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God. But I consider the language of the Bible as decidedly the most just and philosophical. Natural events, as they are called, are no less God's doing than supernatural ones. They are only less striking, less powerful in their effect upon our imaginations. But when they are of a striking and peculiar character, what impropriety is there in speaking of them as God's acts? If the east wind did cause the waters of the Red Sea to subside, so that the Israelites passed over the head of that deep bay without being incommoded, who made it to blow? And who, by changing the direction of the wind, brought back the waters, and overwhelmed the Egyptians ? Was this preservation of one party and destruction of the other any less the act of God, because he used the instrumentality of a natural cause, the wind, to effect it? Surely not. And so of all other interpositions of Providence recorded in the Bible. Some of them may have been produced through the agency of nature, as it is called, but there are others which are unequivocally miraculous; and it is no less natural than it is proper, to speak of all the acts of God, and to acknowledge his power, as the disposer of events, in all that happens in the world.” – pp. 49, 50.
This is an important view of divine agency, including all that can be known concerning it; removing any seeming imputations derogatory to God's perfect attributes, without lessening our faith in his almighty power, or our reverence for its beneficent exercise.
The author's remarks on the writings of Moses and on the historical, prophetic, and poetical books of the Old Testament, are,' in our opinion, remarkably well suited to his purpose, to the preparation of the youthful mind and heart for an intelligent perusal of the Hebrew Scriptures, and a tender interest in their contents.
Not less discriminating are the author's remarks on the writings of the New Testament. But we have not left ourselves space enough to exemplify this by extracts from the volume. The following explanation of Christ's rejection by the Jews, his own countrymen, to whom his ministry was devoted, is marked by the clearness of thought and simplicity of style, which pervade the whole book.
66 There are many passages in the prophets which were supposed by the Jews to describe the glory of the Messiah's kingdom in such terms, as if taken by themselves might, without violence, be understood to refer to temporal splendor. Annoyed and oppressed as they had been for many ages, it is not surprising that they should have so interpreted such passages; nor that, as generation after generation passed away, their expectation and hope of such a political saviour should have become more and more ardent, till they reached an intensity of fervor. It would be considered at once a political and a religious duty to believe in the coming of one, who was to relieve them from all their distresses, and guide them to a condition the very reverse of that which they actually occupied. How was the Messiah to resemble Moses, if he did not liberate them from bondage, if he did not establish them in independence, and make other nations serve them?
“This must be fully understood and appreciated, in order that we may at all comprehend the extraordinary fury exhibited by the Jews against Jesus Christ. What was there in his character, or conduct, to excite such deadly hatred ? How could any body so persecute the mildest, kindest, and purest being ever seen on earth, one who went about doing good, injuring none — even of those who would have stoned him, and who did, at last, kill him with torture and ignominy, — who spake as never man spake, and whose miracles were uniformly for the most beneficent purposes?
“ Such a feeling is not only shocking, but it is out of nature; it is not to be accounted for on any other principle, than that it was the outbreak of their sudden and terrible disappointment. Here was a man whom many began to think must be the Messiah, from the miracles they saw him perform ; and what does he do? Instead of raising his. standard and beginning a rebellion, or, like Moses, performing miracles for the liberation of his countrymen, he goes about preaching peace, humility, and forgiveness of injuries, the very reverse of the proud and military spirit, which they had secretly nourished in the midst of all their humiliation and subjection. The miracles he performed, if they did not convince them that he was the Messiah, as was sometimes the case, only provoked them to anger and violence. They were either ready to seize him by force, and compel him to act as they supposed the Messiah ought to act, or else they would beseech him to depart out of their coasts, and relieve them from all controversy about claims they would not admit, and could not deny.” — pp. 189 - 191.
Though “ this little tract,” as the author tells us, was written for his children, and is published for the use of young persons, all who revere the Bible, as containing the records of divine truth, will find much in it to guide their thoughts and warm their religious affections. To young persons, especially, would we commend it as a gift from a father to his children, pertaining to truths which, of all things, it becomes them most to learn and reverence. Teachers of Sunday Schools, and their pupils, will find it a valuable accession to their libraries and class books; and, as the author has inscribed it to his own children, we, by such authority as may be conceded to us, would dedicate it to the higher classes of youth who assemble on the Lord's day, for special instruction in sacred truth and religious duty.
In the last number, p. 320, for Genoa read Geneva ; and for naturalism read materialism.
CICERO ON THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL.
[From the Tusculan Questions.]
