Page images

that do not affect the sense.* But, which is all that is necessary for the argument here, these variations, these appeals to the critical faculty, meet us in every page of the Hebrew text, and we can neither ignore nor evade their existence.

Further, we must remember that, for some centuries before and after the beginning of our era, circumstances necessitated the translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into several other languages; that these translations could not be made from any but manuscript copies only-which of itself involves peculiar consequences; that one of these translations, the Septuagint, acquired-through a long chain of incidents, the chief of which were the extraordinary citations from it in the New Testament, and the then predominance of the Greek language--an unparalleled authority, such as almost to supplant the original;t that all these early direct translations from the Hebrew exhibit some important variations from our present received Text; and lastly, that they all bear testimony to the readings which their respective authors found in the MS. copies from which they translated, and that they thus are more ancient witnesses to a given reading than any now extant MS. of the Hebrew Text.

All these considerations—which are presented in their concisest form, and exclusively with reference to the Old Testament-tend to shew that there must be a province, however limited, in which learned criticism has a function to perform; and that everything depends on the critic's due appreciation of the relative value of the criteria which the intrinsic truth, and the merely diplomatic evidence, of a reading, respectively afford. Such criticism has no tendency to awaken distrust of the marvellous conservation and transmission of the Biblical Text as a whole, but sheds unexpected light on isolated passages which had else been hopelessly obscure.

J. N.

* As an illustration of the extraordinary scrupulosity of the Massorites, we may mention that they have preserved what many consider must have been merely graphical errors of the accredited transcript, such as letters too large or too small, inverted letters, final letters in the middle of a word, &c. For instance, the final or shut mem in the first word of Isaiah ix. 6. Such graphical peculiarities became in turn pregnant with mystery; thus Helvicus boldly says, of the shut mem in that passage, We think it indicates the virginity of the mother of the Messiah ! (Elenchi Judaici, ed. Crenius, p. 315.) The Talmud suggests a still more absurd explanation of this same mem. (Buxtorf, Anticritica, p. 482.)

+ This exalted estimate of the LXX. has even had its champions since the Reformation. It is enough to mention Isaac Vossius, in 1661. But our own day also produces an advocate for it, in the person of one who has devoted more study to the LXX. than any Englishman for more than 200 years—the Rev. E. W. Gripfield, in bis “Apology for the Septuagint.” 1850.

Essays. By THEOPHILUS PARSONS. Third Series. Boston: William

Carter and Brother. 1862. PROFESSOR Parsons has been so long before the Church as an author, and his works are so well known and so much admired, that it would be superfluous to introduce the present volume to the notice of our readers by an article having the character of a review, especially as this last work belongs to the same class as its predecessors.

The author mentions as a reason for giving his thoughts in the form of “Essays,” that he can only devote to studies and compositions of this kind such brief intervals of time as his professional duties leave at his disposal. It is pleasing to find the leisure hours of one who is employed in studying and teaching the laws of human society, devoted to studying and teaching the laws of the Human Mind, of Nature, and of Revelation; and we gladly accept these sketches, however fragmentary, which we esteem as the productions of a gifted and pious mind.

Though consisting of 300 pages, this volume contains only four Essays, entitled “He cometh in Clouds;" “ Paradise;" “ The Sea ;” and The End of the Church.” The reader need not be deterred by their length; for he will find both his eye and his mind relieved by marked divisions, each containing some distinct branch or aspect of the subject. The subjects of the first three Essays will lead the reader to expect a good deal about Correspondence, and in this he will not be disappointed. The subjects are profoundly treated, and the correspondences are minutely traced; and the author's knowledge of nature and his acquaintance with recent science are turned to excellent account.

This work may be especially recommended to the younger members of the church. They will find it exceedingly interesting, and as profitable for improvement as for instruction. It displays the humility of a good man and the modesty of a wise one-one who feels his own littleness when he treads the courts of the Lord's temple in Nature and Revelation. But we will give some extracts from these Essays, which will better show their character than anything that we might say respecting them. The first is on what we may call —

The Philosophy of Correspondence. “Because in God there are inexhaustible infinities of Divine life, there may be in all worlds a variety in the forms of life, or modes of being, which eternity will not exhaust. All of these, as they exist in Him, are as perfectly incomprehensible by human thought as they are inaccessible to human touch. They become comprehensible by descending within reach of human thought,—that is, by putting on forms or modes of being that are within the reach, first, of the senses, and then of the mind. Because each one of the elements of Divine life is capable of

[ocr errors]

an infinite variety of manifestations, there are not only two worlds, one of which is spiritual and the other natural, but a vast variety in the planes of being, or modes of being, in each world.

** Thus, in the natural world, we have the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms, and a great variety of beings in each of them; and there is a similar, although far greater, variety in the spiritual world. To express these modes of being, the phrase "planes of life' is used; because the word plane, which means only level, leads the mind, by suggestion, to the idea that these different classes of being stand on different levels, higher or lower, or are so arranged as to be at different distances from Him who is the source of all and above all.

“We then add, that as all creation is caused by effluence from the universal Father; and as each thing is cansed or created by the effluence of its inmost and incomprehensible essence from the Father, which essence, as it flows forth, clothes itself with what it needs to play its part on the material plane of being, or on the spiritual planes, while it remains itself unchanged so the forms or manifestations which it puts on upon either of these planes, correspond to those which it puts on in the other. And as has been said, this correspondence is not so much between one thing in one state and another thing in another state, as between the one thing in one state and the same thing in the other state, or between the forms and appearances of the same things in these two different states."

The next we take from “Paradise," or the Garden, and may be termed

Plants of Earth and Plants of Heaven. “ The spring will soon pass away, and summer take its place. Refulgent summer, with its glowing days, and the luxuriant and exuberant beauty upon which its warm rains fall! Has it never occurred to us to wonder at the apparent wastefulness of this redundant beauty? Probably not the thousandth part of all that is spread broadcast over the earth was ever seen by human eye; and we have no reason to believe that the lower animals have what we should call the sense of beauty. A few years since an English botanist, exploring the streams which run into the vast Amazon, through miles and miles of perfectly unknown territories, discovered a plant to which he gave the name of his queen, Victoria. A few seeds have been brought to this country, and from them some plants have grown and blossomed. The flower is nearly the largest ever known; it is a kind of lily, and seems to excel all others in magnificence and grandeur.

“As I looked upon it the thought came to me, why did these flowers in crowds and masses for countless ages waste all that splendour of form and tint upon the dark streams that drain the desolate wilds of the Amazon ? But an answer to the thought was soon suggested. Did not He see it who made it, and caused His rain and dew to feed its tender rootlets, and bade His sunshine paint it gloriously? When it was brought to England and to this country, and its extreme beauty gave delight to those who bebeld it, where did that delight come from? Whence do all our emotions and affections, our thoughts and opinions come from if not from their only source, the love and wisdom of our Father? In and with us, and on their way to us, they are qualified and accommodated to our nature, both generally and individually. But there, in Him, they all exist as in their origin, infinitely and divinely, and most incomprehensibly by us; but still there they all exist. There existed that delight in the beautiful before it came from Him into angelic minds and became their delight, and through their minds to our own, and became our delight. Yes, He sees all that is beautiful upon the earth!-sees it with glad. ness and great joy; and says of it, as in the earliest days of creation, It is good, and very good.

“And how much more, then, must He enjoy the blossoms of the mind! How certain must it be that He sees and knows and enjoys every good thing which we think or feel or do. They are His creations through us ; they are our creations from Him; and we may offer them to Him humbly but gladly, as sure that they will be received lovingly and gladly as we are sure that a loving mother looks with delight upon the beauty of a rosebud that her little child brings her as an offering from its own little garden.

“ My reference to a child reminds me of that often quoted similitude of the Word, in which our children are spoken of as our plants. Among the blessings promised to him that feareth the Lord, it is said, “Thy children shall be as olive plants round about thy table.' They are indeed plants committed to our care, and no volume would be sufficient to disclose the correspondence between the care and cultivation which we should take of the plants around our table and of those in our gardens. Let us now remember one fact, at least, or one law-it is, that here is but the beginning of their growth. All that it is possible to do for them or to give them here, even through the longest life, can only prepare them to be transplanted to the garden of our Father. There only can an unstained blossom be put forth ; there only can the perfect fruit be ripened.

“Sometimes the heavy burden rests upon us to acquiesce in this transplanting, and offer up our children to Him who gave them, at the very moment when the roots of their being are most closely entwined with those of our own life. The heathen of old, in their awful blindness and depravity, caused their children to pass through fire to their false gods; but this woful and almost unimaginable wickedness was but the perfect perversion of good. For we, too, may be called upon to see our children pass away from us through fire; not the fires of sinful passion, which the flames that rose in bonour of Moloch represented, but the fire of affliction, of sickness, and disappointment and pain. But we know they go from us to their home in the garden of God. We know that he asks us to give up to Him the plants we have raised, and watched, and loved, that He may take them in their tender beauty and in their fairest and richest hope, and cultivate them as we cannot." The last we give is on

The Sea. “ The depths of the sea ! profound, dark, and inaccessible as they are, are they one whit more profound, more inscrutable, or more inaccessible, than the depths of the human intellect? What science bas measured them ? what philosophy has explored them? If in our own day the word unfathomable is no longer applied to the depths of the material sea; if now some of them have been gauged, and a promise held out that others may be, shall we not regard this too as coming at this time because it is in correspondence with the fact that, in this age, a system of truths and laws has been given to men, by means of which they may hope, at some future day, to penetrate into the abysses of the mental sea, and learn something of their form and nature, and something of what is there?

“Nor let us forget that it has already been discovered by these physical investigations, that in the depths of the sea, and at their very bottom, there also is life; for it may teach us that far down in the depths of the human mind, far beyond our reach or our consciousness, there may be forms and modes of life which may be the beginning of intellectual life, and the earliest links of that series which comes up afterwards before our consciousness, and gradually constitutes the wide world of our knowledge.

“But this investigation into the sea of intellect remains to be made; I might say, it all remains to be made. Science and philosophy have done nearly nothing; and what they have done is of the least value precisely there where they have supposed themselves to have done most. Nor has Poetry, with her powerful instrument imagination, done much better yet, for her work, her greatest work, remains to be done. When science and philosophy turn back defeated before what a great poet calls the flaming bounds of space and time,' Poetry may still pursue her upward way, if only her face and her flight be sunward.

The poetry of the sea would itself afford scope enough, not for a lecture but for a volume. As yet, Poetry has but cast a longing glance at the treasures which 'the dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear.' What will it become when it rejoices in the light of correspondence; when it knows that the ocean we float upon, the earth we tread upon, the whole universe which we inhabit, constitute one pure and perfect mirror, which gives back to the opened eye the laws and the work of God, and the whole inner life of man?

“If I have ever repined at my own total want of poetic power, it has been when from some rocky promontory of our coast, or while floating on its waters, I have seen a descending sun pour down its glory upon the outspread waters, and it told me how the Sun of love and light and life pours its own love and light and life into our outspread minds. And as the falling sun drew near the waters, and the sky bent down to them, and they seemed to rise up to meet it, and mingle with it until I could no longer discern where the waters ended and the sky began, I read there that even our poor and earthly thoughts may be illumined from above, and the descending radiance may lift them towards the sky until they mingle with it, while across them lies a pathway of living light, leading directly to the sun itself.”

INSPIRATION AND INTERPRETATION : being an Enquiry into the Relation

between the Literal and Spiritual Senses of the Word of God, as Founded upon the Science of Correspondence. By the Rev. A. CLISSOLD, M.A.,

formerly of Exeter College, Oxford. No. 4. Oxford, 1862. THE March No. contained a review of the first two of this series of Tracts. The present is as able and as interesting as the others. In calling the attention of the church to this Tract, which displays the wonderful extent of the author's reading, and his singular power of arranging his materials, we will give a contracted view of the notions of Inspiration as they exist in the old church and the new.

Mr. Clissold commences by showing that a proper method of interpreting Scripture is one of the requirements of the age, and he asks the [Enl. Series.—No. 107, vol. ix.]


« PreviousContinue »