The New Zealand Evangelist
The Claims Of The Bible
The Claims Of The Bible.
The Bible comes to us with claims which no other book can prefer. It is the oldest book. The writings of the Old Testament were completed before the literature of the Greeks, the oldest secular literature now extant, was well begun, with the exception of the poetry of Homer and Hesiod, the one of whom flourished about 900 and the other 800 years before Christ, the most celebrated Greek poets and historians were contemporary with the last of the Hebrew prophets. Herodotus, the father of secular history, was contemporary with Ezra and Nehemiah, the last of the Hebrew historians, and who flourished about 444 A.C. So that but for the Old Testament Scriptures, the history of the first two-thirds of man's existence upon earth, the history of 3500 years, would either be an entire blank, or at best uncertain page 127 tradition blended with childish fable; but in this book with all the clearness and the certainty of truth, we are conducted back through the most interesting and important stages of the world's history, to the origin of nations, the creation of man, and the birth of time itself; yea the curtain is lifted, eternity is revealed, the counsels of God are disclosed, and the purposes of the Most High are made known.
The Bible is the best book. The names given to it by divine appointment and universal consent indicate this. It is called the Scriptures (Scripturae) or the Writings, and The Bible, (Biblos) the Book, as if there were no other writings or no other book, or at least none once to be compared with this. Viewed merely as a literary production it leaves far in the distance the loftiest productions of human genius. It is the only book that is never out of date, that never falls behind the attainments of the age, that is level to the meanest capacity, and yet is far ahead of the wisest, and can furnish ample instruction for the most gifted of men. One of the most competent judges (Sir W. Jones) has declared as his deliberate opinion, “That independent of its divine origin, the Bible contains more true sublimity, more exquisite beauty, purer morality, more important history, and finer strains both of poetry and eloquence, than could be collected within the same compass from all other books that were ever composed in any age or nation.” “It is the best of books in the time of health, and the only book at the hour of death.”
The Bible is God's book. “It is the only book,” says a great philosopher, (Bacon) “that has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture of error for its contents.” What has been said of the book of Psalms by an eminent biblical scholar, (Bishop Horne), is true of the whole scriptures, “Indited under the influence of Him, to whom all hearts are known, and all secrets fore known, they suit mankind in all situations, grateful as the manna which descended from above, and conformed itself to every palate. The fairest produc-page 128tions of human art, after a few perusals, like gathered flowers, wither in our hands and lose their fragrancey; but these unfading plants of paradise become as we are accustomed to them still more and more beautiful; their bloom appears to be daily heightened, fresh odours are emitted, and new sweets are extracted from them. He who hath once tasted of their excellencies will desire to taste them yet again; and he who tastes them oftenest will relish them best.” Emanating from the source of all light, wisdom, and holiness, the scriptures as far surpass in real excellence the most valuable of uninspired writings, as the spirit of infinite wisdom surpasses the brightest genius among the sons of men, or as the splendor of the sun excels the most brilliant of artificial lights.
“A glory gilds the sacred page,
Resplendent as the Sun;
It gives a light to every age,
It gives, but borrows none.”
The bible is now happily the cheapest book, so cheap that the very poorest person may possess a copy. We are happy to say that there has been a growing demand for bibles in this settlement—an increasing thirst for the Waters of Life—and we feel doubly happy to know that by the large number of bibles that has been, and will be placed at the disposal of the Bible Society in this Town the wants of the community will be fully supplied, On the duty of searching the Scriptures, and the most profitable manner of doing so, we shall speak in a future number.