Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

or the English version made by order of King James. Perbaps it will be quoted as “the XXX.” The names of the editors and contributors, while they ensure orthodoxy, give promise that the comment thus put forth, almost with the sanction of the Church of England as a body, will not be the utterance of any narrow school, or section of it.

Modern Scepticism.-It was not so difficult to deal with the open scepticism of the French republicans of the last century, as it is with the modified, though still more dangerous, scepticism that infects English society at this hour. The votaries of the first rejected the Bible altogether, or any idea of revelation whatever; the latter do not absolutely reject the Bible, but they only accept just so much of it as suits their purpose. One of the writers of this school, in a recent number of the Spectator, speaks of the Sacred Volume as "a miscellaneous collection of literary, historical, and prophetic books of all kinds and degrees of inspiration, from broken traditions to authentic letters—from the words attributed to a quadruped, generations at least after the period to which they referred, to the divine words of the incarnate Son.” It is not easy to understand the drift of the scoffing allusion to Balaam, and it can bardly serve any good purpose to remind one who writes in such a spirit, that no difficulty was found in the circumstance by St. Peter, who, in his second epistle, says that Balaam “was rebuked for his iniquity; the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet.” The story of Balaam bas always been a favourite theme with the scoffer and the sceptic, and we are not surprised that a critic who regards the Bible as little better than a collection of fables, should seek to give pungency to his sceptical lucubrations by referring to it. Nor need we point out that the above description of the Sacred Volume is quite at variance with the account given by those who, under the inspiration of God, were its authors; and were it correct, the Bible could be of no value to man. It is not to be wondered at that this writer should entertain vague notions on other articles of faith, or that he should venture to assert that the laity at large “cannot believe in a God who makes the hereditary penalty of a single sin infinitely wider in extent, and more certain of its aim, than the grace and love which are to deliver us from it.” Having surmounted, as he imagines, in this flippant and scoffing style, the difficulty of original sin, he draws from the text-"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive”-this conclusion :—“It is not the laity of this generation who can believe in a

_" God who expressly ordains a universal and inevitable malady, and only a very exclusive and partial remedy.” And he plunges boldly from one depth to another, until he denounces the doctrine of eternal punishment, and eulogizes Mr. Maurice for his assault upon this article of the Christian faith. Such is the system by which in these days it is attempted to set the creature above the Creator, and to reject everything which cannot be readily grasped by human reason. Our object

not to enter into a lengthened refutation of this writer's arguments; we merely refer to them in order to direct the attention of our readers to the alarming spread of this sceptical spirit. We may be

NEW SERIES. —VOL. V., NO. IX.

R

told that these heretical opinions are not so dangerous in the columns of a weekly newspaper of liberal tendencies, as when they are circulated by clergymen who have not severed their connection with the Church. This may be true in one respect, although it is an ominous sign when periodicals that rarely discuss religious questions voluntarily become the exponents of infidelity. At first these sceptical doctrines were breathed in whispers to congenial listeners, or enshrined in obscure treatises and pamphlets that were only read by the few. Now, however, they are proclaimed in high places, and advocated in political organs. And this brings us to the consideration of one good result that has ensued from the publication of Essays and Reviews, Dr. Colenso's criticisms, and other works of the kind. It has compelled the doubters to proclaim themselves; it bas brought forth the sceptics from their hiding-places. So long as the evil exists it is better that its true dimensions should be ascertained. Its concentration, while depriving its advocates of half their strength and importance, enables its opponents to grapple with it more effectually, and therefore with better chances of success. The Press.

Hindoo legend concerning Man.- Formerly, when Brahmá was desirous of creating the world, the several castes, Brábmans, Kshatriyas, Vaísyas, and Súdras, were in succession produced from his mouth, breast, thighs, and feet. The beings thus created, were at first endowed with righteousness: they were pure, their hearts were free from guile : they abode wherever they pleased, and were filled with perfect wisdom. After a while Kàla infused into their minds sin, the seed of iniquity, the impediment of the soul's liberation, and the cause of all misery here and hereafter. In consequence of this, sacrifices were offered daily, the performance of which expiates the offences of those by whom they are observed. But some, from whose hearts the dross of sin was not removed, assented not to sacrifices, but reviled the gods and Vedas. For these, the places assigned after death are the terrific regions of darkness, of fear, and of great terror, the fearful hell of sharp swords and scourges. The sun, the moon, the planets shall repeatedly be and cease to be; but those who adore the deity shall never know decay.- Monier Williams's Sanskrit Manual, p. 147. (From Wilson's Vishnu Purána.)

Cromlechs.—The Jewish Chronicle recently contained the following enquiries :—Somewhere in the neighbourhood of the Jordan there still stands a Cromlech ; the only one existing in Palestine or Syria. If some of your kind readers, either those at home or abroad, would favour me through your columns with any particulars respecting this interesting remain, I should feel much obliged, as I am examining the subject of Cromlechs generally.

Any information thereon, from any part of the world, may assist me materially to elucidate the history of these marvellous remains.

C, E. H. Syro-Egyptian. - Feb. 9. Mr. Ainsworth read a paper “On the Site

a of Capernaum, or Caphar Nabum.” The writer pointed out that the error on the part of Josephus in calling the En (spring) Kachal of the

Jews, and “Round Fountain of the Arabs, “ Fountain of Capernaum,” had led to two mistakes : first, to the identification of the same spot with the Capernaum of the New Testament by some; and secondly, to the unnecessary search_after springs at other places, also identified with Capernaum, as the Fig-tree Spring and the Mill Springs on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Mr. Ainsworth pointed out that the Black Fish of the Nile, said by Josephus to be engendered in the spring-the Coracinus of Pliny--was the Macropteronotus niger common to most rivers in Syria and Egypt—the Shelbe of the Nile, and Kambari fish of Speke; that it bred in springs, rivulets and shallows, and was caught with a hook fastened to a pole, whence the allusion in Matt. xvii. 27, “ Cast an hook.” The actual Tell Hūm was not, as Dr. Robinson read it, “the ruined heap of a herd of camels,” but the site of the Jewish Caphar Nahum, Kefar Nachum and Kefar Tanchumin, the supposed burial-place of Nahum and Tanahum, and the Capernaum (as advocated by others) of the New Testament. The identity was established by the comparison of rabbinical and mediæval notices with those of modern travellers, and with the facts of the case; only the fountain was not that of Capernaum of the Jewish historian. Mr. Ainsworth also pointed out that above Magdala were the caves or sepulchral grottoes called by the Rabbins Telirnan, and Talmanutha, whence the Dalmanutha of Mark viii. 10, as compared with Magdala of Matt. xv. 39.

The Sheik of the Druses.—Said Beg is a young man between thirty and thirty-five years of age, with an agreeable and prepossessing countenance, well-formed features, dark and intelligent eyes, a mouth expressive of decision and kindness, shaded by a small black moustache, but no beard covers his square and resolute chin; his figure is slight and middle-sized, and he was dressed with far more simplicity than any of his attendants. He wore a loose cloak of violet Damascus silk, with a little gold embroidery round the collar; beneath this was a dark purple silk dress, bound round the waist with a handsome shawl; scarlet slippers and a fez cap completed his costume. His brother-in-law, who walked at his right band, was a most martial-looking personage, his face bronzed almost to blackness by exposure to sun and wind; his sinewy athletic figure and bright gleaming eye shewed the daring soldier ; and we were not surprised to hear that he was Ali Kamati, better known as General Kamati, the famous Druse chief, who bad shared with Sir William Williams the privations and horrors of the siege of Kars, and who, out of the five hundred brave Druses who had accompanied him to Constantinople, brought back but a scanty remnant to their native mountains. He retains much affection and admiration for his old brothers in arms, and to him is mainly to be attributed the good understanding that exists between his people and the English, and the friendship with which the latter are always received in the Druse villages. Unlike the other Druses, who usually wear white turbans or the fez, Ali Kamati wore a kuffia, or Arab head-dress; this is a brown and yellow silk handkerchief, fastened round the head by a band of twisted camel's hair. The shawl around his waist was well filled with silver-mounted pistols and knives, and his sword was of unusual length. Loose trousers were tucked into boots which came half-way up to his knees, and his outer dress was the usual Turkish robe of striped red and black silk. Notwithstanding this warlike exterior, his manner and voice were singularly mild and gentle, the fierce eye

softening and the whole countenance lighting up pleasantly when speaking.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The Early Christians.—The term min or minim occurs in the earliest rabbinical writings; both its meaning and etymology were only vaguely guessed at. Maimonides, in “Hilkhoth Teshubah," defined it as designating infidels and free-thinkers. It was generally derived from Manu, the founder of the sect of the Manichæans. In modern time it was conjectured that min (y) was in reality an abbreviation of the three words ongng Tegn og DN (believer in Jesus the Nazarene). The last conjecture seems now to have received its confirmation from a passage in an epistle of one of the fathers of the church. We quote the following from the Israelite :

"A passage in an epistle of Hieronymus to St. Augustine, we believe, is decisive; and it must be borne in mind that the saint lived at Bethlehem from the year 400—420 C.E., and was on friendly terms with the rabbis of Tiberias.

