« السابقةمتابعة »
broken adoration. Comp. Rev. iv. 8. It is thus that, when far removed, or deprived in any way of this divine presence, they so earnestly pray:
O send again that heavenly hour,
That vision so divine,
“Even Thy strength and Thy glory, as we have seen them in the Sanctuary. For better is Thy love than life; our lips shall ever praise Thee. Thus will I bless Thee while I live; thus, in Thy name, lift up my hands. As with marrow and fatness (beyond comparison with any earthly pleasure), so shall my soul be satisfied; with songs of joy shall my mouth glorify Thee.” It is a spiritual joy, transcending any “good of corn and wine." It is a soul-worship, a soul-rapture, no mere affair of trumpets, incense, altars, or cherubic symbols, no imposing ceremonial, however gorgeous or comely its forms, however elevating or pietistic its influence. “In the shadow of Thy wings do I trust.” The outward temple worship suggests the image, but it is in deepest retirement that its power is felt: "For surely I remember Thee upon my bed; I meditate upon Thee in the watches of the night; my soul followeth hard after Thee; Thy right hand upholdeth me.” It is an, absorbing devotion; the whole heart is there; the highest thoughts of God are there; it is a model which our best modern worship may strive to reach but cannot surpass. “ For better is Thy love than life :" No mere rationalistic theism now talks to itself in this way; it was no mere theosophy, much less any known form of patrial or local worship that used the language then. It is an abiding sense of the power of this ancient devotion that has made the Psalms, in all ages, the Litany of the Christian Church.
Inference from the Absence of all such Language in Job. It is true that there are no passages of this latter kind in the Book of Job; but the inference from the fact is most obvious as well as most important. The story of that book, and even the seances (the dramatic discourses) as recorded, to say nothing of any later writer or recorder, were long before those inspiring temple and tabernacle ideas. They were before the Mosaic Law. That has been ably maintained as proof of the patriarchal character of the book, and we think that some of our modern Evangelical Commentators, such as Hengstenberg, and others, have been rash in giving up a view sustained by so profound a scholar as Spanheim, and indirectly supported by so learned an Orientalist as Schultens. Ni historia sit, fraus scriptoris, says the former. A pure dramatic work, avowed to be such, or carrying evidence of its dramatic character upon its very face, might have a place in inspired Scripture regarded as given by God for human instruction. Almost every other style of writing is there. But a parable, an allegory, a myth even, we at once know to be such. There is no concealment, no attempt to conceal, no artifice employed to put in what does not belong to the time of the composition, or to keep out what would at once undeceive the reader in regard to the appearance it would maintain. Such an intention, so employed, seems certainly akin to fraud. No subsequent writer was ever led to regard our Saviour's Parables as actual histories; but such, certainly, was the view derived by the Prophet Ezekiel from this Book of Job, then a part of the Jewish Canon. He no more regarded it as unreal than the histories, as contained in the same Canon, or firmly held by tradition, of Noah and Daniel.
Difficulties of the pure Dramatic view in excluding all reference to the Divine Law and
i Testimony 80 frequent in the Psalms. According to the pure dramatic view, the writer selects a “hero,” wholly imaginary, or faintly disclosed in the dimmest nucleus of an ancient legend. He clothes him with the character of the patriarchal age. He carefully keeps from him, and from the speakers with whom he is associated, the least reference to the Mosaic law. This might be comparatively easy, if it lay before him as a written document, which he might at any time examine, comparing it with his own work, and expunging or modifying as the case might demand. But there would be something far more difficult. The Jewish liturgical writings, older than the time ascribed by most modern critics to the Book of Job, abound in references to this old law. They give it a great variety of names, such as statutes, judgments, ordinances, testimonies. See how this kind of language is multiplied in the cxix. Psalm, and in others certainly older, if the cxix. is to be carried down to a late date. Language is taxed to express this ardent devotion of the soul, this ecstatic love of the comparatively limited revelation God had as yet given to the world, and that, too, veiled, for the most part, under outward and ceremonial ordinances. Yet what a rapture does it call out for the spiritual mind: "O how love I Thy law! Thy word is very pure, therefore Thy servant loveth it; The entrance of Thy word giveth light; Great peace have they who love Thy testimonies; Thy precepts are my delight (you, in the plural, deliciæ meæ, my exceeding joy) sweet to my taste, yea, sweeter than the honey, or the droppings of the comb.” What care must it have taken to avoid anything of this kind! How still more difficult to keep clear of any such language as we first set forth, not referring to the Law, even indirectly, but deriving its spirit from it, and full of those remembrances of the sanctuary, and of the outward worship which were its fruit. All this kept outl* not the slightest anachronism to be discovered, nothing but what is perfectly consistent with that far more ancient Patriarchal age to which the writer evidently wishes the reader to regard his imaginary hero and history as belonging. It is incredible.
