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THE BIBLE AND LITERATURE. All around us are wonders, deep and impenetrable. The heavens, that look down on us so lovingly and familiarly, and that seem not far away from us, are hid from us in awful grandeur, that defies any familiarity with their secrets. Every discovery in the wonderful mechanism of nature increases our wonder, but removes none of the mystery that surrounds all we see. For every phenomenon understood, reveals to us Infinite Wisdom and Power incomprehensible, and sends the mind still farther on, to fathomless questions.
We stand in the outer court of the grandest Temple, and while we look at its external proportions, we strive to catch a glimpse into its penetralia; but who has ever seen through the vail of the Temple ? We look at the phenomenon of death. Our friend bids us farewell, and closes his eyes in death. The gates are quickly shut after him; and who has ever seen a ray of light from within, as he enters? How grand, awful, mysterious is death! We feel the presence of God--of eternity-of the mysterious. Nor does any view of, nor familiarity with death, lessen that mystery.
Thus, too, is the Bible. Wonderfal, mysterious Book! full of sublime and awful import. Its commencement is with the darkness and chaos that shrouds the “beginning;” its conclusion, with the constagration that terminates our earthly home. Its contents are mainly what God hath spoken to man upon the most fearful and momentous subjects of life, death, sin, and judgment. All the books on earth combined, make not men tremble like the Bible. Not only because of the awfulness of its subjects; not because, either, that they have been taught to fear it; but because, too, of the expressive mys. tery of its style, do men exceedingly fear and tremble at its final apocalypse.
What a wondrous book is the New Testament! Truly spake Jesus as never man spake; nor can men, by any effort, persuade themselves that their destiny is not in some way connected with what he spake. His life, his manners, as well as his words, impress us with awe. If ever any one was in earnest, we feel that Jesus was. If His mission was to save the world, he acted like it. From the commencement of his labors to their close, he never for a moment forgot the object of his coming. His very reliance, in regard to all sublunary things, throws a fearful mysteriousness around him. He never once mentions the name of Alexander, Xerxes, Julius Cæ. sar, nor Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, nor Confucius or Zoroaster. This is not strange in him, bat so unlike other men.
Robert Taylor, in his Diegesis, says, “Had Jesus Christ given such proofs of his superior wisdom as Zoroaster, (who, according to Taylor, made known the 47th proposition of Euclid,] his claims to Divinity might be considered.” What a thought, that He whose mission was to teach mankind the way of life, should have so far forgotten himself as to lecture on Geometry! But He was from above, and all He said and did was to do for man what he could not do for himself-to find him acceptance with God and a home in his bosom. Hence, now as ever, Jesus stands before the world the most fearful, mysterious, as well as the most lovely Being, the world has ever known. Hence, too, the Bible, at every cost and sacrifice, is not only being spread over the nations of the earth, to give light and salvation to all men, but enters necessarily into all the better interests of society-the spirit of its laws, the bond of social economy, and, especially, the sum and substance of its best literature.
This brings me to the point of this paper-the influence of the Bible upon our literature. Science is the classification of the phenomena of nature; literature, the arrangement and application of thought, sentiment, emotion. What is necessary to science, is the comprehension of phenymena; to literature, the material of thought and feeling. When, therefore, we look at the Bible and its teachings, as we have imperfectly sketched ; its all-absorbing themes, God, Satan, angels, sin, hell, heaven; themes embracing all the past and present, and those, too, that significantly grasp all that is fature, we can easily see, that from this source will arise streams of exhaustless thought, and every variety of sad and pleasing, fearful and joyous sentiment.
Sach is, and has been the fact, in the history of literature. Since the dawn of Christianity, the brightest galaxies of literature have gathered around the church. The distinguished author of the “Eclipse of Faith,” dreamed a dream. He awoke one morning, and immediately sat down by his table to read a portion of Scripture. To his surprise, he found it only a blank book. He got his Hebrew and Greek Bible, and found them, too, blank. His servant soon came to tell of a like misfortune with his. Going into the street, he heard only of this wonderful circumstance. After the first shock was over, men began to devise plans for the restoration of the lost treasure. The plan adopted was to get together all the stores of literature, and get from it every passage extracted from the Bible. But to their surprise, when they examined their books they found a blank wherever a passage or thought of the Bible had been used. To their great distress, therefore, not only was the Bible lost, but all their most valua, ble and useful literature was so mutilated as to be entirely worthless. This was far more than a dream. SERIES IV.VOL. VI.
We have no means of estimating the indebtedness of our literature to the Bible. Geology and its valuable literature, owes its excellence to biblical teaching of the formation of the earth. Ethnology and its rich literature, owes, too, its importance to the declarations of the Bible in regard to the origin of the human family; and rich and interesting as is this class of literature, 'tis worthless, in comparison to that more popular, pure, and beautiful style, that makes our families rich and privileged in chaste and elevating reading.
Poetry, the offspring of beauty and love, as well as of genius, draws its most beautiful and pleasing imagery from the Bards of the Bible. The poet, long dwelling on Parnassus, has, since Jesus, by his tragical death, made Calvary more than classic, taken his permanent dwelling there, and Jesus is his endless theme. On this humble, but far more favorable mount, he catches his highest inspiration, and sings songs that gratifies the world's highest intellectual tastes; melodies that soften the asperities of our natures; that soothe the wounded heart, that dry the weeping eye, that animate the faltering footstep. If the Bible were taken from us, the literature of the Bible would then be our most valuable riches. We still could talk and sing of our “Heavenly Home.” Our pilgrimage would be still tolerable, for along the "Pilgrim's Progress" would be seen "angels' footsteps." fainting Christians would again grow strong as they found the * shadow of the Cross" and saw the “distant hills."
Can a book of such wondrous age; passing through every stage of society unhurt; planting the germ of civilization, and then becoming its foster parent; suggesting laws, working out a chaste and happy literature; forming bands in society, and giving it harmony, love and happiness, be at last the “herald of a lie?" Midway, Ky.
J. W. P.
PROPHECY - No. I.
"Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days.” Dan x. 14.
This clause expresses the scope of the following narrative, or last vision of Daniel. In the year 606 before the Christian era, Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem, and carried Jehoiachim, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah, and many others, captives to Babylon. There they served the king of Babylon seventy years, according to the prediction of Jeremiah. The Chaldean dynasty terminated 538 years B. C., and in the 68th year of the captivity. Babylon was then taken by
Cyrus, after a siege of two years; and Cyaxares or Darius the Mede, the uncle and father-in-law of the conqueror, ascended the throne of the fallen Belshazzar. He reigned over the conquered empire two years, and left it to Cyrus, the Jews still being in captivity.
But in the first year of Cyrus, 536 years B. C., God stirred up the spirit of that prince to make the following remarkable proclamation : *Thus saith Cyrus, king of Persia, the Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and hath charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? His God be with him; and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts; besides the free-will offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem." Ezra i. 2-4.
This decree of the most powerful monarch then living, in behalf of an enslaved people, greatly, revived their drooping spirits. Most of the fathers of the captivity had gone to their final rest; their mournful pilgrimage was ended; their harps were hanging on the weeping willows of Chaldea; their bodies were lying in the unconsecrated ground of an idolatrous nation; and their spirits had gone to receive their final rewards. But their children now resumed their harps. After the proclamation of Cyrus, the sacred melodies of the temple were heard within the walls of Babylon; and the lyre of David was again heard, in tones of divine harmony, along the banks of the Eu. phrates. Medes, Persians, Babylonians, Chaldeans, and other idolatrous tribes of the Medo-Persian empire, listened with astonishment, while an emancipated nation sung the following song of deliverance: “When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing Then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for us: we are glad. Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the south. They that sow in tears, shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bearing his sheaves." Ps. cxxvi.
Forty-two thousand three hundred and sixty persons, with their servants and maids, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred and thirty-seven, soon after commenced their march for Jerusalem, under Zerabbabel, of the royal line of David, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, the son of Seraiah, who was high-priest when Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar. They arrived in Judea about the beo
ginning of the year 535 B. C. And having made the necessary arrangements for their families, “the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem.” They erected the altar of burntofferings; offered the legal sacrifices; kept the feast of tabernacles, and " in the second year of their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the remnant of their brethren the priests and Levites, a nd all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem, and appointed the Levites from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the Lord. And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord, after the ordinance of David king of Israel. And they sang together by course, in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord; because he is good, for his mercy endureth forever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was lạid.” Ezra iii. 8, 10, 11.
These events were matters of great joy to the wise, benevolent, patriotic, and pious prince whom God had raised up from the degradation of a captive to the highest honors in both the Chaldean and Medo-Persian empire. No man ever breathed a more patriotic spirit than did the prophet Daniel. Even when overwhelmed with the political concerns of the empire, and surrounded with the most emDarrassing circumstances, the burden of his soul was his enslaved brethren, the desolations of Jerusalem, and the neglected worship of the God of his fathers. From these matters, no decrees of Nebuchad. aezzar or Darius could divert his mind. When he knew that a plot for his destruction had been framed by his own political colleagues; when he knew that the writing had been signed, ascording to the inexorable law of the Medes and Persians, by the most powerful monarch on earth, threatening vengeanee upon any and every person who, within thirty days, should dare to petition any god of man, exeept Darius himself; when he knew that he was the object of the tnost unrelenting envy, malignity, and malice, he calmly and deliberately went into his house, and his windows being open toward Jerusalem, three times a day did he bow down and worship the God of his fathers. He it was, that could indeed say from the very depths of his heart, “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy."
And when about the same time, he learned from the writings of Jeremiah the prophet, that the day of Israel's redemption was at hand,