Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

tage to their respective authors, if we put out of the question the appropriate position which they are calculated to occupy between a religion of types and one of antitypes, between one of ritual expiations and one of spiritual holiness; and the strong testimony which they thus afford retrospectively to the truth of the Mosaic, and prospectively to that of the Christian covenant. It would most assuredly be impossible to account for the composition of the larger and more prominent proportion of these truly remarkable documents, by referring it to the ordinary human motives of self-interest, or of national or personal vanity. That they were not written for the purpose of giving an additional sanction to the Levitical institutions, is obvious from the fact, that they frequently speak of them in language so depreciating, as almost to imply a spirit of hostility: whilst, on the other hand, that their object was not that of casting any slur upon the authenticity of that ritual is equally evident, from the fact that they explicitly assert its Divine origin, and attribute the severe visitations which befel their countrymen to the wrath of Providence, for their continued violation of its enactments. Now, admitting that the Jewish prophets were sent into the world at their respective epochs, for the purpose of weaning the public mind gradually from the provisional establishment of Moses, and preparing it for the reception of evangelical truth, all these characteristics which mark their writings are precisely what might have been expected; but, we repeat, no other solution with which we are acquainted would meet the case. Any idea of personal aggrandizement, as the motive of the line adopted by their authors, was again obviously out of the question. To the Jewish community they must have appeared, from their continued anticipations of national calamity and discomfiture, any thing rather than patriotic; and by the uncompromising censure with which they lashed the vices of the sovereigns of the day, they must have expected to draw down, as we know that they actually did, the most violent persecution upon their own heads. Yet, with all these apparently unpopular characteristics, their books (such we must presume was the unanswerable evidence of their inspiration at the time of their production) have been received as infallible oracles by the very people whose crimes they denounced, whose religious prejudices they offended, and whose political ruin they foreboded; and, from that day to the present, have been reverentially transmitted from father to son, through every change of evil and good fortune, and referred to in their original language by that inflexible people under almost every possible modification of manners, and in almost every climate of the earth.

The gradual preparation for a new and better system than that of the provisional institutions of Moses, as hinted at by himself, and slowly developed in the subsequent writings of the prophets, seems to have been admirably contrived by Providence, according to the continually shifting circumstances of the Jewish people. Moses, it has been already remarked, alludes to the eventual abrogation of his own ritual by the substitution of the covenant of the Gospel, in language sufficiently precise to satisfy us that he was fully aware that such would be the fact; though in a manner not so prominent as to derogate from the veneration claimed for his own enactments, by announcing

more broadly than was expedient their real character. But as time advanced, and when after a course of successive ages the Levitical rites had been sufficiently long established to have completely identified themselves with the national habits, the Almighty appears purposely to have become more and more explicit in his intimation of his ultimate purpose. The substitution of spiritual, in the place of ritual, holiness; the one efficient expiation of sin, destined to be once for all ofa fered and completed in the sufferings and subsequent glorifying of the Messiah, and the communication of the blessings of the Gospel to the Gentiles equally with the Jews, are expressly alluded to so early as the time of David, in many of the Psalms attributed to that monarch and his contemporaries, in a manner obviously calculated to subtract from the then existing reliance upon the efficacy of the sacerdotal sacrifice.'

• In proportion as the completion of the time contemplated by Providence drew nearer, this tendency to derogate from the effectiveness of their existing ritual, and to anticipate a more perfect system still hidden in the womb of futurity, becomes more and more evident in the writings of the later prophets. And, accordingly, we know that in consequence of these repeated allusions, all bearing prospectively to the same point, and more especially of those contained in the Book of Daniel, the appearance of a Prince and Saviour was an object of earnest expectation among the Jews at the time of our Redeemer's birth; though from feelings of nationality they were disposed, in direct contradiction to the very prophecies to which they referred, to restrict the object of his mission to their own peculiar nation. Now it cannot be denied that, upon the presumption that the intentions of Providence were what the Christian supposes, this gradual repeal of the earlier covenant, and preparation of the human mind for the promulgation of that which was to displace it, was wisely contrived. The system pursued was like that which we witness in some of the common operations of physical nature, where the effete animal organ, which is to be superseded by the substitution of one more complete, detaches itself slowly and almost imperceptibly, and finally drops off when the process for the production of that which is to follow is completed. Another, and no trifling advantage, also, was obtained for the eventual advancement of Christianity by this peculiar arrangement; namely, the confirmation of its authenticity subsequently to its promulgation, by the evidence of previously received prophecy. The same writings which, before the proclamation of the Gospel covenant, seem to have been intended only for the single purpose of weaning the minds of the Jews from a too strong attachment to the mere ceremonial of their law, and of inculcating principles of more substantial holiness, served, after the coming of Christ, to afford the most irrefragable proofs of the reality of his mission. In consequence of this double purpose, which has been answered by the prophetic writings, it is that their importance, as means of instruction, is at this moment as great to the society of Christians as it was originally to the people for whose use they appeared to be more immediately intended : a circumstance in which we trace again another close analogy with the general economy of the VOL. VIII. -N.S.

GG

Creator, almost all of whose visible works are adapted for the promotiion of other and secondary purposes, after the first more ostensible object has been attained.' pp. 200—209.

Many, very many passages of the same admirable character are scattered through the volume. We need not say, therefore, we most cordially recommend the work to general perusal.

Art. VII. Maternal Sketches; with other Poems. By Eliza Ruther

foord. Sm. 8vo. pp. 176. Price 7s. London, 1832.

conly a Home and Pharm dictate

THIS is a delightful volume of melodious verse poured from

- the well-spring of the heart's best affections. The title is is not very well chosen. The theme of the principal poem is Maternal Affection, or, in good Saxon English, Mothers' Love, —from its first new and delightful impulse, at the birth of her first-born, to its latest energies as the mainspring of the tenderest and noblest efforts of self-denying watchfulness and exertion. The subject is as old, almost, as the creation, and as familiar as the song of birds, or the unchanged, yet ever-changing phenomena of nature; but who is ever tired of gazing on the reflection of earth and heaven in a clear and living current ? No object could have been more gracefully chosen by a female writer; and only a woman could have treated it with the feminine delicacy and strong and pure feeling which characterize this chaste production. The charm of the poem is, that it has every appearance of having been dictated, not by the ambition of writing poetry as poetry, but by the wish to embody in that form, sentiments and emotions of which the melodious expression is poetry. In many volumes of the kind, we find a long and laboured poem apparently written on purpose to give importance to the volume, the whole charm and merit of which are found in the minor pieces, that have been dictated by natural feeling. In this volume, on the contrary, the shorter poems are very inferior in interest, as well as in point of versification, to the leading poem ; a strong internal proof that the Writer has drawn her inspiration from nature and the subject, not from any artificial source. But our readers will judge for themselves. Here is a lovely picture :

· Rich in the basket's beautiful array,
Thy baby robes the choicest art display;
The sempstress there has plied her task for thee;
In all the needle's light embroidery:
Here the rich flower, and there the twining stem,
The snowy roses, and the lace-worked hem :
The toilet ornament, with motto drest,
Bears the fond wish in flowery verse exprest

And kind congratulations, far and near,
With thy young charms salute her favoured ear.
• Sweet are the pageants of thy morning hour,
Child of affcetion-snow-drop of the bower!
Soft are the balmy gales on thee that play-
Pure as the breath of summer's calmest day.
· Yet dearer interests shall pervade her breast,
New beauties win her, and new charms arrest:
The breath of innocence, the murmuring voice,
That seems with new-born transport to rejoice,–
To ask communion, pleasure to impart,
And waken echo in that tender heart.
• The grateful offices of love are paid
By her own hand ; in careless beauty laid
Upon her lap, from dress and bondage free,
He pours his first wild song to liberty ;
Moves the young limbs, with vigour newly found,
And tries at length the eloquence of sound;
Fixes his eye, and asks the answering tone,
Now soft, now loud, in measure all his own.
Then shall her soothing numbers, floating near

His dreamy pillow, lull his slumbering ear,
While, in the beauty of serene repose,
On her loved form his drooping eyelids close.

See !-at the magic of a sound, that eye
Darts all its force of love and ecstasy, -
Distinctions none, save that soft voice alone
That vibrates to the heart its silver tone.
Each varying form and colour on that sight
Unnoticed blends, in harmony of light;
Save this, all other fairer forms above,
Robed in its own celestial garb of love.

• Look at the gilded plaything, brought to lure

And tempts him from a spot he deems secure; He turns a moment with delighted eye, And eager hand, its feeble force to try ; Then back again he starts, with quick alarms, And slights the glittering bauble's idle charms. · Hark to that tender melody of tone, When his young accents imitate her own! No harmony can equal bliss impart To that soft echo in his mother's heart; And still she hears, with every fresh surprise, Some new succession of sweet sounds arise : First the lov’d name, and then the fond farewell, Till he has learned each rising wish to tell.

See! when his tender frame in sickness fades,
And fever parches, and disease invades,
Her eye, unclosed, untired, its vigil keeps,
She rocks his cradle-listens while he sleeps,
Cheers when he wakes, with love's creative wiles,

Paid by his fond caress and tearful smiles.
• The first faint step he makes in life's rude way,

Her eye his polar star-her hand his stay,
Lured by that beck’ning hand and gentle tone,
He feels his safety in her look alone.
• Poor child of Royalty !-Thy fate I mourn,
If from this friend and loved protectress borne,
Yon infant, on the barvest sheaf at rest,
Watched by the faithful dog, is far more blest;
For his poor mother's tender thought may shed
A glance protecting o'er his russet bed,
While, soothed by Nature's breath, he lies at ease,

Sheltered from harm, and nurtured by the breeze.' pp. 3–8. With great delicacy and pathos, a transition is made to the feelings of one who has been betrayed from the path of virtue.

"That mournful stigma, sheds on him its stain,
And the devotedness of Love is vain.
Oh! might she shield him ! but it cannot be,
What art can shun that fatal obloquy ?
In lonely glades, with him, with him alone,
She would retire, unfriended and unknown;
But there the sorrow still to be renewed,
The one deep source of grief, that must intrude,
Even at the artless mention of her name,
To paint his youthful cheek with burning shame.
Where is the parent that should train his youth,
Sanction her precepts, stamp her words with truth?
Where is the counsellor, the friend, the guide,
Who o'er his youthful conduct should preside ?
Ah! hush the bitter thought !-forbear, forbear

To touch the hidden spring of anguish there.
“Oh! widowhood most dreadful! ne'er can she
Portray departed worth to infancy,
Locked in the silent chambers of her breast,
Her sorrows with their bitter secret rest.
Poor penitent! thy tears and prayers avail
But little, Rumour circulates the tale,
And these sad wanderings from the path of truth,

Fling a cold mildew o'er the flower of youth' pp. 10, 11. The poem is desultory, and we shall not detail the argument of each canto. Considerable skill is shewn in varying the didactic parts by historical illustrations and moral contrasts. In portraying

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »