Page images

attain a state of mind adapted to the discovery and appreciation of divine truth: but has been pushed beyond its legitimate boundaries into speculations and theories concerning modes of spiritual operation. It has not been deemed sufficient to admit the efficacy of prayer, or to depend upon the aid of the Spirit, but it must needs be determined in what manner prayer operates, and we are called upon to yield implicit credence to the dogma that the illumination referred to is given in every case by a "direct, internal, and efficient operation of the Holy Spirit.” And, to complete the theory, this supernatural influence is granted or withheld according to the sovereign will and pleasure of God, and is as much beyond the reach of the individual who is supposed to need it, as a new mental constitution, or a new revelation from the skies.

Minds, more practical and less dogmatic, do not feel disposed to adopt at once a view which detracts so much from the intelligibility of the Bible; and feel the less hesitation in rejecting it, that, as its authors allege, it makes not the slightest difference, in a practical point of view, whether it be received or not; the influence in question being just as likely to act upon the person who rejects, as upon the one who admits its existence. Some too of those who admit the efficacy of spiritual influence, and who are more philosophical at least, if not more scriptu; al than the dogmatists above mentioned, would seek to give a more full and satisfactory acccont of the mode in which the Spirit of God accomplishes the illumination of the mind.

If it be ascertained that, as a general rule, a wri ng will be the more intelligible in proportion as the mind of the reader is like that of the writer, it would not appear difficult to explain how, without the addition of special and direct illuminating power, the usual and admitted influences of the Holy Spirit would be amply sufficient to accomplish all that is desired. If it were at all necessary to form a theory of spiritual influences in reference to this subject, we presume it would be to the effect, that, since every true believer enjoys the presence of the Holy Spirit, in accordance with the gracious promises of the gospel, and since it is the express office of the Spirit to "keep the heart and mind” by that divine peace and love and joy which are his legitimate fruits, so we have at once, without going beyond the scriptures, the production and maintenance of the very state of mind required: the Spirit who communicated the divine word, being now, as an indwelling guest in the heart of the believer, the author of the very state of mind and feeling best fitted to the proper comprehension and appreciation of that word. Nothing, certainly, can be more obvious than that the individual whose mind is freed from the distracting cares and fears of the world by the “peace of God which passes all understanding,” and whose heart overflows with heavenly love and joy, is in the very best possible frame to understand and relish as well as to practise the divine teachings.

Nor is this obedient yielding to the things enjoined in revelation an unimportant element in the production of the desired result. On the contrary, it is a most necessary and invariable concomitant: -the very evidence of the spiritual presence; the proof of divine love; the assurance of faith; and the security of hope. Hence the individual who thus, under the divine influence, understands the word, and penetrates more and more into the deep things of God, is, by the very same influences, led to render that practical obedience to the divine requirements which is the express end and object of all spiritual illumination. It is the person who "obeys," that thus shall understand the doctrine of Christ. It is the one that thus feareth the Lord, whom "he shall teach in the way that he shall choose.” For “the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant."

Upon this view of the subject, too, there is abundant room for the influence and exercise of prayer. It is not here, as in the former view, that prayer will be made for a direct internal special illumination by the Spirit, which by no means would imply a corresponding obedience; but the prayer here is that of Paul—the “supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,” which, as above stated, not only secures the disposition of mind necessary to intelligence, but works in the believer both to will and to do the good pleasure of God.

The difference, then, between the two theories is, that while the one supposes a special and supernatural revelation to the intellect in every case, the other accounts for the result by those influences which regulate the heart; and that while the former by making it a direct intellectual illumination implies an absolute deficiency in the intelligibility of the written word; the latter, by referring the effect to a change in the state of the mind, by which it is brought into unison with the one which dictated the revelation, does honor to the latter as precisely suited to the comprehension of those and those alone for whom it was intended.

The more simple our views of what revelation teaches, the more likely they are to be correct. The same thing indeed may be said of nature, in the investigation of which this remark has been so often verified by experience. Both nature and revelation are works of the same author, and are strikingly consistent and harmonious with each other as to the views they afford of the intellectual and moral attributes of the Deity. The person, who, in his studies of nature, should perpetually require and suppose the direct aid of supernatural and miraculous power to help him out with his clumsy theories, would be but a sorry naturalist; and the case, we trow, of many in religion is little better, who have no means of escape from the dilemmas in which system-making has involved them, other than a “special, direct, internal, and efficient operation of the Holy Spirit.” A person may, indeed, get rid of any difficulty by a miracle, but it is the part of wisdom to refer effects to regular and established causes whenever these are evident and adequate. All that can justly be required is, that the cause should exist, that it should be unobstructed, and that it should be sufficient for the accomplishment of the end. There is no necessity for supposing a miraculous interposi. tion for illumination; a special and extraordinary superaddition either to the intellectual ability of the biblical student or to the intelligibility of the Sacred Oracles, if we can readily find in the influence which the Holy Spirit avowedly exerts upon the heart; upon the state of the mind, feelings or affections, an explanation of the effect altogether sufficient and far more accordant with the simple facts of the case.

It is this peculiar condition of the affections, and the important influence which it has upon biblical investigations, that has been strangely overlooked by spiritual theorists. Yet nothing, we presume, can be more obvious than that a means which removes the OBSTACLES to a just understanding of the Bible, will practically have the very same effect, as one that should give, by direct addition, increased power to the mind, or greater perspicuity to the sacred vol. ume. The wind that dissipates the mists which obscure the heavens, and thus enables the brilliant rays of the sun to reach the earth, has added no new power to these rays, yet the same practical effect is produced as if a miracle had given to the sun-light a sufficient in. crease of splendor to penetrate the vapors by which it was previously intercepted.

The theory, then, which explains an admitted effect upon principles in harmony with existing facts and acknowledged modes of operation, is unquestionably to be preferred to one which involves a direct miraculous agency, and is wholly unsupported by divine authority. As said before, however, we do not conceive it necessary to form any theory at all upon the subject, or to prescribe any particular mode through which spiritual aid 'is afforded in the interpre

tation of the scriptures. It is sufficient for the Christian to have the divine promise of heavenly wisdom through prayer, without dogmatizing as to the particular mode or channel through which his mind may be enlightened. Neither, if the above view were admitted, would we regard it as covering the whole ground, or embracing even all the probable methods by which divine truth may be made evident to the mind. Apart from either ordinary or extraordinary spiritual agencies, there are powers and modes of working innumerable at the command of the Deity, which may act either alone or in conjunction with the former, in order to the complete accomplishment of the divine purposes. To some of these we may advert in a future number, for the purpose of showing still more clearly that the dogma we have been considering is as unnecessary, as it is unreasonable and unscriptural.

R. R.


No. I.


Palestine is a country for which Providence has done every thing; we should say, rather the “Holy Land,” that is Palestine and Syria. We behold her now in the days of her desolation.

She is groaning under the yoke of a hard master; and we can form no idea, by what we now see, of what she once was, and of what we have the strongest assurances, she will again become. Unquestionably, she has no need of foreign aid; she possesses all the germs of greatness within herself, and requires only the genial influence of the Son of Peace to resuscitate her: the once rich plains of Jordan will then look green again, the pastures of Mamre will teem with lowing herds and bleating flocks, and the happy days of Abraham and Isaac will return to bless the industry of man. The shell which produced the Tyrian dye may still be found. Hermon and Tabor are still moistened with the balmy due of heaven, the plains of Esdraelon and the heights of Carmel are still bedecked with roses; at Shechem, the swarthy Bedouin drinks of the same spring with Jacob, and his great progenitor Abraham, and feeds his flocks, like him, on the flowery banks of Jordan and Tiberias. Then, if we turn to the east and north, the Haouran and Bekaa are still rich in corn. The seven-eared wheat of Egypt, too, is sometimes seen. Lebanon is laden, as heretofore, with luscious fruits and herbs, cedars, and stately pines. Mount Cassius is clothed with lofty sycamores and oaks, and other forest trees, from the summit to the waters of the Mediterranean, which sparkle at her base. The finest silk is annually exported from Suedia; and the shelving shores of the Orontes produce gums, cotton, indigo, and sugar, oil, rice, and other grain; there is excellent pastuSERIES 111.-VOL. VI.


rage for cattle; and the neighboring districts abound in stone, coal, and iron. In fact, there are the same germs of prosperity and wealth now, as at any former period: the climate is healthy, the diseases few, the seasons are well marked, and there are no fogs; the scenery is the finest that can be conceived; communication with Europe is easy; and the people are talented, hospitable, and brave, and for the most part well disposed: but the country is distracted by political and religious intrigues, which compromise the happiness of the Rayahs, and curtail the resources of the Government.-Dr. Yates' Lectures at the Syro-Egyptian Society of London.


The following remarks from a volume entitled “The Holy Land,” on the history of the Jews, after the fall of Jerusalem, illustrate the wonderful dealings of the Almighty with His peculiar people, whose very existence has with truth been termed a miracle.-Jewish Chronicle.

“The history of the Jews, after the final destruction of Jerusalem, is an almost unbroken tale of misery; the faint and temporary gleams of light resting upon the fortunes of the fallen race, only adding to the predominant gloom of the picture. Nor is it easy to arrange their subsequent history satisfactorily. Their political existence as a separate kingdom was annihilated, Judea was the portion of strangers, the capital was destroyed, the royal race nearly extinct, the temple utterly demolished, and the high priesthood buried beneath its ruins. The sole connecting link in the subsoquent history of the Jews, is their imperishable love to the religion of their fathers. The historian must in fact collect from every country of the globe the traditions--often incomplete and scanty--which mark the existence of the Jews in Asia, Airica, and Europe, where, still a separate and distinct race, refusing to mingle their race with any other, they dwell in families and communities of their own; the principle of national unity is kept up, though unbroken into widely separated parts. To the materials gathered concerning their varied fortunes, the ordinary rules of historic arrangement do not apply; and to obtain a complete idea of the ever varying fortunes of this wonderful people, not only in different kingdoms, but in different parts of the same kingdom at the same time, connected as they are with mutations of national policy, and local and temporary causes, would, in fact, require the study of universal history. Almost all that we can propose within our narrow limits is to arrange the more important particulars of their destiny under a few general heads. The result of such an attempt would be to present us with a most interesting object of contemplation. A people in whose hearts the ordinary feelings of patriotisni, so productive of good motives to action in the natives of each separate country, is supplied as a bond of connection by the want of any country under heaven which they can call their own, and a passionate yearning after the land which their fathers pussessed, and which, though now profaned by the spojlers of Judah, will, they conceive, yet once again be the theatre of marvellous transactions, when the Promised One will be revealed to gather his afflicted and scattered children, and to make Zion once more the

« PreviousContinue »