Imatges de pàgina

resemblance to the common people of other nations; that many were inconsiderate and uninformed, and (having recently escaped from a country not distinguished for the purity of either its morals or its religion) in different degrees tinctured with idolatrous superstition, and fluctuating in their principles. Such a multitude, naturally inclined to innovation and disorder, would become an easy prey to the arts of those factious and ambitious leaders who undoubtedly existed in the camp. We should not consider the Jewish commonwealth at that time as of a character wholly religious, and entirely free from those intrigues and contentions for power which distract the councils of political bodies. Such causes are certainly sufficient to account for momentary discontents and murmurings when difficulties occurred; but, as they had no deeper root or stronger foundation, some welltimed act of just severity, or some powerful and dignified, yet merciful display of authority, was always sufficient to repress them.

And is not such conduct every day observed, even among Christians, wbo believe they have the least possible reason to doubt the continual superintendance of a protecting Providence, and the veracity of Him who has promised never to forsake them. It is affiiction that tries the faith of the Christian now, as it formerly did that of the Jew; and an investigation of the truth would probably (were it practicable) discover that the number of those who were found wanting among the Jews, is not much greater (if at all), in proportion to the aggregate of each, than that of the Christians who have been believers only by profession. We must not, however, be understood to mean to advocate the cause of ingratitude and disobedience, when we so far defend the Jews; nor dare we think of accusing Moses and the prophets, and even our Saviour himself, of having spoken too harshly of their conduct. Every reproach, we may be sure, was well deserved, and we bave no wish to screen the guilty Israelites;-we would only inquire whether those reproaches are not equally applicable to mankind collectively, even to us Christians, who surely have at least as much knowledge of the Almighty and his works as they could boast of.

When we view them settled in the promised land, their conduct will appear less extraordinary than it did during their journey through the wilderness; and if the acknowledged hardness of their hearts in that “ day of temptation" be thought to admit of some slight palliation, we shall have still less difficulty to encounter with respect to their subse

quent proceedings. The promise relative to their final settement in Canaan had been fulfilled, and they had thus in. curred a new debt of gratitude and love towards their Heavenly Ruler; but, on the other hand, the protecting care and watchful interference of Divine Providence in their behalf, were neither so continually nor so conspicuously dis. played as they had been in times of greater peril and necessity. The fertility of the spot in which they were placed had rendered it unnecessary that water should any longer be drawn from the stony rock to satisfy their thirst, or tbat the food of angels should be given them for meat. The cloud and the pillar of fire had also disappeared. Their visible rulers were no longer favoured with such supernatural powers as those by which Moses was distinguished; for the law had been given, and the claims of God to their worship and obedience so fully established, that the conduct of their affairs might now safely be entrusted to persons only partially and occasionally elevated above their fellows by ex. traordinary gifts. Almost all those who were released from bondage in Egypt, perished on their way to the promised land; and as one generation succeeded to another, the miracles performed in the wilderness became matter of historical record or of oral tradition, and thus the evidence of testimony took place of the evidence of the senses. But however strong our confidence may be in the testimony on which it rests, faith must still fall short of absolute certainty; and though perhaps some will not be disposed to admit the force of this argument in the present case, they must admit that the impression produced by the actual view of a miracle will be considerably greater than that which is caused by the bare relation of it. A particular interposition in behalf of one's ancestors, has not the effect of the same interposition in behalf of one's self.

But it will be said, that though one of the two kinds of cvidence, on which all revealed religion must depend, had lost much of its force, yet the other—the evidence of prophecy fulfilled—was continually gaining strength, owing to the number of those predictions the fulfilment of which could not be denied; while, at the same time, the hand of the Almighty was so signally visible, in their punishment when guilty of transgressing his law, and in their deliverance upon repentance, that further proof could scarcely have been obtained from the most stupendous

[ocr errors]

miracle,-even though one rose from the dead." Upon this, after once more asserting that it is not our purpose to justify the Jews, we will remark, that though we grant all that is required of us, we only acknowledge them to have acted sometimes in wilful and deliberate opposition to the express will of God. This, indeed, must be confessed of them; and we wish it could be always denied of many enlightened Christian nations. There certainly appears to have been times, when every species of idolatry and wickedness was openly and generally practised; when the warning-voice of the prophets was disregarded ; and when the offended Majesty of heaven cried out for vengeance. But when we consider the powerful effect of splendid example, upon a people not fortified against the allurements of vice and the arguments of infidelity; and when we see it declared in scripture, that it was frequently the corrupt example of the monarch " that caused Israel to sin; though we must still condemn, if we would be just, their occasional apostacy, we shall learn to blame them without acrimony, and to temper our reproaches with charity and compassion.

