted by a few thousands, and are cast aside by students as soon as they have graduated, and are forgotten in a twelvemonth, this Bible goes on printing every year millions of copies in all languages and dialects of earth; so far from casting it aside, when once read, men take it up and read it again and again, study it through life, dig into it as for hid treasure, and make it the pillow on which to lay their dying head.
With each succeeding year the demand for it increases and voices are continually crying -- give us The Book.
It is the supreme book.
It is the book we need when the fire of sin gleams in our eye and its poison burns in our veins. It is the book we need when the heart is sore, when our soul is troubled, and when peace is no longer a guest in our home.
It is the book we need; for from its pages alone do we behold the light which shines from a Saviour's empty grave; from its pages alone do we receive assurance of the resurrection of the dead, of immortality and the life to come; and from its pages alone do we hear the tender and welcoming words which seek to greet us and to comfort us while we struggle here ofttimes beneath the burden's growing weight, those words of heavenly music: |Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.|
What author on earth would think his book dead and out of date if year after year the publication of it taxed the printing presses of the world? What author would deem his book out of date when the voices of everywhere proclaimed it the book of books, and multitudes unnumbered confessed that from its pages alone they found the way of life and peace?
Such a book is neither out of date nor dead; and its throbbing vitality tells of a life impulse and inspiration that are not of man.
This book inspires men for God.
Every year books on morality and essays on conduct are written and published. They get as far as a first edition and are never heard of again; but this book, which binds all its parts about the person, the work, the office and the glories of Christ, changes the life, the character, the time and the eternity of men.
Place this book in the midst of the vilest and most abandoned community of desperate and devilish men and, sooner or later, you will hear a cry coming from the depths of sin and shame, bitter cries of repentance and yearnings after God; and by and by that community will be transformed, men will no longer be demon filled, but possessed with a spirit of truth and love; and God will be found to reign and rule in the midst.
Whatever there is of sweetness and truth and righteousness in the world to-day; whatever there is that gives hope and comfort on earth and holds men back from very madness and despair, is due directly and indirectly to this book.
Take up a map and find the lands where sin and vice skulk in the darkness; where virtue is honored and purity enthroned; go mark on the map the lands where the men are the most manly and the women the most womanly, and you will find it in those lands where the Bible is exalted, not as the word of man, but, in deed and truth, as the Word of God.
Find the men and women who know most of God, who have the deepest consciousness of him in the soul, and who walk every day with the assurance of his real presence -- to whom the unseen becomes from hour to hour the thing that is alone real -- and who live as kings above their prostrate passions -- and they will be those who make this book the supreme authority in their daily lives; who hear it when it speaks to them as the very voice of God.
A book which thus inspires men for God is, indeed, a book which, by every law of logic, must have been inspired by God.
From the evidence cited two things are apparent:
1. The Bible is not such a book as a man would write if he could.
2. The Bible is not such a book as a man could write if he would.
By these conclusions, therefore, the Bible is shown to be not of man.
As the book is thus shown to be not of man -- either by inclination or ability; and as from the beginning to the end its object is to glorify the unseen God in the revelation of his incarnate Son, then this book is of God; and being the utterance of his mind and will, is his Word; so that the statement of the apostle concerning it is justified. It is to be received as he says: |Not as the word of man, but as it is in truth, THE WORD OF GOD.|
To him who so approaches it -- who puts his shoes from off his feet as on holy ground, and with the silence of expectant faith listens and looks, it will disclose itself, speak to him, and so lay hold of the inner recesses of the heart that he shall know he has been face to face with God, has had glimpses of the delectable mountains and the city foursquare that lies beyond; from henceforth he shall walk, not as one in a vain show or in the mixing of darkness and light, but where the night shineth as the day; where the road is no longer paved with the stumbling stones of doubt, nor the signboards filled with a guess, but where the way leadeth on and up -- shining more and more bright unto the perfect day.
Take up this book, O friend. Do not read it with a hurried glance. Let thine eyes rest a while upon some single word, and if thou art patient, it will bud and blossom and bloom and grow unto thee as a tree of life; and the leaves shall be as medicine for the healing of thy hurt. Take it into thy mouth and learn a lesson from the meadow kine who chew the tender grasses, and turn them over, and chew them again, till they have extracted sweetness and life therefrom. Chew the words of this book over and over again (it is impossible to do so with any other book), meditate upon the words (to meditate, to reflect, are highest functions), mediate upon their meaning -- upon their direct and cognate meanings; let the thoughts they suggest find full and free reaction in thy soul, and from some simple word or phrase thou shalt draw the sweetness of divine love, and more and more the consciousness that thou hast received into thine innermost being very spirit and very life.
Read it on bended knee. Take up the words and breathe on them with the warm breath of sincere desire to know their intent, and music will come forth as from the fabled horn of old -- music that shall have in it all the hallelujahs and hosannas of the heavenly host.
If you will take this book to your heart, you will find it bread such as kings' ovens never baked, water more crystal than that which bursts from mountain springs, wine the like of which was never pressed from purple grapes, meat which cattle on a thousand hills never furnished, and fruit no man ever gathered in royal gardens -- the fruit of the Spirit. You will find it a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path, a hammer for breaking the flinty rocks by the way, a fire that will burn out the stain of sin, and warm benumbed fingers for quickened service in His Name.
Give it the first place in your life. You will want to hear from it as the last thing when you go hence. The words of loved ones will be sweet in your ear as you leave these mortal shores (if our Lord Jesus Christ should not hasten his coming, you must go), but you will want to hear its utterance above all the tones, even of those you love, speaking the final word of hope and cheer to you.
Be very patient with it. It has great things to say to you -- and you will not always be fit to hear them. You will not always -- at the first -- be able to understand them; but if you do not understand to -day, to-morrow, or other morrows after that, it will speak to you and you shall fully know. Perhaps it will wait till the unshed tears are in your heart, and the moan the common ear has never heard -- then it will speak -- and the words will fall into the sore place of the soul, as though angel lips had touched it; it will wait, perhaps, till the storm is high, and your frail craft (life's poor, frail craft) is tossed as though it would go down in the whelming waters (and the shore so far away), and then it will speak and say, |Peace -- be still,| and in that driven life of yours shall be a great and holy calm.
Do not attempt to cross-question it as though you hesitated to believe all it said. To accept some parts and reject others will be fatal to you. God does not reveal himself to those who doubt him. He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of all them that diligently seek him. So must you approach this book -- with reverence and submissive faith; for this book, O friend! is not the word of man, but in very truth -- THE WORD OF GOD.