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books which have perished : The Book Of The Wars Of The Lord; The Book Of Jasher; The Chronicles Of The Kings Of Judah; The Three Thousand Proverbs Of SoloMon; The One Thousand And Five Songs; and his works on natural history. We have reason to think that much of Hebrew literature has perished; and it Would be sad to think that it had perished through chance or the capricious conduct of a people who often perversely chose idolatry rather than the worship of Jehovah. Why did these books die, and why did other books live? Was there a law, and what was it? It is delightful to find, that God has intrusted this important discrimination to a law as certain as that which makes a bullet sink when dropped into the sea, and a piece of cork swim. The old song of the Children in the Wood, so simple, so very affecting, such cruelty in the uncle, such a piteous fate in the children, the dark woods, the lonely night, the dreadful death, and then the robin-red-breast covering them with leaves, and all this sung to an unworn and unpreoccupied mind — virginibus puerisque canto — how could such a song perish? It was steeped in a thousand tears; it was graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock forever.

But all these laws of discrimination and preservation were increased among the Hebrews. Religion always exercises a powerful influence over taste. The Hebrew government was a theocracy. Their religion was a book-religion; it depended on the divine authority of certain pages. Therein was their duty, their distinction, their pride, and their glory. Now, of course, their attention must be deeply fastened on the books which stood at such an awful distance from all others. The very absorbing interest of the divine books must draw away their regard for the other class. If, then, the committing of an English lay, about a robber, to an English taste, was sure to preserve it, if it had any human inspiration, how much more a Hebrew strain or narrative, committed to a sacred nation, when the inspiration was claimed to be divine! If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.

This law is so general and so efficacious that one can hardly agree with Prideaux when he argues that in the reign of Josiah there was no copy left except that found in the rubbish of the temple. "If the king and the high-priest," says he, "who were both men of eminent piety, were with- » out this part of holy Scripture, it can scarce be thought that any one else had it.,J 1 But surely it must have been otherwise. It is hard to blot out the memory of a most popular book. Was there no pious Jew that had survived the ruin of Manasseh and Ammon; no concealed copy; no memory strong enough to preserve its most important parts? We have, too, the special providence of God; his interest in preserving what his goodness had given. At any rate, we know the power of religious principle, how it fires the genius and quickens the memory; and it was impossible that the narratives of Moses or the strains of Isaiah should be blotted out from the recollections of such a people. The indifference of the court and the temple would powerfully tend to produce a reaction in popular life.

The conclusion then is, that the books lost sunk because they had less authority than the books preserved. They died because they were mortal.

Wisdom is not always wise; learning is not always common sense. Some of the German critics, who have lost their brains over their books, have introduced some astonishing rules of judging. Thus Dcederlein says:2 " Sed cum nemo conjector ausit per breves et obscuros indices efficere ac finire singulorum titulos numerumque universum, et vulgaris opinionis de canone Judeorum, confirmato et probato per Jesum, cui tamen censoris critici provincia vix erat demandata, futilia sint argumenta," etc. It is very true that Christ did not come into the world to be a critic, but for a purpose infinitely higher and nobler, a purpose that swallows up all criticism and supersedes its petty power by hasting to its important end. The sun does not rise to reflect its own light. Because Christ was not a critic, was he therefore incompetent to sanction the books of the Old Testament by

l Prideaux's Connections, Vol. II. p. 103. Inst. Thcolog. Vol. I. p. 159.

his own infallible word? Such reasoning, on this side the Atlantic, must be beneath contempt; it must derive all its respectability by coming across the water. Rosenmiiller, in his preface to the 2d Psalm, has an equally wise law : " Peter, Paul the apostle, he who wrote the epistle to the Hebrews, apply this psalm to Christ. But, says the sublime critic, pluming his wings for one of his highest flights : "A nobis vero hanc, quae in laude turn esset, docendi et disputandi rationem sine impretatis et arrogantia? culpa deseri nunc posse, persuasum mihi est; neque enim ab istis discipline christianse doctoribus expectari interpretationes locorum diflicilium grammatical debent." How much of this nonsense have we had! and how solemnly has it been repeated! Is criticism a means or an end? and is the man who makes it an end, a philosopher, or fool?

