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We find Christ in the Old Testament of the Society's Bible, as fully, as frequently, and as clearly set forth, as the Spirit of God has revealed him to us in the text. We are not still so near the “infant school” in our Bible reading, as not to see Christ in “the Seed of the woman,” “in the Prophet of God,” “in the Angel of the Covenant," in "the Messiah," and in the “Shepherd to be smitten.” Nor are we still so near to Rome, that we must light a taper in order to see the Sun, or depend upon a human device in order to find Christ in Moses and the Prophets. We are not, we confess, accustomed to read the Bible in the contents of the chapters, or to gather up the Christology of the Inspired Word from the head lines over its columns. We worship in the inner temple. We seek Christ in his Word, and we find him there, in Prophet, Priest, and King, and in all his power to save.
With the idea that has been thrown out, in certain quarters, that men cannot understand the Bible without such headings in the Old Testament, as have the words “ Christ” and “Church” in them, and the exalting of these headings, which have admitted error in them, into a most important part of the Bible, we have no sympathy whatever. “ Thousands and tens of thousands," it seems, “have through these headings found their way to Christ and his cross.” It may be so; but we have yet to hear of the first instance. Who was ever converted while reading the contents of the chapters? Who was ever led to “Christ and his cross," while reading the heading of Is. liii., where the prophet is made to take his place? And who was ever prompted at once to remember his Creator, while reading in Ec. xii., that he is to do this “in due time?" Such talk does well for effect, but we apprehend there is very little in it. The Bible is God's Book, and in the way “to Christ and his cross,” it is so plain that a child can find it, and find it without looking for it in the contents of the chapters. It cannot be made plainer by the work of man. It is all light now.
We have alluded to an utterance from Princeton about the removal of “evangelical readings,” and the adoption of such as Gesenius and De Wette would have preferred. But the oracle goes further, and asserts that the striking out of the words “ Christ” and “Church” from the headings in the Song of Solomon, “makes the book describe the mutual love of the king and his bride"—is “ tantamount to a denial of the religious character of the book,"—is making it "a mere secular song of love." This is a bold utterance indeed! But it is not original. We had it before from the banks of the Patapsco. It amounts simply to this, that the Song of Solomon owes its “religious character” to the work of man; to the headings placed there by the translators, and consequently, that, when these headings are removed, and the words of the Song itself are put in their places—sweet words, “the beloved” and “the bride”—Bible words, and words which the Holy Ghost put in the Song—when this is done, the book “loses its religious character;" sinks down into “a mere song of earthly love !” This is terrible! We would not have uttered such a thought, and have written it down, and sent it out, to do the work of mischief, for any consideration. Look at the sentiment. A book in the sacred canon of Scripture dependent on the headings of a human hand, for its “religious character !" a book in the Bible, which, the moment you remove what man has put at the beginning of its chapters, degenerates into “a mere song of earthly love !” And if so, then all the Bibles which omit these headings, as thousands do, have in them a book which has no “ religious character”—a book which is “a mere tale of earthly love!" This may well startle the friends of the Inspired Word. It goes even beyond Rome. She will not let the people have the Bible, unless the priest goes with it to explain it, and on the ground that they cannot otherwise understand it. But here we have the position taken, that unless these old headings, the priest in this case, accompanies this Song, the Song itself ceases to be a part of the Bible; loses its “religious character,” and becomes a mere secular song. We ignore such a sentiment—we abhor it, whether it comes from Baltimore, from Danville, or from Princeton. It is an offence to us. If the words, “the beloved” and “the bride,” in the headings exhibit this book as a tale of earthly love, then there is exactly and identically the same reason for asserting this of the book itself. Of like character is the charge that the headings, in the Society's standard throughout, “degrade and vulgarize the Bible." It all comes down to this at last, that the omission in the Old Testament of the word “Church,” and the putting in its place the words “Zion,” “the righteous," "the people of God," and the like terms which are in the text; and the omission of the word “ Christ " which is not in the text, and the using in place of it the words, “ Messiah," “ Prophet,” “ beloved," and the like, which are in the text,—this “degrades and vulgarizes the Bible.” We can make nothing less out of it. And what is this? What shall we call it?
The assailants of the Society speak of the injury done to the churches in the publication of this Bible. We think it will be counted as the small dust of the balance, in comparison with that, which has been done to the cause of truth and righteousness in the misrepresentation, slander, and abuse, put forth by those assailants. The Princeton professor, all confident from the tenor of his remarks, has not compared the headings of this Bible throughout with those of 1611 ; for if he had, he could not have spoken as he has. We love the man—we admire his Commentaries. We sit often at his feet, and love to sit there. But he is certainly mistaken in reference to the headings in this Bible. And as to the author of the Apology, we need not speak further. Blundering is his business. He is hardly ever right in his statements, if it is possible to be wrong. The same amount of ignorance, misrepresentation, and abuse of good men, we do not believe can easily be found printed and bound up in the same number of pages elsewhere.
The Life of Charlotte Brontë, author of " Jane Eyre," " Shirley,"
“ Villette,” &c. By E. C. GASKELL, author of “ Mary Barton," “ Ruth,” &c. In two Volumes. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 1857. pp. 285, 269.
It seems to be pretty well settled now, that works of fiction must be tried on their own merits, and that any such sweeping rule as was formerly laid down, that all fictitious writing is per se bad, must be abandoned. The reason does not lie in the fact that the world has grown wiser than formerly in its judgments, but in this other fact that the extraordinary merit of many works of fiction during the last half century, will not allow the rule to remain. The question cannot now be, Shall I read any novels ? but, What novels may be read ?
But, it may be asked, are we not in this, lowering the standard of morality? To which we are constrained to reply in the negative. The genius and virtue of many men and women have passed into this class of books, and there can hardly be fine culture without them. We must here as elsewhere, accept our appointed condition. This world is a place of trial. We must choose the good and reject the evil. Our faculties are to be exercised by reason of use. We are to form a character amidst innumerable difficulties. In no other way can it become either fine or strong
If one element of genius be more certain than any other, it is that it is inevitable. It will have its way and its own way. Its force is from within. The form is moulded by the spirit. Such a development may never have been known. Such writing may never have been recognized by any critic. It matters not. The Almighty makes genius, and within the circle of the Omnipotent there is room for innumerable forms never yet seen or known among creatures.
That CHARLOTTE BRONTË is one of those new and mighty life-forces that we call genius, all men are coming to believe. It would be as vain to warn the young, impulsive mind off from
such a book as Shirley, as to build a wall around Cologne Cathedral, because some ill lesson might be learned from the soul of man working in Gothic architecture, or to forbid the sight of the Mississippi, because some mischief might come to the heart from drinking in the sense of boundless power.
It is not only coming to be believed, that Charlotte Brontë was a genius in some high sense; it is making itself felt that she was a heroine, not only great but good, and good as great. This is the verdict of those who hesitated at Jane Eyre, but who, after reading all that has been written by that vivid, nervous pen, have followed earnestly Mrs. Gaskell’s narrative of a real but yet most strange life.
In youth we delight in the fine frost-work of fancy, but as we grow older we change in this, that we inquire with eagerness, not what the loftiest imagination can do in bringing together the wonderful, but what has actually been, what the Almighty has actually done or permitted. And so it comes to pass, that not only is truth stranger than fiction, but to the real thinker, far more interesting. An actual event is a decree of the Infinite, accomplished and irrevocable. Hence, of all studies, history and biography are the most absorbing.
And, of course it follows, that as common principles are illustrated by common samples of working, there are sometimes in human character—as in those gems of scenery and those crises of history which are scarcely ever reproduced—some specialities so unique that they are hardly seen more than once. In genius of this order we have an experimentum crucis, a specimen truly priceless, a ‘araš ne youévov of the Divine Speech. It is scarcely saying too much when we thus characterize Charlotte Brontë. Laying aside the case of Sappho, in regard to whom there is so little that is reliable, we can think of but two women, both quite modern, that we should be at all inclined to compare with her in point of genius. They are Madame de Stäel and Mrs. Browning.
Her story is becoming as familiar as the traditions of our own families, but we must glance at it as the only fitting means of enabling us to understand her character.
Miss Brontë lived in the little village of Haworth in Yorkshire, where her father, the Rev. Patrick Brontë is Rector.