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THE GENIUS OF THE JEWS FOE RIGHTEOUSNESS.
T SHOULD like to express for myself and you our sense of sorrow and bereavement. The Emperor William is dead. He died, it is true, in a good old age. A more illustrious career no man ever had; his work will undoubtedly live after him; but nevertheless his death is a loss—if not an irreparable loss—to the whole human race. It has been quaintly but not untruly said of him, that he made the present century a success. When he came to the throne Prussia was but a second-rate power; and now the destiny of Europe, the future of the world for many years to come, is centred in the Prussian capital He was in all respects a great man. Great, first of all, from his strong sense of duty. In an essay which he wrote to his father at the time of his confirmation, he said, "To be an indefatigable learner and striver for the good of my country shall be the one aim of my public life." And so it always was. He was great enough to see that it was possible and desirable to make Germany into a nation, and great enough to work steadily for this end, even though it lost him for a time the confidence and goodwill of his subjects. He knew that his subjects would believe in him at the last. He was great in discovering, and still greater in allowing himself to be guided by the ablest statesman of perhaps any age. He was great, last of all, in his kindliness. He had not only the bearing and the intellect, but he had also the heart of a king. His people now feel as if they have lost their friend, their father. You can judge the man he was by the way in which he died. He was lying on his simple camp-bed. He talked a good deal about the army and other affairs of State. Some one asked him if he was not tired, to which he replied, " I have no time at present to feel tired." He spoke of his Fritz, his dear Fritz. He listened with pleasure while they read him the 23d Psalm, and after the fourth Verse he exclaimed, " Das ist schon." A noble life! A beautiful death! A glorious entrance into a higher state!" The kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it."
We have now to resume our discussion as to the inspiration of the Bible. It has sometimes been maintained that the Bible came direct from God, that He was its author in the same literal sense in which Newton was the author of the 'Principia,' or Cervantes of 'Don Quixote.' I have explained to you that this cannot be. We find in the Scriptures the same diversities of style, the same variety and even inconsistency of teaching, the same scientific and historical inaccuracies, which we should find in any other collection of books written in different ages, by different individuals, under different circumstances. And let me ask you to notice this is no mere assertion of mine, it is no whim of the Broad Church party, but a simple fact, which can be verified by every one of you. You have only to read the Bible to discover that it contradicts itself. I have given you a few illustrations; I might have given you many more, but you can easily find them for yourselves. And one such instance of contradiction alone is sufficient to prove for ever the human origin of the Bible.
"The human origin of the Bible," I hear some one repeat. "At that rate it cannot be inspired at all, it must be a worthless book, an imposture, a fraud. To study it would be a waste of time; it cannot possibly do us any good; it has no right to any authority over our lives." Softly, my good sir; not so fast if you please. Why is it men always will persist in rushing from one extreme to its opposite? Why is it that, when they have got rid of one error, they are seldom satisfied till they have acquired another greater error in its stead? I will tell you why. Because they are but half educated, and have studied only one side of the subject. In men's attitude towards the Bible we find an illustration of the common tendency to extremes. Generally speaking, it is either worshipped as a deity, or trampled in the dust. I want to-day to point out what seems to me the true via media. Of course this is to some extent a verbal question. If you will mean by inspired, written or dictated by God in such a way as to exclude all possibility of mistake, then it is evident from what I have already said that the inspiration of the Bible must be denied by every intelligent and honest man, by every one who does not wilfully shut his eyes to much of the contents of the book which he professes to reverence as throughout equally divine. But there is no need to define the word in this absurd fashion: there is nothing either in the Bible or out of it to warrant such a definition. Let us see if there be not some other idea involved in the word inspiration which would justify even the most advanced of us in speaking of the Bible as inspired.
Now I reminded you the other day that, according to the teaching of the Book of Genesis, every man is in a sense inspired, is himself an inspiration. "God breathed into man the breath of life, and man became a living soul." Every man is in germ divine. It is manifest that if this Scriptural statement be correct, the inspiration of the Bible can only be a question of degree. If every man is inspired, the authors of the Bible may have been more inspired than their fellows, but that is all. And what do we mean by being more inspired? Simply that their work stands on a higher level, shows more genius, possesses greater value,—is in a word diviner, than the ordinary work of ordinary men. Generally we do not speak of more or less inspiration. We restrict the term to the more remarkable cases. We should speak of a poet as being inspired when he composed his greatest poems. We even apply the term to ourselves in certain exceptional circumstances. When, for example, a very bright idea comes into our head, we are so surprised to find it there, the phenomenon is such an unusual one, that we say "it must have been an inspiration." Now let us ask, bearing in mind the way in which the word is used in common