Inspiration and Interpretation - Seven Sermons Preached Before the University of Oxford
by John Burgon
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Touto to krygma pareilphyia, kai tautn tn pistin, hs proephamen, h ekklsia, kaiper en hol t kosm diesparmen, epimels phylassei, hs hena oikon oikousa kai homois pisteuei toutois, hs mian psychn kai tn autn echousa kardian kai symphns tauta kryssei, kai didaskei, kai paradidsin, hs hen stoma kektmen. Kai gar hai kata ton kosmon dialektoi anomoiai, all' h dynamis ts paradoses mia kai h aut. Kai oute hai en Germaniais hidrymenai ekklsiai alls pepisteukasin, alls paradidoasin, oute en tais Ibriais, oute en Keltois, oute kata tas anatolas, oute en Aigypt, oute en Liby, oute hai kata mesa tou kosmou hidrymenai. All' hsper ho hlios, to ktisma tou Theou, en hol t kosm heis kai ho autos, hout kai to krygma ts altheias pantach phainei, kai phtizei pantas anthrpous tous boulomenous eis epignsin altheias elthein. Kai oute ho pany dynatos en log tn en tais ekklsiais proesttn hetera toutn erei, (oudeis gar hyper ton didaskalon,) oute ho asthens en t log elattsei tn paradosin. Mias gar kai ts auts pistes ouss, oute ho poly peri auts dynamenos eipein epleonasen, oute ho to oligon lattonse.—See Heurtley's Harmonia Symbolica, p. 9.

[210] Abridged from Dr. Moberly, as before, pp. lii.-v.

[211] Kai honper tropon ho tou sinapes sporos, en mikr kokk, pollous periechei tous kladous, hout kai h Pistis haut, en oligois rhmasi, pasan tn en t Palaia kai Kain ts eusebeias gnsin enkekolpistai.—Cyril. Hieros. Cat. v. 12,—quoted by Heurtley.

[212] Answer. He certainly does not employ the identical language of the Nicene Council, or of the (so called) Athanasian Creed. But what then?

[213] Ans. Passages of the Epistles "distributed in alternate clauses between our Lord's Humanity and Divinity," begging Mr. Jowett's pardon, is nonsense. But no passage in St. Paul's Epistles which relates to the Humanity, or to the Divinity of CHRIST, could be said to "lose its meaning" by being unlocked by its own proper clue: or, if the statement be complex, by being distributed under two heads.

[214] Ans. But not, I suppose, to reconcile them? Why use inaccurate language on so solemn a subject?

[215] Ans. Doubtless we have to suppose this!

[216] Ans. Not so. For "there is one Person of the FATHER, and another of the SON."

[217] Ans. Doubtless we have to suppose this!

[218] Ans. But He did not doubt!

[219] 1 St. John iv. 2, 3.—2 St. John ver. 7.

[220] Dr. Moberly, as before, p. xlvii.

[221] E.g. "We should observe how the popular explanations of Prophecy, as in heathen (Thucyd. ii. 54,) so also in Christian times, had adapted themselves to the circumstances of mankind." (The Reverend writer can never for a moment divest himself of his theory that Thucydides and the Bible stand on the same footing!) "We might remark that in our own country, and in the present generation especially, the interpretation of Scripture had assumed an apologetic character, as though making an effort to defend itself against some supposed inroad of Science and Criticism." (p. 340.) ... Just as if any other attitude was possible when one has to do with 'Essayists and Reviewers!'

[222] One would imagine that the Essayist and his critic were entirely agreed. See below, p. 74,—"I refuse to accept any theory whatsoever." And p. 115,—"Theory I have none."

[223] Had the following passage occurred sooner to my recollection, it should have been sooner inserted:—"Are we to conduct the Interpretation of Holy Scripture as we would that of any other writing? We are and we are not. So far as THE WORDS are concerned, the mere words of Scripture have the same office with those of all language written or spoken in sincerity." They must be studied "by the same means and the same rules which would guide us to the meaning of any other work; by a knowledge of the languages in which the books were written, the Hebrew, the Chaldee, the Greek, and of those other languages, as the Syriac and Arabic, which may illustrate them; and of all the ordinary rules of Grammar and Criticism, and the peculiar information respecting times and circumstances, history and customs,—all the resources, in a word, of the Interpretation of any work of any kind. The Grammatical and Historical interpretation of profane or sacred writings is the same.... "All Scripture," meanwhile, "is given by Inspiration of GOD:" and this at once introduces several important differences; which whoever neglects may yet, with whatsoever advantages of learning and talent, fail to discover the real meaning of the Word of GOD."—From Dr. Hawkins (Provost of Oriel)'s Inaugural Lecture as Dean Ireland's Professor, delivered in 1847,—pp. 29-30.

It is but fair to Mr. Jowett to add that, in terms, he has very nearly (not quite) said the self-same thing himself, at p. 337, (upper half the page.) But it is the peculiar method of this most slippery writer, or most illogical thinker, occasionally to grant almost all that heart can desire, as far as words go; but straightway to deny, or evacuate, or explain away, the thing which those words ought to signify.—Thus, at p. 337, he volunteers the remark that "No one who has a Christian feeling would place Classical on a level with Sacred Literature;" and at p. 377, he observes that, "There are many respects in which Scripture is unlike any other book." And yet, (as I have shown, p. cxliii. to p. cl.,) Mr. Jowett puts the Bible on a level with Sophocles and Plato; and argues throughout as if Scripture were in no essential respect unlike any other book!

[224] "Had this writer reminded us that the New Testament Greek is a Greek of different age from that of the classical writers; had he simply warned us that we must not press our Attic Greek scholarship too far, but study the Alexandrian Greek of the Septuagint, Philo, &c. in order to ascertain the exact meaning of the words and phrases of the writers of the New Testament;—still more, if, as the result of such study on his own part, he had offered us some well-digested observations on the use of tenses, articles, or particles in the sacred writings;—he would have done some service. But this talk about 'excessive attention to the article,' and 'particles being often mere excrescences of style,' is of no effect except to expose the writer to ridicule. It sounds as if he had been accustomed to lay down the law to an admiring audience of 'clever young men,' and had forgotten that there were still 'men in Denmark' who understood Greek."—Some Remarks on Essays and Reviews, prefixed to Dr. Moberly's 'Sermons on the Beatitudes.' (1861.) pp. lxii.-iii.

[225] Quarterly Review, No. 217, p. 298.

[226] Quarterly Review, No. 217, pp. 265-6.

[227] St. Matth. ii .1, 22.

[228] St. Luke ii. 41.

[229] See Sermon VII., pp. 222-232.

[230] Essays and Reviews, p. 109.

[231] See Dr. Moberly, (as before,) p. lv.-lx.

[232] Edinburgh Review, (April, 1861,) p. 476.

[233] The Rev. H. B. Wilson says,—"If those who distinguish themselves in Science and Literature cannot, in a scientific and literary age, be effectually and cordially attached to the Church of their nation, they must sooner or later be driven into a position of hostility to it." (p. 198.) This is one of the many notes, if not of "concert and comparison," at least of intense sympathy between the Essayists and Reviewers.

[234] Quarterly Review, No. 217, p. 266.

[235] See at pp. 351, 352, 357, 358, 361, 365, 367, 413, &c.

[236] Quarterly Review, as before, p. 282.

[237] Take a few instances:—Mr. Wilson and Mr. Jowett speak of the Gospels as more or less accurately embodying a common tradition, pp. 161 and 346.—Dr. Temple and Mr. Jowett propose the heart and conscience, as the overruling principle, pp. 42-5, and 410:—and insist that the Bible is "a Spirit, not a Letter," pp. 36 and 357, 375, 425.—Dr. Temple and Dr. Williams regard the Bible as the voice of conscience, pp. 45 and 78:—look for a verifying faculty in the individual, pp. 45 and 83:—dwell on the "interpolations" in Scripture, pp. 47 and 78.—Mr. Wilson and Mr. Jowett insist on the meaning which Scripture had to those who first heard it, as its true meaning, pp. 219, 223, 230, 232, and 338, 378:—on the necessity of reconciling Intellectual men to Scripture, pp. 198 and 374.—Professor Powell and Mr. Jowett are of one mind as to Miracles, pp. 109 and 349.—Dr. Temple and Mr. Jowett delight in the same image of the Colossal Man, pp. 1-49 and 331, 387, 422.—Dr. Williams and Mr. Jowett coincide in their estimate of the German Commentators, pp. 67 and 340.—Dr. Temple and Dr. Williams are of one mind as to the past training of our Race, pp. 1-49, and 51. They are generally agreed as to the untrustworthiness of Genesis, and of the Scripture generally, the hopeless contradictions between the Evangelists, &c., &c. They hold the same language about our having outlived the Faith, ('Traditional Christianity,' as it is called;) the impossibility of freedom of thought; the necessity of providing some new Religious system; the effete nature of Creeds and formularies of Belief; the advance in Natural Science as likely to prove fatal to Theology, &c., &c.

[238] See St. John iii. 2: v. 36: x. 25, 37-8: xiv. 11: xv. 24: St. Luke vii. 20-22, &c., &c.

[239] Creed of Lyons, A.D. 180; see above, p. clxxx., note.

[240] pp. cxciv.-v.

[241] See pp. 57 and 170.

[242] Some Remarks, &c., pp. xxiii.-xxv.

$Seven Sermons.$


(For a detailed account of the Contents of these Sermons, the Reader is referred to the beginning of the Volume.)








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DOMINE DEUS meus, ... sint cast delici me Scriptur Tu. Nec fallar in eis, nec fallam ex eis.—AUGUSTINUS, Confessiones, lib. xi. c. ii. 3.

The Book of this Law we are neither able nor worthy to look into. That little thereof which we darkly apprehend we admire: the rest with religious ignorance we humbly and meekly adore.—HOOKER, Eccl. Pol., B. I. ch. ii. 5.

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SERMON I.[243]

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ST. JOHN vi. 68.

LORD, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of Eternal Life.

It was probably in that synagogue which the faithful Centurion built at Capernaum[244] that our SAVIOUR had been discoursing. At the end of His discourse, it is related that "many of His Disciples went back, and walked no more with Him." Thereupon, He asked the Twelve, "Will ye also go away?" the very form of His inquiry (M kai hymeis) implying the answer which the Divine Speaker expected and desired. And to this challenge of Love to Faith, St. Peter replied, not only on behalf of his fellow-Apostles, but on behalf of all faithful men to the end of time:—"LORD, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of Eternal Life!"

You perceive that St. Peter's confession takes a peculiar form,—resting the impossibility of unfaithfulness in the Apostles on the gracious discourse of Him to whom they had been listening. "A hard saying," and unpalatable, it had proved to many; but to his own taste it had seemed "sweeter than honey and the honeycomb." So that while, to those others, it had been an occasion of going back, and walking with CHRIST no more,—to himself it had been a reason why he could never, as he felt, be persuaded to forsake CHRIST. Nay, it was to himself, (and, as he boldly assumed, to his fellow-Apostles,) a sufficient evidence that the Speaker was none other than the SON of GOD. "And we believe, and are sure, that Thou art the CHRIST, the SON of the living GOD!"

Here then, surely, a very solemn picture is set before us. The same message proves, in the case of some, the savour of death unto death: in the case of others, of life unto life. It is an image of what is still taking place in the world. The Gospel, whether veiled in the Old Testament, or unveiled in the New, is confessedly "a hard saying:"—to some, their very crown and joy; to others, only an occasion of distress and downfall. It was so, when proclaimed not by the tongue of men and of angels, but by the lips "full of grace and truth" of the Incarnate WORD Himself: and it is so still. The temper of mankind is still the same as it was of old, and the instrument of man's trial is still the same.

Of the written Gospel, many of the self-same things are said in Scripture which are said of Him by whom that Gospel was preached. Thus, it is proclaimed to be "the power of GOD to salvation[245]." It is described as "a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart[246]." It is declared to be eternal,—a thing which "shall never pass away[247]." "In the last day," it is prophesied that the words which CHRIST has spoken "shall judge" men[248]. The very Name by which St. John designates the Eternal SON, in the forefront of his Gospel[249], is the appellation by which the Gospel is emphatically known.—But even more remarkable are the analogies which subsist between the written record of our LORD'S Life and Teaching, and the actual person of our LORD. And proposing, as I now do, to say a few earnest words to the younger men in recommendation of a more punctual, methodical, as well as attentive study of the Bible, than, I am persuaded, is practised by one young man in a thousand,—it may not prove unavailing in awakening attention, if I advert, in passing, to some of the circumstances whereby an even balance, (so to speak,) is established between the opportunities of the men of this generation, and of those who were blessed with the oral teaching of the Son of Man.

1. Thus, if the record has its difficulties, and its seeming contradictions, so had He. It did not appear that "JESUS of Nazareth" was born, (according to the prophet Micah's prediction,) at Bethlehem[250]. His title perplexed even Nathanael[251].—He was called the son of Joseph, even by the Blessed Virgin[252]. How then could He be the SON of GOD? And how was the famous prophecy of Isaiah fulfilled in Him[253]?—He grew up in a lowly estate. Once He is called "the carpenter[254]." How then could He be of the Royal House of David? And so, in many other respects, did He, in His own person, present the self-same class of difficulties to the world's eye which His Gospel presents to ours:—"the sixteenth of Tiberius,"—the two genealogies,—"Cyrenius,"—"the days of Abiathar,"—"Jeremy the prophet,"—and so on.

2. Somewhat less obvious, but not less true, is the unattractive aspect, at first sight, of the Gospel. Verily there is, until we become intimately acquainted with it, "no beauty that we should desire" it.—The style, (full of interest, to those who have tried to understand it a little,) is not, I suppose, what critics would call altogether a good style.—The Greek is not what learned men call pure.—Many a word, (brimfull of meaning to those who will give to the words of the Gospel their best care,) reminds one, that neither did He speak what, in the capital of Jewry, was accounted a classical idiom. He employed the accent of the despised Galilee.—The very reasoning, (until you give it your heart's homage and best attention,) often seems to be either inconsequential, or to contain a fallacy. Certain words of our LORD have been even cited as fallacious by a celebrated Divine whose writings we are all familiar with[255]. Now, His words were disregarded, cavilled at, made light of, in just the same manner.

3. Most surprising of all is the analogy observable between the union of the Divine and the human element in the Gospels,—and the strictly parallel union, as it seems, of the two natures, the Divine and the Human, in the person of our LORD.—As He was perfect and faultless, so do we deem it infallible also, without spot or blemish of any kind. We reject as monstrous any 'theory of Inspiration,' (as it is called,) which imputes blunders to the work of the HOLY GHOST.—As, further, we claim for our LORD'S recorded human actions mysterious significancy, so do we seem warranted in looking for a mysterious purpose, a divine meaning, in every expression of the written Word.—Lastly, although we may, nay we must, admit such a Divine and such a human element, we must altogether deny the possibility of separating the one from the other. We cannot separate Scripture into human and Divine. Like the Incarnate WORD, the Gospel is at once both human and Divine, yet one and indivisible. And the method of its inspiration is as great a difficulty in its way, and as much beyond our ken, as the nature of the union of the Godhead and the Manhood in the one person of CHRIST.

For whatever reason, and whether you please to accept the foregoing remarks or not, it is a plain fact that the Gospel is now in the world, fulfilling the same office towards mankind, which our Saviour CHRIST Himself fulfilled, and experiencing the same treatment at the hands of men in return. It is leavening society indeed, and remodelling the world, even while it is practically overlooked by politicians or experiencing evil treatment from them. It wins its way silently and secretly, yet surely; and it works miracles here and there. Moreover, it divides opinion; separating, as it will for ever separate, the light from the darkness[256]. It is slighted, and overlooked, and neglected by some; even while, by others, it is embraced with joy unspeakable. 'The humble and meek' adore it; even while, by the proud and rebellious, it is after a most strange fashion cavilled at, called in question, and denied. We specify the Gospel, instinctively, as that part of the Inspired Word which chiefly concerns ourselves, as Christian men; but the entire deposit shares the same fate. I do not think I am delivering a paradox when I say that the Bible is generally very little read. That the amount of study commonly bestowed upon it bears no proportion whatever to its transcendent importance and paramount value, shall not be any paradox at all; but a mere truism.

For I entreat you to consider, (trite and obvious as it may sound,) What have we, in the whole wide world, which may be put in competition with that Book which contains GOD'S revelation of Himself to man? In its early portions, how does it go back to the very birthday of Time, and discourse of things which were done in the grey of that early morning! How mysterious is the record,—so methodical, so particular, so unique; preserving the very words which were syllabled in Paradise, and describing transactions which no one but the HOLY GHOST is competent to declare! Come lower down, and where will you find more beautiful narratives,—still fresh at the end of three and four thousand years,—than those stories of Patriarchs, Judges, Kings, which wrap up divinest teaching in all their ordinary details: where every word is weighed in a heavenly balance, fraught with a divine purpose, and intended for some glorious issue: where the very characters are adumbrations of personages far greater than themselves; and where the course of events is made to preach to us, at this distant day, of the things which concern our peace! Is it a light thing again to know in what terms Isaiah, and the rest of "the goodly fellowship," when they opened their lips to speak in that remote age, foretold of the coming of the Son of Man?... But all seems to grow pale before the Everlasting Gospel, and the other writings of the New Testament. Surely we have become too familiar with the providence which has preserved to us the very words of the four Evangelists, if we can bend our thoughts in the direction of the Gospel without a throb of joy and wonder not to be described, at having so great a treasure placed within our easy reach. Can it indeed be, that I may listen while the disciple whom JESUS loved is discoursing of the miracles, and recalling the sayings of his LORD? May I hear St. Peter himself address the early Church,—or know the precise words of the message which St. Jude sent to the first believers,—or be shown the Epistle which the LORD'S cousin addressed "to the Twelve Tribes scattered abroad"? How does it happen that the Book is not for ever in our hands which comes to us with such claims to our undivided homage?

But, on the contrary, it has become the fashion in certain quarters, on every imaginable pretext, to call in question the credibility of the Bible. It seems to be the taste of the age to invent hazy difficulties and dim objections to its statements. Inspiration, under a miserable attempt to explain it, is openly explained away. And the theory, however crude and preposterous, is tolerated: at least it escapes castigation. It cannot fail but that the unlearned and thoughtless ones of this generation will be growing up in a notion that these are open questions after all, and that "Truth" is but a name,—not a thing worth contending, aye dying for, if need be! The reason is but too obvious. It must be, partly, because we do not in reality prize the deposit nearly so much as we suppose. Partly, because of the indifferentism which is everywhere so prevalent. Partly too because, notwithstanding our intellectual activity, we are not a really learned body. And partly, it must be confessed, the reason is, because Theology has become so nearly a prostrate study with us, and because men really able to do battle for the Truth are somewhat hard to find. Nor is there any reasonable prospect of improvement either; for those who go forth from this place into the Ministry, go with such slender preparation, that it would be truer to say that they go with none at all.

