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Here the history of the miracle itself closes, and as it is foreign to our purpose to trace its connection with the subsequent part of the life of our Lord, we close our account with a passing reference to the allegorical interpretation of this miracle, which was very prevalent in the ancient church, and with writers like Bourdaloue and Martin. Bourdaloue, after the example of Augustine, Jerome, Bernard, and others, has a very ingenious sermon based on the history of this miracle, entitled, “Sur l'eloignement de Dieu et le retour à Dieu," in which he traces the different steps of a sinner's death and resurrection to life. The first 'step towards spiritual death is sickness, (John xi. 1,) the second, lethargy, (v. 11,) terminating in death, (v. 14,) burial under the stone of evil habits, (v. 17,) and corruption spreading to others, (v. 39). Then follows a description of his conversion, beginning with the zeal and prayer of the sisters, (vs. 3, 22,) followed by the condition enjoined by the Lord, (v. 39,) the removal of the stone denoting the casting away of the beggarly elements of the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life; the summons of Christ and the obedience of Lazarus, (vs. 43, 44,) showing the necessity of sinners leaving, at the bidding of Jesus, the darkness of sin and making open confession, and lastly, receiving absolution, (v. 44.)
This specimen is sufficient to show the arbitrary character of the allegorical interpretation, which frequently sets aside historical veracity and exegetical correctness. We do not wish to be understood as absolutely condemning it, for it often serves a good purpose—but only where it adheres to fidelity of statement, and follows a sound exegesis ; these are clearly the bounds it must not transgress, or we shall have fiction instead of truth, and the thoughtless may imperceptibly and undesignedly drift into skepticism and infidelity, from the habit of hearing the literal and historical sense, if not explained away, at least made subordinate to the allegorical instruction based thereon. It is quite true that so early a writer as Augustine said, “We do not, because we trace an allegorical or mystical meaning in facts, forfeit our belief in them as literal occurrences,” but the synopsis of Bourdaloue's sermon, founded on that father's interpretation, shows the danger of a forced appli
cation of the allegorical sense to every part of the history. The resurrection of Lazarus, as a whole, may be considered as emblematic of the 'restoration of a soul at the voice of Jesus sounding in the gospel, even as the other two instances of Christ raising the dead may be illustrated in the same way, without any phantastic disfiguring of the language of Holy Writ, which warrants us to see in death a metaphor of sin, and to deduce the great truth that Christ raises to newness of life sinners of all degrees; that his grace extends even to the most abandoned. The case of the ruler's daughter, who had just died, may be taken as symbolical of the spiritual restoration of one who has just sunk into sin; that of the widow of Nain's son, carried out by the gate, as emblematic of the conversion of an open and hardened sinner; but that of Lazarus, who had lain four days in the grave, as typical of the spiritual regeneration of one who was, to all appearance, irrecoverably lost.
This miracle has always been considered as the greatest miracle which Jesus did; it was a favourite subject of early Christian art in all its stages, which sometimes represented Martha kneeling at the feet of Jesus, sometimes the Lord touching with his wonder-staff the head of Lazarus, who is placed upright (which is a mistake, and a transfer of Egyptian customs to Judæa,) and rolled up as a mummy, (which was nearly correct [?],) in a niche of the cave; and sometimes he is coming forth from thence at the word of the Lord. (Münter, Sinnbilder der alten Christen, ii. 98.) Trench calls attention to the curious custom of the Byzantines, as mentioned by Chrysostom, and of the contemporaries of Asterius, to have this and many other miracles of our Lord woven on their garments. The extract from Asterius is by no means flattering to the spirituality of the Christianity of that day. “Here mayest thou see the marriage in Galilee and the waterpots, the impotent man that carried his bed on his shoulders, the blind man that was healed with clay, the woman that had an issue of blood and touched the hem of his garments, the awakened Lazarus; and with this they count themselves pious, and to wear garments well pleasing to God.”
Art. V.-Personal Reminiscences of the Life and Times of
Gardiner Spring, Pastor of the Brick Presbyterian Church in the city of New York, New York: Charles Scribner & Co. 1866.
The appearance of these volumes has been eagerly welcomed by the Christian, and especially the Presbyterian public. Various circumstances invest them with peculiar interest. Dr. Spring is an octogenarian. His public life runs back nearly to the beginning of the present century. He has been the distinguished pastor of one of the most prominent churches in the country for more than fifty-five years. In this conspicuous post he has, from the first, been in the very front rank of American preachers, and among the most successful of pastors. Born, reared, educated in New England, the son of a leading Hopkinsian divine of eminent piety, who took a prominent part in founding and shaping Andover Theological Seminary, himself a participator in the Hopkinsian and New Haven, and various other controversies oonnected with the disruption of the Presbyterian church, he is not only the strongest living link between the ecclesiastical past and present, but between the Presbyterian and Congregational bodies, once maintaining an intimacy of mutual fellowship which, if it has abated, has not utterly ceased. All these and many other circumstances impart a special interest to the reminiscences of Dr. Spring, and will lead a wide circle, particularly of Presbyterians, to examine its contents with avidity.
