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That so much of Scripture should be written in the language of poetry, has excited some surprise, and created some inquiry; and yet in nothing do we perceive more clearly than in this, the genuineness, power, and divinity of the oracles of our faith. As the language of poetry is that into which all earnest natures are insensibly betrayed, so it is the only speech which has in it the power of permanent impression. As it gives two ideas in the space of one, so it writes these before the view, as with the luminousness of fire. The language of the imagination is the native language of man. It is the language of his excited intellect-of his aroused passions- of his devotion--of all the higher moods and temperaments of his mind. It was meet, therefore, that it should be the language of his revelation from God. It was meet that, when man was called into the presence of his Maker, he should not be addressed with cold formality, nor in words of lead, nor yet in the harsh thunder of peremptory command and warning, but that he should hear the same figured and glowing speech, to which he was accustomed, flowing in mellower and more majestic accents from the lips of his God.
The language of poetry has, therefore, become the language of the inspired volume. The Bible is a mass of beautiful figures—its words and its thoughts are alike poetical—it has gathered around its central truths all natural beauty and interest—it is a temple, with one altar and one God, but illuminated by a thousand varied lights, and studded with a thousand ornaments. It has substantially but one declaration to make, but it utters it in the voices of the creation. Shining forth from the excellent glory, its light has been reflected on a myriad intervening objects, till it has been at length attempered for our earthly vision. It now beams upon us at once from the heart of man and from the countenance of nature. It has arrayed itself in the charms of fiction. It has gathered new beauty from the works of creation, and new warmth and new power from the very passions of clay. It has pressed into its service the animals of the forest, the flowers of the field, the stars of heaven, all the elements of nature. The lion spurning the sands of the desert, the wild roe leaping over the mountains, the lamb led in silence to the slaughter, the goat speeding to the wilderness, the rose blossoming in Sharon, the lily drooping in the valley, the apple-tree bowing under its fruit, the great rock shadowing a weary land, the river gladdening the dry place, the moon and the morning star, Carmel by the sea, and Tabor among the mountains, the dew from the womb of the morning, the rain upon the mown grass, the rainbow encompassing the landscape, the light God's shadow, the thunder His voice, the wind and the earthquake His footsteps -all such varied objects are made as if naturally designed from their creation to represent Him to whom
the Book and all its emblems point. Thus the quick spirit of the Book has ransacked creation to lay its treasures on Jehovah's altar-united the innumerable rays of a far-streaming glory on the little hill, Calvary
- and woven a garland for the bleeding brow of Immanuel, the flowers of which have been culled from the gardens of a universe.
This praise may seem lofty, but it is due to the Bible, and to it alone-because it only, of all poems, has uttered in broken fullness, in finished (fragments, that shape of the universal truth which instantly incarnates itself in living nature-fills it as a hand a glove—impregnates it as a thought a word-peoples it as a form a mirror The truth the Bible teaches is not indeed the absolute, abstract, entire truth ; but it is (in our judgment, and as it shall yet be more fully understood) the most clear, succinct, consistent, broad, and practical representation of the truth which has ever fallen, or which in this world ever shall fall, upon the fantastic mirror of the human heart, or of nature, and which from both has compelled the most faithful and enduring image. It does not occupy the whole compass of the sky of the infinite from which it proceeds ; it does not waylay all future, any more than all past emanations from that region ; but it covers, and commands as a whole, that disk of the finite over which it bends. It is, as the amplest, clearest, and highest word ever spoken to man, entitled to command our belief, as well as, through the fire and the natural graces of the utterance, to excite our admiration, and comes over the world and man, not as a suppliant, but as a sovereign-not the timid, but (in the old sense)
the tyrannous ruler of our earthly night, “ until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in our hearts."
Without entering into the vexed and vexatious question of verbal inspiration without seeking minutely to analyze that abysmal word—inspiration-or to examine the details of a controversy which is little more than begun—we would, as a proper preliminary to our future remarks, thus express more explicitly, though shortly, our general belief as to what the Bible is, and what is its relative position to men and to other works.
The Bible is not then, to commence with negatives, a scientific book ; its intention is not to teach geology or astronomy, any more than meteorology or conchology; its allusions to the subjects of science are incidental, brief, glancing for a moment to a passing topic, and then rapidly returning to its main and master theme. Not only so, but its statements seem often to coincide with floating popular notions, as well as to clothe themselves in popular language, while they never fail, through their wonted divine alchymy, to deduce from them lessons of moral truth and wisdom. It is not a full but a fragmentary record even of that part of man's history to which it confines itself. It is not a moral or metaphysical treatise ; and, of logical analysis or deduction, it has (save in Paul's Epistles) little or none. The most religious, it is the least. theological of books, so far as theology means a consci 'us, compact, distinctly enounced, and elaborately defended system. An artistic work it can scarcely be called, so slight is the artifice of its language and
rhythmical construction. It is rude in speech, though not in knowledge. What then is the Bible? It is, as a history, the narrative of a multitude of miraculous facts, which skepticism has often challenged, but never disproved, and which, to say the least, must now remain unsolved phenomena–the aerolites of historyspeaking like those from the sky of an unearthly region—the narrative, too, of a life (that of Jesus) at once ideally perfect, and trembling all over with humanity, really spent under this sun, and yet lit along, its every step and suffering by a light above it-a life which has since become the measure of all other lives, the standard of human and of absolute perfection—the ideal at once of man and of God. As a poem--moral and didactic—it is a repertory of divine instincts—a collection of the deepest intuitions of truth, beauty, justice, holiness—the past, the present, the futurewhich, by their far vision, the power with which they have stamped themselves on the belief and heart, the hopes and fears, the days and nights of humanity, their superiority to aught else in the thoughts or words of man, their consistency with themselves, their adaptation to general needs, their cheering influence, their progressive development, and their close-drawn connection with those marvelous and unshaken facts are proved DIVINE in a sense altogether peculiar and alone.
In its relation to man, the Bible therefore stands thus :- It is the authority for the main principle of his belief; it is the manual of the leading rites and practices of his worship; as the manifold echo of the voice of his conscience, it constitutes the grand standard of