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the same ineffab.educed. Some of the in. 60th, and 108th.
at, as Psalms of these lyrics Worships, the
In the first place, we have lyrics of loftiest poetry in the Psalms of Israel's monarch, where the imagination is employed without check upon things divine. True, this is not strictly a Christian example, but as the God of the Jew was the same ineffable Spirit whom the Christian worships, the instance may be adduced. Some of these lyrics have a strong dramatic movement, as Psalms 2d, 24th, 60th, and 108th. This is sufficient to show that a drama could be constructed on this basis. But again, the objection views the gods of Polytheism as ever present in the ancient tragedy; but this is far from the fact. Five of the nineteen extant plays of Euripides have no deities introduced—namely, Iphigenia in Aulis, Heraclidæ, Hecuba, Phænissæ, and Medea. Four of the seven that remain from Sophocles may be placed in the same listEdipus Tyrannus, Edipus at Colonus, Antigone and Electra ; and to these we can add five of the seven tragedies extant of Æschylus, the sublimest of the three poets, according to the common voice of criticism, viz: Seven against Thebes, Persians, Agamemnon, Choephoræ, and Suppliants. Here, then, are fourteen tragedies of celebrity, including the masterpieces of the several authors, without anything higher than humanity introduced into the action. There is nothing in the outline of these plays that Christianity could not adopt and infuse with its own spirit. There is in them no flight of the imagination which Christianity could not undertake with safety and consistency. Still again, we should suppose that the more wide our view of eternal realities became, the more material would lie at the disposal of our imagination, and the more subjects would offer themselves to the imagination for its adornments. Thus we see the last of the Apostles bringing to view the glories of the celestial home in the trees and streams of a paradise and the precious stones and metals of imperial palaces. And so, in an opposite direction, we may use the rest of heaven that has been disclosed to us as poetically applicable to scenes of earthly experience. All this goes to show that not only is there nothing in Christianity that militates against the sublimest poetic composition, but that there is much that positively encourages the highest effort.
Again, then, the question reverts, Why do we not see a truly
Christian Drama, grand in its poetic excellence, its purity, and its dignity—in other words, the Greek Drama Christianized ? There is one reason which may be added to the general reason before alluded to—the difficult height of attainment by writer and people. It is this : that Christianity, having its teaching from the Divine Word, needs not to look elsewhere for that which the Athenian got at his theatre. Thus a mighty prop of the high Greek Tragedy is removed, and the theatre naturally is turned over to the amusements of Comedy, or the low drama that now makes its name a by-word and a disgrace. We feel that this is a loss, yet a loss that, probably, never can be repaired. The theatre has become so commingled in our thoughts with all that is base and inimical to the gospel, that it must be a strange convulsion in its condition that can eradicate the rightful antagonism of Christ's Church to its stage. We know that it is still defended by some church-members, who justify their presence in the midst of its iniquity by using the trite and false title of “school of morals” for its exhibitions, while they are willing to denounce its vicious attachments. This seems fair, but the argument is weak. These vicious attachments are just such as must ever accompany the mere amusements of the imagination. If the imagination is excited in order to realize a salutary truth, we need not fear, but when amusement only is the end, demoralization is sure to follow. The imagination is a powerful steed, and, unless well curbed and directed, will plunge us into danger. Let the great lessons of the Greek masters be its guiding pattern, and its forms are pure and graceful, its coloring chaste and impressive, but let the loom be madly plied with careless hands and the threads of a loose fancy cross the warp, and the tapestry is spoiled and revolting.
This fact that the object of the modern stage is to amuse the imagination, is its condemnation. This draws around it all the lower forms of vice. Amusement is made the god of the place—the theatrical Bacchus. His altar is recognized as the centre, whence radiate actors and audience. The ruling rod of lofty instruction is not seen, and vice makes the best of its absence. Now, as Vice is ever alive and seeking avenues of action, and as Amusement will ever be the god of the multitude, and as the theatre has been proved an admirable skeleton
for fleshly lusts to creep in and occupy, we may make up our minds to the perpetuity of the low drama. This fact shuts out all hope of a Christian drama. The bad odor of the name will be a constant barrier to the accomplishment of what otherwise, we believe, would be a desirable end. We should love to see enacted with true religious spirit some of the Biblical scenes that hold so dear a place in our imaginations. The touching story of Ruth, the contest of David with the Philistine giant, the usurpation of Athaliah, might be treated with great power. But we feel that such exhibitions would be, as things are now, injurious to the Church. The world's conduct has rendered it a thing inexpedient, and so will it ever continue. Must the Christian, then, give up the theatre ? We do not see how we can avoid the affirmative reply. Tragedy, hereafter, Christian tragedy, must be written, not acted. In the retirement of the study or parlor it may be enjoyed, but not on the stage. And in such a reading age as ours, when almost every child is taught to conquer the printed page, the result may be as extended and as beneficial as if the old majesty of the Greek proscenium, baptized by a spiritual Christianity, were offered to our eyes.
This style of remark may sound strangely to some who have mingled confusedly in their minds the tragedy and the theatre, the poem and the place. We would remind such that good Hannah More showed her appreciation of Christian tragedy in her own poetic efforts. Special evils, belonging to the place, may banish us altogether from the theatre, but the tragic poem has no special evils—no evils that all poetry is not liable to exhibit, and the condemnation, therefore, of the tragedy would be the condemnation of all poetry. No! We have no hesitation in saying that we would welcome a severe Christian tragedy-so severe that it could not be acted—as a valuable help in refining the taste and improving the morals of our age. But we do not desire French tragedy, with its style and names shabbily imitated from the Greek—the action crazy, and the moral lost—with less Christianity in it than in Sophocles. Nor do we desire the German and English tragedy of the Shakspeare schoolcompound of tragedy and comedy, high and low, good and bad, moral and immoral, sublime and vulgar-fancy sketches of life, drawn however inimitably, yet drawn to amuse the unrestrained imagination. We ask pardon for thus speaking of schools of tragedy which possess such mighty names as Corneille, Racine, and Shakspeare. We wish it understood that we are not venturing a condemnation of their poetry, which the unanimous verdict of all critics extols; the modes of that poetry—the faults of the tragedy, as such, require an unfavorable comparison with classic models. In Shakspeare, and the great mass of English writers who follow him, the lack of unity, intricacy of plot, and multiplicity of characters, while they give greater scope to versatile genius, destroy the severe outline which we so much praise as the excellency of the Attic drama.
In Corneille and Racine, different as they are, we are staggered by conceits, and in the extravagances of expression see the Frenchman everywhere with his classic drapery cut into coat, vest and pantaloons. There is unity, but no force, or rather the force exaggerated loses its effect, letting us down into the burlesque. All this, we aver, is seen side by side with the noblest flights of true poesy. Simplicity is thus sacrificed, but in a different way from its sacrifice in the English tragedy, and the moral, on analysis, is resolvable into a bit of aesthetic sentimentality. The rapidity and frequency of movement and the absence of chorus and choric intervals are additional faults in the French drama, tending, like the rest, to bring down tragedy from the symbolic to the imitative, which we consider the destruction of its high character, through which it stands at the head of all poetic expression. We urge, therefore, the creation of a modern written tragedy, on a thorougly Attic basis, keeping in view the two essential elements of the Greek drama, symbolism and moral instruction. Let the pure light of Christianity be poured upon these elements, and we shall have a school of high Christian art which shall improve the taste and correct the life of many, who withdrew themselves from the direct influences of a preached Gospel and an open Bible. The written tragedy may live, when the acted tragedy would perish. The acted tragedy, in its highest form, we have seen, cannot last long. We shall probably never see it revived. Its revival is not to be desired by the Church, for its associations would defile it. The Christian author of high
correct the boos of a preachd when the acum
tragedy must write for the parlor and not for the stage. We believe Christianity should use all the materials which Art furnishes for the adornment of its teachings. Christianity is not an aesthetic religion, as many seem to regard it. Not beauty, but the mighty truth of atonement for sin by a Divine crucified Saviour, is its essential centre. This central truth sends forth rays of matchless loveliness, and it is but reasonable that all we know of beauty in expression should be used to disseminate these emanations of the focal verity. The mistake is in looking at aesthetics as the essence, where they should be the mere external ornament. It is in this view we commend to all the study of the Attic drama, and desire its resuscitation in a Christian garb.
WILL THE JEWS, AS A NATION, BE RESTORED TO THEIR
OWN LAND ? *
THREE thousand seven hundred and seventy years ago, the Lord said unto Abraham, “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse
* Note by the Author of this Article.—One only of the editors is responsible for the following Article. He is aware that while in maintaining the affirmative of this question he has the general sentiment of the Church in former days with him, and an increasing number in our immediate times, that many sound and judicious divines are quite averse from the idea, and can see no foundation for it in Scripture. The author supposes that his theory is in one important respect new; at least he has never seen or heard it stated exactly as he puts it, and he presents it as worthy of consideration and discussion. It is proper for him to state emphatically that he has no sympathy whatever with any Millenarian theory, and that he considers all such ideas, and especially such as involve the personal reign of our Saviour, as merely carnal and Judaizing.