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Concerning that “kingdom," it is declared by the prophet Daniel that it is "a kingdom which shall never be destroyed;"* and again, “Whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation.”+
The prophet Zechariah in like manner foretells, concerning the dominion of Him who shall speak peace unto the heathen, (i.e. to the nations,) that it “shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.”I
In a very marked and emphatic manner the Evangelist St. Luke, recording the words of the angel Gabriel as addressed to the Virgin Mary, renews and confirms the predictions of the prophet, and, in terms almost identical with those of the prophecy under our consideration, asserts the perpetuity of that kingdom which was the destined inheritance of the Virgin's Son and Lord. “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of his Father David ; and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end."'$
Some intimations of the nature and distinctive characteristics of the Dispensation under which these predictions shall receive their full accomplishment seem to be involved in the terms of the prophecy under consideration.
(1.) It is as “Immanuel,” God with man, as One clothed in man's nature and dwelling amongst men, that the Anointed King and Priest is to sit upon the throne of David, to bear on His shoulder the key of David's house, and to sway His peaceful sceptre over a regenerated world.
(2.) Throughout the duration of that dispensation of which the Mediator, “the man Christ Jesus," shall be the acknowledged Head and King, there will be a continuous increase in the number of those who shall yield obedience to His rule, a growing insight into those counsels of peace which are between Him and His people, and an ever increasing conformity of heart and of life to the laws of His righteous government.
And (3.) The broken “brotherhood between Judah and Israel” shall be cemented anew in those days; the type embodied in the “throne of David” shall receive its accomplish, ment; "all Israel shall be saved;” and “ Jehovah shall be King over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Jehovah, and His name one."||
* Dan. ii. 44.
& Zech. ix. 10. § Luke i. 32, 33.
|| Zech. xiv. 9.
FARRAR'S SEEKERS AFTER GOD. Seekers after God. By the Rev. W. Farrar, M.A., F.R.S.
Sunday Library, Volume III. London: Macmillan & Co. We were staying in a country house one Sunday afternoon. Dinner had been concluded as usual, and shortly afterwards a little fellow, the grandson of our host, presented himself for his share of fruit and cake. When these had been duly disposed of, he began dragging out all the spare chairs ranged around the room, placed them in a row, and with clamour and gesticulation put himself at the head of them. On being remonstrated with, he explained that he was making a railway train. When told that it was not a suitable employment for Sunday, “Oh but, grandpapa," said the little fellow, “this is a 'Sunday train !""
The more than half-forgotten incident recalled itself vividly to our minds when perusing the contents of “ Seekers after God." Had we not been favoured with the guidance of a title studiously assigning an especial designation to it, and challenging a distinct claim upon our attention as Christian Observers, we might, very possibly, have passed the volume over among the multitude of ephemeral publications with which the press teems. As it is, it will be for our readers to judge, when they conclude this article, how far such works have any just claim to be entitled a “Sunday Library."
We would wish to observe, in limine, that we are not ignorant that there are far too many households in which the Lord's day is more grievously misspent than it would be even in reading the “Sunday Library.” There are, no doubt, many homes in which the habitual cry of the inmates, as it comes round, is the same which Israel of old uttered about the table of the Lord, “Behold, what a weariness it is;" where, after some members of the family have mustered courage to discharge some perfunctory service in the sanctuary, time hangs heavily; and where, without the help of sporting journals for the young men, and trashy stories for the maidens, and sleep and gossip for the elders, it would be a hard matter to get through the day “from morn to dewy eve.” Now it might be supposed that in such homes the “Sunday Library” would be serviceable; and we are quite willing to give the ingenious authors credit for their anxiety,
“Ut puerorum ætas improvida ludificetur
Labrorum tenus ;' and that some wholesome historical and literary information should be subtilely infused into minds on the first day of the week, facilitating intellectual improvement during the remain. ing six; but with all their best exertions, we cannot help thinking that the "absinthia tetra ” of Smith's Classical Dic. tionary and Mrs. Markham's "France” are still too perceptible for such palates, despite the fair goblet of type and pictures (if we may be pardoned so bold a figure) in which the health-giving draught is proffered ; nor do we think it will be more welcome for the strange commingling of curious Christianity with which it is flavoured. For readers of such a class we believe the contents of the “Sunday Library” to be too recondite; and if they did gain admittance into such homes, they would, in common with works we deem far more appropriate and valuable, be left unread from lack of sympathy and appreciation.
There are, however, (and we thank God for it,) 'scattered throughout England a large number of Christian families in which, despite all the laxity of the times, God's sabbaths are held to be a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; in which He is honoured, and the inmates do not seek to do their own ways, nor to find their own pleasure, nor to speak their own words. So far as they have fallen under our observation,—though of course there are differences in them, and there may be in one fantastic scrupulosity, in another imperfect information, we have noticed marked traces of culture and refinement, and feel assured that, socially and intellectually, they contrast most favourably with dwellings where God is less honoured, and there is less religious observance of His commandments. Now, it is in such homes that volumes, the productions of men of so much literary ability as the authors of the “Sunday Library,” would meet with interested and appreciating readers; but it is for them we confess ourselves to be exceedingly jealous, and we feel it to be an imperative duty to challenge them and pass judgment how far they fulfil the object to which they profess themselves to be subservient. Most of our own readers would, we imagine, hold that God's Word should not only reign supreme, but alone, on God's day: there may be some who think otherwise; will the “Sunday Library " help them on the Sunday? Would it be an unmixed good on any other day of the week ?
