Doubting and Inquiring—Proving—A Saviour of Life unto Life, or Death unto Death—Understattding the Scriptures—Cavilling—Using the Penknife—The Supernatural—Inspiration.
WE DO NOT ask men and women to believe in the Bible without enquiry. It is not natural to man to accept the things of God without question. If you are to be ready to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is within you, you must first be an enquirer yourself. But do not be a dishonest doubter, with your heart and mind proof against evidence. Do not be a doubter because you think it is "intellectual;" do not ventilate your doubts. "Give us your convictions," said a German writer, "we have enough doubts of our own." Be like Thomas who did not accept Jesus'offer to feel the nail-prints in His hand and side; his heart was open to conviction. "Faith," says John McNeill, "is not to be obtained at your finger-ends."
If you are filled with the Word of God, there will not be any doubts. A lady said to me once, "Don't you have any doubts?" No, I don't have time—too much work to be done. Some people live on doubt. It is their stock in trade. I believe the reason there are so many Christians who are without the full evidence of the relationship, with whom you only see 16 Proving.
the Christian graces cropping out every now and then, is that the Bible is not taken for doctrine, reproof and instruction.
Now the request comes: "I wish you would prove to me that the Bible is true." The Book will prove itself if you will let it; there is living power in it. "For this cause also we thank God without ceasing, because when ye received the Word of God which ye heard oi us, ye received it not as the word of man, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe." It
| does not need defence so much as it needs studying.
. It can defend itself. It is not a sickly child that needs nursing. A Christian man was once talking to a skeptic who said he did not believe the Bible. The man read certain passages, but the skeptic said again, "I don't believe a word of it." The man kept on reading until finally the skeptic was convicted; and the other added: "When I have proved a good sword, I keep using it." That is what we want to-day. It is not our work to make men believe: that is the work of the Holy Spirit.
A man once sat down to read it an hour each evening with his wife. In a few evenings he stopped in the midst of his reading and said: "Wife, if this Book is true, we are wrong." He read on, and before long, stopped again and said: "Wife, if this Book is true, we are lost." Riveted to the Book and deeply anxious, he still read on, and soon exclaimed: "Wife, if this Book is true, we may be saved." It was not many days before they were both
converted. This is the one great end of the Book, to tell man of God's great salvation. Think of a book .that can lift up our drooping spirits, and recreate us in God's image!
It is an awful responsibility to have such a book
and to neglect its warnings, to reject its teachings.
It is either the savour of death unto death, or of life
unto life. What if God should withdraw it, and say:
. "I will not trouble you with it any more?"
You ask what you are going to do when you come to a thing you cannot understand. I thank God there is a height in that Book I do not know anything about, a depth I have never been able to fathom, and it makes the Book all the more fascinating. If I could take that Book up and read it as I can any other book and understand it at one reading, I should have lost faith in it years ago. It is one of the strongest proofs that that Book must have come from God, that the acutest men who have dug for fifty years have laid down their pens and said, " There is a depth we know nothing of." "No scripture," said Spurgeon, "is exhausted by a single explanation. The flowers of God's garden bloom, not only double, but sevenfold: they are continually pouring forth fresh fragrance." A man came to me with a difficult passage some time ago and said, "Moody, what do you do with that?" "I do not do anything with it." "How do you understand it?" "I do not understand it." "How do you explain it?" "I do not explain it." "What do you do with it?" "I do not do anything." "You do not believe it, do you?" "Oh, yes, I believe it," There are lots of things I do not 18 Understanding the Scriptures.
understand, but I believe them. I do not know anything about higher mathematics, but I believe in them. I do not understand astronomy, but I believe in astronomy. Can you tell me why the same kind of food turns into flesh, fish, hair, feathers, hoofs, finger-nails—according as it is eaten by one animal or another? A man told me a while ago he could not believe a thing he had never seen. I said, "Man, did you ever see your brain?"
Dr. Talmage tells the story that one day while he was bothering his theological professor with questions about the mysteries of the Bible, the latter turned on him and said: "Mr. Talmage, you will have to let God know some things you don't."
A man once said to an infidel: "The mysteries of the Bible don't bother me. I read the Bible as I eat fish. When I am eating fish and come across a bone, I don't try to swallow it, I lay it aside. And when I am reading the Bible and come across something I can't understand, I say, 'There is a bone,' and I pass it by. But I don't throw the fish away because of the bones in it; and I don't throw my Bible away because of a few passages I can't explain."
Pascal said, "Human knowledge must be understood in order to be loved; but Divine knowledge must be loved to be understood." That marks the \
point of failure of most critics of the Bible. They do not make their brain the servant of their heart.
