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As they who once with Jesus trod,
With kindling breast his accents heard,
Was uttering every burning word;
Father of Jesus! thus thy voice
Speaks to our hearts in tones divine;
But know not that the voice is thine.
Still be thy hallowed accents near !
To doubt and passion whisper peace;
Direct us on our journey here,
Then bid, in heaven, our wanderings cease.
pp. 185, 186.
A great part of what is called religious poetry, is so only because the subject is religious. It comes out of the imagination, and acts on the imagination alone. It has no religious purpose and produces no religious effect. The "Sacred Melodies" of Byron and Moore may be good poetry, but they have no more right to be classed among religious poems than "Childe Harold" or "Lalla Rookh." They are works of art, the poetry of some incident in sacred history, and the emotions they awaken are connected with religious subjects, but are not necessarily any more religious than the poetical emotions awakened by other subjects. That only is devotional poetry, which is the utterance of devout feeling in the forms of the imagination. It is the devotion in the soul that gives its life to such poetry, while the imagination supplies only the form.
The character of the volume before us would be misapprehended, if it were viewed as addressed to the imagination. It is a book of Meditations on the Saviour; and in verse, one might suppose, not for the sake of poetical effect, but because, in dwelling on the scenes of the Saviour's life, the mind expressed its emotions more naturally in this way than in any other. The volume is characterized throughout by a spirit of purity and gentleness. There is scarcely one of the hundred pieces which it contains, which the reader might not profitably pause upon, till he sympathized with its devout and loving spirit. If it be read merely as a volume of poetry, for the gratification and excitement of poetical feeling, its worth will not be understood. But he
who reads it as a religious book, as a help to meditation on the Saviour, will not repent of the time he spends on it. There is a tranquil and holy beauty in its tone of sentiment, a trustful devotion, a contemplative vein of religious thought, which no man can receive into his mind without benefit.
In preparing the work, Mr. Bulfinch has divided the Gospel history into one hundred sections, following generally the arrangement of Drs. Carpenter and Palfrey. Each section is designated by reference to the chapter from which it is taken; and from each of these portions of Scripture some passage is selected, which seemed suitable for poetical development.
We subjoin one or two pieces, not as having merit superior to the rest of the volume, but because they are short, and we are thus enabled to show, in the brief space allotted to us, how he treats a variety of topics. The following is better than many long arguments on forms of worship and the unity of the Church.
God is a spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth.- JOHN iv. 24.
How should the Christian seek his God?
In still communion with his soul,
Where the calm Friends, in silence deep,
Choose for thyself. But if thy feet
Should wander where thy brethren pray,
Who round another altar meet,
And varied forms of homage pay,
For thee, perchance, in yon gray pile,
Beneath whose floor the dead repose,
As ceased the pastor's word the while,
While hundreds joined the solemn word;
The feelings of the boy are stirred.
But in yon humble place of prayer,
His presence fills with holiness
The lowliest as the loftiest fane,
And his accepting love shall bless
The whispered prayer, the anthem's strain.
pp. 30, 31. We rarely see better sonnets than the following.
CHILDREN BROUGHT TO CHRIST.
Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God. — MARK X. 14.
Yes! there were some among thy hearers, Lord!
Deeming aright such visits would afford
Joy to a heart like thine. With gracious word
A fount of deep delight. Thou dost accord
CHRIST'S LOVE, OUR EXAMPLE.
This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.-JOHN XV. 12.
Spirit of love, that shrined in Jesus shone,
As shone God's presence o'er the hallowed ark,
Thou glorifiest all thou beamest on,
Robing in beauty what was cold and dark;
Barnes and Bush on the Old Testament. 321
Floats on the air, and kindling where it falls,
New light and warmth from all around it calls,
While awe-struck crowds its course resistless mark,
So, thou, supreme in loveliness and might,
By Jesus brought on earth, from heart to heart
Rapidly passing, fillest all with light
And warmth, and holiness; nor dost depart,
But rising with undying flame above,
Point to the throne of Him whose holiest name is Love.
p. 167. Among the pieces of particular merit, we would refer to those on the last scenes of our Saviour's life. We might mention others, such as "The Woman of Canaan ;""The Transfiguration;" "Marriage Indissoluble; Marriage Indissoluble ;" which if we had room we should be glad to quote. But without farther extract, we must content ourselves with commending the volume to our readers.
ART. III. BARNES AND BUSH ON THE OLD TESTAMENT.*
SHOULD One judge from the experience of the past in regard to translations and explanations of the Scriptures in the English language, he might form the strange conclusion, that a good translator or expositor was almost as difficult to be found as a great original genius. No one can doubt that a really good commentary on the Old Testament in the English language is yet a desideratum.
*1. Notes, Critical, Illustrative, and Practical, on the Book of Job: with a New Translation, and an Introductory Dissertation. By ALBERT BARNES. New York. 1845. Two volumes, 12mo. pp. 311, 384.
2. Notes, Critical, Explanatory, and Practical, on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah: with a New Translation. By ALBERT BARNES. Boston Crocker & Brewster. 1840. Three volumes, 8vo. pp. LXXIV, 517, 438, 770.
3. Notes, Critical and Practical, on the Book of Genesis. By GEORGE BUSH, Prof. of Heb. and Orient. Lit., N. Y. City University. Seventh edition. New York. 1844. Two volumes, 12mo. pp. xxxvi, 364, 444. 4. Notes, Critical and Practical, on the Book of Exodus. By GEORGE BUSH. Fourth edition. New York. 1844. Two volumes, 12mo. pp. 300, 299.
5. Notes, Critical and Practical, on the Judges. By GEORGE BUSH. New York. 12mo. pp. VIII, 282. XII, 221. x, 257.
Books of Leviticus, Joshua, 1843, 1844. Three volumes.
It is enough to make one weep, to reflect on the vast mass of error, which has been sent abroad in our community in the immense editions, which have been sold, of such works as "Scott's Family Bible," the "Comprehensive Commentary," and the "Cottage Bible," - error sanctified by its supposed connexion with the sacred volume. So far as the most important religious ideas are concerned, we have not the slightest doubt, that the people would have possessed far more of the truth by confining themselves to the text of our Common Version, than by the use of such commentaries. Without them they would never have discovered the dark dogmas and confounding mysteries of Calvinistic theology in the book of Job, or the Psalms of David; much less in the first and second chapters of the book of Genesis, and the history of Cain and Abel.
Even when the truth is found in these commentaries, it is often truth which belongs to a later age, the age of Christianity, and has no real connexion with the meaning of the Old Testament writers. The history of religion is falsified; ideas are ascribed to the Hebrew writers, which are no more to be found in them than in the Metamorphoses of Ovid, or the Eclogues of Virgil; and, in contradiction of the language of the New Testament, the Law is represented, not as the shadow, but as the substance, of good things to come. Perhaps there is no more popular Commentary on the Psalms of David, than that of Bishop Horne. But there is no idea, and we might almost say, no fact, comprehended in his view of Christianity, which he does not find in nearly every one of those Psalms. Thus Judaism and Christianity are mixed together, history is falsified, and one great argument for the Christian revelation, that arising from its use or necessity, is deprived of its force.
To be a good commentator on the Scriptures, especially in these days of division in the Church, requires the union of many qualifications. In such an one we should expect to find learning, insight, judgment, taste, a clear and concise style, the possession of a sound system of interpretation inwrought into the mind of the expositor, and above all we should expect to find a true and honest mind, freedom from a bigoted bias in favor of a dogma or a Church, and freedom from the fear of man in every