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plicity with which ideas the most sublime Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who
is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing and elevated are conveyed into the mind ?
wonders ? The prophet had been looking, (perhaps Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swal. impatiently) for some striking exhibition of lowed them.
Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which Almighty power amongst the children of
thou hast redeemed : thou hast guided them in thy men, forgetful of the secret springs of action, strength unto thy holy habitation. and action itself being alike under the con
Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the moun.
tain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which trol of Omnipotence; when his faith and his
thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the sanctuary, O confidence are reanimated by witnessing Lord, which thy hands have established. one of those tremendous and awful convul
The Lord shall reign for ever and ever. sions of the elements, by which forests are
When Moses pours forth before the peouprooted, and rocks overthrown, accompa- ple his last public testimony to the mercy, nied with the internal conviction that the the might, and the vengeance of the Alimmediate presence of the Lord was not mighty, it is in the same powerful strain of there. Again, an earthquake shakes the
poetical fervour. world; but the Lord is not in the earthquake; after the earthquake a fire, but the Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O Lord is not in the fire. No; though such earth, the words of my mouth.
Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unare the open manifestations of his power, wise? Is not he thy father that hath brought thee? by which he makes the nations tremble, yet
Ilath he not made thee, and established thee?
Remember the days of old, consider the years of many the prophet was convinced that the war of
generations : ask thy father, and he will shew thee, thy the elements might exist, and the destruction elders, and they will tell thee. of the earth ensue, without that sensible
When the Most High divided to the nations their in.
heritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set presence of the Almighty, for the want of
the bounds of the people according to the number of the which his soul was fainting. At last, after children of Israel. the fire, there came a still small voice, and
For the Lord's portion is his people ; Jacob is the lot
of his inheritance. Elijah felt that the Lord was near, that he
He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howl. was not forsaken, and that, independent of ing wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he the outward symbols of illimitable power, kept him as the apple of his eye. the Creator of the world is able to carry on
As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her
young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, bear. his operations in the mind of man, by the eth them on her wings: desire of the heart, the silent thought, or the
So the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no
strange God with him. secret impulse directed towards the accom- To me belongeth vengeance, and recompense; their plishment of his inscrutable designs.
foot shall lide in due time: for the day of their calamity A great proportion of the Holy Scriptures
is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them
make haste. is not only poetical, but real poetry. Under For the Lord shall judge his people, and repent him. this head the song of Moses, and the chil- self for his servants, when he seeth thut their power is dren of Israel, is the first instance that gone, and there is none shut up, or len.
And he shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in occurs. In this song, the passage of the whom they trusted ? children of Israel through the Red Sea, the overthrow of Pharaoh's host, and the won
And again, the last blessing of Moses is derful dealing of the Lord with his chosen delivered in language full of poetry. people, are commemorated in language
And he said, The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up highly figurative and sublime.
from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount l'a.
ran, and he came with ten thousands of saints : from hia The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become right hand went a fiery law unto them. my salvation : he is my God, and I will prepare him an And of Joseph he said, Blessed of the Lord be his land, habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him.
for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power : the deep that coucheth benenth, thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun,
And in the greatness of thy excellency hast thou over. and for the precious things put forth by the moon, thrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest And for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble. for the precious things of the lasting hills.
And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea. on the sky.
The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the The mother of Sisera looked out at a window, and everlasting arms, and he shall thrust out the enemy from cried through the lattice, Why is his chariot so long in before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.
coming? why tarry the wheels of his chariots ? Issael then shall dwell in safety alone : the fountain of Her wise ladies answered her, yea, she returned an. Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine, also his swer to hersell : heavens shall drop dowu dew.
Have they not sped ? have they not divided the prey; Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O to every man a damsel or two? to Sisera a prey of divers people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and colours, a prey of divers colours of needle-work, or divers who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies colours of needle-work on both sides, meet for the necks shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon of them that take the spoil ? their high places.
So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord: but let them
that love him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his These two examples are, however, infe- might. rior to the song of Deborah and Barak, for the high tone of metaphorical ornament,
Were it possible to take away the poetry characterizing the whole of that incompar- from these passages, and leave their sense able specimen of poetical imagery, which entire, we should then see how much they immediately strikes us with the idea of its owe in intellectual beauty, to that peculiar having been the archetype of some of the style of language, which adorns the whole finest passages in Ossian, as well as the ori- of the Scriptures. It would, however, be a ginal from which many of our own notions vain attempt to remove one, and leave the of the beauty and melody of language are
other untouched ; because their sense as derived.
well as their poetry consists in allusion, and
association. We are not merely told of Praise ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel, when
that, which it is the direct object of the inthe people willingly offered themselves.
Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes ; I, even 1, spired minstrels to describe, but
of relative ideas, which neither crowd upon marchedst out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, nor neutralize each other, but all flow natuand the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water.
turally and easily into the same stream of The mountains melted from before the Lord, even that Sinai from before the Lord God of Israel.
enjoyment, mingling with and accelerating And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah; even its uniform and uninterrupted course. Issachar, and also Barak: lie was sent on foot into the
We now conclude this minute examinavalley. For the divisions or Reuben there were great thoughts of heart.
tion of the Scriptures, not only because it is Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds, to hear the unnecessary for our purpose to pursue it bleatings of the flocks ? For the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart.
further, but because we should soon arrive Gilead abode beyond Jordan: and why did Dan re. at those portions of the sacred record, which main in ships? Asher continued on the sea-shore, and
consist entirely of poetry, the most genuine abode in his breaches. Zebulun and Naphtalı were a people that jeoparded
and sublime. We
have already seen their lives unto the death in the high places of the field. enough to convince us that the same princi
The kings came and fought; then fought the kings of Canaan in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo: they ple which is associated with our highest intook no gain of money.
tellectual enjoyments, is diffused-copiously They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses diffused throughout the written revelation fought against Sisera. The river of Kishon swept them away, that ancient
of eternal truth, a revelation whose wonderriver, the river Kishon. O my soul, thou hast trodden ful adaptation to every variety of human down strength.
nature, feeling, and condition, carries along Curse ye Meroz, (said the angel of the Lord,) curse ye
with it the clearest evidence of its divine aubitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not thority. Coeval with the infancy of time, to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord ugainst it still remains, and widens in the circle of the mighty. Blessed above women shall Jael the wise of Heber the
its intelligence. Simple as the language of Kenite be; blessed shall she be above women in the tent. a child, it charms the most fastidious taste. She put her hand to the nail, and her right hand to the
Mournful as the voice of grief, it reaches to workman's hammer: and with the hammer she smote Sisera; she smote off his head, when she had pierced
the highest pitch of exultation. Intelligible and stricken through his temples.
to the unlearned peasant, it supplies the At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down : at her feet
critic and the sage with food for earnest he bowed, he fell; where he bowed, there he fell down dead.
thought. Silent and secret as the reproofs
of conscience, it echoes beneath the vaulted diate dealing with his rational and responsidome of the cathedral and shakes the trem- | ble creatures, is so filled with the true mebling multitude. The Inst companion of the lody of language, as to harmonize with all dying and the destitute, it seals the bridal most tender, refined, and elevated vow, and crowns the majesty of kings. thoughts. With our established ideas of Closed in the heedless grasp of the luxu- beauty, and grace, and pathos, and subrious and the slothful, it unfolds its awful re- limity, either concentrated in the minutest cord over the yawning grave. Sweet, and point, or extended to the widest range, we gentle, and consoling to the pure in heart, it can derive from the Scriptures a fund of thunders and threatens against the un- gratification not to be found in any other awakened mind. Bright and joyous as the memorial of past or present time. From morning star to the benighted traveller, it the worm that grovels in the dust beneath rolls like the waters of the deluge over the our feet, to the track of the leviathan in the path of him who wilfully mistakes his way. foaming deep-from the moth that corrupts And, finally, adapting itself to every the secret treasure, to the eagle that soars shade of human character, and to every above his eyry in the clouds-from the wild grade of moral feeling, it instructs the igno- ass of the desert, to the lamb within the rant woos the gentle, consoles the afflicted, shepherd's fold—from the consuming locust, encourages the desponding, rouses the neg- to the cattle upon a thousand hills—from the ligent, threatens the rebellious, strikes home rose of Sharon to the cedar of Lebanon to the reprobate, and condemns the guilty. from the crystal stream gushing forth out of
It may be observed, that all this might the flinty rock, to the wide waters of the have been effected without the instrumen-deluge-from the barren waste to the fruittality of the principle of poetry; and so un- ful vineyard, and the land flowing with milk questionably it might, had the Creator of and honey-from the lonely path of the the human heart seen meet to adapt it to wanderer, to the gathering of a mighty muldifferent means of instruction; but as that titude—from the tear that falls in secret, to heart is constituted, the delicate touches of the din of battle, and the shout of a triumfeeling to be found in every part of the Holy phant host--from the solitary in the wilderScriptures accord peculiarly with its sensi- ness, to the satrap on his throne-from the bilities ; the graceful ornaments which mourner clad in sackcloth, to the prince in adorn the language of the Bible correspond purple robes-from the gnawings of the to the impressions it has received, the ideas worm that dieth not, to the seraphic visions which have consequently been formed of of the blest-from the still small voice, to the principles of taste and beauty; and by the thunders of Omnipotence—from the no other medium that we are capable of depths of hell, to the regions of eternal conceiving, could the human heart have glory, there is no degree of beauty or debeen more forcibly assured of the truths to formity, no tendency to good or evil
, no which belong eternal life.
