Abbildungen der Seite

spiritual excellence-the popular misapprehensions.* But so far from regarding this as an imperfection in his ministry, or a reflection on his character, we rather view it as a necessary condition of his deep moral influence on those whom he came specially to serve—the great mass of weak, ignorant, sinful, and suffering men. Had he stood very far above them in the endowments of intellect and science, he would have wanted a living access to their souls. There would have been no spiritual sympathy between them. He is the religious, not the philosophic, examplar of our race. His life so sublimely simple rebukes the pride and pretension of worldly wisdom, and reveals to the human mind the secret of its inward worth and glory. To all ages he stands out from that lovely portraiture of the Gospels, as the guide and comforter and friend of all humble and faithful souls who keep true to their consciences and earnestly work out the moral ends of their being. In all its relations to God and duty and immortality, he is the Ideal of humanity. As it has been finely said, 'he is the possibility of our race made real.' The power of his example, in this respect, would have been impaired, had he been more of the sage, the politician, or the legislator. Now it is the beauty and perfection of simple manhood which attracts and captivates us. We cannot now impute his wonderful influence over all pure and tender hearts, to any gifts or powers or opportunities which all, in their measure, do not equally possess. He is not thrown to a distance from the humblest humanity, but brought down into close and loving intimacy with it: and for an explanation of that divinity in his life and spirit, which every one who reads must feel, we now look-not to talents and endowments which are the prerogative of only a few—but to those secret sources of communion which he habitually enjoyed with the Father, and which through all time stand open for like intercourse to human beings of every condition who go up in his spirit to seek them.

Goethe has somewhere remarked, that in every line of human activity one mind reaches at length the highest point of excellence, which is not henceforth to be surpassed. New lines of activity may be opened, for the resources of the human spirit are exhaustless; but in that particular direction, the culminating phenomenon endures as a standard of perfection and a model for future aspirations. There has been, for example-perhaps there can be-only one Homer, one Dante, one Raphael, one Shakspeare, one Beethoven. May we not on like grounds affirm, that there has been, and can be, only one Christ? All the conditions of excellence in the relations of the human with the divine -in what is purely moral and spiritual—were fulfilled in him. It might be expected, that there should at length arise a model for our humanity as such ; and the necessities of the case required, that it should appear early in the course of human development. We cannot better express our meaning than in the forcible language of Mr. Greg bimself : “ Such a one we believe was Jesus of Nazareth —the most exalted religious genius whom God ever sent upon the earth; in himself an embodied revelation; humanity in its divinest phase God manifest in the flesh,' according to Eastern hyperbole; an examplar vouchsafed in an early age of the world, of what man may and should become, in the course of ages, in his progress towards the realisation of his destiny."-P. 233.

* We hold it certain, if words are to be taken in their fair grammatical interpretation, that Christ believed in demoniacal possession, and thought the present constitution of our planet would be dissolved within the existing generation.-Matt. xxiv. 34; Mark xiii. 30; Luke xxi. 32.

We have expressed our regret, that in this work the religious element has not been singled out and defined with sufficient clearness and consistency amidst the other constituents of human nature, and that the character of the prophet, as distinct from the philosopher, is nowhere set before us with the prominence which the importance of the distinction deserves. Wethink it another deficiency, that the author has failed to notice, with due emphasis, in regard to religious susceptibility, the idiosyncrasy of race. There is no more significant phenomenon in history, or one that to us more clearly indicates the grand progressive design of providence, than the close and ever-deepening connection of the prophetic faculty among the ancient Hebrews, with the belief —not simply in one Supreme God—but in his spirituality, in his incapacity of corporeal representation, and in his constant inspection and control of the moral relations of the world. We seem to recognise in this fact, the peculiar function assigned to the Hebrew people in the progressive development of the human race. It is a function that has been performed by no other people. We owe our art and our poetry to the Greeks; our law and our forms of civil polity, to the Romans; the rudiments of our industrial and commercial life, to nations more ancient still, the Phænicians and Egyptians, perhaps the Bactrians and Indians. But the elements of spiritual culture have been infused into the great tide of human thought, from the prophetic mind of Palestine. By the binding and conciliatory influence of Christianity, the Hebrew and the Hellenic minds were brought into permanent union; and these two great mental influences running through history with mutual re-action, from the days when the old heathenism began to decline, form as it were the factors of the vast social process, of which we possess the accumulating product in our modern civilisation. Now this is a phenomenon which Mr. Greg cannot have overlooked; and if it had arrested his attention, to the extent that it deserved, we know of no one whose habits of mind and favourite studies would have enabled him to place it in a clearer light or unfold with more effect the rich suggestions which it yields. But we have constantly felt in reading his work, that the thought we have just indicated, was not sufficiently present to him in the course of his inquiries; and that its absence has indisposed him to look at the history of the Hebrews from the true point of view, and to appreciate adequately the remarkable influences under which their literature grew up, and which have impressed it with a character so peculiarly its own.

