« ÎnapoiContinuați »
it remains fixed and immovable. The polar star may be hidden from our view by the exhalations of earth, by clouds in the sky, by the black wings of the tempest; but these pass away, and the great sentinel of the heavens still beams upon us with celestial radiance. In like manner, amid the gloom of sin, folly, and doubt, this divine luminary enlightens the world; “seeing it is God that said, Light shall shine out of darkness, who hath shined in our hearts.” In the light of God we see light; the direct rays of the sun do not penetrate the caverns of earth; we must soar, that we may gaze.
The aim of this conference is to ascend "the vantageground of truth-a hill not to be commanded, and where the air is always clear and serene, and not with swelling and pride, but with pity"; with yearning hearts and helping hands, " to see the errors and wanderings and mists and tempests in the vale below.” “Certainly it is heaven upon earth to have a man's mind move in charity, rest in providence, and turn upon the poles of truth.”
"On every summit lies repose.” Far above the dust and clamor, cloud and storm, you discern the peak of Pisgah; it is the mount of vision; if you can reach it, the world will be below and heaven above you : it will become Mt. Tabor, and you shall be transfigured into the likeness of your Lord.
Fear not, brethren, to make the bold attempt; the foot of the hill is enveloped in clouds and conflict; its top is bathed in light.
“ Like some tall cliff that lifts its awful form,
Swells from the vale and midway leaves the storm,
QUESTIONS CONCERNING INSPIRATION.
WAYLAND HOYT, D.D.
From the Cape of Good Hope there shoots out into the sea a sand-bank, forty or fifty miles in length, making the sea shallower and more dangerous, and along which a tremendous current swirls.
It was in the year 1830, an East Indiaman, called the Lady Holland, was making the then tedious and difficult passage to Hindostan. For a whole week the clouds had hidden the sun; accurate knowledge of the position of the ship had been impossible; the winds had blown fitfully and boisterously; three times the vessel had been beaten off her course, but by soundings, on Saturday, the 13th of February, the captain knew that he had entered on this shoal.
It was hazardous to go on far in such doubt of his whereabouts, and in such rough water, and in the grasp of such a current. He would turn the vessel back to sea by 8 o'clock that evening, the captain said; then, having taken further soundings, he thought he might safely go on till 10 o'clock, when he would surely turn back or heave to till morning. But, when four bells sounded 10 o'clock, and the captain was just about to give the order to turn back, with tremendous concussion the ship struck upon rocks—a jagged, cruel reef of them, over which the waves dashed so savagely that wave and rock together broke the vessel's back at once, and the fore-part of her sank amid the breakers.
I cannot wait to tell the story of the escape of the passengers, and how, at last, they were all landed upon a bit of sandy beach, amid the rocks. One of the passengers on board this wrecked ship, Lady Holland, was a young man, Alexander Duff. He was on his way to wliat subsequently proved to be such magnificent missionary service in India.
The significant fact just now, is this: while the wrecked passengers were huddled in a hovel erected by searchers for penguins' eggs amid these rocks and sands, a sailor, walking along the little beach, noticed something cast up high and dry. Going to it, he found it to be a quarto copy
of Bagster's Bible and a Scotch Psalm-book, scarcely shattered, and with Mr. Duff's name written on both distinctly. That Bible and that edition of the Psalms were about the only books, out of a library of more than 800 volumes which this young missionary was taking with him to India, which were not swallowed up in the shipwreck or reduced to pulp.
And what is still more singular, this copy of the Bible had not been in daily use, but wrapped in charnois leather, had been packed in the boxes with the other books. They had been dashed to pieces or wetted into pulp. Here, in the poor hovel, he held the uninjured Bible in his hands, and read out of it to the drenched, chilled, but saved passengers, the 107th, the traveler's Psalm :
For He commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind: which lifteth up the waves thereof.
They mount up to the heaven: they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man; and are at their wit's end.
Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble: and He bringeth them out of their distresses.
He maketh the storm a calm: so that the wayes thereof are still.
Then are they glad, because they be quiet: so He bringeth them unto their desired haven.
The experience made a profound and capturing impression upon Mr. Duff. It ruled his life. It was, to him,
the voice of Providence, declaring that, compared with all other books, the Bible was the supreme and supremely necessary book for India—for man.
And what a most real picture of the history of the Bible—this incident. To wreck the Bible, to make it pulp, though men have affirmed it done a thousand times, has been impossible. Out of every storm of higher criticism, so-called, like Kuenen's and his school; or of lower criticism, like Tom Paine's or Voltaire's; or of scientific skepticism and denial, like Haeckel's, and much of our modern so-called advanced materialistic thought; or of ecclesiastical proscription, like that of Rome; or of a fashionable and sensual neglect, like that of the upper classes in England in the 18th century; somehow, the Bible gets surely seen to be the victor, and not the victim of the storm.
And while, in our day, the storm against the Bible does not lessen, in our day also the triumph of the Bible is the more radiantly seen. Up to the year 1800 from four to six million copies in about thirty different languages measured the distribution of the Bible. Eighty years later, eighty different Bible societies with unnumbered agencies and auxiliaries report a distribution of more than 165,000,000 copies of the Bible or of portions of it, together with 206 new translations, and besides this are to be reckoned the unknown millions of Bibles and New Testaments distributed by private publishers throughout the world. When the Canterbury revision of the New Testament was at last issued, immediately began the largest sale ever known of any single book, and immediately was sent from New York to Chicago the longest telegraphic message ever wired, about 118,000 words--the New Testament, from the first of Matthew to the last of Romans-becanse public interest was so great that it could not brook the delay of twenty-four hours of transmission by the slower steam. Verily, no wreck has struck the Bible yet.
Says Thomas Carlyle: “In the poorest cottage are books-is one Book, wherein for several thousands of years the spirit of man las found light, nourishment, and interpreting response to whatever is deepest in him; wherein still, to this day, for the eye that will look well, the mystery of existence reflects itself, if not resolved, yet revealed, and prophetically emblemed; if not to the satisfying of the outward sense, yet to the opening of the inward sense, which is the far grander result.”
And what was true when the great Scotchman wrote these words, is truer still to-day of the expanding sovereignty of the Bible. Verily, the presence and influence of the Bible in the world of mind is a moral phenomenon no less imperial than the grasp and sway of the great elemental forces in the world which we call physical.
For this persistent and victorious empire of the Bible the immemorial explanation and affirmation has been the INSPIRATION OF IT. And by Inspiration has been always meant that the Bible was given to man by God, and that it was so given that it becomes for man the authoritative and infallible standard for doctrine and for deed.
Now, this of Inspiration, and therefore of Infallibility, is not a new claim for the Bible; it is the ancient claim. And yet, even so fair and candid, and usually scholarly a man as James Freeman Clarke, in combating the orthodox doctrine of Inspiration, will allow himself to make such a statement as is to be found on the 94th
of his “Truths and Errors of Orthodoxy," where he says: “The orthodox theory rests on few facts, but is mainly an assumption. It seemed necessary that there should be authority somewhere; and when Protestants rejected the authority of the Church, they took the Bible in its place. The doctrine of inspiration, therefore, was adopted as a basis for the authority of the Bible.”
And so the doctrine of Inspiration, no older than the