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says, "It is no man's business whether he has genius or not-work he must, whatever he is, but quietly and steadily; and the natural and unforced results of such work will always be the thing God meant him to do, and will be his best. No agonies or heartrendings will enable him to do any better. If he is a great man, they will be great things, but always, if thus peaceably done, good and right; always, if restlessly and ambitiously done, false, hollow, and despicable." This applies to all the acts of life. If we endeavour to perform a good action, we should do it in a simple, straightforward way; not trouble ourselves about what the world may say as to the precise method we adopt, or the absence in the performance of that action of surroundings which-like the knots and flounces in ladies' dresses— may be only conventional and perfectly unnecessary. If we intend our thoughts and purposes to be truly reflected in the outer garment of speech and action, how wary should we be in all our words and works! They should be the sincere expression of what we intend, and never be wasted on trifles. They all have their influence, if not their use, and what that influence may be we cannot tell. We may find it out when it is too late.

There is, however, one point in Mr. Ruskin's advice which is especially worthy of notice, because he himself has ignored, in another and more important question, the principle which lies at the very root of it. He says, "If the fashion be costly, you must not follow it. You may wear broad stripes or narrow, bright colours or dark, as the public wish you; but"—in this case, that is, if you adopt the fashion, costly though it be "you must not buy yards of useless stuff to make a knot or a flounce of, nor drag them behind you over the ground." Of course, when he says "useless," he means that which would become so, because he insists upon the necessity of having the best materials, those which will last the longest. If improperly applied, they may become "useless stuff."

What, however, would Mr. Ruskin think if the young ladies not only had the knots and flounces, but used a great deal of otherwise useful material in making them larger than even the rules of an extravagant fashion demanded? He would not hesitate to tell them they were wasting a great deal of valuable material on trifles. Yet this is precisely what he does himself when he comes to the subject of biblical interpretation, a subject in which he indulges in another part of the same number of Fors Clavigera. He is not satisfied with, or at least he cannot follow out in its entirety, the prevailing fashion

of expounding the Scriptures. He follows it out, indeed, to a certain extent, just as he wishes young ladies to follow fashion in matters of dress up to a certain point. He adheres to the prevalent system of biblical interpretation in its literal aspect, and then he wastes the valuable material of the Word of God in the making up of elaborate trifles. Here is an example. He enters upon an exposition of the 15th chapter of Genesis. He tells his disciples that when they read of the Word of God coming to Abram, they must find out what the Word is. It is not " a printed thing" which "may always be bought at a pious stationer's for eighteenpence," but something which the "Speaker's Commentary" has not explained. We must give his own words, and our readers will be able to judge for themselves of the justice of our remarks :


"The sermon (as reported) was kind, and clear. Fear not, Abram, I am thy Shield, and thy exceeding great Reward' ('reward' being the poetical English of our translators-the real phrase being 'thy exceeding great pay, or gain'). Meaning, 'You needn't make an iron tent, with a revolving gun in the middle of it, for I am your tent and artillery in one; and you needn't care to get a quantity of property, for I am your property; and you needn't be stiff about your rights of property, because nobody will dispute your right to Me.'

"To which Abram answers, 'Lord God, what wilt Thou give me, seeing I go childless?' Meaning, ‘Yes, I know that; but what is the good of You to me, if I haven't a child? I am a poor mortal: I don't care about the heavens or You; I want a child.'

"Meaning this, at least if the Latin and English Bibles are right in their translation- I am thy great gain.' But the Greek Bible differs from them, and puts the promise in a much more tempting form to the modern English mind. It does not represent God as offering Himself, but something far better than Himself, actually exchangeable property! Wealth, according to Mr. John Stuart Mill."

Mr. Ruskin goes on to apply the text in a still more startling way; but we fear our readers have been too much shocked by the irreverence of what we have already quoted to endure more.

How opposite is all this to the declaration of the Saviour that His Kingdom is not of this world, and the repeated testimony of the Gospel that the Word was given to build up within us a spiritual kingdom and church! What a shadow has Mr. Ruskin cast on a divinely-inspired picture! How has he killed its spirit and its life! Such materialism, coming from such a source, is truly lamentable. Possibly he thought of rendering the too ordinary system of expounding the Scripture-pounding out of it most of its spiritual life-a little more attractive in these its latter days. He does not wish, just

yet, to give it up merely because it is old and threadbare. Just as he advises young ladies never to quit an old dress merely because it has become unfashionable, he clings to the essential principles of the old system, and, adopting a new one of the same materials, alters it in form and style, so as to make it more presentable to the public. He, indeed, affirms the principle of the prevailing fashion, and intensifies its predominant features. Is it not evident that in all this he is condemned by his own maxim-" If the fashion be costly, you must not follow it?" Is it not clear, upon the very face of it, that his plan of interpreting Scripture costs far too much? If the feelings of Abram, his yearnings after a lengthened posterity, are merely recorded for the sake of adapting themselves to the case of others in similar circumstances that is, circumstances of an external character, apart altogether from the spiritual state of which the history of Abram is the outward symbol-of what value to the all-important Time Present would the Word be to us? If Mr. Ruskin treats this passage of Scripture as merely historical, on the ground that it was given to be of value at some future period, when history, according to the old adage, happens to repeat itself, he must treat all similar passages alike. If he does so—and it is difficult to imagine how he can do otherwise -he will still fail to render the Word an acceptable guide to the world. It will fail to be received; not because it is not ever adapted to human requirements, but because its right use is not discerned. If it is brought forward as mere matter of history, that alone will not strike mankind with its divine origin. They will rather be inclined to say that the precepts which might have ruled with advantage in certain outward circumstances in olden times would be unsuitable to circumstances of a similar character in the present age; and that if even they were suitable, and their adoption proved a success in the administration of public affairs,—a success which would be a copy in the present day of the success of something that occurred ages ago,there would be nothing to show that the Bible, from the historical point of view, is better than any other historically authentic work. By using the literal sense of the Word of God in support of an argument, Mr. Ruskin cannot carry the force of conviction home to his readers as to the infallible truth of what he adduces. As well might he quote and moralize upon a passage from "Telemachus ;" it would be taken for what it was worth. He has ignored the spiritual lesson, for the very inculcation of which the literal history in Genesis was given. Probably Mr. Ruskin sees as plainly as most Christians do that the

bondage of the children of Israel, their deliverance from Egypt, their sufferings and conflicts, and their ultimate triumph over their natural foes, and entrance into the land of Canaan, all prefigured, and were intended to prefigure, the release of man (in his regeneration) from the power of sin, and his coming into a state of spiritual liberty-the glorious liberty of the children of light. How, then, is it that he fails to see that there is equally a great spiritual lesson veiled, as it were, under the literal sense of the 15th chapter of Genesis? Would the merely literal history, as we find it in the Bible, of the vicissitudes or triumphs of the children of Israel satisfy him? Would he be content to shut his eyes to the great spiritual truths of which they were the types, and merely refer to that history as a simple matter of history, even as he has dealt with the passage respecting Abram? We think not. He would probably admit it were doing away with the best side of the picture. Yet this is what he does when he gives us an exposition of Abram and his surroundings. He exalts "the letter," which "killeth," and ignores "the spirit," which is "life." He robs the Word of God of a bright jewel, and in its place sets up wretched. human wares, which have not even the merit of a gilded surface.

The literal sense of the Word, as we have seen, is the divinely-appointed form, or covering, or garment, of the spiritual sense, its externals being represented by the curtains, veils, and pillars of the tabernacle. We should not, however, be satisfied to stand in the outer courts, nor dwell exclusively in the external sense of the Lord's Word. The truth comes to us clothed in the literal sense. The glory of the inward can only be revealed to us as we understand the outward, which is the groundwork and basis of the spiritual superstructure. There are many humble Christians who cling to the skirts of the literal sense with the simplicity of a child grasping the folds of its mother's dress; and how many are there who have been kept in the path of duty by clinging to the borders of the garment of their Mother-Church-her doctrines, which are drawn from the literal sense, and which should be a reflex of her most glorious robe of righteousness and truth?

A garment, we perceive, signifies truth clothing goodness. "Jehovah covereth Himself with light as with a garment." The light of Jehovah is the Divine Truth; and Jehovah, Who is goodness itself, manifested Himself in the Person of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, "the true Light Which lighteneth every man that cometh into the world." His disciples, therefore, who have intelligence derived

from the Divine Truth, are represented as clothed in clean raiment.


They who have not defiled their garments shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy." We defile the garments of the Word -the truths of the literal sense-if we drag them in the mire of material things.

"No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, the new maketh a rent in the old, and the piece of the new agreeth not with the old." Here, inasmuch as a garment signifies truth, the Lord compares the truths of the former Church, which were external and representative, to a piece of an old garment; but the truths of the New Church, which were internal and spiritual, to a piece of a new garment. It is the same with the parable of the new wine and old bottles. "New wine must be put into new bottles, and both are preserved."

The essential truths of the Word are therefore guarded by the literal sense, which is as a containing vessel. If Mr. Ruskin preaches a secular sermon, let him find a secular text. H. W. R.


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FLOW on for ever, rippling stream,
O'er mossy hill-through verdant dale,
Whilst on thy banks we sit and dream,
Or make of life a wondrous tale.

Flow on for ever stream of Truth,
To fill with beauty every soul,
To cleanse the heart from sins of youth,
And make the wounded spirit whole.
Flow on for ever stream of Love,
To ease all human care and pain,
From sin below to joy above,
Thou helpest man his heaven to gain.
Flow on for ever stream of Life—
Beyond man's wisdom to impart
And give to each, mid worldly strife,
An earnest, loving, thankful heart.
Flow on for ever Grace of God,
Of truth and love and life the spring;
Lead us by paths the saints have trod,
To worship Thee, Eternal King.


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