An Interpretation of the English Bible
B. H. CARROLL
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PUBLISHER’S PREFACE. 4
A GENERAL FOREWORD.. 5
I INTRODUCTION TO AN INTERPRETATION OF THE ENGLISH BIBLE 6
II INTRODUCTORY STUDIES – THE OLD TESTAMENT. 24
III INTRODUCTORY STUDIES – THE PENTATEUCH.. 40
IV CREATION – PART ONE. 53
V CREATION – PART TWO.. 68
VI MAN IN PARADISE. 84
VII THE ANGELS. 96
VIII THE FALL OF MAN. 106
IX SIN. 121
X CAIN AND ABEL. 128
XI CHRONOLOGY FROM ADAM TO NOAH.. 142
XII ENOCH – HIS TRANSLATION. 155
XIII CAUSES OF THE DELUGE. 168
XIV LESSONS OF THE FLOOD.. 188
XV GOD’S COVENANT WITH NOAH.. 200
XVI ORIGIN OF NATIONS AND LANGUAGES. 213
XVII DISTRIBUTION AND TERRITORIES OF THE NATIONS 224
XVIII GENERATIONS OF SHEM AND TERAH.. 234
XIX THE CALL AND MIGRATION OF ABRAHAM.. 245
XX THE COVENANTS WITH ABRAHAM (PART ONE) 254
XXI THE COVENANTS WITH ABRAHAM (PART TWO) 261
XXII ABRAHAM, LOT, AND MELCHIZEDEK. 269
XXIII ABRAHAM’S CONVERSION (PART ONE) 279
XXIV ABRAHAM’S CONVERSION (PART TWO) AND SOME SELECTED THOUGHTS 288
XXV THE LIFE OF ABRAHAM–(Concluded) 300
XXVI ISAAC AND JACOB. 316
XXVII JACOB’S CONVERSION AND LIFE IN HARAN. 330
XXVIII JACOB’S MEETING WITH ESAU.. 343
XXIX JACOB, JOSEPH, AND OTHERS. 353
XXX JOSEPH IN EGYPT. 363
XXXI JACOB AND HIS FAMILY MIGRATE TO EGYPT. 371
XXXII THE LAST DAYS OF JACOB AND JOSEPH.. 381
At the time of its publication this set was acclaimed to constitute “the greatest commentary on the English Bible ever published” (Baptist and Reflector). It remains to this day a reliable guide to a thorough understanding of the Scriptures.
This is an excellent set for the preacher who aspires to be true to the Word and who wishes to enrich his preaching ministry. It is an invaluable aid for the teacher who seeks to guide his class to a deeper knowledge and appreciation of God’s Revelation to us. It is an ideal set for any student of the Bible who desires to hear what God has to say to him.
This is more than a commentary. It is rightly called an interpretation.
An interpretation of the English Bible now makes its appearance in six bindings. All seventeen of the volumes of the prior printing are included.
The renowned author of this set was a Southern Baptist preacher educated at Baylor University. After a pastorate at the Baptist Church at Waco, Texas, he served in succession as Principal of the Bible Department and Dean and Professor of English Bible at Baylor University, and as President at South-western Baptist Theological Seminary.
An Interpretation of the English Bible remains a continuing contribution to Bible knowledge and consistent Christian living. Additional information concerning this valuable set is found in the General Foreword which follows.
A GENERAL FOREWORD
An Interpretation of the English Bible, by Dr. B.H. Carroll, first came from the press of Fleming H. Revell Company in 1913. Revell’s copyright was bought by Broadman Press in 1942. These volumes were edited by Dr. J. B. Cranfill, assisted by Dr. J. W. Crowder. In the meantime, it became apparent that the “Interpretation” was not complete: four volumes were yet needed to include the whole Bible. Dr. J. W. Crowder had in his possession the material of these volumes and at our request edited the following: IV, Poetical Books of the Bible; VI, Divided Kingdom; VII, Prophets of Assyrian Period; VIII, Prophets of Chaldean Period. For the first time, therefore, we are able to present the new and complete Interpretation of the English Bible, in seventeen volumes.
Of course, no one would be presumptuous enough to attempt to edit the body of Dr. Carroll’s work; these volumes are valuable because of the undisputed position of the author in the minds and hearts of our Baptist people. We are leaving the long paragraphs as written; we are not disturbing references incorporating scientific statements which are now out of date, nor have we made any effort to eliminate repetitions or to bring the bibliography up-to-date.
As is known by readers of the earlier editions, this work is an interpretation rather than a commentary in the popular acceptance of the latter term. In such interpretation, the author indulges in paraphrasing the biblical text, in inserting now and then a sermon on a vital subject, and in sharing with his readers bits of humor which he has picked up along the way. After each chapter a lengthy list of pertinent questions is appended.
The reader finds Dr. Carroll’s knowledge of the Bible positively amazing, and rejoices in his strict adherence to the objective with which he started: “We set out not to study human creeds, but the Bible, and we agreed to let the Bible interpret itself and mean what it wants to mean.” – John L. Hill
I INTRODUCTION TO AN INTERPRETATION OF THE ENGLISH BIBLE
My theme is a thrilling one – THE ENGLISH BIBLE. The most natural construction of this topic calls for a history of the Bible in English from the earliest crude version in this tongue to the latest version, and for a summing up of the value of these versions in their traceable effect on our language and literature, on individual character, on the family, the unit of society, on business and commerce, on national policy, legislation and life, and on world evangelization, civilization and unity.
A less natural construction allows the more timely discussion of the value of a thorough study of the whole Bible in English by English-speaking people.
In expressing a preference for this less natural construction of the demands of the topic, I do not seek to disparage the interesting character and importance of the discussion as delimited by the first construction. No event in any nation’s history can be more momentous and far-reaching than the giving to them of the Word of God in their mother tongue and allowing it to be an open book at every fireside, with no page or promise or precept darkened by the proscriptive shadow of priest or state. The book is for the people themselves. It is God’s message to man and is addressed in all its sublime simplicity to the individual heart and conscience, obligating the personal responsibility of private judgment.
You recall the notable fact at Babel, showing that division of the race into nations arose from a prior confusion of tongues and not different languages from a prior division into nations. A common speech is the greatest factor of unity.
And you will observe also in that other Bible story that Pentecost, by its gift of many tongues to one set of men, reversed the disintegration of Babel, prepared the way for breaking down the middle walls of partition which separated peoples, and rejoiced the hearts of the representatives of every nation under heaven, who thereby were enabled to hear the Word of God each in the tongue wherein he was born. And you also recall the apostolic declaration that whoever speaks in an unknown tongue to another even though he speak the words of life is unto his hearer as a barbarian. Even a thing without life, a bugle, a harp, or flute, if it give no distinction in its sounds conveys no message to the hearer. And when I consider what the English version of the Bible has wrought, I could not overestimate the greatness of the topic under this construction. (See 1 Cor. 14:7f.)
On the contrary, I desire to commend as one of the most charming and instructive classics of our language, “The History of the English Bible,” by Doctor Pattison, of the Rochester Theological Seminary. Every preacher, every Sunday school teacher, every English-speaking Christian, yea, every student of our language, would do good to himself by adding to his library this valuable contribution to our literature. Yet, very weighty are the reasons which constrain me to adopt the line of discussion suggested by the less natural construction of the topic.
The Bible in English is valueless unless we study it. Mighty as has been the influence of this version, that influence has been measured by the study of the Book. If all the English speaking people had made this version a vade mecum, a lamp to their feet and the oracle of their counsel, the millennium would be here now. We have the Book, but do we study it? Do we study it all? Who of use ver devoted himself to a four years’ consecutive course of earnest and prayerful study of the English Bible, covering all its parts from Genesis to Revelation, allowing the Book to mean what it wants to mean, and to be, by comparison of all its parts, its own interpreter?
THE ORIGIN OF THE IDEA
The idea of the work in this form originated in this way: First, a statement in a great introductory oration by Dr. Boyce at Greenville, South Carolina, that the Baptist ministry consists of two kinds – an educated ministry, and a ministry of educated men – meaning by “an educated ministry” people in the ministry who had received a college or university education; and meaning by “a ministry of educated men,” men trained for the ministerial work, whether holding college or university degrees, being thoroughly disciplined in the truth of the Bible. The history of the denomination shows that the greatest achievements of the past in Baptist history have been by men who were educated in the Bible) but not college men. To further explain this idea, I quote from Dr. Broadus’ History of Preaching: “Let us bear in mind that the early progress of Christianity, that great and wonderful progress to which we still appeal as one of the proofs of its divine origin, was due mainly to the labours of obscure men, who have left no sermons, and not even a name to history, but whose work remains plain before the all-seeing eye, and whose reward is sure. Hail, ye unknown, forgotten brethren] we celebrate the names of your leaders, but will not forget that you fought the battles, and gained the victories. The Christian world feels your impress, though it has lost your names. And we likewise, if we cannot live in men’s memories, will rejoice at the thought that if we work for God our work shall live, and we too shall live in our work.
“And not only are these early labourers now unknown, but most of them were in their own day little cared for by the great and the learned. Most of them were uneducated. Throughout the first two or three centuries it continued to be true that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, were called to be Christian ministers or Christians at all. It was mainly the foolish things, weak things, base things, that God chose. And what power they had through the story of the cross, illuminated by earnest Christian living! . . . And such preachers have abounded from that day to this, in every period, country and persuasion in which Christianity was making any real and rapid progress.”
The thought is strongly reinforced in that great book, now much neglected by our people, Wayland’s Principles and Practices of the Baptists. What a pity we cannot get our people to carefully read over again what he has to say upon this very subject!
The sentiments thus set forth by these three great men of our history I unhesitatingly accept. These are followed by an additional thought, to wit: That there ought to be some place higher in character and extent of its work than Bible institutes and Sunday schools, for preachers and laymen to meet together to study the Word of God thoroughly.
THE SCOPE OF THE COURSE, AND THE TIME REQUIRED
The course requires that four consecutive years shall be devoted to the study of the Bible itself, and not of things about the Bible, and must be arranged to cover in the best method possible within the time limits the whole Bible – every chapter and verse of every book from Genesis to Revelation. One hour each of four days in every school week must be devoted to teaching and recitation, and twice as many to study.
While it is in every way desirable that each student shall complete the entire course, yet our method of study will possess this advantage – that a failure to complete the course does not destroy the value of a partial course. Every lesson even, apart from all others, will be profitable; and this profit will be greatly enhanced if you prepare the lessons covering only one book.
LITERARY QUALIFICATIONS OF THE STUDENTS
The higher one’s scholastic attainments, the wider the range of his general information, the more perfect the discipline of his mind, the more systematic his habits of application, the better is he prepared to take this course, and the more profit will he likely derive from it. But if these high qualifications were made conditions of entrance into this course, the main object in view would be frustrated. The one prerequisite, therefore, is ability to read and write in English, accompanied with a little common sense.
The course itself will quicken and develop his capacities and enlarge his acquirements. A course thus restricted, and with this minimum of antecedent qualifications necessarily assumes or takes for granted many things to which a modern theological seminary devotes much special and critical inquiry. These, for the time being, are left to subsequent opportunity, which indeed in some cases may never come.
The study of the things thus deferred, even if by necessity deferred forever, is not disparaged. But it is claimed that the study of the Bible itself – what it says and what it means to the common mind – is a primal, elemental, vital, and fundamental requirement, binding on every Christian conscience, and intensely obligatory upon the mind and heart of every preacher.
TEXTBOOKS AND OTHER HELPS
The only textbook absolutely requisite is the English Bible. The Common, or King James Version, can be made to serve, but the Canterbury Revision, or the American Standard Version, is much preferred. On the first book of the Bible Conant’s translation of Genesis, with its critical notes, is very helpful.
Editions of both Testaments can be had with the King James Version and Canterbury Revision in parallel columns. The Jewish translation of the Old Testament, by Isaac Leeser will be helpful; and the improved edition of the American Bible Union Version of the New Testament.
In the study of the Gospels, Broadus’ Harmony will be the textbook. After that, Clarke’s Harmony of the Acts will be the textbook, compared with Goodwin’s Harmony of the Life of Paul. The student will need a concordance, Cruden’s or Young’s, and access to Smith’s Bible Dictionary, either abridged or unabridged, and to the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopaedia of Religious Knowledge, and to some analysis of the Bible, West’s or Hitchcock’s. This last to aid in comparing scripture with scripture. We are now ready for a statement of the principle.