[We offer in the present number, - to be completed in a succeeding one,-a new translation of the first of the Tusculan Questions “ De contemnenda morte.” It is offered not so much in the character of a translation, as that of an argument for revelation. To many of our readers it is already a familiar treatise, to many, however, it probably is not so, and they may be glad to see how a Roman like Cicero wrote and reasoned upon one of the most interesting subjects of human investigation. Upon reading it they will feel, we think, that the vast superiority in thought and argument of any Christian of the present day, on the subject of a future existence, to one of the master minds of antiquity, is not easily susceptible of an explanation, except through the light which revelation has poured into the humblest mind. In a treatise like this, we obtain a just notion of what the unaided mind of man can do, under the most favorable circumstances, toward constructing a religion for itself. “Here," observes the translator, “is the natural religion of the human soul; and we must look back of revealed religion for this. We, at this day, cannot have a natural religion; for we cannot help ourselves from using the aids revelation has given us. To know what the human soul can do for itself, we must ask the heathen philosophers. Besides it seemed necessary that the want of more light should be felt before it could well be given. The human mind had tried every expedient to solve the great mystery of being. It had plumed itself to fly to heaven, and would have mounted in its hopes to a higher and better sphere; but it was in vain; all was unsatisfactory, and it was obliged to confess its need, when God sent his Son to tell us why we were born, and what is the ultimate destiny of this mysterious soul.
66 The argument of Cicero must be read, as a cry to heaven for light and guidance; as a confession of human weakness and want. Only in this way can it be understood. The argument is not conclusive. It could not be so. Had it been, what necessity for a revelation ? It is a proof of that necessity from its very incompleteness; and herein lies its great VOL. XXXIII. — 30 s. VOL. XV. NO. II.
value. The etymological critic may point out fifty errors in this attempt to serve the want of many minds, but perhaps not one of them would affect the force of the general argument. It is not offered to a college of professors, but to the inquiring minds of the People."]
I. When at length, O Brutus, I was altogether, or in great part, freed from the labor of pleading causes and my duties as Senator, I returned, chiefly by your influence, to those studies which were retained in my mind, even when interrupted by the state of the times, and which I have now recalled after a long interval. And since the theory and method of all the arts, which relate to a right course of life, are contained in that system of wisdom, called Philosophy, I have thought that I ought to treat of this subject in Latin. Not because Philosophy cannot be understood from Greek books and teachers ; but it has ever been my opinion that our countrymen, without assistance, have investigated all subjects, to which they have given their attention, with more wisdom than the Greeks, and that even what has been received from them has been made better, when it seemed worthy the pains. For we give more heed to the customs and rules of life than they do, and arrange with more elegance our common and domestic concerns; and certainly our ancestors excelled them in the institutions and laws by which they administered the public affairs. Why should I speak of the art of war? in which if our countrymen have succeeded much by their courage, they have done still more by their skill; while in regard to those things which are obtained from nature, not books, they will not suffer in comparison with the Greeks, or any other nation. What people ever possessed such dignity, firmness, magnanimity, honesty, and fidelity, — such excellence in every form of virtue, that they could be compared with our ancestors ? Greece excelled us in learning and every species of literature ; in which conquest was easy, for we did not contend with her. For whilst, among the Greeks, the most ancient of their learned men were poets, as Homer and Hesiod, who flourished before the founding of Rome, and Archilochus, who lived in the reign of Romulus, we turned our attention to poetry at a later period; for it was nearly five hundred and ten years after the building of the city, that Livius brought out a play, (Caius Claudius, the son of Cæcus, and Marcus Tuditanus being consuls,) one year before the birth of Ennius, who preceded both Plautus and Nævius.
II. It was at a comparatively late period in our bistory, before poets were known and received by us; although it is mentioned in the Origines, that it was the custom at banquets for the guests to sing songs, to the accompaniment of a piper, in honor of the deeds of distinguished men. Nevertheless honor was not shown to poets as a class, as the speech of Cato shows, in which he casts it as a reproach upon Marcus Nobilior, that he carried poets with him into his province. We know that when he went as Consul into Ætolia, he took Ennius with him. The less therefore the poets were honored, so much the less zeal had they in their pursuits. Nor yet did they, who possessed great genius for the art, fail to approach sufficiently near the glory of the Greeks.
Must we not think, then, that if praise had been bestowed upon Fabius, a nobleman, for painting, there would have been amongst us many a Polycletus and Parrhasius ? Praise cherishes the arts; and all are incited to such pursuits by desire for glory. Those arts always languish which are held in general disesteem. The Greeks thought it the highest exercise of talent to sing songs to the accompaniment of stringed instruments. Hence Epaminondas, the first of the Greeks, in my opinion, is said to have accompanied himself with eminent skill upon stringed instruments; and when Themistocles, some years after, refused to play upon the lyre, he was esteemed uneducated. Musicians therefore flourished in Greece, all learned music, nor was any one esteemed fully educated who was ignorant of the art. Geometry also was held by them in the highest honor; therefore nothing rendered a man more distinguished than skill in mathematics. But we confined the application of this art to purposes of measuring and calculations.
III. On the other hand, we quickly took up the Orator; not at first the learned orator, but the ready speaker ; learning, however, came afterwards ; for it is handed down that Galba, Africanus, Lælius were learned. Cato, however, who preceded them, was studious, and after him Lepidus, Carbo, and the Graccbi; and then so many who have been distinguished down to our own time, that we have little if anything to yield to the Greeks in this respect. Philosophy has languished even to this time, nor has Latin literature thrown any light upon it; which subject therefore I would attempt to illustrate and to excite an interest in, so that if, in busy life, I have been of any service to my countrymen, in my leisure, also, I may do them some good, if I