"In the eighty-ninth epistle of Hieronymus addressed to St. Augustine, he says :-'Usque hodie per totas Orientis Synagogas inter Judæos hæresis est quæ dicitur Minæorum, etc., etc. The whole passage may be rendered thus :

—There is up to this day a sect among the Jews of the oriental synagogues called Min (or Minim). They are much condemned by the Pharisees, who call them Nazareans. They believe in Christ, the Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary, and say he is the same who suffered and rose under Pontius Pilatus, in whom we also believe. But as they desire to be both Christians and Jews, they are neither Jews nor Christians.'

“ Hieronymus lived eight centuries before Maimonides, and having close connection with the rabbis of Tiberias, who must have known best what the author of the Mishnah understood by the term 'Min,' we believe his testimony settles this question.

We further see what the primitive Christians, springing from the ranks of Jews who had known Jesus and his apostles personally, really believed. They, of course, believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah -i.e., Christ. But they also believed that it had never been his intention to abolish the law of Moses, as expressly stated by the evangelist, but rather to fulfil it. It follows, therefore, that those missionaries who teach converts from Judaism, that they are absolved from the observance of the law of Moses, act in direct opposition to the will and practice of the founder of their religion. It was the Gentile Christians who, when they at a later period joined the Jewish Christians, insisted upon the doctrine that the law of Moses was abolished; and, as they formed the majority, it was in their power to outvote the primitive disciples of Jesus, and to declare their doctrines a heresy. And as these true Christians were thus repelled by both their former co-religionists and the new Christians, they in time were absorbed by the dominant, now called the orthodox, church. Jewish Chronicle.

Ali Agha's History.—This Ali Agha's history is no unusual one in the annals of Turkish rule. He had been for many years a favourite and secretary of Ibrahim Pasha, who had loaded him with favours. The viceroy sent for him one day, and in full confidence of receiving some fresh proof of friendship Ali Agha repaired to the palace. Ibrahim, however, overwhelmed him with reproaches, accused him of treacherous correspondence, and without allowing him to defend himself or to bring proofs of his innocence, commanded him to prepare for instant death. The wretched man entreated permission to take leave of his family and arrange some of his affairs ; this was refused, and only a few hours after he had left his home, his headless body was brought back to his house—the first intimation which bis daughter received of the fearful catastrophe.

This lady was taking her mid-day siesta, but begged we would see her house. The court-yard is large and handsome, full of fountains, trees, and flowers, but less shady and picturesque than either of those we had seen. The rooms (which all open from the court) are large, well-proportioned, and richly decorated, the audience-ball most elaborately so; the ceiling is of gilt fret-work, on a pale green ground with small pieces of looking-glass let into the centre of each medallion. The upper part of the walls is painted in landscape, the lower half is incrusted with a mosaic of coloured marbles, mother-o'-pearl and tortoiseshell. Round the room are little niches, the arches supported by gilt columns, and in the recesses stand chipa dishes, cups, silver ornaments, and lamps. A raised dais occupies balf the floor, surrounded by low divans, upon which are piled an abundance of silk and velvet cushions, embroidered and fringed with gold. A fountain stands in the lower part, encircled with water plants. The pavement is of inlaid Italian marbles, covered with fine matting and rich Persian carpets. Glass chandeliers of European manufacture bang in every room.

All the other apartments were a repetition of the audience-hall, only smaller and less elaborately ornamented.

The great beight of these rooms, the brilliancy of the colouring, lavish decoration, the shaded light, the sweet scent of the flowers, and the splashing of the fountains, make one feel on entering as if suddenly transported into the scenes of the old stories of childhood. As the fairy palaces of the Arabian Nights are real, so must be their fairy owners. Good genii or beneficient Perizades could alone be meant to dwell in such quaint oriental magnificence; and it seemed but right that the ugly old lamp in the corner should be the identical one by which Aladdin summoned his faithful slave ; and then how we should have rubbed it to have been able to carry away so pleasant an abode.

The Temple of Jerusalem. The following is the prospectus of an important work upon this subject :- The Temple of Jerusalem; a Monograph of the Haram esch Sherif, Mosque of Omar (Dome of the Rock), and Mosque of el Aksa; together with an examination of the topography of the Holy City. By the Count Melchior de Voguë, Member of the Society of Antiquaries of France, etc., etc., Author of Les Eglises de la Terre Sainte, l'Architecture Civile et Religieuse en Syrie, etc. To be

« PreviousContinue »