Sermon 15. The Bible
Delivered on Sabbath Evening, March 18, 1855, by the
REV. C.H. SPURGEON
At Exeter Hall, Strand.
"I have written to him the great things of my law; but they were counted as a strange thing."-Hosea 8:12
This is God's complaint against Ephraim. It is no mean proof of his goodness, that he stoops to rebuke his erring creatures;it is a great argument of his gracious disposition, that he bows his head to notice terrestrial affairs. He might, if he pleased,wrap himself with might as with a garment; he might put the stars around his wrist for bracelets, and bind the suns aroundhis brow for a coronet; he might dwell alone, far, far above this world, up in the seventh heaven,and look down with calm and silent indifference upon all the doings of his creatures; he might do as the heathens supposedtheir Jove did, sit in perpetual silence, sometimes nodding his awful head to make the fates move as he pleased, but nevertaking thought of the little things of earth, disposing of them as beneath his notice, engrossed with his own being, swallowedup within himself, living alone and retired; and I, as one of his creatures, might stand by night upon a mountain-top, andlook upon the silent stars and say, "Ye are the eyes of God, but ye look not down on me; your light is the gift of hisomnipotence, but your rays are not smiles of love to me. God, the mighty Creator, has forgotten me; I am a despicable dropin the ocean of creation, a sear leaf in the forest of beings, an atom in the mountain of existence. He knows me not; I amalone, alone, alone." But it is not so, beloved. Our God is of another order. He notices every one of us; there is not a sparrowor aworm but is found in his decrees. There is not a person upon whom his eye is not fixed. Our most secret acts are knownto him. Whatsoever we do, or bear, or suffer, the eye of God still rests upon us, and we are beneath his smile-for we arehis people; or beneath his frown-for we have erred from him.
Oh! how ten-thousand-fold merciful is God, that, looking down upon the race of man, he does not smite it our of existence.We see from our text that God looks upon man; for he says of Ephraim, "I have written to him the great things of my law, butthey were counted as a strange thing." But see how, when he observes the sin of man, he does not dash him away and spurn himwith his foot; he does not shake him by the neck over the gulf of hell, until his brain doth reel andthen drop him forever; but rather, he comes down from heaven to plead with his creatures; he argues with them; he putshimself, as it were, upon a level with the sinner-states his grievances and pleads his claim. O Ephraim, I have written untothee the great things of my law, but they have been unto thee as a strange thing! I come here to-night in God's stead, myfriends, to plead with you as God's ambassador, to charge many of you with a sin; to lay it to your hearts by the power oftheSpirit, so that you may be convinced of sin, of righteousness, and of a judgment to come. The crime I charge you withis the sin of the text. God has written to you the great things of his law, but they have been unto you as a strange thing.It is concerning this blessed book, the Bible, that I mean to speak tonight. Here lies my text-this Word of God. Here is thetheme of my discourse, a theme which demands more eloquence than I possess; a subject upon which a thousand orators mightspeak atonce; a mighty, vast, and comprehensive theme, which might engross all eloquence throughout eternity, and still it wouldremain unexhausted.
Concerning the Bible, I have three things to say to-night, and they are all in my text. First, its author, "I have written;" secondly, its subjects-the great things of God's law; and thirdly, its common treatment-it has been accountedby most men a strange thing.
