Изображения страниц

Revised Old Testament.










[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

ing of the Harlow District Sunday School Union, held at Bishop's Stortford, on June 15th, 1885. It is published at the request of those who heard it.

HARLOW, August 13th, 1885.

On the Revised Old Testament.

[ocr errors]

THE limits within which the revisers have been

perfectly free to act are clearly set forth in the words of the angel to Daniel—“I will tell thee that which is inscribed in the writing of truth.” It may be that, like Daniel, we shall need to be strengthened, before we shall be prepared to receive their revelation. If however they have not travelled beyond these limits, and have come anywhere near to them, we shall at any rate receive enlightenment and instruction at their hands, and they will not fail to promote our edification and comfort. Representing as we do at our gathering to-day “The Dissidence of Dissent and the Protestantism of the Protestant religion," we at least have nothing to fear from Biblical criticism, however advanced it be, provided it is but true. Our only anxiety is to learn what is inscribed in the writing of truth, and we are prepared to welcome with gratitude those who will consecrate their scholarship and their learning to the task of satisfying our need.

We do not forget that the study of the word of God was at once the cause and the effect of our Protestantism. The revolt from the authority of the Church originated with those who had been earnest and devout students of God's word. Their labour and suffering secured for us an open Bible and the right to read it for ourselves, and the liberty to let it tell its own meaning and enforce its own truth. This revision is leading us all with fresh interest to the Bible, and the effect cannot fail to be that those who have been apologizing for Luther and regretting that the Reformation ever took place, will find that they make no headway with those of us who have learnt to study and therefore to value the scriptures of truth.

To us it is of the extremest importance that our English Bible should be as true a representative as it can be made of the Hebrew and Greek originals. The Bible is all we have—it is our only treasure. We have no printed sermons, as Wesleyans have, which set out the lines on which our thinking has to be done, and beyond which we must be careful not to travel. Amongst us there are no authoritative creeds or articles to which we have pledged our adherence. Barring the fact of our independency, to which we stand pledged, we have no deeds by which we are trammelled. We are free to move as the Spirit of God moves us, and to us it is of vital importance that we should have the words through which that guidance reaches us in their present and corrected form. We have nothing to lose but everything to gain from a revision of the English Bible which shall make that Bible in a higher sense than ever the voice through which God speaks to us.

I am not forgetful of the fact that there is in most of us a conservatism that leads us to say that the old Bible was good enough for our fathers, and that what was good enough for them is good enough for us. Further than this, I am not forgetful of the fact that there is in some of us a timidity which leads us to think that changes desirable in themselves may under

mine the foundations of faith, and that there is no knowing to what lengths men may go when they once begin to move. In reference to this conservatism, I should like to say this much. I yield

I yield to none in my recognition and appreciation of what the old Bible has been to our fathers and to our land. It is not that it has given a stability and fixedness to our language; it is not that it has permeated our literature and made itself felt in our national thinking and life. It has done more than this. It has influenced our doctrinal beliefs, it has told upon our national morals, it has made itself felt in our social and political life. It has gone still further. It has touched and beautified our spiritual and religious life; it has been its psalms we have sung and its prayers we have offered. In life, when troubled and beclouded and perplexed, its light has guided; and in death, with all its unfoldings and possibilities, its promises have been our support and inspiration. I know all this, but I cannot forget that our authorised version, to which we are thus so deeply indebted, owes its power and its completness to the fact that it is itself a revision, not of one but of many previous versions. It would never have been to us what it is, if our fathers had been afraid to have the past touched or the old renovated, or the good made better. What our fathers did with the past we must do with the present, and music will slowly grow out of the new words and renderings of the revised version, and reverence for the work of our day may at some future time hold back the hands which as the years roll on will present the English Bible to our children in forms yet clearer and more divine because more truthful.

I would however remind you that this is the cry that seeks to impede all social and political reforma

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »