Imagini ale paginilor


There is no more powerful auxiliary to the pulpit than the Press. The intellectual and moral stimulus of editorship, instead of being a loss to a pastor's charge, are both to them and to the world preëminently useful, if his writings are successful in advocating the truth. I see not how a pastor's efficiency is impaired by habits of close study, as far as his health and pastoral visitings will allow, whether his studies are devoted to manuscripts that are never published or to regular authorship. For even if he does not publish, the habit of study, which is rarely acquired and pursued without the use of the pen, is a very great blessing to his hearers; and if he publish the results of his study in an acceptable manner, then his influence may be extended from a thousand to fifty thousand, and instead of preaching to a congregation of a few hundred members, he may preach to a whole continent for many generations. No man, however great his genius, has a right to serve the Lord in the sanctuary with unbeaten oil. The pastor after God's own heart is one that feeds the people with knowledge and with understanding-full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and mighty in the Scriptures—showing unto the people out of the Scriptures the way of salvation through Christ. Oh, that the vast harvest-field that lies all around us, already ripe for the sickle, was filled with a great multitude of such servants of the Most High !

So great is my confidence in the English version, that I

[ocr errors]

have not knowingly departed from it in a single instance in the examination of the history of Esther. I do not remember to have met with any discussion as to the merits of the translation of Esther in our on, compared with the translation of the other historic books; but it seems to me to be an exceedingly correct and happy version. There are but few words that could possibly be improved. The only change I have introduced in the translation is to omit the division into chapters and verses, which, though of great convenience for reference, is often a marring of the force and beauty of the text, especially in the historical parts of the Old Testament and in the Epistles. My reverence for our English version is equalled only by my regard for the originals, which are our standard of faith and manners.

I do not believe, as a modern poet says, that the Holy Bible is “good Michael's Scripture," and that “history is the Devil's Scripture.” No, the Bible is the word of the Lord, and history is but a record of how He governs the world. The great Bengel has truly said, that the “true commentator will fasten his primary attention on the literal meaning, but never forget that the spirit must equally accompany him; and at the same time, we must never devise a more spiritual meaning for Scripture passages than the Holy Spirit intended.” But as from every point in the circumference of a circle, we may imagine straight lines converging to a centre, not one of which is exactly coincident with another, so in all the books of the Old Testament, I find either types, or promises, or prophecies, or national events, or personal narratives, that all point to the Church of God under the Great Messiah; in expounding the Old Testament Scriptures, by searching out cotemporary and subsequent histories, and bringing together things new and old, from far and near, for the purpose of comprehending these Old Testament Scriptures, our great object always is to make the Messiah appear as He really is, the Redeemer of the world. I have attempted always in interpreting the Word of God, to follow the rule of Bengel: " Put nothing into the Scriptures, but draw everything from them, and suffer

and so,

[blocks in formation]

nothing to remain hidden that is really in them.” I do not, however, understand it to be the duty of an expositor of the Word of God, to go through it selecting only “the berries and leaving the rest as fit only for the pruning hook ;" but to take all the Scriptures together and just as they are, and to explain Scripture by Scripture, and that remembering the character of his audience, he will endeavor to have the true text, restore and defend it, then exhibit the meaning and force of the language employed, explain the circumstances under which the portion he is considering was uttered or written, and in a word, as far as possible, he will try so to enlighten his hearers that they may be in a condition to understand the Scriptures similar to that of the hearers of the Prophets and Apostles themselves. The Church of God in the days of the Prophets, and of Jesus Christ and his Apostles, did not require annotations, illustrations, Bible dictionaries, geographies the Holy Land, and maps and descriptions of the birds, beasts and flowers of the country, nor of the manners and customs of the people. These were all familiar to them; they were immersed in the knowledge of local and nationai histories and customs, as they were in the atmosphere of the Holy Mountains. Accord. ingly, in the first ages of the Church, we have no commentaries, but the preaching was expository and homiletic. If Paul is in the synagogue, his text is out of the Hebrew Scriptures; and his argument is to show that, according to the Scriptures, Jesus is Christ. If he is on Mars' hill, his text is the Athenian altar to the unknown God, and his proofs and illustrations are from Greek authors and from the works of the Supreme Being. What are dead languages to us were living tongues to them, and the knowledge of their times, which we have to acquire by much study, was their common patrimony. The most learned men of our day are hardly as well acquainted with some of the idioms, proverbs and local customs, some knowledge of which is necessary to the elucidation of the Bible, as the children of the Church were in the days of the Prophets and of the Apostles. It takes much study therefore to put us on the same platform to hear the early teachers of religion, that their hearers occupied.

It is my firm conviction-a conviction that has fixed itself more and more deeply in my mind, year after year, that the best, and indeed the only way to resist succe

ccessfully the extremes of error, fanaticism and rationalism, to which we are exposed, is to give more heed to the word of God. The old Testament ought to be read with more simplicity and humility, and with a greater disposition to rely upon its statements, and to apply its truths to ourselves. The Old Testament is not a mere Hebrew ritual, nor a mere political hand-book of the ancient Jews. It is as much a part of the word of the living God as is the New Testament, and we are to study it as well as the New Testament, if we desire to know the will of God. The want of the Church, in our day, is earnest faith; and this is wanting, in part, because the Old Test: is studied, and its meaning clearly apprehended. While we have the history of God's chosen people in the Old Testament, their national characteristics, and fortunes, do not exhaust its meaning. The God of the Bible is just as near to America as to Western Asia. The living God is as near to us as He was to Abraham and Moses, although His presence is not manifested in the same way. As the canon of Inspired Scripture is closed, so we are not to look for new, nor other revelations, neither by visions, voices, nor dreams, nor angels, nor spirits, nor internal illumination; neither to add to, nor even to explain to us the Bible. But the government of God is as actual in our day as in the days of Moses—as real over Americans as over the Hebrews—though, for obvious reasons, the form, or symbol, of its manifestation is different. We ought then to study the lives of Bible men and women, not as men and women in a book, or in a picture gallery, that were painted from fancy, but as real men and women like ourselves—and not as profiles, but as full-faced human beings. I do not understand the rationale of Bible narratives as stripping them of their supernatural, or Divine and theological adjuncts. These narratives are true histories, and were written by holy men of old, as they were moved thereto by the Holy Spirit. The men and women of the Bible are made known to us by their doings,

« ÎnapoiContinuați »