The Bible on Tenter-Hooks

In a Yorkshire village, I knew one Thomas Walsh. It was a favorite opinion of Walsh that the Bible was "all made up." He could never believe it was written where it professed to be, and by the men said to have written it.   

Walsh owned a considerable part of a factory, and one year he set his heart on making a very large and fine piece of cloth. He took great pains with the carding, spinning, dyeing, weaving, and finishing of it.   

In the process of manufacture, it was one day stretched out on the tenter-hooks to dry. It made a fine show, and he felt very proud of it. The next morning he arose early to work at it, when, to his amazement, it was gone! It had been stolen during the night! What a fever he was in! What hurrying and scurrying hither and thither, posting advertisements, sending constables, and rousing the community! After weeks of anxiety and expense, a piece of cloth answering the description was stopped at Manchester, awaiting the owner and proof. Away to Manchester went Thomas, as fast as the express train would carry him. There he found many rolls of cloth, which had been stolen. They were very much alike. He selected one, which he claimed as his. But how could he prove it. In doubt and perplexity he called on his neighbor Stetson.   

"Friend Stetson, I have found a piece of cloth which I am sure is the one that was stolen from me. But how to prove it is the question. Can you tell me how."  

"You don't want it unless it is really yours?"   

"Certainly not."   

"And you want proof that is simple, plain, and such as will satisfy yourself and every body else?"   

"Precisely so."   

"Well, take Bible proof."   

"Bible proof! Pray, what is that?"   

"Take your cloth to the tenter-hooks on which it was stretched, and if it is yours, every hook will just come to the hole through which it passed before being taken down. There will be scores of such hooks, and if the hooks and holes just come together right, no other proof that the cloth is yours will be wanted."   

"True, true. Why didn't I think of this before?"  

Away he hastened, and, sure enough, every hook came to its little hole, and the cloth was proved to be his, and the thief was convicted, all on the evidence of the tenter-hooks Some days after this Thomas again hailed his friend.  

"I say, Stetson, what did you mean by calling tenter-hooks' proof the other day, 'Bible proof?' I am sure, if I had the good evidence for the Bible that I had for my cloth, I would never doubt it again. That's what I call 'circumstantial evidence.' That cannot lie or deceive."   

"Yes, but you have the same, only better, for the Bible."  

"How so?"    

"Put it on the tenter-hooks! Take the Bible and travel with it--go to the place where it was made. There you find the Red Sea, the Jordan, the lake of Galilee, Mount Lebanon, Hermon, Carmel, Tabor, and Gerizim. There you find the cities Damascus, Hebron, Tyre, Sidon, and Jerusalem. Every mountain, every river, every sheet of water mentioned in the Bible, is there, just in the place where it is located. Sinai, and the Desert, and the Dead Sea are there; so that the best guidebook through the country is the Bible. It must have been written there on the spot, just as your cloth must have been made and stretched on your tenter-hooks. That land is the mould in which the Bible was cast, and when brought together, we see that they must and do fit together. You might just as well doubt that your cloth was ever fitted to your hooks."   

"Well, well, I confess I never thought of this. I'll think it over again. If you are right, why then I'm wrong, that's all."

--(English) Bible C. Magazine. 

September 12, 1865 UrSe, ARSH 114