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beasts-the wheels within wheels, four-faced and full of eyes, —the four-faced cherubim, &c. &c. dance before our eyes in dazzling and inextricable confusion. There are phrases, however, such as the one which we have quoted just above, and where the prophet speaks of a rush of wings like the noise of great waters' which he heard, and the brightness' that he saw, and which was “ The Appearance of the Likeness of CHE GLORY OF THE LORD,” (in which expression the ordinary principle of sublimity, if brevity be it, is inverted and set at nought, and an image of vastness accomplished that will yield to nothing in the circle of poetry,) that deserve to be excepted from such remarks.
Striking passages might also be quoted without much trouble from Jeremiah and Joel; but we prefer selecting the following from Habbakuk, under an idea that it may not so generally be known. He is speaking of God's coming from Teman, when his glory covered the heaven, and earth was full of his praise.'
“Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet.
“ He stood and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations, and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting.
" I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction : and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble.
“ Was the Lord displeased against the rivers ? was thine anger against the rivers ? was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses, and thy chariots of salvation ?
“ Thy bow was made quite naked, according to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word. Selah. Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers.
“ The mountains saw thee, and they trembled: the overflowing of the water passed by: the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high.
“ The sun and moon stood still in their habitation : at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear.
But we have passed by the first in order of these poets and prophets, and, in our opinion, the first in point of true grandeur and poetry, viz. Job. Assuredly, no one, under the pressure of misery, or death, or inspiration, ever raised his voice in grander utterance. He was a good man smitten down by pain and sickness, but preserving through all changes, and in the face of scorn and calamity, a high and philosophic patience. He seems to have been born beyond the ordinary weakness of humanity, and to have gathered strength from time and meditation. The splendour of his thoughts swell and dilate in sorrow, springing from the gloom of his fate, as the
VOL. XI. PART II.
eternal Sun arose out of darkness and chaos.
What was pure and gracious in him in prosperity, in adversity became enduring and noble. He is shorn and cast out to the winds; he is tempered in the winter of the world, like the sword in the icebrook. But the film which lay upon his eyes is removed, as his days of comfort vanish, and his imagination is let loose, and roams abroad unconfined amongst mysteries of heaven and the grave.
His curse is as the curse of some mighty power, delivered like a judgement in solemn words. And, altogether, there is a wild and vague character about his language, when he speaks of the “ path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture's eye hath not seen ;” and a terrible sublimity when he invests Ruin with a voice, and gives words to the earth and ocean, that has scarcely ever (if ever) been equalled, and never, to our knowledge, surpassed.
But these things require to be read in their places, and to be pondered over, in order to receive the praise which is due to them. It must be not only a strong poetical flower, but one also of a particular nature (growing solitary and unincumbered) which will bear transplanting from the original text and continue to flourish apart.
The book of Job opens, as the reader knows, with the strange story of Satan's entrance into Heaven-his defiance to God to produce a perfectly good man--and the permission given him to afflict Job, in order to ascertain the measure of his virtue. All kinds of ills are showered down upon the unhappy mortal, who breaks out into gloomy curses or angry complaint:
“ After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day.
“ Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man-child conceived.
“Let that day be darkness, let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon
it. “ Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it, let a cloud dwell upon it, let the blackness of the day terrify it.
“Lo, let that night be solitary, let no joyful voice come therein.”
Why died I not ?” he adds, “ for I should now have lain
“With kings and counsellors of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves :
“Or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver :
“ Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light.
“ There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest.
“ There the prisoners rest together, they hear not the voice of the oppressor.
“ The small and great are there, and the servant is free from his master.”
We omit the vision so often quoted (“Then a spirit passed before my face,” &c.) and proceed to a subsequent chapter, in which there is a vague and prodigious grandeur.
“There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture's eye
hath not seen.
“ He bindeth the floods from overflowing, and the thing that is hid, bringeth he forth to light.
“ But where shall wisdom be found ? and where is the place of understanding?
“ Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living
“ The depth saith, IT IS NOT IN ME; and the sea saith, It is
NOT WITH ME.
THEREOF WITH OUR EARS,
“ It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof.
“ The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold.
“Whence then cometh wisdom ? and where is the place of understanding?
“ Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from. the fowls of the air ?
“ Destruction and Death say, WE HAVE HEARD THE FAME
“ God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof.
“For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven.
“ To make the weight for the winds, and he weigheth the waters by measure.
“ When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder:
“ Then did he see it, and declare it, he prepared it, yea, and searched it out.
“ And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding."
His account of his own youth is touching and full of graceful confidence. “ When the Almighty was yet with me, when
children were about
“ The young men saw me, and hid themselves ; and the aged arose, and stood up.
“The princes refrained talking, and laid their hand on their mouth.
“ The nobles held their peace, and their tongue cleaved to the roof of their mouth. “ When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the
eye saw me,
witness to me: “Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him.
“My root was spread out by the waters, and the dew lay all night upon my branch
“ My glory was fresh in me, and my bow was renewed in my hand.
“ Unto me men gave ear, and waited, and kept silence at my counsel.”
We must make one more extract from these celebrated books before we quit them. Job, under the oppression of sickness and misfortune, complains to God :
" Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,
up now thy loins like a man: for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me ?”
Where wast thou,” he inquires, “when I laid the foundations of the earth ?”. “Where wast thou,” he asks, “when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? -Declare, if thou hast any understanding.
“ Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days ? and caused the day-spring to know his place.
“ Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth?
“ Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or bast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?
“ Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth ? declare, if thou knowest it all.
“ Where is the way where light dwelleth ? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof?
“Out of whose womb came the ice ? and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendred it?
“ The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.
“ Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion ?
“Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season, or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons ?
“ Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven ? canst thou set the due minion thereof in the earth?
“ Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee?
“Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go, and say unto thee, Here we are ?"
Before we conclude our extracts, we will add one or two passages from the Apocryphal books, they being less in use than the more orthodox ones of the Old Testament. The following, taken from the Wisdom of Solomon,' may give the reader a good idea of a prolonged oriental simile. It is said, that all the pride and riches of the world are passed away
“ As a ship that passeth over the waves of the water, which when it is gone by, the trace thereof cannot be found, neither the path-way of the keel in the waves;
“ Or as when a bird hath flown through the air, there is no token of her way to be found, but the light air being beaten with the stroke of her wings, and parted with the violent noise and motion of them, is passed through, and therein afterwards no sign where she went is to be found.”
God loveth him that dwelleth with wisdom.
“ For she is more beautiful than the sun, and above all the order of stars : being compared with the light, she is found before it."
The praises of David (and many other passages) in Ecclesiasticus are worthy quotation, but we can only afford space for the following. The last verse is exceedingly musical.
“ Slew he not a giant when he was yet but young ? and did he not take away reproach from the people, when he lifted up his hand with the stone in the sling, and beat down the boasting of Goliath?
“He set singers also before the altar, that by their voices they might make sweet melody, and daily sing praises in their songs.
“ He beautified their feasts, and set in order the solemn times, until the end, that they might praise his holy name, and that the temple might sound from morning.
There are also one or two stories in the second book of Maccabees, to which we are desirous of referring the reader, more particularly that of the mother whose sons were massacred before her eyes. She endured all with a courage beyond that ascribed to Roman matrons. The sons, it is said, bore their fates like men and martyrs-
“ But the mother was marvellous above all, and worthy of honourable memory: for when she saw her seven sons slain within the space of one day, she bare it with a good courage, because of the hope that she had in the Lord.”
There is also a good deal of calm and simple beauty, as