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A MOORLAND CAROL. To skip along the daisied lea,
Where fairy mists roll o'er the scene,
So solemn yet so gay,
Upon the lark's light lay!
The wild, the lonely moor for me,
Where the plover's evry cry, Our fair, enchanting dreams :
The curlew's wail, and the bee's deep hum,
As it gently skimme To loiter by the wimpling brook,
The lambkins bleat, the heath-fowl's birr, In the sunny month o' May,
And the lark's rejoicing lay, To gambol on the village green,
Join joyously in concert meet
From dawn till close of day!
For save the cottage on the brae,
The shieling on the hill, The flowers shed rich perfume :
There's nought but nature to be found,
And everything is still : To scale the rugged mountain's brow,
The deafening noise of factories Exalted view the scene :
Is not there to be found, Thoughtful to gaze upon the sea,
The misery of crowded lanes, Clothed in the sunny sheen:
Of dwellings 'neath the ground! 0, sweet are these! but sweeter far, And ever so will be,
The wild, the lonely moor for me, The lonely and mysterious moor :
There we've no wants and woes, The wild, wide moor, for me!
Such as afflict the poor with whom
Yon city overflows. The wild, the lonely moor for me,
0, sweet may distant scenes appear, Where the purple heather grows,
But never can they be,
1 The wild, wide moor for me!
THE CRY OF THE UNEMPLOYED.
CRITICAL EXEGESIS OF GOSPEL HISTORY,
ON THE BASIS OF STRAUSS's ‘LEBEN JESU.' A SERIES OF EIGHT DISCOURSES: DELIVERED AT THE LITERARY INSTITUTION. J OHN
COURT ROAD, AND AT THE HALL OF SCIENCE, CITY ROAD, ON SUNDAY EVENINGS, DURING THE WINTERS OF 1848-9, AND 1849--50.
BY THOMAS COOPER,
111.-THE MIRACLES. If Nature, or the Universe, had no Laws, there could be no talk about Miracles. The very use of a word which means something out of the course of Nature, proves that even those who use it recognise that regular course of phenomena which we term the Laws of Nature. These laws exist. All men recognise them.
True, there are some distinctions to be made when the universality of this recognition is affirmed. For instance ; an inhabitant of Central Africa who had neither been out of that climate,-nor conversed with any one who had, -nor read a book,—could have no knowledge of that law of Nature whereby water may become solid : he had never seen ice, and it is not likely that, in that hot climate, he would dream of it. Again : a peasant of the Dark Ages could have no knowledge of the laws of nature which attach to our Planetary system : he could no more suspect that the Earth revolved round the Sun, than he could believe that he walked on his head. Nay, again : even a philosopher of the Dark Ages, if he could now be resuscitated, and told that we were able to exchange thoughts by means of a wire with persons hundreds of miles distant from us, and this in a second of time, might be expected to deny it. He might say he knew that a wire had no such property as that which we attributed to it, nor could it be made to have such a property: it was contrary to the Laws of Nature.
So then, even to comparatively cultivated minds some of these Laws have been unknown; while to rude or unexperienced persons many of these laws have remained unknown. Yet, after all the necessary expenditure of definition, the truth remains that Men universally, though in relation to the degree of their knowledge, recognise Nature as having fixed or regular laws.
Do we ever see these Laws departed from ? Never. If any man in this assembly were to say he had, all of us would tell him he was mistaken ; and would demand the relation of what he had seen, in order to shew him that it was, after all, but an operation of a Law of Nature which he had witnessed.
If this were an assembly of learned and orthodox Christian divines they would do the same ; for they say "the age of Miracles is past.' If a deeply pious man recovers in an unexpected manner from a grievous sickness, for instance, they do not say that a miracle has been performed upon him; but that “God has blessed the means,—or, that in the order of His Providence it has pleased God to restore him.' I am not speaking of the dreams about "answers to faith' and 'answers to prayer' among fanatics : I repeat that, with every orthodox Christian divine making the slightest pretences to education, the idea of miracles being performed now is held to be absurd : the decided proclamation is that miracles have long ceased.
Then, why, if it be absurd to suppose miracles are performed now, is it reasonable to believe that they ever were performed ? Because, say the orthodox, a Revelation was necessary to guide man. He was a poor lost wandering creature--morally sunk and degraded and incapable of finding out the way
of life—one divinely commissioned must be sent to teach him-and he who was sent must be able to prove his divine commission by doing what Omnipotence alone could enable him to do-that is, controvert the fixed laws of the Universe.
To answer at length this à priori argument for Miracles would lead us far from our present purpose. We can but wonder at one fact of enormous magnitude : that the Revelation which is meant, with all its supposed proofs of a Divine Commission, has, during the 1800 years which have elapsed since it is affirmed to have been given, not yet reached half of the human race. This fact would seem, at the outset, a barrier to the belief that it was miraculously given by Omnipotence, or by Infinite Benevolence, since if the Omnipotent compassionated his lost and fallen creation, He would have taken effectual means to proclaim His will without favouritism. Another argument would have to be entered into-namely, the proof that Man is unable to discover by his own reason the rules of a virtuous life, and unable to practice them. Here, we should stand prepared to deny the doctrine of Man's helplessness altogether; and to contend that no such Revelation is necessary : that Nature, around Man and within Man, furnishes her own Revelation : that duty is but another name for law, and that the observance of his own nature is sufficient to shew man that frequent reflection upon his duties, or the moral laws, will inevitably influence his life, and lead him to cherish no thought, to speak no word, to perform no act, which can disturb his own happiness or the happiness of others -but so to regulate his thoughts, and words, and deeds as to enchance his own happiness and that of the whole human race.
This would be challenging both the need of a Revelation, and of Miracles to support it. But our present purpose is of another kind : it is to examine, by induction, whether what are called the Miracles of the Four Gospels be truths. There is but one legitimate way of doing this. We have to remember that they are the relations of a book, and of a book of a by-gone age. Who wrote the narratives we do not know. We have shewn, in the two introductory discourses, that there is no certain knowledge whatever upon this point ; and we continue to call the Four Gospels by the names of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, to avoid confusion, and for no other reason.
We saw that the two first chapters of Matthew and Luke, respectively, were composed of independent narratives, partly, and in other parts were contradictory ; that they set forth genealogies of Joseph the father of Jesus which were completely irreconcileable with each other; while they, more strangely still, affirm that Jesus was begotten without Joseph, and therefore render both the genealogies absurdly needless, or-if one only be the genealogy of Joseph, though the record does not say sonrender that one genealogy equally absurd and needless. We have seen that the Divine Being is related by Luke to have sent an angel with a heathen name to inform the Virgin at Nazareth, that she should be, supernaturally, the mother of the Messiah ; and yet that this chosen vessel of the Divine purposes is left by the Divine Being in a state of suspicion and shame, and another revelation has to be made to her husband, according to Matthew, who knows not Nazareth as the original dwelling place of Joseph and Mary, but introduces them at the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem ; that Luke's inspiration—the inspiration of him who had perfect understanding of all things from the very first-gives him no knowledge of the shame to which Mary had been exposed, or of the revelation made to Joseph her husband about his espoused wife being with child of the Holy Ghost : that he relates as the occasion of their journey to Bethlehem a taxing of " all the world” by Augustus Cesar which was never made, or if it mean all Judea,
and a taxing and censorship when Kyrenius was governor of Syria, was not made till several years after the date alleged by Matthew as that of the birth of Christ. We have seen both the narrators meet in the mythic idea of their old nation that the Messiah must be born in “Bethlehem of Judah ;" and that they thus bring him, in the legendary spirit, to Bethlehem. No sooner have they agreed in naming the mythic place of his birth, however, than we see them diverge again, with the true characteristics of the legendary spirit. Luke introduces a chorus of angels chaunting the advent of the Messiah to shepherds, who go and visit the child, and spread abroad what they have seen, praising and glorifying God ;-the child is circumcised, and the days of purification (40) are fulfilled, and Simeon and Anna publicly testify to the child's Messiahship in the temple ;-and, 'when all things are fulfilled,' its parents go down quietly to reside at Nazareth, coming up to the annual feasts ; and we hear no more expressly about the Divinely-begotten child until he discourses with the doctors at twelve years old. Luke's mythical idea we saw was that the Messiah must fulfil the whole law from a child and his legend is worked out in perfect fidelity to that idea.
But we saw that Matthew was guided by another set of Myths—these being so plentiful in the old literature of his nation, and the tendency of his people being so strong to form secondary senses of the old writings, that they made passages to bear upon the Messiah which a nation living out of their class of ideas could not have thought of applying to him. The angels talked of in Luke, and all the spreading abroad of the good news by the shepherds, although Bethlehem was not three hours' distant from Jerusalem,-had not carried the news of the Messiah's appearance to Jerusalem,-inasmuch as, by Matthew's account, the Magi’s enquiry caused Herod the king to be “troubled, and all Jerusalem with him,"_and after assembling his counsellors, and obtaining from them a guess from prophecy that the search must be made in Bethlehem,-he had to direct the Magi to “go and search diligently for the young child." The miraculous star that went and “stood over where the young child was"—the Massacre of the Innocents—the Flight into Egyptthe Return, and successive Divine warnings-until the going down to dwell at Nazareth, which city Matthew had never mentioned before—were utterly adverse to Luke's story, and had their origin in another set of mythical ideas.
We were so far from calling these contrary accounts the records of plenary inspiration, that we saw,—both by their structure, and the forced and inapplicable texts from the Old Testament brought to support them,—that they were plainly and palpably legendary, and deserving of no more credit as facts, than the fables of King Arthur and Merlin the Prophet.
At a second stage of our enquiry, we were again compelled to reject as legendary much that seemed to be related for fact-such as the descent of the Divine spirit in the form of a dove at the Baptism--the heavenly voice--the testimony of John the Baptist to the Messiahship of Jesus—and the wildly imaginative story of the Temptation by the Devil.
We thus enter on the third, and more important series of investigation, with no encouragement to expect an absence of legend. Yet, for the Miracles' related to have been performed by Christ, we have an incontestable right to demand the clearest historic evidence. It is affirmed and held to be a sacred truth in the land of our birth, that the truth of the Redeemer's Divine mission rests upon them. The Miracles' are, therefore, the bulwarks of orthodox belief, and should be impregnable to fair criticism. A sense of their importance, according to the shewing of orthodox divines themselves, must compel us to examine these accounts of supernatural events with a strictness we should scarcely feel it necessary to apply to any other relations ever made by man. At every step, Reason must demand-Who are the witnesses? What is their warrant for credibility? What is the accordance of their testimony? If the Gospel records give an unsatisfactory answer to these rational, fair, and honest questions—who will dare to say that rational, fair, and honest enquirers ought to receive present censure and everlasting punishment, as a consequence of rejecting what to them is not proved ? Whatever may be the result of our enquiry—and, from the diversity of minds it cannot be expected to be alike in all—let us, however, enter on this examination rationally, fairly, and honestly. And, for the advantage of order and distinctness, let us, first, examine that class of miracles in which Jesus is described as operating supernaturally upon human beings. Following the classification of Strauss, these will be-1. Demoniacs ; 2. Lepers ; 3. The Blind ; 4. Paralytics ; 5. Involuntary cures; 6. Cures at a distance; 7. Cures on the Sabbath; 8. Resuscitations of the Dead. The remaining Miracles' will be of a mixed character : 1. Those relating to the Sea ; 2. The multiplication of the loaves and fishes; 3. The turning of the water into wine ; 4. The cursing of the barren fig-tree.
(To be continued in next number.)
Educational Economy; or State Education Vindicated from the Objections
of the Votaries of Voluntaryism. By THOMAS EMERY. Prize Essay: The Causes of Crime; its Prevention and Punishment. By
the same Author. I BEG to recommend the perusal of these essays —the production of the promising young thinker mentioned in the notice of the Prize Essay last week-to all thoughtful working men. The treatise on 'State Education,' is, to my mind, most unanswerable. I shall make no extracts from it-for it ought to be read entire. The following passages from the “ Causes of Crime” will give my readers an additional taste of our author's quality :
“Some parties ascribe the commission of crime to the recklessness and improvidence of criminals. What is crime under such circumstances but the manifestation of anxiety to provide for wants, either real or fictitious, in an ignorant and unprincipled manner ? Others in going a step further assert that recklessness, improvidence, and crime are only other manifestations of that depreciated self-respect and indifference to public good, engendered by bad national government and the deprivation of political and social rights. And what is bad government, but palpable, self-imputative evidence against the assumed 'collective wisdom of a country ? and what is political and social serfdom, but proof positive of the absence of that mental stamina which, if possessed, would assert its own dignity, and morally enforce its own claims. Another class of reformers assume that indifference to public good, loss of self-respect, recklessness, improvidence, and criminality, are mainly attributable to the drinking customs of society; whercas, drunkenness is a secondary evil, arising from a mistaken method of obtaining pleasurable excitement. Look at the subject of crime from whatever point we may, we shall find it resolvable into some mental aberration, moral deficiency, or individual incompetency--in fact, we shall be led to the conclusion that, ignorance is the parent of crime.
“ In asserting that ignorance is the primary cause of crime, I mean not merely an ignorance of the rudiments of education, but an incapacity to appreciate the true interest of humanityan unacquaintance with the philosophy of every-day life."
“ The punishment of crime is a subject of considerable difficulty. Various opinions prevail upon the purposes and utility of punishment. Punishment is an appeal to the fears of the individual through the infliction of pain. It most probably first arose from the blind desire of an injured party to cause his antagonist to feel the same pain he had inflicted. But punishment in this sense is absurd, for supposing it possible that such antagonist could experience precisely the same pain, how could the punishment thus inflicted affect or alter the pain