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They have attained to nobler ideals, loftier hopes and truer notions of their office. And though they did not always cherish these ideals as they might have done, and often fell away from their high hopes, yet those hopes were never lost.

Through all the doleful centuries that dragged their weary length along from this time till the advent of our Lord, a faithful remnant kept the light of faith still burning, and cherished the eternal hope; so that, when the fulness of the time had come, there were not a few who, like Zacharias and Anna and Simeon, looked for the consolation of Israel.

In the restored and renovated church the blessed hope of blessing the world is seen again, more clearly than before, but in itself unchanged. Like the pole star shining ever in its place to guide the mariner in every sea, so the everlasting gospel shines "a light to lighten the nations and the glory of thy people Israel.”

So moves the course of history, by slow and painful steps “To that far off divine event to which the whole creation moves."

CHAPTER XXIII

THE GREAT POETIC BOOKS

HEBREW POETRY

"I will sing of Mercy and Judgment,
Unto thee, O Lord, will I sing praises."

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N the interview with one of the scribes who showed a good knowledge of religious truth, it is recorded that "When Jesus saw that he answered discreetly he said unto

him, 'Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.'” This is as far as religious knowledge can bring us. It is necessary for this purpose. A certain amount of knowledge is required for the intelligent acceptance of the Gospel and the cultivation of virtue. But the mere knowledge of truth does not of itself bring us into harmony with God's will, nor produce in us the love of holiness. The essence of character is the affections. Tell me what you know, and I will tell you what you can do, but tell me what you love and I will tell you what you are, and what on the whole you will do; for the issues of life are out of the heart,-out of the emotions, sentiments, feelings or whatever you choose to call the states of mind which impel us to action.

We would expect, then, that when holy men spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost they would address themselves, not only to our intelligence, but to our feelings; that they would appeal to our affections and call forth our love and devotion, our loyalty and fidelity. Such expectation is not disappointed. The Holy Scriptures are rich beyond all other books in their appeals to our affections. Not those appeals to the superficial, transient feelings, which flame up like a fire of paper only to die out with little effect on character or conduct, but those appeals

based on knowledge, and moving the will.

The works of Creation and Providence, the inspired ritual and the prophetic discourses lay a broad and firm foundation for our faith, and on this basis the love of God is builded, and the sentiments of virtue reared. The Scriptures which appeal to our affections and stimulate our faith and hope and love are grounded on the knowledge already given in the law and prophets. Sometimes the feelings called forth by the knowledge of God's character or by his mighty works is expressed in immediate connection with the facts which call forth the feelings; as in the song of Miriam in celebration of the crossing of the Red Sea:

“I will sing unto the Lord for he hath triumphed gloriously. The horse and his rider he hath thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song and he is become my salvation.”

And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and dances. And Miriam answered them, "Sing ye to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. The horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.”

Or the pious sentiment may be evoked by the quiet meditation of some soul upon the goodness of God revealed in many ways; as in the twenty-third Psalm: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

We have these expressions of religious feeling, of joy and gratitude, of love and devotion, of hope and aspiration in almost every possible form, in every possible relation and circumstances, and in all ages; from the day when Israel went out of Egypt to the day when the infant Jesus was presented in the temple when the aged Simeon sang the Nunc Dimittis, "Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word. For mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared

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before the face of all people. A light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel."

The first remarkable feature of this form of revelation, this appeal to the emotional side of our nature, is the fact that it is almost always expressed in poetry, and in many cases accompanied by music.

It is a very interesting fact that poetry and music seem to be the natural language of the emotions. In all countries and in every age the voice of worship is a voice of song.

Just what it is that gives to poetry and music this peculiar affinity for our emotional states is a very interesting problem of psychology; but however we may explain it, the fact is obvious and familiar, love and joy and all the feelings of the soul are, and ever have been, best expressed in poetry and uttered forth

in song.

The revelations of Scripture would be incomplete if they did not address themselves to our feelings as well as to our intelligence and will.

The commandments and ordinances expounded by the prophets, and illustrated by the ritual of worship give us the substance of religious truth—teach the doctrine concerning God and duty, but the response of the soul, the intimate and personal relation of the soul to God is given in the Psalms and other poems which holy men sang as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

What light and color is to the landscape, or what fragrance is to the flowers, somewhat like this is the poetry of the Bible to its prose. The prose gives the substance of doctrine, the poetry expresses the responsive sentiments of the believer.

The poetic form of much of the contents of Scripture is obscured to us by the necessary limitations of translation, and still more by the unnecessary awkwardness of the printing of our common version. So that we are apt to overlook the fact that the Bible is very rich in poetic qualities. We have whole books that are distinctly poems; as the book of Job, the Song of Solo

mon and the Psalms. But also in the prophets and elsewhere many passages are poetic both in form and substance, addressed to our emotions, setting forth the truth not only that we may know it; but that we may love it and seek it and live it.

It is fortunate that the characteristic features of Hebrew poetry are such that they are not lost by translation into other tongues; and, since so much of the beauty and effectiveness of poetry depends upon its form, it is very well worth while to study the poetic art of the Psalms, that we may appreciate their beauty and feel the full import of their messages to us.

We should notice first that the distinction between prose and poetry is chiefly this: prose aims to present truth in logical order and completeness, while poetry takes only the salient features, and of those features makes a picture. Poetry is addressed to the imagination, prose is addressed to the intelligence; prose aims to make us know, but poetry to make us feel.

Prose is literal, poetry is picturesque; prose is actual, poetry is ideal; yet poetry is truer than prose, because it presents truth more broadly, it produces in the mind of the hearer the whole state of mind of the speaker, for every state of mind consists not merely of knowledge but of associated feeling.

This definition of poetry would include much that would be properly classified as eloquence or oratory; but this is only to say that eloquence is highly poetic, and that the distinction between poetry and eloquence is not a hard and fast line but rather a matter of degree. Much oratory is highly poetic, while much that is called poetry is merely prose in poetic dress.

Poetry is more artistic, and therefore we naturally seek for some artistic form in which to set it forth.

Now, it is these peculiar forms of poetic expression that differentiate Hebrew from classical or English poetry. The essential quality of poetry is the same in all languages, but the form or dress in which it is arrayed vary from age to age, and differ in different tongues.

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