Now, it would be a mere waste of time, to inveigh for half an hour against the indifferentism, or the spurious liberality, of the age: and it would be a most unbecoming proceeding, (not to say a highly distasteful one,) from this place to be suggesting remedies for an evil which already lies very near the heart of every serious man among us; and which, if discussed at all, must be discussed elsewhere. To say the truth, while the neglect of Theology, and the low ebb of Theological attainments in our Clergy, is generally recognized, the remedy for the evil is by no means so clear. From this subject, then, I pass at once: and I shall content myself with the far humbler task, of urging upon the younger men present,—those especially who are destined for the Ministry,—one act of preparation, one duty, about which, at all events, there cannot be any difference of opinion: I mean the duty of applying themselves, now, to the patient study of the Bible.

The thing is soon said; but the hint requires expanding a little, in order that it may become of any practical use.—By the "study of the Bible," I do not mean a chapter occasionally read with care: nor even a chapter regularly conned over at night; when a convivial meeting has blunted the edge of observation, or severe study has exhausted the powers of the brain. The devotional use of a portion of Holy Scripture is quite a distinct affair. Still less would the practice satisfy me of following the lessons in the College Chapel: and this for reasons so obvious that I will not stop to point them out. Nor even is the reading of the Bible in College Lecture, the thing I mean; for reasons also which any acute person will readily ascertain for himself. None of these methods of acquainting yourselves with the contents of the Bible come up to the thing I contemplate, although each is good in its way; and of course I am not speaking in disparagement of any.

No. The thing I would so strenuously urge upon you, is,—that, during your undergraduate period, you should read the whole Bible consecutively through, from one end to the other, by yourself and for yourself, with consummate method, care, and attention. The fundamental conditions of such a study of the Bible, in order to make it of any real use, are these:—

1. First, that you should deliberately apportion to this solemn duty the best and freshest and quietest half-hour in the whole day; and then, that you should determine, let what will go undone, never to abridge that half-hour. You may sometimes be enabled to afford a little more time to the chapter: but you will find it quite fatal ever to devote a shorter period to it. And half an hour, if you employ it in right good earnest, at present, must be thought enough.

2. Next, (except on Sundays and in Vacation, when you may safely double your daily task and your daily time,) be persuaded to read each day exactly one chapter. On no account attempt to go reading on; but rather spend the moments which remain over, (they cannot be many!) in reviewing that day's portion; or referring to some of the places indicated in the margin; or glancing over yesterday's chapter.

The effect of building up your Bible knowledge in this manner, bit by bit, is what you would not anticipate. The whole acquires a solidity and compactness not to be attained by any other method. You will find at the end of many days, not only that the structure has attained to symmetry and beauty,—but that the disposition of its several parts, in some respects, has become intelligible also: while, (what is not of least importance,) the foundation on which all the superstructure rests, proves wondrous secure and strong.

3. Then, while you read,—safe from the risk of interruption, (as I began by supposing,) and with every faculty intent on your task,—try, as much as possible, to go over the words as if they were new to you; and watch them, one by one, so that nothing may by any possibility escape your notice. Do not slumber over a single word. Nothing can be unimportant when it is the HOLY GHOST who speaketh. It is an excellent practice to mark the expressions which strike you; for it is a method of preserving the memory of what is sure else soon to pass away.

4. And next, be persuaded to read without extraneous helps of any kind; except, of course, such help as a map, or the margin of your Bible, supplies. Pray avoid Commentaries and notes. First, you cannot afford time for them: and secondly, if you could, they would be as likely to mislead you as not. But the real reason why you are so strenuously advised to avoid them, is, because they will do more to nullify your reading, than anything which could be imagined. Your object is to obtain an insight into Holy Scripture, by acquiring the habit of reading it with intelligence and care: not to be saved trouble, and to be shown what other persons have thought about it.

5. But then, though you are entreated not to have recourse to the notes of others, you are as strongly advised to make brief memoranda of your own: and the briefer the better. Construct your own table of the Patriarchs,—your own analysis of the Law,—your own descent of the Kings,—your own enumeration of the Miracles. A pedigree full of faults, made by yourself, will do you more good than the most accurate table drawn up by another: but if you are at all attentive and clever, it will not be full of faults.—You will perhaps make the parables 56 instead of 30: you will have gained 26 by your honest industry. Nay, keep a record of your difficulties, if you please; or of anything which strikes you, and which you would be sorry to forget. But, as a rule, it is well to write little, and to give your time and thought to the record before you.

6. Above all, is it indispensable that your reading of the Bible should be strictly consecutive; and on no account may any one pretend to begin such a study of that book as I am here recommending, except at the first Chapter of Genesis. It is a great mistake, (though one of the commonest of all,) for a man to imagine that he knows the beginning of the Bible pretty well. I say it advisedly, that it would be easy to write down twelve interesting questions on that first chapter, of which none of the younger men present would be able to answer three,—and yet, they should all be questions of such a sort that a labouring man's child with an open Bible would be able infallibly to answer them every one.

7. It will follow from what has been offered, that you are invited to read every book in the Bible in the order in which it actually stands,—never, of course, skipping a chapter; much less a Book. In every mere catalogue of names, be resolved to find edification. Feel persuaded that details, seemingly the driest, are full of GOD. Remember that the difference between every syllable of Scripture and all other books in the world is, not a difference of degree, but of kind. All books but one, are human: that one book is Divine!

Now, you will perceive that the kind of study of the Bible here recommended, is somewhat different from what is commonly pursued. I contemplate the continued exercise of a most curious and prying, as well as a most vigilant and observing eye. No difficulty is to be neglected; no peculiarity of expression is to be disregarded; no minute detail is to be overlooked. The hint let fall in an earlier chapter is to be compared with a hint let fall in the later place. Do they tally or not? and what follows? The chronological details spontaneously evolved by the narrative, are to be unerringly discovered by the student for himself. The course of every journey is to be attentively noted. Things omitted are to be spied out as carefully as things set down; and whatever can possibly be gathered in the way of necessary inference, is to be industriously ascertained. The imagination is not to slumber either, because no pains are taken by the sacred writer to move the feelings or melt the heart.

How soon will any one who takes the trouble to read the Bible after this fashion, be struck with a hundred things which he never knew before,—indeed, which are not commonly known! How will he be for ever eliciting unsuspected facts,—detecting undreamed of coincidences, but which are as important as they are true,—accumulating materials of value quite inestimable for future study in Divine things! However unpromising a certain collection of references may be, he is careful to extend it,—convinced, like a wise householder, that there will come an use for it after many days. His whole aim is to master thoroughly the record which he has undertaken to study.

Let me not be misunderstood if it is added that the Bible should be read,—I do not say in the same manner,—that is, in the same temper and spirit,—but at least with the same attention, as is bestowed upon a merely human work. In truth, it should be read with much more attention. But that diligence which a student commonly bestows on a difficult moral treatise, or an obscure drama, or a perplexed history,—analyzing it, comparing passage with passage, and learning a great deal of it by heart,—I am quite at a loss to understand why a student of the Bible should be a stranger to.—"I do much condemn," (says Lord Bacon), "I do much condemn that Interpretation of the Scripture which is only after the manner as men use to interpret a profane book." So do I. Scripture is to be approached and handled in quite a different spirit from a common history. The mind, the heart rather, must bow down before its revelations, in the most suppliant fashion imaginable. The book should ever be approached with prayer:—"LORD, open Thou mine eyes that I may see the wondrous things of Thy Law!" The very printed pages should be handled with reverence, in consideration of the message they contain. But what I am saying is, that none of the methods which diligence and zeal have ever invented to secure a complete mastery of the contents of any merely human performance, may be overlooked by a student of the Bible.

To what has gone before I will add one caution, and will trouble you with one only. It would be easy to multiply cautions: but I am talking to highly intelligent men; and there is only one rock which I am really fearful of your running against.

It was the advice of a great and good man, (to his clergy, I suspect,) that they should read the Bible with a special object: and an excellent recent writer has repeated the same advice; namely that men should "read with a view to some particular inquiry, with purpose to clear up some peculiar question of interest, which," (says he,) "you may create for yourselves[257]." I entreat you to do nothing of the kind. Whatever advantages may result to an advanced student from adopting this practice, to you it must be fraught with unmingled evil. You will be tempted to overrate the importance of everything you discover which suits your present purpose: you will disregard all that looks in a different direction: you will be disappointed if you meet with nothing ad rem: you will get a habit of slurring over many chapters, many whole books of the Bible. A very little reflection will convince you that it must be as I say. Who, for example, could be expected to find delight and edification in the calendar of the Deluge, who had determined to read Genesis with a view to discovering what knowledge existed in the patriarchal age of a future life? No. Your wisdom will be to divest your minds, as much as possible, of any preconceived notion as to what the Bible contains, or was intended to teach you. You should wish to find there nothing so much as the authentic evidence of what Divine Wisdom hath seen fit to communicate to man. Read it therefore, if you are wise, with unaffected curiosity: settling down upon every flower, in order to find out, if you can, where the honey is: clinging to it rather, until you have found the honey. Say to yourself,—"It cannot be that all these details of months and days should be given in vain[258]. I must find out the reason of it." And, at last, you will find,—what you will find.—"Very strange," (you will learn to say to yourself,) "that the history of nearly 1600 years should be curdled into one short chapter[259]; and yet that three verses of the Bible should be devoted to the history of a man's losing his way in a field, and then finding it again[260]!" The subject may be worth thinking about. You are perhaps naturally disposed to take what you are pleased to call "a common sense view" of the meaning of Holy Scripture; and to interpret it after a very dry unlovely fashion of your own: to evacuate its deeper sayings, and to doubt the mysterious significancy of its historical details. You will speedily perceive, however, that the Apostles and Evangelists of CHRIST,—as many as were moved by the HOLY SPIRIT of GOD, and spoke not their own words but His,—that all these are against you: and the effect of this discovery on an honest and good heart, reading not in order to be confirmed in some preconceived opinion, but with a sincere desire of enlightenment in Divine things,—may be anticipated. Bishop Horsley relates that by a yet simpler process he became disabused of a favourite fancy with which he set out,—namely, that prophecy must of necessity carry a single meaning[261].—The attitude of mind which I so strongly recommend you to assume, (and it depends on an act of the Will, whether you assume it or not,) is very exactly represented by the cry of the child Samuel,—"Speak LORD, for Thy servant heareth!"

It seems right, in the fewest words, to state what we do,—and what we do not,—expect to result from such a study of the Bible as this; in other words, to assign the office of unassisted Biblical study. I would not willingly have my meaning mistaken here.

It is not implied then, for a moment, that a man is either at liberty, or able, to gather his own Religion for himself out of the Bible. The very thought were monstrous. But it is a widely different thing for one of yourselves to read his Bible patiently, and humbly, and laboriously, through,—without prejudice or theory,—unmolested by critical notes, undistracted by human comments, uninfluenced by party views:—all this, I say, is a widely different thing from a man's inventing his own system of Divinity. Members of the Catholic Church,—born in a Christian country,—educated amid the choicest influences for good,—you are by no means so left to yourselves. THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER is your sufficient safeguard. The framework of the Faith,—the conditions under which you may lawfully speculate about Divine mysteries,—are all prescribed for you: and within those limits you cannot well go wrong.

On the other hand, the outlines of Moral Theology, (as it may be called), you are fully competent to detect for yourselves. GOD'S strictness in punishing sin, as in the case of Moses[262];—the efficacy of repentance, as in the case of Ahab[263];—the sure answer to prayer, (to forgotten prayer, it may be!) as in the case of Zacharias[264];—the seemingly roundabout methods of GOD'S providence, (as in the case of Abraham,) yet conducting inevitably to a blessed issue at the last;—the rewards of obedience[265];—the faithfulness of the Divine promises;—the boundless wealth of the Divine contrivance, which, on man's repentance, is able to convert even a curse into a blessing, as in the case of Levi[266];—the peace and joy surely in reserve for those who fear GOD, as in the case of Joseph;—the extent to which things seemingly trivial are noticed by the Ancient of Days, as every page of the Bible shows;—these, and a hundred points like these, not only a man can gather for himself out of the Book of God's Law, but no one else can do the work for him. He must discover all such matters for himself.

And need I point out, for a minute, the immense advantage with which a mind so stored with Divine knowledge will approach the Ministry; and finally take in hand the actual oversight of the flock? It is really not to be expressed. The Bishop's examination for Orders will become nothing but an agreeable exercise, instead of an object of dread. You are quite sure of a few approving words in that quarter. But, (what is a thousand times more important,) you yourself feel safe and strong. You begin to read some treatise on Divinity; and you find yourself in some degree competent to test the writer's statements, to endorse or to suspect his conclusions, because you are familiar with the Rule of Faith which he himself employed. It becomes your turn at last to instruct others,—from the pulpit for example; and instead of timid truisms, and vague generalities, you are able to draw a bold clear outline round almost any department of Christian doctrine. You can explain with authority.—You are not afraid to catechize before the congregation: for although your Theological attainments are but slender after all, yet, you know your Bible well; and even if an absurdly wrong answer is given you, you know how to single out from the hank the golden thread of Truth, and to display it before the eyes of men and Angels. And let me tell you, by way of ending the subject, we should hear less about dull sermons, and inattentive congregations, and badly filled churches,—as well as about the astounding ignorance of many among the upper classes, in Divine things,—if our younger Clergy knew the Bible a great deal better than they do.—Aye, and we should not have so many unsound remarks about Holy Scripture either,—so many mistaken views of doctrine,—so many crude remarks about Inspiration,—made by persons who ought to know better.

You will perceive that I am saying all this, (except the last few words,) at you, (the younger men present;) because in you I see many of the future Clergy of England. And I say it, because, (for the last time,) I do entreat you, one and all, to follow the advice I have been giving you; and to set about such a careful study of the Bible, at once. Do not put it off for a single day. Begin it tomorrow morning. You will then have mastered Genesis this term, finishing the last chapter on Sunday the 10th of December; and on Monday, the 11th, you will have to read the first chapter of Exodus. I am confident that you will remember this day and hour with gratitude to the end of your lives, if you will but make the experiment and persevere.

And just one word to those who aspire, (and all should aspire,) to University honours. You will not find what I have been recommending any hindrance to you at all. But even supposing you do, now and then, find the inexorable daily half-hour stand in the way of something else,—shall not the very thought of Him whose Voice you have deliberately resolved to hear daily at that fixed time, make you full amends? Shall you resolve to pluck so freely of the Tree of Knowledge, and yet begrudge the approach once a day to the Tree of Life, which grows in the midst of the Paradise of GOD? Shall ample time be found for works of fiction,—for the Review, and the Magazine, and the newspaper,—yet half an hour a day be deemed too much to be given to the Word of GOD? What? room for everything and everybody; yet still "no room in the Inn" for CHRIST!... I have, (I speak honestly,) I have far too high an opinion of your instincts for good, to think it possible. You have plenty of faults,—(God knoweth!),—but I am very much deceived indeed if there be not a spirit stirring among the young men of this place, overflowing with promise; a real inclination, (obscured at times, but still very energetic,) for whatever things are pure, and lovely, and of good report.

Of course, it is implied by what goes before, that you will read no work of Divinity just at present. Be counselled, on no account, to read any. Above all, shun the partial, ill-digested pamphlet,—and the one-sided review,—and the controversial letter,—and the Essay which seems to have been written in order to prove nothing. Be content, for the next three years, to study no book of Divinity but the Bible.

And the study of that Book, I repeat, you will find no hindrance, no impediment, no burthen to you at all. On the contrary. It will render you a very singular service,—let your classical and logical studies be as severe as they will; (and they cannot well be too severe, too engrossing,—for this is your golden opportunity which never will, never can, come back again!) The undersong of "Siloa's brook that flows, fast by the oracle of GOD," will many a time soothe and refresh your else dry and weary spirit. What was begun as a task will soon come to be regarded as a privilege. That jealously-guarded half-hour will be found to be the one green spot in the whole day,—like Gideon's fleece, fresh with the dew of the early morning, when it is "dry upon all the earth beside." Your secret study of that Book of Books, I say, will render you a very singular service. The contrast between the Divine and Human method will strike you with ever-recurring power. Unlike every other History, the Bible removes the veil, and discovers the causes of things,—including the First Great Cause of all, who dwelleth in Light unapproachable, but who yet humbleth Himself to behold, and to controul, and to overrule for good, the things which are done in Heaven and on Earth. And thus, it is not too much to say that the Bible, to one who reads its pages aright, is a certain clue to every other History,—as well as a perpetual commentary on every other Book. It informs the judgment, and cleanses the eye, throughout the whole department of Morals: and as for History, what is it all, but the evidence of GOD in the world,—"traces of His iron rod, or of His Shepherd's staff[267]?"

Profoundly sensible am I, that these have been very unintellectual, and somewhat common-place remarks: but I would rather, a hundred times, be of use to the younger men present; I would rather, a hundred times, succeed in persuading one of them, to adopt that method of reading the Bible which I have been recommending;—than try to say something which might be thought fine and clever.... Let me only, in conclusion, faithfully remind them, that the true office of the study of Divine things is not, by any means, that which, for obvious reasons, I have been rather dwelling and enlarging upon. It is not merely to inform the understanding, that Holy Scripture is to be read with such consummate attention, and studied with such exceeding care. It is not for the illustration of History, or in order that it may be made a test of the value of other systems of Morals. Not, by any means, in order to facilitate admission into Holy Orders, (for which only some of you are destined;)—or to render a man's pulpit-addresses attractive and agreeable;—or even to enable a parish priest to teach with confidence and authority;—is he entreated now to "prevent the night watches," if need be, that he may be occupied (like one of old time[268],) with GOD'S Word. O no! It is,—in order that his inner life may be made conformable to that outer Law[269]: that his aims may be ennobled, and his motives purified, and his earthly hopes made consistent with the winning of an imperishable crown! It is in order that when he wavers between Right and Wrong, the unutterable Canon of GOD'S Law may suggest itself to him as a constraining motive. Its aim, and purpose, and real function, is, that the fiery hour of temptation may find the Christian soldier armed with "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of GOD[270]:"—that the dark season of Adversity may find his soul anchored on the Rock of Ages,—which alone can prove his soul's sufficient strength and stay.... Of a truth, as Life goes on, Men will find the blessedness of their Hope; if they have not found it out already. Under every form of trial,—and under every strange vicissitude;—in sickness,—and in perplexity,—and in bereavement,—and in the hour of death;—"LORD,—to whom shall we go? Thou,—Thou hast the words of Eternal Life!"


