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itate such an effort I shall keep to that figuration glory in which His countein the Bible which is most secular and nance is illumined exclusively from nearest to the common day-the figures within. delineated upon the page of Scripture. Now, do you imagine all this was an
I have not long adopted the attitude accident? Do you think it would have until I am brought to a very startling been difficult for the historians and discovery. It is this, that the figures poets of Israel to have portrayed the of the Bible are purely mental pictures. fire on Elijah's face or depicted the Dealing as I am with the products of openness of Nathaniel's expression? an unphilosophic people, I expect to The difficulty must have been to avoid find that the physical predominates; I it. The truth is, we have here a bit of find that the physical is almost entire- literary culture as pronounced as the ly absent. Have you ever turned your
mannerism of Browning. The key-note mind to this peculiarity of Bible por- of the national Jewish literature, which traiture — its repudiation of photog- is also the key-note of the national raphy? When a modern novelist pre- Jewish character, is struck on its opensents the personages of his drama, the ing page, where, before the light or the first thing he does is to describe them. firmament, before the herb or the tree, Our first question about a man is, What before the emergence of the shape of is he like? our second is, perhaps, man or woman, the Spirit moved. This Where does he live?—the immediate was the nation's motto-the power of subjects of interest are the form and the internal. This was to be the music its environment. But the Bible ignores to which its march was to be timedboth the form and its environment. through city and desert, through prosYou ask in vain the question, What is perity and captivity. This was the he like? The personages of the Bible rhythm by which it was to frame the are without dimension, without feature, lives of its heroes and according to without physical attribute; they are all
which it was to estimate their power spirit. Was Peter tall or short? Was -the hidden self, the inner man. In its Judas handsome or deformed? Had literature as in its religion, the primary Martha wrinkles on her brow? Had rule of Jewish culture was that precept Elijah a flashing eye? Had Abraham which it inculcated next to the worship a patriarchal mien? No answer comes.
of God, “Thou shalt not make unto We hear on the stage a dialogue of
thee any graven image.” voices, but we see not the form of him Before leaving this point I cannot but who speaks. And the environment is direct attention to the fact that these equally unrevealed. There is no vision formless lives household words of the land where Abraham journeyed, among us. Spite of their abstractness, of the oak where Abraham worshipped, they have got possession of both the alof the mountain where Abraham sacri- tar and the hearth. We ourselves have ficed. So far as description is con
clothed them-given them a body, set cerned, Joseph in Egypt might have
them local habitation. The local been equally Joseph in Mesopotamia or habitation we have assigned them is Joseph in Arabia. The central figure not the land in which they lived. It is of all is no exception. The Son of man
our own land, our modern surroundis physically unseen. The only in- ings. The personalities of that far past stance where His outward beauty ever present. They are no an. breaks through the veil is an instance achronism. They sit among us clothed which rather confirms than violates the in garbs they never wore on earth; and principle. It is that moment of Trans- probably each of us has woven for
them a different garb. Yet to all of us they convey the same spiritual impression. Their identity to us lies not in their garb, but in their mind. Their power remains what it originally was -a mental power. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, are essentially spiritual entities. They
independent of feature, independent of costume. You do not figure them as I do, but you think of them I do. We have separate ideals of their form, but we have a common interest in their character. And it is this mental interest that keeps them alive. We have no photograph in common, no pic. ture in common, no image in common; but we have in common the impression of certain mind-forces which have lived and struggled on the stage of time. In this region these words are emphatically true, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing."
Here, then, is the first principle of Bible delineation-the absence of any effort at physical representation. But this leads me to a second point closely connected with it. Not only are the inen of the Bible purely spiritual abstractions; their deeds are purely inward. The dramas which they enact are enacted within their own brain. The stage on which each of them moves is the stage of his own heart; his dialogue is with himself, and he is unconscious of an audience. In the least philosophical of all nations we have dramatic incidents whose interest is purely psychological and whose theatre is as internal as is the stage on which move the plays of Ibsen. What is the drama of Abraham? It is a sacrifice of the will-a sacrifice which is never outwardly exacted, and where the lamb for the burnt-offering is unseen. What is the drama of Isaac? It is a life of self-restraint-a life in which the man withholds the exercise of half his power. What is the drama of Jacob? It is a struggle with con
science-a struggle in which a man wrestles with his better self until the breaking of the day. What is the drama of Joseph ? It is the communing of a youth with his own dreams-alike under the stars of heaven and within the bars of a dungeon. What is the drama of Moses? It is the tragedy of hope deferred-of a heart never quite seeing the realization of its promised land. Nay, I ask it with reverence, what is the drama of Calvary? It is the vision of a Spirit broken by no outward calamity, by no visible storm, by no stress of mind or fortune, but simply and solely by the sense of human sin. A series like this cannot be accidental. It is, in truth, symptomaticthe expression of an idea which pervades the national literature because it constitutes the national life. From Adam to Paul, from Eden to Damascus, from the flaming sword in front of paradise to the flaming light before the eye of the man of Tarsus, the history of Israel exhibits one refrain-the struggle of each man with his own soul.
Now, this inwardness of the Bible drama has become the root of a third characteristic which I cannot otherwise describe than by the name “Shakespearian." By this name I mean to emphasize the fact that the men of the Bible are timeless. They are altogether independent of chronology. There is no distance in development between Hamlet and Julius Cæsar. The peculiarity of Shakespeare is that we have never the sense of going back. The spectator does not need to transport himself by an act of historical sympathy. into another age. Change the costumes, alter the names of places, and there is no difference in time between Macbeth and Richard III. Beyond the fact of his genius, this is not surprising in Shakespeare; the scenes are, after all, the work of a single mind living in a very cosmo politan period. But that the same char
acteristic should prevail in the Bible, supposed to be the property of the that the same universalism should human race. One would say that the meet us in a nation the reverse of cos- literature of such a period, however mopolitan, and in a series of books great its power, must at all events be enfolding all stages of culture—this is the literature of a class, the product of a phenomenon which may well make a particular phase of culture, to be the historian pause to ponder. Nothing studied as an historic curiosity, but proves the inwardness of the Bible not to be quoted as a verdict of Man. like its timelessness. The innermost Now, what is the state of the case ? part of us belongs neither to London According to the Higher Criticism, it is nor Paris nor Jerusalem, neither to the this period which is mainly responsible twentieth century after Christ nor to for the most universal manual of inthe twentieth century before Christ; it ward biography which has ever been is the same yesterday and to-day and written-the Book of Psalms. forever. But, as a rule, this changeless “inward biography,” for that is the thing below the sea is eclipsed from character of the book. The writers of the eye by the foam on the surface and the Psalms are what Abraham, Isaac curtained from the ear by the sound of and Jacob are subjects of an inward waves. The literature which can dis- drama whose tragedy is in the heart, regard such outward interruptions, the whose struggle is in the mind, whose literature which can look below the dialogue is in the voices of their own foam and listen for voices beneath the souls. Sometimes the dialogue is acwave, must be deserving of all respect tually uttered, sometimes it is only inand worthy of all acceptation.
ferred; but whether uttered or inferred, And such a literature is the Bible. it is there. And the result of the whole Let us take the rudest of those ages is a series of experiences absolutely embraced within its records. By the cosmopolitan. We have upwards of a rudest I mean the most external-the hundred confessions of inward biogage least touched by mental influence. raphy-all the more significant because What is that period of the Jewish an- they are mostly anonymous. Like the nals? It is the age that immediately angel of Jacob the writers give no follows the return from captivity. No- name; they refuse to be interrogated; where is the life of Israel so threatened they bless us and let us go. Yet their with mental bondage. Nowhere is the blessing is a cosmopolitan blessing. nation so near to-becoming a “peculiar Their message at once raises them people.” Nowhere are the lines of uni- "above all principalities and powers," versal humanity in such danger of be- into a world where there is neither ing obliterated by the eccentric course Jew nor Greek, male nor female, bond of an individual stream.
If at any
nor free. Nationalities are superseded, time Judæa was unlike the rest of the environments are superseded, classes world or desired to be unlike the rest are superseded; the wants of men give of the world, it was then. She was place to the needs of Man. The probmaking the most frantic efforts to lems of these nameless lives are the show her difference from other lands. problems of human nature, always and She was straining to exhibit her points everywhere. The bars against which of divergence from the common heart they struggle belong to no local cage; of man. She was proclaiming in trun- they are the bars to the cage of humanpet voices her isolation from the gen- ity. Their difficulties are as old as eral experience, her independence of creation and
as the Higher those channels of revelation which are Criticism. The experiences are vastly
varied; but there is none of them local, mands the three-a glorified memory, a there is none of them transient, there golden forecast, and the weight of a is none of them peculiar to an age. present responsibility or sense of a They have survived their country in a pressing hand. The
who has different sense from that in which her reached this threefold faith will never actual people have survived her. The thirst again. people have preserved their individual In intimate association with this abpculiarities steadfast unto the end; but sence of the idea of time from Bible the aspirings of the psalmists of Israel portraiture, there is another characterhave even in the lifetime of their land istic which seems to me to constitute soared beyond her and claimed a unique literary peculiarity. I allude corner in every soil.
to the fact that in delineating its types I do not know an emotion of the of heroism there is an annulling of the human heart, I do not know a phase of distinction between youth and age. I the human intellect revealed in these know not where to find a parallel to psalms which is not also an experi- this experience. In all nations, and ence of mine. The diary of these specially in the earliest nations, there nameless lives is a diary of my life-of is a tendency to magnify youth. It is its present problems, of its existing rarely that romance selects its hero difficulties. Every mental struggle of from the ranks of middle age. The these unconscious biographies is my glow of the morning sun seems indisstruggle. It is I who look up to the pensable to the poet's gallery. But the heavens, and say, "What is Man!” It city of the Bible has no need of the is I who marvel at the seeming impar- morning sun. The inhabitants of this tiality between the treatment of the city have lost the distinction between evil and the treatment of the good. It dawn and twilight. There is no night is I who cry out against the apparent there; the gates of promise are open silence in the temple of nature—the continually. It would almost seem at hidings of the face of God. It is I who times as if the motto of the historian pray for the advent of a reign of were, “They shall bring forth fruit in righteousness which shall be a refuge old age." It is oftenest at eveningto distress and a shield from oppres- time that in the Bible city there is sion. It is I ho supplicate for a judg- light. The heroism of this gallery only ment more just than the secular tri- begins where the heroism of other galbunal, “Let my sentence come forth leries is ended. The phenomenon is so from Thy presence!" It is I who have striking that we are constrained to made the discovery, once and forever, linger over it. that the only availing sacrifice is a sur- Did it ever occur to you that each rendered will, a broken and a contrite successive picture of these Bible times heart. It is I who have recognized the is a picture of heroic old age? I see an fact that forgiveness is not enough for old man breasting a storm that has me, that redemption is not enough for drowned the world and surveying me, that what I need is a cancelling of from Ararat the vanquished flood. I my yesterday, a blotting out of my see an old man climbing the heights of transgression. It is I who feel the Moriah to become the prophet of a new three solemnities of life expressed in age. I see an old man, who has spent the words, “Thou hast beset me behind all his youth and middle life in moneyand before, and laid Thine hand upon making, break forth on his deathbed me.” The man who said that was a into the grandest poetry; it is Jacob cosmopolitan indeed! My religion de- leaning on the point of his staff and singing the songs of the morning. I see be caught up in the air; his motto an old man getting the first vision of rather was, “Whither shall I flee from the promised land-the aged Moses Thy presence!" To him there was only with his mountain view, with his eye one source of the national life-the inundimmed and his natural strength spiration of the Eternal. It was by no unabated. I see an old man wrapped human strength that Abraham climbed in the shadows of the grave, proclaim- the mount of sacrifice. It was by no ing the advent of a higher and a purer human strength that Jacob sang his government; it is Samuel, the first of
song in death.
It was by no human the prophets. I see an old man at the strength that Moses had in old age the very moment when he feels his body aspiration of a youth. The life which failing, at the very moment when he did these things was the life of the sees his empire tottering, break forth Eternal. The Jew was thoroughly coninto the most exultant music, “God sistent. He believed that his heroes has made with me an everlasting cove- were animated by the breath of a nant which is well-ordered and sure;” timeless God, and therefore he felt it is David, the king. It is the old who that old age was to them as favorable greet the rising sun of Jesus-Eliza
as youth. He said with the prophet, beth and Zacharias and Anna and "Thou art from everlasting; therefore Simeon. It is to "such a one as Paul I shall not die!" That is the reason the aged" that this earth which had why he is not eager to exhibit bis been despised by Paul the young be- heroes in the morning. To bim the comes a possible scene of glory. And evening and the morning were not only it is to the gaze of age, not of youth, one day, but one intensity of light. that there comes in Patmos Isle the Each was God's light, and therefore most optimistic vision that has ever each was equally near the vital stream. flashed before the eye of man–the vi- What youth achieved was by the sion of that city of Christ which has breath of God; what age achieved was reached the harmony of a "length and also by the breath of God. The a breadth and a height that are equal." thought which animated the nation,
Can we account for this phase of the thought which permeated the naJewish literature? At first sight it tional literature, was the voice which seems a contradiction to the national summed up the experience of generalife. Why should a nation which for tions, “Not by might nor by power, but centuries is silent about a future state by My Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts." have annulled from the outset the dis- And it is this that to my mind extinction between youth and age? You plains the fact that Judæa, unlike forget one point. Why is this nation si- other lands, has accepted a paradise at lent about that future life of which we both ends. There have been nations, speak so much! It is because our and these have been the majority, who future was its present. What we look have had their paradise in the past; for mainly beyond the grave was to their glory is seen in retrospect; they the Jew a fact of every day-the usher- look back to their morning as their age ing into the immediate presence of of gold. There have been nations, on God. We do not think of the dead as the other hand, who have placed their growing old; why? Simply because we paradise in the future; their golden age think of them as being "ever with the is coming; their El Dorado is in toLord.” The Jew reached that thought morrow's sky. But here is a nation, apart from death. He did not hold here is a literature, which combines that to be with the Lord a man must the two! In the life of this Jewish