BARREN rock, mountain solitude, and lonely wilderness have all contributed their brave sons to defend the Word of God, and, if need be, to die that it might be kept unadulterated. He who hath chosen the weak things of this world to confound the mighty, would not permit man to be robbed of that simplicity of the divine Word which made the untampered Scriptures a peculiar treasure.
The moral law within the heart is compelling. One great philosopher felt this when he said, "There are two things in the universe which awe me: the glory of the heavens above and the majesty of the moral law within me." God did not leave mankind to struggle in ignorance with the awful impressiveness of the law within, without revealing Himself in His Word as the moral Governor of the universe. The supreme lessons of the Bible only can reach the deeper feelings of the heart. The Bible is the absolute standard of right and wrong. In the Word dwells spiritual life the most perfect. Jesus said, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." John 6:63.
The Psalmist wrote: "Thou hast magnified thy Word above all thy name." The created worlds magnify the exalted name of the Eternal. But God has magnified His Word above all these. It is an unhappy hour when humanity lightly esteems the Bible; for there God reveals Himself more than through the material universe. A man is no better than his word; if one fails to command confidence, so does the other. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but God's Word shall never pass away.
In the Bible is revealed the standard by which we shall be tried when the judgment day comes. From the garden of Eden until now, one standard and one only has been revealed. Inspiration declares that this revelation has been under the special protection of all power in heaven and earth. "The words of the Lord are pure words," says the Psalmist, "as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve every one of them, (margin) from this generation forever." Psalm 12:6,7. Lonely mounds in distant lands mark the graves where fell those who forsook home and civilization that the Word of God might live.
We believe in Jesus Christ as the divine Teacher, because unlike Mohammed and others, He did not come unheralded. There were fifteen hundred years of prophecy pointing forward to His coming among men. A perfect transmission of these predictions was necessary if they were to be fulfilled in every specification.
There is nothing which so stirs men to the holiest living as the story of Jesus Christ. Yet only within the lids of the Bible is that story found. At the cost of great sufferings, God yielded up His son. The history of the ages which prepared for this holy event, and the story of our Redeemer's life are all found within the same volume. These priceless records have been the object of God's infinite solicitude.
The divine Saviour and the holy apostles spoke beforehand of events which would occur even to the end of time. Of what value would such a prophetic revelation be, if it were not to guide those who would pass through the predicted scenes, and if it were not to warn the wicked and encourage the good? This value, however, would be destroyed if the words foretelling the events, the meaning of the events, and the prediction of rewards and punishments were so tampered with that the force of the divine utterance was destroyed. Moreover the very fact that the Word could make such a prediction not only stamps the Word as divine but condemns as wicked, yes, points out as being the predicted apostasy, that system which would either tamper with the Word, or make the Word secondary. The writing of the Word of God by Inspiration is no greater miracle than the miracle of its preservation.
The pathetic question of Pilate, "What is Truth," is not more pathetic than the error of those who say that only by balancing one version against another, or by examining the various manuscript readings, — those of apostates as well as those of the faithful, — can we arrive at approximate truth.
Left to ourselves we stumble through the darkness guided only by the little lamp of reason. But when we accept the Bible, a great light shines upon our path. History and prophecy unite to confirm our faith. Daniel, and John, the apostle, point out the four great empires which succeeded one another, — Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and pagan Rome. After these arose a cruel, anti-Christian power, the Papacy, from whose terrible persecutions the church fled into the wilderness. As Daniel and John predicted, the Papacy trod underfoot the Truth, the Word of God. From false manuscripts she issued a volume which she chose to call a Bible, but added tradition and elevated it to a greater inspiration than the Scriptures themselves.
Eating the bread of poverty and dressed in the garments of penury, the church in the wilderness followed on to serve the Lord. She possessed the untampered manuscripts of holy revelation which discountenanced the claims of the Papacy. Among this little flock, stood out prominently the Waldenses. Generation after generation of skilled copyists handed down, unadulterated, the pure Word. Repeatedly their glorious truth spread far among the nations. In terror, the Papacy thundered at the monarchs of Europe to stamp out this heresy by the sword of steel. In vain the popish battalions drenched the plains of Europe with martyr blood. The word lived, unconquered.
Let Gilly tell us how the Waldenses survived the fury of the Papacy:
"They occupy a mountain district,... and yet from this secluded spot, have they disseminated doctrines, whose influence is felt over the most refined and civilized part of Europe. They... speak the same language, have the same patriarchal habits, and simple virtues, and retain the same religion, which was known to exist there more than a thousand years ago. They profess to constitute the remains of the pure and primitive Christian church, and those who would question their claims cannot show either by history or tradition that they ever subscribed to the popish rituals, or bowed before any of the idols of the Roman Church... They have seldom been free from persecution, or vexatious and intolerant oppression, and yet nothing could induce them to conform, even outwardly, with the religion of the state... In short, there is no other way of explaining the political, moral, and religious phenomenon, which the Vaudois have continued to display for so many centuries, than by ascribing it to the manifest interposition of Providence, which has chosen in them 'the weak things of this world to confound the things that are mighty.'"(1) (Italics Mine.)
The Redeemer said: "Thy word is truth." Rome, the Papacy, did as the prophet Daniel wrote, she "cast down the truth to the ground." While Rome was cruelly persecuting the church in the wilderness, was she also the divinely appointed guardian of the true Word of God? God placed the answer to this question in prophecy. And now the Revised Version, built almost entirely on the Vatican Manuscript, kept in the Pope's library, and upon the Sinaiticus, found in a Catholic monastery, (types of manuscripts upon which the Vulgate was built), comes forward and proposes to set aside the text of our Authorized Bible.
The Authorized Version was translated in 1611, just before the Puritans departed from England, so that they carried it with them across stormy seas to lay the foundation of one of the greatest governments the world has ever known. The Authorized Version of God's Holy Word had much to do with the laying of the foundation of our great country.
When the Bible was translated in 1611, God foresaw the wide extended use of the English language; and, therefore, in our Authorized Bible, gave the best translation that has ever been made, not only in the English language, but as many scholars say, ever made in any language.
The original Scriptures were written by direct inspiration of God. This can hardly be said of any translation. Nevertheless, when apostasy had cast its dark shadow over the Western lands of opportunity, God raised up the men of 1611. They were true Protestants. Many of their friends and associates had already fallen before the sword of despotism while witnessing for the Holy Word. And in a marvelous way God worked to give us through them an English version from the genuine manuscripts. It grew and soon exercised a mighty influence upon the whole world. But this was an offense to the old systems of the past. Then arose the pantheistic theology of Germany, the ritualistic Oxford Movement of England, and the Romanizing Mercersburg theology of America. Through the leaders, or associates of the leaders, in these movements, revised versions were brought forth which raised again to influence manuscripts and versions long discarded by the more simple, more democratic bodies of Christianity, because of the bewildering confusion which their uncertain message produced.
Again the people of God are called upon to face this subtile and insidious program.
It is difficult for them to expose the systematic depravation without being misunderstood, and without being charged with attacking the genuine, while seeking to expose the erroneous mixed with the genuine. They recognize that these modern versions can be used as books of reference even if they cannot be put on a level with the Received Text.
Paul said, in Acts 17:28, "As certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring." Paul quoted good sayings from the pagan poets, but did not use these Greek writers as authority. It is as unthinkable to forbid excellent quotations from pagan and heathen scholars as it would be to place their writings on a level with the pure Word of God. Likewise, parts of modern versions edited by scholars may be used with care in considering Bible verses from another angle. This fact, however, is taken advantage of, to claim divine inspiration for all the rest, and sow confusion among the churches of believers.
Through the Reformation, the Received Text was again given to the Church. In the ages of twilight and gloom, the corrupt church did not think enough of the corrupt Bible to give it circulation. Since the Reformation, the Received Text, both in Hebrew and in Greek, has spread abroad throughout the world. Wherever it is accurately translated, regardless of whatever the language may be, it is as truly the Word of God, as our own Authorized Bible. Nevertheless, in a remarkable way, God has honored the King James Version. It is the Bible of the 160,000,000 English speaking people, whose tongue is spoken by more of the human race than any other. German and Russian are each the languages of 100,000,000; while French is spoken by 70,000,000. The King James Version has been translated into many other languages. One writer claims 886. It is the Book of the human race. It is the author of vastly more missionary enterprises than any other version. It is God's missionary Book.
We shall need the Lord Jesus in the hour of death, we shall need Him in the morning of the resurrection. We should recognize our need of Him now. We partake of Him, not through some ceremony, wherein a mysterious life takes hold of us. When we receive by faith the written Word of God, the good pleasure of the Lord is upon us, and we partake of Him. Through this Word we receive the power of God, the same Word by which He upholds all things, by which He swings the mighty worlds and suns through the deeps of the stellar universe. This Word is able to save us and to keep us forever. This Word shall conduct us to our Father's throne on high. "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the Word of our God shall stand forever."
"The starry firmament on high,
And all the glories of the sky,
Yet shine not to thy praise, O Lord,
So brightly as thy written Word.
"The hopes that holy Word supplies,
Its truths divine and precepts wise,
In each a heavenly beam I see,
And every beam conducts to Thee.
"Almighty Lord, the sun shall fail,
The moon her borrowed glory veil,
And deepest reverence hush on high
The joyful chorus of the sky.
"But fixed for everlasting years,
Unmoved amid the wreck of spheres,
Thy Word shall shine in cloudless day,
When heaven and earth have passed away."
(1) Gilly, Excursions to Piedmont, pp. 258, 259
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