Page images
PDF
EPUB

The Evangelist was not what is called a man of genius : he did not seek fame by inventions, and fill them with characters to astonish the world by their truth of feeling, like Homer or Shakspeare: he simply relates what he evidently, witnessed, and if any thing like dramatic variety appears in his narration, it is the dramatic variety inherent in the account of any circumstance, and its effect on any given number of people, cal. culated by education or character to receive it in different ways.

Thus, the moment that Martha heard of our Saviour's arrival, she went forth with her characteristic eagerness to meet him, but Mary, as was natural to her sentimental and pathetic heart, sat still in the house, unwilling to obtrude herself, and afraid to meet the Divine Being who loved her brother; or, overcome by that sluggish dislike to action with which grief affects us all: at last, when Mary was informed by her sister that Christ had asked for her, she went out hastily, as if to repair any apparent neglect; the Jews, who had not heard what Martha said, (because it was whispered,) naturally believed she went out to weep at the grave-how exactly like facts are these unaffected incidents !

Martha first says, 'Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother had not died,' and that she knew that even then God would grant whatsoever he asked of him, and yet when our Saviour assures her her brother shall rise again, she cannot bring her mind to believe that Christ means at that moment, even by his power, though she avoids expressing her doubt of the imme. diate resurrection of her brother, by asserting her conviction of his resurrection at the last day; and again, when Christ. as if to force her acknowledgment of thc extent of her confidence in him, distinctly asserts, that he who believes in him, though he were dead, yet shall he rise again, and decidedly questions her as to her belief, she still evades a positive answer to it by saying she believes him to be Christ, the Son of God, and im. mediately goes her way to her sister!

Our Saviour then comes to the grave and orders the stone to be taken away; Martha cannot imagine it can be for any purpose but to see Lazarus, and inters that his body was decayed, when Christ, as if in rebuke for her obstinate blindness of mind, solemnly replied, Said I not unto thee, if thou wouldst believe, thou shouldst see the glory of God?

The eagerness, mixed confidence, and doubt of Martha, the inward still grief of Mary, the wonder of the Jews at Christ's weeping, and the natural inquiry of, why he who opened the eyes of the blind did not prevent the death of one he loved ? the commanding confidence of Christ in his own power, and his first seeming reproof of the sisters for lamenting a loss he could, and meant to restore, till his own tender heart, overpowered from sympathy at seeing such intense sorrow among Those he loved, made him weep too, when he himself was confident he would instantly revive the friend he was bewail. ing, are touches of character so deep and so true, so likely and 80 probable, so unlike the artificial importance of any account of any great character when divinity is asserted, and impos. ture intended, that as an individual, I declare solemnly, before

God, I never read this narrative but I rise from it with an intense and deeply-rooted conviction that this is the account, the unaffected account of an event, and its attendant circumstances, by one who witnessed it, and who tells it not because he thinks it wonderful, or wishes to make others think it so, but because it is one of the actions of a Master he believed divine, and the history of which would have been imperfect if he had omitted to relate one of the most important events in it.

I cannot imagine how any man can read this relation carefully through, and then conscientiously believe it bears incontrovertible evidence of being a false account of a thing that never happened, hy one who never saw it!

Can it be believed by any one, that the apostle of a Master, the essence of whose divine doctrines was a continnal reproval of all hypocrisy, lying, impurity, and imposture, should'in the account of that Master's actions violate the most sacred obligations of truth, when his memory must have been yet teeming with Christ's tortures on the cross? Is it likely that St. John, after having seen his Master expire the victim of his own heroic exposure of hypocrisy and wickedness, should himself be guilty of that which his divine Master lost his life for openly condemning? no; the reverse is the greater probability. It is infinitely more probable that he would have preferred death to imposture, than that he would have been guilty of a falsehood to uphold a system whose great principle is a sweeping condemnation of all falsehood.

It appears to me impossible for any man, not controuled by the prejudiced fear of being prejudiced by early education in religion, to read this chapter, and then believe Jesus Christ did not raise Lazarus from the dead, and that St. John did not see it accomplished.

HELPS FROM FELLOW LABOURERS. No. VIII.

THERE IS A TONGUE IN EVERY LEAF.

There is a tongue in every leaf!

