The Bible as a Whole.
We have reached the end of what we undertook — to take up the word of God from the beginning, and look at each separate book through to the end, and to see, in some little measure at least, what are the contents of each, and the relation of the various books together. I think you will agree with me that while our view has been a very partial and imperfect one, yet we have seen enough to show us that God's word holds together as a perfect and complete whole; that it is not a mere collection of fragments, not a mere aggregation, but that it is indeed a perfect whole. Our subject tonight is the Bible as a whole, and by that you understand of course, not that we are to take up these various books again in any detail, but now to look through the complete vista that is before our eyes and to gather thus some thoughts as to the perfection of that Word, which is so full and yet so absolutely self-consistent in every part.
Think, beloved brethren, of the human authors of this book, beginning with Moses over 1500 years before Christ, down to the latest of the apostles, John himself, at the close of the first century. Think, through all this long period of time, of the unity of thought and purpose in spite of the variety of authors. Let us look for a moment at a few of them. Here you have Moses, a man learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians you have the authors of the historical books, who were doubtless prophets you have the prophets themselves, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others, who were men of ability unquestionably, and yet of very different walks in life. Ezekiel, for instance, was a priest, ministering about the holy things of God. Amos has a different character, a gatherer of sycamore fruit, a man utterly uncultured. Then you have the Psalms of David, the king upon the throne, and by Asaph and others, Levites in their place. You have Solomon, another king, the wisest of all men. Then in the New Testament you have those who were unlearned and ignorant men, fishermen, taken from their common toil, from the money changer's bench, or fishermen's net, or whatever might have occupied them, and entrusted with the pen that was to give the thoughts of God.
And so I say when we look not merely at the length of time through which the word of God was written, but at the various authors who were engaged, and their different characters, we are simply astounded when we see the absolute unity of authorship that is running through the whole perfect book. Whether it be Moses or Paul, whether it be Isaiah or John, you find one common purpose, one mind back of it all, presenting to us His thoughts, unfolding to us His purposes. There is a constant progress all the way through, and yet one consistent purpose from the very beginning to the end of it. Beloved brethren, this in itself is a witness to the divine perfection of the word of God, such as no other book in all the world could give us, and in itself is an argument for that divine inspiration which poor men quibble at so much, and yet which is clearly distinguished even by him whose eye is upon the very surface only.
Now it is such things as that we should look at and give them their proper weight when we take up God's word. Think of a book written in this way, written by authors so varied, and at times so distant one from another, all united and combined so to form one precious truth that the entire volume is as compacted together as any living organism could possibly be. Such is our Bible, God's book. I do not think of Moses, I do not think of the instrument save to wonder how God could take up such unlikely instruments and use them for His glory. For He had, if I may so speak, a twofold difficulty with such a man as Moses or as Paul. They had to unlearn, as well as learn. Again with such a man as Amos or Peter or John himself, you say the instrument is not fit, the mental endowment is not sufficient. Yet here He brings down the exalted one, He lifts up the lowly one, putting them on the one common plane using them as He finds them, making them the channels of His thoughts not their own thoughts yet with this remarkable fact that He never does violence to their individual character. Peter remains Peter and Moses remains Moses. Their abilities can be seen in their writings, their style is there, everything is there that speaks of the man, but there is nothing there that does not speak of God. How amazing how blessed that is.
They talk to us about a human element in inspiration, about the divine truth and the human instrument in which that truth was conveyed as though truth and error were mixed together, and you had, to use the illustration of a popular preacher, to take your winnowing fan and fan out the chaff from the wheat. No, God's precious word is pure grain there is no chaff there. It is the fan that separates the precious from the vile in our lives, ways and hearts but it cannot be judged by man.
Now, I would say, when we dwell on these things we learn a reverence and love for that precious Word which increases with our familiarity with it. Here again there is wondrous difference between the word of God and all men's writings. Man's writings the more familiar you grow with them the less, as a rule, you care for them. You sound their depths, you explore their whole contents, and you know all that they contain. On the other hand, with the word of God will you not bear me out when I say that, in one sense, each fresh reading is as though you had not opened the book before? Each fresh reading unfolds fresh beauties and as you go over it again and again, it resembles, as it were, those virgin soils where you sow a crop and gather it in, and another crop just as fruitful comes in its place. So with God's precious word. This is the experience of the most devoted and diligent student of Scripture. It is not those who pick it up occasionally, or who skim over its surface in the course of a year or two who find new subjects for thought but it is those who dig into its depths, who ponder it day by day who know what this is. The very verses which you know best, — do they not sometimes, like a precious jewel, catch fresh light from the sun and shine with a splendor that you never have thought of before? Take for instance that precious little gospel verse John iii. 16 we know it by heart, alas! we can say it in a very heartless way sometimes, — but, dear brethren, a gleam from heaven strikes into that verse again and again and unfolds to us the heart of God in a fresh way. So I feel as though I could preach the gospel from it over and over again and not touch the same subject on consecutive occasions. It is thus with all His word it is inexhaustible like Himself, because it speaks of Himself.
Now tonight it is not our purpose to enter into the contents of the book that has been done in some measure at least before, but all that we are to do now is to take a general survey. You remember we compared ourselves the first night to Moses climbing to the top of Mount Pizgah and looking over the whole land, seeing its valleys, its hills, its fields, its fountains, everything lying open to him. Now before we close we will attempt to group the books together, or rather to see how they are grouped together, as we have them here in these tables and the diagram, which will set it before the eye as well as the mind.
1. The Pentateuch.
Name of Book — Literal Theme — Spiritual Theme.
Genesis — Creation, and Patriarchal Age — New Creation Life.
Exodus — Redemption and Covenant — Redemption and Communion,
Leviticus — Principles of Access — The Holiest.
Numbers — Trial in the Wilderness — Testing in the World.
Deuteronomy — Review and Lessons — God's end in Government.
We have here in this first table, the Pentateuch, or five books of the Law, written by Moses, which form the foundation and the model upon which all the other books are grouped together. The general theme of this first group, corresponding to its first place, is God's sovereign power and His counsels with regard to His people. Embodied in these five books we have, in germ at least, every principle of divine activity towards men, — election, creation, calling, redemption, communion, holiness, trial, and final glory.
We have already seen the significance of the numerical place of each, and need not more than remind you again of them. We must remember, too, that each book has a literal meaning primarily, and a connection with the times in which, and the people for whom, it was written. It also has a spiritual significance which is closely connected with and grows out of the literal. "All these things happened unto them for types."
1. Genesis, as its name suggests, is the book of the Beginning. It tells of the creation, the fall, the time of conscience, the flood, the dispersion at Babel — and then the lives of the four patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. The entire history may be grouped about seven persons, — Adam, Seth, Noah, and the four already named.
Spiritually, we gather from these the lessons of new creation life in a sevenfold way Christ, the Second Adam, as head; Seth, the setting aside of nature for Christ; Noah, resurrection the power; Abraham, the pilgrim-walk; Isaac, sonship; Jacob, tribulation; Joseph, complete mastery and conformity to the image of Christ.
2. Exodus is the book of Redemption, whether for Israel nationally, or for all God's people spiritually. It tells of bondage, God's judgments on the oppressor, shelter by the blood of the passover Lamb, deliverance through the opened Red Sea, the law at Sinai, and the Tabernacle.
It is hardly necessary to repeat these various themes for the spiritual application. Christ is the key to it all, and He readily opens its wondrous beauties to faith. The number two speaks of redemption.
3. The same may be said of Leviticus. Holiness, whether ceremonial or spiritual, is the theme, suggested by its third place. Sacrifice, priesthood, cleansing, the holiest, practical holiness in walk, and God's ways of holiness to the end, — all are presented here.
4. Numbers needs not more than a word of reminder. A well ordered camp, the forward journey, marred almost at once by unbelief and departure from God; the priestly intercession of Aaron; the certainty of final blessing spite of all failure, and of the desire of the enemy to curse: — such are some of the themes of this book of trial and testing in the wilderness of this world.
5. Deuteronomy comes last, giving us God's review of His people's ways, a repetition of His unchanging principles of holiness, with an outlook into the inheritance now so near; closing with a song of praise and the blessing of the tribes.
This ends the first group, so full and rich in its wondrous unfolding of God's thoughts, and of His ways with His people. It is a steady, onward path, through all obstacles, whether without or within, till the goal is reached.
2. The Books of Covenant History.
Name of Book — Corresponds to — Literal Theme — Spiritual Theme.
Joshua — Genesis — The New Beginning, in the Land — Conquest in Heavenly Places.
Judges, Ruth — Exodus — Departures and Deliverances — Failures and Recoveries.
The Books of Kings — Leviticus — Priest, King, and Sanctuary — Prophet, Priest, and King.
The Captivity Books — Numbers — Mercy for the Remnant Nation — Remnant Church History.
The Chronicles — Deuteronomy — God's Review — Divine Lessons from Past History.
The second group of books comprise what are ordinarily known as the Historical Books, or the Former Prophets. Answering to the second place, they treat of the development and progress of the nation, of the breach which speedily came in, and of God's manifold deliverances. In one sense the book of Judges, with Ruth, would give us the sample of all.
1. Joshua begins here with all the vigor and energy of faith. The two great themes of the book are, first, the conquest, and secondly, the enjoyment of the inheritance God had given them. Mingled with this is the lesson of "no confidence in the flesh," and of the need of divine energy to take full possession of what is ours. The book closes, in a way which prepares us for the book of Judges, with warnings and exhortations.
2. Judges is composed of the sorrowful history of manifold departure on the part of the people, and on God's part of merciful intervention. Ruth, the supplement to Judges, gives us the bright side, showing how grace comes in, and that what was else hopelessly lost is now recovered in the coming King, whose genealogy is given here.
3. This leads to the books of the Kings — Samuel and Kings — where with a wonderful fulness of matter, the prominent thoughts are the priesthood set aside for the prophetic office, till the coming of the king, who establishes the sanctuary and the priesthood. The history of the people under the kings is also given, and dark enough it is, leading on to the captivity in Babylon.
4. Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther are devoted to these remnant times, and show the mercy of God meeting the feebleness of His people. Ezra is devoted to the rebuilding of the temple as a centre; Nehemiah, in keeping with a second place, emphasizes separation from evil, shown in the walls; while Esther shows that the Lord is the Sanctuary of His people even when they knew Him not.
5. The two books of Chronicles are a true Deuteronomy, reviewing the past and gathering divine lessons from it. Prophecy is prominent throughout.
3. The Prophetic Books.
Name of Book — Corresponds To — Spiritual Theme.
Isaiah — Genesis — God's Counsels for His Chosen People.
Jeremiah and Lamentations — Exodus — Divine Sorrow and Salvation for a Sinful People.
Ezekiel — Leviticus — Cleansing and a Sanctuary for a Defiled People.
Daniel — Numbers — Times, Testing, and Failure of the Gentiles.
The Minor Prophets — Deuteronomy — Principles and Ways of Divine Government.
There can be no question that in this third group, we are in the Sanctuary, in the presence of God. This was ever the purpose of the prophetic office, whether in spoken or written ministry. In very many ways Ezekiel is the typical book here, — sanctuary and resurrection hopes for Israel as a nation.
1. Isaiah is chief here, with his magnificent scope, and the unfolding of God's election and sovereignty. He will have the preeminence. Most fittingly His counsels as to Christ are prominent here, and the blessing of Israel and the world through Him.
2. Coming to Jeremiah, we are with a Man of Sorrows. The entire Lamentations are the outpouring of grief as rivers of waters. But amid the tears, faith lays hold of a Saviour. So we have very definite prophecies of the restoration of the people.
3. Ezekiel, the priest, gives us a priestly book, a sort of Leviticus of the Prophets. He sees the defilement of the people which necessitates the removal of God's sanctuary from among them. But when the work of recovering is accomplished, he sees the nation, alive as from the dead, restored to their land with the sanctuary and God's glory in their midst.
4. Daniel is the Gentile Book. It deals with the remnant of the nation in Babylon. He narrates the future history of Gentile dominion in its various phases, whether as image or beasts, till the Son of Man comes and sets up His everlasting Kingdom. It has the most definite prophecies as to the time of the end.
5. As a resume of all we have the twelve Minor Prophets, as they are called, a Deuteronomy to the whole. They are twelve, the number of Government, and divided into four threes.
1. Hosea, God's pleadings with His people.
Amos, God's warnings of His people.
Micah, God's recovery of His people through Christ.
2. Joel, judgments on enemies of Israel.
Obadiah, judgment on Edom.
Jonah, Nineveh spared.
3. Nahum, the Assyrian's pride rebuked.
Habakkuk, faith's resource.
Zephaniah, God in the midst of His people.
4. Haggai, the Lord's house.
Zechariah, final deliverance.
Malachi, everything must wait for the Sun-rise.
