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first place among human blessings. I do not only speak of christian learning but of profane, which common Christians, from a misguided judgment, hold in contempt as insidious, dangerous and withdrawing the affections from God."* So thought the reformers, especially Luther. His testimony is very emphatic. He says: “ If by our fault we lose the learned languages by neglect, we shall lose the gospel.t Divine wisdom has revived classical learning for the sake of restoring the gospel, which soon after arose from its ashes, and in this way overthrew the tyranny of papacy. For the same reason Greece is subjected to the Turks, that the exiled Greeks, dispersed through all nations, should carry with them the Greek language, and thus give others an opportunity of learning it. From this we infer, that we shall never preserve the gospel unless by the aid of the languages."I It would be difficult to make a selection from the passages in Luther's works, all having the same sentiment. Similar were the sentiments of Melancthon and the earlier German theologians, though some of them have been falsely accused of decrying human learning. Melancthon remarks : “An unlearned theology is altogether an ILIAD of evils. For it is an ill-digested system, in which points of great moment are not fully explained, those are confounded which should be kept distinct, and again those are put asunder, which nature requires to be united. Such a system cannot but produce infinite errors, and endless divisions, because in such a want of arrangement, one understands one thing, and another another, and while each one defends his own fancy, divisions and contentions arise."'$ How
seerns to have understood it the best.-See Gesen. Geschichte der Hebraischen Sprache, p. 91.
* Orat. XXX. Tom. II. p. 496.
+ " Si culpa nostra commiserimus, ut linguas eruditas neglectas amittamus, Evangelium amittemus."
" Nos evangelium nunquam retenturos esse, nisi fiat linguarum auxilio."
§ “Omnino Ilias malorum est inerudita Theologia. Est enim confusanea doctrina in qua magnae res non explicantur diserte, miscentur ea, quae oportebat sejungi, rursus illa, quae natura conjungi postulat distrahuntur. Talis doctrina non potest non gignere infinitos errores, infinitam dissipationem, quia in tanta confusione alius aliud intelligit et dum suum quisque sompium defendit, existunt certamina et dissensiones."— Tom. I. p. 329.
faithful a picture of many systems of theology, not guarded and secured by scientific arrangement and therefore not proof against fatal attacks ! Spener, one of the revivers of evangelical religion in Germany, observes : “I know not any one of all human studies, in ali departments of learning, which may not in its proper place become of real use to a student, if it is pursued without neglecting what is essential and if rightly applied.” Again, Spener says: “I wish all students were not only more pious, but more learned ; and on that account of those who are pious, the more learned is always the more acceptable. A christian student prays as earnestly for divine illumination, as if he required no diligence of his own; but he studies also with the same diligence as if his labors were to effect every thing. For it were a presumption and tempting of God only to pray and then to await the divine illumination without one's own exertions.” Calvin well remarks : “ Scientia tamen nihil propterea quod inilat magis vituperanda est quam gladius si in manus furiosi incidat.” – Learning is no more to be blamed for puffing up, than a sword, which falls into the hands of a madman.
But not to multiply witnesses -- all the reformers felt that even profane learning was from God, and to be applied to his glory. The study of the classics familiarizes us with the spirit of antiquity, and thus assists us in the interpretation of the sacred Scriptures. Whatever calls off our minds from the present, and carries us back to the past, contributes to our right understanding of the spirit of the ancient world. As it is, we are so far separated from it, that we forget that the ancients were men of like passions with us, having the same joys and griefs.
We need to live intellectually in the ancient world if we would imbibe its spirit. We must temporarily adopt their notions, their modes of thinking, feeling and expression. Their ways of life, their household, every day habits must become familiar to us. We must put ourselves in their situation and not look at them through the spectacles of our own peculiarities. This indeed requires a peculiar promptness and flexibility of mental habits, but it is also in a very considerable degree the result of long continued study. The difficulty of transferring ourselves to the past is increased in proportion the further we go back. Thus it is more difficult to drink in the spirit of the Pentateuch, composed in the very infancy and morning freshness of the world, than that of Homer. The study of the latter, however, throws great light upon the former. Homer undoubtedly lived in Asia Minor and under a similar climate with Palestine. This proximity of country would naturally lead to similarity of language, and above all to analogy in thought and expression. There is a sameness in human nature every where under the same degree of culture. Greater benefit may therefore be derived from a study of the Greek, than of the Latin classics. They are the more ancient, and their climate was more similar.
Homer was in fact the secular Bible of mankind for many ages. It has been well said by one highly competent to judge: “ The Old Testament and the Iliad reflect light mutually, each on the other, and both in respect of poetry and morals, it may with great truth be said that he who has the longest studied, and the most deeply imbibed the spirit of the Hebrew Bible will the best understand, and the most lastingly appreciate the tale of Troy divine."* We are continually struck in reading Homer with the similarity of manners and spirit, and parallelisms of language that constantly occur.
To hold communion with the past, we must live not only intellectually, but as it were physically in a foreign clime. To understand the Scriptures we must live under the burning sun of Palestine. Another heavens must be over our head; another earth beneath our feet. We must live amidst its winter torrents, and its summer brooks — its deep ravines and its extensive caves we must look upon its barren fig trees, its olives, its cedars — the glory of Lebanon, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon. In a word we must be familiar with the objects, which suggested the pictures and imagery of Scripture, if we would think over the same thoughts with its writers and feel again their feelings.
The study of the classics materially assists in the interpretation of the Scriptures. As the same principles of interpretation are applicable to both, he will be, caeteris paribus, the best interpreter who has been accustomed to interpret the classics. The habits he has formed are just the habits which are needed for an interpreter of Scripture. Origen among the fathers strongly recommended the classics as an excellent preparatory discipline to the study of the Scriptures ; for errors in their interpretation, which the tyro at first would naturally make, would be less dangerous. The greatest masters of interpretation have at
* H. N. Coleridge's Introduction to the Greek Classic Poets, p. 74,– a book worthy of all praise.
all times concurred in this opinion of the importance of the study of the classics—and one's habits of interpretation strengthen the judgment, give it acumen and a discrimination of things that differ. Perhaps no faculty is more susceptible of cultivation. Hence the great advantage of the study of the classics in early life. The habit of weighing and balancing evidence for or against a particular interpretation gives acuteness to the judgment even in moral decisions.
And here we might remark that the Greek classics are particularly interesting as written in the language of the New Testament. We are aware there is a difference in the idiom, the mould in which they are cast, and even in the signification of individual words. But still no one will deny that we could not dispense with classical Greek in the interpretation of the New Testament. Luther's prediction, we doubt not, is substantially true that if Greek is lost, we shall lose the Gospel. Translations would soon become obsolete, the streams would become more and more impure the further from the fountain head, and that too without remedy, or with any means of purifying them. Like the schoolmen, theologians would resort to fanciful, allegorical expositions, to subtleties, to endless quibbles, and gross darkness would brood over the world.
The study of the classics has a well nigh marvellous effect in refining the taste, and quickening the sense of the beautiful. Now as so much of the Bible is poetry, how important that we should be conversant with the best ancient poets ! Though the language is different, yet it admits of illustration and comparison from the classic poets. We have but to turn to Lowth, Knapp and Grotius to see how much may be borrowed from the classics to illustrate the Scriptures. The poetry of all nations has many points in common; though it may differ in imagery and costume. In all alike, it is the language of excited feeling, and differs in the language of ordinary life not only in diction, but in the predominance of the imagination and fancy. If this is so, the poetry of one nation may be illustrated from the universal poetic language of others. Much of the Bible is in poetry for the sake of making a deeper impression than a dry didactic manner. He, who knew all the avenues to the human heart, for he made it, has presented truth in such a way as to interest his intelligent creatures.
He who is absolute master of this poetic language, wields a powerful instrument of persuasion. We have barely alluded to Vol. XI. No. 29.
the effects of the study of the classics upon the style. Paradoxical as it may first appear, they bring us back to the simplicity of nature, give us a distaste for false ornaments, the dulcia vitia, which so often mislead the tyro and render our language better adapted to the comprehension of the uneducated. Their noblest works are continually warning us to be simple. Cicero says,
“ In dicendo vitium vel maximum esse a vulgari genere orationis, atque a consuetudine communis sensus abhorre.” If we follow such guides we cannot easily go wrong, or fall into dangerous errors of style.*
We are sorry the classics have lost their ancient appellation of the humanities, such is their effect in humanizing man, that they preëminently deserve this title. The orations found in the Greek classics form the best model for the preacher. With one consent both antiquity and modern times have pronounced them the models which approach nearest perfection. They have gained the universal suffrage of all times and ages. They have reached the summit of well-nigh unattainable perfection, and are now gazed at afar off. We hesitate not to say, that if the orations of Demosthenes were critically, and aesthetically studied, they would go very far in giving the student a taste for real simplicity, they would cure him of the vulgar appetite for tropes and metaphors and flowers ; of seeking ornaments for their own sake ; of going out of his way for flowers, instead of plucking them if found in his path. We speak that we do know, and testify that we have tried, that the faithful, oftreviewed study of one of Demosthenes's orations — that De Coronâ for instance - would do more to give the student right apprehensions of true eloquence, than the study of all the works in rhetoric in our language. The student who has never read his orations will be astonished, as Rheinhard was, at his naturalness, his simplicity and want of affectation and ornament. He was the model Rheinhard followed, and we would hold him up to the theological student as a safe one. Could his style of argument and warmth be copied, its success would be infallible over a modern audience. The style of no orator of antiquity could be so safely copied in the pulpit. We almost wish,
* " Tanquam scopulum sic vites insolens verbum,” said Caesar. – We need not refer to the numerous rules of the same nature to be found in that most invaluable compend of rhetoric, Horace's Ars Poetica.