shade of darkness or gleam of light, which Had the Bible been without its poetical does not come within the cognizance of the character, we should have wanted the voice Holy Scriptures; and therefore there is no of an angel to recommend it to the accept- impression or conception of the mind that ance of mankind. Prone as we are to neg- may not find a corresponding picture, no lect this banquet upon which the most ex
thirst for excellence that may not meet with alted mind may freely and fully feast, we
its full supply, and no condition of humanity should then have regarded it with tenfold necessarily excluded from the unlimited disdain. But such is the unlimited goodness scope of adaptation and of sympathy comof him who knew from the beginning what prehended in the language and the spirit of was in the heart of man, that not only the the Bible. wide creation is so designed as to accord How gracious then-how wonderful, and with our views of what is magnificent and harmonious, is that majestic plan by which beautiful, and thus to remind us of his one ethereal principle, like an electric chain glory; but even the record of his imme- of light and life, extends through the very
elements of our existence, giving music to ing in no way essential to our spiritual language, elevation to thought, vitality to progress. Upon precisely the same prinfeeling, and intensity, and power, and beau- ciples it might be argued, that beauty does ty, and happiness, to the exercise of every not necessarily form any part of utility, faculty of the human soul!
and that happiness is not essential to the moral constitution of man. The same answer will apply in both cases; and it is one
which ought to be sufficient for creatures of THE POETRY OF RELIGION. limited perceptions like ourselves. It has
seemed meet to the Author of our existence Nor are the Holy Scriptures the utmost so to construct our mental and bodily funcbound of the sphere through which poetry tions, that we shall derive pleasure from the extends. With that religion which is the principle of beauty diffused throughout the essence of the Bible, it may also be associated. external world, and that we shall be lured The power of human intellect has never on by a perpetual thirst for enjoyment to yet worked out from the principles of thought that which is our only true and lasting hapand feeling, a subject more sublime than piness; as well as so to constitute our perthat of an omnipotent Being presiding over ceptions and feelings that poetry shall be a universe of his own creating. There have one of our chief sources of intellectual gratibeen adventurous spirits who have dared to fication, at the same time that it is intimatesing the wonders of a world without a God, | ly blended with the highest objects of our but as a proof how much they felt the desire; so that in the pursuit of ultimate and want of this higher range of poetical interest, eternal good, we have no need to resign the they have referred the creation and govern society of this unwearying friend, whose ment of the external world to an ideal spirit companionship is a constant refreshment and of nature-a mysterious intelligence, single delight. or multiplied, smiling in the sunshine, and I would humbly reser both these subjects frowning in the storm, with the mock majes- to the unlimited goodness of a gracious God. ty of omnipotence.
If the beauty and magnificence of the visible Again, the propensities of our nature—the creation is not essential to practical utility, low grovelling hopes and fears that agitate let us look upon it as a free gift, liberally of the human heart, when centred solely in fered for the promotion of our happiness ; what is material, without connection with, or and il poetry does not appear to our finite reference to eternal mind, as subjects for the views to be in reality a part of religion, let genius of the poet, are robbed of half their us consider how they are associated, and interest, and all their refinement; but when gratefully acknowledge their connexion, rathe feelings which form the sum of our ex- ther than presumptuously attempt to sepaperience are regarded as the impress of the rate what the principles of our nature teach hand of our Creator, when the motives which us to unite. lead us on to action are considered as deriving We will first speak of the poetry of relitheir stimulus and strength from almighty gion as it is exhibited to the world, in some power, and when the great chain of circum- of the various modes of worship which mark stances and events which influence our lives the civil and religious history of man. are linked in with the designs of a superin- Under the terrific rule of tyranny and tending Providence, they assume a character superstition, religion has ever been the first atonce poetical and sacred, a colouring which to suffer and the last to yield; and whether blends the light of heaven with the shades we contemplate the martyr at the stake, of earth, and an importance which raises singing his triumphant hymns amongst the them from what is ordinary and familiar, to circling flames; or pursue the silent devowhat is astonishing and sublime.
