There are some books which should never be allowed to go out of print; timeless and timely, the passing years add to what they have to say to us. This book is one of these. It deals with the perennial problem which confronts the intellectually honest mind as it strives to accept the Bible as the Word of God.
The Bible That Was Lost And Is Found is the account of a famous American's journey from Agnosticism to Faith. John Bigelow wanted fervently to believe the Bible but how could he accept it as the Word of God with its apparent errors and inconsistencies? How, for instance could there be light and growing things before the sun was created? And how could the universe and all things in it be brought into being in less than a week, when countless eons of time must surely have preceded the appearance of the first tiny cell?
A chance sharing of his doubts with a stranger led to the placing in his hands of a book by Emanuel Swedenborg which changed the whole course of his search for certainty. Arcana Caelestia, Latin for Heavenly Secrets, opened his eyes to the hidden depths within the Bible and enabled him to see its eternal message, God's timeless truth enclosed within the outer envelope of its letter. The Bible, that for him had been "lost," was now "found."
The author originally intended this account only for his family and close friends, and printed it privately in 1893. He was later persuaded that it would serve to lead others out of the same spiritual desert in which he himself had wandered so long, and it was published in 1912, to be followed by a second edition that same year. A third edition, in condensed form, was printed in 1953. The present edition, containing slightly more of the original, is presented with the conviction that this book should be made available to still another generation of truth-seekers.
Richard H. Tafel Philadelphia, Pa.
1817 - 1911 Journalist, Statesman, Public Servant, Patriot
It is almost impossible to estimate the influence of this man on molding public opinion and shaping the course of our history over the critical years from the national election of 1844 to that of 1912.
He was joint owner (with William Cullen Bryant) and managing editor of the New York Evening Post from 1849 to 1861, writing thousands of opinion-forming editorials prior to and during the Civil War. He was unalterably opposed to slavery on both moral and economic grounds. One of the founders of the Republican Party, he helped secure the election of Lincoln as President.
He was appointed Consul to France during the difficult period of the Civil War, 1861-1864. Single handedly, by writing and by personal influence, he changed public opinion there from one of support of the Confederacy to one of neutrality. As a vigilant diplomat he thwarted the secret scheme of building warships for the South in French yards. In 1888 he wrote an account of this episode, "France And The Confederate Navy." On retiring as Consul he drafted suggestions for creating a professional diplomatic corps. Which were adopted and form the core of our present system. Later, as Minister to France from 1864-1867, he represented his government in its delicate negotiations concerning the French occupation of Mexico, discharging his difficult task with credit.
His times were dominated by men and women who shared a common goal: to improve the human condition. He lived in a period of ferment and change in which reform was an accepted part. of life. He was a close and discerning student of American institutions and social conditions, and, while believing them the best in the world, wanted to see them improved, and to have a hand in their improvement.
Bigelow eagerly embraced all the great causes over his long lifetime, supporting them not only with his ready pen but also with his personal involvement. As a practicing reformer he was interested in New York's prison system, becoming an Inspector at Sing Sing in 1845. He was concerned about prison reforms and in initiating rehabilitation programs, observing that "all punishment which merely insults, depraves." He served on the Board of Inspectors at West Point and Annapolis. Elected us a delegate, he played an active role in drafting the New York Constitution of 1894. One of his cherished projects was the founding of the New York Public Library.
As an author his literary productions were prodigious, including countless editorials and articles. They range from editing Benjamin Franklin's autobiography and publishing his complete works to seeing through the press the speeches and political writings of Samuel Tilden, to whom he was political advisor and literary executor. He also wrote Tilden's biography and that of his life long friend and associate of the New York Evening Post, William Cullen Bryant.
His life is a monument to patriotism and service. For seventy years, in the market place, he urged his fellow citizens ever to take one more step along the road to democracy. Thirteen times after his seventieth birthday he made trips to Europe on private as well as on public errands, on one of these serving as United States Commissioner at the International Exposition in Brussels. He was liberal in the true sense. Even in his old age, he continued to be politically active up to the day of his death. He was asked in 1909 to list the ten books he considered most influential in his education. He said he was only sure of two: the Bible and Swedenborg's twelve-volume Arcana Caelestia.
In this book John Bigelow shares with us his remarkable journey to a regained faith.