I. First, then, concerning this book: Who is the author? The text says that it is God. "I have written to him the great things of my law." Here lies my Bible-who wrote it? I open it, and find it consists of a seriesof tracts. The first five tracts were written by a man called Moses; I turn on, and I find others. Sometimes I see David isthe penman, at other times Solomon. Here I read Micah, then Amos, then Hosea. As I turn further on, to the more luminouspages of the New Testament, I see Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Paul, Peter, James, and others; but when I shut up thebook; I ask myself, who is the author of it? Do these men jointly claim the authorship? Are they the compositors of this massivevolume? Do they between themselves divide the honor? Our holy religion answers, No! This volume is the writing of the livingGod; each letter was penned with an Almighty finger; each word in it dropped from the everlasting lips; each sentence wasdictated by the Holy Spirit. Albeit, that Moses was employed to write his histories with his fiery pen, God guided thatpen. It may be that David touched his harp, and let sweet Psalms of melody drop from his fingers; but God moved his handsover the living strings of his golden harp. It may be that Solomon sang canticles of love, or gave forth words of consummatewisdom, but God directed his lips, and made the preacher eloquent. If I follow the thundering Nahum, when his horses ploughthewaters, or Habakkuk, when he sees the tents of Cushan in affliction; if I read Malachi, when the earth is burning likean oven; if I turn to the smooth page of John, who tells of love, or the rugged, fiery chapters of Peter, who speaks of firedevouring God's enemies; if I turn to Jude, who launches forth anathemas upon the foes of God, everywhere I find God speaking;it is God's voice, not man's; the words are God's words, the words of the Eternal, the Invisible, the Almighty, the Jehovahofthis earth. This Bible is God's Bible, and when I see it, I seem to hear a voice springing up from it, saying, "I am thebook of God; man, read me. I am God's writing; open my leaf, for I was penned by God; read it, for he is my author, and youwill see him visible and manifest everywhere." "I have written to him the great things of my law."
How do you know that God wrote the book? That is just what I shall not try to prove to you. I could if I pleased, demonstrateit, for there are arguments enough, there are reasons enough, did I care to occupy your time to-night in bringing them beforeyou; but I shall do no such thing. I might tell you, if I pleased, that the grandeur of the style is above that of an mortalwriting, and that all the poets who have ever existed could not, with all their works united, giveus such sublime poetry and such mighty language as is to be found in the Scriptures. I might insist upon it, that thesubjects of which it treats are beyond the human intellect; that man could never have invented the grand doctrines of a Trinityin the Godhead; man could not have told us anything of the creation of the universe; he could never have been the author ofthe majestic idea of Providence-that all things are ordered according to the will of one great Supreme Being, and work togetherfor good. I might enlarge upon its honesty, since it tells the faults of its writers; its unity, since it never beliesitself; its master simplicity, that he who runs may read it; and I might mention a hundred more things, which would all prove,to a demonstration, that the book is of God. But I come not here to prove it. I am a Christian minister, and you are Christians,or profess to be so; and there is never any necessity for Christian ministers to make a point of bringing forward infidelarguments in order to answer them. It is the greatest folly in the world. Infidels, poor creatures, do not know theirown arguments till we tell them, and then they glean their blunted shafts to shoot them at the shield of truth again. It isfollow to bring forward these firebrands of hell, even if we are well prepared t quench them. Let men of the world learn errorof themselves; do not let us be propagators of their falsehoods. True, there are some preachers who are short of stock, andwantto fill them up; but God's own chosen men need not do that; they are taught of God, and God supplies them with matter,with language, with power. There may be some one here to-night who has come without faith, a man of reason, a freethinker.With him I have no argument at all. I profess not to stand here as a controversialist, but as a preacher of things that Iknow and feel. But I too, have been like him. There was an evil hour when I once shipped the anchor of my faith; I cut thecable of mybelief; I no longer moored myself hard by the coasts of Revelation; I allowed my vessel to drift before the wind; I saidto reason, "Be thou my captain;" I said to my own brain, "Be thou my rudder;" and I started on my mad voyage. Thank God, itis all over now; but I will tell you its brief history. It was one hurried sailing over the tempestuous ocean of free thought.I went on, and as I went, the skies began to darken; but to make up for that deficiency, the waters were brilliant withcoruscations of brilliancy. I saw sparks flying upward that pleased me, and I thought, "If this be free thought, it isa happy thing." My thoughts seemed gems, and I scattered stars with both my hands; but anon, instead of these coruscationsof glory, I saw grim fiends, fierce and horrible, start up from the waters, and as I dashed on, they gnashed their teeth,and grinned upon me; they seized the prow of my ship and dragged me on, while I, in part, gloried at the rapidity of my motion,but yetshuddered at the terrific rate with which I passed the old landmarks of my faith. As I hurried forward, with an awfulspeed, I began to doubt my very existence; I doubted if there were a world, I doubted if there was such a thing as myself.I went to the very verge of the dreary realms of unbelief. I went to the very bottom of the sea of Infidelity. I doubted everything.But here the devil foiled himself: for the very extravagance of the doubt, proved its absurdity. Just when I saw the bottomof that sea, there came a voice which said, "And can this doubt be true?" At this very thought I awoke. I started fromthat deathdream, which, God knows might have damned my soul, and ruined this, my body, if I had not awoke. When I arose, faithtook the helm; from that moment I doubted not. Faith steered me back; faith cried, "Away, away!" I cast my anchor on Calvary;I lifted my eye to God; and here I am, "alive, and out of hell." Therefore, I speak what I do know. I have sailed that perilousvoyage; I have come safe to land. Ask me again to be an infidel! No; I have tried it; it was sweet at first, but bitterafterwards. Now, lashed to God's gospel more firmly than ever, standing as on a rock of adamant, I defy the arguments of hellto move me; for "I know in whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed untohim." But I shall neither plead nor argue this night. You profess to be Christian men, or else you would not be here. Yourprofessions may be lies; what you say you are, may be the very contrary to what you really are; but still I suppose you all admit that this is the Word of God. A thought or two then upon it. "I have written to himthe great things of my law."
