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into it, viz. : that whilst only one can win, both may — both must, lose. They lose their money, their time, their temper, and, not unfrequently, public reputation. The public good, I know, often requires that the offender should be restrained, and that the miscreant should not go unpunished; but then, be sure that you are actnated by a desire to promote the public good, and not to gratify your own revenge.
7. The last example of “Hyperbole” to which I shall at present refer is among the most striking to be found in the Scriptures : “ It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven"! This passage
contains what might be called a double Hyperbole. It not only affirms that a certain thing is impossible which is not really so, but that it is more than impossible! For “a camel to go through a needle's eye” is physically an impossibility, but then we are told that this is an “easier" work than for a rich man to obtain admittance into the Kingdom of God"! Here is one of those texts the real meaning of which is entirely misunderstood. Even the poet Southey, in one of those effusions in which he waxes eloquent against riches (although I never heard or read that he refused money when he could get it), talks significantly about “the needle's eye,” and quotes this Scripture extract in a sense in which the Author never used or intended it. The phrase “ the Kingdom of Heaven” does not, in this passage, mean, as men now-a-days generally understand by it, the abode of the righteous hereafter, but merely, the Christian Church -- the gospel dispensation—that spiritual and heavenly kingdom of peace and truth and righteousness which Jesus laboured and died to establish in this lower world. All that Christ means by this expression is, that it would be very difficult, but not impossible—for a rich man to become a Christian in his day, seeing the privations and losses to which the professors of Christianity were invariably exposed. Of the difficulty wbich men had in entering into the Christian Church he can form some idea from the fact, that, in our Saviour's lifetime, there were only two rich men among all his followers-Joseph of Aramathea and Nicodemus—and even these two were not his open and avowed friends ; for, we are told that one of them came to him “ privately by night," and the other was his disciple “secretly, for fear of the Jews.” Riches have no more avail either in admitting men into, or excluding men from, heavenly blessedness, than the use or abuse of any other talent which God may see fit to commit to our care. If judiciously employed, they will place no barrier in our way; but, if misspent or uselessly squandered, we will be called to a strict account for the improper purposes to which we may have applied them.
Such are a few instances in which the Figure, Hyperbole, occurs in the Sacred Scriptures : there are several others, but it is not necessary to point them out. From what has been said, some may be disposed to ask why was this Figure employed at all in matters where it is so desirable that every statement should be plain and easily understood ? Was it optional or compulsory? I reply, it was occasionally the one, and occasionally the other. The Sacred Historians, in recording events, were inspired and guided so as not to err in the main facts, but they were left to record those facts in such words as their own tastes and judgments dictated. Hence we have so great a variety of style and expression in the Sacred writings Some, brought up under more favourable influences, and having received a better education, wrote more classically and logically than others who had not been so highly favoured. Still, althongh the style and manner may and do differ, the statements of both are equally true. So that the inspired penmen, who were left to choose their own mode of expression, adopted the highly figurative language of the day and the countries in which they lived, and, like writers on other subjects, employed Eastern similies which were not always literally correct.
Whilst, however, these were sometimes voluntary, they were also frequently compulsory. . The languages in which the original Scriptures were written are what Grammarians call “poor languages," that is, they have few words to express our ideas. On the contrary, the English language is a “rich language"—it so abounds in syn. onymous terms that you can express the same idea in almost endlessly different forms of words. Now, from this poverty of the language —from want of a proper word, writers and speakers were often compelled to say more or less than they actually intended to convey.
But this was not all. The ancient languages are especially deficient in words to express the comparative degree-words corresponding to our words "better” and “worse". Owing to this, writers were often forced to say too much or too little-to say, that one thing is good and another thing is bad, when they do not really mean that either is bad, but, simply, that the one is not so good as the other. Now, in interpreting passages of the kind on which I have been commenting, we must take this into consideration. We must not pronounce sentence upon the veracity of the inspired penmen, or impugn the general accuracy of their statements, without
making due allowance for the insuperable difficulties that they had to encounter, and the restraints which the poverty of the language imposed upon them. We must remember, that for want of a suitable word they were often compelled to use an unsuitable one ; and then we shall be surprised—not that their exaggerations and overstatements are so numerous, but that they are, on the whole, so few and unimportant.
The conclusion to which these observations, if true, would mainly lead would seem to be this, that, in reading the Scriptures, men should not prostrate their reason, but keep it awake and on the watch, so as to discover what is really the mind and will of God. If you prostrate your reason—as some would have you to do---and take the Bible in its literal acceptations, then prepare yourself to believe all contradictions, to swallow all extravagancies, and to ask no questions for conscience sake. “Prostrate the reason !" I never hear or read such an expression without feeling the blood run quicker in my veins, through indignation. Those who join in such a cry have usually very little to prostrate. “Prostrate” the choicest gift of God to man !--that divine emanation from above-which, when uncontrolled, searches through all time and in all space :-to think that we are voluntarily to chain it down-to say to it “thus far shalt thou go and no farther"—that we are to prune its wing and cramp its flights, is a thought from which my soul instinctively revolts. No! be it our part to dare to reason. Reason and revelation never con. tradict-they beautifully harmonize. Reason, instead of defacing revelation, when legitimately used, only throws a brighter light upon some of its dark passages. Employ it then, judicionsly, in your study of the word of God, and you will be able to understand many things which would otherwise be obscure, and unravel many difficulties which would otherwise be perplexing.
