صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

from care and toil, where tempest never comes, nor rain nor snow invade, but evermore sweet-breathing gales of Zephyrus refresh the souls of men.” Hesiod gives the same picture, Works and Days, 154; and adds to it, as a then current mythology, the conception of “The Isles of the Blessed.”

έν μακάρων νήσοισιν ακηδέα θυμόν έχοντες. Of which Pindar, not long afterwards, gives such a glowing description, Olymp. II. 110* (BOECKH): “Where the sun is ever shining, where the souls of the just spend a tearless eternity, adakpuv vépovrai aiôva (or a tearless existence); whilst those of a still higher degree “ Take the way of Jove that leads to Saturn's tower, where Ocean's gales breathe round the isles of the blessed, where flowers of gold and fruits immortal grow.” In comparison with this, how poor, as some would estimate it, is the dark, shadowy, unlocalized, and wholly indefinite conception of the Old Testament writers, if it can be called a conception at all.

[ocr errors]

Greater Moral Power of this Old Testament Reserve. Its connection with a Pure Theism.

To a true theological insight, however, there are two thoughts which must reverse the scale, and lead to a very different conclusion. In the first place, there is in this Greek picture but the dimmest idea of God (if there is any such, except in the local designations where divine names seem to be employed), or of any divine righteousness. It is such a view as might be entertained by a writer, who, in another place, PIND., Nem. vi. 1, makes us all the children of nature, gods as well as men. The second thought is its utter lack of moral power. We feel this as we read, and find it confirmed by the fact of the little influence the Greek Hadean conception actually had upon their moral or religious life. In the Hebrew conception, as held by the pious mind, the idea of God, so prominent, so controlling, more than makes up for its dimness, and more than fills out all its scenic or local deficiency. “Thou wilt show me the way of life;" “O that Thou wouldst lay me up in Hades,” Job xiv.; “Thou wilt call, and I will answer; Thou wilt have regard to the work of Thy hands.” To say nothing now of such a triumphant outburst as we have, Job xix. 25, “I know that my Redeemer liveth ;" or such clear hopes as are expressed, Ps. xvii. 15, “I shall behold Thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake, Thy likeness;" the comparison might be rested on one of the briefest declarations of Scripture, in which death is contemplated as a going to God, and the whole idea of immortality is reduced to a single trust in some undefined blessedness. As Psalm xxxi. 6: 'n17 7pos 77'), “Into Thy hands do I commit my spirit; Thou hast redeemed me; Lord, God of truth.It matters but little whether we regard this declaration as made in extremis, or in view of some great danger. It is, in either view, the committing of the whole being unto God, as something belonging to Him, in virtue of an eternal relation, expressed by the word, 'nix 70'79, “Thou hast redeemed me," and the covenant idea appearing in , which ever means truth, as trust or faithfulness, or truth in its personal rather than in its abstract or speculative aspect. “ Into Thy hands;" that is all; but how immensely does it transcend in moral power-in " the power of an endless life,”—all those Homeric, Hesiodean, and Pindaric pictures which some would regard as so rich in comparison with the Hebrew poverty.

Comparison of the Early Hindu and Shemitic Belief. Merx Claim of Superiority for

the former. This lack of a true moral and theological insight is strikingly, though unwittingly, shown by MERX (Das Gedicht von Hiob., p. x.), where, in respect to this belief in another life, he asserts the superiority of the Vedas to the Bible. “In the representations of such an existence after death,” he proceeds to say, “there is a deep difference between the people

* It may be said, too, that in this passage of Pindar there is fully developed the other idea, or the doom of the wicked. See line 120.

Τοι δ' απροσόρατον οκχέοντι πόνον.
A woo on which no eye can gaxo.,

of our race (the Arian) and the Shemitic. The latter know no Isles of the blest, where the noble heroes live. All that is included in that word hero seems to them a reckless audacity. The old men of renown (DV', or men of name), appear to them as impudent evil doers. The Semites, in consequence of living with their herds in the plains, and shunning the mountain peaks, fail in the development of the loftier energies. It was otherwise with our ancestral kindred, as we learn from the monuments of their religion. It is true that, in the Vedas, allusions to a life after death do not often occur. They had too much to do with the present world. Still, as a reward for piety, there was held to be admission to the abodes of the Heavenly Powers." As a proof of the superiority of the Hindu to the Shemitic belief in this respect, he gives us passages from the Rigveda, ix, 113, 7-11, in the rhythmical version of Prof. Roth.

