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feel a sincere pleasure, when such talent and learning, in a man, too, who has seen more of the world than almost any of our writers, are ernployed to persuade the youth of our academic retreats to give the Bible a high place among their literary pursuits. “These ancient records," to use his own language, "are venerable and interesting, under every point of view. Their most important aspect is that under which they are considered as the symbols and assurances of divine truth; but, regarded merely as literary monuments, they are not only the most ancient and curious, but I may safely say, the most extraordinary and valuable in the whole compass of literature. Independently of the divine origin of the Scriptures,' says the accomplished and clear-headed Sir William Joves, I have found in them more true wisdom, more practical good sense, a warmer benevolence, and a higher strain of thougbt and poetry than I have met with in any other work that I have perused, or indeed all other works put together. In this opinion I entirely concur.” The character of the Bible is viewed under three aspects, its philosophy, its poetry, its history. Instead of describing, in language of our own, the author's train of thought and style of execution, we will present himn in his own person and garb to the eye of the reader:
“The philosophy of the Scriptures is at once sublime and simple. It satisfies the highest aspirations of the highest minds, and it falls within the comprehension of the humblest inquirer, who honestly seeks to understand it. It embraces the material universe, with its glorious and complicated system of
-- planets, suns, and adamantine spheres,
Wheeling unshaken through the void immense;' the moral world, where the ruling spirits of good and evil carry on a perpetual warfare, with alternate and apparently not unequal advantage ;-the great problems that have attracted, exercised, and defied the severest study of generation after generation :-it embraces them both with unshrinking grasp, and solves them with a single word. It carries home the sublime truth to the simple heart of the common believer, with a clearness of conviction, that Socrates and Cicero in their happiest hours of inspiration never knew. This word of power that solves these mighty and momentous problems, that carries home this cheering conviction to the believing heart,-need I say to you, gentlemen,-is God!
“When from the merely spontaneous exercise of our intellectual and physical powers, we first turn the mind inward to reflection upon its own nature, and outward to an inquiring contemplation of the objects around us, we find ourselves part and parcel of a vast system. We ask, with intense curiosity, with agonizing interest, What am I? Whence came I? What means this glorious panorama of ocean, air, and earth, that I see around me,-these splendid orbs that illuminate the day and night,—these lesser lights that twinkle and burn around them, the seasons with their everchanging round? Who can tell me the secret of the being and working of this wondrous machinery? Did necessity fix it firmly as it is, from all eternity ? Has accident thrown it together, to remain till some other accident shall reduce it to nothing, or did some master-workman adapt it, with intelligent design, to some great and good end? If so, what means this disinal shade of evil that overshadows with its dim eclipse so large a portion of this good and fair creation? What relation do I bear individually to the grand whole? Am I a mere ripple on the boundless ocean of being, swelling into life for a moment and then subsiding for ever, or is this curiously compacted frame the abode of a substantial, immortal mind, destined to exist hereafter through countless ages of happiness or misery?'
“The greatest and wisest inen, of all ages and countries, have undertaken to answer these questions in various ways, but generally with slender success. One tells us that the origin of all things is in water, another that it is in fire; a third places it in the earth, and a fourth in the air. Epicurus resolves the universe into primitive atoms, while Zeno fixes it firmly in the brazen bonds of necessity. In regard to the problem of the inoral world opinions are equally various. In one system, fate is the supreme arbiter, and chance in another. Some ackuowledge the existence of gods, but place them apart in some remote celestial sphere, where they live on, regardless of the stir and bustle of this lower world. A few, more wise than the rest, obtain some faint glimpse of the truth, of which, however, they avow that they feel no certaiu assurance. All is doubt, uncertainty, error. There is no absurdity so great, says Cicero, that some distinguished pbilosopher has not made it the basis of his theory. The labors of modern inquirers have not been attended with better results. They have terminated in reviving successively, one after another, the exploded follies of' antiquity. One denies the existence of mind, and another that of matter, while a third doubts the reality of either. All,-I mean all whose researches have been conducted independently of Scripture,-deny the reality of moral distinctions, and reduce man to a level with the animals around him. Such are the noble and consolatory views which the wisdom of Europe proclaimed within our own day, tbrough the mouths of her ablest and most judicious apostles, as the last results of the labors of all preceding ages upon the great problem of God, man, and the universe.
“From this chaos of controversy, doubt, confusion, imposture and error, we turn to the Scriptures. Here we find ourselves at once in a new atmosphere. The very first sentence removes all difficulty. What do I say? The light breaks upon us before the sentence is finished. The first half-sentence settles at ouce and for ever the great problem of the universe. IN THE BEGINNING God. No metaphysics ; no logic; vo rhetoric; no tedious induction froin particular facts; no labored demonstration à priori or à posteriori ; no display of learning; no appeal to authority ; but just the plain, simple, naked, unsophisticated truth: IN THE BEGINNING God!;
6. With the utterance of this little word, an ocean of light and splendor bursts at once upon the universe, and penetrates its darkest recesses with living beams of hope and joy. Order, harmony, intelligent design for happiest ends, take the place of upintelligible chaos and wild confusion. A cheerful confidence in the wisdom and goodness of an all-wise and almighty Creator, is substituted for gloomy doubt and blank despair. Evil still remains, but how different is its character! In a universe of chance and fate, it is a blind, irresistible power, like the destiny of ancient fable: treading under its giant feet
with remorseless fury, the fairest flowers of the natural and moral creation. 'In a godless universe,' says Madame de Stael, 'the fall of a sparrow would be a fit subject for endless and inconsolable sorrow.' With an almighty Father at the helm, evil, physical and moral, puts on the character of discipline. We cannot, it is true, penetrate the necessity of its existence, or the nature of the good which it is intended to effect. We are tempted at first to exclaim with the eloquent sophist of Geneva, •Benevolent Being! where, then, is thy almighty power? I behold evil on the earth. But what then? Does our limited intelligence comprehend the universe ? Can the infant at his mother's breast understand why the honeyed stream is removed from his lips, and a bitter draught of medicine substituted for it? Does the little child realize why the kind father confines him in schools,-refuses him the indulgences which he thinks so delightful, -inflicts upon him, perhaps, a severe punishment for some, to him, unimaginable fault? To the child, the lapse of a few years makes all these mysteries clear; in the mean time, bis confidence and love for bis parents induce him to submit with undiminished cheerfulness, where he cannot understand. Shall the frail being of a day repose with less faith and hope on the bosom of Omniscient and Omnipotent goodness?"
4. Tales of Truth, for the Young : or Waters from the living Fountain,
flowing at all Seasons. By R. BABCOCK, D. D. Second edition. Philadelphia. 1839.
We are glad to see the second edition of this little volume. Though there is no want of books designed for the young, yet the number of judicious juvenile books is by no means great. As the author observes in his preface: “ This is the age of amusements. At a time when men become children and seek for tinsel, and toys, and rare excitements, till novelty in their production has put invention to the rack, it surely is less strange than lamentable, that children feel themselves licensed to repudiate every thing wbich is not decidedly amusing, as decidedly intolerable.” * * “ The tendencies of the whole system now most popular in the instruction and improvement of youth, is to relax, vot strengthen, to deteriorate rather than benefit their mental and moral nature. Every thing must be done for pleusure, not duty; for present gratification, not for ultimate advantage. Their school-books must, as far as possible, be amusing stories. Knowledge must be granulated to particles so small, and diluted to a consistency so thin, that it can be swallowed insensibly, or else it is thought it cannot be digested at all. It is curious to listen to the inquiries of children, and their childish parents, in reference to a new study or a new book proposed for them. • Is it interesting; will my child be pleased with it; is there no danger of its being thought dull? Just as though the tasking of the mental powers to do any thing not amusing, was either impossible or injurious. As you train the child you form the man: and what shall perpetuate the strong and stern principles of duty, if you thus cater to a vicious and enervating love of ease,-of mere amusement ? * * The Bible, too, which is not quite pleasing and palatable enough to harmonize with these modern views, must be rewritten, in parts and parcels, so as to adapt it to the
VOL. IV. —NO. XIII.
general design. It must all be made exceedingly amusing and exciting to the fancy and passions of the young, in order to secure for it a certain and a welcome reception, even by those whose hearts are at enmity with its holiness and its author! The ineffable folly of these attempts would excite a smile, if the awful danger of the delusion did not force a sigh."
In presenting a better specimen of what religious books for the young should be, we think the writer has been successful. Instead of diversifying a few thoughts and spreading them through a volume, be has elicited a rich variety of moral principles from siinple and affecting Scripture varratives, and thus suggested a much neglected, but profitable method of treating the historical books of the Bible. The distinguishing excellency of the plan is, that the living form, in true history and incident is first presented, and then the principle deduced and applied to the conscience. The “tales” are not told for their own sake,—they are not “empty,” but are richly laden with moral and religious truih. The first is “ of the man who dared to sin against God," or the story of Achan; the second, " of her who preferred God and his people to every thing else," or the history of Ruth; the third has the somewhat quaint title of “the meeting of life and death," or the raising of the widow of Nain's son. This last is evidently the most difficult subject to master; and has, we think, less of unity than the rest. The main design of the author seems to be to collect the radiance of this whole scene into a focus in the character of Christ. In such a process, beginning with details and ascending from them to general views, it is not so easy to intersperse reflections as when the process is reversed, as in the first tale, where numerous truths radiate from Achau's act as from a comnion centre. The story of Achan appears to us to be more skilfully managed than the others, and to be truly a successful effort. It has the air of being the most spontaneous, and is certainly the most exuberant. Its single parts bave not too great a breadth, nor do any of them dwindle into disproportion. Nothing extraneous is artificially attached, nothing belonging to the subject omitted. Through the whole there is a happy combination of simplicity of form with pregnancy of thought. Let not these remarks be construed as disparaging to the remaining parts of the work. We are only speaking of coinparative merit, where all is confessedly good.
There is neither space, nor particular occasion for minute criticism. As a matter of taste, we should prefer to have the expression, "flowing at all seasons," struck from the title of the book; and we think one short sentence, on page 114, where it seems to be implied, probably without design, that our Saviour never had a “sight of death" until after he was thirty years of age, inight be improved. 5. Leschon Rabbanan, oder gedrängles, volstandiges, aramäisch-chaldäisch-deutsches Handwörterbuch, als Hilfsmillel zur Erlernung des
Thalmuds, der Thargumim und Midrashim, nach dern Aruch, Mussaphia, Buxtorf und Landau. U. . W. Vou J. K. DESSAUER,
Erlangen. 1838. pp. 282. 8vo. A brief but complete German Lexicon of the Rabbincial Hebrew,
as a help to the study of the Talmud, the Targums and Medrashiin, according to Aruch, Mussaphia, Buxtorf and Landau, with an Anpendix, containing the Divisions and Technical Terms of the Talmiud; an account of the Rabbinical Schools, and Sects; and Abbreviations, and Chaldaic Paradigms, &c. By J. H. DESSAUER. Erlangen. 1838.
Every learned theologian has frequent occasion to use a Rabbinic Lexicon in his exegetical reading. But as this species of literature is little cultivated among us, and as the lexicons are very expensive and rare, few know how to prize even such works as may be found in our public libraries. Undoubtedly every one, who can afford it, should have Buxtorf's great work in his library ; but it can hardly be expected that the majority even of educated ministers should possess it. It was the design of our author to furnish such persons with a cheap substitute for the larger Rabbinical lexicons. The oldest work is the Aruch of Nathan Bar Jechiel prepared in the twelfth century, but not published until 1515; the next that appeared was an enlargement of the same by Mussaphia, a Spanish Jew, 1655. Both of these are in Hebrew. The lexicon most known and valued among us, is that of Buxtorf, published in 1640. This is a book of great learning and, though it was founded upon the two preceding, the extensive collection of new materials which was made, cost immense labor. In 1819, Landau published a large and diffuse Rabbinic lexicon in German, in five volumes. Only the last two works can be easily found, and these are expensive. The manual under review costs less than three dollars, and yet it contains more words thau Buxtorf or Landau. By omitting all references and authorities, and giving nothing but words and simple definitions, in the manner of our pocket dictionaries, a most copious vocabulary is reduced to a small compass. We could wish that the definitions had been more copious, and that all the results of a philosophical development of the significations had been presented. But a philosophical and well arranged Rabbinical lexicon does not exist; even Buxtorf, with all its treasure of learning, is a mass of confusion. The labor of preparing such a manual would be very great; such as no one would undergo, who was not exclusively devoted to making a thesaurus. We cannot better designate this book, than by calling it a very copious vocabulary in an attractive and convenient form. All the words, to the great convenience of the ordinary student, are pointed. The lexicon itself occupies exactly 200 pages 8vo., in double columns; eight pages of the appendix are devoted to the divisions of the Talmud and its contents, ten to technical terms and the Rabbinical schools; then, in twenty-three closely printed pages, follows a complete alphabetical list of Rabbinical abbreviations, merely giving the Hebrew words for which the letters stand. The student who has this catalogue can dispense with Buxtorf · De Abbreviaturis." Twenty-four pages are added, giving all the grammatical forms and inflectious, so that an ordinary Hebrew scholar can use the lexicon without being obliged to purchase a Rabbinical grammar for this purpose. We only regret that the book is not in Latin instead of German, as we fear no one will risk an English translation. Every Hebrew scholar, who can make out the meaning of a few German words, will find his account in possessing a copy of the “Leschon Rabbanan.”