[243] Preached in Christ-Church Cathedral, Oct. 21st, 1860.

[244] tn synaggn,—from which it would appear that there was but one. See Bishop Middleton on St. Luke vii. 5.

[245] Rom. i. 16.

[246] Heb. iv. 12.

[247] St. Matth. xxiv. 35, &c.

[248] St. John xii. 48.

[249] St. John i. 1, &c.

[250] Ibid. vii. 40-43.

[251] Ibid. i. 45, 46.

[252] St. Luke ii. 48.

[253] Is. vii. 14.

[254] St. Mark vi. 3.

[255] Our Lord's words in St. John viii. 47 are so cited by Archbishop Whately in the Appendix of his Logic.—(App. II. No. 12, p. 418.)

[256] Consider all such places as St. John xi. 45, 46.

[257] Blunt's Duties of a Parish Priest,—p. 81.

[258] Gen. vii. 4 to viii. 14.

[259] Ibid. v.

[260] Ibid. xxxvii. 15, 16, 17.

[261] See Appendix A.

[262] Deut. iii. 25, 26.

[263] 1 Kings xxi. 27-29.

[264] St. Luke i. 13.

[265] Jerem. xxxv. 18, 19.

[266] Comp. Gen. xlix. 5-7, with Exod. xxxii. 26-28, (alluded to in Deut. xxxiii. 9,) and finally Numb. iii. 9 and 45, and Josh. xxi. 3-8.

[267] The Rev. C. Marriott's Sermons,—vol. I. p. 441.

[268] Ps. cxix. 148.

[269] Not so Essays and Reviews, pp. 36 and 45.

[270] Eph. vi. 17.


* * * * *


* * * * *

HEBREWS xi. 3.

Through Faith, we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of GOD.

St. Paul, in a famous and familiar chapter of his Epistle to the Hebrews, having declared "what Faith is," proceeds, (as the heading of the chapter expresses it), to note "the worthy fruits thereof in the Fathers of old time." The Book of Genesis was obviously in his hands, or in his heart, while he wrote: for he appeals to the transactions there recorded, in the very order, and often in the very words, of Moses. The HOLY GHOST, I say, directs our attention to what is contained in the ivth,—vth,—vith,—xiith,—xviith,—xxiind,—xxviith,—xlviiith,—and lth chapters of Genesis. But He begins with a yet earlier chapter. He begins with the first. Abel,—Enoch,—Noah,—Abraham,—Sarah,—Isaac, —Jacob,—Joseph;—these stand forward as samples of God's faithful ones. But with them, the HOLY GHOST proposes to associate us. Moreover, He gives us the place of honour. Before mentioning one of their acts of Faith, He mentions one of ours. We come first,—then they. And the particular field in which we shine out so conspicuously,—the special province which is assigned to us,—that portion of the inspired Narrative wherein you and I are supposed to shew a degree of undoubting faith which entitles us to rank with those "Fathers of old time,"—is found to be the first chapter of the Book of Genesis. "Through Faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God." An honourable place, and an honourable function truly! I would to GOD that it might be as gratifying to every one of the congregation, as it is to the preacher, to discover that this is the special stand-point which has been reserved for him and for them.

Since, however, it is impossible to forget that we have sometimes seen heads, which are supposed to be very much indeed in advance of the age, shaken ominously at the very chapter which the text bequeaths and commends to the special acceptance of you and me,—I propose that, in the very briefest manner, we now review the contents of that chapter; in order that we may discover what is the special absurdity, or impossibility, or improbability, or by whatever other name the thing is to be called,—which makes it quite out of the question that you or I should undertake the act of Faith here assigned us.

I read then, that "In the beginning, GOD created the Heaven and the Earth:"—by which I understand, that, at some remote period,—which may or may not baffle human Arithmetic[272],—it was the pleasure of GOD the FATHER, GOD the SON, GOD the HOLY GHOST,—three Persons, coeternal and coequal,—one GOD,—out of nothing, to create the entire Universe. "All things that are in Heaven, and that are in Earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him[273];" and they were created out of nothing. The word in the original does not indeed necessarily imply as much: but since there is no word in Hebrew, (any more than there is in Greek, Latin, or English,) peculiarly expressive of the notion of creating out of nothing, it need not excite our surprise that Moses does not employ such a word to describe what God did "in the beginning."—Then it was, in the grey of that far distant morning I mean, that all those glittering orbs which sow the vault of Heaven with brightness and with beauty, flashed into sudden being. "Thou, even Thou, art LORD alone: Thou hast made Heaven, the Heaven of Heavens, with all their host[274]." Suns, the centres of systems, many of them so distant from this globe of ours, that sun and system scarce shew so bright as a single lesser star: suns, I say, with their marvellous equipage of attendant bodies,—our sun among the rest, with all those wandering fires which speed their unwearied courses round it: suns, and planets with their moons, bathed once and for ever in the fountain of that Light which GOD inhabited from all Eternity, then marshalled themselves in mysterious order, according to "the counsel of His will[275]:" yea, and with their furniture, unimagined and unimaginable, went careering through the untrodden realms of space, each on its several errand of glory, because of obedience to its Maker's sovereign Law[276]. "By the Word of the LORD," (as it is written,) "were the Heavens made; and all the hosts of them by the breath of His mouth[277]!"

Now, it is reserved to the geologist,—(Nature's High-priest!)—to guess at the condition of this Earth of ours throughout all the long period of unchronicled ages which immediately succeeded the birthday of Time. It is for him to guess at the successive changes which this globe of ours underwent; and the progressive cycles of Creation of which it was the theatre; and the many strange races of creatures which, one after another, moved upon its surface,—walking the dry, or inhabiting the moist. He shall guess; and I will sit at his feet and listen, with unfeigned gratitude, wonder, and delight, while he reports to me his guesses: (for the really great man is eager to assure me that they are no more.)—But when his tale of perplexity is ended, and the last 6,000 years of this world's History have to be discussed, the geologist's function is at an end. I bid him, in GOD'S Name, be silent; for now it is GOD that speaketh. If any question be moved as to how that actual system of things to which Man belongs, began,—I bid him come down, and take the learner's place; for now I mean to assume his vacant chair. This time, there shall at least be no guess-work. GOD is now the Speaker: and what GOD revealeth unto me, that I promise faithfully to report to him.

There was a time, then,—and it was certainly less than 6,000 years ago,—when "the Earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep." What catastrophe it was which had caused that the fountains of the abyss should be broken up, and the solid Earth submerged, I am not concerned to explain:—nor how it had come to pass that from a world of seas and continents, it had become a watery ball, wrapped about with superincumbent vapour:—nor how the blessed sunlight had suffered dire eclipse;—so that the Earth revolved in a horror of great darkness. My faith however is not troubled,—nor even perplexed,—by the strangeness of these things. Shall I think it a mere matter of course that one little flaw in a pipe shall, in a second of time, transform the orderly well-compacted seats of a goodly Church to one unsightly mass of shapeless and disordered ruin[278]; and shall I pretend to stand aghast at the strangeness of a similar overthrow of this Earth's furniture at the mere fiat of the Most High?... Behold, "He measureth the waters in the hollow of His Hand, and weigheth the mountains in scales[279]." What if the Creator of the earth and the sea shall bid them of a sudden change places? Think you that they would hesitate to obey Him? Or what if He "calleth for the waters of the Sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the Earth[280]?"—Then further, if I believe, (as I do believe,) that when the Jews crucified the LORD of Glory "there was darkness over all the land" from the sixth hour unto the ninth[281];—nay, that when "Moses stretched forth his hand toward Heaven, there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt," even darkness which might be felt, for three whole days[282]:—more than that; if I believe, (as I do believe,) the solemn prediction of my LORD, that at the consummation of all things, "The Sun shall be darkened, and the Moon shall not give her light, and the Stars shall fall from Heaven[283]:"—shall it move me to incredulity, if God tells me, that six thousand years ago it was His Divine pleasure that the same phenomenon should prevail for a season? Surely,—(I say to myself,)—surely this is He "which removeth the mountains, and they know not: which shaketh the Earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble. Which commandeth the Sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the Stars[284]!"

1. But it was now GOD'S pleasure to bring Beauty out of Chaos, and to establish a fresh order of things upon the surface of our Earth. And, as the first step thereto, "the SPIRIT of GOD moved upon the face of the waters." The Hebrew phrase implies no less than the tremulous brooding as of a bird,—causing the dreary waste to heave and swell with coming life. "And GOD said, Let there be Light. And there was Light." "He spake and it was done[285]." From Himself, who is "the true Light," (not from the Sun, which,—like the rest of the orbs of Heaven,—is but a lamp of His kindling);—from Himself, I say, a ray of Light went forth; and that is why He was pleased to praise it. Look through the chapter, and you will find that it is the only one of His creatures of which it is specially said that "GOD saw that it was good[286]." ... Thus, one hemisphere was illumined,—whereby "GOD divided the light from the darkness;" and when the Earth had completed a single revolution, there had been a Day and there had been a Night,—so named by the Word of GOD: "and the evening and the morning were the first Day[287]." ... Do you see any impossibility so far? I, certainly, see none. It does not seem to me absurd that "the Light of the world[288]," "dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto[289]," should cause "the light to shine out of darkness[290]." We shall perhaps come upon the absurdity by and by. Let us hasten forward.

2. "And GOD said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters." The Hebrew word (an expansion), and the context, shew plainly enough what is meant. The atmosphere was now created,—whereupon the watery particles either subsided into sea, or rose aloft in the form of clouds. "And the evening and the morning were the second Day,"—which is the only day of which it is not said that GOD saw that it was good.

3. "And GOD said, Let the waters under the Heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear." Then it was that these continents were upheaved,—other than those which had been continents before; and the sea sank into the cavities which had been ordained for its reception. Then, "GOD saw that it was good." The sentence of approval which had been withheld from the work of yesterday, because that work, (namely, of dividing the waters from the waters,) was incomplete,—is freely bestowed to-day. And it may have been to teach us that no incomplete work is "good," in GOD'S sight.—Next, the Creator called into being every extant form of vegetable life. So that, instead of a world of waters, which was all that was to be seen yesterday,—not only cliffs, and mountains, and bays,—but green hills, and fertile valleys, and grassy meadows had come to view,—with lakes, and rivers, and fountains, and falls of water. Again it is written, concerning Earth's green furniture, "GOD saw that it was good." "And the evening and the morning were the third Day."

4. "And GOD said, Let there be Lights in the firmament of the Heaven to divide the day from the night: and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and for years." And so it was. Sun, moon, and stars, came to view[291]; and this globe of ours, no longer illumined, as, for three days, it had been, rejoiced in the sun's genial light by day,—and by night in the splendours of the paler planet. And thus was also gained an easy measure for marking time,—the succession of months and years, as well as of days. "And GOD saw that it was good." "And the evening and the morning were the fourth Day."

5. "And GOD said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life." Thus the inhabitants of the sea and of the air were called into existence; and it was from the sea that GOD seems to have commanded that they should derive their being. He saw that it was good, and He blessed the fish and the winged fowl; "and the evening and the morning were the fifth Day."

6. It remained only to provide for the dry land its occupants; and the Earth was accordingly commanded to bring forth the living creature after his kind,—beast and cattle and creeping thing. Unlike that first Creation which was of all things out of nothing, the work of the six days was a creation of new things out of old.—To the Creation of Man, His crowning work, GOD is declared to have come with deliberation; as well as to have announced His purpose with significant solemnity of allusion. "Let us make Man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle." "And the LORD GOD formed Man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and Man became a living soul."—Transferred to the Garden of GOD'S planting in Eden, to dress it and to keep it, (for inactivity is no part of bliss!)—and brought into solemn covenant with GOD,—to Adam, GOD brings the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, of set purpose that GOD may "see what he will call them:" a wondrous tribute, truly, to the perfection of understanding in which Man had been created!... "And the LORD GOD caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib which the LORD GOD had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man. Therefore shall a Man leave his Father and his Mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh." ... Man's creation was the crowning wonder, to which all else had, in a manner, tended.... Truly when we think of him,—newly made in GOD'S image,—surveying this world, yet fresh with the dew of its birth, and beautiful as it came from the Hands of its Maker,—it seems scarcely the language of poetry that then "the morning stars sang together and all the sons of GOD shouted for joy[292]."

I have preferred thus to complete the history of Man's Creation; which presents us with the primal institution of all,—that, namely, of Marriage.—"On the seventh Day, GOD rested from all His work which He had made; and blessed the seventh Day, and sanctified it; because that in it He had rested from all His work."—This then is the other great primval institution; more ancient than the Fall,—the Law of the Sabbath;—which in the sacred record is brought into such august prominence. And never do we ponder over that record, without apprehension at what may be the possible results of relaxing the stringency of enactments which would seem to be, to our nature, as the very twin pillars of the Temple,—its establishment and its strength[293].

Now, on a review of all this wondrous History, I profess myself at a loss to see what special note of impracticability it presents that I should hesitate to embrace it, in the plain natural sense of the words, with both the arms of my heart. That it is not such an account of the manner of the Creation as you or I should have ourselves invented, or anticipated, or on questionable testimony have felt disposed to accept,—is very little to the purpose. Apart from Revelation, we could really have known nothing at all about the works of the Days of the first Great Week. Ejaculations therefore concerning the strangeness of the record, and cavils at the phraseology in which it is propounded, are simply irrelevant.

There exists however a vague suspicion after all that the beginning of Genesis is a vision, or an allegory, or a parable,—or anything you please, except true History. It is hard to imagine why. If there be a book in the whole Bible which purports to be a plain historical narrative of actual events, that book is the book of Genesis. In nine-tenths of its details, it is as human, and as matter of fact, as any book of Biography or History that ever was penned. Why the first page of it is to be torn out, treated as a myth or an allegory, and in short explained away,—I am utterly at a loss to discover. There is no difference in the style. Long since has the theory that Genesis is composed of distinguishable fragments, been exploded[294]. There is no pretence for calling this first chapter poetry, and treating it by a distinct set of canons. It is a pure Revelation, I admit: but I have yet to learn why the revelation of things intelligible, where the method of speech is not such as to challenge a figurative interpretation, is not to be taken literally: unless indeed it has been discovered that a narrative must of necessity be fabulous if the transactions referred to are unusually remote and extraordinary. The events recorded are unique in their character,—true. But this happens from the very necessity of the case. The creation of a world, to the inhabitants of that world is an unique event.

But we are assured that some of the statements in this first chapter of Genesis are palpably untrue;—as when it is said that the Sun, Moon, and Stars were created on the fourth Day,—which, it is urged, is a physical impossibility: for what forces else sustained, and kept this world a sphere? The phenomena of Geology again prove to demonstration, it is said, that the structure of the earth is infinitely more ancient than the Mosaic record states: and also that there must have been Light, and sunshine too, at that remote epoch,—which fostered each various form of animal and vegetable life.—Further, we are assured that it is unphilosophical to speak of the creation of Light before the creation of the Sun.—Then, the simplicity of the language is objected to:—"the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night:"—"dividing the light from the darkness:"—"waters above the firmament:" and so forth. The very ascription of speech to GOD, gives offence.—Again, some raw conceit of the advanced state of the human intellect rejects with scorn the notion of Adam oracularly bestowing names on GOD'S creatures. Finally, the creation of Eve, moulded by GOD from the side of the Protoplast, is declared to savour so plainly of the mythical, allegorical, or figurative; that the narrative must be allowed to be altogether unworthy of such wits as ours.

But we have seen that the creation of Sun, Moon, and Stars is not assigned to the fourth day—but to "the beginning"—The antiquity of this Earth we affirm to be a circumstance left wholly untouched by the Mosaic record: or, if touched, it is rather confirmed; for, before beginning to describe the work of the first Day, Moses describes the state of "the Earth" by two Hebrew words of most rare occurrence[295], which denote that it had become waste and empty: while "the deep" is spoken of as being already in existence.—There is nothing at all unphilosophical in speaking of Light as existing apart from the Sun. Rather would it be unphilosophical to speak of the Sun as the source and centre of Light.—I see nothing more childish again in the mention of "the greater and the lesser light," than in the talk of "sun-rise" and "sun-set,"—which is to this hour the language of the Observatory.—As for attributing speech to GOD, I am content to remind you of Hooker's explanation of the design of Moses therein, throughout the present Chapter. "Was this only his intent," (he asks,) "to signify the infinite greatness of GOD'S power by the easiness of His accomplishing such effects without travail, pain, or labour? Surely it seemeth that Moses had herein besides this a further purpose; namely, first to teach that GOD did not work as a necessary, but a voluntary agent, intending beforehand and decreeing with Himself that which did outwardly proceed from Him; secondly, to shew that GOD did then institute a Law natural to be observed by Creatures, and therefore according to the manner of laws, the institution thereof is described, as being established by solemn injunction. His commanding those things to be which are, and to be in such sort as they are, to keep that tenure and course which they do, importeth the establishment of Nature's Law.... And as it cometh to pass in a kingdom rightly ordered, that after a Law is once published, it presently takes effect far and wide, all states framing themselves thereunto; even so let us think that it fareth in the natural course of the world. Since the time that GOD did first proclaim the edicts of His Law upon it, Heaven and Earth have hearkened unto His voice, and their labour hath been to do His will[296]."—"He spake the word, and they were made: He commanded and they were created. He hath made them fast for ever and ever. He hath given them a law which shall not be broken[297]."

Whether or no South overestimated Adam's knowledge, I will not pretend to decide: but I am convinced the truth lies more with him than with certain modern wits, when he says concerning our first Father:—"He came into the world a philosopher; which sufficiently appeared by his writing the nature of things upon their names.... His understanding could almost pierce into future contingents; his conjectures improving even to prophecy, or the certainties of prediction. Till his Fall, he was ignorant of nothing but sin.... There was then no struggling with memory, no straining for invention. His faculties were ready upon the first summons.... We may collect the excellency of the understanding then, by the glorious remainders of it now: and guess at the stateliness of the building by the magnificence of its ruins.... And certainly that must needs have been very glorious, the decays of which are so admirable. He that is comely when old and decrepit, surely was very beautiful when he was young! An Aristotle was but the rubbish of an Adam; and Athens but the rudiments of Paradise[298]."

