Some of these masters of their art did not yield to the personal power of the Holy Volume, but it cast over them its literary spell in spite of all efforts to the contrary. We would not think of holding up Shelley, Byron, Carlyle, Burns, Poe or Coleridge as bright and shining embodiments of Biblical teachings, but all were influenced in a tremendous way by its literary characteristics. Shelley went on the war-
"It is inconsistent with this division of our subject to cite living poets, but posterity has done ample justice to the great names now referred to. Their errors have been weighed and found to be as dust in the balance; if their sins are as scarlet, they are now white as snow; they have been washed in the blood of the mediator and redeemer, Time."
For this beautiful sentence he leans rather heavily on the Book from which all pages "must be torn." Whole pages of his work reveal half-
Professor Gardiner once said that "in all the study of English literature, if there be any one axiom which may be accepted without question, it is that the ultimate standard of English prose style is set by the King James version of the Bible."
There is much evidence to the effect that good English writing cannot depart very far from the style of the English Bible. The strongest works of English writers show the influence of it most and it appears that the greater the man the greater the debt he owes to it.
The language of the English people and English writers has been enriched by a variety of words and phrases taken from the great source of inspiration. Many great works would be ruined beyond repair if the phrases which came directly from the Bible were marked out. Such references are familiar and quickly catch the attention of reader or hearer. For instance, Dickens remarked in alluding to the injustice of the Murdstones: "Though there was one once who set a child in the midst of the disciples. Here is a sample list of phrases which when properly used give radiance to speech or writing. "A good old age," "A mother‘in Israel," "the apple of his eye," "a land flowing with milk and honey," "the fountains of the great deep," "one little ewe lamb," "thou art the man," "a still small voice," "the pride of life," "as the sparks fly upward '''"the wings of the morning," "a lion in the way," "the salt of the earth " "a pearl of great price," "the powers that be," "a cloud of witnesses," "the flesh-
In his chapter on "The Bible in Tennyson," Dr. Van Dyke says: "It is safe to say that there is no other book which has had so great an influence on the literature of the world as the Bible. We hear the echoes of its speech everywhere and the music of its familiar phrases haunts all the fields and groves of our fine literature. At least one cause of his popularity is, there is so much Bible in Tennyson. We cannot help seeing that the poet owes a large debt to the Christian scriptures, not only for their formative influence on his mind and for the purely literary material in the way of illustrations and allusions which they have given him, but also for the creation of a moral atmosphere, a medium of thought and feeling in which he can speak freely and with an assurance of sympathy to a very wide circle of readers."
"This much is as sure as any fact in literary history, that the English Bible is part of every fiber of great literature from the day it first appeared in our tongue to this hour."
Cled Wallace, Adapted from The One Book, Analyzed and Outlined