Testimony to the Influence of the Bible

This collection of books has taken such a hold on the world as no other. The literature of Greece, which goes up like incense from that land of temples and heroic deeds, has not half the influence of this book from a nation alike despised in ancient and modern times. It is read of a Sabbath in all the ten thousand pulpits of our land. In all the temples of Christendom is its voice lifted up, week by week. It goes equally to the cottage of the plain man and the palace of the king. It is woven into the literature of the scholar, and colours the talk of the street. The barque of the merchant cannot sail the sea without it; no ship of war goes to the conflict but the Bible is there. It enters men’s closets; mingles in all the grief and cheerfulness of life. The affianced maiden prays God in Scripture for strength in her new duties; men are married by Scripture. The Bible attends them in their sickness, when the fever of the world is on them. The aching head finds a softer pillow when the Bible lies underneath. The mariner escaping from shipwreck clutches this first of his treasures, and keeps it sacred to God. It goes with the pedlar in his crowded pack; cheers him at eventide when he sits down dusty and fatigued; brightens the freshness of his morning face. It blesses us when we are born; gives names to half Christendom; rejoices with us; has sympathy for our mourning; tempers our grief to finer issues. It is the better part of our sermons. It lifts man above himself; our best of uttered prayers are in its storied speech, wherewith our fathers and the patriarchs prayed. The timid man, about awaking from this dream of life, looks through the glass of Scripture, and his eye grows bright; he does not fear to stand alone, to tread the way unknown and distant, to take the death angel by the hand and bid farewell to wife and babes and home. Men rest on this their dearest hopes. It tells them of God and of His blessed Son; of earthly duties and of heavenly rest. Foolish men find it the source of Plato’s wisdom and the science of Newton and the art of Raphael. Men who believe nothing else that is spiritual believe the Bible all through; without this they would not confess, say they, even that there was a God. Now for such effects there must be an adequate cause. That nothing comes of nothing is true all the world over. It is no light thing to hold with an electric chain a thousand hearts, though but an hour, beating and bounding with such fiery speed. What is it, then, to hold the Christian world, and that for centuries? Are men fed with chaff and husks? The authors we reckon great, whose word is in the newspapers and the market place, whose articulate breath now sways the nation’s mind, will soon pass away, giving place to other great men of a season, who in their turn shall follow them to eminence and then oblivion. Some thousand famous writers came up in this century to be forgotten in the next. But the silver cord of the Bible is not loosed, nor its golden bowl broken, as time chronicles his tens of centuries passed by. Has the human race gone mad? Time sits as a refiner of metal; the dross is piled in forgotten heaps, but the pure gold is reserved for use, passes into the ages, and is current a thousand years hence as well as today. It is only real merit that can long pass for such. Tinsel will rust in the storms of life. False weights are soon detected here. It is only a heart that can speak deep and true to a heart; a mind to a mind; a soul to a soul; wisdom to the wise, and religion to the pious. There must then be in the Bible, mind, heart and soul, wisdom and religion. Were it otherwise, how could millions find it their lawgiver, friend, and prophet? Some of the greatest of human institutions seem built on the Bible. Such things will not stand on heaps of chaff, but mountains of rock. (Theodore Parker.)

- Biblical Illustrator