By James H. Brookes
Exodus xx. 1.
Sir Walter Scott, shattered in fortune and health, said to his son-in-law, “Bring me the Book.” “What book?” asked Mr. Lockhart. “There is but one Book,” was the answer. The famous author was correct, if it is true that “God spake all these words”; and that it is true may be fairly presumed from the character of the witness, from the nature and extent of his influence, and from the “Words” themselves.
Moses lived a thousand years before Herodotus, “the Father of History,” and, according to the historian, at least five hundred years before Homer, “the Father of Poetry,” although Mr. Gladstone places the date of the poet a little earlier. “These words,” in four brief propositions, sum up our duty to God, and in six still briefer propositions, sum up our duty to men; and although written so long ago, they constitute the basis of the jurisprudence of the civilized world.
Cardinal Gibbons has truly remarked in a recent sermon:
It is said that Earl Cairns, one of the ablest and most successful lawyers of recent days, told a father who consulted him about the books Ms son needed to study as a preparation for the practice of the law, “Let him begin with the Bible; for there he will find the foundation of all law, as well as of all morality/’ The same sentiment has been expressed again and again by eminent lawyers.
Sir Matthew Hale, for example, records his opinion: “I have been acquainted somewhat with men and books, and have had long experience in the world: there is no book like the Bible for excellent learning, wisdom and use; and it is want of •understanding in them that think or speak otherwise.’’
This opinion has been approved in writing by such lawyers and statesmen as Bacon, Blackstone, Sir William Jones, Lord Lyttleton, Lord Erskine, Selden, who was called “the glory of the English nation,” Edmund Burke, Wilberforce, Gladstone, Bismarck, Chief Justice Marshall, John Jay, LL.D., Chancellor Kent, Judge Story, Chief Justice Parsons, Justice McLean, Greenleaf, and Daniel Webster, whose confession of faith in the Scriptures is engraved upon his tomb at Marshfield.
It has been endorsed by such Scientists as Sir Isaac Newton, Leibnitz, Sir John Herschell, Sir Humphrey Davy, Faraday, Sir David Brewster, the Duke of Argyle, Prof. Dana, Prof. Hitchcock, Prof. Mitchell, Prof. Maury, Sir J. William Dawson, and six hundred and seventeen members of the British Scientific Association, whose paper, expressing their belief in the Bible, is now in the Bodleian Library of Oxford, England.
It has been accepted by such soldiers as Cromwell, Washington, Wellington, VonMoltke, Sir Henry Havelock, Gen. Gordon, who fell at Khartoum, Gen. Andrew Jackson, who became an earnest Christian, Gen. Grant at the last (according to the testimony of Bishop Newman), Gen. McClelland, Gen. Howard, Gen. Lee, Gen. Stonewall Jackson, none of whom were cowardly or superstitious.
Sir Isaac Newton declared: “We account the Scriptures of God to be the most sublime philosophy.”
Dr. Samuel Johnson, as his biographer Boswell tell us, said, “Young man, attend to the voice of one who has possessed a certain degree of fame in the world, and who is about to appear before his Maker; read the Bible every day of your life.”
Locke, the acutest thinker and reasoner of the past two centuries, spent the last fourteen years of his life in the constant study of the Bible, and then gave his decision: “It has God for its author; salvation for its end; and truth, without any mixture of error for its matter.”
Alexander Hamilton informs us that he spent an evening with some friends, and indulged in. remarks derogatory to the Scriptures. While standing on the steps of his residence late at night, waiting for a servant to open the door, the thought suddenly flashed upon him, what, after all, if the Book is true. He was conscious that he had never examined it, “not even with that attention which a small retaining fee requires in civil cases.’ 5 The next morning he began to read the Bible, and other books bearing on the Evidences of Christianity; “and the result is,” he says, “I believe the religion of Christians to be the truth; that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; that He made an atonement for our sins by His death; and that He rose for our justification.”
John Quincy Adams wrote to his son: “I have for many years made it a practice to read the Bible once a year.”
John Randolph of Ronoake, in early life an infidel, announces the conclusion of his maturer years: “The Bible is true. It would have been as easy for a mole to have written Sir Isaac Newton’s treatise on Optics, as for uninspired men to have written the Bible.”
Dr. Adolph Saphir in “The Divine Unity of Scripture,” once an enthusiastic follower of Hegel, tells us that “the pantheistic metaphysician Hegel, on his death-bed, would have no book read to him but the Bible.”
He also tells us that Kant wrote to a friend, “You do well in that you base your peace and piety on the gospels, for in the gospels, and in the gospels alone, is the source of deep spiritual truths, after reason has measured out its whole territory in vain.”
He further quotes Goethe as saying. ‘‘Let the world progress as much as it likes: let all branches of human research develop to the very utmost; nothing 'will take the place of the Bible.”
Even Carlyle, a short time before his death, sent a farewell letter to the students of the University of Edinburg, delivering this message: “Tell them, to consult the Eternal Oracles (not yet inaudible, nor ever to become so, when worthily inquired of), and to disregard nearly altogether, in comparison, the temporary noises, menacings and deliriums.”
Let us briefly examine the book which has commanded the confidence and respect of such distinguished men and intelligent minds, and which unquestionably has blessed and elevated countless millions of the best people who have lived for eighteen centuries. Let us see whether arguments may not be presented, which ought to be sufficient, and are sufficient, to persuade any reasonable and unprejudiced person of its supernatural origin.