Critical duty compels us to notice a few cases in which Mr. Greg seems to us either inaccurate in his statements or hasty in his conclusions. That Christ should have superseded in several instances the authority of Moses, does not imply—as the author appears to intimate, p. 11 —that he did not regard him as the bearer of direct commands from God. The judgment of Mr. Norton* on this particular point is not entitled to the weight assigned to it, for it forms a link in the chain of reasonings by which that very learned writer endeavours to make outand we think successfully—that Moses was not the author of the Pentateuch-coupled with another, very untenable, position, that our Saviour could not be mistaken on matters of popular opinion, and that the notions of inspiration and prophetic authority entertained by a Palestinian Jew of that age, were like those which have been technically defined by our modern theology.-Again, it is far too broadly asserted in pp. 32 and 33, that the belief of all Christians at the present day adopts the whole of the Old Testament as a literal and veracious history.' With thoughtful believers we are persuaded, that it has long been, and is increasingly, otherwise. Mr. Greg sometimes argues, as if the old orthodox view were the only view, and does the Scriptures the injustice of applying to them a principle of interpretation which even a cursory inspection of their contents would prove, that they themselves neither demand nor admit. The unqualified way in which he expresses himself, would almost lead the reader to conclude, what we are convinced is not the fact—that he does not himself recognise in the Hebrew Scriptures a deep pervading sense, which leaves them if not a dogmatic, a high religious, value.

* In the dissertation on the Pentateuch appended to his work on the Genuineness of the Gospels,' referred to in note 1. p. 12.

We are told, p. 36, that 'the discovery in the Temple of the book of the Law, in the reign of the King Josiah-is the first certain trace of the existence of the Pentateuch in its present form.' We believe, that the author has here stated the substantial truth; but considering that the question is still sub judice, even among learned men, it would have been well, if he had worded it in a form less positive and categorical; and he should have met the objection that might be brought against his view, from the references to the book of the law,' 'the book of the law of Moses,' and 'the book of the law of God,' which occur in Joshua, i. 8, viii. 31, and xxiv. 26.

The author gives the following account of the origin of the four first books of the Pentateuch, pp. 38, 39:

Scientific investigation,” he says, “has succeeded in making it quite clear, not only that they were written long after the time of Moses, but that they are a compilation from, or rather an imperfect fusion of, two principal original documents, easily distinguishable throughout to those accustomed to this species of research, and

appearing to have been a sort of legendary or traditionary histories current among the earlier Hebrews. These two documents (or classes of documents) are called the Elohistic and Jehovistic, from the different Hebrew names they employ in speaking of the Supreme Being ;—the one using habitually the word ELOHIM, which our translation renders God, but which, being plural in the original, would be more correctly rendered The Gods ;-the other using the word JEHOVAH, or JEHOVAH ELOHIM, The God of Gods,-rendered in our translation THE LORD God."

Now, it is quite true, that a careful analysis of these books has shown, that they are compounded to a large extent of separate, independent documents; and that these documents can be traced and distinguished through a great part of Genesis, and in some degree, though less clearly, through Exodus also, by the use of different names for God. In Leviticus and Numbers, although equally fragmentary in their composition, this clew of discrimination no longer serves, and other tests have to be applied. But our author's description of this important critical fact is greatly wanting in the necessary precision and accuracy. It would certainly lead the ordinary reader to infer, that the Elohistic and Jehovistic documents (if we may so term them) ran clearly and distinguishably through all the four books, and marked their character from beginning to end-a conclusion that would be far beyond the truth, and actually at variance with the phenomena observed. In regard to the word Elohim, Mr. Greg has unwarrantably deduced the use from the form. It may be a reasonable question, whether the name did not originate among a people of polytheistic worship; but, as it is 'employed in the extant literature of the Hebrews, to denote their national deity,—its force is notoriously singular, and it is constantly found with singular predicates and attributes. Jehovah Elohim is not correctly translated, as our author has ventured to render it-by God of Gods. Elohim, God, is the generic expression for deity; Jehovah is the national appellation : as among the Greeks, we often find the general name of a god qualified by some epithet that marks local or historical peculiarity. Jehovah God is the proper translation. When the form, God of Gods, occurs in the Hebrew Scriptures, it always consists, so far as we have noticed, of the same term re

« ZurückWeiter »