THE marvellous preservation of the Scriptures from entire destruction, previous to their being collected into one book and translated into the common language, a period of about nine hundred years after the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, shows the constant care of God over them. From the time that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament were written, to the tenth century, each book was separate from the rest, written upon scrolls of parchment, and generally found only in the libraries of churches and monasteries, or belonging to persons of great wealth or distinction, and sometimes not even kings were able to possess the whole work, its value exceeding their ability to purchase.
No other work, in so many departments, could have so long survived the waste of time, and the decay that hath almost all things else destroyed; but God inclined the hearts of many to love this holy treasure; and although immense numbers of human writings of eminent authors, have floated down the current of time into oblivion, or suffered great changes from the mutilations of men, this polished mirror of truth and holiness, is now as bright as it came from the hands of its Author; yet pure as it was, and all-essential to the well-being of society, Christians were either so straitened that they could not, or so ignorant of their duties that they would not, invent or employ means to render them accessible and effective to the minds of the people. The slow and tedious process of transcribing, by hand, every line and every letter, was the cause for the general scarcity of the word of God, and consequently few copies were in circulation; and as the multitude had not learning, the number was very small who could read in their own language the wonderful word and works of the Lord. Truly did Jehovah almost by miracle display his regard for the inspired word, by preserving it from alterations and oblivion, when, so much ignorance prevailed among the people, and many in power were in their hearts and lives so opposed to its exalted principles and sanctifying effects. Had not the Lord — may we all now say — had not the Lord been favorable to the Scriptures, and on our side, we should have been as dark in mind, and deluded in religion, as the nations are who have not the Holy Bible "as a lamp to their feet and a light unto their path."
[From Joseph Belcher, editor, The Baptist Pulpit of the United States: Eloquent and Instructive Passages ..., 1850, pp. 54-55. Formatted by Jim Duvall.]
Baptist: Various Subjects
Baptist History Homepage