The preparation of such a book, by a man past eighty, is a phenomenon. It has its advantages and disadvantages. It gives something of the charm which attaches to the marvellous. Of course, it is no disparagement to say that tokens are not wanting, that the work is not what it would have been had it been written earlier, occupied a longer time, and had more pains-taking elaboration. Of this the venerable author seems to be fully sensible. “Another embarrassment which I deeply feel, is the fact that I am too far advanced in years to have
any very strong expectation that my life and health will be prolonged to the completion of that which I have undertaken. I am driven to the work; I am running a race with time; it is too hasty an effort. Could I have had two years for it, instead of the four months it has occupied, it might have been more interesting, as well as more instructive.” Vol. i. pp. 8, 9.
Notwithstanding any drawbacks on this account, however, we are thankful for the many valuable documents, precious mementos, instructive reflections, and important testimonies which the book contains. To know simply the personal history, training, habits, methods, development, of such a man, the results he has achieved, and the relation between his personal characteristics and ways, on the one hand, and his great public achievements on the other, is itself a treasure. The light, too, shed on great public events and questions with which the distinguished author has been connected, is, of course, important. We shall proceed to call attention to such matters, practical and doctrinal, brought to view in these volumes, as most concern our readers.
Dr. Spring's lineage was of the "seed royal" of heaven, and in the line of the covenant. His mother's ancestors, for several generation's, were ministers of the gospel, Nonconformists and English Puritans. Her grandfather, Rev. Samuel Hopkins, D.D., of West Springfield, Mass., (not the author of Hopkinsianism,) was the son of a sister of the elder President Edwards. His father was the Rev. Samuel Spring, D.D., pastor of an important church in Newburyport, Mass., descended also from some of the best Puritan stock. He was educated at Nassau Hall, a thing not uncommon at that period for the sons of New England. He studied theology for a time with Dr. Witherspoon, whom he greatly admired. He, however, afterwards studied with Bellamy, West, and Hopkins, and, as the result of the whole, became a determined Hopkinsian, quite a leader in his day of that more moderate portion of this school that did not follow Emmons, who, by marriage, appears to have become his kinsman. At all events, Dr. Emmons addresses Dr. Gardiner Spring as his nephew. While in College, he was the roommate of President Madison. His tutor was the younger Edwards, who stimulated his metaphysical powers. He also fell
VOL. XXXVIII.—NO. II. 37
under the influence of a resident graduate, named Periam, brilliant both in physical and metaphysical philosophy, for whom he cherished the warmest admiration. This man, of such great early promise, appears to have either died early, or otherwise fallen into obscurity. But he, like many others of that day, became a Berkleian, and for a time succeeded in inoculating Samuel Stanhope Smith, afterwards President of the College, and young Mr. Spring, with his views. Says his son: “My father was interested in Berkley's philosophy; and but for the influence of Dr. Witherspoon, might have adopted the opinion that the objects of perception are not real existences, and are simply ideas which exist only in the mind." So it appears that discussions on “Hard Matter," of which Dr. Spring complains as unprofitable in our present periodicals, were current in the days of our fathers.
Dr. Gardiner Spring was born in Newburyport, February 24, 1785. Few men have enjoyed a more thorough Christian training, or, during childhood and youth, breathed an atmosphere of purer domestic piety. The letters of his mother, published in the first volume, and the high-toned religious character of his father, are sufficient proof of this. The effect is apparent in repeated seasons of seriousness and alarm, not without occasional intervals of trembling hope, especially under impressive sermons, and in times of revival, through his childhood, youth, and early manhood. He entered Yale College in 1799. His eyes becoming weak, through severe study, his father wisely withdrew him at the end of Freshman year, and, after a year's absence, permitted him to return to a lower class. He was a severely diligent student, and graduated with the highest honour of his class. The topic of his valedictory oration, Aut Cesar aut nullus, was significant. His father, after the conclusion of the commencement exercises, took an affectionate leave of him, and threw him upon his own resources, he having but four dollars in his possession. He cordially accepted the allotment: at once commenced the study of law, and sustained himself by leading singing in church, and teaching sacred music: while Moses Brown, Esq., one of his father's parishioners, whose name is inseparably connected with the munificent endowment of Andover Seminary, at his request,