« VorigeDoorgaan »
Is it where the feathery palm trees rise,
Not there, not there, my child.
Not there, not there, my child.
It is there, it is there, my child ! This brilliancy of colour and glittering varnish were employed, we doubt not, in compliance with periodical taste, which has no eye for the delicate or refined in art, but demands violent and startling effects. How happily Mrs. Hemans could turn a scriptural thought, may be seen in the following little poem :
THE VOICE OF GOD.
Amidst the thrilling leaves, thy voice
At evening's fall drew near ;
That blessed sound to hear ?
Touch'd by the solemn tone ?
Its purity was gone.
His spirit shook with dread,
To veil his conscious head.
Each whisper of the shade,
And not to be afraid ! If Mrs. Hemans had rigidly rejected that gorgeous diction which Aristotle has denounced as obscuring the style --ÁTOKPÚTTEL γαρ πολύ ή λίαν λαμπρά λέξις-she would have produced works
having the seeds of immortality. The Character of our living poets is not comprised within the present inquiry; its treatment would demand a separate Article.
Art. IX.-On the Nature and Extent of Religious Belief.
“ BUT continue thou in the things which thou hast learned, and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." These words were addressed by St. Paul to Timothy, the first bishop of the church of Ephesus. The object of the apostle in writing the epistle from which these words are taken, together with the former one addressed to the same person, was to instruct the Ephesian bishop in the duties of his office, and also to describe the qualifications required of those persons, who should become candidates for the other orders of the christian ministry. But although these instructions were addressed more particularly to the candidate for the episcopal and ministerial offices, they were written also for the use of Christians in general. Of such kind especially is the passage which we have cited. The apostle had been predicting to the Ephesian bishop the persecution and contradiction which in various shapes should oppose the progress of the truth. Having done this, and thinking, perhaps, that his mind might be rendered anxious and fearful by these intimations of approaching danger, he proceeds to tell him of the persecutions and afflictions which he himself had endured, from all of which the power of God had found a deliverance for him. He then describes the particular nature of that opposition which would be offered to the christian convert; “ But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived;" and concludes with the words above quoted.
Timothy was the son of Gentile and Jewish parents. His father was a Greek, a term frequently used in the New Testament to denote a Gentile or heathen; and his mother was a Jewish convert. It appears that peculiar care had been bestowed upon his religious education, and that in early youth he had been trained to believe in God, and to render obedience to his laws as expressed in the sacred records of the elder dispensation; for we are told that he had been acquainted with the Scriptures from a child. But he had read them with a still further object than the knowledge which they could impart of the existence of the Supreme Being and of his will. He had studied them as the introduction to that merciful and stupendous plan for the redemption of a fallen world, which the Deity in his infinite goodness had conceived, and which the gospel was designed to bring to completion; as those living oracles dictated by the Spirit of God, and able to prepare him, and all those who humbly and with sincerity should believe in them, to receive the Messiah at his coming, and to acknowledge him as the Saviour promised to the fathers, of whom Isaac and Moses were the types, and the prophets the forerunners.
The Scriptures, or the Old and New Testaments, are not to be read as separate and distinct books, but as the two portions of one great work, connected in the most intimate manner with, and depending for confirmation and completion upon, each other. This is a circumstance which ought always to be kept in mind in the perusal of the sacred volume, but it is one which many persons would seem by their practice to forget. They devote themselves to the study of the New Testament to the total or partial exclusion of the Old. Doubtless the New Testament is inestimably more precious to the Christian than the record of that elder dispensation which preceded it; for it contains the narrative of the life and sufferings of that gracious Being who came on earth to save a lost world. It relates the doctrines and precepts which he published to man, to believe and obey which, will render us Christians not in name only, but in deed and in truth. But still we are to recollect that the Old Testament is in the highest degree valuable, from the strong and decisive testimony which it bears to the truth of the New. It stands in the same relation to it, as the foundation of a building does to the superstructure raised upon it. “ The law," says St. Paul,
was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ.” By the law, the apostle means the entire volume of the Old Testament. In these few words, therefore, the value of the elder record is declared in the clearest manner. By its pages we are told of that train of events which made it necessary that a Saviour should appear on earth ; of the disobedience of our first parents, and of the consequences resulting from it,-the entailment, namely, of sin and death upon themselves and their posterity for ever.
