The Bible and the Nineteenth Century

The Bible and the Nineteenth Century









Under the title, “The Bible and Science,” the substance of this little volume was put into shape, at the request of Dr. J. H. Vincent, and delivered in 1874 at the initial meeting of what is now the famous Chautauqua.

Under the title, “The Bible in Light of Modern Science,” it was preached before the society of the First Parish Church of Dover, N.H.; and by that society was published in 1883.

Under its present title, essentially the same subject-matter was delivered in a course of lectures before the “Free Baptist Association,” at Ocean Park, 1884, and requested for publication. This request, together with a second one from Dr. Vincent, is our justification for adding this treatise to the very large amount of existing Biblical literature.

If the reader takes as much pleasure in perusing these pages as the author has taken in preparing them, the latter will feel amply compensated for the service rendered.


This volume was in the possession of my great-great aunt, Minnie Randall, and passed on to me from my grandmother. It is interesting to me that past relatives were concerned about the same issues about the veracity of scriptures. Although this volume is well over one hundred years old, the argument is timeless and still powerful. Dr. Luther Townsend was a great preacher and apologist of the nineteenth century. Although he was among those that used a theory that compromised the scriptures with evolution, he makes a dynamic case for the divine inspiration of scripture which is still valid.


Part I

  • The Pivotal Question
  • Re-examination of Bible authority
  • General Proposition
  • The Bible responsible for its scientific errors
  • The Bible and the exact language of science
  • The Bible and scientific classification
  • A hint that the Author of nature is the Author of the Bible
  • Supposed antagonism between science and the Bible
  • An illustration of the supposed antagonism
  • Actual conflicts between science and the Bible; and science in error
  • Illustrated by the statements of eminent men
  • An important rule
  • Caution needed
  • A fuller classification of Bible contents
  • The same rule governs Bible interpretation as governs the interpretation of other literature
  • The connection is decisive
  • Absolute truth
  • The Bible and other ancient literature brought together

Part 2

  • The art of healing, and the Bible
  • From 1184 B. C. to 500 B. C.
  • From 500 B. C. to 320 B. C.
  • Medical practice in recent times
  • The Bible, if divine, must not be in error
  • The Bible found not to be in error
  • Certain approved physiological revelations
  • Testimony of eminent physicians
  • Matters closely related to medical science
  • An important question

Part 3

  • The human mind and the Bible
  • Opinions of the ancients as to the mind
  • What guarded the Bible writers against false opinions?
  • Not their supposed non-philosophical character
  • Correctness of Bible statements in the light of modern thought
  • The moral argument derived from Bible influence
  • Mental methods in the Bible
  • Examples of inductive reasoning
  • Dependence of the modern method upon the Bible method
  • How shall the correctness of Bible psychology be explained?
  • The Bible in its relation to government and civilization
  • The Bible, if inspired, a court of ultimate appeal
  • The Bible and law
  • The Bible revered by eminent lawyers
  • Obligation of Roman law to the Bible
  • The constitutional law of England, and the Bible
  • The Bible and political science
  • The Bible endorsed by eminent statesmen
  • Secret of England’s greatness
  • “The Holy Alliance”
  • Declaration of Independence
  • Republican government
  • Benefits of Bible faith and practice
  • The Bible and the United States
  • Opinions of Daniel Webster, William H. Seward, and Professor Bowen

Part 4

  • The Bible and civilization
  • Learning and literature
  • Architecture
  • Quotation from Ruskin
  • The Bible and the history of civilization
  • Commonwealth of Israel
  • Ancient civilizations
  • Greece and Rome
  • Heathen lands
  • Medieval times
  • Modern Europe
  • Another important question

Part 5

  • The Bible and natural history
  • Botany
  • Zoology
  • Meteorology
  • Opinion of Lieut. Maury

Part 6

  • The Bible and geology
  • Teachings of the ancients as to the origin of things
  • Sir William Thomson gives expression to modern opinion
  • Opinions of eminent men as to the geology of the Bible

Part 7

  • The Bible and astronomy
  • A test question
  • Ancient astrology
  • In Egypt
  • In Babylon
  • In Chaldea
  • In Persia
  • In Arabia
  • In Europe
  • The Bible writers were familiar with these views, but never adopted them
  • Ancient astronomy
  • The earth: its shape, foundation, and composition
  • The moon: its composition, size, and distance
  • The sun: its character and size
  • The stars
  • Comets
  • The Milky Way
  • Number and distances of the stars
  • Why did not Bible-writers make similar statements?
  • Other important revelations in the Bible

Part 8

  • The Bible: its morals and religion
  • Comparisons between Bible teachings and those of other ancient literature
  • Unfavorable criticisms
  • The rigorous measures enjoined in the Bible against the Caananites
  • Imprecations in the Psalms
  • David’s command to execute Joab
  • The Bible: the text-book on moral science
  • Objections to the purity of Bible morality
  • Results of an abandonment of Bible morality, as in England and France
  • Bible morality endorsed even by men in some respects skeptics
  • Still another important question

Part 9

  • The Bible and theology
  • Science confirms Bible Theology, but adds nothing essentially new
  • The Bible and religious truth
  • Bible religion originated practical philanthropy
  • Bible religion adapted to all peoples
  • Why did not some of the philosophers of the ancient world invent an universal religion?
  • Concluding words
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