I propose now to translate the generalities of the previous sermons into some practical applications. I want to-day to make more distinct certain wrong uses of the Bible which grow out of the old view of it; wrong uses from which great mischiefs have come to the cause of true religion, and great trouble to individual souls; abuses which fall away in the light of a more reasonable understanding of the Bible. The Bible viewed as a book let down from heaven, whose real “author” is God, as the Westminster Catechism affirmed; a book dictated to chosen penman and written out by their amanuenses under a direction which secured them against error on every subject of which they treated; a book thus given to the world to be an authoratitive and infallible oracle for human information on all the great problems of life—naturally calls for uses which, apart from this theory, are gross and superstitious abuses.
It is a wrong use of the Bible to set it in its entirety before all classes and all ages.
On the old view of the Bible no man might dare to omit portions of it in public reading or home instruction. The horrible atrocities and brutal lusts of the early Hebrews, and the coarsenesses of their later days, as unbearable by modern ears as the rough talk of Shakespeare’s ladies, had all to be read to mixed assemblies of young men and maidens; and be read with blushing face by the pure mother to the purer children at her knees. For us, who see the Bible in its true light, there is no necessity for a minister to offend against the taste of a refined age, or for a mother to introduce the unsoiled soul of her child to evil, by reading straight through the successive chapters of the Bible. It has been left for Protestant piety to excel Romanists and Jews in superstition. The Church of Rome, as you know, discourages the use of the Bible by her laity, erring in the other extreme. The Jewish rabbis had a saying that no one should read the Canticles before he was thirty years of age. If you follow the public readings of the Bible in this church from your own Bibles, you must often appreciate the relief this liberty of omission brings. Use the Bible in this way with your children at home. Who would think of an indiscriminate use of the original Shakespeare? Stage managers cut him so freely for rendering before grown up folk as to have made another Shakespeare. He who cares for his children’s innocence will set before them an expurgated edition like that of Rolfe. So we should use at home such an expurgated edition of the Scriptures as “The Child’s Bible,” published by Cassel, Petter & Galpin, of London. No timid soul need fear that imprecation in the last chapter of the Revelation:
If any man shall take away from
the words of the book of this prophecy
God shall take away his part out of the book of life.