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in Athens ; nor the definiteness, and beauty, and power of the biblical history, until my feet had trod the courts and fields where God of old had dwelt; where the Saviour of the world had lived, and taught, and died; where patriarchs, and prophets, and holy men had walked and held converse with the Most High. It was with an absorbing and exciting interest, that we thus visited these spots; it was almost like communing with those holy men themselves; and served, in a high degree, to give us a deeper impression of the reality and vividness of the Scriptural narrative, and to confirm our confidence in the truth and power of the sacred volume.
IX. Connected with the physical Geography of a land, is also its Natural History; and allusions occur on almost every page of the Bible, to the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms, as they exist in Palestine. Here, too, the interpreter is often at fault, for want of full and specific information. The animals of the Holy Land have never been thoroughly investigated ; nor its botany explored ; nor its minerals and geological structure scientifically examined. The leading geologist of the continent of Europe once remarked to me,* that he had long sought in vain for specimens of the limestone around the holy city; and the Elah or terebinth of the Hebrews, has, until recently, remained as undetermined among botanists, as the unicorn of the English version is still unknown to the zoologist.
X. Another important source of information for the inter, pretation of the Bible, and the only one which time permits me further to mention, may be termed the History of Interpretation. Under this branch I must here include the efforts and results of all former interpreters of the Holy Scriptures ;-a wide and fertile field, in which abundant fruit has been produced, both good and bad. The earliest documents of this kind are to be found in the literature of the Jews themselves; since the apocryphal books of the Old Testament, the version of the Septuagint, as well as the history and philosophy of the Jews, are all imitations of, or founded upon, their inspired writings. Of the same class is the vast mass of tradition and direct interpretation, collected in the Talmuds, and the labors of the later Rabbins. Here is a mine never yet fully explored, which is probaby destined yet to yield, along with much rubbish, not a little ore, for the use of
* Leopold von Buch.
the biblical interpreter. Then follow the ancient versions into various tongues, and also the comments of the Fathers and of interpreters in all subsequent ages; to whose numerous tomes we might almost apply the hyperbolical language of St. John, that “even the world itself cannot contain the books that have been written.” Yet amid all this mass of literature, besides the many treasures of commentary, most volumes have some grains of wheat mingled with much chaff; and these it is the duty of the interpreter to seek out, and transplant to a kindlier soil, and cause them to grow and flourish in his Master's field.
XI. We have thus passed in review the main branches of study, which go to make up the department of Biblical Literature, and furnish the sources and materials, from, and with which, the interpreter is to illustrate the Word of God. A due acquaintance with all these may be said to comprise his objective qualifications; being such as are drawn from without himself. * As to what relates to the inner man, the disposition of the mind, which we may term his subjective preparation, I would remark, that all external aids and qualifications will be in vain to the interpreter, without the spirit of prayer, and of humble reliance on the divine assistance. Without this spirit, the human heart and human mind are of themselves prone to wander from the truth in divine things, and to set up human judgment and human authority, above the revealed will of the Most High. The ancient Jews clung to the letter of their law, which they understood better than we;
but they failed to imbibe its spirit. So the interpreter of Scripture, who rests merely on the support of human learning, will abide in the letter, while the spirit must ever remain beyond his comprehension. “The natural man," says St. Paul, “ receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him ; neither can he know them, seeing they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual, judgeth all things.” The truth here propounded by the apostle, applies to the interpreter as well as to the hearer of the Scriptures; and unless he can stand the trial, even though he might speak with the tongues of men and of angels; though he might have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; yet without the spirit of love, he would be nothing,' and his teaching become only as “sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”
It may be asked, Why this spiritual frame of mind should be necessary for the interpretation of the Bible, more than of any
other book ? We may reply: Because it is the main object of the Bible to describe and to inculcate just this spirit and this spiritual frame; and, therefore, if the interpreter do not possess it; if he do not know it in his own heart and experience, how can he appreciate and explain it, as it lies upon the pages of Scripture? How can he, who has no ear nor soul for music, sit in judgment upon the thrilling productions of the mighty masters of harmony? How can he, who has no taste nor talent for mathematical science, soar with Newton and Laplace through the regions of unlimited space, and trace out, with them, the laws that bind together the remotest worlds, as they float in the realms of ether? Just so “ the natural man receiveth not the the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him.” He that would discern and teach the things of God, must himself be taught from on high.
In reviewing the foregoing remarks and illustrations, we might be justly led to exclaim: “Who is sufficient for these things!” Certainly no one person within the limited space of human life. But we are bound at all times to survey the whole field of our labors, that we may know where to choose our portion, in order to labor with effect, and direct our efforts to the best advantage. Various parts of the field have already been ably tilled by eminent scholars and servants of the Lord; and we must be sufficiently prepared, to be able to enter in, and profit by the fruits of their labors. This every one of us, who begins a course of theological education, can do, and every one is bound to do. We are bound to employ our best powers and faculties, and improve every opportunity, for acquiring such a knowledge of every branch of Biblical and Theological Study, as shall make us, first, well qualified interpreters of the Word of God; and, secondly, the faithful heralds of this word and gospel-message to our fellow-men.
It is not, indeed, the object of a course of study in a Theological Seminary, to render the pupils all at once accomplished scholars; but rather to sow the seed and nourish the shoot, which may hereafter of itself grow up into a noble and firmly rooted tree. The aim is simply to impart the rudiments of a professional education, and to point out the proper way and means, and materials of study, by which the learner may hereafter, through his own efforts, with God's blessing, arrive at a higher and more important standing and influence, as a teacher in the church of Christ.
Yet I would fain hope that the time is not far distant,—and this hope I would desire to press upon the consideration of the friends and patrons of every Theological Seminary,—when the multifarious and important subjects embraced in the Department of Biblical Literature, will not be left, as now, to the teaching and direction of a single individual. One of the most essential branches, indeed, does not belong at all to a course of theological education, and ought not to form an object of elementary study within the walls of such an institution. I mean an acquaintance with the Greek and Hebrew languages. This, indeed, is admitted at once in respect to the Greek; and a previous knowledge of it is a matter of requisition in every Theological Seminary. The Hebrew rests upon precisely the same grounds; there is in it nothing of theology; it is a merely philological acquirement; yet it is not now, perhaps, demanded for admission into any seminary of our land. Still, the time thus spent in the study of it, is so much time taken away from the proper objects of such an institution; and I, for one, can never conscientiously cease to feel, and to press upon others, that a certain previous acquaintance with this language, ought to be made a condition of enjoying the privileges of every seminary for theological education.
The literature and interpretation of the Old Testament embraces a wide and difficult range of studies, entirely distinct from those belonging to the New. Nor are these latter in any degree less extensive or difficult, though of a different character. Each of these clusters of science furnishes occupation enough for the life and labors of any individual; and this is known and felt wherever theological education has been fully carried out. In all the Theological Faculties of Europe, a separate department has charge of the Old Testament, and another of the New. The same feeling of the importance and necessity of such an arrangement, has already introduced it into some of the older seminaries of our own country; and I would indulge the hope, that in due time, the example may everywhere be followed.
REMARKS ON THE LITERARY AND ECCLESIASTICAL CONDITION OF
The general character of the people of Scotland is well known. The physical features of the country are a fit emblem of the robust and unyielding spirit of the population. No community in Europe has presented a more determined opposition to every kind of foreign influence, especially such as has threatened to mitigate the characteristic sternness of manners, or the rigor of orthodoxy. In every department of study and of action, this strong national peculiarity has showed itself. An undying hold upon “Christ's crown and covenant” nerved the arm and tuned the voice of the Cameronian, as he sent up from a hundred ravines his shout of defiance, or his psalm of thanksgiving. The same iron hardiness is now scaling the fortresses of Affghanistan and thundering against the battlements of St. Jean d'Acre. The Presbyterian General Assembly will sooner incur the hazard of driving from her ranks a large secession of her ablest champions, or her most devout presbyters, than yield one iota of that which, in her opinion, makes the kirk the glory of all lands. Even in the halls of science, there is, in many respects, a tenacious adherence to what the Scotchman of yore fondly cherished. All the ports of the country are closed against the importations of any Teutonic novelties, either in philosophy or exegesis. Parkhurst's Lexicon still maintains its ascendency, and the Hebrew Testament, without the points, is yet the grief and annoyance of the young licentiate in theology. În morals and manners too, the Caledonian stiffly adheres to the precedents of antiquity. In the temperance reformation, the poor, despised Irish are far in advance of their northern neighbors. The Scotch are men of strength to mingle strong drink,-equally expert in constructing systems of mental philosophy and bowls of good whiskey-punch.
However, with all this unnecessary rigidity, with all this reluctance to reform what is obviously untenable and mischievous, we still love the land of the Covenanters. A thousand delightful associations cluster around her glens and her moun