As the contents of the different volumes are too miscellaneous to review in one article, we propose making Mr. Farrar's “ Seekers after God” the subject of our comments. The position of the author as a master in one of our chief public schools, and his notable utterances at the recent Dublin Congress, invest his speculations with interest. This book contains the lives of three eminent Roman philosophers, writ
promote considered the way cable and inhare of
on, Mr. Flaco say that under
ten in a very attractive style, and with a sufficient share of learning. To an educated mind, it is a readable and interest. ing work upon somewhat out of the way subjects. But in what sense can it be considered as a Sunday Book ? Is it calculated to promote edification at any time, or under any circumstances? We are constrained to say that we do not think it is. In his introduction, Mr. Farrar states :
“A Seneca, a Musonius Rufus, an Epictetus, a Marcus Aurelius might have been taught by the humblest Christian child about a comfort, an example, a hope, which were capable of gilding their lives with unknown brightness and happiness,-capable of soothing the anguish of every sorrow, of breaking the violence of every temptation, of lightening the burden of every care. And yet, with all our knowledge and enlightenment, we fall far short of some of them ; we are less stern with our own faults, less watchful, less self-denying, less tender to one another. With our superior gifts, with our surer hopes, with our more present means of grace, what manner of men ought we to be? We ought to have attained to far loftier altitudes than they ; but we have not. Let us admit with shame and sorrow that some among these heathens showed themselves to be nobler, loftier, freer from vanity, freer from meanness, freer from special pleading, freer from falsehood, more spiritual, more reasonable, on some points even more enlightened, than many among ourselves. The very idea of the Christian life seems to have been dwarfed to a poor and vulgar and conventional standard. Perhaps the contemplation of virtue, and zeal, and integrity, and consistency, even in heathen lives, may produce, at least, some infinitesimal effect in arousing some of us to a desire for something more high and heroical in religion than the present age affecteth.'" (p. ix.)
We have thought it due to Mr. Farrar to quote this statement at length, and now proceed to ascertain the foundations upon which it rests. Of Epictetus, he tells us that " although we have a clear sketch of his philosophical doctrines, we have no material whatever for any but the most meagre description of his life. The picture of his mind—an effigy of that which he alone regarded as his true self—may be seen in his works, and to this we can add but little, except a few facts and un. certain anecdotes.” (p. 187.) So also of Marcus Aurelius, we are told that only "a meagre record of his life remains." It is therefore upon a few general facts and uncertain anecdotes, from their own statements about themselves, and upon the strength of sublime moral sentiments contained in their writings, that we are called upon to recognise that Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius attained to a far loftier moral altitude than Christians attain. We demur to such a conclusion. We maintain that the moral sentiments contained in books are in themselves no sufficient evidence of superior moral attainments in the writers. Corroborated by such evidence, great value attaches to them. The writings of St. Paul, and the records of his life, are in exquisite accordance with each other, and from the united testimony we form a definite and reliable conception of the great Apostle of the Gentiles. The moral and philosophical writings of Lord Bacon do not accord with the records of his life; a most erroneous conception of him would be formed if he were judged by his moral sentiments apart from his mean and unworthy acts. We are surprised that a writer of Mr. Farrar's intelligence can fail to perceive that, had the records of the lives of these philosophers been as full as they are confessedly meagre, they might have shrunk into characters of far more ordinary dimensions, and that, to form estimates of their personal morality from a collection of senti. ments, many of which were no doubt traditions in the school of philosophy to which they belonged, may be a very hazardous delusion. Would Lacon, for instance, give an accurate idea of its unhappy author ? Suppose Pope's celebrated couplet had run thus
“For modes of faith let graceless zealots fight;
His can't be wrong whose talk is in the right.” Where would a disputant have been found bold enough to maintain such a thesis ? The talk of Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius is well known. Their biographer cannot furnish us with any adequate knowledge of their lives. In the absence of sufficient information, we withhold our judgment of their moral altitude, and think it would have been more prudent simply to have stated that such were the sentiments of certain eminent thinkers; but that, in the absence of any clear evidence, it was hardly possible to say how far they had substantiated their sentiments by their lives. It is, however, of less consequence that we should determine this point, as Mr. Farrar has expended his strength upon Seneca, of whom he does know something, and to whom alone he devotes more than half his volume.
What claim, then, has Seneca to be considered one who “devoted himself to searching after those truths which might best make his life beautiful before God”? Is it “a bitter and bigoted thing to refuse to acknowledge his having attained a noble standard of morality and practice”? Was he one “whose virtue and charity, in spite of dim and imperfect knowledge, might put many a Christian to the blush”? Did he “attain to loftier moral altitudes” than Christians do? Was he "nobler, loftier, holier, freer from vanity, freer from meanness, freer from special pleading, freer from falsehood, more reasonable, or even on some points more