Such Dramatic Skill and Invention out of Harmony with the idea of Inspiration, and even
of the highest Order of Genius. It would be wholly at war with that simplicity and truthfulness which we cannot separate from the idea of a holy and inspired writer. Such studied precaution would be inconsistent even with the lower human enthusiasm demanded for such a work of genius. It would simply be the genius of invention, and not even a miracle could carry it out of itself and into that higher sphere towards which it soars. Moreover, such a style of writing is inconsistent with any idea we can form of the earliest times. Modern fictitious writing has carried the art to its utmost capabilities, but even here it stops short (as from the very nature of the case it must) of the highest order of genius. It always fails when it attempts to meddle with the most sacred themes. We may confidently repeat it, therefore, that such success in such an effort, by a writer of the days of Solomon, is simply incredible.
But why not, then, take it as it purports to be-a true story of the Patriarchal age—and a substantially true report of discourses arising out of it, given in that chanting semi-rhythmical style that we know was earliest employed for the expression of all thoughts of a higher order, or regarded as having an extraordinary value. It is the same reflective, meditative, self-repeating rhythm, requiring little or no outward artifice, that we see in some of the earliest chants in Genesis, in the Song of Miriam, and in the Oracles of Balaam, the Prophet and Poet of the early East. It was the same, probably, from which the later fixed style of Hebrew poetry derived its origin. There seems to be demanded some ancient work of great repute to be the standard of authority for the later parallelistic chanting, and to give it rule and fixedness ; just as Homer became the model of the Hexameter for all later Epic poetry of the Greeks.
Internal Truthfulness. Place of Job in Hebrew Literature. There are other alleged stumbling-blocks, and other objections to the historical reality of the Book, such as the appearance of Satan in the Prologue, the round and double numbers in the narrative, and the theophany at the close, which may be treated elsewhere. In regard, however, to the substantial subject-matter of the story, it may well be asked, why may
* The author is represented as showing the most marvellous skill in keeping cut overy allusion to things most deeply interwoven in the Israelitish life. All is foreign and antique. And yet Commentators who maintain this, find the grossest anachronisms in the Book, whenever they can serve the purpose of assigning to it some comparatively modern period. Thus, Mers, p. xli., finds in ch. xv. 15, 19, an allusion to the Assyrian invasion of 760, or to the fact that foreigners were in the land, and obscuring all the old ideas. Eliphaz is made to refer to the older people “ to whom alone was given the land." It is very much the same as if one professing to give a dramatic picture of the Pilgrim Fathers, and striving to keep every thing in harmony with that early time, should suddenly betray himself by an allusion to the late Rebellion. But, with some, the greatest inconsistency is excusable, if it will favor the latest date that can bo given to the Book.
it not be received, as we receive the early narrations in Genesis ? What is there in the testing, the sufferings, and the final integrity of Job, more difficult of belief than the similar account and similar lesson of Abraham's templation, or of Jacob's long probation, or of the strange vicissitudes of Joseph's history, or of the exile and severe trials of Moses? Such questions it would, indeed, be difficult to answer; but the main thing here is that for which there have been cited these glowing passages from the Psalms, containing ideas so apropros to the author's supposed times, but which have no counterpart in the record of his hero's thoughts and sayings, either by way of resemblance or of contrast. The inference is a very rational one. It shows that Job lived—and the first reporter, too, we think-not only before the giving of the Mosaic Law, but at that still earlier time when there was, indeed, a most sublime theism, but when there had not yet been developed the forms or the idea of local outward worship in gathered assemblies. There were no temples, no sanctuaries, no sacred places. It was at the time when the family was the Church, in which the father was head and priest; when pious men knew each other, and held intercourse, as did Abraham and Melchizedeck, but when holy days and rites (except sacrifice), and outward collective worship, as such, were things unknown. That such things should have been before the time of Job, and yet without the most remote allusion to them in the Book, seems most incredible, even though the greatest pains had been taken to keep them out. The spirit of such ideas, and of such observances, would have somehow come in, in spite of every effort to exclude the letter. To this collective or temple worship, or sanctuary holiness, revelation had not yet educated even the pious mind. To say nothing, however, of inspiration, or of the divine purposes, and viewing it as a mere question of criticism, it may be maintained that the consistency of Hebrew literature, as we find it, demands that there should be assigned in it a very ancient place to the Book of Job. Such we believe, too, would be the almost unanimous decision of Rationalism, should a similar question, and on similar grounds, be raised in regard to Greek or Hindu writings.
IDEAS OF A FUTURE LIFE AMONG SURROUNDING NATIONS;
Alleged to be more clear than those of the Hebrews. At any date that may be taken for the Book of Job, there was, unquestionably, among the surrounding nations a belief in a future life that had assumed the form of a dogma possessed of a good degree of definiteness in regard to state and conceived local aspect. Such was the case even with Shemitic nations other than the Hebrew. The Syrians had it. Paréau has shown that such a belief existed among the early Arabians. There is proof of it, moreover, from the Koran, all the more satisfactory as it comes in incidentally by way of unquestioned reference. Repeatedly in the contests of Mohammed with the infidels of his day do they characterize as fables of the ancients,* as ideas once firmly held in the earlier simple world, but now regarded as antiquated and wholly obsolete, asatiru 'lawwalina, those doctrines of a future life, and of a resurrection, which he professed to revive and to urge upon them. If we may trust Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus, the most ancient Egyptians had a similarly clear belief. Says the latter, Lib. I., sec. 51, “The abodes of the living they call katahtoeic, temporary lodging-places or inns, those of the departed (TETE EVTNKotwy, the dead, not as extinguished, or non-existent, but as a state of being), they call áidious Olkovs, everlasting mansions.” The idea of the present life as a pilgrimage would seem akin to that expressed in the patriarchal language: “Pilgrims and strangers upon the earth,” and may have been derived from it; but there the Hebrew mind, and the Hebrew imagination was stayed. A home to that pilgrimage was indeed implied, and in that they rested. “They went out, not knowing whither they went,” nor making any inquiry, nor indulging in any fancy about it, but committing everything to their covenant God. The Egyptian imagination, on the other hand, unchecked by any divine purpose in the develop
* See Surat. xxiii. 85: “How is it that when we are dead, and have become dust and bones, that we live again? They are only fables of the ancients, v. 38. Away, then, with what we are threatened with! There is no other life. We live and wo die, and then we live no more. They are but stories of the early times." See, also, uxvi. 137, xxvii. 69, 70.