First, my friends, stand over this volume, and admire its authority. This is no common book. It is not the sayings of the sages of Greece; here are not the utterances of philosophers of pastages. If these words were written by a man, we might reject them; but O let me think the solemn thought, that this book isGod's handwriting-that these words are God's! Let me look at its date; it is dated from the hills of heaven. Let me look atits letters; they flash gloryon my eye. Let me read the chapters; they are big with meaning and mysteries unknown. Let me turn over the prophecies;they are pregnant with unthought-of wonders. Oh, book of books! And wast thou written by my God? Then will I bow before thee.Thou book of vast authority! thou art a proclamation from the Emperor of Heaven; far be it from me to exercise my reason incontradicting thee. Reason, thy place is to stand and find out what this volume means, not to tell what this book ought tosay.Come thou, my reason, my intellect, sit thou down and listen, for these words are the words of God. I do not know howto enlarge on this thought. Oh! if you could ever remember that this Bible was actually and really written by God. Oh! ifye had been let into the secret chambers of heaven, if ye had beheld God grasping his pen and writing down these letters-thensurely ye would respect them; but they are just as much God's handwriting as if you had seen God write them. This Bible isa bookof authority; it is an authorized book, for God has written it. Oh! tremble, lest any of you despise it; mark its authority,for it is the Word of God.
Then, since God wrote it, mark its truthfulness. If I had written it, there would be worms of critics who would at once swarm upon it, and would cover it with their evilspawn; Had I written it, there would be men who would pull it to pieces at once, and perhaps quite right too. But this isthe Word of God; come, search, ye critics, and find a flaw; examine it, from its Genesis to its Revelation, and find an error.This is a vein of pure gold, unalloyed by quartz,or any earthly substance. This is a star without a speck; a sun without a blot; a light without darkness; a moon withoutits paleness; a glory without a dimness. O Bible! it cannot be said of any other book, that it is perfect and pure; but ofthee we can declare all wisdom is gathered up in thee, without a particle of folly. This is the judge that ends the strife,where wit and reason fail. This is the book untainted by any error; but is pure, unalloyed, perfect truth. Why? Because Godwroteit. Ah! charge God with error if ye please; tell him that his book is not what it ought to be. I have heard men, withprudish and mock-modesty, who would like to alter the Bible; and (I almost blush to say it) I have heard ministers alter God'sBible, because they were afraid of it. Have you never heard a man say, "He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved;but he that believeth not"-what does the Bible say?-"Shall be damned." But that does not happen to be polite enough, sothey say, "Shall be condemned." Gentlemen, pull the velvet out of your mouths; speak God's word; we want none of your alterations. I have heard men in prayerinstead of saying, "Make your calling and election sure," say "Make your calling and salvation sure." Pity they were not born when God lived far-far back that they might have taught God how to write. Oh, impudence beyondall bounds! Oh full-blown self-conceit! To attempt to dictate to the All-wise-to teach theOmniscient and instruct the Eternal. Strange that there should be men so vile as to use the penknife of Jehoiakim to cutpassages out of the word, because they are unpalatable. O ye who dislike certain portions of Holy Writ, rest assured thatyour taste is corrupt, and that God will not stay for you little opinion. Your dislike is the very reason why God wrote it,because you out not to be suited; you have no right to be pleased. God wrote what you do not like; he wrote the truth. Oh!let usbend in reverence before it, for God inspired it. It is pure truth. Here from this fountain gushes aqua vitae-the water of life-without a single particle of earth; here from this sun cometh forth rays of radiance, without the mixtureof darkness. Blessed Bible! thou art all truth.
