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man, as man, in the essential powers and faculties of his nature. It is suited for him every where, and under all circumstances, by the authority of its dictates, by the discovery of all his wants, by the magnitude and efficacy of its salvation, by the clearness and force of its evidences, by the simplicity of its worship, by the brevity of its records.
It especially consults the case of the poor—that is, of the vast majority of mankind; the class most pressed by affliction, most in need of means of instruction, most numerous, most neglected, and even scorned by all preceding religions—which philosophy overlooks, because it has nothing essentially beneficial to propose, and no plain and important discoveries to offer. "To the poor the Saviour came; amongst the poor
he conversed; to them he preached the gospel; their state he consulted. The Bible elevates the intellect, enlarges the powers, increases the happiness of the poor, without flattering their vices or concealing from them their duties, or lifting them out of their station. The institution of a day of repose after the interval of six days' labour, for the worship of God, for the contemplation of his spiritual, and the preparation for his eternal, relations and destinies, is an unspeakable blessing, displays the suitableness of Revelation to the powers of man, needing recreation and rest both for body and mind. No attempt was ever made for raising the character and situation of the poor, without inspiring pride or relaxing the bonds of domestic and civil subjection, but by the gospel.
The Bible is suited to all orders of intellect; like the works of nature, where the humblest artizan can trace some of those wonders, which the greatest philosophers cannot exhaust. The child meets with what suits his opening capacities; the old and experienced, that which gives tranquillity and peace to age.
Then it follows all the improvements of mankind in learning and science, in philosophy and the arts;
freORNI! LECT. Xiv.] STATE AND WANTS OF MAN, and keeps above and beyond them all-opens sures as man advances in capacity for searching them out; is illustrated and confirmed by every solid acquisition in human knowledge; meets and suits the mind of the savage emerging into civilization ;
and yet soars far above the intellect of the scholar and the divine in the most
refined advances of society. Like all the works of God, it is adapted to men in every stage of improvement; and the more it is studied, the more do the topics of adıniration multiply.
There is also a completeness in the Bible for its proper end. All that man's necessities, as to practical knowledge and present aid, require, you find there; all the circumstances, all the duties, all the emergencies, of man are consulted. It is completely fitted for him; having no omissions, no redundancies, no defects, no provisions nor directions forgotten or left out. And
yet, with all this suitableness to mankind in all
ages, and under all circumstances, it seems to address each individual in particular. The truth of the description, the exact fitness of the doctrines for man, are such that every one thinks his own case consulted. “ The Bible,” says Mr. Boyle, “like a well-drawn portrait, seems to look every beholder full in the face." In fact, it is the book made for man : not for man in this or that age, of this or that class, of this or that order of intellect, but man universally, on the footing of those capacities, wants, feelings, which are common to the whole race.
2. Nor is the form in which God communicates truth in the Scriptures, less fitted for us than the matter.
The style is plain and simple. There is nothing of science, nothing of human research, nothing of artificial eloquence. It is above all this. It abounds with figures and metaphors the most simple, the most beautiful, the most intelligible, the most congruous.
Medicine and agriculture, as Lord Bacon observes, are the chief
sources of the Scripture images sources open to man universally.
The perspicuity of the Bible makes it level, in its main instructions, to the most untutored mind, as well as the most refined; whilst the depths contained in its mysteries, and the occasional difficulties of its allusions, exercise and surpass the greatest powers. The variety of matter in the Bible is such as to excite and reward the diligence of every inquirer.
It is the most brief, and yet the most full and copious of writings; the most brief, because it passes over, for the most part, all inferior matters; the most copious, because it dwells at great length on important
Two thousand years are compressed into fifty short chapters; whilst that abridged history expands into the most minute details of the family scenes of some of the patriarchs.22 Indeed, it delights in domestic narratives, and thus touches the very heart of man in his earliest youth. Who has not wept over the history of Joseph, and felt the deepest compassion at the affliction of Job ?
It teaches very much by great facts and a few powerful principles, applicable to ten thousand particular cases, without danger of mistake from any
individual ; and yet it occasionally enters into the detail of the application of them, to assist the hesitating mind. The method of our Lord's teaching, as we shall see hereafter, was the best adapted to man of any ever yet discovered for conveying instruction.
The large portions of history, biography, prophecy, devotion, mixed with each other, and interwoven with doctrines the most important, go to involve truth in man's habitual feelings, and convey it clothed in its most attractive forms and applied to real life.
The human style and manner in which the divine
22 Genesis--Abraham, Jacob, Joseph.
inspiration appeared, following the cast of mind of each writer, and allowing him the freest use of his natural powers,23 makes the Book the book of manpopular and affecting. The light of the natural sun is not more adapted for the human eye, than the records of Revelation for the mind and powers of man.
It is, however, important to observe, that Christianity, in all this scheme of adaptation, CONNIVES AT NO ONE vice. It is not in agreement with the vicious inclinations and perverted will of man; but it is suited to man in the proper use of the term; to man as originally formed and destined for eternity ; to man as weak and fallen, and needing restoration and grace. It never bends to him, it never flatters him. It is fitted, not to certain passions of man, for certain purposes, and in a certain way-no proof of imposture could be more sure—but to the whole character of man in all the parts of his moral constitution, with the direct view of remedying and healing what is corrupted and diseased in him. Heathenism, Mahometanism, Infidelity, are adapted to man, so far as they suit his corrupt passions and flatter his pride. Christianity is suited to him in a higher and more appropriate sense - to his original capacities, to his actual state of want and sorrow, to his eternal destinies ; to bring him back to the first, to deliver him from the second, to prepare him for the third.
It is to be noted, further, that THIS ADAPTATION DOES NOT STRIKE THE MIND IN ALL ITS PARTS AT ONCE ; but appears after a period of consideration and reflection, and in proportion as we are in a right state for judging of it.
Some parts, indeed, force themselves upon our view at the first contemplation; for instance, as Revelation Testrains man, gives him a law, reveals his relation to
23 See Lect. XII. and XIII,
Almighty God, and refers him to an eternal judgment. But the main peculiarities of Revelation do not strike him at first. The principal features and many of the details of Scripture doctrine, precept, and history, would not have occurred to him as proper to be made universally known. Man would not have drawn the picture of human nature so dark; he would never have dared to lay open the recesses of the human heart; he would not have left so much undiscovered of the ways of God; he would not have adopted such a familiarity of style and illustration ; he would not have exposed the perverseness of the chosen nation, nor the falls and infirmities of the saints.
He is revolted at inuch of this at first. The Revelation is not the sort of record he would have expected. Man would have preferred something more grand, more showy, more specious, more free from mystery. He would have had a Revelation more noble and elevated, according to human judgment.24
Such, however, is not the wisdom of God. Regardless of human prejudice, he has given a Revelation really, though not in all its parts apparently, adapted
Divine wisdom leaves man to find this out by observation, by experience, by the knowledge of his own wants and weaknesses. By degrees he perceives that God is wiser than he: at length he acknowledges the adaptation of every part; the necessity of what he thought less needful; the depth of what he deemed to be superficial; the dignity and condescension of what he considered too familiar; the suitableness of what he condemned as peculiar or dangerous.
Again : this adaptation, running through the whole contexture of Revelation, was not contrived in these later ages, but is a PROSPECTIVE SCHEME FORMED BY THE WISDOM OF GOD, AND REVEALED PERFECT
24 Miller's Bampton Lect.