ment of the doctrine, ran on and made a distinct Hadean world of it, with its distinctly conceived abodes. The idea being separated, too, almost wholly, from that of the personal God, or being independently held as something by itself, became gross and earthly, as though it were a living in catacombs and pyramids, and surrounded by a funereal imagery. Other ancient peoples pictured the thought with lighter and more cheerful accompaniments. We need not refer to the Chaldæans, the Persians, and the Hindoos, as early possessing the idea of a future life; for with them the rationalist has no difficulty. It is only in regard to the Jews that he finds it hard to believe in anything spiritual or unearthly. They could only have learned it from foreign sources ; but, in regard to these foreign sources themselves, no questions need be raised. All is easy, except when some strange feelingof the true nature of which they are, perhaps, not distinctly aware-prompts them to deny all traces of such ideas as originating in the Scriptures, or as being first held, or independently held, by the Hebrew mind. So far, however, as regards these surrounding nations, they are undoubtedly correct. They all had a more or less distinct doctrine of a future life. On that of the Greeks we need not dwell. In the times referred to, in the Iliad and the Odyssey, a local Hadean world of spirits was distinctly conceived and universally held. So was it among the people of Western Europe. The best testimony shows that the Druids, or Celtic priesthood, possessed it, even in that early day.
The Veil thrown over the Doctrine in the Old Testament. And now here is the wonder which has stumbled many. How is it that such a belief, so universal, so intimately connected, as it would seem, with the very life of religion in any form, and without which we find it difficult to conceive of its having any power for the soul-how is it that such a belief should have been so faint among the people who are called the people of God? Why so little mentioned, if mentioned at all, by those who were chosen as depositaries of the great world-ideas, or the truths by which the race was finally to be regenerated ? The wonder is enhanced by the fact that this Hebrew people, the pious among them, had the most exalted ideas of the Divine Being, and the Divine Holiness, so far surpassing all who seemed to be before them, in a distinct conception of the other doctrine. How is it that in Homer the belief is so clearly expressed, whilst in Job it is so veiled? It is altogether stranger from the fact that in Homer there seems little or no demand for it-no moral demand, we mean—whilst in Job the attending spiritual circumstances are such as would appear to call for it in almost every appeal, whether of charge or response. It would have cleared up the great debate at once. So we would have thought. Instead of being used, however, for any such purpose, it seems actually repressed when about to make its appearance. In places where it may be said to have actually broken through the surrounding darkness, it is only for a moment that it shines. It is laid aside; the gloom returns; the old difficulties again crowd the path of their ever-circling argument. So is it elsewhere in the Old Scriptures. The more pious the mind, the more exalted its conceptions of God, the greater the reserve on this point; so that even when it seems to be expressed, or implied, the greatest care is used to exhibit its dependence on the higher idea. The personal God is ever the controlling as well as the fundamental thought: “Thou wilt show me the way of life;" “I shall be satisfied when I awake in Thy likeness ;” “Thou wilt guide me by Thy counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory."* In other cases, it is simply the
• It was only, however, by the more pious and meditative, or those who were chosen as the mediums of the written revelation, that the power of this reserve was chiefly felt. That the vulgar Jewish mind had the same views of a ghostworld as prevailed among other nations of antiquity, and as now popularly prevail, is proved by the most unmistakablo evidence. We need only refer to such passages as Lev. xix. 31, XX. 6, 27 ; Deut. xviii. 11; 2 Kings xxi. 16 ; Isa. viii. 19, xxix. 4. They show a belief so strong and prevalent, in the continued existence of the dead, that there had arisen, in the very earliest times, a class of persons who professed to be mediums of communication between the two worlds. They are called nidix, D'Jy7, Necromancers, or “Seekers to the dead," Dino D'V77. Our modern Spiritualism is only a revived form of this impiety, so early condemned. Another example is furnished by the case of Saul and the Witch of Endor, 1 Sam, xxviii. 3. Whether these were wholly or partly imposture, makes no difference in the argument. Such practices could only have been grounded on a very prevalent popular belief in a ghost-world. Here as elsewhere, the idea, when left to itself, became only the nourisher of a pestilent superstition; because the thought of God, as the conservative
expression of the divine care for man, and the strange importance attached to his acts and moral condition; as when Job says, xiv. 3, “Upon such a one dost Thou open Thine eye, and bring me into judgment with Thee ?” “What is man that Thou shouldst be so mindful of him ?” Again, it is the expression of a soul absorbed in Deity, as it were : “Whom have I in Heaven, or upon the earth, but THEE?” No mention is made of another life, but the power, as we have said, is there; the dogmatic presence is simply veiled in the splendor of the higher idea.
