ePub 版

most significant symbolism here. To cast out devils from the possessed bodies of men is the very type of casting out devils from the minds and wills of men. If, in addition, we can recognize the fact that every evil desire and every wicked thought is excited within us by the activity of infernal spirits, the "casting out of devils" becomes a work needing continually to be repeated, and requiring for its performance the ever-abiding operation of the Saviour. The external act was illustrative of the spiritual operation: the miracle wrought on the bodies of the afflicted was the type and the promise of a corresponding "mighty work" operating on afflicted souls. Of course, the miracle did not convince onlookers of the power of the Saviour; and though the spiritual miracle should be a million times repeated, it would not now convince onlookers. Sceptics then declared, "He cast out devils by the power of Beelzebub the prince of devils:" sceptics now declare, that such rejection of evil and falsity from the soul is due to "automatic action of the mind itself," the voluntary or the involuntary operation of the man's own soul. To those who have sought and gained the help, the miracle is a reality, and they know that its operator is the Lord!

Not less illustrative of the Lord's abiding and spiritual work were the miracles of raising the dead. Three cases are recorded, that of the daughter of Jairus, the son of the widow of Nain, and Lazarus; the case of a child just deceased, that of a young man whose mortal remains were just about to be sepultured, and that of a man who had been "four days" dead. Each instance is significant of specific states. The truth which is common to them all is that Jesus gave life to the dead. But who can fail to remember that the state of those who are evil is invariably described as that of death? "This my son was dead and is alive again." "The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live." "Ye are graves which appear not." Ye are "whited sepulchres." "You hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins. . . . God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ" (Eph. ii. 1, 4, 5). "He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die." "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." Jesus is not only the healer of diseases, He is also the giver of life! For, inasmuch as we may be spiritually infirm and spiritually diseased, spiritually paralyzed and

spiritually impotent, we may also be spiritually dead. The Lord's operation as the "Restorer" must therefore include restoration to life as well as restoration to health: He is to be the Life-giver as well as the Health-giver to His people. This external miracle was thus once more illustrative of His continual work far more than it was evidential of His supernatural power.

Space will not permit us to now do more than notice three other miracles, which we may group under the head of ministration to the wants of the healthy. He changed water into wine at the wedding feast, He fed the hungry multitudes, He stilled the raging tempest. The changing of the water into wine illustrates the whole scope and purpose of the New Testament as compared with the previous Testament. Jesus filled out all the forms, types, and figures of the Mosaic dispensation with spiritual wisdom. He taught the spiritual application and relevancy of the Ten Commandments; the spiritual significance of the Jewish kingdom, temple, rites, and ordinances; not so much the supersession of the Levitical law as its absorption into the spiritual and universal law of the Gospel covenant. What was

only water under the Judaic economy He changed into the wine of the New Covenant, the spiritual truth, the "grace and truth which came by Jesus." The Judaic water of cleansing was made by Jesus to be the wine of invigoration. The beginning of miracles was a fitting illustration of the whole nature of His then future work, the sanction given to marriage, the prefigurement of a higher marriage between Himself as the Divine Bridegroom and the Church as the Bride prepared and adorned for her Husband, an external antepast of the "wine" which He would drink "new" with His disciples at the "marriage-supper of the Lamb."

So also His feeding the hungry was a significant symbol of His eternal operation as the "giver of meat to them that are ready to perish." He is the feeder of His flock, who supplies to them their "daily bread;" who, not content with giving to them the "bread that perisheth," will give them of "HIMSELF," the bread that endureth unto everlasting life. The symbolism, and therefore the illustrativeness of the miracle has been seen by all who have pondered upon the narrative. He is the universal feeder of the hungry: the external work was a parable in act, whose spiritual significance is so plain that he may run who reads.

Who, again, can fail to discern the evident suggestiveness of the Lord's relieving the fears of the disciples by rescuing them from the

danger of shipwreck in the midst of the storm.

"Peace, be still!" has been felt to be a word of power, not at all to be confined to the one occasion of its symbolic utterance. The creaking, toiling, quivering ship the wild surges-the black sky-the eager, angry, devouring wind-the cry of terror and supplication-the majestic uprising-the Peace, be still the sullen subsidence of the waves-the outbursting moon beaming sweetly through the storm-rent rifts of flying cloud-the scene pictures every horrible danger, every agony of fear, and the might of the storm-queller speaking "peace." It is a divine exemplification of the universal truth of "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me!" Of course, the miracle exhibited the divine power of the Saviour, as do all others of His works; but it is most wretchedly to miss the great purpose of this, as of all His miracles, to regard it as a dramatic spectacle got up merely to display His power for the object of creating "evidence." The Lord taught by what He did even more impressively than by what He said. His life was a continual sermon, preaching wondrous truths. The Gospel is even more truly what He was and what He wrought than what He uttered, and we speak it most reverently-the very last thought in His mind while working His miracles must have been to furnish "evidences" thereby of His Divine Mission in the world.

(To be continued.)




35. THE STORAX-TREE (Styrax officinale. Nat. Ord. Styracaceae). In the Authorized Version of the Old Testament we read, upon two occasions, of the "poplar." The place held in the Scripture Flora by the poplar, truly and properly so designated, has already been discussed:

here we have quite a different thing, the word employed in the original Hebrew of the two passages alluded to being libneh. This word certainly does not designate the tree currently and familiarly known as the poplar, the Populus nigra of science, nor any one of its varieties, nor yet the aspen, Populus tremula. The etymological sense being "whiteness," it is possible, however, that it may have

applied in part, to the abele, or "white poplar," the Populus alba of the botanists, and this may have been the tree had in view by the translators; especially as the ancient Greeks, to whom the abele was known, called it sometimes simply deúky, or "the white," just as in England we call the Pyrus Aria simply the "white-beam." This brevity of appellation is exemplified not only in Theophrastus and Dioscorides, but in Theocritus.1 Insignificant as the circumstance may appear, to quote it is but fair, since it gives some little countenance to the rendering in the Authorized Version, which in matters of Natural History it is pleasant to find even approximate. The Authorized Version rendering is one, nevertheless, which cannot be accepted, since the natural habitat of the abele is inconsistent with what is predicated in Scripture of the libneh, at all events in the leading passage, which occurs in Hosea. "They" (the idolaters), says the prophet, "sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks, and libneh, and terebinths, because the shadow thereof is good" (iv. 13). Whatever place the abele may hold among the trees of the Holy Land in point of frequency, it certainly is not anywhere a tree of the hills. The natural habitats are moist, and even wet meadows and fields, and groves that border on streams, near which this beautiful tree often stands in groups, the alder perhaps a neighbour. Dry and elevated situations are altogether uncongenial to it, though of course it will grow in such places when planted. The tree really meant by libneh is no doubt that one which long ago received from the Greeks the name of σrúpaέ, by adaptation into their own language of a still older oriental word (said to be asthirak), and which in modern English we call the storax. It quite as well deserves to be called "the white," and nothing can be adduced in disfavour, while as regards the abele there is at all events the strong argument above made mention of.

Favourably situated, the storax-tree attains the stature, ordinarily, of twelve to fifteen feet, and sometimes grows much taller. The leaves are ovate, nearly two inches in length, hoary beneath, shining green above, and in general appearance like those of the quince. The pure

1 Idyll ii. 121. The usual Greek name of the abele was dxepwis, under which it appears in Homer, who refers to its lofty stature. In mythology it was sacred to Hercules,-populus Alcides gratissima, and his chaplets were woven of the leaves. The reason is given by Ovid (Epist. Deiod. Herc. 64), and by Virgil (Georgic ii. 166). Pliny confounds the snowy silk of the seed-catkins with the white under-surface of the leaves. See also Horace, Odes 2, iii. 9.

white flowers resemble those of the orange. They are developed in profusion, growing in axillary and racemose clusters of five or six; and are followed by ovoid and greenish drupes. All parts of Syria and Asia Minor are possessed of it, and in certain parts of the Holy Land it would seem to be still as plentiful as it is lovely. On Carmel, in spring, says Mr. Tristram, "mingling with the arbutus, with its brilliant red bark, the myrtle, the bay, the laurustinus, the terebinth, the lentisk, the azarole, and the Cercis,-most abundant of all, one sheet of pure white bloom, rivalling the orange in its beauty and fragrance, was the Storax." It was brought to England at a very early period, certainly before 1597, and occasionally appears in curious gardens, not, however, in its natural condition, as a standard, the branches spreading in every direction, but trained against the wall, and then, in certain seasons, it flowers exuberantly. A famous old storax exists in the "Physic Garden" at Chelsea, from the bloom of which it was that the drawing in the Botanists' Repository, plate 631, was prepared. Another flowers beautifully in the celebrated garden of Bitton Vicarage, Gloucestershire.2 In its native countries, Greece and Palestine included, this tree yields a very celebrated balsamic juice or exudation, the storax of commerce, a substance employed in medicine, and used as an ingredient of incense. The good qualities of this balsam are often referred to by the ancient classical authors, as in Theophrastus, ix. 7, Dioscorides, i. 79, and in Pliny, xii. 40 and 45. They are spoken of also in the Apocrypha,-"I gave a sweet smell, like cinnamon, and aspalathus. I yielded a pleasant odour like the best stactè" (Ecclus. xxv. 15). The Authorized Version renders the latter word by "myrrh," but the allusion is no doubt to gum-storax; and this identical substance it possibly may be which the Hebrews designated nataf. At all events stactè is the Authorized Version rendering of the Hebrew word in Exodus xxx. 34. "And the Lord said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, nataf, and onycha, and galbanum, with pure frankincense, and thou shalt make it a perfume,... tempered together, pure and holy, . . . and put it before the testimony in the Tabernacle." There is no evidence, it is true, that will serve to identify storax with nataf. Neither is there any evidence that will connect "nataf" with any different substance. The word occurs in Scripture only this once, and it is scarcely pro

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

1 Not the well-known Arbutus Unedo or 'Strawberry-tree," but the Arbutus Andrachne.

2 Formed and sustained by the Rev. T. N. Ellacombe.

« 上一頁繼續 »