The Baptist Pillar ©      Brandon Bible Baptist Church     1992-Present

"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15

The Excellency of the Bible

R. M. Hunmanby, Yorkshire, 1850’s

The Bible is truly a wonderful and an incomparable book. It contains history the most ancient and authentic—precepts the most pure and elevating—promises the most cheering, and threatenings the most fearful and alarming—clothed in language the most simple and forcible, adorned at times with imagery sublime and fascinating. It was composed by different individuals, of varied powers and culture, living at great distances of time and place, and often speaking different languages and dialects—and yet there is in it a unity which marks no other composition whatever, which is perfectly unaccountable, except on the supposition that they who wrote it were all guided and influenced by the same Divine and unerring spirit.

The greatest boon which the Parent of all good has conferred on our fallen world is the Bible, and the loss of it would be the greatest catastrophe which could befall us. If the sun were to be blotted from the firmament, and creation clad in the mantle of night, even that would not so deeply affect us as our being deprived of the Word of Life. Many attempts have, at different times, been made to destroy this book, but they have signally failed; yea, all such attempts must fail till the book has accomplished its great mission to the world.

The superior excellence of the Bible will be seen if we consider its Divine origin. It is not a human but a Divine work. Wicked men would not, even supposing they were capable, write such a book as the Bible, for that would be to sign their own condemnation, which men are never disposed to do.

The Bible denounces sin, and exalts holiness in the clearest and strongest language possible—its teachings are these, "The wicked shall be turned into hell, with all the nations that forget God,"—"Follow holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." Now if wicked men had written it, instead of thus openly and unconditionally denouncing sin, it would have pandered to the evil propensities of our depraved nature, and made excuses for human folly and transgression.

And it is morally certain, also, that good men could not so grossly deceive as to impute that to the Spirit which was merely their own production. The inference then is, that they "spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." And to prove its Divinity miracles have been wrought—the Red sea was divided, and Jordan rolled back—manna descended in the wilderness, and from the rock at Horeb waters gushed out. The Saviour fed five thousand with five loaves and two fishes. See Him walking on the sea, and stilling the tempest by a word. At his command the blind receive, their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up.

And these were not like the lying wonders of the papists, and the pretended miracles of the false prophet; for they were not done in a corner, but openly, and they have been handed down to us by testimony the most incontrovertible.

Its Divinity is also attested by prophecy, which is a miracle of knowledge. Look at the prophecies respecting the Messiah—his lineage and the place of his birth—the circumstances of his life—his sayings and actions—his sufferings and death, resurrection, and exaltation, were accurately foretold by the prophets, and their predictions were delivered some hundreds of years before his appearance. Human sagacity certainly could not have foreseen all these; they must have been taught of the spirit.

We further point to Babylon and Nineveh, to the fall of Jerusalem and the world-wide dispersion of the Jews, as lasting monuments of the Divinity of the Bible. Oh! then let us ever remember, whenever we read this book, that it is not the word of man but of God.

The excellence of the Bible will be seen if you consider that it is the instrument of conversion. It was not given to cultivate the intellect, refine the taste, and please the imagination, but to renew and sanctify the heart. It does not content itself with lopping off the excrescent branches, but it lays the axe at once to the root of the tree—it does not attempt to purify streams merely, but it first purifies the fountain, and the streams become pure also—for by renewing the heart the life becomes reformed as a necessary and inevitable consequence.

By the teachings of this blessed book the drunkard becomes sober, the blasphemer learns to pray, the thief steals no more, the idle becomes industrious, and the adulterer chaste. And remember that the Word is the sword of the Spirit. In conversion the Spirit does not reveal any truth that is not already contained in the scriptures, but its truths are applied by Him with Divine power to the heart: and thus are fulfilled the words of the Saviour, "He shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you."

The Bible is the standard of religious belief. It is evident that the Inspired Writers claim this much for the sacred writings--To the law and to the testimony, says Isaiah, "if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. The Bereans are commended because they "searched the scriptures daily to see if these things were so."—"And if any man says Paul, "obey not our word by this epistle, note that man and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed."

And what an inestimable blessing it is that we have the Bible for our standard of truth; for if " tradition" had been the standard, it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain what was truth; for that which is handed down by tradition becomes easily corrupted. And if the "Fathers" had been the standard there would have been greater difficulty, for their writings are voluminous and costly, written in the dead languages, and inaccessible to the masses. And besides this, the Fathers were not infallible.

Again, if the " Councils of Rome" had been the standard, the difficulty would have been greater still; for one Pope has contradicted and excommunicated another, and council after council has contradicted and anathematized its predecessors. Thanks be to Heaven we are not reduced to this dilemma, for God has given us his written Word. It is to this touch stone that we bring all creeds and opinions; and whatever is in harmony with it we receive, and whatever is opposed to it we reject, whether it come from Oxford, or from Rome—the Bible, and the Bible alone, is the religion of the Baptists.

"This is the Judge that ends the strife
When wit and reason fail;
Our guide to everlasting life
Through all this gloomy vale."

The superior excellence of the Bible will be seen in that it furnishes us with a rule of life—"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." The Bible, though it contains doctrines the most profound, concerns itself with our every day subjects—masters and servants—husbands and wives—parents and children. Much stress is laid by it on he practical exhibition of truth in the life. Mere knowledge of the truth will avail nothing without it.

If Divine truth has laid hold of the heart, it will also regulate the life; for it has a sanctifying influence according to the prayer of the Saviour—"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." Oh! what a happy scene would our world soon afford were the doctrines of the Bible universally observed. All over-reaching in trade and commerce, all slander, backbiting, envy, malice, gambling, drunkenness, and sensuality in society, would cease; and all contentions and oppressions amongst the nations would speedily come to an end—"Nation would not lift up sword against nation, neither would they learn war any more." Right, and truth, and holiness, and peace, would everywhere prevail. "Holiness to the Lord," would be the universal motto, and earth would become a type of heaven.

The excellency of the Bible is crowned with the consideration that it conducts us to a future and a better world. We all know that ere long we must quit this mortal scene, and the place which now knows us will soon know us no more for ever.

Without the teachings of inspiration, the future, to us, would be all gloom and uncertainty. It is in vain that we ask nature to give us any information respecting it; nature is silent as the grave. It is in vain we unroll the tomes of philosophy for light on this momentous subject; they only light us to the tomb, and, alas, there they leave us!

And the teachings of infidelity are cold and comfortless in the extreme. But the Bible comes to our aid; we hear the Saviour breaking the silence in awful and inspiring words, "I am the resurrection and the life: him that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."

Oh! how valuable, then, is the Bible. It teaches us to live, and prepares us for death, and renders us triumphant in the prospect of immortality and eternal life. Let us, then, show that we prize it by reading, studying, believing, and obeying it.

"May this blest volume ever lie,
Close to my heart and near my eye;
Till life's last hour my thoughts engage,
And be my chosen heritage."