The Campbell Morgan Memorial Bible Lectureship, No. 1
Westminster Chapel, Buckingham Gate, London, S.W.1, 1949.
[Reproduced by permission]
There has been established at Westminster Chapel, as a Memorial to Dr. G. Campbell Morgan, what is to be known as THE CAMPBELL MORGAN BIBLE LECTURESHIP.
A lecture is to be given each year by different men, in the month of June, in harmony with the principles which governed Dr. Campbell Morgan's Ministry.
The Governors deemed it most fitting that Dr. F. Crossley Morgan, of Concord, North Carolina, U.S.A., one of Dr. Morgan's sons, should be invited to give the first Lecture; and that these Lectures shall be published each year, in order to extend the influence of the discourses given in Westminster Chapel.
Dr Lloyd-Jones, and all other good friends in Christ Jesus our Lord, allow me to say at once that I appreciate very deeply the gracious words of welcome and of introduction which have been spoken. I am profoundly conscious of the very great honour which has been conferred upon me by the invitation to deliver this first lecture in the Campbell Morgan Lectureship; moreover, I am extremely grateful for the confidence in me which the invitation implies, but I confess quite frankly and quite freely that this is an occasion to which I have looked forward with many misgivings, it is an occasion which inspires something of awe within my breast. In that great Campbell Morgan Memorial Service which was held in this sacred building, I recall that Dr. Lloyd-Jones said of my father, and I quote, "the only time I ever heard him preach a poor sermon was when he tried to preach a topical sermon; he could not do it." End quote. In this respect I know that I am very much the son of my father! If I had been permitted on this occasion to deliver a lecture based upon some passage of Scripture, I should have felt very much more at home and very much more at ease, but I was given to understand that that would not have been quite in line with that which was in the minds of those who first conceived the idea of this Lectureship. On the contrary, their idea was that the lecturer should deal with some subject, some topic pertaining to the Bible. It was suggested that I might care to speak on "How to study the Bible." When that suggestion came to me I was reminded at once of an experience I had had in the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church of Washington, in the District of Columbia. I was to conduct a Bible Conference in that church and in the course of the correspondence preceding my visit, I was told that on the Monday night there would be a goodly number of Sunday School teachers and officers and workers present, and it was suggested that I speak to them concerning my method of Bible study. I debated about this in my own mind and finally decided that I could not do so, and, at the service on the Monday night, I told the congregation of the suggestion and of my inability to comply with it for two reasons. In the first place, I told them that if I were to do so I might be accused of plagiarism, for humanly speaking I have only had one teacher, my father, and my method of study has ever been his method of
study as outlined in his little book, "The Study and Teaching of the English Bible." In the second place, I told them quite frankly that since my father's Home-going my sisters here in London and my brothers in the United States as well as I, myself, have received some small income from the royalties on the sale of his books, and, while I myself would not mind foregoing my share of the royalties on that particular book, I felt it would have been unfair and perhaps a little unethical for me to have done anything which might have tended to decrease the amount which the others received! Hence I simply told that Washington congregation, "If you wish to know something of my method of Bible study, purchase and read my father's book!" Now what I said to that congregation, so say I to this congregation assembled at Westminster. If you want to know how to study the Bible, purchase and study my father's book. I feel sure you can get copies at the bookstall!
The subject which I have chosen is "The importance of the study of the English Bible." In other words, instead of speaking on the subject of how we should study the Bible, I have elected to speak on the subject of why we should study the Bible.
I would like to introduce the subject by telling you a story. The last time it was my privilege to stand in this pulpit was in the year 1935. Soon after my return to the United States I was conducting a Bible Conference in a city of the great State of Texas, and I had been asked to speak at a Rotary Club Luncheon. I agreed so to do. After I had spoken, I was chatting with various members of the Club when one man came up to me and asked in all seriousness and sincerity, "Why do you think that it is so important for a man to study the Bible?" The question took me somewhat by surprise and completely off guard. Most of you who are present here to-night know something of the background of my home and of my upbringing. "Why should a man study the Bible?" Because it is the only authoritative Word of the living God to man! Because it is a Divine Revelation! Because it is God-breathed literature! Because it is "the only infallible rule of faith and practice"! Because it is the only infallible guide to salvation! I think I must have said something along these lines to the inquirer, but he stopped me at once, he cut me short, he said something like this, "Hold on a minute, that is begging the question; how do you know that it is the Word of God?"