And lastly, as for so much of the Divine narrative as concerns the Creation of the first human pair, I am content to remind you of a circumstance which in addressing believers ought to be of overwhelming weight: namely, that our SAVIOUR and His Apostles, again and again, refer to the narrative before us in a manner which precludes the notion of its being anything but severest History. Our SAVIOUR CHRIST even resyllables the words spoken by the Protoplast in Paradise; and therein finds a sanction for the indissoluble nature of the marriage bond[299].

I take leave to add that even the respectful attempt to make Genesis accommodate itself to the supposed requirements of Geology, by boldly assuming that the days of Creation were each a thousand years long,—seems inadmissible. Even were such an hypothesis allowed, nothing would be gained: for Geology does not by any means require us to believe that after a thousand years of misty light, there came a thousand years of ocean deposit: and again, a thousand years of moist and dry, during which vegetable life alone prevailed: and then a thousand years of sun, moon, and stars. The very notion seems absurd[300].—But, what is more to the purpose, such an interpretation seems to stultify the whole narrative. A week is described. Days are spoken of,—each made up of an evening and a morning. GOD'S cessation from the work of Creation on the Seventh Day is emphatically adduced as the reason of the Fourth Commandment,—the mysterious precedent for our observance of one day of rest at the end of every six days of toil,—"for in six days" (it is declared,) "the LORD made Heaven and Earth[301]." You may not play tricks with language plain as this, and elongate a week until it shall more than embrace the span of all recorded Time.

Neither am I able to see what would be gained by proposing to prolong the Days of Creation indefinitely, so as to consider them as representing vast and unequal periods; (though I am far from presuming to speak of any pious conjecture with disrespect.) My inveterate objection to this scheme is again twofold. (1) The best-ascertained requirements of Geology are not satisfied by a sixfold division of phenomena corresponding with what is recorded in Genesis of the Six Days of Creation. (2) This method does even greater violence to the letter of the inspired narrative than the scheme of reconcilement last hinted at.

I dare not believe that what has been spoken will altogether meet the requirements of minds of a certain stamp. A gentleman, who certainly has the advantage of appearing in good company, has lately favoured the world with the information that the first chapter of Genesis is the uninspired speculation of a Hebrew astronomer, who was bent on giving "the best and most probable account that could be then given of GOD'S universe[302]." The Hebrew writer asserts indeed "solemnly and unhesitatingly that for which he must have known that he had no authority[303];" but we need not therefore "attribute to him wilful misrepresentation, or consciousness of asserting that which he knew not to be true[304]." If this "early speculator" "asserted as facts what he knew in reality only as probabilities," it was because he was not harassed by the scruples which result "from our modern habits of thought, and from the modesty of assertion which the spirit of true science has taught us[305]." The history of this important discovery and of others of a similar nature, (which, by the way, are one and all announced with the same "modesty of assertion" as what goes before,) would appear to be this.—Natural science has lately woke up from her long slumber of well nigh sixty ages; and with that immodesty for which youth and inexperience have ever been proverbial, she is impatient to measure her crude theories against the sure revelation of GOD'S Word. Where the two differ, she assumes that of course the inspired Oracles are wrong, and her own wild guesses right. She is even indecent in her eagerness to invalidate the testimony of that Book which has been the confidence and stay of GOD'S Servants in all ages. On any evidence, or on none, she is prepared to hurl to the winds the august record of Creation. Inconveniently enough for the enemies of GOD'S Word, every advance in Geological Science does but serve to corroborate the record that the Creation of Man is not to be referred to a remoter period than some six thousand years ago. But of this important fact we hear but little. On the other hand, no trumpet is thought loud enough to bruit about a suspicion that Man may be a creature of yet remoter date. Thus, fragments of burnt brick found fifty feet below the surface of the banks of the Nile, were hailed as establishing Man's existence in Egypt more than 13,000 years; until it was unhappily remembered that burnt brick in Egypt belongs to the period of the Roman dominion.—More recently, implements of chipped flint found, with some bones, in a bed of gravel, have been eagerly appealed to as a sufficient indication that the Creation of Man is to be referred to a period at least 10,000 years more remote than is fixed by the Chronology of the Bible.... Brick and flint! a precious fulcrum, truly, for a theory which is to upset the World!

But I shall be told,—with that patronizing air of conscious intellectual superiority which a certain class of gentlemen habitually assume on such occasions,—that I mistake the case completely: that no wish is entertained in any quarter to invalidate the truth of Revelation, or to shake Men's confidence in the Bible as the Word of GOD: that it has been the way of narrow-minded bigots in all ages, and is so in this, to raise an outcry of the Bible being in danger, and so to rouse the prejudices of mankind: that the error lies in claiming for the Bible an office which it nowhere claims for itself, and which it was never meant to fulfil: that the harmony between the Bible and Nature is complete, but that it is not such a harmony as is sometimes imagined: that the Bible is not a scientific book, and was never meant to teach Natural Science: that it was designed to inculcate moral goodness, and is clearly full of unscientific statements, which it is the office of Science to correct; and, if need be, to remove. All this, and much beside, I shall be told. Such fallacious platitudes have been put forth by men who are neither Divines nor Philosophers, ad nauseam, within the last forty or fifty years.

Now, in reply, we have a few words to say. The profession of faithfulness we hail with pleasure: the imputation of imbecility we accept with unconcern. But when gentlemen tell us that the Bible was never meant to teach Science; and that wherever its statements are opposed to the clear inductions of reason, they must give way; and so forth: we take the liberty of retaliating their charge. We inform them that they really mistake the case entirely. When they go on to tell us that they believe in the truth of the Bible as sincerely as ourselves: that its harmonies are complete, but not such as we imagine; and so forth;—we venture to add that they really know not what they assert. In plain language, they talk nonsense. Of a simple unbeliever we know at least what to think. But what is to be thought of persons who disbelieve just whatever they dislike, and yet profess to be just as hearty believers as you or I?

That the Mosaic record of Creation has been thought at variance with certain deductions of modern observation, is not surprising: seeing that the deductions of each fresh period have been at variance with the deductions of that which went before; and seeing that the theory of one existing school is inconsistent with the theory of another.—That the Bible is not, in any sense, a scientific treatise again, is simply a truism: (who ever supposed that it was?). Moses writes "the history of the Human Race as regards Sin and Salvation: not a cosmical survey of all the successive phenomena of the globe[306]." Further, that he employs popular phraseology when speaking of natural phenomena, is a statement altogether undeniable. But such remarks are a gross fallacy, and a mere deceit, if it be meant that the statements in the Bible partake of the imperfection of knowledge incident to a rude and primitive state of society. To revive an old illustration,—Is a philosopher therefore a child, because, in addressing children, he uses language adapted to their age and capacity? GOD speaks in the First Chapter of Genesis,—hath spoken for three and thirty hundred years,—as unto children: but there is no risk therefore that in what He saith, He either hath deceived, or will deceive mankind.

You are never to forget the great fundamental position, that the Bible claims to be the Word of GOD; and that GOD'S Word can never contradict or be contradicted by GOD'S works. We therefore reject, in limine, all insinuations about the "unscientific" character of the Bible. A scientific man does not cease to be scientific because he does not choose always to express himself scientifically. Again. A man of universal Science does not forfeit his scientific reputation, if, in the course of a moral or religious argument, his allusions to natural phenomena are expressed in the ordinary language of mankind. Even so, Almighty God, "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge[307],"—speaking to us by the mouth of His holy Prophets, never, that I am aware, teaches them to speak a strictly scientific language,—except when the Science of Theology is being discoursed of. On other occasions, He suffers their language to be like yours or mine. "Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon[308]:"—"The clouds drop down the dew[309]:"—"The wind bloweth where it listeth[310]."—Not so when Theology is the subject. Then the language becomes scientific. "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of GOD[311]:"—"Take, eat, This is My Body[312]:"—"Before Abraham was, I am[313]:"—"I and the FATHER are One[314]."

But there is this great difference between the cases supposed. A man of universal scientific attainment will be less strong in one subject than another: and in the course of his Geological allusions, if Mechanical Science be his forte,—in the course of his Metaphysical allusions, if Mathematical Science be his proper department,—he may easily err. Above all, the limits of the knowledge of unassisted Man must infallibly be those of the age in which he lives. But, with the Ancient of Days, it is not so. He at least cannot err. Nothing that man has ever discovered by laborious induction was not known to Him from the beginning: nothing that He hath ever commissioned His servants to deliver, will be found inconsistent with the anterior facts of History. "He that made the eye, shall He not see[315]?" The records of Creation then cannot be incorrect. The course of Man's history must be that which, speaking by the mouth of His Prophets, GOD hath described.

"I never said the contrary," is the reply. "All I say is that you interpret the records of Creation wrongly: and that you are disposed to lay greater stress on the historical accuracy of the Bible than the narrative will bear."

O but, sir, whoever you may be who censure me thus, let me in all kindness warn you of the pit, at the very edge whereof you stand!

Far be it from such an one as the preacher to assume that he so apprehends the First Chapter of Genesis, that if an Angel were to turn interpreter, he might not convince me of more than one misapprehension in matters of detail. But of this, at least, I am quite certain; that when I find it recorded that GOD took counsel about Man's Creation: and made him in "His own image," and "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life," whereby man became "a living soul:" and further, when I find it stated that Adam bestowed names upon all creatures: and spake oracularly of his spouse:—I am certain, I say, when I read such things, that GOD intended me to believe that Man was created with a Godlike understanding, and with the perfect fruition of the primval speech. Further, I boldly assert that he who could prove the contradictory, would make the Bible, even as a Theological Book, nothing worth, to you and me.

The same must be said of the Bible chronology. And here I will adopt the words of one who is justly entitled to be listened to in this place; and who must at least be allowed to be a competent judge of the matter, for he made Chronology his province. Mr. Clinton says:—"Those who imagine themselves at liberty to enlarge the time [which elapsed from the Creation to the Deluge, and from the Deluge to the Birth of Abraham,] to an indefinite amount,—mistake the nature of the question. The uncertainty here is not an uncertainty arising from want of testimony: (like that which occurs in the early chronology of Greece, and of many other countries; when the times are uncertain because no evidence is preserved.) ... The uncertainty here is of a peculiar character, belonging to this particular case. The evidence exists, but in a double form; and we have to decide which is the authentic and genuine copy. But if the one is rejected, the other is established:" the difference between the two being exactly 1,250 years.—Men are free to reject the evidence, to be sure; but we defy them to explain it away. The chronological details of the Bible are as emphatically set down as anything can be; and,—(with the exception of a few particulars, chiefly in the Book of Kings, which are to the record what misprints are to a printed book,)—they are entirely consistent; and hang perfectly well together. Let us not be told, then, that we entertain groundless apprehensions for the authority of GOD'S Word when we hear it proposed to refer the Creation of Man to a period of unheard-of antiquity. Destroy my confidence in the Bible as an historical record, and you destroy my confidence in it altogether; for by far the largest part of the Bible is an historical record. If the Creation of Man,—the longevity of the Patriarchs,—the account of the Deluge;—if these be not true histories, what is to be said of the lives of Abraham, of Jacob, of Joseph, of Moses, of Joshua, of David,—of our Saviour Christ Himself?

But there is a scornful spirit abroad which is not content to allegorize the earlier pages of the Bible,—to scoff at the story of the Flood, to reject the outlines of Scripture Chronology;—but which would dispute the most emphatic details of Revelation itself. Consistent, this method is, at all events. Let it have the miserable praise which is so richly its due. To logical consistency, it may at least lay claim. It refuses to stop anywhere: as why should it stop? Faith is denied her office, because Reason fails to see the reasonableness of Faith: and accordingly, unbelief enters in with a flood-tide. Miracles, for example, are now to be classed, (we learn,) among "the difficulties" of Christianity[316]. It was to have been expected. (Who foresees not what must be the fate of such "difficulties" as these?) And will you tell me that you may reject the miraculous transactions recorded in the Old and New Testaments, and yet retain the narrative which contains them? That were indeed absurd! Will you then reject one miracle and retain another? Impossible! You can make no reservation, even in favour of the Incarnation of our LORD,—the most adorable of all miracles, as it is the very keystone of our Christian hope. Either, with the best and wisest of all ages, you must believe the whole of Holy Scripture; or, with the narrow-minded infidel, you must disbelieve the whole. There is no middle course open to you.

Do we then undervalue the discoveries of Natural Science; or view with jealousy the progress she has of late been making? GOD forbid! With unfeigned joy we welcome her honest triumphs, as so many fresh evidences of the wisdom, the power, the goodness of GOD. "Thou, LORD, hast made me glad through Thy works[317]!" The very guesses of Geology are precious. What are they but noble endeavours to unfold a page anterior to the first page of the Bible; or rather, to discover what secrets are locked up in the first verse of it? But when, instead of being a faithful Servant, Natural Science affects the airs of an imperious Mistress,—what can she hope to incur at the hands of Theology, but displeasure and contempt? She forgets her proper place, and overlooks her lawful function. She prates about the laws of Nature in the presence of Him who, when He created the Universe, invented those very laws, and impressed them on His irrational creatures.—Does it never humble her to reflect that it was but yesterday she detected the fundamental Law of Gravitation? Does she never blush with shame to consider that for well nigh six thousand years men have been inquisitively walking this Earth's surface; and yet, that, one hundred years ago, the provident notions concerning fossil remains, and the Earth's structure, were such as now-a-days would be pronounced incredibly ridiculous and absurd?

To conclude. The very phraseology with which men have presumed to approach this entire question, is insolent and unphilosophical. The popular phraseology of the day, I say, hardly covers, so as to conceal, a lie. We constantly find SCIENCE and THEOLOGY opposed to one another: just as if Theology were not a Science! History forsooth, with all her inaccuracy of observation, is a Science: and Geology, with all her weak guesses, is a Science: and comparative Anatomy, with nothing but her laborious inductions to boast of, is a Science: but Theology,—which is based on the express revelation of the Eternal,—is some other thing! What do you mean to tell us that Theology is, but the very queen of Sciences? Would Aristotle have bestowed on Ethic the epithet architektonik, think you, had he known of that theios logos, which his friend,—"not blind by choice, but destined not to see[318],"—felt after yet found not? that "more excellent way," which you and I, by GOD'S great mercy, possess? Go to! For popular purposes, if you will, let the word "Science" stand for the knowledge of the phenomena of Nature; somewhat as, in this place, the word stands for the theory of Morals, and some of the phenomena of Mind: and so, let Science be contrasted with THEOLOGY, without offence taken, because none is intended. But let it never be forgotten that Theology is the great Science of all,—the only Science which really deserves the name. What have other sciences to boast of which Theology has not? Antiquity,—such as no other can, in any sense, lay claim to: a Literature,—which is absolutely without a rival: a Terminology,—which reflects the very image of all the ages: Professors,—of loftier wit, from the days of Athanasius and Augustine, down to the days of our own Hooker and Butler,—men of higher mark, intellectually and morally,—than adorn the annals of any other Science since the World began: above all things, a subject-matter, which is the grandest imagination can conceive; and a foundation, which has all the breadth, and length, and depth and height[319], which the Hands of GOD Himself could give it.

For subject-matter, what Science will you compare with this? All the others in the world will not bring a man to the knowledge of GOD and of CHRIST! They will not inform him of the will of GOD, although they may teach him to observe His Works. "The Heavens declare the glory of GOD,"—but, as Lord Bacon remarked long since, we do not read that they declare His will. Neither do the other sciences of necessity lead to any belief at all in the GOD of Revelation[320].

And, for that whereon they are built, what Science again will you compare with this? Let the pretender to Geological skill,—(I say not the true Geologist, for he never offends!)—let the conceited sciolist, I say, go dream a little longer over those implements of chipped flint which have called him into such noisy activity,—and discover, as he will discover, that the assumed inference from the gravel and the bones is fallacious after all[321].—Let the Historian go spell a little longer over that moth-eaten record of dynasties which never were, by means of which he proposes to set right the clock of Time[322]. Let the Naturalist walk round the stuffed or bleached wonders of his museum, and guess again[323]. Theological Science not so! Her evidence is sure, for her Rule is GOD'S Word. No laborious Induction here,—fallacious because imperfect; imperfect because human: but a direct message from the presence-chamber of the LORD of Heaven and Earth,—decisive because inspired; infallible because Divine. The express Revelation of the Eternal is that whereon Theological Science builds her fabric of imperishable Truth: that fabric which, while other modes change, shift, and at last become superseded, shines out,—yea, and to the very end of Time will shine out,—unconscious of decay, incapable of improvement, far, far beyond the reach of fashion: a thing unchanged, because in its very nature unchangeable[324]!

O sirs,—we are constrained to be brief in this place. The field must perforce be narrowed; and so, for this time, it must suffice to have warned you against the men who resort to the armoury of Natural Science for weapons wherewith to assail GOD'S Truth. Regard them as the enemies of your peace; and learn to reject their specious, yet most inconsequential reasonings, with the scorn which is properly their due. Contempt and scorn GOD implanted in us, precisely that we might bestow them on reasonings worthless in their texture, and foul in their object, as these; which teach distrust of the earlier pages of GOD'S Word, on the pretence that they are contradicted by the evidence of GOD'S Works. Learn to abhor that spurious liberality which is liberal only with what is not its own; and which reminds one of nothing so much as the conduct of leprous persons who are said to be for ever seeking to communicate and extend their own unhappy taint to others. I allude to that sham liberality which under pretence of extending the common standing ground of Christian men, is in reality attenuating it until it proves incapable of bearing the weight of a single soul. There is room on the Rock for all; but it is only on the Rock that we are safe. To speak without a figure,—He who surrenders the first page of his Bible, surrenders all. He knows not where to stop. Nay, you and I cannot in any way afford to surrender the beginning of Genesis; simply because upon the truth of what is there recorded depends the whole scheme of Man's salvation,—the need of that "second Man" which is "the LORD from Heaven[325]." It is not too much to say that the beginning of Genesis is the foundation on which all the rest of the Bible is built[326]. We may not go over to those who would mutilate the Book of Life, or evacuate any part of its message. It is they, on the contrary, who must come over to us.—Much has it been the fashion of these last days, (I cannot imagine why,) to vaunt the character and the Gospel of St. John, "the disciple of Love," as he is called; as if it were secretly thought that there is a latitudinarianism in Love which would wink at Doctrinal obliquity; whereas St. John is the Evangelist of Dogma; and if there be anything in the world which is jealous, that thing is Love. Indifference to Truth, and laxity of Belief, are the growing characteristics of the age. But you will find that St. John has about four or five times as much about TRUTH as all the other three Evangelists; while the act of Faith receives as frequent mention in his writings alone as in all the rest of the New Testament Canon put together[327].

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