Yet once more, before we leave this point, let us stop and consider the merciful nature of God, in having written us a Bible at all. Ah! he might have left us without it, to grope our dark way, as blind men seek thewall; he might have suffered us to wander on with the star of reason as our only guide. I recollect a story of Mr. Hume, whoso constantly affirmed that the light of reason is abundantly sufficient. Being at a good minister's house one evening, hehadbeen discussing the question, and declaring his firm belief in the sufficiency of the light of nature. On leaving, theminister offered to hold him a candle to light him down the steps. He said "No; the light of nature would be enough; the moonwould do." It so happened that the moon was covered with a cloud, and he fell down the steps. "Ah!" said the minister, "youhad better have had a little light from above, after all, Mr. Hume." So, supposing the light of nature to be sufficient, wehadbetter have a little light from above too, and then we shall be sure to be right. Better have two lights than only one.The light of creation is a bright light. God may be seen in the stars; his name is written in gilt letters on the brow ofnight; you may discover his glory in the ocean waves, yea, in the trees of the field; but it is better to read it in two booksthan in one. You will find it here more clearly revealed; for he has written this book himself, and he has given you the keytounderstand it, if you have the Holy Spirit. Ah, beloved, let us thank God for this Bible; let us love it; let us countit more precious than much fine gold.
But let me say one thing, before I pass on to the second point. If this be the Word of God, what will become of some of youwho have not read it for the last month? "Month, sir! I have not read it for this year." Ay, there are some of you who havenot read it at all. Most people treat the Bible very politely . They have a small pocket volume, neatly bound; they put awhite pocket-handkerchief round it and carry it to their places of worship; when they get home, they lay itup in a drawer till next Sunday morning; then it comes out again for a little bit of a treat, and goes to chapel; thatis all the poor Bible gets in the way of an airing. That is your style of entertaining this heavenly messenger. There is dustenough on some of your Bibles to write "damnation" with your fingers. There are some of you who have not turned over yourBibles for a long, long while, and what think you? I tell you blunt words, but true words. What will God say at last? Whenyou shallcome before him, he shall say, "Did you read my Bible?" "No." "I wrote you a letter of mercy; did you read it?" "No." "Rebel! I have sent thee a letter inviting thee to me; didst thou ever read it?" "Lord, I never broke the seal; I kept it shut up." "Wretch!" says God, "then, thou deservest hell, if I sent thee a loving epistle, and thou wouldst not even break the seal;what shall I do unto thee?" Oh, let it not be so with you. Be Bible-readers; be Bible
II. Our second point is: The subjects on which the Bible treats. The words of the text are these: "I have written to him the great things of my law." The Bible treats of great things, andof great things only. there is nothing in this Bible which is unimportant. Every verse in it has a solemn meaning; and ifwe have not found it out yet, we hope yet to do it. You have seen mummies, wrapped round and round with folds of linen. Well,God's Bible is like that; it is avast roll of white linen, woven in the loom of truth; so you will have to continue unwinding it, roll after roll, beforeyou get the real meaning of it from the very depth; and when you have found, as you think, a part of the meaning, you willstill need to keep on unwinding, unwinding, and all eternity you will be unwinding the words of this great volume. Yet thereis nothing in the Bible but great things. Let me divide, so as to be more brief. First, all things in this Bible are great;but,secondly, some things are the greatest of all.