That very critical study of the things deferred calls for a wider range of learning and a higher grade of scholarship than the commonalty of men, or even the average preacher, now has or ever will have. By necessity, therefore, this needed but special work must fall upon a comparatively small class, and this class itself in turn be measurably dependent upon the greater scholarship and information of a very few highly qualified experts.
It is assumed that the teacher himself has necessary general information, and either possesses adequate scholarship or is sufficiently acquainted with its best results to safely guide his class; and while avoiding technical phraseology and nomenclature, can point out and expound what the Bible itself says in the principal passages which have been made the occasion of minute, far-reaching, and destructive criticism.
For example: (a) the alleged discrepancies in matter and style between the first chapter of Genesis and the second chapter; (b) between Exodus 6:3, and certain passages in Genesis; (c) between Jeremiah 7:22, and similar passages from other prophets on the one hand, and the historical statement of Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy on the other hand. It is assumed that the providence of God, overruling all human agencies and earthly circumstances, has preserved for the race all that is needed of the revelations his goodness bestowed at sundry times and through divers instrumentalities, and has assured reliability in the records embodying them, and their correlated matter. And that this Providence has also overruled in the combination of the several books necessary to a complete canon.
That this library of many books embodied now in one book and called by us the Holy Bible, not only contains, but is the Word of God and is both so necessary and complete in every part that it may not be subject to addition or subtraction, and that, being inspired of God throughout, it must remain to the end of the world as the sufficient, supreme, and infallible standard by which all human creed and conduct should be regulated in time, and by which they shall be judged at the last day.
That our present Hebrew and Greek texts being in essential substance transcripts of the original manuscripts in these tongues, are sufficiently accurate for all practical purposes; no doctrine, or precept, or promise, or hope being lost or affected by transcription.
That our English versions do with substantial fidelity and accuracy translate the Hebrew and Greek texts, and where difficulties arise, helps, brief but sufficient for the purposes of this course, are accessible to the English student.
That this book, as we now have it, both as a whole and in all its parts, is profitable for teaching what we ought to know and believe, and for conviction and correction of all wrongdoing, and for instruction in all right doing, in order that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped unto every good work.
It is assumed that in our Baptist literary schools, or in other accessible schools or theological seminaries, abundant provision is made in behalf of those needing it or desiring it, for both the needed scholarships and its employment in pursuing the studies about the Bible only briefly considered in this course, whether relating to textual or historical criticism, or to any other department of study prescribed in modern universities or theological seminaries.
It is assumed that this course in the English Bible will not only not be in opposition to, or a substitute for, higher scholarship and more critical studies, but will promote them by tending powerfully and continually to increase the number of recruits seeking to add to knowledge strictly biblical all other helpful knowledge relative to it, and that too from a class who, without the awakening and inspiration of this course, would certainly never seek higher attainments, and more certainly never pursue special and critical studies. All observation and experience justify the expectation that when the mental horizon has been widened, aspiration kindled and the love of God’s word by study of the Bible in the mother tongue, it will be difficult for the student to stop at the terminus of an elemental and fundamental course.
But the hope may be reasonably cherished that one grounded in this elemental course will be safeguarded in many directions while pursuing other courses, and will at least have attained to familiarity with all the Book itself. And, sad to say, this safeguarding and attainment many never possess who actually become or affect to become experts in the things about the Bible.
The Bible is its own interpreter. That is, we arrive at the meaning of any passage by a comparison of scripture with scripture. Revelation is a unit, or system of truth. The parts must be interpreted to agree with each other, and with the trend of the whole system. A difficult or doubtful passage, here or there, must not be set aside but must conform to what is clearly taught in many unambiguous scriptures. As the Bible was given us for practical purposes, bearing upon character, conduct and destiny, our study of it, to be profitable, must be in a line with these purposes. The very heart of every lesson, therefore, will be its doctrine on these points, and this doctrine must be so received by faith and assimilated by obedience as to become experimental knowledge. “Whosoever willeth to do the will of God shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God.”
Continual confirmation and increased assurance that we are rightly interpreting the Divine Word can come to only those who can say: “Then shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord,” in the same experimental way which brings its own blessings with every forward step. “But he that looketh into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and so continueth, being not a hearer that forgetteth but a doer that worketh, this man shall be blessed in his doing.” As this book is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, reverent and prayerful appeal to him for its right understanding and application is continually necessary.
FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF THE IDEA
The idea of a course of study in the English Bible which would comprehend the entire book is not of recent origin. Even before my conversion, when the book was considered merely from the standpoint of literature, it seemed to me the best and richest of the classics, and utterly apart from any thought of its alleged inspiration, to deserve a place in the curriculum of a liberal education far beyond that assigned Greek and Roman classics, or to the other acknowledged masterpieces of our own tongue. That at least our textbooks should include selections from its history, moral code, jurisprudence, worship, poetry, orations, essays, and parables, sufficiently full in extent to convey a fair understanding of the scope and variety of this matchless library of literature: selections something like in extent and variety those given in Professor Wilkinson’s Foreign Classics in English.
From any literary viewpoint I could see no good reason far excluding from our schools a study of this book, while giving so much attention to the myths, fables, legends, idolatries, philosophies, and skeptical speculations selected from ancient heathen and more modern foreign classics. In moral purity and sublimity of thought, grandeur of matter and loftiness of design, they all fall below the excluded Hebrew literature.
But soon after my conversion, and in the light of it, my reflections began to take, and continued to take with cumulative power, a wider and intenser form. In this Book alone I found the origin and destiny of all created things and beings – here alone the nature of man, and his relations to God, the universe and fellow man, out of which arise all of his obligations and aspirations, and in conformity to which lie his usefulness and happiness. This Book alone discloses man’s chief good and chief end.
I saw it as the only living oracle, replying instantly and freely in simple, unambiguous language to every interrogatory propounded by life’s problems and perplexities. In its presence the double-tongued oracles of the heathen became dumb, their dubious utterances died into echoless silence and their idolatries and superstitions were relegated to the moles and bats.
From this reflection there was an unconscious transition to the natural inquiry: Are the people ignorant of the matter of this Book? And if informed somewhat, how extensive and systematic is their knowledge? Investigation brought an appalling answer to this inquiry: Very few were found to be students of the Book. Fragmentarily, here and there, and from many sources, something of its matter had been picked up by most men. Much of this in corrupt form.
The inquiry passed from the pew to the pulpit, and here the disclosure was more startling. These men by office and profession were the teachers of the Book. Surely these preachers have studied earnestly, prayerfully, profoundly, and systematically all of the messages they are appointed to teach I And if they have not as yet, in some fashion, gone over the whole ground, surely they are habitually and diligently prosecuting such a study! If every one of the sacred writings is inspired of God, and is profitable for teaching what men ought to know and believe, and for conviction and correction of all wrongdoing, and instruction in all right doing to the end that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped unto every good work, surely a teacher of the Book will neglect no part of it, and will hasten to acquaint himself with it I
But the amazing truth must be acknowledged that few preachers, learned or unlearned, actually study the Bible itself, their supreme textbook, as a complete and well-ordered system of divine truth. It does not square with the facts in the case to limit this ignorance of the Bible to uneducated country preachers. Some of them study the Bible itself more, and are better acquainted with it, than many educated preachers. Too many of the latter class confine their studies to the framework and background of the divine painting, to the human outskirts and spurs of the mountain of revelation, to the temporary and perishing scaffolding of the temple of truth. The scholastic spirit drives out the Holy Spirit; the study of the myriad vagaries of subtle and ever-shifting philosophies, and of the protean shapes of speculative hypotheses and hairsplitting criticisms on text or history, becomes their theological task. And to this task, what are the labors of Hercules? Even searing with a hot iron does not stop the growth of new heads on this Hydra.
A teacher in the public schools must stand a critical examination on his textbook before receiving a certificate of efficiency. How many preachers could stand such an examination on the Bible? Let any preacher with sufficient honesty and courage to face the disclosure, make a candid examination of his own ministry in any given period of years on three points:
Say in five years, what amount of habitual, systematic study have I devoted to the Bible itself, and over how much of the whole ground of revelation have I passed in this time? Is not the most of my study merely to get a sermon for my next appointment?
Judging fairly from the aggregate of all the texts from which I have preached in five years, how much of the Bible itself have the people learned from me in that time?
Has my practice conformed to the example of the prophets and apostles and of our Lord, the Great Teacher?
While standing in amazement before this ignorance of the Bible, in both pew and pulpit, another question smote me like lightning leaping out of the bosom of a cloud: Is there in all the world a school where all this Word of God is taught in the mother tongue of the people?
To the most diligent investigation the answer came like the note of a funeral dirge: There is not one in the world! More than twenty-five years ago, before a great audience, I propounded this question: What would be the power of a man who with only Cruden’s Concordance as a help, devotes three entire years to the reverent and prayerful study of the English Bible? Let this application be as rigid as a course in mathematics. Let him put aside for the time being all that he cannot understand from a comparison of scripture with scripture; then construct by his own analysis an orderly body of divinity.
Would not this man be a theologian? Would he not have an inexhaustible store of Bible sermons? Would he not, other things being equal, tower among the preachers like Saul, head and shoulders above his fellows?
Would he not be an original thinker? Would he not know how to handle the Bible? Would he not be approved unto God as a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, able to rightly divide the word of truth, giving to each hearer his portion in due season?
The world is waiting for that man, ready to receive and honor him when he arrives. We have in all history only one near approximation to this supposititious man, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, who, by common consent, is acknowledged to be the greatest preacher since apostolic times. I have seen 2,500 of his published sermons. They we as plump as a partridge, and as full of meat as an egg. Now from several complete sets of these sermons you may construct:
(a) A fairly good commentary on the whole Bible by arranging all of one set according to the books from which the texts are taken.
(b) Then by topical arrangement of another set you may obtain a complete body of systematic theology.
(c) From another set you may construct a system of practical theology, or of homiletics, or of some other department, until you virtually cover the whole ground of theological equipment in its practical phases, and as adapted to the exigencies of everyday life.
These sermons show that he reverently and prayerfully studied the whole Bible, honestly regarding it as inspired of God from Genesis to Revelation, and by simple childlike faith accepting all of it as the word of God. With what result? More fruit ripened on that tree than on any other that has blossomed since the apostles died.
The world heard, and accepted, and honored the man; orphans were sheltered, clothed, fed, and educated; aged widows found asylums in the clouded sunset of life; thousands upon thousands in many lands were converted to God; colporteurs pushed out their wagons laden with wholesome books; schools and churches sprang up as by magic; preachers and teachers kindled their torches at his fire, and diffused in worldwide waves the light of the spiritual conflagration.
These reflections, substantially in the order stated, led me to seek light on a school model in the book itself. Here is what I found:
The school of the prophets established by Samuel, and further developed by Elijah and Elisha. These men were not priests. They had no part in the ritual of the Temple service. They were teachers of God’s Word. They constituted the only breakwater against the incoming floods of empty formalism and of multitudinous idolatries. They were the axes with which God hewed off the excrescences of national life, and his trumpets of judgment against social, religious and political corruption. They were the forerunners of a faithful ministry of a later day.
I found the school established by our Lord Jesus Christ. One day he looked out on multitudes of the people and was moved with compassion. He saw them scattered and helpless as sheep without a shepherd. He saw them wandering, groping, stumbling, and falling a prey to every ravenous beast. He turned to his disciples with an exhortation to prayer: “Pray ye to the Lord of the harvest that he send more labourers into the harvest.” Then he called to him twelve men as his first class. They were neither from the ranks of the great, the learned, nor of the rich. They were poor men, ignorant Galilean fishermen. He kept them with him for instruction for three years. His Sermon on the Mount was his first great lesson. Then from a boat he taught them in matchless similitudes which later he expounded more privately. The lessons were followed by the question: “Have ye understood all these things?” and with the declaration: “Every scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven is a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”
He continued his instructions to the night of his betrayal, opening and expounding all the things concerning himself written in the Law and the Prophets and the Psalms, and yet later enduring them with the spiritual power to shake the world.
I found the example of the Holy Spirit in recruiting new students: “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not to bring to naught things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence.”
I found that when he called a great and learned man, Saul of Tarsus, this man relied not on his earthly wisdom and learning, but himself said: “And I, brethren, when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech or wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”
From these Bible examples I turned to history and found four significant facts established by its univocal testimony:
The great majority of the preachers in every age had but little learning except what they gathered from the Bible.
That the great majority of the people in every age had to content themselves with the ministry of this unlearned class.
That schools were established at great expense to highly equip the comparatively small but much-needed class of preachers who became mighty in learning. I rejoice at this wise provision, while deploring the sometime perversion of it.
I found no provision for the great majority to be helped in Bible study.
From history I turned to Baptist polity and found, as I have already shown, that Baptist polity and history are in accord with these statements, viz.: that the ministry should not be restricted to the learned and socially great, but should include as many of every class as God himself shall call.
Then I narrowed the vision to Texas and saw:
About three thousand Baptist preachers.
That about fifty of these annually go abroad to theological seminaries in other states.
That provision is made in Texas schools to advance the literary education of several hundred more.
That neither in literary schools here, nor in theological seminaries abroad, is there provision for a course of study in the English Bible itself, anyway nearly approaching the course outlined in this chapter. No one who has ever taken what. is called the English course in a theological seminary will claim any such thing. If he does, he will be contradicted by his classmates. I doubt that any theological seminary would admit such a course into its curriculum. It may be they are wise in this. I am not controverting but merely slating a fact. I am merely tracing the origin and development of the idea concerning the course here and now announced, and suggesting the reasons which led to its adoption in the present form.
I saw ever before me two multitudes: the multitude of unlearned preachers; and the far greater multitude who can never have any other ministry. I confess my heart goes out to them. My natural instincts incline me to an aristocracy. But Jesus Christ made me a democrat. I use the term in its etymological, not political sense. I have longed for years to see a school for the study of the English Bible.
I cannot shut out of my mind the three thousand preachers of Texas, while rejoicing that fifty can go abroad to attend theological seminaries.
It is respectfully submitted that help toward a literary education in a college, and help toward a theological education in a seminary, both of which are advocated and commended, do not exhaust the meaning of ministerial education. There is a need not yet supplied for a greater number than can profit by either of these provisions.
For the establishment of this course, we deem conclusive the following REASONS:
There is no school of the kind on earth.
It follows the example set by our Lord himself, and accords with the Holy Spirit’s choice of men to preach the gospel.
It accords with settled Baptist polity.
It is needed for both the learned and the unlearned.
Not being restricted to preachers, it will aid in the training of Sunday school teachers of both sexes.
It encourages the study of God’s Word by the pew, which must, under divine law, judge the soundness in doctrine of the preacher himself.
Not more than one in a thousand will study the whole Bible, or any part of it systematically, apart from the requirements of a regular course.
Shall we not with joy and enthusiasm labor together to make this work a crowning glory to our seminary?
Upon the enterprise let us invoke the favor of men and the blessings of God.
1. What history of the English Bible is commended?
2. What is the proposed course in the English Bible, and the time required for completing it?
3. Why will it be valuable to take even a small part of this course?
4. What minimum literary qualifications required?
5. What textbooks required?
6. Helps suggested?
7. Considering the restricted scope of the course, and the minimum literary qualifications, what things are necessarily assumed? State briefly and substantially.
8. State briefly and substantially the general rules governing the course.
9. Why does the Bible, from a literary standpoint, deserve a larger place in a course of study looking to a liberal education?
10. Why from the standpoint of its inspiration?
11. Are the people generally well informed as to Bible teaching?
12. Do preachers generally study it systematically?
13. Is there a school in the world where the whole Bible is taught?
14. What may be constructed from several sets of Spurgeon’s published sermons and addresses?
15. What does this show as to his study of the Bible?
16. State briefly the result on human life and character of his Bible study and preaching.
17. What example of a Bible school have we in the Old Testament?
18. What good was accomplished by this school of the prophets?
19. What school in the New Testament?
20. From what classes generally does the Holy Spirit recruit his preachers?
21. What four significant facts does history declare?
22. What is Baptist polity with reference to educated and uneducated preachers?
23. How many Baptists in Texas?
24. What proportion of the Baptists of the world?
25. How many Baptist preachers in Texas?
26. About what number annually go abroad for theological education?
27. About how many annually seek literary advantages in Texas schools?
28. What proportion of these in Baylor University?
29. Is the course in the English Bible limited to preachers?
30. Why should Baptist laymen study the Bible?
31. What reasons led to the opening of this course?