Da, wo der Schimmer nie erlöscht,

Zur Welt des Sonnenlichtes hin,
Der ewigen unsterblichen,

Dahin, 0 Soma, bringe mich.

Wo König ist Vivaswant's Sohn,

Und wo des Himmels Innerstes,
Wo jene Wasserquellen sind,

Dort lasse mich unsterblich sein!

Wo man behaglich sich ergeht,

Im dritten hohen Himmelsraum,
Wo Schimmer alle Räume fullt

Dort lasse mich unsterblich sein!

Wo Wunsch und Wohlgefallen ist,

Die Höh', zu der die Sonne klimmt
Wo Lust ist und Befriedigung,

Dort lasse mich unsterblich sein:

Wo Freuden und Ergọtzungen,

Wo jubelndes Entzücken wohnt,
Wo sich ein jeder Wunsch erfüllt,

Dort lasse mich unsterblich sein.

Other extracts are made, and of a similar kind. There is a striking sameness in their imagery—all joy and glitter. The first thought that occurs is a doubt whether a writing contain. ing such ideas, and so expressed, can really be regarded as very ancient. There is something about this Epicurean Heaven so full of sunshine,* with such a glee, as it were, arising from the immediate gratification of every desire, and the instantaneous fulfilment of every wish, that is inconsistent with the gravity, the awed contemplative spirit, and solemn reticence of great antiquity. The second thought is its destitution of moral power. It is a mere picture of what is held best on earth, transferred to a supposed higher sphere. It is a pure poetic fancy, the product of the Brahminic imagination, artistic and artificial. It was never inspired in the highest sense. It was not born in any soul travail, nor nursed by the contemplation of any holy or divine idea. God is not in it as the chief and controlling thought. Its heaven is not made by His presence. The mind that dreamed it was not wholly atheistical, but it had nc such conception as that of a covenant God and Redeemer, educating men in their first lesson of immortality through the ideas inseparable from such a relation. In other words, these Vedaic, Homeric, and Pindaric fancies, so extolled above the dim Hebraic conceptions, were lacking in that element to which we have so repeatedly alluded, duvaus Swñs åkatálvrov, “the power of an endless life," of a being indissoluble, because of its

* The resemblance to the Odyss., iv. 565, vi. 42, and especially to the latter passage, is very striking. A close compari. son strongly favors the conclusion that the lines of the Veda, if the translation be correct, must have been, in some way, drawn from those of Homer; a supposition not extravagant, if we suppose them later than Alexander's expedition, and the knowledge that may, perhaps, have come into India from that source.

Wo Schimmer alle Räume füllt,

L adda mal' ai pn σέπταται ανέφελος, λευκή δ: επιδέδρομεν αίγλη.

connection with the divine. The Vedaic theology, even in its pantheistic mysticism, has no true recognition of this. To its outward, or Epicurean picture, it is wholly lacking. It knows nothing of the aiúvios Swr of the Scriptures, or the true immortality. The sonorous refrain

Dort lasse mich unsterblich sein, carries with it no higher conception than that of mere undyingness. It is but a living on in some way differing from the present simply by a higher joyousness, in some higher locality, whether above the Himalaya, or on the summits of Olympus, or even in the skies themselves, with the gods as merely a higher class of companions. The Scriptures were intended for a higher education than this, and hence their very silence is ofttimes more expressive, more suggestive of ideas that are full of life than the most positive language of other ancient writings. “O that I knew where I might find Him." How poor this groping, sighing despair, it may be said, in comparison with the rapture which Merx gives us as a specimen of the higher and clearer ideas of our Arian kinsmen! But Job's darkness is better than its light. The subdued trust of the Psalmist is better than its vain soaring: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the death-shade (the terra umbrarum, see Job x. 21, xxxviii. 17), I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me.” Sombre as are the thoughts suggested by the Hebrew Tzalmaveth, the idea of the redeeming Presence gives it a glory transcending all the sunlight, all the shimmer, and sparkle of the Vedaic hymn.

Merx proceeds farther with this contrast, attempting to sustain it by reference to the modes of burial or burning that arose from the different views entertained of death. In every thing of the kind the superiority is assigned to the Arian races. The translation of Enoch had been regarded as an early intimation of a higher life with God, to which one was taken who had "walked with God” on earth. But the contemned Shemites must be robbed even of this. “How widely different,” says Merx, that is, how inferior, “were the views of the Hebrews, of whom we must not judge from any thing in the Enoch legend (der Henochsage), since the Hebrew origin of it is more than doubtful."* It is certainly a curious phase of “the higher criticism,” as it calls itself, this constant tendency to depreciate the Shemitic Scriptures, whilst never allowing a doubt as to the antiquity or value of any thing, however poor its supporting testimony, that they may choose to place in contrast with them.

