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reality, by far the most humane, not only for society, but also for the criminal himself. The one would make restoration to a higher moral grade, a previous step to reformation; the other would give him that place only when after fair trial, and competent tests, he could be truly pronounced reformed. The previous humiliation, according to the philosophy of the Bible and all right views of human nature, is a most important part of the necessary means to such a result. The course practised at the Sing Sing State Prison has a direct tendency to prevent this; or, most likely, to produce a sentimental reformation, having no real ground in the conscience, furnishing no real strength against temptation, and no security against the worst of crimes. Moreover, to treat the criminal as though he were not degraded, is a lie on its very face; it is not honest; it is not acting according to the truth of things; and, like everything else that is hollow and deceptive, must be mischievous. There is a want of that sincerity without which there can be no hope for good. The philanthropy is unreal and affected; the reformation resulting must be of the same character. Genuine repentance would turn away from it to that better sympathy, which to some may seem like pharisaism, but which has, in reality, more of the true feeling of brotherhood in proportion as it is more sin. cere, and is therefore more truly efficacious for good, because it does not attempt to separate ideas which God has indissolubly joined together.
Our third argument, or the one from the Scriptures, is necessarily deferred to another occasion.
THE BIBLE ITS OWN INTERPRETER.
By Prof. HENRY P. TAPPAN, D.D., New York:
The Bible is the voice of our Father in Heaven, speaking to us, his ignorant and sinful children. He speaks to us that he may enlighten and correct us—that he may make us wise and good like himself. It is to be presumed that he speaks in a way adapted to our ignorance and our wants—that he speaks so that we may understand him, and of things which it behoves us most of all to know.
Now we do not find in this Bible a system of science or of art, by which the efforts of the human mind are anticipated and rendered unnecessary. These have been left to our own thought and skill to work out, and slowly to ripen from age to age. He has presented us the objects of science, and the materials of art in the universe around us; and he has planted deep within our minds the elements of truth, and the principles of investigation and reasoning—and here he has left us.
But there were truths and interests too high and momentous to be given up to the slow development of ages,-even if the human mind of itself could have grasped them. But there were truths and interests which the human mind of itself could not reach, or in a degree very limited and insufficient. Redemption from sin and all its attending and consequential evils, and the state of man after death, are the two great problems before which all mere philosophy and science have ever stood abashed. The highest cultivation of the intellect and the taste still leaves the heart corrupt ; and the most glorious and ripened knowledge of the visible and temporal, contains no adequate data of the invisible and the eternal. The high hope, the illimitable destiny, the final well-being of men lie in these solemn and sublime problems, but he does not find the solution within himself, nor in the mechanism of the world around him. It is on these great questions that God speaks to him. He will not leave his poor child in darkness-He will not abandon him to the power of evil.
In accordance with His benevolent purpose, the language which He employs, is the familiar language in use between man and man. And while he employed men as the instruments of his revelation, and so inspired them that they should communicate the truth adequately and without any admixture of error, he still permitted them to speak both according to their vernacular idiom, and their individual peculiarities of style, and according to the usages of language generally, in respect to illustrations, figures, and graces of speech.
The Bible, therefore, is not a book of philosophy, for it does not profess to treat of philosophical subjects; nor is it a book of science, for it does not profess to treat of scientific subjects; but it is a book of history and biographies, of religious and moral truths, and institutions; a book of laws, prophecies, comminations, and promises; a book wherein is revealed the origin, the condition, the duty, the salvation, and the immortal hope of man.
It is true, indeed, that the topics of this Book have most intimate relations with various parts of philosophy, such as ontology and psychology; and that facts are introduced which seem to involve, to some extent, particular views of science, such as geology and astronomy; but, then, no philosophical discussions are interwoven-no philosophical terms are employed—and no scientific doctrines are professedly and systematically given, but every kind of knowledge appears in practical moral relations, and under turns of thought and forms of expression according with the popular
apprehension. With the exception of prophecies relating to remote events, where the import is designedly and for obviously wise reasons, concealed under mysterious symbols and imagery, 'the Sacred writings are so written as to be easily understood by those to whom they are addressed. Moses wrote under the Di. vine inspiration and direction, for the information and instruction of his countrymen, in the vernacular idiom. There is no doubt that he meant to be understood, and that he was understood.* The book of Job was an intelligible book to the readers of his age. All the Sacred historians evidently wrote on the same principles, and were, at least, as well understood by their countrymen, as the historians of other nations are by their countrymen. The Psalms, and the devotional parts of the Bible, generally, were intended, like all devotional books, for popular use and edification; and furnished to the devotional heart apt, natural, and beautiful expressions.
Those predictions which related to events near at hand, such as the prediction delivered to Hezekiah respecting his death, and the predictions of Jeremiah concerning the captivity, were delivered in plain and direct language. The same is true of the New Testament. The discourses of Christ were at first delivered openly to the people and to his disciples, plainly with the intent to instruct them. And it cannot be questioned that all who heard him with a right spirit-like Mary sitting at his feet-were instructed. There was no man that ever spoke like this man, whether we consider the wisdom or the plainness, the sincerity or the authority with which he spoke. It is true, indeed, that he sometimes spake in parables which seemed to require an explanation. But that nothing was intended to be concealed is evident from the fact that the explanation was given to the disciples as soon as requested by them, and now stands upon the pages of the Gospel, a perpetual record. Nor is there any reason for believing that it would not with equal readiness have been afforded to any other sincere inquirers from among the multitude. Christ did not choose to cast his instructions like pearls before swine, but put them often in a form which was calculated to test the sincerity and earnestness of his auditors ;-if they sought for the explanation they obtained it, and then when it was obtained, the truth appeared the more vivid
« The plainest and most natural view of the language of the Sacred Historian is, that his expressions ought to be received by us in the sense in which they were understood by the people to whom he addressed himself. If, when speaking of the Creation, instead of using the terms light and water, he had spoken of the former as a wave, and of the latter as the union of two invisible airs, he would assuredly have been perfectly unintelligible to his countrymen : at the distance of above three thousand years his writings would have just begun to be comprehended; and possibly three thousand years hence, those views may be as inapplicable to the then existing state of human knowledge, as they would have been when the first chapter of Genesis was written.”-Ninth Bridgwater Treatise, by Charles Babbage, Chap ter V. THIRD SERIES, VOL. III. NO. I.
