Графични страници
PDF файл
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


his exclamation ;“ on what teacher can we rely, and from what quarter derive infallible truth ?” He was directed to the prophets, “organs of the Divine Spirit,” and especially to “ Christ, the way, the truth, and the life.” The old man then left him, and he saw him no more. Eagerly he sought the Scriptures, and the instructions of those known as the friends of Christ. And there he found what he sought - truth and rest, God and immortality.*

It may be concluded, then, that ancient philosophy was a longing and a preparation for Christ. “ For it appears to me,” said Simmias, in Phædo, addressing himself to Socrates, who concedes the correctness of the statement, “ that to know them (the truths pertaining to the soul and its destiny) clearly in the present life, is either impossible or very difficult: on the other hand, not to test what has been said of them in every possible way, to investigate the whole matter, and exhaust upon it every effort, is the part of a very weak man. For we ought, in respect to these things, either to learn from others how they stand, or to discover them for ourselves; or if both these are impossible, then taking the best of human reasonings, that which appears the best supported, and embarking on that, as one who risks himself upon a raft, so to sail through life; unless one could be carried more safely, or with less risk, on a surer conveyance, or some DIVINE (Logos) Reason."

* For a more extended account of Justin's conversion, see Semisch’s Life, Writings, and Opinions of Justin Martyr, vol. i. pp. 8–18. * Plato's Phædo, 78.

Hence, also, in the Second Alcibiades, we have the still more remarkable declaration, “ That we must wait patiently until some one, either a god, or some inspired man, teach us our moral and religious duties, and, as Pallas in Homer did to Diomed, remove the darkness from our eyes.” †

+ Alcib. ii. 150.




As in society at large we find a central power, in religion a central principle, and in philosophy a central idea, it may be presumed, that in the succession of human affairs, we shall find, among the nations, in a more or less perfect form, a central or a chosen people, whether named church, theocracy, or kingdom of God. We may expect not only a succession of divine facts, maintaining religion in the world, but a succession of individuals, families, and communities, perhaps some one community differing from all the rest in gifts, attainments, and usages, fitted to retain and transmit to all generations, and finally to the whole world, the principles and hopes of a perfect religion. Other nations may not, on this account, be proscribed, except for their vices. Much of their ignorance and superstition may be 6 winked at,” or overlooked, at least for a season. In none of them will God leave himself without a witness for the truth ; but the state of the world may be such as to demand a chosen peo11


ple, a religious or prophetic race, who shall stand at the centre of history, and form a vehicle or inedium for the transmission of the truth to all ages, and its diffusion among the nations.

This would be analogous to the divine procedure in other cases; for in all times we find central communities, in the matters of science, literature, refinement, arts, legislation, arms. So also we find central families, and central individuals, great lights in the world, whose mission and ministry have been a blessing to all. Insignificant, sometimes, in position, personal attractions, and other gifts of an external kind, often, too, great sufferers, and not always realizing for themselves the good of which they are the chosen depositaries, they have conveyed to others, sometimes during their lives, but oftener afterwards, vast and permanent benefits. Thus good of all sorts is ever found radiating from specific centres. In former times Greece was the central nation of philosophy and art; Rome of political power and civil law. From Plato sprang the speculative spirit; from Homer that of poetry and song.

If, then, we find in the Hebrew people the centre of a pure religion for ages, it will not be a matter of surprise; for if we study them thoroughly, we shall find that, in early times at least, they had the qualifications necessary for this purpose.

Or if this be denied them, as an original gift of nature, it will be allowed that they were disciplined for this end, and so successfully, that they actually succeeded in maintaining a pure and lofty Theism, and transmitting it to modern times.

But let us go back a little, and see how this thing was provided for in the very dawn of society.

Those who have studied human nature, and the history of the race, with the greatest attention, will not need to be told that it must have suffered some terrible lapse. Under the supposition the most natural that can be formed, that man was created innocent and happy, with a pure faith and a gentle discipline, it is clear that he has since departed from God.

6 The gold has become dim, the most fine gold is changed." The first Eden, the peaceful reign of purity and love, did not long continue. The knowledge of the true God, as we have seen, was speedily tarnished, and finally all but lost in universal idolatry. The ancient historical nations, with one, perlaps two exceptions, were idolaters.* Evil clung to the race.

* We have said perhaps two, the reference being to the Jews and the Persians. The latter, however, were nature or symbol-worshippers, adorers of the sun and fire; in this respect, therefore, to be chussed with the Peruvians.


« ПредишнаНапред »