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BIOGRAPHY OF THE BIBLE.
Oxford. Boyle could quote, in the original Greek, any passage of the New Testament that might happen to be named. On Daniel and Revelation, sir Isaac Newton spent some of the ripest hours of his life. Locke devoted twelve years to the study of the Epistles and of the whole Bible, which he has carefully analyzed. It is a proof of the esteem in which Leighton held the whole book, that his French Bible (preserved in the Library at Dumblane) is filled with manuscript extracts from ancient commentators ; while in an English copy he was accustomed to use, there is hardly a line unmarked by his pencil.
The historian Foxe tells us that Tyndale owed all his knowledge of Divine truth, and his conviction of its value, to the study of those Scriptures which he was the first to set forth" or publish in his own tongue. Wycliffe, his predecessor in the work of translation, and the
Evangelical Doctor" of his day, ascribed his conversion to the same cause. Luther was first impressed by the writings of Huss; but he learned the gospel and the first principles of the Reformation from the Epistles to the Galatians and the Romans.
Bishop Bedell seems, from Burnett's account, to have studied the Bible from his earliest childhood, and gathered from it all his religious knowledge. Carey was taught the Scriptures, like Timothy, from his youth, and has himself ascribed his religious decision to their influence. How instructive to notice that the men who have
TESTIMONY OF LITERARY MEN.
done most since the Reformation for the translation of the Bible--Tyndale in England, Bedell in Ireland, Luther in Germany, Carey in India-all received their deepest religious impressions from its sacred page.
The testimony borne to its influence and beauties by literary men is also worthy of remark. Petrarch thinks, “that if all books were destroyed, this one retained would be a greater treasure than all the millions ever published by mortal man." Sir Matthew Hale deemis it “full of light and wisdom." Milton “admires, and loves to dwell upon it for its clearness and truth.” Steele sees something more than human even in its style. Addison recommends the frequent perusal of it as the surest way to make life happy. Sir William Jones finds in it " more true sublimity, more exquisite beauty, more pure morality, more important history, and finer strains, both of poetry and eloquence, than can be collected from all other books that were ever composed in any age or in any idiom." As Mrs. Hemans lay on her death-bed, she repeated whole chapters of Isaiah with rejoicing lips ; and in the imperfect mutterings of the closing scenes of sir Walter Scott's life, his friends caught the sound of broken verses of Isaiah, and now and then the simple lines of a Scottish psalm, themselves suggested by its truths. In both these instances, it may be hoped that it was not the literary beauty, but the moral and spiritual
BIOGRAPHY OF THE BIBLE,
truth of the Bible that formed its chief attraction. So great was the value which our fathers attached to the Bible, that its various books were commonly called, in the sixteenth century, “ The Library," ("Bibliotheca ;') “no other works," says D'Israeli," being deemed worthy to rank with them."*
Regarded, therefore, simply as a book that has influenced our race more than any a book which, in one part of it, has been thought by competent judges to have afforded matter for the laws of Solon, and a foundation for the.philosophy of Plato, † and has certainly moulded all modern philosophy and legislation; a book which has been illustrated by the labour of learning in all ages and countries, has been admired by inillions for its piety, its sublimity, its veracity; a book, above all, which has “ God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter,"—few subjects can be more interesting than even a fragment of a biography of the Bible.
And this fragment—its history, in fact, in other lands and tongues than our own, it is now intended to supply.
What seems to be thus interesting as question of curious and instructive history, is doubly so when the Bible is regarded in its influence on a large scale upon
# Curiosities of Literature.
ITS INFLUENCE ON RELIGION.
15 religion, of learning, of civilization, and of freedom.
The Bible has all the elements of a great book. Composed of different parts, it has but one theme, and that theme is kept in view from the beginning to the close. It contains the history of two dispensations; but in the truths they illustrate and in the impressions they are adapted to produce, those dispensations are one. Throughout we have the same God and the same « Mediator between God and men." Human nature is everywhere seen depraved and guilty, needing pardon and renewal. God is ever just and merciful ; and everywhere he is revealed as seeking man's salvation and holi
“ The Old Testament,” as was long ago said, " is the New veiled ; and the New Testament is the Old unveiled." In the first we have the revelation of the earthly type—in the second the revelation of the heavenly reality ; the one gives us the “shadow of good things to
"-the other, in a great measure, the good things themselves. The Bible has one object, and its aim is the noblest that can occupy the hearts or thoughts of man.
Hence its influence in perpetuating and in reviving religion.
Without it, the tendency of man to corrupt everything pure, everything holy, has everywhere corrupted religion itself. Thus was it, for example, in the earliest times. Between the days of Adam and Abraham we have four generations. Adam must have known Methuselah,
BIOGRAPHY OF THE BIBLE.
as Methuselah must have known Shem. When Shem died, Abrahain must have been about one hundred and fifty years of age. To that race God had given a primitive revelation ; and once, at least,
within those four generations God renewed it. Adam knew his will, and Noah entered into a second covenant with him. Written revelation, however, there seems to have been none; that began with the law. Mark the result ; twice, at least, during this time was the knowledge of the true God all but extinguished, and twice did the world fall into the grossest wickedness and idolatry ; once before the flood, and again in the days of Terah and Abraham. That a written Bible would have saved them from this condition is too much to affirm ; but the absence of a Bible' must have left freer scope to the downward progress of man in iniquity.
At the giving of the law, revelation was put into a permanent form. God himself, with his own finger, wrote the precepts of the Decalogue, and he commanded Moses to write other precepts in the “book of the law.” No provision seems to have been made, however, for the public reading or private study of these documents, except after long intervals. Hence the Jews fell rapidly into the superstitions of other nations. For nearly a thousand years they remained in this condition. After the captivity, synagogues and copies of the Scriptures (now greatly enlarged) were multiplied throughout Judæa, and from that time idolatry was unknown among the Jews. With other sins they