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and laugh the Erudite Neology to scorn. Tell people they have no nature superior in kind to that of the brutes; that there can be no substantial existence apart from the material—that the passage from this world is a hopeless leap in the dark : this amazing “development may induce them to search into their own being—to summon before them the witnesses for the defence; nor is it improbable that, like Socrates of old, they may find in their breasts a Mentor whose tacit counsels are stronger than the roaring words of the multitude. Tell them that the Scriptures are but venerable fables, having no intrinsic authority in faith or duty; that they are destitute of historical evidence, and must always be a source of contradictory teaching : possibly they may hear a dictate not readily silenced urging that there are interests in our mysterious being which the Scriptures alone can reach.

The time we live in is widely accredited as a “New Age." It teems with new discoveries bringing to light records which have long lain hidden in the earth-unknown in its ruins or its crust. Through unwearying toil these relics have been transported to our matchless museums, and through unwearied perseverance they remain no longer an utter enigma. Nor in other matters has there been less advancement. Language, ethnology, astronomy, universal science and art, all bear witness to the marvellous upheaval of a new era of knowledge. The most delicate and beautiful apparatus in aid of scientific research is conveyed to all parts of the earth, and learned men are poring with breathless curiosity over the sacred Book of Nature. Nor have things been stationary as regards the Book of Life. Whoever will turn back to the middle of the last century and trace the movements in the world of religious thought over their whole ground, will hardly be less amazed at the progress of Biblical matters than those of secular importance. The critical study of the Scriptures; the investigation of the religious culture and the customs of the ancient nations introduced into sacred history; the relation between the Mosaic and the Christian Revelations; the concurrent testimony of ecclesiastical documents; the origin and value of the symbols of the early Christians, the medieval ages, and modern times ; the nature of the Prophecies; the authenticity of the Gospels; the position held by the Epistolary Writings; are some of the religious questions which have produced a mass of literature not easily enumerated and involving unspeakable toil in study.

Even the merest scientist is forced to regard the present age as an "advanced” period in social evolution, although he loses much more by his literary chartism than he gains by his scientific progress. What a pyramid of learning is utterly lost to him !

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But how is it with a large portion of the religious world? This is a crucial question, on which a volume of extraordinary evidence might be collected, could it be made the subject of a Royal Commission.

Unfortunately, religious writers of any eminence are committed to theories which often hamper their freedom. Generally speaking, there is something--often not a little—to undo before they can start fair. They are frequently compelled not to be too outspoken. Invisible cords bind them to the general thought of certain associations in which they move; they have to speak and act cautiously, not only on account of their own interests, but also out of a tender regard to long-venerated sentiments. If they are bold intellects, they sometimes make a dash, and carry hosts along with them. Such were some of the Reformers. But Wisdom herself often forbids haste. There are two features of the age which are valuable in different ways—the platform and the press. Public discussion is useful when well conducted. The

press doubtedly still more useful. In debate the temper is too liable to excitement; and there is the temptation to triumph by the arts of rhetoric. The press is a calmer teacher ; it gives more opportunity for individual reflection. In long-cherished opinions, although erroneous, change can rarely be sudden ; and the more it is the slow growth of conviction, battling with many difficulties, the better for all. The arena of fine oratory and dramatic power is not always the best either in politics or religion. People are too ready to be carried away and to let others do for them the toil of thinking.

If we narrow the religious question to the one subject which is continually forcing itself upon Bible students, the truth of our remarks can hardly fail to be striking. The “Second Coming of Christ,” the “Last Judgment,” the “Millennium,” offer a wide field for rival theories and public curiosity.

A critical examination of the various portions of Scripture bearing upon these questions must convince us that the subject has been most imperfectly understood, alike by Jews and Christians. The Prophecies consist of two evidently different planes of expression continually mingled together-one setting forth a great change in the human mind; the other describing by intense imagery some responding change in the aspect of the world. The popular method of explaining the Scriptures—ignoring any other sense than that of the letter, although now and then admitting a figurative meaninghas reduced the inspired imagery to a hard physical application. The seer, rapt in vision, is rudely interpreted as contemplating objects of sense. Thus the essential feature of his inspired communicationthe great change in the human mind and character—has been thrown


into the background, and almost lost sight of; whilst we have had vividly displayed, in copious paraphrase, pictures of startling events which should suddenly burst upon the world with appalling grandeur, transforming as in a dream the entire condition of the universe. Christ is to be literally revealed in fire, attended by countless angels with trumpets; the bodies of all who have ever lived are to be instantly resuscitated from land and sea; the judgment is to be executed in physical pomp and terror; and the earth in some way recreated, its whole surface converted into a new Garden of Eden. Then the Messiah is to reign in person on the throne of David, all men being converted and beatified by an omnipotent diffusion of grace. What is to follow is left to the imagination. Whether the world is any longer to subserve the uses for which it was originally created—the birth and education of the human race; or whether it is to remain somehow miraculously stereotyped—everything in a sort of crystallized preservation, no one having anything to learn or anything to do, but to exist in a sort of immortal reverie : all this is adroitly left to puzzle those who happen to trouble themselves by thinking about it; nor is it easy to quiet curiosity in such reflections.

In this dilemma, suppose we take up the prophet Isaiah. Whatever estimate may be formed of the Scriptures, Isaiah can never cease to be a household book to a literary age. He is still the glory of the Jew, whose unbelief he chides ; still the pride of the Christian, whose chief errors he reproves. How grand is the argument of the prophet ! Jehovah coming down to a benighted world—not in the awe of Majesty, but as the Great Shepherd--the Restorer of mankind to Righteousness and Truth—the Founder of a new empire of Innocence and Peace! The picture has no rival in sublimity or pathos. It has aroused the sceptic from his sleep; it has won the admiration of the critic; it has entranced the poet. Shelley, with all his repugnance to religion, made Isaiah a favourite study. Pope in all the freshness of youth gave to the world his eclogue, “The Messiah,” studded with gems from the sacred roll. I marvel that this noble poem is not oftener cited. The following passages—the principal portion-enable me to display in the margin the texts which chiefly supplied the poet with his glowing numbers :

Rapt into future times, the bard begun,
A Virgin shall conceive, a Virgin bear a Son !

Isa. vii. 4.
From Jesse's root behold a branch arise,

xi. 1, 2. Whose sacred flower with fragrance fills the skies;

lxi. 1.
The ethereal spirit o'er its leaves shall move,
And on its top descend the mystic Dove.

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Xxxv. 6.

lx. 20.

xl. 11.

The dumb shall sing, the lame his crutch forego,
And leap exulting like the bounding roe,
No sigh, no murmur, the wide world shall hear;
From every face He wipes off every tear ;
In adamantine chains shall death be bound,
And hell's grim tyrant feel the eternal wound.
As the good shepherd tends his fleecy care,
Seeks freshest pasture and the purest air,
Explores the lost, the wandering sheep directs,
By day o'ersees them, and by night protects,
The tender lambs he raises in his arms,
Feeds from his hands, and in his bosom warms,
Thus shall mankind His guardian care engage,
The promised Father of the future age.
No more shall nation against nation rise,
Nor ardent warriors meet with hateful eyes,
Nor fields with gleaming steel be covered o'er,
The brazen trumpets kindle rage no more ;
But useless lances into scythes shall bend,
And the broad falchion in a ploughshare end.

lxiii. 16.
ii. 4.

xxxv. 6, 7. xli. 18, 19. xii. 2.

The swain, in barren deserts, with surprise
Sees lilies spring, and sudden verdure rise,
And starts amid the thirsty wilds to hear
New falls of water murmuring in his ear.
On rifted rocks, the dragon's late abodes,
The green reed trembles, and the bulrush nods.
Waste sandy valleys, once perplexed with thorn,

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The analysis of the passages presented in the margin will open out the whole subject of the argument from Scripture. This we hope to accomplish in our next paper.




PERHAPS there is no form of mental exercise whose charms are more seductive or swifter in their victory than are those of vaticination. This word, mellifluous though it be, is the more beautiful for its ambiguity. Does it mean prediction or prophecy? In truth it has two branches : as prediction it encourages each vates, every man who finds it easier to describe the non-existent than the actual, as it is easier to depict a dragon than a dog, to collect phenomena, many or few, a single appearance is often sufficient, and then on this basis of fact or fancied fact to erect a superstructure, gloomy or grand, according to the taste and temper of the vaticinator. Mere prediction is the result when even existent fucts are the foundation.

By Horace Field, B.A. C. Kegan Paul & Co., 1 Paternoster Square, London.


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