Now I tell you that story simply because, in certain senses, that incident constitutes the genesis of this lecture.
I am afraid that I rather floundered around in talking to that man and attempting to give him other reasons why a man - any man - should study the Bible; but later I said, in effect, to myself, "I must marshal my thoughts along these lines, I must think through this whole matter, I must formulate the reasons for the faith that is in me, so that I can present, in orderly fashion, such reasons as may appeal to the minds of those who cannot honestly begin with the acceptance of the Bible as the Word of God."
THE BIBLE AMONG THE BOOKS OF THE WORLD
Now the first line of reasoning which occurred to my mind, and which I believed would hold some weight with such men, was that of the contemplation of the place this Book holds for itself among all the books in the world, when judged by the ordinary standards of any publisher of books. I admit that this is a somewhat superficial reason, nevertheless, it surely constitutes a valid reason why any man should study the Book. You know there are three tests for a book, and in order to remember them easily I like to think of them as, The Heighth Test, The Length Test and The Breadth Test; that is to say, first, how high will its sales climb? Secondly, how long will the Book last? And thirdly, how broad will it be in its appeal? Now I have given you those tests in the ascending order of their severity.
THE HEIGHTH TEST
First, the heighth test: how high will its sales climb? I am prepared to guarantee that, generally speaking, this will be the first question any publisher of books will be asking himself as he reads any new manuscript. Well, of course I knew that the Bible was a best seller, but that year, when I was attempting to marshal my thoughts along these lines, I went into the matter rather carefully and I found that from the Bible publishing houses of the world in the one year there came forth 30,000,000 copies Or, over 100,000 copies for every eight-hour working day of the year! That is, over 200 copies for every minute of every eight-hour working day of the year! Well, my friends, in the whole realm of literature there is nothing that even begins to compare with such figures. The Bible sells throughout the world at the steady rate of 80,000 copies a day! I recall that that year, when I was going into the matter of thcse facts and figures, there was a book everyone was talking about in the United States and many were reading, for it was a best seller. I believe it had a tremendous sale, also, in the British Isles. It was a book called "Anthony Adverse," by Hervey Allen. As a matter of interest, for the sake of comparison, I wrote the publishers of that book in order to discover just how it was selling. I found that it reached its peak in sales in August of that year, when it sold during that one month 96,000 copies. Everybody was talking about it, but the Bible had outstripped its sales for the entire month by the second day of the month! Well, if you submit the Bible to the heighth test, then, as I have intimated, there never has been a book that even begins to compare with it.
THE LENGTH TEST
But let us submit it to the second test, the length test, a severer test. How long will it last? Now if you stop and think for a moment you will agree with me that this is a much severer
test. Lots of books become best sellers for a while, but they do not last, they do not live from one generation to another as, for example, the great works of Scott, or Dickens, or Thackeray, or Shakespeare. I remember when, as a family, we all migrated to the United States after the first World War, my father used to subscribe to a magazine called The Boobinan; it was an excellent magazine - unfortunately it is no longer published - but I recall that month by month he used to send it on to me when he had finished reading it. Each month in that magazine there was a list of the best selling books, fiction and general literature. Now as I look back across the years, I can remember the names of some of the books which at that time were best sellers, but to-day no one ever hears of them. They measured up to the first test, they were best sellers for a while; but they have not lived, they have not lasted, to-day it would be very difficult to find a copy of some of them. Well, what about this Book? Now we are all sufficiently familiar with this Book to realise that it is rather a difficult matter to speak, at this point, concerning it, for while we speak of it as a Book, in reality it is a Library composed of approximately sixty-six pamphlets which we have bound up together to form the Book. Moreover, within the Book there are really two collections of pamphlets. To begin with there is a collection of pamphlets which constitute the sacred writings of the Hebrew people which we speak of as the Old Testament; then there is another collection of pamphlets which constitute the sacred writings of the Christian Church, which we speak of as the New Testament. Of course we all realise that the sacred writings of the Hebrew people have lived very much longer than have the sacred writings of the Christian Church; indeed it is quite possible, though no man has any right to