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From Eden to Eden

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    INTRODUCTION

    In this nineteenth century many books have been produced, with labored and scholarly arguments, to prove that the Bible is the word of God; that it is Heaven’s revelation to man. And many have thought it necessary to spend much time in giving instruction concerning its authenticity, the measure of its authority, the degrees of inspiration of its several parts, etc., etc. But the Bible is a practical book; it must speak for itself. It is the word of the Spirit of God, and all the wisdom of man cannot add one whit to its force. Being practical, we should give instruction in it as we would in any other practical study. In teaching arithmetic we do not begin with essays on its study, or with evidences of its exactness and utility; but we begin with its elements, and lead the class through its problems, until they realize for themselves what it is, and what is its importance.FEE 11.1

    A recent writer in England said that Paley was an able man, as we all know that he was, and that he wrote an excellent book on the evidences of Christianity; but he did not think that Paley’s writings were ever the direct means of converting a soul. Whether the statement is true or not, there is reason in this expression. People are not converted by dissertations about the Bible, but by the Bible itself; by its truths, its prophecies, and its promises.FEE 11.2

    It is a significant fact that no Bible writer or teacher ever entered into an argument, to prove that the Scriptures are true. Nothing of that kind is found in the Bible from the apostles or prophets. They stated their propositions or their message, and if the Scriptures sustained them that was the end of the matter. On this subject we have a notable example in the teachings of the Saviour. When the Sadducees thought to perplex him on the subject of the resurrection, he replied: “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.” Matthew 22:29. The power of God is sufficient to raise the dead, and the Scriptures say he will raise the dead, and that is an end of the controversy. Philosophy and science may cavil and doubt; they have no right to reply when the word of God speaks.FEE 11.3

    In examining the teachings of the Scriptures, we would that the mind of every reader might be free from bias on one point of great importance. The idea has obtained to a considerable extent, that the different dispensations are separated by such impassable barriers that nothing can come over from one to another. And, connected with this is the obvious error that the worship in former dispensations was, comparatively at least, destitute of spirituality in both its rules and its methods; that they who lived in the dispensations preceding the present were bound in chains of legality, nearly if not quite deprived of the liberty of the children of God, which we so largely enjoy. And further, it is quite largely supposed that, before the time of the making of the covenant with the children of Israel at Sinai, there was great darkness and ignorance concerning God and his purpose toward man, as to what was required, and what were the riches of his grace.FEE 12.1

    It seems strange that such ideas should so largely obtain, when it needs but little study and reflection to convince any one that there are certain fundamental and material truths which are common to all dispensations. It needs not very much study of the Scriptures to be able to perceive that God revealed himself to man by his Spirit, by his angels, by dreams and by visions, in all ages. If we carefully trace those important truths which reveal the mysteries of godliness, which connect all dispensations into one harmonious whole, through the revelations of both the Old and New Testaments, there is little difficulty in understanding God’s revelation of himself to man. In this way we may readily learn his purpose in the creation of the earth.FEE 12.2

    In regard to the inspiration of the Scriptures, it is evident that a revelation from God must be perfect, whenever and to whomsoever made. The words revealed to Adam, to Enoch, to Noah, were as truly the words of the ever-living God, as were the things spoken to Nicodemus or to Paul. The Holy Scriptures which Timothy knew from a child, were all given by inspiration of God; and in regard to inspiration we agree with Prof. Gaussen: “A word is from God, or it is not from God. If it be from God, it is not so after two different fashions.” Inspiration is altogether a miracle, and is therefore beyond the comprehension of man—beyond the possibility of an explanation. “He who can explain a miracle can work a miracle.” It is not the place of man to judge the word of God, but to reverently listen and obey.FEE 13.1

    If any have doubts about the ancients having the true spirit of worship, let them read the eleventh chapter of the letter to the Hebrews. It is enough that the patriarchs, the prophets, and the host of holy ones of old, are set before us as examples of the power of faith; as a “cloud of witnesses” to the certainty of God’s promises; to the sustaining power of his grace through faith. That their faith was evangelical—that it took hold of the blessings of the gospel of Christ,—is proved by the fact that they endured afflictions, “not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.” Hebrews 11:35. It is enough that Abraham is presented as “the father of all them that believe” (Romans 4:11); that it is declared to us that “they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham;” and that if we are Christ’s, then are we heirs to the promises made to Abraham. Galatians 3:9, 29. It is enough that we, in these days, are exhorted to walk in the steps of that faith that our father Abraham had. Romans 4:12.FEE 13.2

    Again, the book of Psalms is the devotional part of the Bible. It has ever been a wonder to the pious, to the tried and tempted, to the rejoicing saints, that in the Psalms there is something exactly suited to every phase of Christian experience.FEE 13.3

    There is indignation for offenses against the holiness of God, earnest confession, unrivaled penitence, thanksgiving for mercies, and triumphing in the hope of final salvation. How ardent the love, how rich the experience of the authors. May every reader, and the writer, of this, be able to say with a writer of the Psalms: “I will walk at liberty, for I seek thy precepts.” Psalm 119:45.FEE 14.1

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