Reasons for this Reserve. Now there must have been some divine purpose in all this. May we not reverently conclude that such a reserve, in respect to the precious idea of the human immortality, was for the very purpose of preserving it in its highest strength and purity? All other nations had marred the doctrine. They had early received it, and early perverted it. They exercised upon it all the license of an unrestrained imagination. They turned it into fables. They deformed it in every way; or, in endeavoring to add to its mythical interest, they took from it all its moral power. God did not mean thus to give up His own people to their fancies. He had some better thing for them, especially for the more pious and spiritual in Israel. Hence this veil upon the sacred idea, and its indissoluble connection with the divine. It was not because the Hebrews were deficient in imagination. The vulgar belief in a ghost-world, to which we have referred (see note, p. 13), shows that they let it rove, just as all other ancient peoples did, and even to an extent which required divine legislation for its suppression. We can not compare the mythical fancies that seem so universally prevalent with the reserve that was maintained in the Book of Job, or in the utterances of David, Solomon, and the Prophets, without acknowledging the presence of a divine restraint, making the Jewish literature, in this, as well as in its sublime theistic aspect, so different from that of all surrounding or cotemporary nations.
Objections to the Hebrew Scriptures. Alleged Superiority of the Greeks. Homer, Pindar, et al.
And yet this very thing has been urged as an argument against the Bible, and against the spirituality of the Old Testament writers. The very fact that it was esteemed too awful a doctrine for utterance, or even for the imagination, has been used as a testimony against its existence in any form. Witness the effort to explain away every passage which may seem, in any way, directly or indirectly, capable of such a meaning. The Greeks, it has been said, were far beyond them in the development of the doctrine of another life. As early as Homer, and long before Homer-for it could not have sprung up at once—they had a defined topography of the Hadean land. Besides the mysterious spirit-world in its general aspect, as graphically detailed in the XI. Book of the Odyssey, there was the more special abode of the blessed, according to the Greek conception of blessedness. Beyond the earth, or at the extremity of the earth, és meipata yains, Odyssey, iv. 563, they had their “Elysian Plain, where presided in judgment the golden-haired Rhadamanthus, where life is ever free
idea, became dissociated from it, just as in the modern doctrine, and the modern practice that so closely resembles it Hence such a belief, instead of being encouraged, is most sharply condemned in the Scriptures. The great guilt consistod in meddling with what belonged solely to God, to be revealed or veiled according to the divine wisdom. The practice of such necromancy prevailed most under the most wicked kings, such as Manassoh; and its evil in the Divine sight is shown by the vehement denunciations of the Prophet: The farther the people departed from God, the more common became this “ seeking to the dead."
Glimpses, however, of a better popular belief in some higher and purer spirit-world appear in the Book of Job itself. Whether the word nin, in the Vision of Eliphaz, iv. 15, denote a spirit, or a breath, the whole context intimates & communication supposed to come from another world. Calling it a dream makes no difference, since dreams show the course of human thinking and belief. The thing, however, most worthy of pote in this view, is the nature of the communication made. How different, in this respect, from the modern spiritualism referred to ! There is nothing to gratify curiosityno talk about "spheres," and "progress, or a “coming light," but a most solemn moral announcement. It is for this alone that the separating curtain is for a moment withdrawn. No disclosure is made of states or scenes within. The regulating divine idea is all.controlling. That must first of all be learned in its ineffable holiness: "Shall man be more just than God ? shall mortal man be more pure than his Maker ?" Everything else is withheld, as though until this is firmly esta blished in the soul, the doctrine of a spirit-life may be, in itself. morally powerless, and even unfavorable to a true piety.