speak dogmatically at this point, but it is quite possible that the Book of Job is the oldest book in existence in the world to-day. But I am prepared to waive all that. I am prepared to take these approximately sixty-six pamphlets bound together to form the one Book as we have our Bibles to-day, and, in its present form, it has lived down through at least seventeen centuries of human history And, let me remind you, it has done this despite all manner of opposition. Ever and anon during its long life attempts have been made to get hold of every single copy and burn it. All manner of criticism and all manner of ridicule have been levelled at it and heaped upon it. Some of the stories of the critics and their criticisms are almost amusing as we look back over the years. Recently I read in a religious periodical in the United States a story of Voltaire, a Frenchman, a vehement critic of this Book. He was sitting in his home in Paris and discussing the Bible and with a shrug of his shoulders he dismissed it by saying, "A hundred years from now you will never hear of it; oh, possibly you might see a copy in a museum, but otherwise it will be gone; it is a thoroughly discredited Book!" A hundred years after Voltaire uttered those words, so the story ran, the very house in which he
uttered them, his old home in Paris, if you please, was the property of the British and Foreign Bible Society; it was one of their distributing houses, packed full of Bibles waiting for distribution to the four corners of the earth! I have not checked with the British and Foreign Bible Society to see if the story be true or merely apocryphal, but I have no reason to doubt it and, as my brother Jack would say, "If it is not true, it ought to be!" It is typical of so many things that have happened. The critic dies, the old Book lives on! Then there is another story I like which my father used to tell of another critic of this Book, a man named Bob Ingersoll, though in certain senses it is really a story of Mark Twain. Mark Twain was sitting in his hotel room in New York City when his friend came into the room with the evening paper and said, "Sam" (you will remember that his name was Sam Clemens), "we have nothing to do this evening and I see in the paper that Bob Ingersoll is lecturing in the city to-night on 'The Mistakes of Moses'; seats are only a dollar, let's go and hear what Bob is going to say!" Mark Twain looked up and said, "Oh, I don't know; I don't think I can be bothered to go out and hear Bob to-night, but I'll tell you what I will do. I'll give you ten dollars for a seat if you can arrange for Moses to speak on 'The Mistakes of Bob Ingersoll'!" Well, thus the stories multiply, the critics die, the Book lives on and is being circulated more widely to-day than ever before in its long history.
THE BREADTH TEST
But let us come to the third test, the severest test of all for a book, the breadth test. How broad will it be in its appeal? How universal will it be in its appeal? You see at once that this test involves the whole problem of translation into languages other than those in which the Book was originally written. To what extent is the Book possessed of those great elemental human qualities which will make the work of translation a necessity? This is the severest test of all. It is conceivable that you or I might write a book that would have a very good sale here in England and possibly also in the United States, but no publisher would even think of going to the expense of having it translated, for example, into Chinese; it would be provincial in its outlook and local in its colouring and setting. Now the amazing fact is, that when one submits this Book to this severest test of all, it shines with the greatest brilliance! Let me give you a few facts and figures which I have gathered for the sake of comparison. The works of Homer, the great Greek poet, are being translated into a little over twenty different languages. If you take our own beloved Shakespeare, the works of Shakespeare are being translated into over forty different languages. If for a moment we exclude the Bible, then, as far as I have been able to ascertain, there are only two books which have passed the hundred mark, and the moment I mention these books you will surely notice a very
significant fact. The first is Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress," and the second is "The Imitation of Christ," by Thomas à Kempis. Now if you are familiar with those books, as doubtless you are, you will agree with me at once when I affirm that they are dependent for everything that is in them upon the Book of which I am speaking! As to the former, where did Bunyan get all his ideas for the "Pilgrim's Progress"? He got them from the Bible! As to the latter, "The Imitation of Christ," the very title gives it away! Thomas à Kempis got all his ideas for the book from the Bible. Well, how about the Bible? I expect all of us here realise that over a decade ago this Book passed the thousand mark, for to-day it is being translated into over a thousand different languages and dialects! I have often wondered just what Charles Wesley had in mind when he wrote that immortal hymn:-
"O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer's praise!