A voice in every rill!
A voice that speaketh every-where,
In flood and fire, through earth and air;

A tongue that's never still!
'Tis the Great Spirit, wide diffused

Through every thing we see,
That with our spirits communeth
Of things mysterious-Life and Death,

Time and Eternity!

I see Him in the blazing sun,

And in the thunder cloud;
I hear Him in the mighty roar
That rusheth through the forests hoar,

When winds are piping loud.
I see Him, hear Him, erery-where,

In all thingsdarkness, light,
Silence, and sound; but, most of all,
When slumber's dusky curtains fall,

At the dead hour of night.
I feel Him in the silent dews,

By grateful earth betrayed;
I feel Hin in the gentle showers,
The soft south wind the breath of flowers,

The sunshine, and the shade.
And yet (ungrateful that I am !)

I've turned in sullen mood
From all these things, whereof He said,
When the great whole was finished,

That they were very good.'
My sadness on the loveliest things

Fell like unwholesome dew-
The darkness that encompass'd me,
The gloom I felt so palpably,

Mine own dark spirit threw.
Yet He was patient, slow to wrath,

Though every day provoked,
By selfish, pining, discontent,
Acceptance cold, or negligent,

And promises revoked.
And still the same rich feast was spread

For my insensate heart-
Not always so I woke again
To join creation's raptuous strain-

O Lord, how good thou art!

The clouds drew up, the shadows fled,

The glorious sun broke out;
And love, and hope, and gratitude,
Dispelld that miserable mood

Of darkness, and of doubt.

C.

Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine.

THE ANTI-SCEPTIC.

THE BIBLE RESCUED FROM SCEPTICAL ASPERSIONS.

Hear the just law-the judgment of the skies !
He that hates truth shall be the dupe of lies:
And he that will be cheated to the last,

Delusions strong as Hell shall bind him fast.'
MR. EDITOR,

It has long been the practice of Infidels, to impose upon the simple and unwary by representing the Scripture as the source of human woe. They seem to connect every evil with the promulgation of the sacred volume; and upon their hypothesis, we might imagine, that if the word of God and the principles of Christianity, were completely banished from the world, it would experience the most happy change of condition. According to the mode of arguinent adopted by these exclusive rationalists, we must take away the Bible, and the universe will be immediately purified from every vice, and freed from every pain. I suppose opposition will cease; bad tempers and passions be suppressed; nations live in the utmost friendship with each other; diseases fly from every shore; death be driven from all lands; and storms, earthquakes, and dangers, no longer distress the tender sensibilities of mankind. Really, Sir, if we believe the Sceptic,we shall be tempted almost to imagine, that an effluvia escapes from the Bible, which renders the air pestilential, and scatters disease and destruction around us in every quarter;—that the genius of divine Rere.. lation fills the human heart with anger, foments discord in society, and converts a peaceable world into a field of blood.

I presume, however, notwithstanding the ignorance, and bitterness, and impudence of the most daring opponent of holy writ, he is not prepared to charge the sacred volume as the author or abettor of crimes amongst any people to whom its pages have never been opened; nor even its existence known.

But, Mr. Editor, when a depraved heart is too indo · lent for research, too obstinate for conviction; too envenomed to admit the antidote of moral poison; and too virulent to listen to the words of truth and soberness- it will feed its appetite on calunny ; and exult in the most preposterous reports, that traduce the object of its aversion :—and thus the sceptic treats the bible.

Nevertheless, it behoves the friends of order, of humanity, and of God, to repel the accusations of unbelief against the word of life, and shew the state of society where the scriptures have been unknown, and are not now received.

If the removal of the inspired volume would secure humane laws and general happiness to the world, those parts which never had the sacred records as a rule of conduct, must shew us such a condition, as a proof of the fact asserted, and a model for universal imitation,

Well then, Behold Carthage without the Bible! Was it all amiableness, all felicity, and all perfection? No! “The children of the nobility were sacrificed to Saturn.' And when certain calamities were experienced in that city, the inhabitants believed, that they were inflicted because igroble blood had been substituted in their offerings for that which was honourable! and to appease the wrath of their offended Deity, they immolated two hundred children of high lineal descent in one sacrifice

Behold mighty Rome without the Bible ! Of course all her institutions are inimitably excellent, and happiness is diffused through every class of her com

« PreviousContinue »