The great object of criticism is to find the popular law, and the great wish of piety is to obey it.

A knowledge of some of these laws of literature might lead us to look behind some superficial canons which are misleading from the very circumstance of their being true; for a deceptive truth is worse than a manifest error. Several of the German critics have laid down this rule: that after the restoration of the Jews by Cyrus, it became common among them to refer whatever was great and magnificent in the lays of the prophets to the Messiah, and hence grew up the latent or double sense. It was the triumph of hope over experience ; it was the agonies of a mind in which a present dungeon creates the most extravagant visions of future liberty. Now the fact to which they allude (for it is a fact), had a cause, and in that cause we find the true solution of the double sense. They believed their prophets to be inspired; of course, an authorship behind the visible and human author. It is very impressive and instructive to see how the same condition impresses men with the same law. Thus the oracle at Delphi had a recondite or double meaning: the god saw further than the priestess or the consulter; the prophecy was ofttimes revealed only in the event. Men in similar situations will always come to a similar result. It is a law of their condition. When the commander of a ship directs the helmsman to steer a particular course, the higher mind has a more extensive design than the lower: his direction has a deeper meaning in Ms own breast than it has in the ear of him who receives it. The sailor wishes to keep on that particular track ; he looks to his compass and is satisfied, if the vessel does not deviate; the captain thinks of the whole voyage, perhaps of girdling the whole world. The restoration from the Babylonish captivity was an emblem and prelude to our higher redemption. The double meaning arises from the condition of the prophet, the complicity of his object, the secondary nature of his authorship, the subordination of his office, and the grandeur of his theme. It is often said that the Bible should be interpreted like any other book; yes, like any other book treating of such themes and the writers in such a condition. But surely inspiration brings its own laws; and the natural is modified by the spiritual that shines over it. The double meaning is not arbitrary, not forced, not extravagant, not even uncertain, when men are placed in a condition that demands it.

We may derive from our subject a topic of triumph and consolation both to the successful and unsuccessful candidate for fame. The law is invariable, inevitable, and, in the long run, inflexibly just. It may be a matter of congratulation to a successful writer to know that merit (at least relative merit) sustains him, and to the unsuccessful one that an Eternal Law consigns him to forgetfulness. No doubt this law dooms to darkness much that is respectable, much that is even excellent; and a work may sometimes fasten on the memory by its supreme absurdity. But it must be Striking. If you can write a poem, or compose a history, or utter an apophthegm, or even make a blunder which excites attention enough to be repeated and re-echoed, it lives. But if you only repeat a common-place, it cannot be preserved even in the pickling juices of folly or faction. It -perishes, not by the caprice of man, but by a decree which no artificial legislation can ever repeal.





§ 1. The national constitution of the Hebrews was built on a Patriarcho-democratic basis. The existence of a perpetual representation of the people is indicated both by their customs and their laws. The representatives consisted of the heads of tribes and families; men who, by virtue of their age 1 and natural position in society, were well fitted to exercise a patriarchal authority.

§ 2. Even while in Egypt, Moses gathered "all the elders of the children of Israel" (Ex. 4: 29), with whom, conjointly, he was to appear before Pharaoh (Ex. 3: 16—18.). When, therefore, it is said (4: 30, 31): "He did signs before the people,"—"the people believed in them, and they bowed their heads," we must assume that all the people, as is clearly evident from 4: 29, were not present on that occasion; but that the elders referred to fully represented them. Thus early do we find the datum, so often applicable in the subsequent books of Scripture, viz. that " the people" signifies the same as " the people represented by their elders." Compare Ex. 19: 7, 8, where Moses convoked "the elders of the people," and then " all the people together" reply to the communication imparted to the former; also Judg. 10: 8, where the "people" and the "princes of Gilead" are identified; see also Josh. 23: 2, where "all Israel" is paraphrased, and at the same time restricted, by the phrase "its elders, judges, and officers."

On this supposition alone can it be explained how Moses could speak to all the people.2 From this point of view, also,

1 The term CSjJT (Zckcnim), " elders," did not then as jet express a merely formal appellation. 1 Comp. Maimonidks in bis Preface to the Mishna. Vol. XV. No. 60. 70

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