When the revolt under Jeroboam precluded ten of the tribes from worshipping in the temple of the true God at Jerusalem, that usurper was enabled to introduce the forbid. den rites of their idolatrous neighbours, which are so congenial with the bad passions of men, and so indulgent to lawless gratification. The situation of affairs, and the state of men's minds, were at that time but too favorable to any attempt at an alteration in the national religion ; and such an opportunity of cutting off all connection with Jerusalem, and of establishing his newly-acquired power, was not to be neglected by an artful prince whose title was founded upon violence and usurpation, and who was restrained by no conscientious scruples from inflicting a fatal blow upon the best interests of his country. This was the prelude to a series of offences against the laws of Heaven. The denunciations of their prophets were too frequently despised ; till at length, the dreadful penalty was exacted, and they mourned in bard captivity their follies and their crimes. But the virtue which prosperity had corrupted shone bright in the time of their affliction. They returned repentant to their God; they derived comfort from his gracious promises to their fathers, and looked forward to the Messiah with pious expectation, for the deliverance of their posterity from all

their oppressors. It was in that season so fit for reflection, , that they became fully convinced of the superior pority and excellence of their faith, and resolved to adhere to it under every difficulty to which it might subject them. What though they mistook the meaning of those prophecies, which related to the glory of Israel, and the light that was to lighten the Gentiles- we are no where told that they, at that time, wilfully shut their eyes against their true import; and we are, therefore, at liberty to believe that the confidence with which they evidently relied upon their being one day fulfilled, was the result of a diligent and devout examination of them, and a perfect assurance of their Divine origin. Let any one who is acquainted with the language of these predictions, declare, whether their error in expecting, in the Messiah, a temporal prince who should deliver them from all their troubles, and subject all nations to their sway, was not natural and pardonable in a people bowed down, as they were, to the earth by the heavy hand of the oppressor, a people to whom present relief was so very desirable, to whom eternal bappiness had been so indistinctly revealed. This unfortunate prejudice against Christ's spiritual kingdom, certainly not founded originally on wilful misapprehension, may be urged as some excuse, though far from a sufficient one, for their conduct towards him who came to save them : but we must defer the further consideration of this interesting subject till a future opportunity.

In our next number, we purpose to state the nature of the revelation vouchsafed to the Jews; to ascertain, as well as we can, how far, in their treatment of the Son of God, they acted in opposition to the light they had, or might have had; and in wbat degree they are now culpable, in continuing in their unbelief. We shall also offer some additional observations on the work, which gave occasiou to this article.

[ To be continued. ]

ART. VI.-The Poet's Pilgrimage to Waterloo. By Ro

BERT SOUTHEY, Esq. Poet-Laureate. Longman and Co.

1816. 12mo. pp. 232. 10s. 6d. Few authors have been more the subject of criticism than Mr. Southey, and none, perhaps, regards it less. We know too much of authors, to suppose that their prejudices car

ever be entirely removed by the opinions of others : and we only observe, that it is not decorous or usual in a writer to preface his work with an open declaration of his perfect indifference to the judgment of the public.

“ This was the morning-light vouchsaf'd, which led

My favour'd footsteps to the Muses' hill,
Whose arduous paths I have not ceas'd to tread,

From good to better, persevering still;
And, if but self-approv'd, to praise or blame

Indifferent, while I toil for lasting fame." We do not expect from Mr. Southey-a veteran in literaturc, the shrinking sensibility, or timid solicitude, of a young traveller to Parnassus; but we do think that he ought to assume a less lofty tone, and pay some deference to the opinion of mankind, who can punish bim sufficiently merely by neglecting him. This deference will appear the more reasonable, when it is considered, that this performance is not merely not the best that has appeared on the subject of the field of Waterloo, but by much the worst of the poet's own performances.

Mr. Southey is gifted with powers of mind superior to those of most of his contemporaries; but these powers have often been greatly misapplied. This was the case also with the eminent talents of Warburton. His deviations, however, always displayed the astonishing force of his intellect; and his extravagances were uniformly stamped with a character of magnificence. Mr. Southey's aberrations, which are numerous, are not the aberrations of an ordinary man; yet justice to him and the public requires that we should affirm, that they exbibit, in the present work at least, more of silliness than of that simplicity which he affects; and quite as much of bad taste as of true genius.

Waterloo is not a subject like the exploits of some of the heroes of the fabulous ages, who

Urgentur ignotique longa

Nocte, carent quia vate sacro. Various travellers, on foot and in vehicles of every imaginable description-together with a multitude of prosaic poets, and an host of poctic prose-writers, have combined to celebrate that famous scene, and to familiarise with it the minds of the people of England. And we are, both in conscience and in duty, bound to state, that its horrors were

« AnteriorContinua »