This closes the books of the Prophets, a most full and varied unfolding of the thoughts of God.
4. The Psalm Books.
Name of Book — Corrspond To — Spiritual Theme.
Psalms — Genesis — Praise for God's Sufficiency in all Circumstances.
Job — Exodus — Sorrow and Deliverance of the Afflicted.
Song of Solomon — Leviticus — The Bosom of Christ the Holy Place.
Ecclesiastes — Numbers — Earth's Emptiness fully Tested.
Proverbs — Deuteronomy — Wisdom from God for the Path.
The closing section of the Old Testament books is fittingly a fourth; earth's experiences are here recorded, and in lovely grace set to music for us.
1. The Psalms, with their fivefold division, lead here. Among an unlimited number of themes we can mention only a few: God's counsels as to Christ, both as Messiah and as Son of Man, both in His sufferings and glory; the sorrows and experiences of the remnant in view of the enemy, of their own sins, and of Christ in His person and work; the enemy and persecution, doubtless both the Antichrist and the Beast; the judgments upon the world, the coming of Christ, — what a fulness there is!
2. Job gives us the hatred of Satan against the best man on earth, God's sifting through these sorrows, and after he has learned the lesson of "no good thing in me," he is delivered and restored to greater blessing.
3. The Song of Songs is a holy book — and it needs holiness to understand it. It is the history of heart communion with Christ.
4. Ecclesiastes deals with earth and shows us the vanity of everything under the sun.
5. Proverbs is God's garnered wisdom for the earthly path.
B. The New Testament Books.
Name of Book — Corresponds To — Spiritual Theme.
The Four Gospels — Genesis — The Eternal Life in the Person.
The Acts — Exodus — Deliverance from the Bondage of Judaism,
Paul's Epistles — Leviticus — Full Manifestation of the Way into the Holiest.
The General Epistles — Numbers — Practical Testing and Needed Grace for the Way.
The Revelation — Deuteronomy — Divine Judgment, and the End in View.
The New Testament, as has been said by another, is not a fifth group, coordinated with the four of the Old Testament, but it forms a second, the salvation number. Salvation through the Son of God.
1. The four Gospels give us His perfect life: Matthew, the King of the Jews, Mark the lowly Servant, Luke the Son of Man, John the Son of God. His death in each corresponds to the theme of the book.
2. The Acts give us the history of the deliverance of the people from Judaism. It begins at Jerusalem and ends at Rome, the Gentile city.
The most important event narrated in it is the descent of the Holy Ghost. Various instruments are used — Peter, Stephen, and Paul, but it is the Spirit's work all through.
3. Paul's fourteen epistles give us a perfect Leviticus. They are divided into two pentateuchs, of standing and of relationship.
Romans, God's righteousness the foundation. Galatians, deliverance from law.
Ephesians, the full portion in Christ.
Colossians and Philemon, Christ the object for the walk.
Philippians, Christ the way and the end.
1 & 2 Thessalonians, in the Father, and waiting for the Son.
1 & 2 Corinthians, the Church as a vessel of testimony.
Hebrews, Christ the sacrifice and the way into the holiest.
1 & 2 Timothy, practical walk, in the Church. Titus, wisdom for the way, and the end.
4. The General epistles are four as to authors; Peter, James, John and Jude. Peter has to do with the pilgrim walk; James, practical separation for God; John has his head on the Lord's bosom; and Jude gives the final word of warning.
5. The Revelation closes all, leaving nothing to wish or ask for: Evil is put down, there is a new heaven and a new earth, and with the Lamb in the heavenly city, with glories past all telling, we find our eternal home.
This will suffice as to the tables, which have at least enabled us to get another glimpse of the books. I must now ask you to look at the diagram opposite.
You notice it is a pentagon — a five sided figure, having four smaller pentagons grouped about one in the centre. We have already seen that five is the model upon which the pentateuch was written, and indeed the entire Scripture.
These five smaller pentagons are the groups of the Bible books, we have just been going over. There are four grouped about a central one. This central one is the New Testament which reveals Christ, and when once He is known we have each Old Testament group in its place. You will notice that each group is composed of its five parts answering to the five sides of the pentagon. You will also see that a blank space is left on the side of the Revelation, marked "the unsearchable riches of Christ" and that the large pentagon encloses all. I must explain the meaning of this large pentagon.
