Bible Becomes Once More The Book Of Devotion
( Originally Published 1914 )
HAVING made our way through the centuries, we now approach our own time, and at once we remark two facts: Never before had the Bible such a circulation as it has now gained. On the other hand, it seems to have lost most of its influence. We must look at these two facts before we raise the question what value the Bible has for the civilisation of today. [an error occurred while processing this directive]
Printing greatly facilitated the circulation of the Bible and, as the result of the Reformation, it had become the book of the Christian family. And yet during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the circulation of the Bible was rather limited. The Bible might be a treasure of the household, but not the personal property of the individual. The first editions, as we have seen, scarcely exceeded one or two hundred copies. In contrast, one of the most assiduous and industrious promoters of Bible reading, Baron von Canstein, who settled at Halle in A. H. Francke's institute, published during the last nine years of his life (d. 1719) forty thousand Bibles and one hundred thousand New Testaments. To-day the British and Foreign Bible Society issues more than five million copies—one million Bibles, one and a half million New Testaments, and two and a half million parts of the Bible—yearly. The progress is due to the invention of the rotary press and other improvements in printing machinery.
Besides, the circulation of the Bible has received strong support through the foundation of Bible societies. The story is well known how Thomas Charles discovered the great desire for copies of the Bible among his Welsh countrymen, how, when he gathered some friends for the purpose of providing them with Bibles, the Baptist preacher Thomas Hughes put in the question, "And why not for other peoples, too?" and how on his motion the Society was started on March 7, 1804, as the British and Foreign Bible Society. It is wonderful to hear of the work done by this Society in the last hundred years. If one visits the Bible House in Queen Victoria Street in London he gets an impression of the extent and the importance of the work done there. The Society has its presses as well as its translators all over the world; it has its agents scattered through all the nations, and it has begun to do not only a publishers' business proper but scholarly work as well. A vast collection of Bible editions from all times and in all tongues has been gathered, and a valuable catalogue published which is of great importance for bibliography in general.
The greatest merit of the British and Foreign Bible Society, however, is the fact that it stimulated the foundation of other great Bible societies. There were some small beginnings in Germany and Switzerland. They suddenly became strong and influential in consequence of the report made concerning the British and Foreign Bible Society by its secretary, Doctor Steinkopf, and Basel and Stuttgart made a new start in 1804 and 1812. After the Napoleonic War in 1814, Mr. Pinkerton travelled through Germany with the result that Bible societies were started at Berlin, Dresden, Elberfeld, and Copenhagen, and in Holland, Norway, and even Russia. In 1808 Philadelphia joined the movement. The American Bible Society has twice canvassed the entire United States, finding that five hundred thousand families were with-out any Bible, and selling sixty million Bibles. It is remarkable that in the beginning Roman Catholics joined the Bible societies enthusiastically. A Bible society was founded at Regensburg in 1805, supported almost exclusively by the Roman Catholic clergy. But as early as 1817, soon after the restoration of the Jesuits by Pope Pius VII, these Bible societies were dissolved; the Roman Catholics were forbidden to be members of the other Bible societies, and in the syllabus of Pius IX, in 1864, the Bible societies are reckoned among the dangers of our time, together with Masonry and other secret societies.
By the help of the Bible societies it has become possible that Bibles should really spread among the people. In Germany each boy and girl who goes to school has his own Bible. Bibles and New Testaments are distributed among the soldiers. Most churches make a present of a Bible to each couple who are to be married. There is rather a superabundance of Bibles, which contrasts sharply with the estimation in which the Bible is held. As Spurgeon, in his drastic way, said in one of his stimulating sermons: "The Bible is in every house, but in many the dust on it is so thick that you might write on it: Damnation." It was a veteran Bible agent who, after thirty years' experience, said: "It is easy to give away dozens of Bibles, but only the one which you sell will be valued."
