Page images

tian Church. It is repeated attempts of a similar kind, though in the opposite direction, that are gradually undermining the faith of thousands in the Divinity of the Holy Scriptures. We need only refer, as a signal example, to the attempts which have from time to time been made to reconcile-as it is called-the early chapters of Genesis to the facts revealed by geology; the far-fetched interpretations which have been given to the Divine narrative to force it into apparent harmony with those facts; the failures which have ever attended those attempts as their inevitable results; and the disrepute into which all this has brought what is commonly misnamed "the science of the Bible!"—and, consequently, the Bible itself as a Divinely-inspired record. It was reserved for the New Dispensation to show how the declaration that "GOD spake all these words," is literally true of every word of those books which really constitute THE WORD OF GOD.

From all this it appears that the New Dispensation owes nothing whatever to its predecessor, but that it stands on its own independent basis, as a revelation from heaven of New Truths previously unknown to the first Christian Church, even in the days of her pristine purity.. And, therefore, that its religious teachings alone it is, that can form, on the spiritual plane, an appropriate correlative to the literature, the philosophy, and the science of the New Age, by rescuing them from the state of absolute godlessness towards which they are drifting, evidently for want of their appropriate spiritual correlative.

As regards the various sections of the first Christian Church, it is our bounden duty, in justice to ourselves and to the truths committed to our charge, to let them know-and it is high time we should-more emphatically than ever, that, so far from considering ourselves to be part and parcel of the common mass of Christians of the Old Dispensation, we regard ourselves rather as belonging to a new and higher Dispensation, wholly distinct from the former, and destined to achieve, in the moral and intellectual, in the literary, the philosophical, and the scientific world, above all in the religious world, as mighty a revolution as that which was achieved eighteen hundred years ago, by the former Dispensation in the world of its time!

F. D.

[ocr errors]

JERSEY, March 30, 1876.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]





THE imagery of the Bible is largely drawn from the things of Nature which all can see, and from the various phases of human life on earth. The cloud, the storm, the rain, and the dew constantly furnish illustrations, sublime or beautiful as they are instinct with moral and spiritual lessons, while the successive stages of infancy, childhood, youth, vigour, and old age are as frequently employed to mark different

conditions of moral improvement, excellence, or decay. This simple language of the earth and sky, this broad lining of human life, with its varying phases and its wandering movements, is one of the secrets of the power which the Word of God still has over many who do not own its divine origin.

"Thou hast the dew of thy youth." How these words fall upon our hearts with a sweetness like the sound of village bells heard in our life's bright morning! To natures begrimed, perhaps, with noisome cares, or dazed with the gaudy fopperies of modern society; to workers worn with toil, and thinkers weary of their thoughts, the spirit of this text is like the crisp freshness of the dawn in spring. It brings to us the dearest sympathies with that human spring, which, whether past or not, seems ever flying from us; those halcyon days of buoyant hope and cheerful impulse, when our souls are speeding through the asphodel meadows of our youth. It suggests the elastic step, the vigorous health; the mind panting with ardour for new achievements; the hand quick to execute the ready bidding of a burning soul; the open brow, where no hard lines have as yet been engraven; the curling locks which Time has not yet begun to despoil; the bright eyes, flashing with the light of a new intelligence, now lustrous with the dew of love or sympathy, now smiling as the morn alone can smile;—are not all these involved in this expression of the Psalmist, steeped in poetry of a more than Homeric splendour

"Thou hast the dew of thy youth."

Who can walk on a May morning in the garden or the field, and not be moved by the calm influence of the awakening hour? The countless spangles of ethereal gems hanging on the uncurling leaves, the rising buds, the bursting flowers, the delicate young odours, the brilliant light and the cool fresh breeze, all rouse us to the zest and energy of life as we move along

"Brushing with hasty steps the upland lawn."

But all this must pass. The day will be warmer, the cool freshness of morning may give way to the sultry noon; the fairest flowers may omit to open their exotic petals or to give forth their choice aroma, until the full glory of the sun invites them; but not again through all that day can the moist blessing of the dew give succour to the parching herb, nor can the air again return this departed boon. And so in the human garden and the field, the dew of the youth, the fresh thought of the young soul, the generous impulses of first endeavour, the un

worldly actions of the unsophisticated heart, the kind courtesies that come unbidden, the soft graces of a gentle temper, these, too often, alas! will pass away never to return. The man may be more thoughtful, his ways may be more polished, his courtesies more abundant, he may do more good and praiseworthy actions with the cool judgment of a practised mind, but where is the bright sparkle of genuine outspokenness, where is the sweet kindling of true emotion which you beheld of yore in the tear-gemmed eyes of the boy? The dew of his youth is gone.

It is curious and suggestive that the good bishops to whom we owe the present authorized version of the Bible, thought fit to place at the head of each portion or chapter into which every book was divided, the title of the subject to which they believed it to refer. We have in these indices, not only the opinions of the then translators, but very frequently the result, the sum of the traditions and ideas of the early Fathers of the Church on the bearing of the passages referred to. This gives to them a special interest and value, so that we may be led to notice the heading of the Psalm before us. It is "The kingdom, the priesthood, the conquest, and the passion of Christ." Yet, at first sight, although some parts of this Psalm might bear out such a construction, the passage I am now considering must seem strangely incongruous with it, "Thou hast the dew of thy youth." He who came on earth as the "Man of Sorrows," who had not where to lay His head, would not appear, so far as Gospel history is concerned, to have had either those external graces or those worldly advantages which would admit of such a description.

He, who at twelve years of age had gone beyond the manhood of that time, who sat in the Temple among the doctors, astonishing them with His understanding and answers. He, the sad and wondrous Child, who told those, His reputed parents, "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" where to all outward eyes was the dew of His youth? And then, instead of the mighty intellect so early developed, bursting forth in lusty youth into the full blaze of its promised glory, we see the daily and awful sacrifice of these impelling mental forces for eighteen weary years in the midst of the vile and ignorant Nazarenes. We are told that, until Jesus was thirty years of age, He was subject unto His parents; that He worked in the carpenter's shop; that "He was acquainted with grief," until the very shadow of His great weariness was the shadow of the cross; that the sweat of His deep anguish was, as it were, great drops of blood upon His fore

head; and how can we reconcile all this with the prophecy, "Thou hast the dew of thy youth?" Truly is the Word of God a series of riddles or enigmas which man is set to solve, but the solving of them, when applied practically, is the gate to everlasting life.

This story of our Saviour in its relation to the text before us, takes us by force from the outward to the inward in human life. It shuts against us, apparently, the door of the external literal fulfilment of the prophecy, and compels us to go into the inner chambers of the soul to learn its deep and urgent lesson. But then we find, that in a glass darkly, as the human may reflect the Divine, this assurance is often fulfilled again. Upon how many a young mind, fired by heavendirected impulses, a mind whose owner is to outward seeming walking in a miserably mean and narrow path, yet in reality the dew of youth is sparkling like the liquid gems upon the morning flowers! How many a boyish poet has felt seraphic influences stir within him, until he has begun to pour forth his unpremeditated strain, as the heaven has dropped down dew! How many a rising painter has, in the lonely garret or the dirty cell, peopled the canvass with angelic forms, and has sweetened the world by his conceptions! How many a thinking man has, while, Columbus-like, he has been dragging along in beggary or dependence, yet held ever bright before him the beaming dew-clad vision of some great discovery, or some high human boon! And how many young men and women, growing up in sordid times, in the midst of the pigmy crowds who idolize rank, or wealth, or fashion, yet have still cherished the tender freshness of unstained motives and unselfish thoughts which belong to the fairest dews of youth! In these cases, then, is the Divine text humanly exemplified, and so we are led to see how it is a prophecy as to the life of the One Man, the One GodChrist Jesus.

In the life of our Saviour was ever the sublimest freshness of purpose, and the dewy sweetness of act. During all the thirty years of subjection to those who wist not what He was to do, in the filthy Nazareth of Galilee, located amid squalor, crime, and contention, here was a succession of the hardest trials, of the most silent, the most Godlike victories. Of Him alone in the truest sense could it be ever said, "Thou hast the dew of thy youth." His own sheep knew not His voice, His people heeded not His words, yet in the midst of profanity, of evil, and of death, here was the unstained beauty of the rising soul, here the supreme sweetness of unselfish effort, here the pure mind bright with living energy, and gemmed with the refreshing dews of spiritual joy.

« PreviousContinue »