M. M. (Morrison Meade) Davis.

How to be saved : a study of first principles online

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downward way to ruin, and on the pathway of the
just it shines more and more unto the perfect day.
The murderer can not drive it from his narrow cell,
and all bad men and demons combined can not rob
the dying martyr of its holy presence. And during
eternity it will still soothe the soul.

Tell man that there is no God, and after a moment
of terrible suspense he will look you in the face and
declare that your teaching is inhuman; that if this
life is not to be followed by another and better life;
that if hopes are only born to be blighted; if ties
are only made to be sundered; if heart yearnings
are only roused to be crushed; if man is only
created to be destroyed — then God must be either


weak or wicked. He will quote you Browning's
forceful lines:

"Truly there needs another life to come !
If this be all,

And another life await us not, for one,
I say 'tis a poor cheat, a stupid bungle,
A wretched failure. I for one protest
Against, and I hurl it back with scorn."

Is there a God? Yes; or the voice of Nature is
false, and the deepest instincts of the heart are mis-


1. Define "principle."

2. What is the first question in the heart of a
truth-seeker ?

3. May we expect perfect answers?

4. Give the first argument.

5. Give the second argument.

6. Give the Dr. Franklin incident.

7. Give the illustrations of the poem, picture
and watch.

8. Tell us of "Neptune's Cup."

9. Give the argument from "within."
10. Is worship natural to man?





1. Unity.

a. The People from Whom It Came.

b. The Number of Writers.

c. Character of Writers.

d. Length of Time They Were Writing.

e. Changes During This Time.

2. Vitality.

a. Some are Commonplace.

b. Some are Displaced by Better Books.

c. Some are False.

3. Utility.

a. Geographical.

b. Law.

c. Politics.

d. Literature.
. e. Painting.

/. Sculpture.
g. Music.
h. Woman.

4. Adaptation.

5. Indestructibility,

6. Progressiveness.

7. Revelations.



God Speaking to His Children.

If there is a God, and if that God, as the Chris-
tian beheves, is our Father, then we may be sure he
has spoken to his children; for what earthly parent,
with a child away from home, would not, if he could,
communicate with him? Hence our second study:
Did the Bible come from God?

In the discussion of this large question both our
purpose and space forbid the discussion of details.
Even the much-discussed question of inspiration
must be passed by with a sentence, for we have in
mind the young soul in search of the truth, and not
the learned theologian, or the average Christian with
years of experience and knowledge. Lowth, speak-
ing on this subject, says: "Inspiration may be re-
garded, not as suppressing or extinguishing for a
time the faculties of the human mind, but of purify-
ing and strengthening and elevating them above
what they would otherwise reach." It is like the
sun shining through colored glass. The colors in the
glass are not destroyed, but rather heightened and
brightened. And so the personality of the Bible
writers is preserved and perpetuated. Paul, for
example, is as distinctly himself when inspired by
God, as when he writes of his own accord.

Nature bears the marks of divine origin. Man
never made the heavens or the earth. As well might



we say that the great bridges which span our rivers

and the ships which ride the seas are the works of

ten-year-old boys. And so the Bible bears marks of

its divine origin. What are some of them?

, ,, . The Bible is one book ; not be-

I. Its Unity -J. • I. J • -1

cause it IS bound m a smgle

voulme, but because of the plan and purpose mani-
fest on every page. "Paradise Lost" and 'The
Course of Time" are not more distinct unities.
Barnes is right in claiming that it has "a beginning,
a middle and an end — a beginning, a middle and an
end more complete, extending through more years,
and embracing a greater variety of characters and
events, than any other volume in the world — its
beginning the beginning of creation; its middle the
Incarnation and the Atonement; its end the consum-
mation of the world's affairs."

That we may the better appreciate this high and
true claim, let us remember:

a. The People from Whom It Came. The
Jews had no scientific or literary fame. They were
regarded as narrow and bigoted, with no ambition
in these directions. The Chaldeans and Egyptians
had their observatories through which they were
familiar with the heavens, and splendid temples dedi-
cated to literature, science and religion. Had the
Bible come from these people, it would not have
been so strange. But it came from a people just the
reverse; a people as incapable of producing such a
book, as Alaska is of producing the California
orange. And yet Milton (and who knows better?)
says: "No songs are comparable to the songs of


Zion ; no orations are equal to those of the prophets ;
and no politics are like those which the Scriptures

b. The Number of the Writers. The Bible of
the Chinese has but one author — Confucius ; and the
Koran is from the pen of Mohammed. But the
Bible has about forty authors.

c. Character of These Writers. Some of
them were men of renown, and others were fisher-
men and shepherds. Some were men of culture,
and others were ''unlearned and ignorant." Some
of them, by travel, had come in touch with the wis-
dom of the world, but most of them were never
beyond the narrow limits of their native land.
Travel, a vital factor in education, was denied them.

d. The Length of Time They Were Writing.
The Bible was not written in a single year, or dur-
ing a period of several years, but more than fifteen
hundred years swept by between its beginning and
its close.

e. The Changes Going on in the World Dur-
ing This Time. These were many and vast. The
whole earth was feverish and restive like a volcano ;
it heaved and sighed and groaned like an ocean in a
storm. Great conquerors founded empires which
swayed the world for a moment, and then passed
away; and discoveries followed each other in rapid
succession in the scientific world ; there was as little
rest among the scholars as among the soldiers; and
vast revolutions of many kinds were shaking the
earth to her center. But, despite all this, the Bible
writers, like men in a cave, sheltered from the storm


raging about them, slowly and surely pushed their
work to completion.

How, under these circumstances, are we to
account for the perfect unity of the Bible? It came
from a people who had never produced anything of
the kind; it is the joint work of more than forty
writers differing greatly from each other and
without conference with each other, or knowl-
edge of the fact that they were engaged in writing
a single book; their work covered a period of more
than fifteen hundred years of the most turbulent his-
tory of the world. (What man has lived long
enough to supervise the writing of a book during so
long a time?) And yet the keynote sounded at first
was the keynote to the last. *'It is susceptible of
easy proof," says Barnes, "that one part is the com-
pletion or complement of the other, as the two parts
of a tally, or as complementary colors; not as the
Jews would have done it, but as it was intended to
be. There is a scheme commenced. There is an
anticipation. There is progress. There is a comple-
tion in the Messiah. There is the unfolding of a
plan through many centuries ; one writer in one age
stating one thing, and another in another, as if in
one age an artist should have fashioned an arm,
and another a leg, and one a hand and another
a foot; one the nose, another the lips, another
the chin; one the form and size of the head,
and another the body; and all at last should have
been put together in the form of Minerva or
Apollo." Such a book is as different from all other
books as the sun is different from a taper, and, like


the sun, it bears on its shining face the proof of its
divine origin.

Books, like men, are born,
^* ^ 1 a 1 y j.^^ their Httle day, die, and are
forgotten. This results from various causes :

a. They are Commonplace. They lack the
merit that perpetuates. They have a few friends
and a local reputation, but the great, wide world
neither knows of them nor cares for them. It is
appalling to see this large and ever-increasing list;
it is enough to make an author's pen fall from his
fingers. It is like the advance of an army, which
can be traced by the refuse in its wake. Here is
an old wagon; there is a disabled piece of artil-
lery; and yonder an old horse, no longer able to
keep his place in the ranks. And so there are
many books which can not keep up with the pro-
cession of this ongoing world. Their only friend
is the antiquarian. We may preserve them be-
cause they are rare. But this is a doubtful honor,
for if they had been valuable they would not have
been rare.

h. They Have Been Displaced by Better
Books. If all of this class were piled together,
they would make a small mountain. They were
once useful, but better books have taken their place,
and they are now fit companions of the old-time
engine and reaper.

c. They are False. The works of Ptolemy,
with all other books founded on the Ptolemaic sys-
tem of astronomy, are illustrations of this class.
Though ingenious and profound, they passed away


when the Copernican theory was established; and
their chief value to-day is that they mark the mighty
progress of science.

But the Bible belongs to none of these classes.
It is not found in the hands of the antiquarian, hon-
ored solely because of its quaintness and its age;
better books are not pushing it aside and it is not
being discarded because of its errors; but it holds
its high place in the vanguard of the world. It is
translated into more languages than any other book;
better presses are printing it; more money and skill
are spent on its embellishment; it finds a welcome
in more and better homes ; and its influence is now
greater than ever before. It has withstood alike its
furious foes and its false friends ; and, like its
Author, it remains the same "yesterday, to-day and
for ever," needing no revision and adaptation, as
does our Constitution. A few years ago, when a
new translation of the New Testament reached New
York, a Chicago daily, rather than wait a few hours
for the railroad train to bring it, had it flashed over
the wires, and gave it in full in a single issue to its
readers. Does that look like it had lost vitality? It
throbs with life to-day as it has always done, and it
thrills with life everything that receives it. It is as
unlike any other book as the mountain is like a mole-
hill, and it shows, as does the mountain, that Jehovah
is its Author.

Here is, perhaps, its highest

^ proof of heavenly origin. That

which always ennobles, elevates and purifies must be

of God. In my old Virginia home the land is thin


and much fertilizer is used, each plant of tobacco
receiving a tablespoonful of the guano. It some-
times happens that a small part of a field is neg-
lected because the supply of fertilizer is exhausted.
In such a case you can tell by the feebleness of the
plant every one so neglected. And when we look
over the world we can discover by the rich foliage
and fruit just where the fertilizing influence of the
old Book has gone. "Where there is no vision, the
people perish : but he that keepeth the law, happy is
he" (Prov. 29:18).

There are those who claim that human culture,
philosophy, science, art, etc., are better for man than
the Bible. If so, the map of the world should show
it. Egypt was once the seat of the world's best
learning, but her scholars as well as her serfs bowed
in worship to the brute. Greece in her palmiest days,
when reason and philosophy reigned supreme, was
gross and sensual in her devotions. And when
Corinth was famous for beauty and elegance, Venus,
the very personification of lust, was her goddess.
At best these powers could only elevate the few, and
these they failed to purify. They could build the
pyramids and the Coliseum, but they could not build
up the morals of the people. One emperor slew
twenty thousand men in celebrating a Roman holi-

a. Geographical. Now see the Bible tested.
Look upon the lands where it has been open to the
masses, and you see the noblest men, the purest
women, the largest liberty and the best government.
Behold England, Scotland and America. Then fol-


low the missionary in Asia, Africa and the Sand-
wich Islands, and see vice changed to virtue ; savages
to saints ; barbarism to civilization ; and woman, the
degraded beast of burden, loved and honored as
mother, wife, sister and daughter. Some years since
a ship was wrecked off one of the Fiji Islands. The
crew expected to be devoured by cannibals. But
when two of them discovered a church, they
shouted, "All right ; here is a church ; no fear now !"

b. Law. And in its influence it touches all parts
of life. In the realm of law, reason perhaps reaches
its highest development, and yet the Bible seems a
fixture there. A skeptical lawyer, impressed with
the accuracy, profundity and marvelous comprehen-
siveness of the Ten Commandments, said: *T have
read history. The Egyptians and the adjacent
nations were idolaters; so were the Greeks and
Romans ; and the wisest and best Greeks and Romans
never gave a code like this. Where did Moses get
this law which surpasses the wisdom and philosophy
of the most enlightened ages?" And soon he became
a Christian. And along w^ith this sound reasoner
are found Blackstone, Marshall, Story and Kent.

c. Politics. It also blesses in the political realm.
Even Voltaire said, ''Not to believe in any God
would be an error incompatible with wise govern-
ment." An African prince sent an ambassador to
Queen Victoria, asking the secret of England's
superiority among the nations. The Queen, handing
the ambassador a copy of the Bible, said, "Go tell
your prince that this is the secret of England's polit-
ical greatness." And Japan was unknown as a world


power until the Book was opened in her midst. The
nation that receives it feels the flush of health and
the vigor of life in the body politic. Great statesmen
like Burke and Pitt and Webster might be called as
witnesses here. Let us hear Webster: "If we ^bidc
by the principles taught in the Bible, our country
will go on prospering and to prosper, but if we and
our posterity neglect its instructions and authority,
no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may over-
whelm us, and bury our glory in obscurity."

d. Literature. And what is true in law and
political science is equally true in learning and liter-
ature. Whence the origin of the great schools of
the civilized world, such as Prague, Heidelberg,
Leipzig, Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard and Yale?