The circulation has been greatly enlarged by numbers of translations. We remember that the first translations of the Bible were connected with Christian missions; they were epoch-making for the languages, creating a written alphabet and a national literature. The translations of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were of a different character; they were the result of a religious reformation; they represented for the nation the culmination point in language and a remarkable stage in literature. Now again Christian missions revived, and started on a wonderful career all over the world, and they needed to have the Bible translated. The Bible societies did their best to provide as many translations as possible. From the eight languages of 600 A. D. and some twenty-four in the sixteenth century the number of languages into which the Bible has been translated has grown up to four hundred, and if we count the dialects separately we have over six hundred. The whole Bible has not been translated into all these languages and dialects, but in every case parts of it, sometimes the New Testament, sometimes only one Gospel, have been translated, and other parts will follow. It is interesting to hear the translators speak of the difficulties they have to overcome. One sees what influence the Bible has on civilisation. Often a language lacks some word which is indispensable for the translator; he has to adapt one or coin a new one. There is no idea more frequent in the Bible than the idea of God. The Chinese had no word which exactly corresponded, the usual words indicating either spirits or the sun or something of that sort. The Amshara lacks the idea of righteousness, the Bantu the idea of holiness. If the translator uses as an equivalent the word for separateness, his reader will get rather the notion of something split. Sometimes the translator will pre-fer to keep the Greek word, as in the case of baptise, but he must be careful, for batisa in Bantu means "treat some one badly." So the language has to be remodelled in order to become suitable for the pur-pose of translating the Bible. The Bible once again exercises a civilising influence on the languages of many peoples. With very few exceptions, such as a Malayan Bible of 1621 and a translation by John Eliot into the Massachusetts Indian dialect published in 1666, most of these translations originated in the nineteenth century and are due to the present missionary energy of Christianity. Here again it is mortifying to see how the Bible is spread among peoples who never had had civilisation before, while among the Christian nations, who, to a large ex-tent, owe their civilisation to this very Bible, it is disregarded.
Besides the circulation we may also mention the enormous amount of mental energy spent on Bible studies by the scholars of this last century. Not only students of theology but also classical and Oriental scholars have joined to study the Bible, to comment upon it, and make everything in it under-stood. Specialisation in its inevitable course has caused a separation of Old Testament and New Testament studies. In order to understand and explain thoroughly the Old Testament one has to know several Oriental languages and follow up the daily increasing evidence for Oriental history, culture, and religion, whereas the New Testament scholar is bound to study the development of the Greek language and the whole civilisation of the Hellenistic period. Nay, even the Old and the New Testa-ment departments are each specialising into the textual and the higher criticism, the theology or the religious history both of the Jewish people and of primitive Christianity. One scholar studies the life of Christ, another makes the apostolic age the topic of his special research; one is commenting upon the Gospels, another upon the letters of Saint Paul. The literature in these different departments has grown so rapidly that it is almost impossible to follow it and to survey the whole field. Nevertheless, we need a comprehensive view, and a large number of scientific journals, in German, English, French, some few also in other languages, are devoted to the summing up of results which have been attained by special research. There are dozens of dictionaries and encyclopedias dealing with Biblical matters either separately or in connection with other material. It is, indeed, wonderful what progress has been and is being made. One is astonished to find that every day brings new problems and new attempts at solution, and one cannot help admiring the energy and sagacity which are put into these studies.
But in spite of this circulation never attained be-fore, and in spite of this active work of research, the fact remains indisputable that the Bible has lost its former position. There was a time, in the Middle Ages, when the Bible was at least one foundation of Christian civilisation, not to say the one foundation (as the men of that period would have said). Then there was a time, during recent centuries, when the Bible ruled daily life almost completely. Whether we regret the fact or approve of it, it remains a fact, and we have to face it, that those times are gone.
The Bible nowadays is one book among a thousand others. It is still revered by the majority of the people, but it is not so much read as it was in the time when it was the one book the people possessed. The enormous statistics for Bible circulation lose in effect if we compare the figures of the book-trade in general, the number of books published every year, and the numbers of editions and copies which some of the notable successes have attained.
The old problem, the Bible or the classics or a combination of both, is revived in a new form. There is a neopaganism in literature, and often it seems incompatible to read both the Bible and modern literature, and most people decide in favour of the latter. Once again the Bible has its rivals very numerous and strong.
The Bible in former times was held to be the divinely inspired text-book for all human knowledge. It was in the Bible that one had to look for information not only about God and God's will and everything connected with God, but also about philosophy, natural science, history, and so on. Now a secularisation of science has taken place by which all these departments of human knowledge are withdrawn from the ecclesiastical, theological, and Biblical authority.
The mediæval view of the world as taken from the Bible, or at least believed to be taken from it, had been utterly shattered by the great discoveries of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. When Columbus found the way to America and Vasco da Gama sailed around the Cape to India, and later others crossed the Pacific Ocean, the earth could no longer be considered as a round plane, it was proved to be a globe. Copernicus deciphered the mystery of heaven, the movement of the earth around the sun; Galileo Galilei followed in the same studies, and Kepler reached the climax of probability for the new theory. The church did not follow at once. It is remarkable that Copernicus did not win the assent of Luther. The great reformer, critical as he was, felt bound in this question to the authority of the Bible, and called the contradicting Copernicus a fool. It is well known how the Roman church by its inquisition treated Galileo until he withdrew his theory—formally, still holding it in his heart (è pur si muove, "and yet the earth does move"). Johannes Kepler, himself a Protestant and brought up with the fullest reverence for the Bible, found his own way out of the difficulty by distinguishing between the religious and the scientific aspect of the Bible, an anticipation of the mod-ern solution. And if one is willing to maintain the modern scientific view of the universe as it has been established by the three men just named, and strengthened by their followers, he must renounce the Bible as authority in matters of science. It is a notable fact that even the Roman church, in 1817, withdrew the verdict against Galileo's theory and similar theses, thereby admitting that a Christian may safely deny the Biblical assumption that the sun moves round the earth.
The Bible in its first chapter tells us that the world was created in six days; geology now speaks of twenty million years and more. The Bible says that man was created on the sixth day by a special act of God; Darwin's theory is that the human race is the result of an evolution which eliminated numbers of former beings and developed ever higher species. The Bible tells of many miracles which can have no other meaning than that in certain cases the law of gravitation and other laws of nature are suspended; the scientist tells us that a law loses all meaning if it admits of exceptions. Of course, there are miracles and miracles: the healings of Jesus we may accept as historical without any hesitation, but the standing still of the sun in Josh. 10 : 12 is nothing but a poetical form of speech, and the floating axe-head is as legendary in the story of Elisha (II Kings 6 : 6) as it would be in any other legend.
In former times scholars wrote large volumes on the animals mentioned in the Bible and the flowers and the stones and so on; this they called sacred zoology and sacred botany and sacred mineralogy. It was not for their amusement: it was a serious study. The Bible was thought to be a text-book for every science, and it seemed to be much more valuable to get information of all kinds from the Bible than to collect real animals, flowers, or stones. Likewise the human body was dealt with in the same scholastic way; it is a comparatively modern thing for physicians to be allowed to study the body and find out its real structure by dissection. Nowadays it is universally agreed that science and medicine are autonomous and are not dependent on the Bible.
The Bible was also the text-book for history, as we have seen. The history of mankind, according to this view, was limited to six thousand years. A great amount of mental energy was spent upon the question of Biblical chronology, which, however, proved to be hopelessly confused by the fact that various systems were used by the Biblical authors themselves. History was the history of the Jewish people, enriched by some glimpses of contemporaneous pagan history. Now, the discoveries in Egypt and Babylon and the deciphering of the Oriental inscriptions have illustrated the fact that the Jewish people was only one among others and one of the weakest of all these Oriental nations. Assyrian kingdoms were established as early as 6000 B. c. The famous code of Hammurabi is much older than the Mosaic law. If we compare them, we find that the former represents a high level of civilisation, while the latter establishes rules for nomadic life, a relation similar to that which exists between the Roman law and the national laws of the German tribes: though codified later, they represent, nevertheless, an earlier stage. The occupation of Canaan has come to be viewed in a new light through the exploration of Palestine. The history of the kings of Judah and Israel is now seen much more clearly than before to have been deter-mined by politics; they are for ever steering between the influence of Egypt and that of Babylon. The accounts given in the Babylonian archives and the Egyptian inscriptions are to be compared with the Biblical account, and some may feel that the comparison is not always in favour of the latter. Even the social and religious position of the prophets is nowadays compared with contemporaneous facts in Greece, Persia, and India. The life of Jesus and the Acts of the Apostles have changed their aspect with the possibility of literary comparison. It is not so much the literary criticism of the Gospels and the Acts by themselves as it is this facility of comparison which contributes to shake the authority of the Bible. We find the same miracles told of Jesus and of the emperor Vespasian; some sayings of Jesus can be compared with utterances of Caesar and Pompey. Many of his words have parallels in the Jewish literature as well as in the writings of the Stoa. I feel sure that the originality of Jesus will but gain by such comparison, but it is obvious that originality must be taken in a higher sense than is often the case; it is not the wording but the meaning attached to it which is new and original.