All things in the Bible are great. Some people think it does not matter what doctrines you believe; that it is immaterial what church you attend; that all denominationsare alike. Well, I dislike Mrs. Bigotry above almost all people in the world, and I never give her any compliment or praise;but there is another woman I hate equally as much, and that is Mrs. Latitudinarianism-a well-known character, who has madethe discovery that all of us are alike. Now, Ibelieve that a man may be saved in any church. Some have been saved in the Church of Rome-a few blessed men whose namesI could mention here. I know, blessed be God, what multitudes are saved in the Church of England; she has a host of pious,praying men in her midst. I think that all sections of Protestant Christians have a remnant according to the election of grace;and they had need to have, some of them, a little salt, for otherwise they would go to corruption. But when I say that, doyouimagine that I think them all on a level? Are they all alike truthful? One sect says infant baptism is right; anothersays it is wrong; yet you say they are both right. I cannot see that. One teaches we are saved by free grace; another sayus that we are not, but are saved by free will; and yet you believe they are both right. I do not understand that. One saysthat God loves his people, and never leaves off loving them; another says that he did not love his people before they lovedhim-thathe often loves them, and then ceases to love them, and turns them away. They may both be right in the main; but can theyboth be right when one says "Yes," and the other says "No?" I must have a pair of spectacles, to enable me to look backwardsand forwards at the same time, before I can see that. It cannot be, sirs, that they are both right. But some say they differupon non-essentials. This text says, "I have written to him the great things of my law." There is nothing in God's Biblewhich is not great. Did ever any of you sit down to see which was the purest religion? "Oh," say you, "we never took thetrouble. We went just where our father and mother went." Ah! that is a profound reason indeed. You went where you father andmother did. I thought you were sensible people; I didn't think you went where other people pulled you, but went of your ownselves. I love my parents above all that breathe, and the very thought that they believe a thing to be true, helps me to thinkitis correct; but I have not followed them; I belong to a different denomination, and I thank God that I do. I can receivethem as Christian brethren and sisters; but I never thought that, because they happened to be one thing, I was to be the same.No such thing. God gave me brains, and I will use them; and if you have any intellect, use it too. Never say it doesn't matter.Whatever God has put here is of eminent importance; he would not have written a thing that was indifferent. Whatever ishere is of some value; therefore, search all questions, try all by the Word of God. I am not afraid to have what I preachtried by this book. Only give me a fair field and no favor, and this book; if I say anything contrary to it, I will withdrawit the next Sabbath-day. By this I stand, by this I fall. Search and see; but don't say, "it does not matter." If God saysa thing, it always must be of importance.
But, while all things in God's word are important, all are not equally important. There are certain fundamental and vital truths which must be believed, or otherwise no man would be saved. If you want toknow what you must believe, if ye would be saved, you will find the great things of God's law between these two covers; theyare all contained here. As a sort of digest or summary of the great things of law, I remember an old friend of mine once saying,"Ah! youpreach the three R's, and God will always bless you." I said, "What are the three R's?" and he answered, "Ruin, redemption,and regeneration." They contain the sum and substance of divinity. R for ruin. We were all ruined in the fall; we were lostwhen Adam sinned, and we were all ruined by our own transgressions; we are all ruined by our own evil hearts, and our ownwicked wills; and we all shall be ruined, unless grace saves us. Then there is a second R for redemption. We are ransomedby theblood of Christ, a lamb without blemish and without spot; we are rescued by his power; we are ransomed by his merits;we are redeemed by his strength. then there is R for regeneration. If we would be pardoned, we must also be regenerated; forno man can partake of redemption unless he is regenerate. Let him be as good as he pleases; let him serve God, as he imagines,as much as he likes; unless he is regenerate, and has a new heart, a new birth, he will still be in the first R, that is ruin.These things contain an epitome of the gospel. I believe there is a better epitome in the five points of Calvinism;-Electionaccording to the foreknowledge of God; the natural depravity and sinfulness of man; particular redemption by the blood ofChrist; effectual calling by the power of the Spirit; and ultimate perseverance by the efforts of God's might. I think allthose need to be believed, in order to salvation; but I should not like to write a creed like the Athanasian, beginning with"Whosoever shall be saved, before all things it is necessary that he should hold the Catholic faith, which faith is this,"-whenI got so far, I should stop, because I should not know what to write. I hold the Catholic faith of the Bible, the whole Bible,and nothing but the Bible. It is not for me to draw up creeds; but I ask you to search the Scriptures, for this is the wordof life.
God says, "I have written to him the great things of my law." Do you doubt their greatness? Do ye think they are not worthyour attention? Reflect a moment, man. Where art thou standing now?
"Lo on a narrow neck of land,
'Twixt two unbounded seas I stand;
An inch of time, a moment's space,
May lodge me in yon heavenly place,
Or shut me up in hell."