Did you ever notice that the things that men cavil most about are the very things to which Christ has set His seal? Men say, "You don't believe in the story of Noah and the flood, do you?" Well, if I give it up, I must give up the Gospel, I must give up the teachings of Jesus Christ. Christ believed in the story of Noah, and connected that with His return to earth. "As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." Men say, "You don't believe in the story of Lot and Sodom, do you?" Just as much as I believe the teachings of Jesus Christ. "As it was in the days of Lot
even thus shall it be in the day when
the Son of man is revealed." Men say, "You don't believe in the story of Lot's wife, do you?" Christ believed it. "Remember Lot's wife." "You don't believe the stoiy of Israel looking to a brass serpent for deliverance, do you?" Christ believed it and connected it with His own cross. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosever believeth in Him should not perish but have eternal life." Men say, "You don't believe the children of Israel were fed with manna in the desert, do you?" "Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; . . . Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven." Men say, "You don't believe they drank water that came out of a rock?" Christ believed it and taught it. Men say, "You don't believe in the story of Elijah being fed by the widow, do you?" Certainly. Christ said there were many widows in the days of Elijah, but Elijah was
fed by only one widow. Christ referred to it Himself, He set His seal to it. The Son of God believed it, and, "shall the servant be above his master?"
JONAH AND THE WHALE.
Men say, "Well, you don't believe in the story of Jonah and the whale, do you?" I want to tell you I do believe it. A few years ago there was a man whom some one thought a little unsound, and they didn't want him to speak on the Northfield platform. I said, "I will soon find out whether or not he is sound." I asked him, "Do you believe the whale swallowed Jonah?" "Yes," he said, "I do." I said " All right, then I want you to come and speak." He came and gave a lecture on Jonah. In Matthew they twice asked Jesus for a sign, and He said the only sign this generation shall have shall be the sign of Jonah in the whale's belly. He connected that with His resurrection, and I honestly believe that if we overthrow the one, we must overthrow the other. As you get along in life and have perhaps as many friends on the other side of the river as you have on this side, you will get about as much comfort out of the story of the resurrection as any other story in the Bible. Christ had no doubt about the story. He said His resurrection would be a sign like that given unto the Ninevites. It was the resurrected man Jonah who walked through the streets of Nineveh. It must be supposed that the men of Nineveh had heard of Jonah being thrown overboard and swallowed by a great fish. I think it is a master-stroke of Satan to make us doubt the resurrection. But these modern philosophers have made a discovery. They say a whale's throat is no larger than a man's fist, and it is a physical impossibility for a whale to swallow a man. The book of Jonah says that God prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. Couldn't God make a fish large enough to swallow Jonah? If God could create a world, I think He could create a fish large enough to swallow a million men. As the old woman said, " Could He not, if He chose, prepare a man that could swallow a whale?" A couple of these modern philosophers were going to Europe some time ago, and a Scotch friend of mine was on board who knew his Bible pretty well. They got to talking about the Bible, and one of them said: "I am a scientific man, and I have made some investigation of that Book, and I have taken up some of the statements in it, and I have examined them, and I pronounce them untrue. There is a statement in the Bible that Balaam's ass spoke. I have taken pains to examine the mouth of an ass and it is so formed that it could not speak." My friend stood it as long as he could and then said, " Eh, mon, you make the ass and I will make him speak." The idea that God could not speak through the mouth of an ass!
CLIPPING THE BIBLE.
There is another class. It is quite fashionable for people to say, "Yes, I believe the Bible, but not the supernatural. I believe everything that corresponds with this reason of mine." They go on reading the Bible with a pen-knife, cutting out this and that. Now, if I have a right to cut out a certain portion of the Bible, I don't know why one of my friends has not a right to cut out another, and another-friend to cut out another part, and so on. You would have a queer kind of Bible if everybody cut out what he wanted to. Every adulterer would cut out everything about adultery; every liar would
Ti;iO!.CGi,VL SEMINARY 22 Using the Penknife.
cut out everything about lying; every drunkard would be cutting out what he didn't like. Once, a gentleman took his Bible around to his minister's and said, "That is your Bible." "Why do you call it my Bible?" said the minister. "Well," replied the gentleman, "I have been sitting under your preaching for five years, and when yousaidthata thing in the Bible was not authentic, I cut it out." He had about a third of the Bible cut out; all of Job, all of Ecclesiastes and Revelation, and a good deal besides. The minister wanted him to leave the Bible with him; he didn't want the rest of his congregation to see it. But the man said, " Oh, no! I have the covers left, and I will hold on to them." And off he went holding on to the covers. If you believed what some men preach, you would have nothing but the covers left in a few months. I have often said that if I am going to throw away the Bible, I will throw it all into the fire at once. There is no need of waiting five years to do what you can do as well at once. I have yet to find a man who begins to pick at the Bible that does not pick it all to pieces in a little while. A minister whom I met awhile ago said to me, " Moody, I have given up preaching except out of the four Gospels. I have given up all the Epistles, and all the Old Testament; and I do not know why I cannot go to the fountain head and preach as Paul did. I believe the Gospels are all there is that is authentic." It was not long before he gave up the four Gospels, and finally gave up the ministry. He gave up the Bible, and God gave him up.
