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And it is not unworthy of observation, that the character of Homer's Jupiter does not stand single and preeminent, but is confounded with that of subordinate divinities. He asks counsel of the other gods; and not unfrequently resigns his own opinion to theirs. When he finally resolves, the other powers testify a reluctant acquiescence, and their homage is paid not to that divinity, but to the thunderbolt he bears. In truth, this seems his only symbol of sovereignty which the minor divinities acknowledge. On the one side we observe external reverence, and, as is the case with all inferior tyrants, covert treachery and fraud. On the other side we discover wavering and indecisive, resolutions, enforced by the preeminence of thunder alone. Whenever Jove promulgates his edict, he anticipates opposition, and the lightning glares in almost every word that issues from his lips. We can but set in opposition to this the first chapter of Genesis throughout. Longinus contents himself with the admiration of one particular passage, whereas the whole bears an uniformity of stamp. The Deity said "let there be light, and there was light;" but he also said, "let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear, and it was so." He said "let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself upon the earth; and it was so.” "And God said, let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and for years," "and it was so." "And God said let the earth bring forth the living creatures after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth, after his kind, and it was so."
But Moses in this very chapter has, in one or two instances, deemed this general and comprehensive form of expression too definite and precise. After having given us to understand that the word of the Deity is creative, as manifested by former examples, he thought it mere surplusage to recapitulate the idea. He says "let us make man in our image after our likeness, and let him have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing, that creepeth on the earth. So God created
man in his own image," &c. Here is true omnipotence, an omnipotence, not idly boasted of in words, and then abandoned in actions; for we are made to understand that the word is the action itself. Moses does not say that man was created as the Deity had ordained by the word of his mouth; but assumes that fact for granted, and simply says So God created man in his own image." There is the same self-conviction of omnipotence in every word that the Christian Deity utters. When the Israelites were pressed by the Egyptians behind, and opposed by the Red Sea in front, they cried to heaven for protection, and the reply to Moses was "Wherefore criest thou to me? speak to the children of Israel, that they go forward." The Red Sea formed no obstacle to Almighty Power, and the Deity does not condescend to inform Moses in what manner omnipotence was to be exerted. Our Saviour, at the tomb of Lazarus, maintains the same bold and confident language, and without explaining the mode of his agency, exclaims, "Lazarus, come forth." Here, then, the broad distinction is drawn between the Deity of the heathen and the Deity of the Christian theology. Homer, with all the efforts of his muse, could not lift his imagination to the height of such transcendant agency. He could not conceive of workmanship destitute of labour; or, to speak more perspicuously, that the word of the Deity should perform what he commanded should be done.
There are many passages in holy writ, that require some nicety of examination, before their intrinsic beauties can be discerned-such, for instance, as the present, "light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart." This clearly imparts that the joys of the just are to be placed beyond the present sphere of existence; the joy is "sown," and the harvest is to be reaped hereafter. This is not, however, the whole scope of the passage: how beautifully, and yet how succinctly expressed is the plenitude of that joy betokened by a harvest, and how small and insignificant a grain in comparison is our present felicity, denoted by the seed! The incapacity of language to express the extent of Divine attributes is manifested by the reply of our Saviour to the Jews, as grammatically incorrect as the sentiment conveyed is rigidly just. Then said the Jews unto him, thou
art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, verily, verily, before Abraham was I am." The human character of Christ is by the words "I am," sunk in his omnipotence, and an ever-existing Deity is immediately revealed, to whom a "thousand years are as one day," who measures time not by the past or future, but to whom both the past and future are absorbed in the present. Longinus, in proceeding to enumerate the beauties of Homer, cites the following passage:
"Meantime, the monarch of the watry main
Whose waving woods o'erhung the deeps below,
There, from the chrystal chambers of the main
From realm to realm three tow'ring strides he took,
Far in a bay a shining palace stands,
Eternal frame! not rais'd with mortal bands:
This having reach'd, his brass-hoof'd steeds he reins,
Immortal arms of adamant and gold.
He mounts the car, the golden scourge applies,
He sits superior, and the chariot flies;
His whirling wheels the glassy surface sweep.
The wondering waters leave his axle dry.”—
In this resplendent passage we have collected in a mass the sublimity and grandeur of Homer's imagination. The island of
Egæ sinking beneath incumbent Divinity, the bold personification of the waves, that leave the axle of the chariot dry, from homage to their sovereign; the monsters of the ocean, that attend him in his passage-all combine to usher in the presence of the god with appropriate magnificence and grandeur. We will just remark that the horses of Neptune, whose "hoofs are of brass, and whose manes are of gold," bear in this instance a strong resemblance to the steeds that conveyed Jupiter to mount Ida, in the passage above quoted; for of both Homer has said "brass were their hoofs, their curling manes were gold." Does this fill the mind with such majesty as the vision of Saint John in the island of Patmos? "And I saw a mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud, and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire. And he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left upon the earth, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth, and when he had cried seven thunders uttered their voices. And the angel, that I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth, lifted up his hand to heaven, and sware by Him that liveth forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are therein, and the earth and the things that are therein, and the sea, and the things that are therein, that time should be no longer." We will not dim the splendor of this passage by a single comment.
From the following expression of Saint Paul, he appears to have been conversant with the Grecian poets. In his exhortation to the Athenians, he 66 says, as certain of your own poets have said, in God we live, and move, and have our being," the language of Homer. The apostle, it is well known, designates the Christian warfare in the following manner. "Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye will be enabled to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God." Now it is far from being improbable that the apostle had his eye upon the celestial armour of
Achilles in the above mentioned passage. What Homer designs as the sport of his fancy is thus applied to purposes far more noble, and appropriated to spiritual use. The apostle seems thus to have pointed the fable of the Grecian bard, and to have disciplined his fancy to the comfort of the Christians. Many poets have attempted versions of the poetical passages of the Bible; but although this may be necessary for the purposes of social worship, it does beyond doubt impair the simplicity and majesty of the dialect. The Scriptures then speak a language not their own, which is but too often prone to captivate the taste of those, who can see no charms in beauty when disarrayed of ornament. This taste resembles that of the silly fop, who is reported to have cast an eye of cold regard on the sparkling eyes and ruddy cheeks of a beautiful nymph, and to have fallen in love with her necklace.
THE SALAD, NO. II.-FOR THE PORT FOLIO.
SENECA, in his seventeenth epistle, severely arraigns those, who impeach nature and fortune, for their unequal dispensations toward mankind, as if it was not in the power of every one, to make or mar his own peculiar happiness. It is virtue, as the elegant moralist continues, and not an illustrious ancestry, that confers the true nobility. What is all the power of wealth, the pomp of office, or the pride of heraldry abstracted from other good? Such factitious advantages, may surely, for a while purchase the applause of the venal, extort adulation from servile imbecility, or impose upon credulous ambition; but how short is the period of their duration, and what a multitude of vexatious embarrassments mingle the spirit of bitterness, with the luxury of their enjoyment! On the contrary, virtue imparts blessings that endure forever. It is derived from the Divinity himself; and he, who possessess it, unsullied, may claim some affinity,