Need I remind you of that prophecy in Isaiah where we are told that a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, whose name shall be called Emmanuel, God with us? In the divine interpretation of that fact in the first chapter of the gospel of Matthew, it is explained as applying to Jesus. Very beautiful it is to notice that in the prophet Isaiah He is called Emmanuel, in Matthew He is called Jesus. In the one case it is God with us, in the other it is Jesus here upon earth. Now bearing that in mind when we look at our chart anew, you find that we have in this five sided figure that which presents to us the person of the Son of God, God incarnate, the creator with the creature.
Each of the sides will suggest a feature: "The word was God." First of all, He is the centre of divine glory, what He ever was. Then He became incarnate, and humbled Himself to the place of lowly obedience, made under the law then He went to the cross and endured that death and shame for our sakes; then God has highly exalted Him, and placed Him at His own right hand, far above all principalities and powers and might and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this world but also in that which is to come. So in this blessed One, "God with us," who is so perfectly suggested to us in the number five, we have one who controls and who takes up man in his weakness, as the thumb holds and controls the four fingers. The weakness of the creature is suggested in the four, and the perfection of almighty power in the one. They are linked forever together, and form thus as it were a living hand, stretched out from God's infinity and laid upon our poor guilty heads, healing us, cleansing the leper, comforting the mourners, raising the dead. That living hand of the living God, that five, speaks all through the precious person of Christ. Beloved brethren, is there not a divine truth there? is there not something to take hold of us? Do we not feel that we have that hand laid upon us? never the hand of weakness though it is a human hand, never the hand of four that speaks of weakness and failure, but that perfect, divine, controlling hand linked forever with man, which holds us fast and says nothing shall pluck us out of His hand.
And now do you catch the thought that is presented to us in this figure? We have that which surrounds the entire word of God. We have here the word of God in its varied perfections set before us, beginning with the law, and going on to the covenant history, then to the prophets, then the experience books, and these all linked to the New Testament. But what is the surrounding, what is the theme of them all? Christ Himself is the theme — I say it reverently, — that is greater than all, the person of the Son of God Himself, the subject of all.
So it is not without thought that I have set before our eyes here the fact — and I say it reverently, dear friends, — that the blessed person of Christ Himself is greater than the written word of God. There is in Him a fulness which, even with that word opened before us, we cannot fathom. "No man knoweth the Son but the Father." Is it not a fact that God only knows Christ? As we sometimes sing:
"The higher myst'ries of Thy fame
The creature's grasp transcend."
Thus we see here in our figure that which reminds us of Him, and to me it is quite suitable that you should have opposite the book of Revelation, that book which as it were opens the portals of heaven and shows us those pure depths, — depths simply of eternity with no obscurity to dim them these unexplored riches of Christ as well. What He puts before us in the book of Revelation is the Lamb; "the Lamb is the light thereof." It is the throne of God and of the Lamb that are there. And so what have we before us? Christ is the theme of all the word of God; it is Christ from Genesis through the Old Testament; Christ in all His fulness in the New Testament; Christ in the book of Revelation, and as we stand there looking on into eternity, still it is Christ, the blessed Christ of God. He is never, no never exhausted.
And so, brethren, I make no apology for having this gap there, suggesting to our minds that even the perfect written revelation of God leaves untouched depths in the character and person and work of our blessed Saviour, which only the heart of God can grasp, and of which it will be our happy occupation through all eternity to learn. "Now we know in part, then we shall know even as we are known." Fittingly in connection with the book of Revelation we look out into the infinite fulness of Christ. It reminds me, and explains partly, what the apostle John says at the close of his gospel, — and it is very fitting that he who has given us the fulness of Christ as no other writer has, should say, "there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written." As we take up our precious Bible, we say it reveals Christ, it reveals Him in His fulness, but oh, if our God had written a book that was to give us everything as to the Lord, we suppose the world itself would not contain the wondrous unfoldings.
Now do you understand how it is that eternity will be fully occupied, how we shall spend there in diligent joy our time in exploring heights and depths of perfection in Him who humbled Himself, that He might make Himself known to us? Things that we have had a little apprehension of, things that we have seen in germ, touched upon as it were, bearing full flower and fruitage to occupy our praise, to call forth ever fresh adoration, worship, and praise to God and Christ.
But then we come back to the fact that it will be no new person who attracts us. It is the One who is well known that we shall see there. We will be in strange scenes, we shall have wondrous glories unfolded before us, we shall see depths in His character never known before, but, it is the same Jesus that we know now; it is the Lamb whom we have learned to trust, whose precious blood was shed for us here, that we shall know there in all His fulness, and be ourselves conformed to Him.
And that brings us again back to this precious Word that unfolds Him, a Word that by its very structure has spoken to us of divine perfection and divine character. You see my thought is not, of course, that there is the slightest imperfection in the word of God; so far from that, it is absolutely perfect, absolutely complete in every particular; but that it is written for man, written for us here, and therefore in itself is limited for our sakes. As Paul said, when he saw things that could not be uttered, that it was not lawful for a man to speak of, so even this precious word of God declares to us that there is coming a time when we shall see, not through a glass darkly but face to face all the glories.
But that reminds me of another thing, for I feel that we want to rivet these things together closely. The other truth is "eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things that God hath prepared for them that love Him, but"' — and here is where most people stop, — "God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit, for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God." Now you see we have before us things that the heart of man could not grasp, things of infinite fulness, yet that Spirit searcheth into those depths, has come down and reveals to us out of infinite fulness the precious deep things of God; the Holy Spirit unfolding to us that which the heart of man could not grasp. And this brings together for us again the precious fact that in the word of God, in this absolutely perfect word, we have a suited instrument for the Spirit of God to make known to us the things that have not been thought of by man before.
And thus we turn to our Bible not wishing for it to have another chapter or syllable in it, remembering at the close of the book of inspiration, the last chapter of Revelation, man is warned not only against taking away from the words of the prophecy of this book, but against adding one syllable to it. How perfect a book that we need not add one word to, and we dare not take one word from, — a perfect revelation of a perfect God.
And so brethren I leave this subject with you, as it rests in our minds, just with these thoughts: the word of God a consistent, perfect whole, herd together absolutely by a cord of truth, a common thought underlying all, and revealing one perfect Christ for our souls. Shall we take it up, shall we study it as never before? with the faith that there is this in it for us?
We learn our blessed God through His word, we learn all the fulness of His love to us through that same precious word; and we meet on the other hand the enemy of our souls, we meet all the opposition in a world like this, by that word of our blessed Lord, "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." You notice Satan's temptation to Him there: he says, If thou be the Son of God; our Lord's answer is, "Man shall not live by bread alone." Satan would test His claim to divine glory, our Lord says I am here as man, I am here to be tempted as man, and man shall live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Well it is for us if we are furnished simply with that precious Word in imitation of our Lord Himself, who thus met the enemy with all his temptations. If we meet him and conquer him, it must be in the same way.
But that suggests to us another thought, that the Lord did not say to Satan that man shall meet the enemy by the word of God, but man shall live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. How is it that we oftentimes have so little power to meet the enemy, so little power to resist temptation? We know the Scriptures perhaps intellectually, but when the time of testing and temptation comes, how true it is that we have but little power with that Word. The reason is not far to seek: "Thy words were found and I did eat them, and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart." His word is to be lived upon, and as we take this precious book and live by it, and live in it, we shall find it is food that enables us to meet that enemy. As we grow stronger by feeding on that Word the enemy himself has no power over us, the world can have no charm for us, and thus we go on in all the strength which our blessed God gives us.
That leads me to another thought, a very practical and a very simple one, and yet surely one that we need to be reminded of. We are living, beloved brethren, I believe more than ever in the world's history, in the time when it is the mind that Satan is using to lead people from God. I know that it is an age of material prosperity; inventions, pleasures — everything of that kind — are spread before our eyes, and the paths of attraction and allurement lead everywhere. But, after all, what is it that is Satan's master work? He is turning the minds of men from God, he is filling them with that which is not truth, and then he knows after that it is a very simple matter as to their walk. And so those who look on things superficially, think that the world is improving because perhaps there is not so much vice, or so much crime outwardly as there used to be, though there is grave question as to that. I believe corruption and wickedness are on the increase, but people have a way of looking at things superficially. Civilization is on the increase; improvement, education, everything of that kind, has made wonderful advance, and people say things are growing better. But do you know that the enemy has laid his defiling hands on the very fountains of men's knowledge? The supplies that nourish the minds of men are defiled. Look at the schools today. They are schools of infidelity. Look at what is called science today; it is made to teach man that he can get along quite well without the thought of God. Take up any branch of science, and you will find that the enemy's effort is just to eliminate God, to eliminate Christ, to eliminate the word of God.
What is it that men are feeding on today? the wretched, vile newspaper, the wretched literature with which the country is flooded, that in the most insidious and subtle way is leading men away from the truth.
I tell you, brethren, those thoughts in men's hearts to which they would not dare to give expression now, are gradually and insidiously forming. For instance, the fear of God is insidiously removed, and the sense of the justice and judgment of God is being taken away in the same manner. The result is that men are beginning to think, and think strongly, that perhaps after all the old thoughts are a little too harsh and that there must be some way for infinite mercy to act without consigning men to eternal judgment. I believe if we let our minds be fed and moulded by the literature of the day in which we are living, we lose the sense of God's righteous judgment upon the ungodly.
In like manner I might take up other doctrines. Take the truth of the atonement. It has not been long since a leader of religious thought openly declared that men could be saved in other ways than by the atonement; that they could be saved by the light of nature, that they might be saved through the Church, that they might be saved by reason, as well as by Christ. Ah! brethren, I know what the enemy is doing; he is poisoning the very fountain heads, and the result is that in this way as never before, you find infidelity fearfully increasing, and I have ventured to predict that if the Lord tarry but a little while longer, the rising generation even more than this will be a generation of infidels. What will be the end of it? Things even now are ripening for the great apostasy. We can see it, and I believe the one great instrument in connection with it is this instrument of modern literature.
If you allow me I will give you an illustration as to that, which shows how closely they are linked together. We know that the apostasy is led on by the man of sin, the antichrist who is a Jew and who discards the God of his fathers, the religion of his fathers, everything that he might be supposed to prize. He lifts himself up as in a sense divine. I believe that the present poisoning of the world's literature can be traced to the defiling source that will produce the antichrist himself. It is only during the last hundred years that literature has made such advancement. And it is only since the wondrous awakening of thought amongst the Jews, and in connection with what is called reformed Judaism, the revival of thought amongst that scattered and despised people, that infidelity has made such rapid progress. All this higher criticism that had its birth in Germany, this denial of the divine element in the word of God, this picking and criticizing, until the whole word of God is made in their hands a mass of tattered rags, where did it originate? It originated first of all with what are called reformed Jews, who denied the inspiration of the Pentateuch; and so-called Christians learned to imitate them, and take up the same argument and apply it to the New Testament. The higher criticism owes its origin to the Jew.
In like manner take the periodicals, the daily periodical literature of the city of New York, — in whose hands is it largely? in infidel hands and amongst those infidels there are not a few Hebrews. This is true not only in New York, but in many other cities which are centres of the world's thoughts, — there you find the hand of the Hebrew, apostate from the religion of his fathers.
Now I speak of this simply to show how we are living in days of decline and ruin, with the apostasy just before us, and in order to give us a warning as to education. Those of us who have children, what are we to do? Let them grow up ignorant? Ah! there has to be the good fight of faith for them as never before. Parents have got to see to it that what their children do not get at school, they are to get at home and that the errors taught them there, they are taught at home to combat and overcome in the fear of God. What prayer, what faith, what energy and zeal all this means for us.
Are we to shut ourselves up and be recluses? We cannot do that; the fight is too hot for that, we dare not run away. We are to fight on with the precious word of God. We are to take up the literature that God has given us, the literature that is in the Word, which is perfect and as we are fed and filled and fitted by that for the conflict, we need not fear all the armies of the enemy. We can put them to flight, even in a world that is hastening on to apostasy. Our own souls can be brighter and brighter, becoming purified by the precious word of our God, and the prayer of our Lord Jesus will be answered, "Sanctify them through Thy truth, Thy word is truth." "Thy word": let us take it, let us hold it, let us read it and study it as never before. Do not let us discard a single line of that precious Word. Do not say that you cannot read the prophets because they are too deep for you that you cannot read Chronicles because it is too dry for you. Do not say that there is one line or syllable of the word of God which you can afford to let go.
I want to be very explicit: let us read our Bible day by day, chapter after chapter, book after book, through and through and when we get through with it let us take it up again and read it over and over. We shall always get something fresh for our souls, and not only so, but we shall find — what we have been endeavoring to see in these meetings here — a perfection in it that will bring out adoring worship all the more. May the Lord make this a practical reality for our souls. May He in His love awaken His dear people, to live by His word till He come.