Moral Danger in separating the Idea of a Future Life from a Pure Theism. Modern

Spiritualism and Modern Science. Still the fact remains a very strange one, especially as judged by the ordinary criticism, that in this peculiar Shemitic race, and at this very early day, there should have been such a deep religiousness, such a lofty piety, and yet with a conception of a future life so very dim, if it existed at all. We wonder most to find it so deeply veiled in this Book of Job, where the clearer view seems so greatly needed. The divine wisdom, however, in such a veiling, such a reserve, will be the more readily seen and acknowledged, when we think of the wild fables and mischievous notions to which the unguarded Hadean doctrine gave rise among other peoples of antiquity, and especially as it became more and more dissevered from any regulating divine idea. Of this we have already spoken. It remains to say that in our own times we find a still more striking proof of the moral danger of such a severance. The modern “spiritualism,” as it calls itself, would be unworthy of grave notice here, were it not as a manifestation of such a tendency. It is becoming almost wholly naturalistic, and even atheistical. Its continual babble about natural laws shows its strong desire to keep out, as far as possible, the ideas of God and moral causation. The same may be said in respect to some aspects of modern science. How strong the aversion which is manifested, in certain quarters, to the idea of a personal God, with its necessarily associated ideas of Providence and Prayer! They interfere with the doctrine of fixed evolution, or of uninterrupted physical causation. And yet it is most worthy of nole, that there is no such aversion to the mere idea of a post-mortem existence. Some who have gone to the very verge of atheism have expressed a willingness to patronize the other dogma, provided it can be presented in some scientific form. Separate it from the thought of God, or of any dread moral government; reduce it to a mere physical fact, and there need be no objection to it. There is nothing in the way. The theories of the origin of life, as held by many, are quite consistent with its continuance in some finer organization, or in some higher physical development.

* “ More than doubtful." What knowledge has he enabling him to make so nice an estimate? The reason given is that “Enoch is representative of the departed year gone to the Ewigkeit." We may see by this what rapid progress Rationalism sometimes makes. What Ewald hazarded as a mere conjecture, founded on nothing stronger than the coincidence (very remarkable among so many stated numbers!) of Enoch's ago with the number of days in the year, Merx treat, as a gettled point, which none now would think of calling in question. Nothing, however, is more improbable. Those very “wise Egyptians," as late as the time of Herodotus, had not yet determined the year by five days, etill treating it, in some respects, as 360, and yet these critics would have it not only settled in the days of Enoch, but so well settled as to make a myth out of it. Then, again, it would be a more sentimentalism, suiting well in modern times, tat inconsistent with a great antiquity.

Atheism and Materialism not Inconsistent with some Doctrine of Future Being.

In this way, the most crass materialism may have its future state, possessing, perhaps, a memory of the former; since memory and consciousness are merely the results of organization, and may thus be carried through from one to the other. Even atheism cannot wholly shut out the idea, or the phantom, if it would. It may have a ghostly world of the future, even as it makes a ghost of the present. It may have its spectres and its demons, all the product of natural laws, even if it has no God. It cannot escape the thought of the fearful by denying the existence of any power above nature. Who knows what forms of being such an omnipotent and eternal nature may produce? And who can say that they may not be inconceivably dire and monstrous ? If one says, that cannot be so,—there must be something in the universe, as a whole, which prevents the predominance of what we call evil, whether physical or moral—the question at once arises, how does he know that from any science, with its infinitesimal experience? He is unconsciously taking refuge in a higher doctrine, or borrowing ideas from the contemned theological sphere of thought. Even the Democritic, or the Atomic philosophy, whether in its most ancient or its most modern form, may have its future state. Among the endless phenomena of the physical universe, man may re-appear; the very same man, so far as there can be any such thing as personal identity. Given infinite time, and infinite space, and infinite variety, of working, and the atoms which compose his brain may come together in the same proportion, site, and arrangement as before. When this takes place, there he is again, with the same feelings, thoughts, knowledge, memory, consciousness, — all being, as before, simply the results of that peculiar material organization which alone makes him what he is. The idea of another life after death is not, in itself, an absolute essential of religion; since, as Genesis and this Book of Job most clearly prove, there may be even a lofty piety where there is only the dimmest conception of such a state. In its perversion, on the other hand, it may even become the ally of irreligion. Severed from the divine idea, it may be the parent of the most monstrous superstitions, or link itself with some gross doctrine of a physical metempsychosis—becoming, in either case, a more evil thing than the densest skepticism.