To remove these dread penalties, it was necessary that an all-perfect Being should come into the world, and offer himself up as a voluntary sacrifice. That this event should surely come to pass, was promised by God himself, and by the mouth of his inspired messengers, at different intervals of time, and in various words, from the fall of man until the cessation of prophecy. It was declared to our first parents, on their expulsion from Paradise. It was declared to Abraham, when he was summoned to leave his kindred and his native land, and to journey into a distant country. It was repeated, in yet more distinct terms, when he refused not to sacrifice his only son at the Divine command, and thus gave proof of his faith in the God of his fathers. The patriarch Jacob, when pronouncing a
blessing upon his sons, uttered those solemn words in reference to the future fortunes of the tribes of Judah, which speak also of the coming of the Messiah. Moses, in reciting the law to the children of Israel, bears testimony to the same great event; and points out a resemblance between himself and the great Being of whom he was the type, which rendered the application of the prophecy less difficult. The man of patience, who lived in an age contemporary with, or, as is most probable, anterior to that of Moses, in that sublime and triumphant strain of prophecy which is recited in the service for the dead, confesses his belief in the coming of the Redeemer at the latter day. To this great truth, indeed, all the prophets bear witness in an uninterrupted chain of testimony. In some of the prophetical writings,-those of the royal Psalmist of Israel and the evangelical Isaiah, for instance, the birth, the life and sufferings of the Saviour are described in the most exact and circumstantial manner. Daniel again, the precise period at which the Redeemer was to appear on earth is specified. To set forth the various predictions in which this great manifestation of the Divine good-will to man is declared and alluded to, would be to quote from every book contained in the volume of the Old Testament. Those to which we have already referred may amply suffice for the present purpose, namely, to show the connexion between the Old and New Testaments.
The Old Testament, then, is an imperfect work, considered by itself. The Jewish dispensation, which it records, was intended only to be of temporary duration, and was designed to introduce the Jews to that more glorious revelation of the Divine will which was to embrace the whole world within its compass. The prophecies contained in it, allusive to this extension of the Divine favour, receive not their completion within its limits, but point to some future showing forth of the counsels of the Most High. Where, then, are we to look for that second and concluding revelation, that “glory of the latter house,” to which the glory of the former house was not to be compared, which was to supply the deficiency existing in the first? In the gospel dispensation. In whom alone do those prophecies, to some few of which we have referred, centre? In the person of Jesus Christ.
Whether we examine the manner of his birth, his mode of life, the doctrines which he preached, the sufferings which he endured, or the death to which he submitted, we shall find them fulfilling, in the most perfect manner, the prophecies recorded in the Old Testament respecting the Messiah. The same inspired volume abounds also with types and figures applicable alone to our Lord, since in no other person have they received form and substance. The meditated sacrifice of Isaac, who was bound to the altar as an offering to God, on the very mountain on which our redemption was afterwards accomplished-Moses, in his several characters of the deliverer
of the Jewish people, of the founder, under heavenly direction, of the religion, and of a prophet-the scape-goat of the atoneinent, which was sent into the wilderness by the high priest, laden with the sins of the people the lamb without blemish and without spot, of whom not a bone was to be broken, which was killed at the feast of the passover,- all these, to instance only a few, are typical alone of that Divine Being who took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men, that he might save us from our sins; and were then only completed when he became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. This correspondence between the two dispensations was frequently appealed to by our Lord himself in confirmation of his claims: “Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me." Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." “ As the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness, so shall the Son of Man be lifted up."
Thus, then, these two portions of the Bible which are called, separately, the Old and New Testaments, form one entire work, containing within its pages the articles of a Christian's faith, the rule of a Christian's practice. How necessary is it, then, for all who bear that sacred name, to study these inspired records, to meditate upon the truths which they declare; that we may satisfy ourselves whether we are walking as becomes the canaidate for immortality, who is looking forward with humble confidence to that salvation, purchased by the blood of the Saviour, which is intended as the subject of our hope in this life, of our possession in that which is to come. Unhappily, the modes in which this necessary and delightful task, this labour of the soul's health, is performed, are as various as some of them are erroneous. Of these again, one which unfortunately is of very frequent occurrence amongst the generality of religious readers, is the following :-Having adopted beforehand a certain set of religious opinions, which in many instances form the badge or watchword of a particular party or sect, these persons enter upon the study of the inspired volume for the purpose of discovering passages which may favour, or, as they imagine, prove the truth of their tenets. The consequences of this practice are very obvious. Portions of the sacred writings, by an unnatural process, are often forced to assume a meaning not only foreign to the intention of their authors, but also totally opposite to that which the common sense of an unprejudiced mind would have elicited in the same case. Now such a result as this could never happen, did these persons only make use of a mode of examination of the greatest importance in studies of this kind. In reading the compositions of any particular writer, should we meet with a passage appearing, at first sight, to confirm our own preconceived