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ease of human nature,-for eradicating “the uneradicable taint of sin.” “ That boundless upas, that all-blasting tree," still bore its bitter fruit, still shed around its deadly poison. He might close up this or that outlet of passion, might cut off this or that stream; but there was the fountain, unseen, mysterious, fathomless, a well of bitter waters, springing up into everlasting death.
The philosophy of the Garden, on the other hand, proposed pleasure as the chief good—the great end of human life. În so doing, it subverted the very foundations of morality, and rendered man a being to whom the law of duty was wholly inapplicable. For if moral obligation is of any force whatever, its authority is paramount, and the right must always take precedence of the expedient. But the disciple of Epicurus pursued the right only because it was expedient, and could never in his conflict with vice rise above considerations of mere utility. Here then was a philosophy which led its votaries along an easy and flowery path—but toward no noble end. It was a scheme perfectly practicable, for it released its votary from every obligation of toilsome and self-sacrificing endeavor, and threw the shield of its sanction over every course to which his capricious inclinations might impel him. The disciple of Zeno saw a sublime eminence which he longed and strove zealously to attain. But it was in the clouds; and between it and him was a great gulf fixed which he could not pass. The disciple of Epicurus saw an easy and enchanting path stretching out before him, but it led but too often to the bowers of indolence, to the lazar-house of disease, to the abysses of corruption, wretchedness, and death.*
Even the slight sketch which we have given shows that the Grecian philosophy was unable to solve the great problem of man's spiritual relations and destinies; and while partly by its direct teachings, and still more perhaps by the general spirit of inquiry which it awakened, it tended powerfully to subvert the reigning superstitions, it could furnish no solid basis for a new and better system. Its natural result therefore was skepticism,-a disposition to mock and scoff at all religion, as suited only to the infancy of society, or to the wants of the unreflecting and ignorant multitude. This spirit had reached its acme about the time of our Saviour, a time when gray-haired, doting superstition, solemn hypocrisy, and mocking unbelief formed a strange and incongruous
Even the philosophy, Wafations and destre perhaps by
* See Blackwood's Magazine, June, 1834, in a note to The Cesars," which suggests the above contrast between the Stoic and the Epicurean philosophy.
jumble, and produced a state of society, which, as delineated on the pages of Lucian, the Voltaire of Paganism, shows into how mournful a wreck had fallen the once splendid structure of Grecian civilization.
We have run rapidly and cursorily over a subject whose full development would require volumes, rather than a single essay. But we have said enough to show the impotence of Heathenism, in all its elements, for any effective moral elevation of the race. What could it effect ? With a religion whose "gods were such as lust makes welcome," and whose rites at best consisted of little else than empty forms, and often degenerated into an indulgence in foul and loathsome vices ; with a code of morals that tolerated and often approved pride, ambition, lust, and revenge; and finally, with a philosophy which, though it might loosen the foundations of ancient belief, could lay no broad and solid ones of its own on which to build anew the structure of religious faith and moral virtue ; which, though it might expose and explode many popular superstitions, either furnished for them no substitute, or substituted doctrines often equally false and scarcely less pernicious; which was thus powerful to generate skepticism, but could construct no system of consistent and intelligent belief,—what with all this could it effect for
human regeneration? How could it release men from the · slavery of passion ? How could it cleanse away the defile
ment of sin? How could it lift from the conscience its heavy burden of guilt? What bright hopes could it hold out to depraved, degraded, perishing humanity, of reascending to that bright eminence of purity, freedom, and bliss, from which it had a vague conception of having fallen, and to which its noblest instincts still pointed ?
It was our intention to set forth some of the leading principles which Paul brought to the conflict with this great system of evil, but we have already transcended our limits. We had proposed to analyze that master-piece of sacred eloquence, the address of Paul before the court of the Areopagus, and place in contrast the great doctrines there developed, with the superstition whose leading features we have endeavored to delineate. It would be difficult for imagination to conceive a situation of more sublime and thrilling interest than is furnished by Paul standing before that august tribunal, whose origin was lost in the grayest antiquity, and whose members had for centuries consisted of the ex-magistrates-men ripe in age, experience, and wisdom-of the Athenian republic. There stands the great
apostle, with the idolatrous city lying outstretched beneath his eye, crowded with the statues and temples of the gods, while above all and in full view towered the stately Parthenon, and near it the armed statue of Minerva, who, with spear and helmet, still guarded the fallen fortunes of her chosen city. There stands Paul and announces the strange but sublime doctrines of one spiritual, supreme God, the Creator of the world and all things that are therein; a God, who filleth heaven and earth, and dwelleth not in temples made with hands, and bears no resemblance to gold or silver, or to any image graven by art and man's device; a Moral Ruler, who, though he might bear long with, and seem to overlook the wickedness of his creatures, yet takes strict account of all their proceedings, and will one day “judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given assurance to all men in that he hath raised him from the dead.” How do all the great doctrines of revealed truth-doctrines worthy of a God to deliver, doctrines harmonizing perfectly with the noblest faculties and aspirations of man-pass successively and in solemn grandeur before our minds in this brief outline, or perhaps rather introduction only of Paul's discourse before the Areopagus! How admirably is the whole adapted, both in style and sentiment, to the time, the place, and the audience! How do the loftiest speculations of Heathenism “ lose discountenanced and like folly show," before this majestic cartoon, this sublime yet simple outline of the great doctrines of Christianity. Whoever can read it attentively and fail to be profoundly impressed with its immeasurable superiority to everything which ever proceeded from the unaided human intellect, must be more or less than man.
ART. VII.—NINEVEH AND ITS REMAINS. Nineveh and its Remains: with an Account of a Visit to the
Chaldæan Christians of Kurdistan, and the Yezidis, or Devilworshippers, and an Inquiry into the Manners and Arts of the Ancient Assyrians. By AUSTEN HENRY LAYARD, Esq., D. C. L. In 2 vols., pp. 326, 373. New-York : George P. Putnam. 1849.
THERE are few topics which we pursue with more lively interest than the memorials of the long-buried past. A relic from a distant age often has a high market value. Especial
ly, whatever can cast light upon the history, character, and manners of men belonging to remote periods, is invested with a charm such as no modern productions, relating only to the present, can claim. There is no one who does not feel the inspiration coming from a walk in imagination with a traveller in the long-hidden cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. In those cities, uncovered by modern curiosity, we see the streets, the theatres, the private houses, the halls, the parlors of the inhabitants, the shops devoted to their several handicrafts, and the skeletons of the persons who pursued them, and even the circular mark made by the drinking glasses, as they were set down wet upon the counters of those primitive bar-rooms. The people and the scenes of a distant age are made to pass before us. They have been, in a wonderful manner, preserved by the providence of God, and we now see them just as they were thousands of years ago. Thus, mysterious confirmations of history are dug up out of the earth. Things that were necessary to the illustration of prophecy, and of other portions of divine truth, God has kept hidden under beds of lava, or of ashes, or buried in mounds of earth, until the time when their testimony would be most needed and best appreciated. And thus the searching curiosity of men is often rewarded in an unexpected manner, by. discoveries which put life, as it were, into a past world, restore a tongue to the dead, make sculptured marbles speak, explain the allusions of history, and interpret before us the prophetic Word by methods which cannot be resisted.
Modern travel is constantly bringing to light new and interesting things of the kind thus indicated. Every portion of the earth is, in succession, brought under the searching eye of the adventurer. The whole Eastern world especially—the first and second cradles of the human race—has attracted the most rigid scrutiny. Almost every foot of ground, consecrated by the legends of classic lore, or sanctified by religious associations, has been upturned, examined, questioned as to its testimony concerning the scenes of a distant epoch. The places where the ancient people of God wandered and rested,—where they sat weeping, with their harps “hanged on the willows in the midst thereof,” and where they exulted in their prosperity, are clothed with undying interest; and although hundreds and hundreds have explored them, each new traveller visits the spots with no less enthusiasm than that which animated the old crusaders.
Among these places, a peculiar interest attaches to the city of Nineveh. Nineveh is spoken of very early in the Old TestaSTAVEB
ment records. In Gen. x. 9–11, it is said: “Nimrod was a mighty hunter before the Lord. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh.” Beginning thus early, Nineveh was early delivered over to oblivion. In the time of the last kings of Israel, it was already overthrown." Nineveh was destroyed,” says Dr. Robinson, "in the year 606 before Christ,-less than one hundred and fifty years after Rome was founded. Her latest monuments, therefore, date back not less than five and twenty centuries; while the foundation of her earliest is lost in an unknown antiquity. When the ten thousand Greeks marched over this plain, in their celebrated retreat, (400 B. C.,) they found in one part a ruined city, called Larissa ; and in connection with it, Xenophon, their leader and historian, describes what is now the pyramid of Nimroud. But he heard not the name of Nineveh ; it was already forgotten on its site, though it appears again in the later Greek and Roman writers. Even at that time, the widely extended walls and ramparts of Nineveh had perished; and mounds, covering magnificent palaces, alone remained at the extremities of the ancient city, or in its vicinity, much as at the present day."
Nineveh is made familiar to us, especially, through the history contained in the book of Jonah. It is also made the subject of prophecy, more or less fully, by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zephaniah, and especially Nahum, who devotes to it his whole book. In the book of Jonah, it is called “an exceeding great city of three days' journey.” The ruins disinterred by Mr. Layard precisely correspond to these dimensions. · Nineveh was situated on the river Tigris, at its junction with the Zab. It was on the eastern bank of the river, below Mosul, or nearly opposite to it. Standing in such a position, it was able to command the trade from above on both rivers. It was also in an exceedingly populous country, being near the original centre of population of both the antediluvian and post-diluvian worlds. The city is described as having been eighteen miles long, and twelve broad, and sixty miles in circumference. Twenty miles being a day's journey in the East, this gives the exact measurement as recorded by Jonah. According to Diodorus Siculus, the walls of Nineveh were one hundred feet high, and so thick that three chariots might be driven abreast upon them. On the walls were fifteen hundred towers, each two hundred feet in height. The walls were built of sun-dried brick, or of a rampart of clay, cased with stone. They were erected, according to Eusta
VOL. XV.—NO. LIX.