« 이전계속 »
struction and comfort they really are. Something similar is true of the epistles of Paul, many parts of which, that are comparatively plain, and easy to be understood, as he originally wrote them, become, and that almost inevitably, obscure, and sometimes all but unintelligible, when rendered into another tongue.
A quick and active mind that is really interested in the truths of Scripture, but is compelled by ignorance to take them as it were at second hand, must often suppress very earnest cravings for greater certainty as to its real meaning in particular passages or expressions, must still many a question, whose answer would bring light and joy, and bear fruit in praise and thanksgiving to God. This divine truth appears ever the more wonderful, the closer it is seen; other than wonderful it can never appear when seen at all. It is worth time and effort to read and understand the words that Paul and John wrote, nay, almost to hear them speak, as they repeat things uttered in their hearing by the Lord, both while he lived and communed with men on the earth, and after he had ascended into the heavens and sat on the right hand of God. It is worth all it costs to attain one more clue by which to enter into and contemplate the great mystery of godliness.”
And one word as to the real difficulties in the way. A thorough knowledge of the Greek language is indeed a very rare attainment, the reward of hard and persevering endeavor. The same thing may be said, though not perhaps with the same degree of emphasis, of the English, or of any other tongue. And there is, of course, no doubt that the more complete our knowledge of a language is, the better we can understand any particular work contained in it. But a high degree of enjoyment and appreciation is possible where such knowledge is far from exhaustive. This we all know by experience in our own mother tongue. It is on this principle that it is thought expedient in most of the leading Christian denominations, that those who are preparing themselves for the ministry should become somewhat familiar with both the original languages of Scripture, not for the sake of general culture, but that they may be better able to study and to verify for themselves the great truths of the Christian religion. The imperfect and merely prepara
VOL. VI.-NO. XXXIII.
tory knowledge, obtained in the theological course, rendered more thorough, in the case of the Greek, during a previous period of discipline in classical study, serves as a foundation, to those who are disposed to use their advantages, for wide and deep researches into the letter and spirit of Scripture. Few, hitherto, not actuated by the expectation of becoming public teachers, have begun to study the Greek for the sake of these advantages, but there have been exceptional instances. Among others is related that of a lady to whom we owe in part the introduction of the Sabbath school into New England. She began under disadvantages, it is said, but persevered until her object was attained. Should many others follow her example, it would be a good thing doubtless for the church. We should perhaps have Sabbath school teachers better prepared for their work. Christian knowledge would be on the increase, and we should see, too, it may be hoped, we should certainly see, if these studies were entered upon in that humble and earnest and prayerful spirit which alone can ensure a true success, we should see that there is a close connection between Christian knowledge and Christian life. And the effort necessary would be far less than many suppose. But without effort what good thing can be accomplished ? No valuable mental acquisition can be made by any method of study which is unattended with a painstaking and earnest application of the whole mind to the task.
The motives for a profounder and more exhaustive study of the Scriptures, which have thus far been considered, are derived, for the most part, from the position which the church occupies in the midst of her enemies, enemies whom it is her mission, so far as it is possible, to transform into friends.
rm into friends. Another set of motives, not less powerful in their nature, is to be found in the idea of Christian culture. The limits due to this article are, however, already overpassed, and the subject deserves to be discussed by itself if discussed at all. It is sufficient for the present merely to point the mind of the reader in this direction, that he may, if he will, consider for himself, what wealth of divine knowledge, what spiritual strength, what joy, springing from an intimate contact with heavenly realities, what perpetual increase of experience and hope, he might reasonably expect to derive from such continued and faithful investigation of the revealed word as has been thus far contemplated. Let one caution, however, be ever borne in mind, that whatever may be the case with the mere sceptic, the Christian believer must ever approach these pages with reverence, and open them under the guidance of that Spirit by whom they were at first inspired. The Bible is light and life and salvation only to those who seek it as such. To others it is indeed the mere historic record, the mere national literature which they expect and desire to find. It is when we come athirst, that we learn how refreshing these waters are, and the hungry will best know the true taste of this heavenly bread. In nature, in the depths of the human soul, in the written word, God reveals himself to those who scek, and to those that knock, he has said, it shall be opened.
This plea for a more general, more profound, and earnest study of the Bible may well conclude with those warning words of our Saviour, addressed to a class well versed in the sacred history of their own nation, and ready at quoting both law and prophets, when it served their turn, but who with all their knowledge, were yet far enough from entering into the spirit of those holy writings. The words are old, yet ever new : “ Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me.”
GOD IN VEGETABLE LIFE.
To the devout student of God's operations in the material world, the act of creation never ceases. It is true, that speaking after the manner of men, at the end of six days, whether natural or figurative, the Creator rested from his works. But, that he then left them, as the builder leaves the completed house or edifice, we can not for a single moment entertain the thought. That the countless worlds which he then set in motion, that the systems which he then arranged, have been wheeling in space for these thousands of years, from the impulse then imparted ; that the changes which have transpired among the heavenly bodies have all resulted from the blind physical laws then enacted; that the universe moves on, like a complicated piece of machinery then wound up, and that the great First Cause has since had no personal agency or concern in it, is little better than rank atheism.
A thing created still inheres in the Creator. The same attributes are necessary for its continuance, as its inception. The existence of a thing created, implies the existence, the active existence, of its Creator. Man makes, and leaves what he has made. He puts none of his genius, none of his vital energy, into the structures which he erects. Man dies; but the books he has written, the deeds he has achieved, remain unimpaired. But dependent upon God's being and attributes are all things which he has ever created. They live in God.
Correctly interpreted, therefore, each morning, when the rising sun falls upon the eyelids of a sleeping world, God says, “Let there be light !” and each evening, when the stars appear, the blue vault is lighted up by his omnipotent hand; each spring, when, in the forest, the growing grass begins to lift the dead leaves, the sap courses up through trunk and branch and twig, the buds swell with their tender greenness, and the exiled birds return to their forsaken haunts, God repeats again the old mandate : “Let the earth bring forth grass and herb and tree;" and it is so.
The same Being, whose biting frosts lately drove man into his habitation, who lately filled the air and covered the earth with snow crystals, silvered the window-panes, hushed the purling brooks beneath sheeted glass, and flung fetters across the waterfall, now enters another department of his works ; invites man forth from behind his double doors and double windows; calls back the sun from his journey to the tropics ; warms and quickens the grateful soil, and makes the earth teem with the products of his wisdom and love and power.
In winter, it seems almost as though God had forsaken his works ; had allowed the cold stillness of death to pass upon them ; had covered them with the pall of death, and left them forever. The fields that lately waved with the golden grain,
and echoed the song of the harvesters, are a desolate waste, bristling with stalks and stubble. Pastures, lately vocal with the lowing herds or bleating flocks, present only trackless acres of white, blank and unbroken. The woods, lately so full of birds, and insects, and the inferior quadrupeds, seem entirely forsaken. But like the sleep of man, the sleep of nature, though similar to death, is not death itself. As soon as God utters his fiat, the slumbering roots begin to perform their suspended offices, the leaves appear as if by magic, and plants and trees are speedily covered with bloom; while every department of his material works, lately so cold and uninviting, overflows with life and beauty.
There is something very wonderful in the endless variety of the products of the soil, even in a single latitude. By what alchemy the same senseless earth can furnish the suitable elements for stalk and leaf and petal ; where the different colors are mixed, that tint the foliage and the flower ; what are the ingredients of the simplest fragrance, with which our senses regaled, the wisest man of science would not undertake to tell. But the wonder is infinitely increased, when we pass from latitude to latitude, and discover new varieties of vegetable life, new colors, new fragrance ; each adapted to its own locality, and to the wants and happiness of bird and insect, of man and beast.
Vegetation is a perpetual miracle. It is very common for us to speak of vegetable life and growth, as though they were not very remarkable things. We fill a flower-pot with earth, drop in a few seeds, set it in the sunshine, and when the tender spire breaks upward to the light, we do not reflect that this is one of the most marvellous processes in the universe. This very phenomenon of life itself, what is it? It is just as incomprehensible in this plant, as it is in any of us. And who lodged in that dry, unsightly seed, a principle which, under favorable conditions, exhibits this phenomenon? Who legislated for it, determining the conformation and texture of its leaves, the time of its flowering, the shape and shade of its petals, its'stamens, and its pistils ? And who so guides and controls its development, as progressively to realize the original idea ? Out of this little earthern pot that sits in your casement, appears a new cre