The Real Bible.
“Holy men of God spake as
they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”—2
“Men of the Scriptures” was the title assumed by the Karaites, a sect of devout Jews, who, about the middle of the eighth century of our era, threw aside tradition, and accepted as their sole authority the canonical writings of the Old Testament. Seeing the good that the Bible has wrought for man in the past, we may well emulate the reverence of these Karaites; while, seeing the unreality of the traditional notion of the Bible that they held, and the mischiefs it has bred, we may well disown their superstitiousness. Can we gain a view of the Bible which, without stultifying our intellectual nature, may satisfy our spiritual nature, and leave us free to call ourselves men of the Scriptures? The only road to such an end must be that which our age is opening so successfully through every field of study; as, dismissing preconceptions, it builds with care and candor, upon solid facts, the causeway to a certain knowledge.
Let us take up the Bible as we would any other collection of books, and see if, without assuming anything concerning it, we cannot find our way to a rational reverence for it, as real as that which our fathers had. The lines of our inquiry have been projected by a hand you own as high authority. The results of the survey are in the text. Real men wrote real books; holy men wrote holy books; and, when we come to account for their holy, human power, we can only say—The Divine Spirit stirred in them; “holy men of old spake as they were moved of the Holy Ghost.”
The Bible is a collection of many writings, in many forms, by many hands, from many ages. Genuine letters these, whether they be belles-lettres or not; by every mark and sign most human writings, whether they be holy Scriptures or not; the product of honest toil of brain and hand. Whatever more they are, these are bona fide books, of men of like passions and infirmities with ourselves.
What is there in these books which has led Christendom to assign to them so high an honor?
1. These books have the venerableness which belongs to ancient writings.
With what interest and care we handle a very old book, and turn its well-worn pages, thumb-marked and dog-eared by men of Oxford or of Florence in the Middle Ages! Unless we are the baldest materialists, we will not reserve for the parchment body of some old book the respect called forth by its soul. The latest re-embodiment of an ancient writer, fresh from the presses of Putnam or of Appleton, merits the honor belonging to the book given to the world so many centuries ago, and fed upon by successive generations. Thus I look at the Plato on my shelves. How venerable these writings! Over their great words, on which I rest my eyes, my fathers bent, as their fathers