To what book, in this respect, would you liken the Bible? Go and put beside it the discourses of Plato, or Seneca, or Aristotle, or Saint-Simon, or Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Have you read Mohammed’s books? Listen to him but for one hour, and your ears will tingle while beaten on by his piercing and monotonous voice. From the first page to the last, it is still the same sound of the same trumpet, still the same Medina horn, blown from the top of some mosque, minaret, or war-camel; still sybilline oracles, shrill and harsh, uttered in an unvarying tone of command and threat, whither it ordain virtue or enjoin murder; ever one and the same voice, surly and blustering, having no bowels, no familiarity, no tears, no soul, no sympathy.
After trying other books, if you experience religious longings, open the Bible; listen to it. Sometimes you find here the songs of angels, but of angels that have come down among the children of Adam. Here is the deep sounding organ of the Most High, but an organ that serves to soothe man’s heart and to rouse his conscience, alike in shepherds’ cots and in palaces; alike in the poor man’s garrets and in the tents of the desert. The Bible, in fact, has lessons for all conditions; it brings upon the scene both the lowly and the great; it reveals equally to both the love of God, and unveils in both the same miseries. It addresses itself to children, and it is often children that show us there the way to heaven and the great things of Jehovah. It addresses itself to shepherds and herdsmen, and it is often shepherds and herdsmen who lift up their voices there, and reveal to us the character of God. It speaks to kings and to scribes, and it is often kings and scribes that teach us there man’s wretchedness, humiliation, confession, and prayer. Domestic scenes, confessions of conscience, pouring forth of prayer in secret, travels, proverbs, revelations of the depths of the heart, the holy courses pursued by a child of God, weaknesses unveiled, falls, recoveries, inward experiences, parables, familiar letters, theological treatises, sacred commentaries on some ancient Scripture, national chronicles, military annals, political statistics, descriptions of God, portraits of angels, celestial visions, practical counsels, rules of life, solutions of cases of conscience, judgments of the Lord, sacred hymns, predictions of future events, narratives of what passed during the days preceding our creation, sublime odes, inimitable pieces of poetry; all this is found there by turns; and all this meets our view in most delightful variety, and presenting a whole whose majesty, like that of a temple, is overpowering. Thus it is, that, from its first page to its last page, the Bible necessarily combined with its majestic unity the indefinable charm of human-like instruction, familiar, sympathetic, personal, and the charm of a drama extending over forty centuries. In the Bible of Desmartes, it is said, “there are fords here for lambs, and there are deep waters where elephants swim”.