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ALLEGED INEXACTNESS OF THE BIBLE-ITS TEACH
ING PICTORIAL RATHER THAN SCIENTIFIC.
THUS much for the outward and historical
I side of our argument, and now we shall turn to the inward, or subjective side, and examine some of the objections brought against the New Testament, on the ground of its contents.
We shall first deal with that well-worn objection, drawn from the many sects into which Christians are divided, and the common appeal they make to the word of God in support of their views. Arians and Socinians, Calvinists and Arminians, all alike, find or profess to find in Scripture the basis of their theology, and yet it cannot be denied that the difference between their systems is very important. It is a specious objection that a Book which can be interpreted in so many different ways is unworthy of the rank it holds. It is alleged that it cannot be the workmanship of God if it speaks with so uncertain a voice. Surely, the Deity, if He spoke at all, would do so in accents so clear, that man's versatile intellect would be shut up to the single function of receiving the divine mandate. We believe there is no excuse which the unbeliever so often furnishes to his own conscience as this of the supposed uncertainty of what the Bible teaches. Now we will distinguish in limine between two groups of controversies that have been waged since the time of Christ about the Christian religion. One of them is represented by the Gnostics and other sects of ancient times, who assigned the Bible a secondary place, and treated reason and philosophy as of conjoint authority. The rationalistic schools of to-day are their lineal successors, and the Bible is to them a book of only limited authority. We hold that all the sects which have sprung from this impure source lie outside the pale of honest difference of Christian opinion. There is no limit to the fantastic shapes into which they throw Christian doctrine, and the Bible has no
right to be discredited by the extravagances they have foisted upon it. The real objections to the Bible, grounded upon its supposed variety of teaching, are only to be fairly argued on the platform of honest belief, and in this part of our argument we have only to deal with the differences among those sects which agree in ascribing paramount authority to the word of God.
Now we admit that there do exist, there always have existed, and probably always will exist, honest varieties of opinion about what the Bible teaches on some of the multifarious points in which it comes into contact with human life; and this is not to be wondered at. It is the unavoidable consequence of the kind of revelation God has thought best to make to man, or, rather, we should say, of the kind which man's imperfect faculties alone enabled him to receive. In constructing the Bible, the Divine architect had to bear in mind the immense variety in the capacity and culture of the human race, and the Book had to be written so as to suit all alike—so as to minister spiritual life to the child
as to the man, to the unlettered savage as to the philosopher. Many handle the Bible as though it had been designed only for the learned, and expect to find in it nothing but elaborate digests of theology and that scientific and logical development that scientific intellects crave; but in the eye of the Almighty the soul of the savage is as precious as that of the sage, and as the vast majority of His creatures always have been, and always must be, unlearned, the Book which is to guide them to Himself must needs be simple in its structure and easy to understand.
Hence it comes to pass that the Bible differs from all philosophical works; its teaching is pictorial rather than metaphysical; it affords a vast number of dissolving views in which man is seen in relation to God in every conceivable circumstance of life; instead of describing faith by abstruse researches into our mental powers, it paints the working of the principle in the life of Abraham; instead of analysing love psychologically, it shows us John leaning on Jesus' bosom; in displaying that grandest of attributes in the Almighty it holds up to the gaze of mankind the cross of Christ—that most affecting spectacle of self-sacrifice the world has ever seen; in impressing us with the awfulness and majesty of Jehovah, we have that wonderful panorama where Sinai thundered and the people trembled, while the trumpet sounding loud and long heralded the giving of the law.
We might multiply instances indefinitely to show with what marvellous skill the Book of God exhibits to the uncultured mind of man the deepest principles of the Divine nature. In reading the Scriptures, the glory of the Lord, as in a glass, passes before the mind, and the image of the Eternal mirrors itself on the human soul almost without its being aware of it. But this pictorial style of teaching is not capable of being resolved into rigid metaphysical systems, and hence, whenever the attempt is made to compress all the features of God's revelation into a severe system of thought, differences arise among men; but it is the glory of the Book, and not its weakness, that this is the case. It is a proof that it comes from One who is higher than man, and can address his moral nature through all its thousand channels, without