JOSEPH AGAR BEET
A Key to Unlock the Bible
A book is a permanent embodiment of thought; and a channel through which the thoughts of one man may become a mental enrichment to others, even to some far removed in space or time. As a medium by which we may come into mental contact with persons wiser than ourselves and make their thoughts our own, books have always been a chief means of mental culture. A man who cannot read is shut up to the narrow world of that which he can himself see and hear and touch. Books are windows opening to our view that which others have seen and heard and experienced.All the more developed systems of religion have sacred books, which are put into the hands, if not of their worshippers generally, at least of those appointed to teach the mysteries of the unseen world. Long before the birth of Christ, Israel possessed books professing to give an account of the history of the race and of supernatural revelations from God to them. And in all ages the preachers of the Gospel of Christ have carried with them a collection of books telling the story of Christ and of the founding of His Church, and giving an account of His teaching as understood by His earliest disciples.By thus putting books into the hands of men, the great religions, and especially Christianity, have greatly stimulated human culture. Many men and women have learnt to read in order to read the Bible: and thousands in all ages have taken their first steps in mental discipline by careful study of the sacred volume. Thus have religion and especially the Gospel of Christ enriched and developed human thought.Since a book is an embodiment of thought, we must always endeavour to put ourselves on the writer’s mental standpoint, so as to see things as nearly as possible from his point of view: for only thus can we understand his words. This effort will seldom be in vain. For every hour’s study will be mental intercourse with the author, and will make us more familiar with his words, phrases and modes of thought, thus bringing us nearer to his point of view, and enabling us better to understand the next chapter we read, and to comprehend his work both as a whole and in its various parts. All this we must do with the Bible. We must endeavour to come into close mental contact with each sacred writer, even to the extent of sharing his joys and sorrows, his hopes and fears. For many parts of the Holy Scriptures thrill with human emotion: and, unless we feel in his words the beating of a human heart, we cannot understand the writer’s thought.We soon notice that, like many modern volumes, the Bible contains works by various authors, each living in a world of his own, some of them widely separated in time and circumstances. In order to reap the benefits the sacred volume is able to impart, we must make personal acquaintance with each of these writers. Where we have more than one book from the same writer, a comparison of them will greatly help us to understand his modes of thought, and will sometimes reveal a development in his thought. A comparison of contemporary writers will help us to understand the thoughts current in the circles in which they moved; and a comparison of books written in different ages will reveal the progress (or change) of thought between those ages.In short the Bible, though divinely inspired and of divine authority, came to us through the medium of human thought moulded, as are our thoughts, by a human and material environment.CrossReach Publications
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ISBN: 6610000218387
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