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Increasing Interest in the Bible
The Baltimore American
Criticism of the Bible, the discussion of its errancy or inerrancy, of the parts that are inspired and of those which are history, science, poetry, or otherwise, together with the researches into "the rubbish heaps of forgotten centuries," has created a remarkable interest in the sacred book; it would not be correct to call it a revival, because within a century, and during a number of centuries, there has been no marked decline in Bible reading. The Reformation furnished the great impulse, and among English-speaking people the Puritan regime gave wider circulation to the text of the Scriptures than at any period in English history, though the philosophers and poets who preceded that era—Bacon and Shakespeare, for instance—abound in Biblical quotations. The latter appealed to the educated and cultured, while Cromwell's followers, who had a text for every though and action, were themselves a part of the masses. Though they misapplied the Scriptures quite as often, in all probability, as they made a proper use of them, the texts remained fixed in the minds of the masses, while the misfits faded from memory.
It thus happened that for many years, especially during the reign of Charles II., the ignorant were more familiar with the Word of God than the higher classes of society. This homely knowledge of the Scriptures was passed on from generation to generation, and in due time transferred to this country. It became so much the common speech of the people that they often used the text of the Bible without knowing its origin. It had a most beneficent influence upon the language by fixing its strongest and best expressions and maintaining its purity, for the Bible as literature has no equal in the range of letters. Its simplicity, purity of diction, and idiomatic strength are unsurpassed. This is conceded by all good writers, and the greatest statesmen are indebted to it for their happiest and most telling illustrations.
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