Was he using hyperbole ? Was he saying in effect, "I wish that instead of having one tongue I had a thousand, that I might sing the louder the praises of my great Redeemer?" Or, had he been to a service at which there had been a disappointingly small congregation? Or, was he using the word "tongues" in the sense of languages? If the last of the possibilities be true, then to-day his wish has become fulfilled, for the praises of our great Redeemer are being sung in over a thousand different tongues, because this Book is being translated into over a thousand different languages! But even that fact, astounding as it is, is not the most amazing fact to me. The most amazing fact is this, that of those approximately a thousand different languages into which the Bible is being translated, in over three hundred instances a written alphabet has had to be created, in order to answer the demand for this Literature in the tongue of a people. You see what that means? In over three hundred instances, believers in this Book and in its message have gone to the four corners of the earth in order to proclaim its good news to others. After mastering the languages of the strange peoples, they have told its story, those listening have noticed that those speaking had the message in printed form and, in effect, they have said, "We would like to have this message in that form, so that when you are not here to tell us we can read the story for ourselves"; but those telling the good news have been compelled to reply, "You do not have any written alphabet?" The answer has come back," Then let us create one, so that we can have the good news in written form in our own language!" I repeat, in over three hundred instances that very thing has been done!
Now I submit to you that no man has any right to claim that he is a well-read man, nay, there is something sadly lacking in his education if he has neglected the reading and study of such a Book, which has sold as no other book has ever sold, a Book which has lived down through at least seventeen centuries of human history
and that, despite all manner of opposition; a Book which to-day is proving itself to be of such elemental human interest as to demand translation into over one thousand different languages, and, in over three hundred instances the demand being met, despite the fact that a written alphabet had to be created. You see, for the moment, I am not thinking of it as religious literature, though such it most certainly is, but, for the moment, I am content to think of it just simply as a Book among all the books in the world, and let it take its chance when judged by these ordinary standards of any publisher of books.
WEIGHTIER REASONS - 1.
THE SUBJECTS WITH WHICH IT DEALS.
Now, however, I do desire to pass to three weightier reasons why, in my judgment, every man and woman should study this Book. Let me name them and then we will take a few minutes with each. First, we ought to study this Book because of the subjects with which it deals; secondly, we ought to study it because of the claims which it makes for itself; thirdly, we ought to study it because of the fruits which it produces wherever it goes.
First, we ought to study it because of the subjects with which it deals. Here we have a whole Literature dealing with subjects which, if we are intelligent, we are bound to admit are subjects of supreme importance; moreover, it deals with subjects concerning which, if we are honest, we shall have to admit our woeful ignorance. For example, here we have a whole Literature dealing with the subject of the God of the universe, and of Man, and of these in their inter-relationships. It deals with the subjects of the life of man, and of the death of man, and of the meaning and significance of these experiences. Moreover, it deals with the subject of life beyond death. It deals with the subjects of heaven and of hell; of angels and of demons and of that arch enemy of God and of man alike, the devil. Now, for the moment, I am not saying whether it deals accurately or inaccurately with these subjects (we will come to that later), but I am saying that it does deal with these subjects and I am insisting upon it that they are subjects which any intelligent man must admit are subjects of vital importance; moreover, they are subjects concerning which any honest man will have to admit that he knows practically nothing at all. You and I find ourselves here in this world, we did not ask to come into it, but here we are, and if we are using our God-given intelligence we are bound to ask all manner of questions. As I have heard my father say on many occasions, "The asking of questions is not a sign of ignorance, it is a sign of growing intelligence." The ignorant man is the man who never asks any questions, the intelligent man always does. Many of you know how that there comes a period in your child's life when that child is for evermore asking questions. Do not discourage the child, it is a sure sign of growing intelligence. It is your business as father or mother to
answer those questions. So again, I say, if we are intelligent we are bound to ask questions. We go out on any clear, lovely summer night and look out at the universe. Whence came everything? What lies at the back of it all? Is there a God? If there be, can I know anything about Him? Whither is everything bound? Where are we all heading? What is the meaning of my life in the midst of the whole scheme of things? Is there any meaning? Now all these and many, many other similar questions are dealt with and answered in this Literature. I repeat, therefore, a man ought to study the Book, if for no other reason, because of the subjects with which it deals, subjects. of vital importance, matters of life and of death and of eternal destiny, matters concerning which we are woefully ignorant.
WEIGHTIER REASONS - 2.
THE CLAIMS WHICH IT MAKES.
Now add to that reason the second of those weightier reasons. We ought to study this Book because of the claims which it makes for itself. It seems to me utterly impossible for any thoughtful, careful, painstaking student to come to this Literature with an open and with an unprejudiced mind and patiently study it from beginning to end without the impression being made upon his mind that this Literature is claiming to speak with the authority of God, that while 'tis true men wrote these pamphlets, yet they wrote them as they were borne along by the Spirit of the God of the universe, I am not saying, for the moment, whether the Literature is warranted in making these claims, but I am saying that no careful, honest, open-minded, impartial student of the Literature can deny me that as one studies this is the impression being made upon the mind. Think for a moment of the significance of this. Just suppose that it be warranted in making such claims. Then it means that we have an Authoritative Revelation, it means we have God-breathed Literature concerning subjects of supreme importance, matters of life and of death and of eternal destiny; moreover, subjects concerning which we are woefully ignorant!
WEIGHTIER REASONS - 3
THE FRUIT WHICH IT PRODUCES
Now when we add to these two the third of the weightier reasons, I do not see how any intelligent man can deny me the importance, not merely of taking time, but if necessary of making time, for the study of this Book.
We ought to study this Book, because of the fruit it has produced wherever it has gone during the long course of its history. At this point it is merely a matter of reading history. We are living far enough away from the origins of the Book, as I have already suggested, to be able to look back through a vista
of at least seventeen centuries of its history. Now wherever, the Book has gone, and men have read it and have studied it and have attempted to bring their lives into accordance with its teachings, it has invariably produced good fruit. It has tended toward the ennoblement of individual character, the betterment of home life, the uplift of social life, the strengthening of national life. There has been no exception to this rule. A man can stand back from a map of the world, and focus his eyes upon some area where living conditions to-day are at their highest, then he can walk up to the map and point his finger at that area, and he will discover that he is pointing to an area where this Book has gone, and where men have read it, and have studied it, and have attempted to bring their lives into harmony with its teachings. On the other hand, a man can stand back from that same map, and focus his eyes upon some area where living conditions are very primitive, or where darkness prevails, then he can walk up to the map and point his finger to that area, and he will find that he is pointing to an area where this Book has never gone, or to an area where it is only just beginning to go, or else to an area where this Book has gone and men have wilfully rejected its teachings, and have refused to live by the great principles enshrined within its pages. Gathered, as we are, in this great metropolis of the British Commonwealth of Nations (and, incidentally, my birthplace!), we can think of our own beloved land as an example. We can look back through centuries of our history to a time when a very primitive people inhabited these islands of ours, then there came an hour when there landed upon our shores a monk. He knew something of this Literature in the Latin and in the Greek, he must have learned the tongue spoken by the inhabitants, and then he translated a few of the Psalms into their language. That was the beginning. Later there came a great king to the throne of England, King Alfred, a great warrior but no mean scholar. He translated and caused to be translated a few more of the Psalms, he translated the Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer into the tongue of his people. Later there came great translators such as Wycliffe, Coverdale, Tyndale, until, in that memorable year 1611, in the reign of King James, there was given to the English people in their own language, the entire Book in what we call to-day the Authorised Version of the Bible, or, the King James Version. Now the point is this, that side by side with that giving of the Book to the people in their own tongue and the people reading it, coming to know it, trying - I admit, blunderingly ever and anon, yet nevertheless trying - to bring their lives and the life of the nation into accordance with its teachings, one can watch Britain's rise from primitive darkness to her present place of light and honour and learning and greatness among the nations of the world. I like the story of Queen Victoria when she was well advanced in years, and of how there came to visit her a prince from a distant land and asked the aged Queen, "Your Majesty, what do you consider the secret of England's greatness?
Without a moment's hesitation she picked up her copy of this
Book which lay on a nearby table, and, placing it in the hands of the prince, she said, "This, in my judgment, is the secret of England's greatness! "Thus it has ever been, where men have endeavoured to bring their lives and their national life into harmony with its teachings. The last time I was in Washington, in the District of Columbia, I stood beneath the dome of the Capitol and looked at those massive and magnificent paintings which hang on the wall around the circle, my attention was arrested by one of the landing of the forefathers of the nation, and, prominent in the picture, at its very centre, is a man stepping ashore carrying this Book. It suggests and symbolises the fact that the founders of that great Republic across the seas, landed on its shores determined that, with the help of God, this new land should be a place where the people should be governed by the great principles enshrined within this Book.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS THIRD OF THE WEIGHTIER TESTS
Now all this is of the utmost significance. Our natural scientists have discovered a law at work in this universe, which they speak of as "the law of conformity to type." That is to say, like always breeds like. If a man sows wheat, he will reap wheat. If he sows oats, he will reap oats. That law holds good in the moral realm. Our Lord, Himself, made reference to it when He said, "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit." We have already seen that down through centuries of history, wherever this Book has gone and men have lived by it, it has brought forth good fruit. That, my friends, is an unanswerable argument for the fact that the Book itself must be good, and, if it be good it must be true, for no untrue thing is good, and if it be true then it must be true when it claims to be the Word of God, and if that claim be true then it is a Divine Revelation concerning subjects, which, if we are intelligent, we must admit are of supreme importance, matters of life and of death and of eternal destiny of men and of nations; moreover, they are subjects concerning which, if we are honest, we must admit we are woefully ignorant. If the Book be not true when it claims to speak with the authority of high heaven, then you have an impossible thing happening down through centuries of history. If this Book be not true when it claims to be the Word of God, then you have a Book saturated with a lie from cover to cover bringing forth good fruit wherever it goes and men obey it. That is impossible. When I see the fruit produced is invariably good wherever men obey its teachings down through centuries of history, I say to myself, there is no sense in arguing about this, the Book must be good itself, and if it be good it must be true, and if it be true then it must be the Word of God and the Word of God concerning these tremendous
subjects. Put these lines of thinking together and I cannot see how any reasonable, intelligent human being can deny me the importance not merely of taking, but if necessary of making time for the study of the Book.
THE IMPORTANCE OF STUDY FROM THE STANDPOINT OF CHURCHMEN AND CHURCHWOMEN
Now allow me to pass from the thought of the individual as such, to the thought of the individual as a Churchman or a Churchwoman. When we do this, then the truth of the importance of the study of this Book is so clear, it seems to me, as to be self-evident and absolutely unavoidable. You will recall that during that last great week in the life of our Lord before His passion baptism, there came that dramatic, that climacteric moment when in the Temple Courts, He compelled the rulers in Israel to pass sentence upon themselves, and then He rejected the Hebrew nation as He uttered those awe-inspiringly solemn words," The Kingdom shall be taken away from you and given unto a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof" I affirm, unhesitatingly, that the nation to which the kingdom was to be given is the Church, which came into being on the Day of Pentecost, as recorded in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, and to which the Apostle Peter refers in his First Epistle as "the holy nation." Now among other facts of paramount significance, the Church became the custodian of the Oracles of God, of this God-breathed Literature, and, she became the custodian of this Literature for the purposes of proclamation and of incarnation. The Apostle Paul, in writing to Timothy, spoke of "the Church of the living God, the Pillar and Ground of the Truth." My friends, there is no point in a newspaper unless it give the news. There is no point in a lamp unless it shed light. Even so, a Church that is not proclaiming and incarnating this Literature, is a failure and a falsehood and may as well close its doors, or else call itself by some other name, possibly "a club," or something of that sort. Yet again, you will recall that the Apostle Paul, in writing to the Church in Rome, spoke of himself as "a debtor." As he thought especially of the Gospel message as we now have it in the New Testament, he looked upon it as a sacred deposit which had been committed to him for proclamation to all men, whether Greek or barbarian, wise or foolish, and as long as there was a man or a woman, a boy or a girl, anywhere in the world who had not heard the message, then he was in debt to that person. This should be the compelling conviction of every true Churchman and of every true Churchwoman; but how can we proclaim, or how can we make incarnate that with which we are not ourselves familiar? Hence the obvious, the crucial, the paramount importance of every Churchman, of every Churchwoman being a student of the Book.
THE IMPORTANCE OF STUDY FROM THE STANDPOINT OF CITIZENS
A last word from the standpoint of the individual as a citizen. My friends, the old Book is still true when it claims that righteousness and righteousness alone exalteth a nation. Now "righteousness" is a word which suggests conduct, but conduct will depend upon character; as a man is, so will he act. Yet again, character in turn depends upon conceptions, "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." Thus conduct will depend ultimately upon the conceptions which are held. Now I do not hesitate to affirm, and that quite dogmatically, that all the great basic conceptions which have made this nation honoured among the nations of the world, have been derived from the Bible. Woe unto us, then, nationally if, at this stage of the voyage of the ship of state, we throw overboard the compass which has guided us to our present greatness. The importance of the study of the Book by the citizens of the land simply cannot be over-estimated.
THE PRESENT SITUATION
Well, my friends, where do we stand in this matter? Of course, I cannot speak with such certainty over here in London as I could if I were in the United States, simply because, in recent years, I have been somewhat out of touch with life in these British Isles, but I have reason to believe that the general situation over here, is not so very dissimilar from that obtaining on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. I do not hesitate to affirm that in the United States, men are not studying this Book as did their fathers. As a matter of fact, there is a new school of thought which has sprung up in comparatively recent years over there which is saying, in effect, "Do not teach the Bible, apply it to life's situations." Those words almost amount to the slogan of the new school of thought. Our Sunday School literature is all-too-largely based upon it, and the result is that our Sunday School teachers, instead of teaching our children the Bible and its contents book by book, are for evermore dealing with all manner of topics. I admit that they try to deal with these topics in the light of the Biblical Revelation, but our children are not getting the Bible itself. A generation is growing up which simply does not know the Bible. There are thousands of young people who have passed through our Sunday Schools, from the Primary Department to the Senior Department, who could not stand an elementary examination on the Bible and its contents. My friends, this is dangerous and if persisted in will end in disaster I We need to get back to the older school of thought which says, in effect, "Teach the Bible, book by book, and as you teach the Spirit Himself will honour the Word and do His Own applying to the hearts and to the lives of the hearers." This is the position for which this great church at Westminster has stood across all the years, during which I have
known anything about it, and far be the day when Westminster Chapel changes her stand upon these matters. This was the position held tenaciously through the years by the man in honour of whom this Lectureship is a memorial. How he taught the Bible here in the Friday night Bible School! How he proclaimed the Word here on the Lord's Day! What a magnificent centre of Bible teaching were the Institute and all the other departments of the Sunday School! Why, I well remember as a boy one woman who was a member of the London Royal Academy of Music, telling me that she had had to work much harder to get her diploma to teach the Bible in the Sunday School of this Church, than she did to get her L.R.A.M. I Reverently I say it, I thank God that this position which this Church has always maintained during the years I have known anything about it, is the position of the man who is at present your pastor and teacher. I thank God for the challenging expositions of the Word which cross the Atlantic Ocean and come to me and go to many others all over the world in The Westminster Record. My Dad, I know, went to his eternal reward, happy in the thought that such a man would be at the helm here at Westminster after he, himself, had passed into the presence of our Lord.
May God help us, then to realise anew and afresh the crucial importance of the study of the English Bible as individuals, as Churchmen and Churchwomen, and as citizens of our beloved land.
May God help us to see to it that insofar as we have any influence, this Word is proclaimed faithfully in our pulpits and taught systematically, consecutively, painstakingly, patiently in our Sunday Schools lest there grow up a generation which "knew not the Word of the living God."
May God help us each one for himself, for herself, honestly to re-affirm, in the words of the old hymn:-
"Lord, I have made Thy Word my choice,
My lasting heritage;
There shall my noblest powers rejoice,
My warmest thoughts engage.
I'll read the histories of Thy love,
And keep Thy laws in sight;
While through the promises I rove
With ever fresh delight."
Prepared for the web by Robert I. Bradshaw in July 2005. Reproduced by kind permission of Westminster Chapel, London.