صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

germ of every idea that might afterwards be held in respect to the human destiny or the human soteriology.

The Hebrew Despondency more spiritual than any Heathen Confidence. Anacreon and David.

Farewell to the World Farewell to the Idea of God. This appears even in their despondency, or their moments of apparent skepticism. There is really something more spiritual in the seeming despair, even, than in many a belief that might be regarded as greatly surpassing in dogmatic statement or conceptive clearness. To the worldly mind, with a dim hope of futurity, or even with one possessing some degree :f distinctness, yet without moral power, the agonizing thought in view of death is the leaving behind this fair earth, with its prospects of pleasure or of ambition. See how it meets us in the heathen gnomic poetry, in the Greek monumental verses, and in the Choral odes of the Dramatists. Very affecting are such representations, as they may be all summed up sometimes in that touching expression s0 common in Homer: οράν φάος ήελίοιο-λείπειν φάος ήελίοιο“to see no more, to leave forever, the light of the sun.” See EURIPIDES HIPPOL. 4; PHENISS. 8; Iphig. in Aul. 1218, du udp to güç Tew, “ For () 'tis sweet the sunlight to behold.” To bid farewell to this loved life, with all its worldly hopes : such was the burden of the heathen song, whether tuned to the Anacreontic or the more solemn tragic key. How differently affected in view of death was the pious Shemitic mind, whether as represented in the patriarchal, the Jobean, or the more common Israelitish life. “I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord,” says the dying Jacob; though should the Rationalist maintain that there is no evidence of the patriarch having any distinct hope of a life beyond the grave, it would not be easy to refute him. But greater still is the difference, we may say, when all seemed dark respecting that other unknown shore. To the pious descendant of Jacob, in such a season of despondency, the great grief of his departure was the bidding farewell to God-if the expression does not seem too strange-or the going out forever of that idea which had been his life, his higher life, even here on earth : "Shall the dead praise Thee? Shall one speak of Thy goodness in the grave, Thy faithfulness 1731x, thy covenant faithfulness) in Abaddon (the world of the perished) ? Shall Thy miracles be known in the darkness, Thy righteousness in the land of oblivion ?” Ps. lxxxviii. 11, 13. So Ps. vi. 6: “In Sheol who shall make confession unto thee?” It was to be parted forever from that soul-vision of the Divine eternity, the loss of which was sorer than any diminution of their own being considered merely in itself. Hence the affecting contrasts of man's dying, going out, passing away, and God's everlasting continuance. The contemplation of this is the reason assigned in praying for the continuance of the human life. “O take me not away in the midst of my days; Thy years are through all generations.” “Thou sendest man back to dissolution (x21 W, to decay and dust), and thou sayest, return ye sons of Adam.” “But Thou art from everlasting unto everlasting;” “of thy years there is no end ;" 127 85, they never fail. There is, however, a rising hope of eternity in the very thought, as though reflected back on the human soul that thus contemplated itself in God, and leading it to say: “Thou hast been to us our dwellingplace in all generations ;” or in the rapt language of the Prophet: “Art Thou not from everlasting, Jehovah, my God, my Holy One? We shall not die.” Hab. i. 12.

This "Power of an Endless Life,thus implied, stronger than any Dogmatic Utterance.

It is in these and in similar ways that the inspired feeling—for such we may call it even in its apparent skepticism-breathes itself out in many a passage where not a word is said dogmatically of any future state, and yet the language seems all filled with this “ power of an endless life.” Thus in the “Psalm of Asaph,” lxxiii. 24: “Whom have I in the Heavens (but Thee); and in all the earth there is nothing that I desire beside Thee.”—7in comparison with Thee. Take away this æonic inspiration, and all, at once, collapses. The language, regarded as coming from a mere worldly soul, speaking from a worldly stand-point, is wholly overstrained. There is nothing to call out a state of feeling so high and rapturous.* “My flesh and my heart (my body and my soul) both fail, but Thou art the strength (the rock)

• General application

of my heart, and my portion ('P?n, my decreed or allotted portion) for ever.” Not a word here, it may be said, of immortality, or of any life beyond the grave; no one would quote it as a proof-text for the doctrine dogmatically considered; and yet the power is there—the duvayıs Swiis akarażurov_"the power of an endless life.”