I recollect standing on a seashore once, upon a narrow neck of land, thoughtless that the tide might come up. The tide keptcontinually washing up on either side, and, wrapped in thoughts, I stood there, until at last there was the greatest difficultyin getting on shore. You and I stand each day on a narrow neck, and there is one wave coming up there; see, how near it isto your foot; and lo! another follows at every tick of the clock; "Our hearts, like muffled drums, arebeating funeral marches to the tomb." We are always tending downwards to the grave each moment that we live. This book tells me that if I am converted, when I die, there is a heaven of joy and love to receive me; it tells me that angels' pinionsshall be stretched, and I, borne by strong cherubic wings, shall out-soar the lightning, and mount beyond the stars, up tothe throne of God, to dwell forever.
"Far from a world of grief and sin,
With God eternally shut in."
Oh! it makes the hot tear start from my eye, it makes my heart too big for this my body, and my brain whirls at the thoughtof
"Jerusalem, my happy home,
Name ever dear to me."
Oh! that sweet scene beyond the clouds; sweet fields arrayed in living green, and rivers of delight. Are not these great things?But then, poor unregenerate soul, the Bible says if thou are lost, thou art lost forever; it tells thee that if thou diestwithout Christ, without God, there is no hope for thee; that there is no place without a gleam of hope, where thou shalt read,in burning letters, "Ye knew your duty, but ye did it not;" it tells you, that ye shall be drivenfrom his presence with a "depart, ye cursed." Are these not great things? Yes, sirs, as heaven is desirable, as hell isterrible, as time is short, as eternity is infinite, as the soul is precious, as pain is to be shunned, as heaven is to besought, as God is eternal, and as his words are sure, these are great things, things ye ought to listen to.
III. Our last point is: The treatment which the poor Bible receives in this world; it is accounted a strange thing. What does that mean-the Bible accounted a strange thing? In the first place, it means thatit is very strange to some people, because they never read it. I remember reading, on one occasion, the sacred story of David and Goliath, and there was a person present, positively grownup to years of maturity, who said to me, "Dear me! what aninteresting story; what book is that in?" And I recollect a person once coming to me in private; I spoke to her abouther soul, she told me how deeply she felt, how she had a desire t serve God, but she found another law in her members. I turnedto a passage in Romans, and read to her, "The good that I would I do not; and the evil which I would not that I do!" She said,"Is that in the Bible? I did not know it." I did not blame her, because she had no interest in the Bible till then; but Ididnot wonder that there could be found persons who knew nothing about such a passage. Ah! you know more about your ledgersthan your Bible; you know more about your day-books than what God has written; many of you will read a novel from beginningto end, and what have you got? A mouthful of froth when you have done. But you cannot read the Bible; that solid, lasting,substantial, and satisfying food goes uneaten, locked up in the cupboard of neglect; while anything that man writes, a catchof theday, is greedily devoured. "I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing." Ye have never read it. I bring the broad charge against you. Perhaps, ye say, I oughtnot to charge you with any such thing. I always think it better to have a worse opinion of you than too good an one. I chargeyou with this: you do not read your Bibles. Some of you have never read it through. I know I speak what your heart must sayis honest truth. You are not Biblereaders. You say you have the Bible in your houses; do I think you are such heathens as not to have a Bible? But whendid you read it last? How do you know that your spectacles, which you have lost, have not been there for the last three years?Many people have not turned over its pages for a long time, and God might say unto them, "I have written unto you the greatthings of my law, but they have been accounted unto you a strange thing."
Others there be who read the Bible; but when they read it, they say it is so horribly dry. That young man over there says it is a "bore;" that is the words he uses. He says, "My mother says to me, when you go upto town, read a chapter every day. Well, I thought I would please her, and I said I would. I am sure I wish I had not. I didnot read a chapter yesterday, or the day before. We were so busy, I could not help it." You do not love the Bible, do you?"No, thereis nothing in it which is interesting." Ah, I thought so. But a little while ago I could not see anything in it. Do you know why? Blind men cannot see, can they? But when the Spirit touches the scales ofthe eyes, they fall off; and when he puts eye-salves on, the Bible becomes precious. I remember a minister who went to seean old lady, and he thought he would give her some precious promises out of the word of God. Turning to one, he saw writtenin the margin "P.," and he asked, "Whatdoes this mean?" "That means precious, sir." Further down, he saw "T. and P.," and he asked what the letters meant. "That,"she said, "means tried and proved, for I have tried and proved it." If you have tried God's word and proved it-if it is preciousto your soul. then you are Christians; but those persons who despise the Bible, have "neither part nor lot in the matter."If it is dry to you, you will be dry at last in hell. If you do not esteem it as better than your necessary food, thereis no hope for you; for you lack the greatest evidence of your Christianity.
