Page:Literature and Dogma (1883).djvu/105

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the springs of conduct was a revelation, a revival of intuitive and fresh perceptions, a touching of morals with emotion, a discovering of religion, similar to that which had been effected when Israel, struck with the abiding power not of man's causing which makes for righteousness, and filled with joy and awe by it, had in the old days named God the Eternal. Man came under a new dispensation, and made with God a second covenant.


To rivet the attention on the indications of personal religion furnished by the Old Testament; to take the humble, inward, and suffering 'servant of God' of the prophets, and to elevate this as the Messiah, the seed of Abraham and of David, in whom all nations should be blessed, whose throne should be as the days of heaven, who should redeem his people and restore the kingdom to Israel,—was a work of the highest originality. It cannot, as we have seen, be said, that by the suffering servant of God, and by the triumphant Messiah, the prophets themselves meant one and the same person. But language of hope and aspiration, such as theirs, is in its very nature malleable. Criticism may and must determine what the original speakers seem to have directly meant. But the very nature of their language justifies any powerful and fruitful application of it; and every such application may be said, in the words of popular religion, to have been lodged there from the first by the spirit of God. Certainly it was a somewhat violent exegetical proceeding, to fuse together into one personage Daniel's Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven, the first Isaiah's 'Branch out of the root of Jesse,' who should smite the earth with the rod of his mouth and reign in glory and peace and righteousness, and the second Isaiah's meek and afflicted Servant of God charged with the precious message of a golden future;—-