Examples from JobGod mourned for more than his Loss or Pain. So is it with Job, though the darkness and sadness of his outward state gives a different form to the expression. The loss of property he hardly mentions—his bereavement of his children he barely alludes to; but it is for God he mourns—for the hiding of His face, "the light of His countenance," that ineffable good for which our purest modern religion finds its best expression in the language of this ancient theism. Such a feeling is not inconsistent with the daring, and, as they seem to us, almost profane, expostulations wrung from him by the long continuance of his sharp bodily pains. In every subsidence of this great miseryfor there must have been such seasons of remission, or he could not have borne it—there returns again the humbled, mourning spirit, with its divine want: “O that I knew where I might find Him; O that I might set my cause in order before Him; that I might know the words He would answer me,” xxiii. 3,5; “Wherefore hidest Thou Thy face ?” xiii. 24; “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him," * xiii. 15. From the lowest depth, hope springs up. Just after he had said, “My face is foul with weeping, and the death shade is on my eyelids” (xvi. 16), he cries out, “Even now my Witness is in Heaven, my Attestor is on high,” † xvi. 19; “My friends are my mockers, but mine eye droppeth unto God,” 20. The tearful appeal is made as unto a better friend, who, in the days of his prosperity, had never been absent from his soul's most cherished thoughts: “O that it were with me as in months that are past, in the days when God watched over me ("3700"), when His lamp shone upon my head, when by His light I walked through darkness; when the Almighty was with me; when the secret of God (710, consessus colloquium, His secret presence and communion, see Ps. xxv. 14) was upon my tabernacle,” xxix. 2-4. Our highest rationalism has now no such remembrance and no such mourning. It may talk of the dimness of Job's views, the inadequate conceptions entertained by the author of the poem in respect to the character of God, or the absence of any clear mention of a future life, but his darkness is better than their light, his intense theistic feeling is stronger than their theory; they have no such skepticism, perhaps, because they have no such faith.

Longing for Goa as distinguishing the Hebrew Theism from all other. It is the same feeling, as characteristic of this ancient theism, which breaks out in that ecstatic longing before alluded to: “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God !” Picture the image of the thirsting animal (moaning, with outstretched neck, as dy vividly denotes) in its intense desire for the refreshing element; then transfer it to the rational sphere, and we see that it is a superhuman, earth-transcending good that is so ardently sought. “My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God”—for the God of life. The epithet is not a superfluity. It distinguishes Him from the dead idol, on the one hand, and the equally dead idea, or theosophism, on the other. “It is Thy favor which is life, Thy loving-kindness which is more than life.” Again, Ps. lxiii. 1: "O God ! O Thou my God! my soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee (177, denoting that strong passion which makes even the body faint under the intensity of its desire) as in a dry and thirsty land wherein no water is.” Our Saviour shows His estimate of the power of this language by consecrating the image in His own highest term for spiritual blessedness—the “water of life,” the “ fountain leaping up to everlasting life.” There is no mistaking the significance of such an appeal to God. No joy in this world without the beatific sense of the divine presence.

• The Keri here as for 85) of the Masoretic text must be very ancient, since it is sustained by the Syriac, the Targum, the Vulgate, and the Arabic of Saadias. It is in the closest grammatical harmony with the verb 11'X; and no one can deny that the rendering produced is in perfect consistency with the spirit of the whole Book.

f 'ynw. A word from the same root in Arabic means attesting angel, or angels: Angeli, testes in ultimo judicio. Sua Koran Surat. xl. 21. Is not the 7770 or Attestor, on whom Job calls here, the same with the 78.) xix. 25 ?

Transition from Despondency to Rupture. Job xix. 25. Such was this ancient theism. It carried with it “the power of an endless life,” without any dogmatic mention, and this is the reason why the highest emotion of modern religion still finds in it its most adequate, as well as its most impassioned, expression. There is less of it in Job; but there, too, we find it, carrying him, sometimes, out of the deepest despondency into a spiritual region where his sharpest pains seem, for the moment, forgotten. In the first part of ch. xix, it seems to be all over with him. No hope, either for body or for soul: “He hath fenced up my way, that I cannot pass; He hath set darkness in my path ; He hath broken me down on every side, and I am gone; He uproots, like a tree, my hope; my bone cleaves to my skin, and to my flesh; I am laid bare, the skin from my teeth.”* A little before (xvii. 1), he had said, “My breath (my breathing) is exhausted” (77927, not "corrupt," but from the other sense of an, denoting great pain, as of one in travail, hard and painful breathing, quick panting); my breath comes hard, my days are going out (13y13), the graves are my portion.” v. 11, 12. “My purposes are broken off, even the treasured thoughts of my heart," all my pleasant earthly remembrances. The light is departing. “Theyt are putting night for day:" the shades of death are gathering fast around him. All hope of life is gone, much more the expectation of restored wealth and worldly prosperity, which the rationalist would regard as the only significance of the triumphal strain that follows, xix. 25. He is in extremis ; but such is the very time when this “power of an endless life" asserts itself. At the lowest ebb, as though such a time had been necessary to bring out its returning force, he breaks forth with those ever memorable words so sublime and super-earthly in spite of every lowering strain that criticism will put upon them, the words he wished “engraved," as his monument, “ with an iron stile and lead in the rock forever:".