In this way everything which loomed so large when viewed standing by itself in the Bible has been reduced to its natural size; the earth has lost its central position; man is only one in a long line of similar beings; the history of Israel enters the large field of universal history; and even the personality of Jesus is subject to comparison and analogy.
This reduction is the necessary complement of the independence and autonomy attained for human science as the result of a long development. Already in the sixteenth century the humanists claimed for science the right to follow its own rules without being led and limited by the church's authoritative doctrine. They aimed at a civilisation free from ecclesiastical tutelage; going back to the classicism of pre-Christian times, they did not want the guardianship of the Christian church and its clergy. But the time was not yet ripe for this view. Even the reformers, Luther as well as Calvin, while they broke with the authority of mediæval scholasticism and of the Roman church, were not prepared to ac-knowledge the autonomy of science; they established the primacy of the Bible in an even stricter sense than it had borne in the Middle Ages. The Bible was to rule everything, and it was the Bible in its plain and simple meaning, without the mitigations which tradition and allegory had allowed in former times. To be sure, Luther occasionally granted some independence to secular science. He was furious when Aristotle was quoted as an authority in matters of religion, but would himself introduce him as an authority for civil government or for logic. He had a curious proof for this from the Bible itself. It was on the advice of his father-in-law, Jethro, a pagan, that Moses appointed the seventy elders to help him judge the people. Therefore for secular organisation one may take the counsel of the heathen, of the philosophers. But Luther was not consistent; as we have already seen, against Copernicus he insisted upon the authority of the Bible. He did not see that it was a question of astronomy without any relation to religion. In the seventeenth century the philosophers began to claim independence for the human reason, and soon they established reason as the highest authority, even in religious matters. It is very interesting to see the effect of this claim at the beginning. Even the most advanced liberals were so convinced of the infallible authority of the Bible that they tried by all means at their disposal to reconcile with the con-tents of the Bible the principles which the rational philosophy of Descartes or Spinoza had established. They started a new method of interpretation in order to make the Bible agree with reason. A long time had to pass before it became obvious to all competent minds that the Bible and reason were not to be reconciled by means of a makeshift harmony. It was only in the nineteenth century that the view forced itself upon all scholars that the Bible has to be understood in an historical way; that it does not give inspired information upon natural science and history, its revelation dealing with God and religion only.
By recent discoveries it is proved- that the creation story in Gen. 1 is by no means a unique and original one; there is something similar in the Babylonian mythology; it may have been taken from there. The same holds true regarding the story of the deluge and others. So there is no reason for claiming for these stories the authority of revealed science; the Biblical author simply shares the ideas of his time. We are not bound to the scientific notions of a period two thousand years before Christ and four thousand years before our own time. And yet there is something unique in this creation story, as told in Gen. 1, for which one looks in vain in all the alleged parallels in Babylonian and other religions; it is the idea of the one God Almighty, who by his supreme will creates heaven and earth. That is the revelation conveyed to mankind by this chapter. We must not trouble about the specific description of creation; that belongs to the historical form. We cling with all our heart to the wonderful idea of the one creating God, and we realise that here revelation is given to us.
It is only by comparison that the real importance of a thing comes out. On a map of America, made on a small scale, the distances may seem short; comparing a map of Europe on the same scale one realises how long they are in fact. We are always in danger of taking some accidental feature for the main point. The frame does not make the worth of the painting.
As the Bible has lost its exclusive authority in the domain of science, so in the fine arts it has ceased to be the single source of inspiration. Since the Renaissance motifs taken from ancient mythology and poetry have come into competition with the Biblical scenes; the Dutch school cultivated the illustration of the life of the people and presented even the sacred story in this fashion—the mystery of sacredness has gone; it is purely human, not to say profane. The French liked landscapes and used Biblical subjects only as accessories. Pictures of battles, triumphs, apotheoses filled the galleries. Art to-day is anything but Biblical; modern painters have, most of them, no sense for sacred art. I venture to think they do better to keep away from it. For if a modern painter, when trying to illustrate the parable of the prodigal son in a triptychon, puts in the large middle field the man feeding the swine, giving only the left-hand corner to the return to the father, he has proved himself incapable of a religious understanding of the story, however finished a work of art his painting may be.
By all this process of secularisation the Bible has been drawn back from general civilization and restricted to its own proper domain, religion. We must not insist on the fact that even here the Bible seems to have lost somewhat of its infallible authority. It is in the domain of theology as distinct from religion that this holds true. Strange as it may seem, it is a fact that the Bible is no more the text-hook of theology. Theology, of course, can never do without the Bible, but here also the Bible is the source of historical information, not the authoritative proof for doctrine. Already in the period when the orthodox Protestants vied with one another in asserting the inspiration of the Bible in the boldest terms and relied on the Bible for answers to every question, Samuel Werenfels (d. 1740), a professor at Basel, wrote the distich:
" Hic liber est in quo quærit sua dogmata quisque, Invenit et pariter dogmata quisque sua."
"This is the book where each man seeketh his own ideas,
In it accordingly each findeth his own beliefs."
It was the support given by the Bible to every doctrine and every theory which made critical people doubt the propriety of proving truth by adducing proof-texts; and this not only for dogmatical questions but also for moral ones. It is well known how both parties in the controversy over slavery appealed to the authority of the Bible, and it would be difficult to say which party found the stronger support in the letter of the text. The same holds true regarding other questions of modern life; one can argue from the Bible pro and con regarding the use of wine. The Bible has been adduced in the question of polygamy. It can be quoted on both sides with reference to woman suffrage. It is indicative of the present attitude toward the Bible that this is so seldom done. The use of the Bible for the settling of modern social problems has brought upon many Christian minds a pitiful confusion. It has proved impossible to deduce from the Bible, even from the teaching of Jesus, rules for modern life. Times have changed and the conditions of life have altered.
All this prepared the way for the historical view of the Bible. Then the period of higher criticism began. It was to many a hard lesson; but we had to learn it. It was started—curious to say—by Roman Catholic scholars in France. Having the authority of the church behind them, they felt more free as regards the Bible than the Protestants did. Richard Simon made it evident that the transmission of the Bible excludes a mechanical view of inspiration. Astruc, a doctor, the physician of Louis XIV, discovered that in the Pentateuch two different sources were used. During the eighteenth century the theories of literary criticism were applied to all the books of the Old and the New Testament, and the scholarship of the nineteenth century has taken up the task, perfected the method, and reached in some questions a general agreement. Today the principles of literary criticism in their application to the Bible are generally acknowledged. The books of the Bible are like other books; they are not to be treated as divine Scriptures but as human writings. One has to inquire in each in-stance about the author, his methods of writing, the sources of his information, his tendencies, and so on.
Criticism did not stop here; it overstepped the boundaries of purely literary criticism; it became historical criticism, too. The historicity of the facts reported in the Bible was called in question; recently the historicity of Jesus has been denied; and where his existence was admitted, still his teaching was criticised. Some people found it too ascetic, to others it was purely eschatological; in either case it could not be adapted to our own time. So even in its central points the Bible seemed to be attacked and its authority shaken. Instead of being restricted to the domain of religion, the Bible seemed to be denied even to the uses of devotion. But the present situation is not so desperate for the pious Bible reader as it looks.
We have once more to face the two facts: the circulation of the Bible has grown rapidly—immensely—and the estimation of the Bible has been reduced in nearly every field. Many a pious Christian, while rejoicing in the first fact, is greatly troubled by the second. Has the Bible ceased to be authoritative? Has it lost its infallibility? If the Bible is not true from cover to cover, then it seems to be not trustworthy at all. We had better put it aside and leave it to deserved oblivion. That is an argument frequently brought forward nowadays, both by people who disbelieve in the authority of the Bible and the truth of the Christian religion and by those who eagerly try to assert the old authority of the Bible as the inspired Word of God which reveals everything. They argue, and apparently not without plausibility, that if you destroy the authority of the Bible at any point, it is lost altogether; there is no limit to the destructive energy of our time. Therefore do not touch this question; leave the Bible as it stands—the sacred book, undisturbed by profane hands. It is the book by which our fathers were taught. Why should we disbelieve in it? Both these positions seem to be logically consistent: every-thing or nothing; infallible or no authority. But, in fact, the truth is never on one side. Hard as it may sound to our philosophers, the truth is very seldom logical. What seems to be consistency is, in fact, a confusion of two different aspects which ought to be kept separate. The Bible is not a text-book for any science—nay, not even for the science of theology. It is the book for Christian devotion. This was its original intention, and I venture to think that it is not a loss but a gain if the Bible is once more applied to its proper purpose.
As we have seen in the first chapter, the Bible proved itself to be an inexhaustible source of comfort and strength, of exhortation and inspiration to the Christians of the first period. They would not leave this book for any consideration—nay, they would even die for it. And so whenever the Bible was read by a pious Christian a new stream of life flowed through him and through the church. And this new life has always caused a strong desire for the Bible. There is a reciprocal influence between Bible and piety; the Bible creates piety, and piety demands the Bible. This is the experience of nine-teen centuries; it is impossible that the twentieth century should alter it. As long as a pious Christian lives on earth, the Bible will exercise its influence upon him, and as long as there is such thing as the Bible there will be Christians. That is sure! It is not always easy to measure this private influence of the Bible on individual piety and devotion. People who read the Bible for edification usually do not talk much about it. In biographies it is not mentioned, either because the biographer took it for granted or because he did not care for it himself.
Seldom do we have an opportunity, like the one given in Bismarck's letters to his wife, where he mentions frequently what Psalm or passage of the Bible he read before going to bed and discusses some points which have struck him. It is impossible to say how many people read the Bible privately for their own edification. Seeing how few know the Bible thoroughly, we might suppose that very few read it, but it is said that Bible reading among the boys in the English public schools is again increasing. And I feel sure that the time must come, and will come, when private reading of the Bible will again be a common practice among Christians.
But the Bible's task is not only to sustain individual piety; it has a second duty to perform. Christianity is not a mere aggregation of Christian individuals but a community—a church, if you will. It is necessary for any community to have a standard, for any church to have a creed. It is the Bible which has to supply this. Herein lies the danger of aberration, as we have seen in the second and the following chapters. The history of the church and of its doctrine gives ample proof of the fact that, taking the Bible as a rule for the church's dogma, Christianity not only missed the right path for the development of doctrine, but even lost the right use of the Bible. It is only by aiming at an historical orientation that the church can gain from the Bible the right direction for the setting forth of its doctrine. The doctrine of the church never can be, and never has been, identical with the doctrine of the Bible, because it is impossible to stop the development of history; besides, there are as many doctrines in the Bible itself as men who wrote the several books of the Bible, or even more. Saint Paul has not one doctrine of the atonement but half a dozen theories about it. The church has to formulate its own doctrine consistently with the Bible; that means a doctrine which keeps to the main line of religious development as testified to by the Bible; or, rather, to do justice to the variety of Biblical doctrines, permits a modern adaptation of the several modes in which religious experience is expressed. This seems vague, but it is the path which Christianity is bound to follow; and it promises success.
The modern view is that it is the religious experience of men, as testified to in the Bible, from which both the individual and the church take their start. But Christians believe that through this human experience God himself is revealing his grace. Therefore it is still, as our fathers said, God's Word. And God will teach the church to formulate the common experience by the help of his Word. That is the present position.
But now what of the influence of the Bible on civilisation? Has it gone? It seems under present conditions reduced to very small proportions, if not made impossible altogether. I am prepared, however, to declare that just the opposite is true. The influence of the Bible on civilisation still continues, and it will grow greater the more the Bible is used in the proper way, as an influence not on outward form but in inward inspiration.
The results of the influence exerted by the Bible in former centuries, when it was an outward rule of life, still go on. We cannot imagine what would have become of mankind if there had been no Bible. We cannot drop the previous history out of our life. We still speak the language which was modelled by our Bible; we still quote many proverbs which originate in the Bible, even without knowing that they come from the Bible. Our artists will go on choosing motifs from the Bible. The civilised nations will never give up Sunday, although not keeping it as a Sabbath. They will continue to aim at a fuller measure of legal and social equality, convinced as many may be that it is impossible to create an outward equality among men as long as there is no equal sense of responsibility and duty in all members of the nation.
The influence of the Bible in its present position as the book of devotion is of supreme importance for civilisation. Progress in civilisation is guaranteed not by constitution nor by law but only by the spirit which rules the individual and through the individual the community. We need strong characters who know the great truth of self-sacrifice. Such characters are formed by the inward inspiration given by devotional reading of the Bible. Making men devout, it makes them strong and influential in the common effort to promote civilisation by removing everything which is contrary to the welfare of others. That is the most important influence which the Bible can have; and that influence it still exerts and ever will exert on civilization.