I will relate to you a kind of dream that I once had. As I was sitting alone one evening, I fancied myself in a large library. I thought I took a book to one corner of it, having an intention of passing a quiet and profitable half-hour. But I fell asleep and when I awoke I found myself in darkness, except that the moon was shining brightly through the windows at the farther end.
I leaned forward to pick up the book which had fallen from my hand while I was asleep. As I did so I was arrested midway by a movement which caught my eyes, on a large table near the opposite window, and as my eyes became more accustomed to the pale moonlight, I saw that several large books were moving about, apparently of their own accord.
Dreamers are never surprised; neither was I. However I was curious to see more; so I stole silently to the shadow of a large armchair near the centre of the room. There I was able to observe some very strange proceedings indeed.
Upon the table, at the end nearest to me, lay a large open Bible. Around it stood eight or nine portly volumes one of which had a quill pen stuck between its pages. With this I found it was making furious little dabs at the prostrate Bible.
I was at a loss to imagine what was the meaning of this curious performance. But after peering more intently towards this lively book I discovered it was busily employed in scoring out verses from the Bible before it, while a brother volume assisted by turning the pages.
I was so indignant at the impiety of this book, that I shouted at the top of my voice, "What are you doing, you impertinent volume?" But my voice was soundless; and the scratching and scoring went on as before. I then observed that in addition to blotting out a verse here and there a word was sometimes scrawled in large ugly letters across a whole passage — such words as "ancient myth," "discrepancy," "unscientific," etc.
As soon as I had recovered a little from the agitation into which I was thrown at the sight of such irreverent dealing with God's holy word, and had realised how powerless I was to interfere, I became anxious to know the titles of these audacious books. There was of course a title on the back of each volume, but though some of the backs were turned towards me they were in shadow, and I was unable to decipher the lettering upon them.
At last one of the number more zealous than the rest, in the act of making an unusually vigorous assault upon the Bible overreached itself, and as it fell forwards the quill pen it held forced open the pages, so that it lay upon the table back upwards. Then I was able to read its title quite easily. It was, "MODERN CRITICAL COMMENTARY."
My attention was then diverted by the sound of tearing of paper which fell on my ears. I soon discovered that this sound proceeded from another part of the table. There I saw that a tall and somewhat slim volume bound in Divinity blue and gold had seized a Bagster's Bible, and was busily engaged in pulling out some leaves which it very disdainfully tossed into the waste paper basket. It was evident that the use of the quill pen was far too tedious an operation for this fine gentleman. He believed in more stringent measures.
I may say that I subsequently had an opportunity of examining the waste paper basket; and I found there the Song of Solomon, the book of Jonah, half of the prophecies of Isaiah, the Epistle by Jude, the second Epistle of Peter, and large portions of nearly every book of scripture. I cannot describe to you how utterly shocked I was at this wholesale destruction of the sacred Book which is God's veritable message to man.
The last daring act of this malicious volume was to hurl what remained of the mutilated Bible into the fireplace where there were still a few smouldering embers. After contemplating its work for a moment with a good deal of evident self-satisfaction, it turned to resume its place on the shelves, and I was able to read the highly ornamented title on its back — "THE LATEST ACHIEVEMENT OF HIGHER CRITICISM."
I was about to give vent to some angry exclamation, when I seemed to hear a voice reverberating like distant thunder, and saying, "Heaven and earth shall pass away; but my word shall not pass away." "The word of our God shall stand for ever." "For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven." At the same instant, a flash as of lightning seemed to pass up and down the rows of books on the shelves.
During the momentary illumination my eye fell upon the volumes of the "Modern Critical Commentary," standing quietly together with all the innocence imaginable. I felt curious to inspect them more closely. I advanced for this purpose, and took down the first volume to ascertain the name of the author. Strange to say I could not discover the title-page. I turned over leaf after leaf only to find them all blank, save that on some of the pages a few words were to be seen here and there. These words I soon made out to be invariably quotations from the Holy Scriptures.
It thereupon occurred to me that after all I might have known it was only the words of God that had any real permanence. Then the voice I had heard came back to me, and the flash of light. Was it possible that all these sceptical writings had suddenly been blotted out? I hastily reached down the dandy in blue and gold, and looked within, only to find that its pages were also blank. Page after page I turned; but while I observed that the paper was stout and of the finest quality, not a printed word was anywhere to be seen. All the fine reasonings and critical arguments had completely vanished, and as the author had utterly ignored the words of the sacred volume he was seeking to demolish, there was not a single text to be seen in his book from beginning to end. So that this fine book was after all hardly worth the paper and binding.
I tested several theological works near me, and they had all been subjected to the same purifying process. The vain thoughts and imaginations of man were all eliminated, and nothing but the pure word of God could be read. The greater proportion by far, of the volumes I examined consisted of so many pages all but quite blank. Only occasionally was there one containing a good many passages of Scripture.
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I expect my readers know that this is a day of warfare against the Bible. Infidelity seeks to destroy it utterly, while Romanism adds to the word of God, and Rationalism takes away from it; and all this animosity will incur the just judgment of God on that account. I do hope, however, that you, meanwhile will recollect that for yourselves you can afford to disregard all attacks upon the scripture, because IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR IT TO BE OVERTHROWN. Let your trust therefore be in the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible.