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materials are brought from this quarter and from that, according as nature and man favour their production, so did the wisdom of God, with slow but ever-sure device, cause to ripen, amidst the several races best adapted for the work, the several component parts of the noble fabric of a Christian manhood and a Christian civilisation. “The kings of Tharsis and of the isles shall give presents, the kings of Arabia and Saba shall bring gifts.' Every worker was, with or without his knowledge and his will, to contribute to the work. And among them an appropriate part was thus assigned both to the Greek people and to what I have termed the Olympian religion.”
Now we are quite willing and anxious to believe that neither Mr. Gladstone nor his predecessor in these speculations, to use the common phrase, meant any harm. But we cannot help thinking that their notions are mistaken, and calculated to mislead. We have no objection to admit that, in a certain sense, the history of the race of Adam was but a long and varied but incessant preparation for the Advent, but we doubt whether we do so in the sense in which Mr. Gladstone holds it. If his notion is, that just as God had at one period looked down upon the earth, and beheld “that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually," and had therefore visited it in sore wrath and heavy judgment,--and that so also at a later period, in the fulness of time, but upon this occasion in mercy, He had once more visited it, after that for centuries He had given men up to a reprobate mind to do things which were not convenient,—and that the Greeks were a most conspicuous instance of all the vileness of which the Apostle speaks: then, if the crisis of a disorder be the proper time to apply a heroic remedy, we have no quarrel with Mr. Gladstone; for such was the fact.
If, again, after men had for centuries departed away from God, and the further they had wandered the more "vain" they had become “in their imaginations, and their foolish hearts had been darkened, and professing themselves to be wise they had become fools,” and they were in this extremity of their folly qualified for the reception of the wisdom of God: then, again, we and Mr. Gladstone are at one.
But we do not think that this is his meaning; and at any rate he has not clearly so stated it. We rather suppose him to hold that, just as the Jew had his acknowledged place in the providential order of the world, so also had the Greek and the Roman; we might add, so have also the Hindoo and the Chinese their allotted place. And if we admitted his statement without qualification and reserve, we should be tempted to suppose that, in the case of the Greeks, their Olympian religion conduced somehow or another to a
preparation for Christianity. To this we totally demar. We may grant for the moment, if Mr. Gladstone will so have it, that it was “one of the topmost achievements of the human mind,” that a magic charm is thrown around it which can exercise fascination over great minds; but the effect it produces on us is simply, that St. Paul was right when he said that “the world by wisdom knew not God." Nor do we well see how it could be otherwise in a religion which produced holiness" by lowering the Divine element,"—which "made Divinity attain. able” by bringing God down in His attributes nearer to man, —which “ failed grossly in the government of the passions and in upholding the standard of moral duties,”—and which, what. ever influence it had in the formation of philosophy, literature, and art, so deteriorated from itself that it could not hold its own against its own creations, still less against the first introduction of light into its darkness. One thing at any rate is very clear, that such religion is the exact antithesis of what God revealed even under the Jewish dispensation, and still more fully afterwards. If also not to know God is a preparation for Christianity, then was the teaching of the Olympian religion a preparation for Christianity. To our apprehension, there is a much more suitable explanation of this Olympian religion, and one much more conformable to revelation. We can see, in the good abiding in it, to which Mr. Gladstone does ample justice, and in the evil which he recog. nizes, symptoms of that confused tradition of original truth which man, in a blurred and to himself often unintelligible form, had still managed to retain. We do not hold that the Olympian religion was an achievement of the human mind absolutely; we think Mr. Gladstone nearer the truth when (p. 288) he suggests that the “Hellenic portion of the Aryan family bad for a time preserved to itself in broad outline no small share of those treasures of which the Semitic family of Abraham were to be the appointed guardians on behalf of all mankind till the fulness of time should come,”—and a sorry use they made of them. The exchange which Glaucus made with Diomed was a faint type of the folly which bartered away the relics of primeval truth for the dreams of distempered imaginations and of debasing fancies, which were assimilated to the original creed, and eventually deprived the Greek religion of every trace that it had ever had a Divine element in it.
As it was with the doctrine, so was it with the practice. In the Homeric times, that is, in the period when all trace of primeval truth had not yet been wholly obliterated from men's minds, we discover what were, when compared with later periods of Grecian history, times of comparative innocence and holiness. Some of the foulest crimes which wrought havoc in
Greece afterwards, had apparently no existence; humanity, even in the matter of bloodshed, flourished as contrasted with the horrible scenes depicted in Thucydides, and, as Mr. Gladstone remarks (p. 395), the extremest forms of human depravity (all of which ran riot in later times) were unknown to the practice of the Greeks in the Homeric age. As time rolled on, we may fairly say that gods and men were involved in one common cataclysm of depravity; and that it was in this extremity, when human wickedness had culminated, and religion had become the laughing-stock of its worshippers, and had utterly lost the “considerable moral force” which it had in the days of Homer, it was then that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.
We are not over much disposed to praise former times, and to assert that they were better than the later; it would indeed be a very hard thing if man collectively, as man individually, should be unable to learn something from experience; but still, if by “ Juventus Mundi” we are to understand a period in which was the germ of goodness and holiness and wisdom, and from which blessing flowed, and a way was made for the coming of the Lord, we fail to discover it; the last days of Greek religion and Greek morality were worse than the first days, simply, we think, because man had wandered further from God, and it was needful that the Good Shepherd should go forth to rescue those whose feet were stumbling on the dark mountains. . Whatever other might have been the results to Greece of the Olympian religion, it had only produced, in its own proper province, superstition and unbelief, and the most foul and revolting wickedness had flourished in connexion with it, and sheltered under its example. The concluding chapter of Bishop Thirlwall's History of Greece bears strong testimony to the truth of what we have alleged ; his sympathy for the Greeks is as great as Mr. Gladstone's, and he confirms Mr. Gladstone's general views in yet more powerful language.*
It is with much regret that we have felt constrained to make these comments. There is something so pleasing in beholding a man of Mr. Gladstone's eminence employing his hours of leisure in such high and intellectual employment, that we are most unwilling to speak in other than terms of warm commendation of a book so replete with scholarship and so useful in its general purport. Still these speculations which we have noted have about them so suspicious a flavour of those loose theories which now-a-days pass current with many for religion, and are so hard to reconcile with facts and with the Word of God, that we could not pass them by. We do not hold that the Greek had a place in God's provi
* P. 183. Vol. 68.-No. 382.
dential order corresponding with that of the Jew, any more than we believe that Shakespeare and Milton were inspired in the same sense with David and Isaiah. We shall be sorry if we have misunderstood or misrepresented Mr. Gladstone's views, but we have dealt with them according to the best of our judgment. The law of Moses was, we know, “a school. master to bring men unto Christ,” but beyond this we can only say that “God made man upright, but that they sought out many inventions.” None of these inventions, however, were calculated to bring man unto Christ, but rather to involve him in deeper darkness and ruin.
TOZER’S RESEARCHES IN THE HIGHLANDS OF TURKEY. Researches in the Highlands of Turkey, fc. By the Rev. H. F.
Tozer, M.A., F.R.G.S. London : Murray. 1869. We have read these volumes with much pleasure. They bear throughout evidence of being the work of an accomplished scholar. As a specimen of the readiness with which Mr. Tozer brings his classical learning to bear upon the scenes before him, we quote the following passage :
“When I was first travelling in Greece, I was surprised by seeing a man, who had worked himself up into a passion while talking to me, stoop down and strike the ground violently with his hand. This gesticulation is not unfrequently used by the Greeks when greatly excited, and is in itself very impressive; but, though no further idea is associated with it in the minds of the people, yet in old times it was intended to summon up the Furies from below for purposes of vengeance. Thus, when Althæa, in the 'Iliad,' curses her son Meleager, we are told that she
- prayed to Heav'n above, and with her hand Beating the solid earth, the nether powers,
Pluto and awful Proserpine, imploredand in answer to her call “the Erinnys heard from Erebus.'" (vol. č. p. 322.)
We fear, however, that the very large amount of topographical information which he has brought together, and which is in itself most valuable, relating as it does to districts little known, and discussing much vexed questions, such as the site of Troy, will fail to interest readers who do not sympathise in such studies. Still the account of his visit to the monasteries upon Mount Athos, where “all the different phases of Eastern monastic life" can be seen, and the distinction between Conobite and Idiorrhythmic convents so carefully explained, will attract attention. Probably very many of our readers have a very vague idea of what a "skete" or a “Lavra" is. Mr. Tozer estimates the monks on Mount Athos at about 3000, besides seculars. When on Mount Athos, he was present at the Festival of the Transfiguration, of which he says :
“There is an interest attaching to this festival, independent of its strangeness, from its carrying us back to a theological discussion of the 14th century, which was the ne plus ultra of controversial folly. In the only passage in Gibbon's history in which the monks of Athos are mentioned, the historian points one of his bitterest sneers by a reference to the dispute as to the divine light of Mount Tabor, which was the doctrine of the Hesychasts, who maintained that after long abstinence and contemplation they could see, in the middle of their belly, which was the seat of the soul, the light which appeared to the disciples at the transfiguration of Christ, and that this light was part of the essence of God himself, and therefore immortal and eternal. This view, which Gibbon describes as the product of an empty stomach and an empty brain, was combated by a Calabrian monk called Barlaam, and thereupon a fierce discussion arose, which ended in the discomfiture and condemnation of the sceptic, and the establishment of the doctrine of the uncreated light of Tabor. I endeavoured to discover if any traces of this controversy were still remaining, but I could find none. No monk now expected to see this light in ecstatic moments; the name of Barlaam was almost unknown, and the controversy forgotten: and though they still maintained that the light of the Transfiguration was an uncreated light, they did not anathematize those who held the contrary, Indeed, not only on this, but on most points connected with religion, I was forcibly struck by their breadth of view, which made itself seen in the midst of much formalism and superstition, and by their tolerance of others' opinions, and charitable feelings towards other Christian communions.” (pp. 104, 105.) .
Upon a point which is just now a good deal discussed, and we think urged with a good deal of ignorance and absurdity, Mr. Tozer presents the views of some of the more intelligent Greek ecclesiastics with whom he conversed. They do not seem to us to hold out much encouragement to those who sympathise in the movement towards union with oriental Churches :
“I had a long conversation with one of the superiors, called Nilus, a man of imposing appearance, whose strong countenance, quick eye, long grey hair, and benevolent expression, were eminently attractive; and he was liberal-minded as well as devout. Speaking to me of other churches, he said, “The Church is now divided, but all are Christians, and our first object ought to be to make it one again. The proper way to bring this about is to ignore minor differences as far as possible, and to leave each Church free to maintain its established customs. If I were to visit England, I ought to