« EelmineJätka »
fancy is needed to discover on the page the mark of his spear, the dust of his tent, or the stains which attest the narrow escape of its author when he swam with it to the shore. This volume has lain under the pillow of soldiers in every country of Europe. It has formed the character and fixed the destinies of thousands even under this dispensation of the gospel.
This “Novum Organum ” of Bacon againwhat power it has exerted ! It has brought science home to “men's business and bosoms." It has endowed their “lives with new commodities.” In influence it is second only to the treatise of the great logician, which suggested its name, and the place of which it sought to assume. It recommended that a college should be formed for questioning nature, and compelling her to disclose her secrets; and the Royal Society spraug up to carry out the recommendation. Among all civilized nations, this book is in matters of science the code of law and guide of inquiry. Men travel and study under the teaching of him who was
one of “the greatest” and, alas ! (for the line of Pope is too true) one of “the meanest” of men.
Books of less name have exerted in some respects even greater influence.
Who can measure the results of the labours of Richard Baxter ? His memory is still fragrant in Kidderminster, and his nervous English will never cease to be popular. He owed his first serious impressions of religion to an old torn book, lent to his father by a poor man.
8 DODDRIDGE'S “ RISE AND PROGRESS," ETC. book was written by a Jesuit of the name of Parsons, and altered (much against the Jesuit's willt by Edmund Bunny, rector of Bolton Percy, a man of apostolic zeal; and was thence called Bunny's Resolutions. Two other eminent nonconformist ministers were first impressed by it, and Baxter states that he had heard of its success with many others.
The writings of Wycliffe, our countryman, were the means of the conversion of Huss, and the writings of Huss first excited the ardent, inquiring mind of Luther. The works of Jerome and Augustine originated thoughts and feelings in the mind of John Knox which were never forgotten ; and John Wesley ascribed to them his first religious convictions.
A nonconformist pastor at Northampton, the friend and correspondent of Tillotson and Secker, relieved the dulness of metaphysical study by writing a treatise on “The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul.” To that treatise in part, and in part to conversations with Isaac Milner, Wilberforce traced his conversion. Amidst the struggles of public life, that joyous, energetic man penned his “Practical View of Christianity." A
copy of it was sent to some college friend of Legh Richmond's, with a request that he would give the donor his opinion of the book. This friend devolved the task on Richmond, and his conversion was the result. * "Little Jane” was among the first evidences of this change, and
The saine look consoled and delighted Burke on his dying bed.
WATSON'S CHRISTIAN SOLDIER," ETC. 9 the “Dairyman's Daughter" among the last : these little volumes being in their turn the means of awakening religious feeling during the author's life-time, and to his own knowledge, in not fewer than thirty persons.
Colonel Gardiner took up in an idle moment, while waiting to gratify some sinful indulgence, Watson's "Christian Soldier ; or, Heaven taken by Storm," hoping to find something that might afford him diversion. The perusal of part of it broke off his purpose, and produced ultimately a permanent and most remarkable change. Dr. Chalmers, again, is said to have groped his way into truth while preparing his treatise on the Evidences of Christianity; more especially on such evidence as is supplied by its influence upon the hearts of its disciples.
How suggestive are associations of this kind with the volumes we read | Genius has spent its power on the life of a “Looking Glass," of a “Guinea," of an “Old Chest," and each has had a strange story to tell. But of all lives of inanimate things, the biography of a great book, could it be written, would be among the most instructive. It might be made, in truth, an epitome of the natural history of man ; not perhaps in his outward condition, but in what is more important, the moral and spiritual changes he has undergone.
Of all books, the most remarkable in its history, the mightiest in its influence, as the noblest in its origin, is TuE BIBLE. Coming
BIOGRAPHY OF THE BIBLE.
into the world in successive portions, it yet forms a consistent whole, and has received in different ages every kind of treatment. It has been studied with devoutest love, and persecuted with bitterest hatred. Revered, neglected, admired, abhorred, it has pursued its course; enlightening the ignorant, convicting the guilty, comforting the sorrowful, encouraging and strengthening the resolute and manly. It has guided millions on earth, and has led millions to heaven.
It is a book for every age; is adapted in its method and contents to influence all, and has proved the teacher both of the barbarous and of the civilized portions of our race.
Whether it is contemplated by us in its parts or as a whole, it is equally rich in historical interest. If we turn, for example, to Rom. xii. 1, where we are besought "by the mercies of God to present our bodies a living sacrifice," we find the passage marked with the name of Usher, who ascribed to it his conversion. Toplady points, for the same purpose, to Eph. ii. 13. An Ethiopian eunuch, riding home from Jerusalem, in the first age of the church, found the gospel in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah ; and sixteen hundred years later, an English earl—the earl of Rochester—once a profligate infidel, finds the same message in the same chapter. The twenty-third Psalm was probably the death-song of David, and has been the death-song of many besides. This Psalm Bp. Sanderson died repeating. A single verse from the Gospel of John,"God so loved the
ITS ATTRACTIVE ASSOCIATIONS.
11 world," commenced the work of evangelization in the South Seas; as another on the crucifixion produced the same effect in Greenland, after long years of comparative failure, though in the latter case, the rudiments of natural religion, and the acts of handicraft skill, had been taught with the utmost assiduity. Another verse, “It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners," has afforded comfort in prospect of coming judgment to thousands, and among them to Andrew Fuller and Dr. McAll. Indeed, it may be affirmed that, of the nearly eight thousand verses of which the New Testament is composed, there are few that have not touched the hearts, or aroused the conscience, or confirmed the faith of some now in glory; portions even unimpressive having met the feelings of peculiar" classes of readers, and suggested lessons, or supplied evidence, as in the case of the genealogies, which might otherwise have been concealed.
If we look at larger divisions of the volume, the associations are no less attractive. The Psalms were the favourite book of Hooker, of Horne, and of Luther, who regarded them as the choicest trees in the garden of the Lord. The Epistles of Paul were seldom out of the hands of Chrysostom, the "golden-mouthed orator of the early church.
The martyr Ridley tells us incidentally, in his farewell to his friends, that he had learned nearly the whole of them in the course of his solitary walks at