THE FAMINE - THE FAST.
A GREAT affliction has fallen on our country. Famine, gaunt and pale, is doing the work of death in the homes of thousands of our fellow-countrymen. In this most horrid of all forms the life is being crushed out in agony from the hearts of strong men, helpless women, and innocent children. Daily, hourly, the frame grows weaker and weaker-improper and insufficient food fails to supply the strength
of life, and gnawing hunger, more cruel than pestilence or sword, with horrible slowness eats out the vitals of existence. In many and many a cottage of this our wretched country, rational creatures of God, our brethren, our countrymen, are starving. The bluish paleness of famine is on their lips and beneath their sunken eyesthe father is crouching in despair by an expiring fire – the mother is bending o'er a wailing, dying infant-dying because the fountains of its life in the mother's breasts are dried up the remains (un. coffined, and like to be,) of some who in God's merey have happily passed the gates of Death, lie as yet unconsigned to their last resting place. Fill up the details of the picture as your imagination can most vividly pourtray, and it shall be no imagination ; but if there be dependence on human testimony, fall far short of the dreadful, awful reality.
Here, indeed, is ground of Humiliation — of National Humiliation before God and man—in the sight of Heaven and of the Nations of the world. Is this our boasted civilization ? Is this the fruit of our triumphs of science and learning? Is this the end of all our wonders of mechanical skill? Not in some distant colony, where instant action is difficult, but in the very bosom of the richest, most civilised, most Christian empire in the world-despite of all its resources applied with no piggard band-in spite of all the wisdom, foresight, and benevolence of its rulers-in spite of all efforts of private gain ransacking the whole world for supply, the cry is still for food; and the British Empire, the proudest in the world, sees her children die at her gilded and gorgeous gates, for lack of bread.
Here, indeed, is matter of Humiliation before the world and before God. Well might our princes and rulers cover their heads, in very truth, with sackcloth and ashes — well may every British subject feel humbled — well may every Irishman hang his head in shame. For, what could be done for us that God has not done?a temperate climate and a fruitful soil ; work to do, and men to do it; land to be reclaimed, and men to reclaim it; and yet, here is the use we have made of all our advantages — we have been fighting every inch of ground in sectarian and political contests — we have been crying “ Repeal of the Union" and “ No Popery," and we have failed to make the land find food for the human creatures that have come to dwell upon it.
Who can doubt but that there is much astray in our social arrangements ? Who can doubt but that, as a nation, we must have transgressed some of God's natural laws -- that we must be out of
conformity with his will ? But let not our piety be cheated into false views of God's moral government. Let us not think that we live in an age of miracles. When we speak of the Famine as a judgment of God, we mean not such a judgment as often fell upon the Jews. God in his government of them, in his rewards and punishments, had recourse to miracle—by miracle sent blight and mildew-gave manna and water ; but we live in an age when God works no miracles. His government over us is by ordinary, steady, unbending laws; violation of these laws are followed ever by appropriate punishments — these punishments are God's judgments, not uttered, as of old, by a voice from heaven and by lips of inspired prophet — not executed, as of old, by outstretched arm, but proclaimed with solemn roice in reason's ear, and executed with neverfailing certainty by principles which are inherent in the things that he has made. Not by miracle, but by the workings of the fixed laws by which God orders the vegetable kingdom, has this blight fallen on the potato.
It seems to be a law of God's Government, that blights and failures, in a greater or less degree, should, at times, fall on almost every production of the earth; but is it his will that any nation should ever come to look to any one production for their support? Why with such a lavish hand has he diffused variety in grain and roots suitable for support of human life? Why has he given such differing soils and climates to the different nations of the world? Why, but that, since it is a law of the vegetable world that failures and blights should come, that they should not come, at once, on all, and in all places ; and that thus abundance might still be left for man's support. We believe it is God's will that every human being should always have abundance of food, and that it is owing to some fault in the social economy of states, that it is ever otherwise ; and our piety protests against laying, as a burthen, on God's goodness what is partly chargeable to man's blindness, indolence, and selfishness ; and in this present famine under which our wretched country is suffering, we recognise the just and natural retribution of having, as a nation, allowed ourselves to siuk into dependence on this one article of food. It is difficult, and not necessary, at present, to say which class is most to blame. It is enough for our present argument to rest in this conclusion that had all classes been doing their duty-had there not been selfishness and grinding tyranny on the one hand, and indolence and apathy on the other — had there not been, on the part of all, gross violations of God's laws in our national policy and social arrangements, the de