The state of things is far different from this. If we had no other evidence of this remark, we might find it in one fact which all are acquainted with. We have reference to the general exclusion of the Bible from the list of books which are systematically and thoroughly studied. If the Bible were estimated by its literary merits alone, it ought not to be condemned to such an exclusion. Considered simply as documents, which threw light upon the origin of the human race and the early history of mankind, there are no books more worthy of being studied than the five books of Moses and the other historical books of the Old Testament. We would not easily yield to others in our admiration of the writers of Greece and Rome; but, looking at them in a merely literary point of view, we find the poets of those countries excelled by the Psalms of David and by many passages of the prophets; — and probably no one will say, that the moral doctrines of Socrates and Cicero, eminent and enlightened men as they were, are to be brought into comparison with the divine teachings of the Son of God. But on such a subject we might be distrustful of our own opinions, were it not that they are in harmony with sentiments frequently expressed by literary men of so much learning and eminence, that their right to judge in such a matter will not be likely to be questioned. The subject, for instance, is repeatedly referred to in the writings of Sir William Jones He says, on one occasion, "I have carefully and regularly perused the Holy Scriptures, and am of opinion, that, independent of its divine origin, the volume contains more sublimity, purer morality, more important history, and finer strains of eloquence, than can be collected from any other book, in whatever language it may have been written."
But if the Scriptures are thus valuable in a merely literary point of view, it would be difficult to express their importance, considered in their moral and religious relations. It is in this view that they present claims, which can be brought forward in support of no other system and no other book.
The mere study of the Bible, however, is not enough. There are institutions at the present day, in which the Bible is carefully studied; — but less with a reference to moral than intellectual culture. The study of the Bible for the mere purpose of increasing our amount of knowledge, is not all that is needed. It should be studied with a view to the supply of our moral and religious wants. There should, therefore, be a distinct recognition, in every institution of learning, of man's alienation from God, and of the necessity of his restoration. Upon these two great subjects, which are vital in every true system of mental culture, all possible light should be thrown. And it ought to be understood that no person is to be regarded as thoroughly educated, who cannot say that he has given his heart to God at the same time that he has given his intellect to the pursuit of the truth.
Nor are such views to be considered as impracticable There are principles, perhaps not yet fully ascertained, which will result, (we will not say infallibly, but certainly as a general thing,) in spiritual renovation. And it seems to be a part of God's plan, that they shall be applied in connection with the relationship of man with man, and their mutual agency one upon the other. In all institutions, therefore, there should be living teachers, men "full of the Holy Ghost," who should be able to explain and apply the principles which are found in the Bible. If such institutions could take the place of many which now exist, the favorable results to morals and religion would be immense.
— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 8.