tee to the secret recesses of the mountain, The most serious objection ever advanced or the wilderness, where the bond of Chrisagainst poetry, is that of its not necessarily tian brotherhood is strengthened and conconstituting any part of our religion, and be-firmed by the horrors of an impending fate which threatens to leave that bond alone heard above the crackling embers, and the unbroken, of all that have sweetened and shouts of brutal acclamation, hymning to supported life, we see and feel, that the heaven the pure melodious strains of a might of mortal suffering, gives even to the seraphic joy. Fresh from the fount of domost humble victims of cruelty and oppres- mestic peace, young, innocent bosoms have sion, a dignity which entitles them to the been torn to bleed and writhe in the centre highest place in the scale of poetical inte- of the torturing fire, and trembling with the rest.*
last throbs of mortal agony, have borne So far as poetry is connected with the their unflinching testimony to the fervour exercise of fortitude, resignation, and ardent of their faith. The cry of an agonized pazeal, it is exhibited by the martyr in its holi- rent bursting from the surrounding throng, est character. Suffering even to death, may have reached the sufferer in the flames, and such a death! yet suffering triumphantly, the eye that was once the beacon of his that the glory of God may shine with addi- hopes may have glanced upon him through tional brightness before the eyes of men, the dense and thickening smoke, and and that unbelievers may behold the majesty thoughts dear as the memory of early love, and the power of the faith for which he dies. may have rushed upon his soul even there, Nor has it been always the man of iron bathing it in the tenderness of childhood, mouid, of unshaken nerve, and inflexible and melting down his high resolve, which, resolve, who has died triumphant at the but for that sustaining and unquenchable stake. Creatures of delicate and gentle zeal, would yet have sent him forth a worthform have been led forth from the hall and less wreck upon the troubled ocean of life the bower, and they too have raised the cry after the promised haven had been in sight, of exultation that they were deemed worthy the pilot near, and the anchor of eternal to set the seal of suffering to the cause they hope ready to be cast for ever into the founloved. Eyes that have never dwelt save on
dation which no storms can shake. Yet the fairest page of human life have gleamed even here his faith remains immoveable, out from amidst the lurid flames, and looked and he shakes off the lingering weakness up in calmness and in confidence to the of humanity, his joyful spirit already anticimercy that lies hid beyond the skies; hands pating the unbounded fruition of its promised whose gentle office had been the constant felicity. ministration of tenderness and charity, have
Let us contemplate the awful scene one been clasped in servent prayer, until they moment lunger. The excitement has submingled with the ashes of the sinking pile; sided; the cry of the merciless spectators is brows around which the cherub locks of heard no more; the smoking pile becomes youth were woven, have borne the fatal one universal ruin; and the living form so ordeal, and betrayed no sign of shrinking lately quivering with the intensity of quickfrom the fiery blast; and voices whose ened and agonized sensation, is mingled sweet tones were once the natural min- with the silent dust. Are there not footstrelsy of happiness and love, have been steps lingering near that fatal spot? Are
there not looks too wild for tears, still fixed • In justice to herself, the writer must here observe, upon the white ashes with which the idle in speaking of the poetry of religion, how forcibly she is breezes are at play? Are there not hearts struck with what some would call the puerility of the lank she has undertaken; because this subject necessa
whose inmost depths are filled with bitterrily brings under serious observation the all important ness, and thoughts of vengeance, and dreams truths for which we ought to be willing either to live or
of impious daring, and fierce, bold scrutiny die as duty may require; and before which all intellectual considerations, even that of poetry itself, vanish into
of the ways of Providence, and presumpcomparative nothingness. She would however hope tuous questioning if these are the tender that her task may be pursued without irreverence, and
mercies of the Most High ? Yes; such that she may point out the poetry of religion with a distinct feeling of its weightier and more essential attri has ever been the effect of persecution upon butes, in the same way that a beholder may expatiate the human mind, and never is the infidel so npon the architecture of a cathedral, without reference to the purpose for which the building was originally de firmly fortified against conviction, as when signed and to which it is still appropriated.
he contemplates the wrongs and the wretch