Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

TRANSGRESSION

AMIGAN

clocks, with a very limited power of self-determination. That's the tendency, I say, of doctors' experience; but the people to whom they address their statements of the results of their observation belong to the thinking class of the highest races, and they are conscious of a great deal of liberty of will. So in the fact that civilization with all it offers bas, on the whole, proved a dead failure with the aboriginal races of this country, they talk as if they knew from their own will all about that of a Digger Indian.- Dr. Oliver W. Holmes (Elsie Venner, chap. xxii.).

The doctor's expression “old baby” reminds us of John
Dryden's lines :-

Men are but children of a larger growth :
Our appetites are apt to change as theirs,
And full as craving too, and full as vain. *

Also of Coleridge's words, “In To-day already walks To-morrow"; and Huxley's, too, “A man's worst difficulties begin when he is able to do as he likes."

The doctor's declaration as to the effect of physical upon spiritual conditions reminds us of Lord Chesterfield's remark: “A light supper, a good night's sleep, and a fine morning have often made a hero of the same man, who, by indigestion, a restless night, and a rainy morning, would have proved a coward."

The doctor's remark on hereditary transmission of qualities is well illustrated by “Margaret the Criminal.” She was a pauper child left adrift in one of the villages on the upper Hudson, about ninety years ago. There was no almshouse in the place, and she was made a subject of out-door relief, receiving occasionally food and clothing from the town officials, but was never educated nor sheltered in a proper home. She became the mother of a long race of criminals and paupers, which has cursed the county ever since. In one generation of her unhappy line there were twenty children, of whom seventeen lived to maturity. Nine served terms aggregating fifty years in the State Prison for high crimes, and all the others were frequent inmates in jails and aimshouses. Of the 623 descendants of this outcast girl, 200 committed crimes which brought them upon the court records ; and most of the others were idiots, drunkards, lunatics, paupers, or prostitutes. Alas! of how many it may be said as Mrs. Hale avers of Nell

* An exceptionally good illustration will be found in the character of Jedwort, in J. T Trowbridge's story, “ The Man who stole a Meeting-house" (Coupon Bonds, and Other Stories, p. 369).

Gwynne: “Poor Nellie' was the victim of circumstances, not the votary of vice.” *

Society prepares the crime: the criminal commits it.— Henry T. Buckle.

A pebble on the streamlet scant

Has turned the course of many a river ;
A dew-drop on the baby plant
Has warped the giant oak forever.

Charlotte Cossitt.
It is the little rift within the lute,
That by and by will make the music mute,
And, ever widening, slowly silence all.

Alfred Tennyson. As to the old Calvinistic view of the fall of Adam, it has lately been said :

Should a physician place a son of fifteen years in a plague hospital, expecting, nay, certain that he would incur the disease, and that he would propagate it to innumerable others, that he might show his skill in combating it, would not language fail to characterize the deed ? - Henry Ward Beecher (North American Review, August, 1882).

And similarly as to the Anglican view:

The burial service, a survival from barbarism, declared death to be sent by God's wrath in vengeance for the sin of Adam; when even the illiterate know that death made the earth beneath us a cemetery of animal form before man existed. In presence of weeping friends, it thanked God for taking the beloved historian Motley out of this wicked world, every tear giving the heart's lie to the lips' thanksgiving. The historian had been a philosopher, and every sentence of the ceremony was contradicted by the testimony of his life.Moncure D. Conway (Sermon in the Commonwealth, Dec. 11, 1880).

As to the freedom of the will, we must concede something to Morell's theory; namely, that if what is termed a motive be not an objective reality, but merely the mind itself in a certain state of feeling, man, though under the necessity of acting in accordance with motives, is free. He cannot, it is true, alter the relation which God has established between emotions and volitions generally, but he may modify his own states of feeling, and through these his volitions also; just as a sine, being the function of an angle, if you require a sine of a different magnitude, the only possible way of obtaining it is by taking an angle of a different magnitude. Volition is a function of the

* See in Sarah J. Hale's Biography of Distinguished Women, p. 338, a portrait wherein Nell's face is not wanting in spiritual loveliness.

mind. Our mental states do not solely depend on external circumstances, but also upon our own spontaneity.*

This theory, of course, denies that all mental phenomena are derived from sensation. It considers them in three classes: (1) In elligence, which creates conceptions, rules of action; (2) Sensibility, which supplies inducements, impulses; and (3) Will, which creates effort, the emission of voluntary power.