Alas! alas! the worst case is to come. There are some people who hate the Bible, as well as despise it. Is there such an one stepped in here? Some of you said, "Let us go and hear what the young preacherhas to say to us." This is what he has to say to you: "Behold, ye despisers, and wonder and perish." This is what he hathto say to you: "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all that forget God." And this, again he has to say to you: "Behold,there shall comein the last days, mockers, like yourselves, walking after your own lusts." But more: he tells you to-night that if youare saved, you must find salvation here. Therefore, despise not the Bible; but search it, read it, and come unto it. Restthee will assured, O scorner, that thy laughs cannot alter truth, thy jests cannot avert thine inevitable doom. Though inthy hardihood thou shouldst make a league with death, and sign a covenant with hell-yet swift justice shall o'ertake thee,and strongvengeance strike the low. In vain dost thou jeer and mock, for eternal verities are mightier than thy sophistries, norcan thy smart sayings alter the divine truth of a single word of this volume of Revelation. Oh! why dost thou quarrel withthy best friend, and ill-treat thy only refuge? There yet remains hope, even for the scorner. Hope in a Saviour's veins. Hopein the Father's mercy. Hope in the Holy Spirit's omnipotent agency.
I have done when I have said one word. My friend, the philosopher, says it may be very well for me to urge people to readthe Bible; but he thinks there are a great many sciences far more interesting and useful than theology. Extremely obliged to you for your opinion, sir. What science do you mean? The science of dissecting beetles and arranging butterflies? "No," you say, "certainly not." Thescience, then, of arranging stones, and telling us of the strata of theearth? "No, not exactly that." Which science, then? "Oh, all sciences," say you, "are better than the science of the Bible."Ah! sir, that is your opinion; and it is because you are far from God, that you say so. But the science of Jesus Christ isthe most excellent of sciences. Let no one turn away from the Bible because it is not a book of learning and wisdom. It is.Would ye know astronomy? It is here: it tells you of the Sun of Righteousness and the Star of Bethlehem. Would you know ofbotany? It is here: it tells you of the plant of renown-the Lily of the Valley, and the rose of Sharon. Would you knowgeology and mineralogy? You shall learn it here: for you may read of the Rock of Ages, and the White Stone with the name engraventhereon, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. Would ye study history? Here is the most ancient of all the recordsof the history of the human race. Whate'er your science is, come and bend o'er this book; your science is here. Come anddrink out of this fair fount of knowledge and wisdom, and ye shall find yourselves made wise unto salvation. Wise andfoolish, babes and men, gray-headed sires, youths and maidens-I speak to you, I plead with you, I beg of you respect yourBibles, and search them out, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and these are they which testify of Christ.
I have done. Let us go home and practice what we have heard. I have heard of a woman, who, when she was asked what she rememberedof the minister's sermon, said, "I don't recollect anything of it. It was about short weights and bad measures, and I didn'trecollect anything but to go home and burn the bushel." So, if you will remember to go home and burn the bushel, if you willrecollect to go home and read your Bibles, I shall have said enough. And may God, in his infinitemercy, when you read your Bibles, pour into your souls the illuminating rays of the Sun of Righteousness, by the agencyof the ever-adorable Spirit; then you will read to your profit and to your soul's salvation.
We may say of THE BIBLE:
"God's cabinet of revealed counsel 't is!
Where weal and woe, are ordered so
That every man may know which shall be his;
Unless his own mistake, false application make.
"It is the index to eternity.
He cannot miss of endless bliss.
That takes this chart to steer by,
Nor can he be mistook that speaketh by this book.
"It is the book of God. What if I should
Say, God of books, let him that looks
Angry at that expression, as too bold,
His thoughts in silence smother, till he find such another."