A PURE THEISM TO BE FIRST TAUGHT. The Great Lesson of the Book, The Absolute Sovereignty of God. The distinctions made in the preceding pages have been the more largely dwelt upon as furnishing a reason, we may reverently suppose, why, in the early revelation, this doctrine of a future life is kept so much under the veil. It is that the other and the diviner doctrine may be the more fully learned, and firmly fixed in the human mind, as the conservative principle, the purifying power of all other religious beliefs. The subordinate idea, as we have said, is not wholly excluded from the Book of Job. It now and then appears amid the darkness; but there is made no use of it in enforcing the great lesson, which is, to teach the absolute moral sovereignty of God, and the unqnalified duty of human submission, as to a demand carrying in itself its own inherent righteousness. The theism, the theodice of the Book is its great feature. Never were the divine personality, the divine holiness, the divine government unchallengeable, in a word, the absolute divine sovereignty, more sublimely set forth. Here there is no reserve: God most wise and good, most just and holy, to be acknowledged as such whether we can see it or not; God who “maketh one vessel to honor and another to dishonor," who “setteth on high or casteth down," who “bindeth up or breaketh in pieces,” who is to be regarded as having the holiest reasons for all this, yet "giveth no account of His ways," allowing “no one to touch His hand, and say unto Him what doest Thou?

Not the Solution of a Problem-Not a Doctrine of Compensation. Such is the lesson taught. This is the problem solved, if we may use the language most commonly employed in reference to the Book. We do not, however, regard it as the best. The idea that the poem, or drama, of Job is intended for the solution of a problem, or as the authoritative decision of a debate, has led astray, we think, from a right view of its true character. There is no objection to the word, if it is used simply as a name for the great lesson undoubtedly taught, and which Job so thoroughly learned, namely,—this holy divine sovereignty,—but when we attempt to specify any other issue regarded as involved in the arguments of the speakers, and as finally decided by the divine appearing, we fall into endless confusion, as is evinced by the number of varying and discordant theories to which such a view of the Book has given rise. The design certainly cannot be to teach a future state. What has been already said is sufficient in respect to that point. Neither can it be to prepare the way for such a doctrine by furnishing representations which drive to its necessary acknowledgment as the only solution of the alleged problem.* The hope of compensation such views might seem to involve would be out of harmony with that other and greater acknowledgment which Job at last makes so unreservedly, and some idea of which seems to pervade the Book from beginning to end. In respect to all such ideas of compensation, whether in this life or in any other, it is sufficient to say that no mention is made of them in the divine address, whatever may have been the subsequent fact; they are not assigned as having any bearing upon Job's affliction, or as clearing up, in any way, the mystery that surrounds it. The same may be said in regard to any disciplinary purpose, on which Elihu so largely insists. The divine voice makes no allusion to it. The criminations of his friends, Job's assertions of his integrity (in those most eloquent concluding appeals of chapters xxix., xxx., xxxi.), and Elihu's “pretentious wisdom,” as some have characterized it, are all dismissed as being, so far as the great mystery is concerned, but a “darkening of counsel by words without knowledge.”

VARIOUS VIEWS OF THE BOOK.

Delitzsch, Merx, Umbreit, etc. “Why do afflictions befall the righteous man ?” “This,” says Delitzsch, “is the question, the answering of which is made the theme of the Book of Job.” “This answer," he proceeds, “if we look at the conclusion of the Book alone, is, that such afflictions are the way to a two-fold blessedness.” The first of these is the restoration of the earthly good of which he had been deprived. This, however, Delitzsch pronounces inadequate as a solution, and not, in general, true. The second is the internal blessedness which the righteous man finds through such a process. “It is the important truth,” he says, “that there is a suffering of the righteous which is not a decree of wrath, but a dispensation of love, and this is the heart of the Book of Job.” To this general view he gives two divicions: 1. The afflictions of the righteous are a means of discipline and purification; 2. They

• According to this view, it would be tentative and skeptical,--we mean skeptical in a good senso,-like some of the Socratic discourses, which are thus entitled, because they come to no conclusion, yet have served a good purpose in teaching us our ignorance, or by showing the great value of the truth sought, and stimulating to moro earnest study to be rewarded by the disclosures of a more advanced revelation.

« السابقةمتابعة »