A prophet who had been sent to a city to warn the wicked, was commanded not to eat meat within its walls. He was afterwards deceived into doing so by an old prophet, who told him that an angel had come to him and said he might return and eat with him. That prophet was destroyed by a lion for his disobedience. If an angel should come and tell a different story from that in the Book, don't believe it. I am tired and sick of people following men. It is written, "though an angel from heaven preach any other gospel, let him be accursed." Do you think with more light before us than the prophet had that we can disobey God's Word with impunity?
THE SUPERNATURAL IN THE BIBLE.
It is a most absurd statement for a man to say he will have nothing to do with the supernatural, will not believe the supernatural. If you are going to throw off the supernatural, you might as well burn your Bibles at once. You take the supernatural out of that Book and you have taken Jesus Christ out of it, you have taken out the best part of the Book. There is no part of the Bible that does not teach supernatural things. In Genesis it says that Abraham fell on his face and God talked with him. That is supernatural. If that did not take place, the man who wrote Genesis wrote a lie, and out goes Genesis. In Exodus you find the ten plagues which came upon Egypt. If that is not true, the writer of Exodus was a liar. Then in Leviticus it is said that fire consumed the two sons of Aaron. That was a supernatural event, and if that was not true we must throw out the whole book.
In Numbers is the story of the brazen serpent. And so with every book in the Old Testament; there is not one in which you do not find something 24 The Supernatural.
supernatural. There are more supernatural things about Jesus Christ than in any other portion of the Bible, and the last thing a man is willing to give up is the four Gospels. Five hundred years before His birth, the angel Gabriel came down and told Daniel that He should be born. "And whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation." Again, Gabriel comes down to Nazareth and tells the Virgin that she should be the mother of the Saviour. "Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb and bring forth a Son, and shalt call his name Jesus." We find, too, that the angel went into the temple and told Zacharias that he was to be the father of John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Messiah; Zacharias was struck dumb for nine months because of his unbelief. Then when Christ was born, we find angels appearing to the shepherds at Bethlehem, telling them of the birth of the Saviour. "Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." The wise men seeing the star in the east and following it was surely supernatural. So was the warning that God sent to Joseph in a dream, telling him to flee to Egypt. So was the fact of our Lord's going into the temple at the age of twelve, discussing with the doctors, and being a match for them all. So were the circumstances attending His baptism, when God spake from heaven, saying: "This is my beloved Son." For three and a half years Jesus trod the streets and highways of Palestine. Think of the many wonderful miracles that He wrought during those years. One day He speaks to the leper and he is made whole; one day He speaks to the sea and it obeys Him. When He died the sun refused to look upon the scene; this old world recognized Him and reeled and rocked like a drunken man. And when He burst asunder the bands of death and came out of Joseph's sepulchre, that was supernatural. Christmas Evans, the great Welsh preacher, says: "Many reformations die with the reformer, but this reformer ever lives to carry on His reformation." Thank God we do not worship a dead Jew. If we worshipped a dead Jew, we would not have been quickened and have received life in our souls. I thank God our Christ is a supernatural Christ, and this Book a supernatural Book, and I thank God I live in a country where it is so free that all men can read it.
Some people think we are deluded, that this is imagination. Well, it is a glorious imagination, is it not? It has lasted between thirty and forty years with me, and I think it is going to last while I live, and when I go into another world. Some one, when reading about Paul, said he was mad. Well,' it was replied, if he was he had a good keeper on the way, and a good asylum at the end of the route. I wish we had a lot of mad men in America just now like Paul.
When Paul wrote to Timothy that all Scripture was given by inspiration of God and was profitable, he meant what he said. "Well," some say, "do you believe all Scripture is given by inspiration?" Yes, every word of it; but I don't believe all the actions and incidents it tells of were inspired. For
instance, wrien the devil told a lie he was not inspired to tell a lie, and when a wicked man like Ahab said anything, he was not inspired; but some one was inspired to write it, and so all was given by inspiration and is profitable.
Infidels deny this. Well, the argument has been presented before that the Scriptures must have been written either by good men or by bad men. Yet no good man would dare to write: "Thus saith the Lord;" and we not generally find bad men writing their own condemnation. Besides, the writers must have been Jews, and no Jew is likely to have written so plainly of the shame of their favorite king, David.
A man said to a young convert: "How can you prove that the Bible is inspired?" He replied, "Because it inspires me." I think that is pretty good proof. Let the Word of God into your soul, and it will inspire you, it can not help it.