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The Bible and Modern Life

The Bible and Modern Life

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Oct 20, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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THE BIBLE AD MODER LIFEBY JOSEPH S. AUERBACHCOPYRIGHT. 1914. BY HARPER S BROTHERSHorace.iggardly in offerings unto the gods.And disregardful of the rites of worshipWhilst drifting with mad philosophy for chart;I now perforce must turn my sails, and once moreTraverse the abandoned ways.IF it were true that appreciation of the nobleachievements of the world in painting andsculpture and architecture had come to an end,or that we were content to leave unopened thegreat books of literature, all thoughtful menwould view such a condition with deep concern.For the Parthenon stands to-day for some-thing more than the memory of a Greek templeof exquisite harmony of proportions and adorn-THE BIBLE AD MODER LIFEment; the ike of Samothrace and the Venusof Milo are not merely masterpieces of thesculptor; Velasquez and Titian and Raphael didmore than paint marvelous canvases on whichwe feast the eye; Shakespeare and Carlyle leftto the world a legacy, greater than enduringworks of genius for our gratification.
It would need no argument to persuade us,that a disregard for what these creations are inthemselves and for what they symbolize, wouldmean the vanishing out of modern life not onlyof intellectual standards, but of ideals and pros-pects and visions; that there would be a greatdarkness where there is now a great light, andthat the loss would be irreparable.Yet, if quite frank with ourselves, we mustadmit that the English-speaking world is threat-ened with another loss, irreparable too, if itpermits the Bible which, with the changes inmen's religious beliefs, is to-day a neglectedbook, to become a forgotten book.We should not, however, fall into error as tothe reasons for the permanent value of the Bible.If from to-day it were the forgotten book there would not necessarily come to be, assome pulpit utterances so frequently insist.THE BIBLE AD MODER LIFEa lower order of moral excellence in the world;for men no longer need to carry about with themthe decalogue for their right guidance. Whetherthis is true because our greatest religious litera-ture has become the warp and woof of thesocial fabric is not of moment, though it is un-questionably so in part; and in this respect andto this degree, the Bible has served its usefulnessand fulfilled its mission. In fact, at no timewas the Old Testament — without the inter-preter to separate its right from its wrong con-ceptions — even a sure guide for conduct; somuch does it contain of confusing contradiction
and undoubted error as to doctrine, as to theduty of man to man, and man to God, and, asweU, of God to man. Even the ew Testamentneeds interpretation. And if there had been aprompter recognition of all this, fewer martyrswould have died at the stake, blood would haveflowed less freely in priestly controversy, andthe day of religious freedom would have dawnedearlier in the life of the world.The Bible, rightly understood, is the story of the fashioning of men from feeble beginnings togreat issues; the toughening of the fiber of char-acter, and the emancipation, through sufferingTHE BIBLE AD MODER LIFEand humiliation and defeat and captivity andexile, from the bondage of idolatry and littlenessto moral triumph and spiritual excellence. Tothose who know the Bible it is a storehouse of priceless possessions, without which men wouldbe poor indeed. In it is bound up not onlythe richest treasure of our Anglo-Saxon speech,but the highest religion of the world — the storyof the struggle of man to understand his destinyand to ally himself with what is unseen andeternal. Its precepts, its injunctions, its no-bility of thought, its matchless eloquence of expression are the source of much that isgreatest in English literature. Within theprovince where it is supreme, other books oftenseem by comparison colorless and trivial; andwithin that province its poetry surpasses eventhat of Shakespeare, as much as the poetry of Shakespeare surpasses that of all other of ourdramatists; and beside its grandeur many of ourgreatest prose writers are at times but pygmies.

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