Perhaps Elisha’s iron axe head did swim upon the water. I am prepared to believe almost anything after our spiritualistic mediums, and their exposers. Whether it did or did not concerns me no whit. I shrug my shoulders and read on. I cannot make out the historical fact which was at the basis of the Red Sea deliverance; nor do I care much to make out this or any other Old Testament miracle. If I felt obliged to accept literally these stories, or to lose my faith in the voice of God which speaks through the men of the Bible I should care greatly. In the true view of the Bible I am delivered from solicitude about these traditions, and am under no constraint of credulity. Those who can believe the story of Elisha and the bears, or of Elijah’s ascension into heaven, may; those who cannot, need not; and both alike should reverently read their Bibles, not for these tales of wonder, but for the still small voice of the eternal spirit sounding through holy lives and holier aspirations, until He came whose life was the Word of God, the Wonderful.
It is a wrong use of the Bible to consult it as a heathen oracle for the determining of our judgments and the decision of our actions.
The pagans, even such grand old pagans as the Romans, before undertaking any important action would solemnly consult the auspices. Men with reason given them of God would stand anxiously around the steaming entrails of a bird, to find out whether the fates were propitious to their undertaking. Great generals would open or delay a campaign according to the intestinal revelations of a goose. Intelligent people use the Bible in some such way. When at a loss how to proceed, instead of calmly consulting their own judgments and the judgments of their wisest friends, and then acting like reasonable beings, men and women will open their Bibles at random, let then-eyes rest on the first verse which arrests their attention, and accept any possible bearing on the question in hand as the voice of God. The journals of John Wesley and other eminent men contain examples of this abuse of the Bible. I call it an abuse, for such action degrades the Bible to the level of a heathen oracle. Isaiah, like all the great prophets, habitually contrasted the true and the false communications of of the Divine will by the test of the reasonableness of their manifestations. The real prophet heard the voice of God, not so much in dreams and visions, in the “peepings and chirpings” of the oracles, as in the calm and sober working of his mind, illumined from on high. The oracle was the antithesis of the prophet. The oracle represented unintelligent, unreasonable magical means of getting at a desired knowledge. The prophet represented the intelligent, reasoning, natural means of getting at that knowledge; the lighting of that candle of the Lord which is the spirit of man. In the profound double significance of the original, the Logos is the Word or the Reason. The Word of God which comes to man is the Divine Reason, of which each human reason is a ray. To train and use that reason in all our exigencies, humbly looking up to the Eternal Reason to let the light in us be pure and clear, is the way to hear the Word of God.