« PředchozíPokračovat »
It is for the poor, rather than for the rich, that these new translations are proposed; for the poor should not blunder and stumble unnecessarily; and what the Author of Christianity said while on earth, should be thought by Christians still necessary : Ilroot sayyexiyovrai.
MUHAMEDAN INVOCATION. Verses composed by Soliman ben Muhamed, late Emperor of
Marocco, which are chanted every morning at the break of day by the Mûden, at the top of the minarets of the mosques, throughout the empire, at the conclusion of the ûden el fejêr, or the morning invocation, calling the Musulmen to prayers.
Transcribed with the Oriental punctuation. TRANSLATED FROM THE ARABIC BY JAMES GREY JACKSON.
الحمد لله وحده ذهب الليل مدبرا بظلام واتا الصبح مقبلا بضياء الذي الملك لا شريك له الحمد
علي مافان من نعماء
Glory be to God alone The night departs and scatters the darkness with her, and the morning, in succeeding her, brings back the light.
Homage to (him) that is the King ; let none share with Him praise; and thanks be rendered to him, for all the benefits he sends forth upon us.
NOTICE OF Observations on the History and Doctrine of Chris
tianity, and, as historically connected, on the primeval religion, on the Judaic, and on the Heathen, public, mystical, and philosophical ; the latter proposed as an appendix to the political and military History of Greece. By WILLIAM MITFORD, Esq. 8vo. 1823.
This volume is of a mixed character, and, under the appearance of loose observations on religious history, will be found to supersede many bulky commentaries. It is indeed a pleasing fact in the annals of literature, that a layman, having, in the course of a prolonged life, given to the world the best historical' work of modern times,' should adduce his testimony to revelation, without omitting such doubts as may arise in a serious examination. That laymen should undertake such a task is less extraordinary than desirable; "they are not, like ecclesiastics, open to the imputation which allurement of worldly interest, or impulse of professional engagements, might stimulate them to labor in it” (p. 3.): nor is the circumstance uncommon: De Groot, Jenyns, West, and Lyttleton, devoted their talents to divinity ; Weston wrote Sermons, and a distinguished poet of the present day has followed his example.
Mr. Mitford commences his observations with the doctrinal portion of his faith, which we shall consider hereafter. In the first bistorical chapter, intitled “On the Old Testament,” he sums up the early account of mankind in these words: Man, with reason for his guide, was placed in this world for trial.”
Reverting, then, to the first human pair, it is obvious that, of the matters, countless in the peopled world, adapted to try human virtue, and continually occurring, nothing existed for them in the circumstances in which they were first placed. Their trial was necessarily to be peculiar. As far as human imagination can go on the subject, it could only
1 " His great pleasure consists in praising tyrants, abusing Plutarch, spelling oddly, and writing quaintly; and what is strange after all, his is the best modern history of Greece in any language, and he is perhaps the best of all modern historians whatsoever. Having named his sins, it is but fair to state his virtues-learning, labor, research, wrath, and partiality. I call the latter virtues in a writer, because they make him write in est." Lord Byron.
be by the imposition of a command which there might be temptation to transgress : the act forbidden, in itself innocent, and faulty only as breach of the command of a benefactor, on whom they were wholly dependant. It appears indicated that they were created, not úecessarily subject to death of the body, but dependant on food for its support. That food was wholly vegetable; and to obviate decay of the body, the fruit of a particular tree was necessary. But whether they were to hold immortality on earth, or rather, as requisite toward making room for millions, their posterity, the dutiful were to be translated, without death, to another world, is not said. For the purpose of their trial, another fruit was before them, tempting otherwise than by smell or flavor, being called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This they were forbidden to taste, under pain of becoming immediately subject to death. They were tempted; and, yielding to the temptation, they disobeyed the command.
So much, observes the historian, is distinctly stated, and more unnecessary: with the same view he proceeds to discuss the circumstances subsequent to the Fall.
Here, then, to revert to the important consideration, that mankind has been placed in this world for trial, it cannot but be obvious that, by being subjected to the death of the body, a wide field is opened to the mind of man for the exercise of virtue.... But while man was not absolutely mortal, yet, for the maintenance of life, food was necessary, and for prevention of decay the occasional use of the fruit of the tree, called, for its particular virtue, the Tree of Life: no violence on his original constitution was required to make the body subject to death: the simple denial of the food which had power to prevent decay sufficed ; and that denial ensued.
The institution of sacrifice Mr. Mitford considers as tending to remind man of his degradation and final lot in this world, and here offers some curious observations on the death of Abel. Cain, he supposes, ruminating on his degraded state, the result of his father's crime, and presuming that he was entitled to live on the produce of the soil (the sacrifice being always a meal, of wbich some faint vestiges remain in our GRACES), refused to offer animals. He objects to the term murder in recording this event, that word not corresponding in his opinion to the crime of Cain. It was an important lesson to new mankind, he continues, that Abel, approved of God, was allowed to perish by violence at an early age, while the sinner was not only permitted to live, but received into divine protection; but he was banished from all existing society, his own family excepted, “ to wear out a length of days, little probably in happiness, but with opportunity for the repentance to which the admonition he had received was so strong.'