under this form of representation.* When Christ preached on the hills, in the plains, and in the streets of Judea, none could fail to know and comprehend, who would attentively and candidly hear, earnestly inquire, and devoutly meditate; and so at the present time, none can fail to know and comprehend these simple, weighty and beautiful discourses, who read them earnestly and thoroughly, and with an humble and childlike spirit.
The discourses of the Apostles as recorded in the book of The Acts, are of the same simple, direct, and earnest character. It is plain that they meant to give instruction—that they meant, if possible, to satisfy the understanding of their hearers. Hence, when they address their countrymen, the Jews, they borrow illustrations and authorities from the Old Testament;t and when they address the Greeks, they quote admired passages from their own poets. I The Apostolical Epistles were addressed to the Churches, and undeniably from the whole style and manner, and from the general character of the salutations with which they open, as well as from express charges to this effect, $ were intended to be read openly for the instruction of all the members. It does not appear from anything contained in these Epistles that any system of philosophy, or deep erudition of any kind, was necessary in order to understand and profit by them; addressed to the people they seem honestly intended for the instruction of the people. Indeed, the chief writer of these Epistles, although himself a man of learning, is very explicit in representing their “calling” as not effected through the wisdom or eloquence of this world. It was instruction given in simplicity and faithfulness to the ordinary human mind-it was instruction designed not particularly for the select classes—the noble, the wise, the philosophical, but for the masses, and for the select classes only as merged in the masses. Throughout the whole course of this Divine instruction, from the preaching of Christ onwards, it was a Gospel preached to the poor-it was, like the light of the sun and the ambient atmosphere, a universal gift, for there was a universal want. There is, however, one aid announced, an essential and indispensable aid to the right understanding and reception of the Divine gift, and that is the Divine Spirit himself in his illuminating and regenerating power; I but it is an aid held out freely and sincerely to all, as freely as our daily bread, and as sincerely as the proffer of this bread made by the parental band.**
The Bible is, therefore, as we have said, the voice of our Father in heaven speaking to us his ignorant and sinful children, and
* Luke, Chap. viii. † Acts, Chap. vii. | Acts, Chap. xvii., v. 28. § 2 Thess., Chap. v., v. 27.
Chap. v., v. 18-31. Kañois, v. 26, evidently refers to the means or agents -and Chap. ii., v. 1-5.
[Ibid., Chap. ii., vs. 9-16. ** Luke, Chap. xi., v. 9–14.
speaking in the most apt way to meet our condition and to bring us back to himself. The prodigal son understood the voice of his father when he received him and forgave him, and rejoiced that the lost one was found again ; and cannot we understand the heavenly voice? He who made the human mind must perfectly comprehend all its capacities, and be able to trace and estimate its nicest movements; He who power of language, must be capable of using language with the utmost skill and effect for all the ends of language-for teaching and persuading. The Bible, therefore, is to be received as the best book, not only in respect to the facts and doctrines which it contains, but also in respect to the style of its composition, as designed to set forth clearly and fully these faets and doctrines.
One thing is not to be forgotten here, and that is, that the Bible while written so as to be intelligible to those to whom it was at first addressed, is written, also, so as to be intelligible to men of all
ages and nations. This is indeed the characteristic of all those great works in literature which stand as everlasting monuments of Truth and Beauty-which simple and massive as the pyramids are even more enduring, because founded on universal principles and addressed to the common mind and heart of man. But a just and impartial criticism must award this merit in a supereminent degree to the Sacred Writings. Even in that most remote patriarchal age we feel at home. The beautiful pictures of the form of that early life of man are fresh with the colors of nature and of truth-we understand and are impressed by the characters-our hearts respond to the sentiments. The same holds true of all the descriptions, and the histories and biographies of this precious volume—they belong to the human race. Nor do the strictly didactic parts fall short in this characteristic of universality-indeed it is the more admirable here, for it is in this species of writing that human wit has most signally failed. Many of the most illustrious philosophers were wont to affect obscurity in their writings, as if the wisdom which they professed to make known were too august to be presented to men without a veiled countenance. Even Plato and Aristotle are often obscure to their most enraptured disciples : Scholasticism delighted to pile mountains of subtleties upon the green fields of truth, as if it were better to be amazed than to be fed. The fathers took their familiar walks amid the labyrinths of multiform philosophies. But the Bible conveys the most momentous truths in language so simple and under illustrations so striking that the reader of every nation and of every age recognizes its import, and seems to be in intimate converse with a kind and venerable wisdom, teaching him as earnestly and appropriately as if he were the only listener, and the only object of its benedictions. And this suggests to us the remark that the Bible in its universality is still individual-it speaks to all by speaking to each one.