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its heart, and thus there shall be a great process or ministry of request and reply, prayer and answer. Has the passage been destroyed by the revision ?
The passage has simply been illuminated. “For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer" (iv. 16).
What is a backsliding heifer ? We do not know; there is no such creature. But read : “ Israel acts stubbornly like a heifer," and the meaning is clear. The heifer will not go as its owner wants it to go. The heifer stands back when it ought to go forward ; turns aside when it ought to move straight on; wriggles and twists and, as it were, protests; and only by greater strength, or by the infliction of suffering, can the heifer be made to go to its destined place. The prophet, looking upon that heifer, now on the right, now on the left, now stooping, now throwing up its head in defiance, says, Such is Israel, such is Ephraim. We lose nothing by the change ; we gain very much.
“Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth” (vi. 3).
What does that mean? Nobody knows; that is to say, no one who confines attention simply to the English tongue. How has the Revision put it? Thus: “Let us know, let us follow on to know the Lord; his going forth is sure as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter rain that watereth the earth.” How much simpler, how perfectly obvious the meaning! “Let us follow on to know the Lord.” Will he come? Yes, as sure as the morning. After what manner will he bless us if we follow on? Why, he will bless you as the rain blesses the earth; yea, as the former and the latter rain come down to quench the thirst of the arid soil. Thus all difficulty is taken away, and the beauteous truth stands out in fullest figure.
The sixth chapter is remarkable for changes,
" Your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away" (vi. 4).
What is the "early dew"? Is there a late dew ? No. Then why speak of an early dew? The prophet did not speak of it. All dew is early. How then should we read it ?_“like the dew that goeth early away.” It is not the dew itself that is early, but the dew that goeth early up into the sun, for the formation of clouds and the elaboration of rainbows. Is anything lost by this change ? Much is gained.
A very striking change is made in the seventh verse of the same chapter :-“ But they like men have transgressed the covenant." In the Revision a name occurs to which the Bible seems to have paid very small attention; instead of “like men” we read “ like Adam." How remarkable it is that so little mention is ever made of the first man in the English translation! Of course in the original Scriptures “ Adam” occurs again and again under various forms, as, “Thou son of man," or, “Son of Adam"; but hardly any reference of a personal and specific kind is ever made to the first man. Everybody seems to have been only too glad to forget him. If he cannot forget himself, what a life he must have been leading these countless centuries! He is restored, however, in this verse: “But they like Adam have transgressed the covenant."
Can anything be more mysterious and bewildering than (vii. 4):
“ As an oven heated by the baker, who ceaseth from raising after he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened ” ?
No man can explain these words as they stand in the English Bible ; but alter them, as the Revision does, into “He ceaseth to stir the fire from the kneading of the dough,” and you have a picture of men whose passions are so hot that it is needless to stir the fire, or add additional fuel. The lust burns like hell, that the baker can do no more. “ I have written to him the great things of my law” (v 12).
How beautiful is the change into, “ Though I write for him my law in ten thousand precepts”! Not "great things of my law," but my law split up into ten thousand little laws or precepts that a child might commit to heart. If I say to him, Thou shalt not have all the law at once, for that might overpower thee, but thou shalt have the law little by little—now an infantile precept, now a larger statute, now a broader ordinance ; and if I am proceeding too quickly for thee, then I will stop on thy account, and what is a thousand shall be ten thousand, so that little by little thou mayest be educated into wisdom and into obedience, and into the truly spiritual purpose of God, is anything lost by such a change as that? Much is gained by it.
“He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God” (xii. 3).
Where? When ? We cannot understand these words, and yet their meaning is perfectly evident when they are thus translated : “ In the womb he took his brother by the heel, and in his manhood he had power with God.” Thus the man is taken at two different points in his history: he began by an exhibition of power, his little hand was strong even at the first-destiny can hardly be hidden even in protoplasm ; and this man who began thus early grew into larger power, yea, in his manhood he wrestled with God. A wondrous page in the development of human strength ; a marvellous page in the illustration of divine condescension.
How many sermons have been preached from (xiii. 9) "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.”
All that is true; great discourses may be preached upon this interpreted text. Sometimes the discourse may be true, but not true to the passage upon which it is founded; sometimes there is an absolute divorce between the sermon and the text, both being good, but neither related to the other. It is better as it stands in the Revision: “It is thy destruction, O Israel, that thou art against me, against thy help,"—the supreme madness, the ineffable and all but incurable insanity.
One more, as illustrative of the Revision in this minor prophet :“So will we render the calves of our lips” (xiv. 2).
An expression absolutely without meaning. We read it respectfully because it is in the English Bible ; it must be right, because it is there. What, then, is the meaning ? The signification is brought out beautifully by the Revision : “So will we render thee the thankful praise of our lips instead of bullocks' blood.” Thus up to this time men have been offering bullock, and heifer, and lamb, and goat ; but the time has now come when our lip shall be es, ou praise shall be the offered bullock. No longer shall there be blood-letting in thy Church, but there shall be praise instead of blood. We will render thee the calves of our lips, the calves of our praise ; we will give thee hymns of adoration, because we know that this was the meaning of every sacrifice of blood that thou ever didst command. Thus we grow from the material to the spiritual, from the visible to the invisible, from things rough, coarse, elementary, to things refined, exquisite, final. The great end of the creation of man is that at last and for ever he should sing, the song being the highest expression of service; not the service itself, but the delight which man takes in doing all that God has told him to do.
Is the Bible, then, taken away from us by these changes ? What is it that you worship? If you only worship a book in a certain form, then you are as much idolaters as any savage tribe ever found on the face of the globe. You must seek for the inner truth, the spiritual meaning; and let go whatever forms you may, you must never let go the divine thought, the divine purpose. We must not be given to bibliolatry; we must know that the Bible is within the Bible; we must more and more feel that no man can touch the Scriptures of God injuriously, fatally; the revelation abides. There may be persons who have deluded themselves with the thought that the very translation was inspired. The thing that is inspired is the truth; and all language is growing towards its larger and clearer expression. That there is a truth to be unfolded, illuminated, and applied, the conscience of man continually proclaims. We should ask for that truth, and if we have to pay down for it the price of many an old custom and many an old prejudice, we must pay the price more or less willingly, that we may possess the pearl of great price, the truth of God. Nothing necessary to salvation has been touched by all the revisions that have ever taken place, personal or official. The Christ has never been other than a Christ. The Son of God has never been modified as to his personality or function. All that has been changed is of the nature of grammar, history, incident. God's love has never been lessened; God's grace has never been contracted into smaller channels by any grammatical changes. · All the changes that have been made have only lifted Christ to a higher elevation, and invested the idea of God with a supremer royalty, a more subduing pathos.
ALMIGHTY GOD, thou art the great Shepherd. Thy flock is dear unto thee; if one has gone astray thou wilt come after it and seek it until thou dost find it. This is our hope, as it is our joy; in thy patient love we find the reason of our song. All we like sheep had gone astray, we had turned every one to his own way; now we have returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, now thou hast fed us with proinises; we shall be gathered upon the high mountains of Israel, we shall be within reach of showers of blessings; thou wilt make us thine own by a seal which cannot be broken. Having then these promises of thine, may we accept them as inspirations; may we not rest upon them slothfully, may we accept them as impulses towards nobler service, that we may glorify our Father which is in heaven. Jesus Christ said, I am the good Shepherd; the good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. He laid down his life for men; he said he had power to lay it down, and power to take it again. Having been saved by his death, how much more shall we be saved by his life. We have passed his Cross, we are under the dominion of his crown. Rule in us, Jesus, Son of Man, Son of God. Once we would not have thee to reign over us, now we have no king but Jesus. We bless God for the King-Shepherd, the royal and final David, the Shepherd of redeemed souls. Lord, Shepherd, hear us, keep us, watch us; we are prone to wander, we love to stray: keep us by the mighty tenderness of thy grace. We rejoice that we have heard of the Shepherd, and that we are in the fold by his grace and love: may we prove ourselves to be of the flock of the Redeemer, not by our pride and vanity, but by our obedience and discipline, and love of others, by our broad and ever-broadening charity; may we in our turn be shepherds of the weak, taking care of those who are helpless, and leading back those who have gone a little astray. Lord, hear us whilst we thank thee for thy shepherdly care, for thy tender, loving, daily oversight. We thank thee for life, though it is full of pain, as we bless thee for the sky, though it is so often dark with clouds. One day thou hast promised we shall be rid of all things evil and distressing; in our language there shall be no word but that which is musical. In that higher land, in that brighter, larger time, men shall not say one to another, I am sick: out of the language of men thou wilt drive every unwelcome and distressful word. In the prepared place there shall be no sin, no pain, no death, no night : these will be forgotten words; thou wilt teach us another speech and a purer language, and we shall speak of light, and love, and truth, and growth, and all things beautiful. Towards that high point thou art drawing us day by day, through wildernesses weird and desolate, through disappointments stinging and fiery, and through all