I KNOW THAT MY REDEEMER LIVETH: My Avenger, who takes my part against my murderer or the great unseen evil Power of whose hostility Job sometimes seems to have a kind of dreamy consciousness. There is the same idea of survivorship so touchingly alluded to in the Psalms. He is my Winx, my Nachmann, my Next of Kin. He lives on; "and after theyt have broken up this skin of mine, yet from my flesh (or out of my flesh, translate it as we will) shall I see God”—see Him with the eyes of my soul, and not with any outwardly derived theoretical knowledge-see Him as the Living God, as my God, and not a stranger. This beatific thought of God as “all his salvation and all his desire" carries him out of and far away from himself. It becomes an insupportable rapture giving rise to that same intense language before referred to in the 630 Psalm, and elsewhere. It is that most passionate verb 0757, having for its subject the paronomastic noun nisa (the reins, renes, opeves), denoting the most interior part of the body, regarded as in nearest connection with the spiritual emotion : “My reins faint within me,” pra ning 153. Consuming, exhaustion, completion, are the primary sense, hence, of disappearing (schwinden), going out, fainting, swooning with ecstatic joy. Ewald's treatment of the passage is most admirable. He, however, refers 7 to Job himself, and makes the personal idea conveyed by it one of the chief elements of his insupportable bliss: "Nicht ein Fremder, no more a stranger. It is no other than myself; no, no; all doubt is gone. It is I (ich, ich), I that shall thus behold Him. So deeply does he feel the bliss, that he seems to have wholly forgotten the outer world; and finally, in the highest transport, like one swooning, he cries out, О ich vergehe, 0 I am almost gone; I faint from trembling joy and insupportable desire.” EWALD, Job, p. 200. He refers to Psalms lxxxiv. 3, cxix. 8. Compare also the use of olxeral by the Greek Dramatists, kapdia yàp oi xeral,

* It would seem to denote that ghastly look, and that ghastly condition of extreme emaciation, when the skin will no more close over the protruding teeth. This sense may be got for us without going to the corresponding Arabic word. It is closely connected with the common Hebrew sense of escape or deliverance (one thing parting or parted from another). It is like the accusative with preposition after passive verbs denoting condition. I am parted, the skin of my teeth, or in the skin of my teeth--that is, the flesh that covers my tooth. It denotes the extreme of emaciation and suffering. .

10v. "They are putting.” Who are they! It is one of those cases where the agent, real or supposed, is not named because of something fearful, perhaps, agsociated with it. “They"-invisible powers, it may be, either actually believed or wed figuratively or proverbially to heighten the effect of the language. Grammarians call it the using of the active for the passive impersonal, but this does not explain the matter. As parallel passages, compare Job vii. 3, iv. 19, xviii. 18, xix. 26; Ps. xlix. 15, and especially the Greek of Luke xii. 20. It is generally used by way of deprecating something hostile. But it may also be from reverence. See Isaiah lx. 11.

The same idiom referred to in the note above. They, the agent, too fearful or too revolting to be named, may refer to the worms reducing his skin to shreds, or to the strange hostile powers that were then destroying his body through disease, regarded as produced by evil agency.

Similar Fluctuations of Faith and Hope. Job xiv. It is the same feeling, though in a calmer or less ecstatic form, that prompts the language, Job xiv. 13: '3b9n boxva yo' , “O that Thou wouldst lay me up (like a deposit) in Sheol, that Thou wouldst keep me secret till Thy wrath should turn (310), that Thou wouldst appoint me a time and then remember me." Is it really so? The thought suddenly breaks out of his gloom: "Is it really so: If a man die, shall he live again ?” Every thing depends here upon what we regard as the emotional point of the question. The musing, soliloquizing style should also be remembered. It is not so much answering his friends, as talking to himself, and pausing between each solemn utterance. It may be the language of skepticism, or of rising hope, not denying the idea, but expressive of wonder at some new aspect of its greatness. It may have been intended-and the thought is not unworthy of inspiration that different readers, according to their different degrees of spiritual-mindedness, might take higher or lower views of the strange interrogatory. Even for Job himself it may have had its various aspects. There may have been intended the denial or the doubt; or there may have been the feeling of wonder before mentioned; or it may have been an entirely new view, carrying with it a rising assurance: “If a man die, shall he live?" May it be that death is the way to life ? *--that through it we attain the real life? However momentary the feeling, it immediately raises him to a higher confidence. Its first fruit is the earnest prayer for remembrance and security in Sheol; then the stronger faith grounded on the more unreserved submission: "All the days of my appointment(what he had prayed for in the verse preceding) will I wait until my change t shall come.” And now we have language which seems to mount

• It is the same style of musing query given in Plato, Gorgias, 493, A, by way of extract from a lost drama of Euripides:

Τις δ' οίδεν, ει το ζην μέν έστι κατθανείν,
TO kardaveiv Sov?

