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of the inward over the outward, the conquest of the fires of earth by the fire of the soul. They tell of a fiery furnace which, if only sufficiently heated, will preserve without hurt those that are cast therein, and which, so far from adding to the chains of life, will cause many for the first time to walk cumberless and free.
I regard, therefore, the poetry of the Bible as something which is inextricably bound up in its history, and which teaches the same lesson as its history—the subservience of the form to the spirit. If we look at those Old Testament writings which in a special sense are called poetic, we shall find precisely the same experience. If I were asked to lay my hand on the thing which above all others characterises these writings, I would say “inwardness.” It may seem a bold statement, but I do not at present know a single passage in these writings which deals with outward nature for its own sake. There is a sacred poetry which begins with nature and then rises to nature's God; but Judea is not content with that. She begins with God, continues with God, and ends with God. I look in vain for any instance in which the eye of her poet rests on beauty for itself alone. He considers the heavens, but it is as the work of God's hands; he views the earth, but it is as God's footstool; he contemplates the winds, but it is as God's ministers; he studies the stars, but it is as God's host; he hears the thunder, but it is as God's voice. There are passages in the book of Job as majestically descriptive of nature as anything in literature; but none of them is introduced for its own sake. They are hung upon the fringe of an argument whose decision belongs to another region, and whose interest conceals from the reader's view the form and the beauty of all earthly things. It has often been said that the Hebrew had a very limited notion of the size of the universe. I would ask, Of what universe ? If the visible universe be meant, the saying is true; but the same is true even of the modern telescope. What we mean by the universe is, after all, very much what the Jew meant —a vast, unseen something of which we only behold the edges. The modern calls the unseen thing “Nature," the Jew called it “God.” But both are alike agreed that, in the presence of its vast and incomprehensible expanse, the universe comprised by the human eye is indeed infinitely small. Therefore it is that in the Hebrew poetry the visible has only a secondary place. The Hebrew worships the unseen side of nature, and the unseen side of nature to him is God. The seeming limitation of his view is itself a proof of his large imagining; his poetry has been inspired by his sense of the internal.
I come now to the fourth department in which the inessage of Judea is illustrated-its morality. What is the difference between the morality of Egypt and the morality of Judea ? I would not say that the latter is higher than the former; I think that in form they are very much alike. But the difference lies here. The morality of Egypt is stimulated by the rewards and punishments of a life beyond the grave; the morality of Judea has no motive beyond the day and hour. And to say this is to say a great deal more. It is to say that, for the large amount of his moral actions, the Jew had no motive even in the day and hour. It is true that in the state of Israel, as in other states, there were penalties attached to the commission of crime. But crime is a very small part of sin. The root of moral evil is in the heart, and the heart can have no magistrate over it; to itself it stands or falls. If the future be not seen, the visible present has little power. The outward law may say, “Thou shalt not kill,” “thou shalt not steal,” “ thou shalt not bear false witness ”; but what outward law can say, “ Thou shalt be holy,” “ thou shalt be just,” “ thou shalt be good”? Who can penetrate into the secret places of a man's soul and read his silent moments? And if, in spite of this absence of outward law, there were men in Israel who were holy and just and good, if, notwithstanding the silence from without, there were those that could walk through the mire and keep their garments unspotted, it furnishes an indisputable proof that the force which impelled them was the power of the internal.
To my mind, indeed, the spectacle of Jewish morality is the grandest thing in the world. We see a nation living in order to be a nation--influenced in its deepest life by no other motive than the love of country and the transmission of a pure name. It is highly significant of its character, that among the statutes of its moral life there is said to be only one "commandment with promise,” only one precept to which there is attached an outward reward,—“Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Is even this a command with individual promise ? No. It is not the man but the nation that is addressed as thou. The length of days to which the Israelite looks forward is a duration not for himself, but for his kingdom-a duration in which his family shall be perpetuated from age to age, and his institutions extended from shore to shore. Such a motive as this had nothing of self in it; it had patriotism, it had family affection, but it had no self. The man who had accepted it had relinquished the thought of his own being, had ceased to view himself as anything inore than the member of another life. He had entered into one of the sublimest self-surrenders, into one of the completest sacrifices conceivable by human nature or expressible in human history—a sacrifice of which Christianity itself is the climax, and of which Christian aspiration is the mirror. The most spiritual and the most sacrificial of all systems has justly found its root in the life of a nation where the part has been impelled to surrender itself to the whole.
And what is the power by which this surrender has been made ? It is the power of morality itself, without extraneous aid. It is this which constitutes the distinctive feature of the Jewish ethics. The son of Israel neither looked forward nor looked backward; he looked in. The Parsee had his hope of a consummated glory; the Buddhist had his Nirvana of coming rest; but the Jew was influenced by the hope neither of immortality nor of forgetfulness. He was impelled by the strength of an inward present. The voice of conscience had to him no voice to compete with it; it ruled without a rival and without a second. It issued its absolute mandates, “thou shalt”; “thou shalt not"; from its law there could be no swerving, and from its verdict there could be no appeal. In that attitude Judea stands unique and alone, a spectacle to all ages and an example to all times. She is the one witness in the world to the inherent majesty of moral law. She tells the human race that, beneath the thunder and the earthquake and the fire, there is a still small voice which is more potent than all, a voice that can neither strive nor cry, but is mighty in its calm, clear decidedness. The voice is still speaking in the wilderness. Driven from her home, stripped of her glory, denuded of her kingdom, spoiled of her priestly robes, deprived of her place among the