Now, is it strange that in this realm it makes and
moulds the best, for when mind meets mind, both are
sharpened ; and when the mind of man comes in con-
tact with the mind of God, every human faculty is
aroused to the utmost. When blind Bunyan was
locked up for twelve years in Bedford jail, his
library consisted of the Bible and Fox's "Book of
Martyrs," and he produced "Pilgrim's Progress," the
most remarkable book of its kind in the world. And
Shakespeare, that wonderful prodigy, who, like the
sun, belongs to all men, would not have been Shake-
speare but for the Bible. His works contain more
than five hundred Bible quotations and Bible senti-
ments. He quotes from or refers to fifty-four of its
sixty-six books ; and in every one of his thirty-seven
plays there are Scriptural references. These two
masterpieces in literature, like most of the best


things in it, are saturated with the word of God.

e. Painting. And what would the world of
painting be without the Bible? There would be no
Raphael's ''Transfiguration"; no Angelo's "Last
Judgment"; no Murillo's "Moses Striking the
Rock"; no Rubens' "Descent from the Cross," and
no Da Vinci's "Last Supper."

/. Sculpture. In sculpture, a sister to the
realm of painting, the loss would be equally great.
We would miss Angelo's "Moses"; Canova's "Pen-
itent Magdalene," and Thorwaldsen's "Christ and
the Apostles."

g. Music. Without this Book the world of music
would be poor indeed. We would not have Handel's
"Sampson," "Saul" and "Messiah"; nor Haydn's
"Creation"; nor Beethoven's "Mount of Olives";
nor Mendelssohn's "Elijah" and "Paul."

h. Woman. And what would woman be without
this blessed Book? Before its gracious beams shone
upon her way, she Vv^as the toy or plaything of man,
or a beast of burden yoked with the oxen of the field.
Even in the classic glory of Greece the most common
symbol on her tomb v\^as a muzzle, implying that she
should not speak; or a pair of reins, indicating that
she should be driven by her husband. But, with its
aid, she has risen to the high, holy and tender place
of mother, wife, sister and daughter.

But what need to say more ? What it has done in
these spheres, it has done in all spheres. It blesses
all ranks and conditions — the rich and the poor, the
weak and the strong, the wise and the ignorant, the
master and the slave, the prince and the peasant.


And its blessings are not confined to the spiritual.

It builds schoolhouses, colleges and universities, as

we have already seen ; it builds hospitals, almshouses

and orphanages ; it builds railroads, telegraphs and

steamships. In a word, it gives to us our best

civilization, and, as the benediction of Heaven, it

ever hovers over the home of man.

In proof of all this let us hear a single famous

witness, and one whose bias was against the Book —

Charles Darwin. While on a scientific voyage he

touched at Terre del Fuego. He was horrified at the

degradation of the inhabitants, and doubted whether

they belonged to the human race. Science noted the

awful fact, but made no effort to change it; but the

church, hearing the sad news, rushed to the rescue.

Two noble fellows led the way, and were murdered

by the bloodthirsty savages. But again and again

the ranks of the fallen were refilled, until the victory

of the Cross was won. And, let it be said in honor

of Mr. Darwin, when he saw what the Bible had

done for them, he became a regular contributor to

the South American Missionary Society.

There are to-day one billion
4. Its Adaptation /; 1 j 1 ^1 1 1

nve hundred thousand people on

the earth, and they are as varied as the leaves of the
forest or the grasses of the field — the white man, the
black man, the yellow man, the brown man — and yet
this Book, when its teachings are heard and heeded,
meets all the spiritual wants of this vast throng. No
man can deny the race distinctions among them, for
the> are as clear as the distinctions between the lion,
the horse and the ox. Yet it is the glory of the


Book that it has a voice for every race, and a help-
ing hand for every man. At a meeting in Glasgow
this question was being discussed, when one speaker
argued that some races, like the Bushman, were so
degraded as to be beyond the reach of the Bible. A
stranger rose and said: "I don't pretend to be able
to dispute with the learned gentleman, but I will
tell what I know, for I am a Bushman, one of the
same little fellows he claims are incapable of moral
development One of them was educated and con-
verted by a missionary. One night an English
cavalry officer was lost. Filled with despair, he saw
a light in the distance. The Bushman, hearing the
clatter of the horse's feet, stood in the door of his
humble home, and, at the approach of the lost sol-
dier, he bowed low, and asked him to come in.
When supper was over and bedtime came, he told
the stranger that it was the custom in that home to
read the Bible and pray before going to sleep, and
he requested the Englishman to lead in that service.
But he said with shamefacedness that he had never
learned to pray. The Bushman himself then read
and prayed. In the light of this example I think it
clear that even this stunted, jabbering, ape-like race
is capable of receiving and living the truth of God.''
No book ever had such firm

5. Its Indestructi- friends and such furious foes as

the Bible. The war waged against

it has been bitter, long and relentless ; but, like the

burning bush, it refuses to be consumed. Critics in

all ages, learned and strong, have shown to their own

satisfaction that it was a myth or a fable, unworthy


of God, and unfit for man. A hundred years ago
it was outlawed in France, and the awful Reign of
Terror began. The Bible was burned, God was
dethroned, the Lord's Day was erased from the stat-
ute-books, and the streets of Paris ran with blood.
It looked like all was lost. Voltaire, the leader, bold
and blatant, said: 'T am going through the forests
of your Christian doctrines, and will girdle every
tree, so that presently not a sapling shall be left
you." (Little did he think that the very house used
by him in which to declare his purpose and print
his prophecy would soon become a depository for
the Bible and other religious literature.) Unbelief,
like a great dark cloud, seemed to be settling down
over Europe, and smothering out the last ray of
light. Nor was it confined to Europe. It swept
across the Atlantic and invaded America. Tom
Paine published his ''Age of Reason," and the
effect was frightful. He showed the manuscript to
Benjamin Franklin, who urged him not to "unloose
this tiger," saying: "If our people are only what
they are with the Bible, what would they be without
it?" But he did unloose it, and for a time it seemed
that Paine's book, and not God's, was to rule in our
beloved land.

And the fight is still on, but the method of war-
fare is changed. The attack from without has given
place to one from within. The great leaders of open
infidelity are gone. Bradlaugh in Europe and Inger-
soll in America closed the battle on that line. But
the struggle continues. The leaders are often robed
in the garbs of Christian teachers, preachers, authors


and editors. Like the enemies of Troy who came

into the city in the wooden horse, they are striving

to open the gates from within.

But what is the result? The old Book stands.

It emerges from the furnace of every foe, though

heated seven times hot, without the smell of fire on

its garments, or the loss of a single vital doctrine.

It stands like Gibraltar, with the wreck of many

hostile fleets floating at its base. The assaults from

the open foe have not breached its walls, nor have

its bolts been drawn by treachery within.

The coming and going of the

6. Its Progres- nations is the drama of all dramas.
SI vc n 6 s s

The Babylonian, Egyptian, Per-
sian and other great powers have lived their little
day and died. Great discoveries and wonderful
inventions have followed each other in rapid suc-
cession. Scientific and philosophical theories have
changed and rechanged, and laws have been enacted
and remodeled so as to meet the wants of a growing
world. But the Bible has kept pace with every for-
ward movement, and is still as perfectly adapted to
the wants of the world as it was when it first came
from the hand of God. Progress is fatal to a false-
hood, but to the truth it is its best tonic.

We outgrow many things — our text-books, our
schools, our habits, our pleasures; but no one can
outgrow the Bible. We may grow away from it,
but none have outgrown it. We find room within
its ample scope for continuous growth in everything
that is good. And when we turn from it we are


Its practical precepts are the
7. Its Revelations ^^^^ -^ ^j^^ ^^^^j^ j^^ principles

are without a flaw. Its influence is always good.
But, passing on beyond the questions of daily life
and duty, it deals with problems untouched by other
books. It tells us of the origin and destiny of man.
It solves the soul's greatest questions. Other books
leave man at the grave without hope, and his going
from the earth is a leap in the dark. But this Book
tells the Christian that death is a transition from the

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Online LibraryM. M. (Morrison Meade) DavisHow to be saved : a study of first principles → online text (page 2 of 11)