Who knows but life, the present life, be death,
And death be living?

Socrates explains it from the saying of the wise men of oud, " that we are now dead and buried in the body." Who shall gay that the same, or a kindred thought, may not have come to an Idumean sage, as well as to the old cobo to whom Plato ascribes it?

† Umbreit and other commentators of the same school will have it that the change hero is that from life to death. The arguments against it are threefold. There is, first, the consistency of the context. Secondly, if 10:57 stood here alone, without any thing to determine it one way or the other, it might be said that in other passages the transition denoted by the root is that of renewal, whenever connected with the idea of life, as in Ps. xc. 3; Ps. cii. 27, where it seems to denoto a now garment for nature, a change of raiment in the sense of renewal. There is, thirdly, the direct use of 9977', tho Hiphil, for reviviscence, in the seventh verse, as applied to the comparison of the tree. Would the noun here, so obviously from it, so soon lose the same idea, and be taken in another directly opposite ? and is there not the strongest critical reason for regarding the use of the noun in ver. 14 as suggested by the parallel thought, ver. 7: “Even as there is hope of a tree that it will germinate again (90577'), 80 also will I wait until my springing forth, my na:577, come." "For Thou wilt call," etc.

to almost full assurance: “For Thou wilt call and I will answer Thee; Thou wilt yearn * towards the work of Thy hands." The darkness soon comes over him again; but these words stand, nevertheless, like the monumental engraving that describes the rapture of the later passage. Even as Ewald describes him then, he seems, for a short period, so carried away by the deep question he is pondering, as to have forgotten the outer world and all his surroundings. “Thou wilt have regard to the work of Thy hands; Thou wilt call and I will answer." It is “the power of an endless life,” carrying him for a moment beyond the thought of death, or suffering, or human injustice. It is, however, but a transient gleam, and the close of the chapter-following, we may suppose, a pause or pauses in his soliloquy-becomes again as mournful as its beginning. One inference most strongly suggests itself from all this. There is a true experience here, an actual life that is lived. A soul went through these sorrows. It had these transitions of hope and despair-now moaning and expostulating with God, now rapt in the deepest meditation, now praying and trusting, now utterly cast down, and now, when “the light is just before darkness,” as Dr. Conant renders xvii. 12, rising suddenly to a height of rapture in which every thing disappears before the beatific vision of God. To a mind in a right state there comes from this an irresistible argument for the actual truthfulness of the history, not only in its general outlines, but also in what has been called its dramatic representation. This is not an invented picture. It would require a power and a style of writing not only unknown to the early world, but surpassing the highest skill of modern fiction, even could we suppose the greatest dramatists of Grecian, German, or English literature capable of describing such a state of soul, or of descending, without divine aid, into the depths of such an experience.

Bidding Farewell to God; this Idea in the Psalms connected with the Temple and Ritual

Worship. In language like this we have quoted from Job and the Psalms, every hope of future being, or of any greater or higher being now connected with the earthly life, is sustained by, and derived from, the idea of God. It is this which gives such a preciousness to everything associated with the divine name. In the Psalms, however, there is a peculiar feature most worthy of note, because leading to a most important inference. In the expression of the glorious divine attributes, and of man's great need of God, their theism is substantially the same with that of Job and the Patriarchs. A new element, however, appears in the passionate language used in respect to the outward divine worship. The occasional feeling of despondency in view of death, as before referred to, is enhanced by the thought of leaving every thing on earth associated with the divine name,—the temple, the sanctuary, the altar, “the courts of Thine house." See the prayer of Hezekiah, Isaiah xxxviii. Similar to this is the longing expressed when circumstances, even in this life, have cut them off from privileges so highly prized: “O when shall I come and appear before the face of God ?” “How lovely are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts! Longs, yea, even faints (100) ansa da) my soul for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry aloud (13374) for the Living God.” Hence that endeared expression 17107° n'a, “the house of the Lord,” used not only for the temple, the place of worship, but for the people of God who worship there. A still further extension of the idea makes it denote the religious as distinguished from the worldly life, or even as something transcending the earthly state, though undefined in time and space. As Ps. xxiii. 4: “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” In that verse our translation may be amended. The words 1717 mia3 now, all belong to the subject of the sentence, as even the accents show : “My dwelling in the House of the Lord-shall be, D'H' 7987, for length of days,” that is, continuously, or without interruption : My religious life shall not be simply on Sabbath-days, or on the stated festivals, but one un

.goon. Primary sense, palluit, the face growing pale, like silver, from strong desire. We have used Dr. Conant's admirable translation, “yearns.” In Ps. Ixxxiv. 3 it is used, together with 7742, to denote the longing of the pious soul for God, and that makes more impressive here the converse idea of God's yearning love for man.

« السابقةمتابعة »