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13. The Tragedies of Euripides. Literally translated and revised, with Critical and Explanatory Notes. By Theodore Alois Buckly. In two volumes. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1857.
We welcome this further addition to Harper's Classical Library. Euripides does not belong to the culminating epoch of Greek literature. The fire had began to grow dim, and the flash of genius was succeeded by the polish of rhetoric. Euripides belongs to the rhetorical epoch; and his Tragedies reflect the philosophical rather than the poetical greatness of Greek intellect. To those who would have a sight of this age of Grecian history, Euripides is invaluable; for the most truthful representations of Grote, and the most graphic pictures of Macaulay, cannot introduce us to the real character of a distant time, so well as the humblest writers belonging to their time. Those who cannot read “ the original Greek,” may be encouraged by the reflection, that a literal translation is “next best.” The volumes of the Harpers are a successful imitation of Bohn, and are much cheaper.
14. The Analytical Concordance of the Holy Scriptures: or the Bible presented under Distinct and Classified Heads. Edited by John Eadie, D.D., LL.D. Boston: Gould & Lincoln. 1857.
The plan of this work is to arrange, in alphabetical order, all the topics in any way presented in the Bible; and under each to collect all the passages which belong to it. The student, wishing to know what the Bible teaches on any particular subject, has only to refer to the Analytical Concordance, and he will find all the passages which can give light upon it arranged in due order. No one must ask for great accuracy in such a work. Its execution necessarily calls into exercise all the theological tenets of the compiler; and to object because his work is not in all points 'correct, is as absurd as to expect an infallible commentary. A Universalist would not have had such a heading as “Hell, the place of the finally wicked." He does not believe that there will be any finally wicked; nor does he believe that hell is a place of punishment, but only an emblem thereof. And here it occurs to us to observe, that while our compiler finds a long list of passages which he thinks properly comes under the head just named, he gives but five which declare the misery of hell to be eternal; and strange to say, not one of these five contains the word hell; not one contains the word eternal, and but two the word everlasting! We wish those who affirm that the Bible teaches the doctrine of endless punishment, would consult Dr. Eadie's Concordance and see what a meagre array of proof-texts he furnishes them. Though by no means intended for such, we might almost commend his
work, as a Universalist compilation. We are reminded that our Unitarian brethren have noticed that Dr. Eadie has collected but six texts under “The Trinity; " and one of these is the supicious passage, 1 John v. 7. These things show his candor; and warrant us in commending his work to all biblical students.
15. The Household Edition of the Waverly Novels. Boston: Ticknor & Fjelds.
In this connection we take great pleasure in congratulating the reading public on the prospective reprint of the Waverly Novels, by one of the most successful of the publishing houses in Boston. The new print is to be called The Household Edition, and is to do for Sir Walter Scott what has been done for Shakspeare-put his works in a typographical dress that shall be worthy their resplendent merits. Each of the large novels will appear in two volumes. “Waverly” is already out; and the very high expectations which the publishers had raised are amply realized. In quality of paper, size, and neatness of print, excellence of engraving, and convenience of form, nothing more can be asked. We are glad to hear that the indications now are that the enterprise will be pecuniarily successful. It is encouraging to have such assurances that works of merit can find patronage. It will be no easy matter for our British contemporaries to rival in excellence the Household Edition of the Waverly Novels, now in process of being printed.
16. The Poetical Works of Alfred Tennyson, Poet Laureate. Complete in one volume. Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 1856.
Poems by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Complete in two volumes. Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 1857.
Uniform editions of living poets who need no commendation to make them acceptable. We wish simply to direct attention to the mechanical appearance of the books. Printed on a thin yet stout leaf, the entire poems of Tennyson and Longfellow are in these three little volumes; and they exhibit a type sufficiently large for any healthy eye. A more successful blending of cheapness, convenience, and beauty has not rewarded the printer's skill. The publishers might have affixed to the title-page “gift edition"; for whoever would present a friend with the works of the poets named, will not think of selecting any other print. The whole appearance of the volumes is characterized by the single word---elegance.
Relations of Reason to Christian Doctrine.
It is a reproach of Christianity, in the estimation of some persons,
that it admits of so numerous an array of sects. They assume that it ought to have produced a uniformity of opinion, rising with the same splendor in every mind, however narrow, irregular or obscure it chance to be; and impressing the same image upon the retina of every soul, however dim, distorted, or blind that faculty may have been. That unity of faith which the Romish church has essayed to secure by the thunders of excommunication and the bloody enginery of persecution, ought to have been the spontaneous fruit of Christian doctrine, according to this cynical and arbitrary opinion.
Whatever we may think of the consistency of such an idea, and however desirable it may be to have mankind survey the procession of God's economy from our own spiritual stand-point, such happiness and harmony have never been realized in any age, among any people, or under any form of religion. The Pagans, with the common light of nature shining into their souls, did not attain to a uniformity of belief; but as the sun, beaming upon a common earth, quickens and nourishes an infinite variety of animal and vegetable life, so the light of reason, vivifying one humanity, stimulated the growth of a vast diversity of religious ideas. The Jews, guided as they were by revelation through the tropical luxuriance of polytheism, were nevertheless distributed into sects. The religion of the Persians, founded by Zoroaster and embodied in the Zendavesta, exhibited to the world, in the second century of the Christian era, the spectacle of not less than seventy sects, “who variously explained the fundamental doctrines of their faith, and were all indifferently divided by a crowd of infidels, who rejected the divine mission and miracles of the prophet.” 1 It is interesting to notice, in this connection, the famous
1 Gibbon, vol. i. p. 230.
attempt of that pious monarch and reformer, Artaxerxes, to reduce the clamorous schismatics of his empire to a uniformity of belief. The means to which he resorted was the same infallible resource afterward so frequently embraced by the Christian church-a general council ; as if a college of sanguine oculists should undertake to regulate the sight of all the people in the state by a scientific proclamation! The Magi were summoned from all parts of the royal dominions, and appeared, on the appointed day, to the number of about eighty thousand. But as this appeared a rather unwieldy body for dispassionate deliberation, the Persian council was reduced, by successive manæuyres, “ to forty thousand, to four thousand, to four hundred, to forty, and at last to seven Magi, the most respected for their learning and piety. One of these, Erdaviraph, a young but holy prelate, received from the hands of his brethren three cups of soporiferous wine. He drank them off, and instantly fell into a long and profound sleep. As soon as he awoke, he related to the king and to the believing multitude, his journey to heaven, and his intimate conferences with the deity. Every doubt was silenced by this supernatural evidence; and the articles of the faith of Zoroaster were fixed with equal authority and precision.” 2
Our own more critical age distrusts the summary processes by which the problem of religion was solved in simpler times. In the boundless immensity of spiritual mysteries, there is no lack of experienced divers, solicitously groping for the pearl of truth; but the treasures they painfully bring to the surface have no uniform or permanent value. No prophet imbibes for us the magic draught, or scales the heavenly mount. No miracle simplifies the process of devout research, or cleaves with the sword of knowledge, the hopeless knot of speculation. Our hard metaphysical formulas, shaped in the mould of Saxon thought, would not soon yield to so etherial a force; and our metallic sectarians would scarcely flow in the alembic of unity, whatsoever saint might be entranced for so amiable a purpose.
In our inquiries after religious truth, we are left to more arduous and responsible means. We have to depend upon our reason and moral sense. The interposition of revealed truth is qualified by the measure and state of our faculties. We are favored by a divine revelation ; but this can affect us only through a human interpretation. It enshrines, as we trust, all the superhuman truth which our present circumstances require; but it belongs to our own faculties to discern that truth, to appropriate it to our condition, to assimilate it to our progressive existence. While the revelation may be absolute and perfect in itself, therefore, its reception on the part of man must be relative and incomplete, according to his ability to perceive and acquire what it offers him. As a necessary consequence, the largest hearted men receive most abundant effusions of its benevolence and mercy; and within the tranquil, firmamental brains of the greatest men, its purpose rises with an ampler grandeur and brighter orb.3
2 Gibbon, vol. i. 231.
The revelation of the gospel does not scorn the smallest capacity, either mental or moral. It transfers its truth as perfectly as it can to every nature; it enters whatever avenue may be open, and stimulates or restrains whatever faculty it can reach. But, of course, when it enters an inferior nature, it becomes a gospel in miniature, like a Chinese pagoda represented on a tea-plate. When it enters some solitary avenue, while other sources of the nature are sealed to its influence, it is of necessity a distorted and partial gospel ; inconsistent, because severed from its relations; and unattractive, because deformed by the mould in which it is cast. Only in the spacious and salubrious nature, can the gospel appear in its original grandeur; and there only do we behold it in its absolute perfection, and admire the beauteous symmetry of its proportions.
Most branches of the church have united in denouncing reason as fatal, considered as an instrument of religious
3 We believe a critical survey of the church will prove the remark historically true, as well as philosophically apparent. The old Fathers, who limited and disfigured the primitive gospel, were neither good men nor great men. The human mind fully shared the decadence of virtue that attended the decline of the Roman empire. The Trinitarian controversy, both in its mental and moral aspects, shows into what unworthy hands the treasures of Christianity had fallen. The best of the Fathers now and then unwarily suffer their natural tenderness and common sense to contradict their creed.