The Comparative Value Of English And German Biblical Science -- By: Charles A. Aiken

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 011:41 (Jan 1854)
Article: The Comparative Value Of English And German Biblical Science
Author: Charles A. Aiken

The Comparative Value Of English And German Biblical Science

Charles A. Aiken

Biblical Science is one of the legitimate fruits of Protestantism. The necessity of any high development of sacred learning will be practically conceded only where a free Bible is given to the people. Accordingly the world owes to Protestantism not merely a free Bible for all classes, but the cultivation of those means which shall open to any class a profound insight into the meaning of the Scriptures. Withhold the Bible from all but a small privileged order, and you remove, in great measure, the stimulus which shall impel the few to seek acquaintance with the import of the Bible. Why else have the monasteries in which was treasured all the learning of the dark ages, sacred and secular, preserved for us only such scanty and withered fruit? But Protestantism having given the world a Bible is under twofold obligation to make the gift available. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the great interpreter, it must seek to make the Scriptures intelligible to the masses; and, by teaching the true meaning and the right use of its gift, it must guard against perversions and abuses otherwise inevitable.

Then the church of Borne has ever relied less on the living word than on institutions and ordinances, which, apart from the word, are dead. Sacred science knows no more deadly foe than the spirit of Ritualism, under whatever ecclesiastical form it lurks. The Romish church is right in ascribing great efficacy to its forms and sacraments; but as mere forms, forsaken by the indwelling Spirit working in and with the word, they are efficacious only of evil. If this church has at any time put forth an effort to make the Scriptures more intelligible, it has been under the constraint of external pressure. In self-defence, or to maintain her self-respect and justify herself before an enlightened age, she must needs seem zealous for the promotion of an intelligent faith and a consecrated learning. But enthusiasm and proficiency in Biblical studies have always been an occasion of suspicion and jealousy at the Vatican.

Yet, for the services that Catholicism has reluctantly found herself compelled to render to Biblical learning, we tender grateful acknowledgment. We would not depreciate by a single iota the true merits of Valla and Erasmus, Simon and Calmet, Houbigant and De Rossi, Hug, Jahn and Van Ess. But if men like Mai and Mezzofanti had been Protestants, would not their prodigious learning have brought the cause of Christ more profit? And for our teachers in Biblical science must we not look, not merely of choice but of necessity, mainly to Protestant lands, and to Germany and England as chief seats of Protestant learning? The German and English lang...

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