Considering together these circumstances, the failure of Almighty Providence to interfere for prevention of death, by human violence, to the approved worshipper, and the assurance of protection, in this life, to the guilty homicide, they could not fail to mark strikingly to Adam, and his rising progeny, how little, in the new state of mankind, the death of the body was, in the Creator's estimation, to the dying man an evil; and afford ground for hope, though throughout the Old Testament it is not found fully declared, that the body alone was, for Adam's crime, made perishable, and that, from Gud's almighty justice, amends for the worthy, suffering here, were to be assuredly expected hereafter.
Previous to the deluge human life was extended far beyond what it has since been permitted to attain; the TRIAL of humanity was therefore proportionably severe, as the opportunity for indulgence was enlarged, and the expected judgment delayed. In Enoch we find an instance of proportionate reward, and in later times a most remarkable test:
How much then, or how wholly, probation was the purpose for which mankind has been placed in this worl is strongly marked in the various trials recorded of one singularly favored,' the destined patriarch of the favored nation, Abraham. Among those trials the command to sacrifice bis only son is eminent. It could be, to human understanding, only through faith in God's goodness, and clear confidence that something better than any precarious enjoyment in this world was reserved for both himself and his son, that Abraham was prepared to obey the severe injunction. But the time for the perfect sacrifice was not yet come; and Abraham's faith haviug been proved enough to be recorded for example to his posterity, other trials moreover being in reserve for his riper years in this world, his son's life was, for the occasion, saved.
Instances of trial for the selected nation are numerous. After the delivery of the Decalogue, Moses was again summoned to the mountain, and detained till the people became outrageous. On another occasion, intimidated by reports, they refused to march for the promised land, a disobedience which appears to have been more heavily visited than any other, not only by pestilence, but by protracted wanderings in the desert. The greatest test seems to have been removed:
To stop the extravagant corruption of morals, which might lead to excessive trial, both for the Jews, who were to possess the forfeited country of the Canaanites, and for the surrounding Gentiles, to whom the Jews were to afford improving example, extirpation was decreed against that whole people, while charity was commanded to all others.
After briefly noticing the fluctuating state of the Hebrews under their early governments, he devotes a long discussion to the apostasy of Solomon, of which a passage may be extracted:
It seems evident that the authors (of the Old Testament) had no satis-, factory assurance of a future life. To me then it appears an allowable conjecture, that anxious meditation on this failure, working on Solomon's powerful mind, while temptation abounded around, was of principal efficacy to produce, after a youth of piety and glory, tbat disregard which VOL. XXIX. CI. JI. NO. LVIII.
he showed, in advanced years, for the admonitions of the prophets, and the sacred history of his nation; and then it would be po extraordinary course of human conduct to allow others to seek, if not even himself to hope for, protection in temporal enjoyments from those imaginary divipities which surrounding nations adored, and, neglecting the God of Israel, yet were forishing. Solomon having so given himself up to doubt that, at length, having yielded to temptation, proceeded to concur with the profligate nations around him in idolatry, the similar errors of princes of inferior mental powers, his successors, and the influence of their example on the multitude under them, will less appear surprising. It seems to me then becoming Christians, who are favored with views not open to them, to mix some generous pity with our just reprobation of the errors of the ancient Jews. Warrant for us to vie in bitterness of reproach against them with their own prophets, surely is wholly wanting
The latter part of this extract is above all praise : but it seems strange that Solomon should be ignorant of the motives of the faith of Abraham, nor can we concur in the ivgenious explanation of his apostasy: a more plausible cause is assigned in Scripture, where his dereliction is obviously attributed to the allurements of the haram, composed of the beauties of surrounding nations, principally, we may suppose, of Egypt and Phoenicia, the attendants on his queen, and the presents of Hiram.
He does not profess to pursue Jewish History throughout, but some passages at the close of this portion of his work amply illustrate its spirit. Among various observations on the Law, the question of slavery naturally engages attention, and his remarks on this subject are superior to any thing we have met with :
It is unquestionably a Christian duty to improve the condition of man as extensively as possible. The Jewish dispensation did not require this, hut, on the contrary, by its limitation of intercourse, was considerably adverse to it. Rules for the Jews, therefore, concerning slavery, as concerning numerous other matters, will not be rules for Christians, and yet may deserve the consideration of Christians. The very first article in the Jewish code relates to slaves; and it sanctio the slavery, not only of Gentiles to Jews, but of Jews to Jews ; giving different rules for their treatment. If indeed dispassionate consideration be given to the subject, it will be obvious, that, in the state of mankind in the early ages, slavery was an institution, not only of convenience, and almost of necessity, toward the wanted cultivation of the soil for the production of food for increasing mankind, but really of mercy. Among barbarians, from earliest history to this day, it has been little common to spare the lives of those overcome in battle. The conquerors had not means to maintain prisoners in idleness, and could not safely set them free. In that state of the world, therefore, wars being continual, it was obviously a humane policy to provide that, prisoners being made valuable property, it should be the conqueror's interest to preserve them... But the neces