The Lessons





A. The Study of the Bible a help to worship.



The Bible is read in Church as an incentive to the praise of God. It

supplies thoughts of God which are then offered up to Him, as Praise,

in the words of the Canticles. It is therefore necessary that we

should understand the Bible Lessons as well as our abilities will

allow, and that we should endeavour to find in those Lessons

everything which will inspire us to honour and love God.



There are two distinct requirements. A book may help us to

understand, but the endeavour to find God in the Bible depends on

ourselves: our Lord has described it in the words He that hath ears to

hear let him hear.



In order to understand the Bible when we hear it read, we should study

it at home. Some elementary aids to the study of it may be useful

here; for further help we shall want books specially prepared for that

{48} purpose, such as the Cambridge Companion to the Bible and The

Cambridge Bible for Schools, &c.



1. The Old Testament and the New Testament agree together: they have

the same principles of morality, worship and doctrine. God's guidance

of the writers is seen in this--the Old Testament, written at different

times in the centuries before our Lord was Born, was such that the

Gospel of the Revelation in Jesus was able to fit into it. As S.

Augustine says,



"Novum Testamentum in Vetere latet,

Vetus Testamentum in Novo patet."



See also Article VII.



2. The failure of man to live well is shown in the Old Testament.

Though he had favourable conditions and a holy law of life, a pure

system of worship, and the discipline of warning and correction, the

Israelite failed. Hence the Old Testament continually teaches (a)

that God governs, (b) that man needs a Saviour.



3. The Old Testament consists of 3 parts (a) the Law and History,

(b) the Psalms and Proverbs, (c) the Prophets.



(a) The Law and History part includes the books from Genesis to

Esther, and relates the progress of the people of God from its

separation as a family and its growth to be an important nation, to the

downfall of its independence, and its partial recovery. The writers

were a succession of prophets, who continually point to the hand of God

in the events which they record.



(b) The Psalms and Proverbs part includes the books from Job to the

Song of Solomon, and contains {49} many Hymns of prayer and praise;

also discussions of deep problems of human nature and our relation to

God (Job and Ecclesiastes); together with other things which stir us to

a life of goodness and worship.



(c) The Prophets are not arranged in order of time at which they

lived. The four Books which come first are called the Four Greater

Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel: and are followed by the

Twelve Lesser Prophets. To find the place in the Lesser Prophets it is

sufficient to remember Hosea, Joel, Amos as the three which are placed

first; and Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi as the three prophets after

the Captivity, and therefore placed last. Isaiah should be read with

parts of Kings and Chronicles, and Haggai and Zechariah with the Books

of Ezra and Nehemiah; and others in like manner according to their

period.



4. The New Testament consists of 3 parts--(a) The History, (b) The

Epistles, (c) The Revelation of St John.



(a) S. Luke's History is in two volumes--the Gospel, which recounts

our Lord's Life from His Birth to His Ascension (note here the number

of His Parables): and the Acts of the Apostles, which continues the

history from His Ascension to the (first) imprisonment of S. Paul at

Rome. S. Matthew's Gospel corresponds to S. Luke's Gospel,

recounting our Lord's Life from His Birth, with many of His sayings

about the Kingdom of Heaven, and especially the Sermon on the Mount.

S. Mark's Gospel is similar to the two former. It recounts

particularly the details of the various scenes of our Lord's Life, {50}

and shows how frequently He retired for meditation,--"a living picture

of a living man[1]." S. John's Gospel, written long after the

others, shows the three witnesses--the spirit and the water and the

blood--that bear record that Jesus is the Son of God (1 S. John v. 8).



(b) The Epistles are not in chronological order. S. Paul's Epistles

are placed first, then S. James, S. Peter, S. John and S. Jude. Of S.

Paul's Epistles, those to Churches come before those to Timothy, Titus

and Philemon. Of his Epistles to Churches, the order in the Bible is

Rom., Cor., Cor., Gal., Ephes., Philip., Col., Thess., Thess. They fit

into the History in the following groups: (I) Acts xvii.,--1 and 2

Thess,, (II) Acts xix. 22 to xx.,--1 and 2 Cor., Gal., Romans, (III)

Acts xxviii.,--Philip., Col., Ephes., Philemon, (IV) after the

imprisonment described in Acts xxviii.,--1 and 2 Tim. and Titus. The

Epistles to Colossians, Ephesians and Philemon (a Colossian Christian)

seem to have been sent by the same messenger. The Epistle to the

Hebrews may have been written by S. Paul; but, as that is doubtful, it

has been placed after those which are surely his. The Epistles which

follow are called "General," because they are addressed to Christians

scattered about in various countries. S. James and S. Peter have many

references to the Sermon on the Mount. S. John dwells upon Love as the

foundation upon which a Christian builds his life--the Love which God

has shown us, and the Love which we have for Him and for one another.



(c) The Revelation of S. John, written perhaps before the time when

Jerusalem was besieged (A.D. 68-69), carries our thoughts away from the

glories of the Jerusalem which was about to be destroyed, to the New

Jerusalem and its glories, in Jesus Christ and His Church.



5. The Apocrypha supplies First Lessons for 21 days between Oct. 27 and

Nov. 18; and also for the evenings of Innocents' Day and S. Luke's Day.

Article VI. quotes S. Jerome's description of the Apocrypha, where he

says "the other books the Church doth read for example of life and

instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any

doctrine."



These notes will, we hope, prompt the reader to make a study of the

Bible not only for the guidance of his life, but also for the amendment

of the offering which he makes to God in the Services of the Church.





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