2 Timothy 3:16-17
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction…
I speak of THE BIBLE FIRST AS THE GREAT TEACHER OF MANKIND, because it must ever continue to be of the supremest importance to the race of mankind. It contains the record of God's special revelations to one chosen people, and of that final all-inclusive revelation, wherein He has spoken and is speaking to us by His Son. The Bible is not by any means God's only revelation. It always has been an evil when it has been so considered. It contains, however, some of the clearest and directest lessons which God has ever spoken to man through the mind and utterance of his brother man. Take but one illustration of its unique supremacy. After all these thousands of years of the world's existence, after all splendours of literature in all the nations and in all ages, there is no book in the whole world which can supersede the Bible as an instrument for the education of the young. After all these millenniums it remains the most uniquely glorious book which the world has ever known. "Its light," says Cardinal Newman, "is like the beauty of heaven in all its clearness, its vastness like the bosom of the sea, its variety like the scenes of nature." Perhaps testimony from a religious teacher might be regarded as purely official. Let me, then, quote the testimony of an eminent living man of science; the testimony of a man like Professor Huxley on this subject will, at least, not be suspected. "I have been seriously perplexed to know," he says, "how the religious feeling which is the essential basis of conduct can be kept up without the use of the Bible. The pagan moralists lacked fire, and life, and colour, and even the noble Stoic, Marcus Aurelius, is too high and refined for an ordinary child. For three centuries this book has been woven into the life of all that is best and noblest in English history. It forbids the veriest hind who never left his village to be ignorant of the existence of other countries and other civilisations, and of the great past stretching back to the furthest limit of the oldest nations of the world. By the study of what other book could children be so much humanised or made to feel that each figure in that vast historical procession fills, like themselves, but a momentary inter-space between two eternities, and earns the blessings or the curses of this end of all time, according to his efforts to do good and to hate evil, even as they also are earning their payment for their daily work?" Unhappily, however, the Bible in age after age has been liable to such boundless misinterpretation, that it is not possible or honourable to speak of it as the most blessed among the teachers of mankind, without admitting, as St. Peter did eighteen hundred years ago, that it may very easily be wrested to our own destruction. Century after century men, misled by their religious teachers, have failed altogether to see what the Bible is; they have made a fetish of it, and under the plea of its sacredness have taken advantage of its many-sidedness to get rid of its most central and essential teaching; they have made it like the faineant monarchs who have been surrounded with splendid state and almost Divine reverence, while care was taken that their real voice should never be heard, and their real wishes never known. Men have used the Bible to find an excuse for hating and cursing and burning one another, they have torn it into shreds and turned each shred of it into a fluttering ignoble ray of some party pennon; they have dislocated its phrases and built false theologies on the perversions of its texts... But having eliminated these errors, we may dwell without stint on the priceless value of Scripture as a whole — of Scripture in its best and final teaching to the heart of man. The Talmud and the Koran, and even the writings of the Indian and the Buddhist, have stolen its precious gems. It has exercised the toil of men like and , and fired the eloquence of and . It dictates the supreme and immortal songs of Dante and of Milton. It has inspired the pictures of and , the music of Handel and Mozart. There is scarcely any noble part of knowledge worthy of the mind of man, but from Scripture it may have some direction and light. the hundred best books, the hundred best pictures, the hundred best pieces of music, are ten times over involved in it. The sun never sets upon its gleaming page. "What a book," exclaimed the sceptical poet Heine, after a day spent in the unwonted task of reading it. "Vast and wide as the world, rooted in the abysses of creation and towering up beyond the blue secrets of heaven; sunrise and sunset, promise and fulfilment, birth and death, the whole drama of humanity, are all in this book." "In this book," said Ewald, the foremost of modern critics, when Dean Stanley visited him, and the New Testament, which was lying on the table, fell accidentally to the ground — "in this book," he said, as he stooped to pick it up, "is all the wisdom of the world."
II. TEST IT ONCE MORE BY THE IMMEASURABLE COMFORT AND BLESSING WHICH IT, AND WHICH IT ALONE, HAS BROUGHT AND EVER CAN BRING TO DYING MEN. Millions have loved it passionately who have cared nothing for any other literature, and it alone has been sufficient to lead them through life as with an archangel's hand. "Into Thy hands I commend my spirit"; in age after age , , John Huss, , St. Bernard, Luther, Melanchthon, Columbus, Francis Xavier, and I know not how many thousands more, have died with these words upon their lips. "That book, sir," said Andrew Jackson, President of the United States, pointing to the family Bible upon the table, as he lay upon his death-bed, "that book, sir, is the rock on which our Republic rests." "I have only one book now," said the poet Collins, "but that is the best." "Bring me the book, sir," said Sir Walter Scott to Lockhart on his death-bed. "What book?" asked Lockhart. "The book, the Bible," said Sir Walter, "there is only one." Every shallow and ignorant freethinker thinks he can demolish the Bible; he might am well try to demolish the Himalayas. The greatest men have esteemed it most. Infidels babble about the contradictions between Scripture and science. I have quoted the testimony of one of the most eminent living men of science; let me quote one of the most illustrious dead. Once, when the famous Faraday was lying ill, his physician, Dr. Latham, found him in tears with his arm resting upon a table on which lay the open book. "I fear you are worse," said Dr. Latham. "It is not that," said Faraday, with a sob; "but why will people go astray when they have this blessed book to guide them?" Its words speak to the ear and to the heart as no other music will, even after wild and sinful lives. "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me, Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me." Those words were written by his physician to Daniel Webster on his death-bed, and the great man, the despised, broken idol of a great nation, who had cast the destiny of all his life on one throw of ambition and had lost the cast — the great man faltered out, "That is what I want — Thy rod, Thy rod, Thy staff, Thy staff," and they were the last words he said.
III. I WOULD THEN URGE YOU ALL TO A CONSTANT AND REVERENT, BUT AT THE SAME TIME A WISE AND SPIRITUAL, STUDY OF THIS BOOK. "If we be ignorant," said the translators of 1611, "the Scriptures will instruct us; if out of the way, they will bring us home; if out of order, they will reform us; if in heaviness, comfort us; if dull, quicken us; if cold, inflame us." Tolle lege, Tolle lege; take them and read, take them and read. Only beware how you read. Read as a scoffer read as a pharisee, and it will be useless. Read rightly, and then the Bible will be a light unto your feet, and a lamp unto your path. Read teachably, read devotiouably. The saving knowledge of Scripture is a science, not of the intellect, but of the heart. Read, above all, as Christ taught us to read, not to entangle yourselves in the controversial or the dubious, but go to the very heart of the central significance.
Parallel VersesKJV: All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: