« הקודםהמשך »
We understand that Mr. Elliott had been accustomed to remark to friends upon the desirableness of a sudden death to those who were prepared to meet their God.
Our last extract is taken from Mr. Reade's Sermon, pp. 18, 19:“Nor must I omit to mention that most affecting incident of the mourn. ful scene, when the Swiss pasteur, just before his body was being borne from the church to the spot which had been specially selected by the principal man of the place for its reception, close to the porch, addressed a few suitable words to all present; holding up in his hand, and pointing the earnest attention of the guides to it, the little Prayer Book which had been found in the pocket of our young friend, thickly underlined as it was throughout the Psalms and other parts, and containing also within its fold, on two or three stitched leaves, a few short prayers formed into a little service, which it was his constant habit to use while communing with his Saviour-God upon the mountains, and realizing His presence in the awful grandeur of His works.
Hours of Sorrow Cheered and Comforted. Poems by Charlotte Elliott. London: J. Booth, Regent Street. 1869.— We feel that it would be altogether superfluous on our part to pronounce any opinion on the merits of Miss Elliott's Poems. It is but a small matter to say that wherever the English language is spoken or read, the name of Charlotte Elliott has become familiar as a household word, and that the Hymn, “Just as I am,” has been translated into almost every European language. It is, we doubt not, an infinitely greater source of satisfaction to this highly gifted writer, to know that many a sick chamber has been irradiated by the productions of her pen, and many a contrite penitent encouraged to plead in faith the fulfilment of the promise, “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out," and to adopt as his own the resolution expressed in the words of the well-known hymn to which we have already alluded :
“ Just as I am-of that free love,
The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
O Lamb of God, I come !"
The Roman Catholic clergy and political agitators of Ireland have lost no time in falsifying the predictions of those who imagined that the pacification and contentment of that portion of the Empire were to be the result of the disestablishment of the Irish Church. Fresh demands are urged with increasing vio. lence of language, and we are distinctly told that there is to be no peace for English rulers until those demands are complied with. The Priests insist that education, though paid for out of imperial taxes, is to be placed under their control: and the agitators insist upon a complete reversal of the ordinary relations of landlords and tenants. Truly those who, like Mr. Gladstone, have announced as their principle of action that Ireland is to be governed according to Irish ideas, have no easy task before them. We can only say, that if ever that time should come, unless those ideas are very different from what they appear to be at present, we trust that England will have no share in the responsibility of governing. Great would be the evils, both to Great Britain and to Ireland, which would be the consequence of a repeal of the Union; but if the alternative be that British legislators are to register the decrees of the priests and demagogues of Ireland, the national prospects are most gloomy.
In England the great subject of interest during the month has been the results of the harvest. We have not yet recovered from the effects of the great commercial disasters of 1866. There is still a great want of confidence, which shows itself in the difficulty of finding employment for capital, and a consequent cessation in the demand for labour. Important, therefore, as is at all times a good harvest to the welfare of the community, it is especially important at the present time, in order that, in the approaching winter, when there will probably be scanty employment for a considerable portion of the population, the evil of dearness of bread may not be added to that of dearness of meat. We have reason to thank God that this is not likely to be the case. The harvest in this country, though not abundant, is not much below the average, and there is the promise of ample supplies both from America and the Continent.
The death of the Right Rev. Henry Phillpotts, D.D., Bishop of Exeter, at the age of 91, had it occurred some years ago, would have had a sensible effect upon the controversies of the day ; but he had long outlived his generation, and the party of which he was once the standard-bearer.
The calm which has succeeded the uneasiness caused throughout France by the temporary illness of the Emperor of the French, has shown how much is believed to depend on a single life. A strong hand and a strong will are needed to hold the reins of power during the time required for what is fairly enough described as the “reconstruction of the Empire” through the operation of the late Senatus-consultum.
In Spain each succeeding month only reveals the difficulties with which a Regency has to contend, until a royal head of the government can be obtained. Fresh complications are now arising from the continued insurrection in Cuba, and the manifest tendency of things towards annexation to the United States.
THE BOOK OF PSALMS.
(Continued from p. 736.) In resuming the consideration of the subject matter of the Psalms, one of the most difficult and at the same time one of the most interesting and important questions which presents itself to our minds, is the right interpretation of the so-called imprecatory Psalms, i.e. those Psalms in which God's retributive justice is not only denounced against the transgressors of His law, but in which we find prayers offered to God for its speedy and effectual execution. Many of these will at once suggest themselves to the mind of the diligent student of Holy Scripture; and there are, probably, none of those who reverence and tremble at God's word, who have not felt the apparent inconsistency of these passages with the obligation imperatively enjoined, alike in the Old Testament and in the New, not only negatively not to hate nor to seek to take vengeance on our neighbour, but also positively to seek to promote his good : “ Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Lev. xix. 17.)
1. The fact that the “royal law” was explicitly set forth under the older dispensation, is of itself a sufficient refutation of one proposed solution of the difficulty under our consideration, which rests upon the false assumption, that whilst cursing and bitterness were the essential characteristics of the Law, blessing and long-suffering were enjoined exclusively by the Gospel. We are far, indeed, from denying the immeasurable superiority in this, as in all other respects, of the Gospel of Christ over the Law of Moses, that “the old commandment,” which was “heard from the beginning,” under the dispensation of law, was renewed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ in clearer light, and enforced by more constraining
Vol. 68.-No. 383.
ed the gerns to the New.plain, that the Ora
motives. But here, as in the case of the revelation of a future state of rewards and punishments, we maintain, that the “ Old Testament is not contrary to the New,”-that the earlier covenant contained the germs of the later,-that the difference between the two consisted rather in the mode of teaching, than in the doctrines and precepts which were taught,-and that the reason of that difference is to be sought in one of those distinctive characteristics of God's manifestations of His will to man, which our Lord Himself enunciated in these words : “I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.”
Assuming, then, for the present, that none but very superficial students of Holy Scripture can rest satisfied with that solution of the difficulty which consists in the virtual elimination of the passages in question, so far as Christians are concerned, from the Psalter, we proceed to examine some other suggestions which have been made with a view to their explanation.
2. It has been not unfrequently alleged that, in the Hebrew language, there is no difference between the Future and the Imperative; in other words, that there is no clearly marked verbal distinction between the simple prediction of a future event, and a prayer that that event may come to pass.
It is a sufficient refutation of the solution of the difficulty thus suggested, to reply, that it can apply only to some of those passages in which the third person is employed, and that the second person of the Imperative mood has its distinct form as clearly marked in the Hebrew as in the English; and consequently, that such passages as the following: “ Break Thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man,” (Ps. x. 15,) and “Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours,” (Ps. xxviii. 4,) are encompassed with the same difficulties in the Hebrew as in the English,-in other words, are as much a prayer in the one language as they are in the other, that God will Himself intorpose, and take vengeance on the wicked.
It follows, then, that whilst some of the passages which, in the English version, have been regarded as expressive of the desire of the writer, might, with equal correctness, be regarded simply as prophetic of the destiny which awaits the sinner, there are others to which no such explanation is applicable; and consequently, that the difficulty by which we are met remains with unabated force, whether the passages out of which it arises be few or many in number.
3. Another partial solution of the difficulty is suggested by the enquiry, whether the imprecatory Psalms may not be regarded simply as records, on the part of the authors, of the oxistence in others of those feelings of animosity, and that desire for vengeance, which are therein expressed,-a record in which the Psalmists are to be regarded in the light of historians, relating the words of others, without any expression of concurrence or dissent on their own part.
It is almost certain that in some cases, particularly in Psalm cix. 6–19, the words which are commonly regarded as proceeding from the lips of the Psalmist are really those of his adversaries; and that, as in Psalm xli. 8, the words “say they should be inserted or understood; and it is quite reasonable to suppose, that in other passages expressions are to be found, which may be interpreted as descriptive of the emotions of others, rather than of those of the writers. But here, again, the suggestion avails little or nothing towards the removal of the difficulty with which we are dealing, inasmuch as in some cases, as in Psalm cix. 20, the writer, if the words be correctly rendered as expressing his own prayer, desires that the curses invoked by his enemies upon him, may light upon them; or, if his words be understood as spoken prophetically, at least he rejoices in the prospect of their discomfiture. (ver. 28, 29.)
4. The suggestion that the expressions for which we are endeavouring to account, consistently with our belief in the existence and obligation of “the royal law" of love, are to be regarded simply as adopted in conformity with the prevailing spirit and customs of the age, and as not designed to convey that meaning which we now ascribe to them, appears to us to be a solution of the difficulty, not only utterly unsatisfactory in itself, when applied to similar expressions in profane authors, but altogether inconsistent with that supreme homage and reverence which are due to the language of inspiration.
It behoves us, then, without attempting to evade the difficulty, either by underrating its magnitude, or by proposing as adequate solutions of it theories which are applicable only to some of its forms, to consider whether there are not some eternal and immutable principles of truth, of justice, and of holiness, which not only demand the punishment of sin on the part of God, but which, in exact proportion as they are apprehended by us—in other words, in exact proportion as man's will is conformed to God's Will-require our satisfaction in the execution of the Divine purposes, and-hard as it is to realize the truth-our desire that those purposes of vengeance, as well as of mercy, may be speedily accomplished, and that thereby the coming of Christ's kingdom may be hastened.
Whilst earnestly maintaining, however, that the first and great consideration for us is to ascertain, as far as in us lies, what is the mind of the Spirit which inspired these Psalms, and in what sense we are to understand and accept their contents as applicable to ourselves, it cannot be a matter devoid