Faith and trust, and the pledging of ourselves to the infinite will and love, are qualities that cannot be created in us by the Almighty as natural forms of our inward constitution: they are results of the spiritual powers set in opposition to hardship, perplexity, sorrow, and the sight of things seeming to drift wrong.- T. Starr King.

*“Hist. and Crit. View Spec. Philos. of Europe," Nineteenth century, p. 288. See also post, chap. xxviii., the consideration of the transcendental and experiential theories of right and wrong; also chap. xlv., various philosophical theories of the mind's knowledge of God.

CHAPTER XX.

INCEPTION.

Why did Fesus choose Capernaum for the Beginning of his

Public Ministry, and how did the Associations of the Place affect his Discourses?

CAPERNAUM was a thriving village a little way from the head of the Sea of Galilee, where the western shore forms a small cape from which the view embraces the whole coast. The town was on the boundary between the territory of Philip and that of Herod Antipas, and accordingly had a custom-house and a garrison. The “highway to the sea," from Syria to the Mediterranean and Egypt, from Damascus to Ptolemais (Acre), ran through it, opening the markets of the coast to the rich yield of the neighboring farms, orchards, vineyards, and fisheries. Jesus would there have a better opportunity for intercourse with strangers than at Cana, Bethsaida, or Chorazin; would there find a more busy and less luxurious people than at Tiberias, Herod's capital; and possibly more docile than were his familiar neighbors at Nazareth. He made excur. sions to the neighboring villages, but appears to have become disgusted with his reception, and to have gone south, returning, however, occasionally.

Galilee, though less than thirty miles square, had, according to Josephus, two hundred and forty towns and villages and fifteen fortresses. Allowing for exaggeration, still its population was very dense, and its soil was of wonderful fertility.

The whole neighborhood of Capernaum is sacred to the memory of Jesus. There were the vineyards, on the hill slopes, round which their lord planted a hedge, and 'in which he built a watch-tower and dug a wine-press. There were the sunny hills, on which the old wine had grown and the new was growing, for which the householder would take care to provide the new leather bottles. The plain of Genesareth was the enamelled meadow, on which, in spring, ten thousand lilies were robed in more than the glory of Solomon, and where, in winter, the grass was cast into the oven. It was on

such pastures as those around that the shepherd left the ninety-andnine, to seek in the mountains the one that was lost, and bring it back, when found, on his shoulders, rejoicing. The ravens, that have neither storehouse nor barn, daily sailed over from the cliffs of Arbela, to seek their food on the shore of the lake; and from the same cliffs, from time to time, flew forth the hawks, to make the terrified hen gather her chickens under her wings. The orchards were there in which the fig-tree grew, on which the dresser of the vineyard in three years found no fruit, and in which the grain of mustard-seed grew into so great a tree that the birds of the air lodged in its branches.

Across the lake rose the hills of Gaulonitis, which the idly busy rabbis watched for signs of the weather. A murky red seen above them in the morning was a text for these sky-prophets to predict “foul weather to-day, for the sky is red and lowering"; and it was when the sun sank red and glowing behind the hills in the west that the solemn gossips, returning from their many prayers in the synagogue, made sure that it would be “fair weather to-morrow." It was when the sea-cloud was seen driving over the hilltops from Ptolemais and Carmel that neighbors warned each other that a shower was coming; and the clouds sailing north, toward Safed and Hermon, were the accepted earnest of coming heat.

The daily business of Capernaum itself supplied many of the illustrations so frequently introduced into the discourses of Jesus. He might see in the bazaar of the town or on the street the rich travelling merchant, who exchanged a heavy load of Babylonian carpets for the one lustrous pearl that had, perhaps, found its way to the lake from distant Ceylon. Fishermen, publicans, and dressers of vineyards passed and repassed each moment. Over in Julias, the favorite town of the tetrarch Philip, below in Tiberias, at the court of Antipas, lived the magnates, who delighted to be called “gracious lords,” and walked in silk robes. The young Salome lived in the one town, her mother, Herodias, in the other; and the intercourse between the two courts could not have escaped the all-observing eye of Jesus as he moved about in Capernaum.- Dr. Cunningham Geikie (Life and Words of Christ, p. 342).

At first, Jesus probably lived with his mother and brothers and the few disciples he had already gathered. On his return from his first passover journey to Jerusalem, he appears to have made his abode when in town in the house of Peter, who lived with his brother Andrew and his mother-in-law.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »