but a reflective moment before his mirror restrained him.

Another reason for this decay of the influence of literary knowledge of the Bible is the shallowness of much of our thinking. If the Bible were needed for nothing else in present literary life, it would be needed for the deepening of literary currents. The vast flood of flotsam and jetsam which pours from the presses seldom floats on a deep current. It is surface matter for the most part. It does not take itself seriously, and it is quite impossible to take it seriously. It does not deal with great themes, or when it touches upon them it deals with them in a trifling way. To men interested chiefly in literature of this kind the Bible cannot be of interest.

but a reflective moment before his mirror restrained him.

That is a passing condition, and out of it is certain to come here and there a masterpiece of literature. When it does appear, it will be found to reveal the same influences that have made great literature in the past, issuing more largely from the Bible than from any other book. That is the main point of a bit of counsel which Professor Bowen used to give his Harvard students. To form a good English style, he told them, a student ought to keep near at hand a Bible, a volume of Shakespeare, and Bacon's essays. That group of books would enlarge the vocabulary, would supply a store of words, phrases, and, allusions, and save the necessity of ransacking a meager and hide-bound diction in order to make one's meaning plain. Coleridge in his Table-Talk adds that "intense study of the Bible will keep any writer from being VULGAR in point of style." So it may be urged that these times have and still need the literary influence of the Bible.

but a reflective moment before his mirror restrained him.

Add that the times have and still need its moral steadying. Every age seems to its own thoughtful people to lack moral steadiness, and they tend to compare it with other ages which look steadier. That is a virtually invariable opinion of such men. The comparison with other ages is generally fallacious, yet the fact is real for each age. Many things tend in this age to unsettle moral solidity. Some of them are peculiar to this time, others are not. But one of the great influences which the Bible is perpetually tending to counteract is stated in best terms in an experience of Henry M. Stanley. It was on that journey to Africa when be found David Livingstone, under commission from one of the great newspapers. Naturally he had made up his load as light as possible. Of books he had none save the Bible; but wrapped about his bottles of medicine and other articles were many copies of newspapers. Stanley says that "strangest of all his experiences were the changes wrought in him by the reading of the Bible and those newspapers in melancholy Africa." He was frequently sick with African fever, and took up the Bible to while away his hours of recovery. During the hours of health he read the newspapers. "And thus, somehow or other, my views toward newspapers were entirely recast," while he held loyal to his profession as a newspaper man. This is the critical sentence in Stanley's telling of the story: "As seen in my loneliness, there was this difference between the Bible and the newspapers. The one reminded me that apart from God my life was but a bubble of air, and it made me remember my Creator; the other fostered arrogance and worldliness."[1] There is no denying such an experience as that. That is precisely the moral effect of the Bible as compared with the moral effect of the newspaper accounts of current life. Democracy should always be happy; but it must always be serious, morally steady. Anything that tends to give men light views of wrong, to make evil things humorous, to set out the ridiculous side of gross sins is perilous to democracy. It not only is injurious to personal morals; it is bound sooner or later to injure public morals. There is nothing that so persistently counteracts that tendency of current literature as does the Bible.

but a reflective moment before his mirror restrained him.

From an ethical point of view, "the ethical content of Paul is quite as important for us as the system of Schopenhauer or Nietzsche. The organization of the New England town meeting is no more weighty for the American boy than the organization of the early Christian Church. John Adams and John Hancock and Abraham Lincoln are only the natural successors of the great Hebrew champions of liberty and righteousness who faced Pharoah and Ahab and put to flight armies of aliens." But aside from the definite ethical teaching of the Bible there is need for that strong impression of ethical values which it gives in the characters around which it has gathered. The conception of the Bible which makes it appear as a steady progression should add to its authority, not take from it. The development is not from error to truth, but from light to more light. It is sometimes said that the standards of morality of some parts of Scripture are not to be commended. But they are not the standards of morality of Scripture, but of their times. They are not taught in Scripture; they are only stated; and they are so stated that instantly a thoughtful man discovers that they are stated to be condemned. When did it become true that all that is told of a good man is to be approved? It is not pretended that Abraham did right always. David was confessedly wrong. They move much of the time in half-light, yet the sum total of the impression of their writings is inevitably and invariably for a more substantial morality. These times need the moral steadying of the Bible to make men, not creatures of the day arid not creatures of their whims, but creatures of all time and of fundamental laws.

Add the third fact, that our times have and still need the religious influence of the Bible. No democracy can dispense with religious culture. No book makes for religion as does the Bible. That is its chief purpose. No book can take its place; no influence can supplant it. Max Muller made lifelong study of the Buddhist and other Indian books. He gave them to the English-speaking world. Yet he wrote to a friend of his impression of the immense superiority of the Bible in such terms that his friend replied: "Yes, you are right; how tremendously ahead of other sacred books is the Bible! The difference strikes one as almost unfairly great."[1] Writing in an India paper, The Kayestha Samachar, in August, 1902, a Hindu writer said: "I am not a Christian; but half an hour's study of the Bible will do more to remodel a man than a whole day spent in repeating the slokas of the Purinas or the mantras of the Rig-Veda." In the earlier chapters of the Koran Christians are frequently spoken of as "people of the Book." It is a suggestive phrase. If Christianity has any value for American life, then the Bible has just that value. Christianity is made by the Bible; it has never been vital nor nationally influential for good without the Bible.

[1] Speer, Light of the World, iv.

Sometimes, because of his strong words regarding the conflict between science and theology, the venerable American diplomat and educator, Dr. Andrew D. White, is thought of as a foe to religion. No one who reads his biography can have that impression half an hour. Near the close of it is a paragraph of singular insight and authority which fits just this connection: "It will, in my opinion, be a sad day for this or for any people when there shall have come in them an atrophy of the religious nature; when they shall have suppressed the need of communication, no matter how vague, with a supreme power in the universe; when the ties which bind men of similar modes of thought in the various religious organizations shall be dissolved; when men, instead of meeting their fellow-men in assemblages for public worship which give them a sense of brotherhood, shall lounge at home or in clubs; when men and women, instead of bringing themselves at stated periods into an atmosphere of prayer, praise, and aspiration, to hear the discussion of higher spiritual themes, to be stirred by appeals to their nobler nature in behalf of faith, hope, and charity, and to be moved by a closer realization of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, shall stay at home and give their thoughts to the Sunday papers, or to the conduct of their business, or to the languid search for some refuge from boredom."[1] Those are wise, strong words, and they sustain to the full what has been urged, that these times still need the religious influence of the Bible.

[1] Autobiography, vol. ii, p. 570.

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