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Mr. Peabody opened the first meeting of the Conference last night in Sever 11. There has come about in late years, said Mr. Peabody, in the institutions of this and other lands, a renaissance of study of the Bible. It is said we must study the Bible. It is said we must study the Bible as well as any other book. There are two mistakes made in the study of literature: the precommitted method and the sympathetic method. The one is precommitted because it brings to the study of the Bible the reasons it should find there; the other is unsympathetic because it is purely critical and external. The appreciative state of mind is the one with which to consider this literature. One should appreciate this extraordinary piece of literature to feel its power, for then life is quickened and answered. The Bible has had extraordinary capacity of influence over lives. The prophets of English literature, Carlyle, Ruskin, Newman; and Milton and Cromwell have all been influenced by the Scriptures. The present time is especially timely for young men to make such a study.
Whatever else new criticism may do, it tends to make the Bible live. The old testament, regarded uncritically, has been to many a pure muddle, a strange object of perplexity. The new criticism makes of the old testament a living growth,- one sees it vividly. In the study by comparative method one feels a repulsion in comparing the Bible with other sacred writings. It is a most stimulating method. The attempt to compare is most profitable to the student, to set familiar literature side by side with the Bible.
Religion is marked by one characteristic-the determination to penetrate beyond the husks to the kernel of faith. Men have discovered that religion is not primarily a matter of opinion, but a matter of life. The Bible has been called a biography, but it is always life speaking to life. The personalities of the Bible speak from age to age. The greatest word of the Bible is "Because I live, ye shall live also." It is not thought to thought, opinion to opinion, but life that brings religion and keeps it new forever.
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