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weakness, yet pre-eminent influence, which are attributed to the Jesus of this book. But whether or not such a character was ever really exhibited among men, one thing is certain, that the Jesus of Scripture does not correspond to the picture.
There are almost countless details in which it might be shewn how far M. Renan has strayed from the truth in his delineation of the great subject of gospel history, but we shall content ourselves with two closing remarks, the one bearing on the writer himself, and the other on the work which he has executed.
What has struck us most in reading this book is the author's utter want of spiritual perception. All with him is outward. His hero is moulded entirely by external influences. The ravishments of Galilee steep him "in a kind of poetical mysticism, confounding beaven with earth,” p. 67. He gains disciples, not, as we would infer from the gospel narrative, through the power which he shewed of being able to meet their spiritual wants—such a thing is never hinted at by our author-but" by the infinite charm which exhaled from his person,” pp. 80, 139, &c. Now this of itself clearly shews the unfitness of M. Renan to treat the subject which he has ventured to handle, and furnishes a sad but instructive commentary on these words of the apostle: “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him ; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
And then as to the work itself, the one conclusive demonstration of its failure is, that it is plainly insufficient to account for the admitted facts. This is the crushing objection to which, in common with every infidel scheme of the life of Jesus that has ever been put forth, it is exposed. In this respect the constructive Renan is as helpless as the destructive Strauss. Neither of them accounts for these two grand facts, Christ and Christianity. How such a character as that of Jesus was ever exhibited, or, if you will, ever conceived; how he drew disciples round him, though opposing all their strongest predilections, and how these adhered to him in the face of persecution and death ; how his religion made way in the world, though possessed of no external advantages, and though coming into violent collision with the deeply-rooted prejudices of ages ; and how it has continued an increasing power upon the earth down to the present day,—these are a few of the hard questions to which this book returns no answer, and which can be answered only by an acknowledgment of the great truth that Christianity is divine, and that its author is to be recognised as at once the eternal Son of God, and the almighty Saviour of the world.
Art. VII.-Biblical Botany.
1. Olavi Celsii Hierobotanicon, sive de Plantes Sacre Scripturcc Disserta
tiones breves. Prostat Amstelaedami, apud J. WETSTENIUM. 1748. 2. The Plants of the Bible Trees and Shruls. Professor BALFOUR. Edin
bargh: T. Nelson & Sons. 1857. 3. Plants and Trees of Scripture. Religious Tract Society, Paternoster
BIBLICAL Botany is one of the most interesting departments of sacred literature. The vegetable productions of that hallowed land, where all the nations of the earth come together to worship, over whose acres walked the blessed feet of our Redeemer, and whose every object and scene are indelibly associated with the most momentous incidents in the history of mankind, have a perpetual attraction, an irresistible fascination about them which those of no other country possess. Memorial plants, which grow amid scenes consecrated by the poet's song, or the hero's devotion, have ever a wondrous power of appeal to our deepest sympathies. We value a flower, however lowly, plucked from storied ground, incomparably more than one found in a common situation, however distinguished for beauty or fragrance. A blade of grass from the grave of Bunyan; a wall-flower from the ruined shrines of Iona; or a sprig of that southernwood which, as Kinglake touchingly relates, reminded the British soldiers in the Crimea of home, by its familiar perfume crushed out under the horses' hoofs in the battle charge; these things, mere trifles in themselves, possessing no intrinsic beauty or value, speak to the dullest soul in language that cannot be mistaken. Every one can understand the feelings that overpowered Dr Carey, when he observed a daisy springing up in his garden at Serampore, having been conveyed to India in earth with other seeds; or the emotion that thrilled all hearts in an Australian city, when it was announced that a primrose from England had just arrived by ship, in full bloom, in a flower-pot. Verily the charm of association is more powerful than any other charm, idealizing and beautifying the humblest and most familiar object. And if its influence be felt so keenly in the cases we have mentioned, how much more strongly must it operate in everything connected with that strange country, whose very dust and rubbish are dear to every Christian heart, in the case of those flowers on whose ancestors, in the very same spots, the eye of Jesus rested in admiration and blessing and which he canonized and associated for ever with Himself-in lessons
sociated hion and pery same case of an
of undying beauty and wisdom! . The rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valley, are more precious to us because they were deemed worthy to form emblems of Him who was altogether lovely. As the very streams in an Alpine region run conscious of the mountains; as every tree and flower has something more than its own beauty or majesty, when it grows in the shadow, or in the light of those purple ranges that seem the commingling of heaven and earth; so the light of that wonderful Book-so human, yet so divine sheds a halo of the deepest interest over every plant on which it rests; we gather with the flowers, over whose progenitors the shadow of the God-man must sometimes have passed during His weary pilgrimage on earth, more and other beauty than what the dews and the sunshine of heaven had nourished in them. The names of most of these sacred plants are familiar to us as household words. They were amongst the earliest lessons we learnt at a mother's knee. Many a simple child, or untatored peasant, who is altogether ignorant of the names and histories of the wild-flowers which spring up season after season in the fields and woods around his home, knows of that fig-tree which our Saviour blasted for its barrenness, knows of that sycamore into whose branches Zaccheus climbed to gratify a blessed curiosity, knows of the lilies of Mount Tabor, pronounced by Him who made them, more richly arrayed in nature's robes than Solomon in all his glory. Many an humble scholar, untaught in all other botanical lore, is learned in the mint, anise, and cumin of the New Testament, and can see in imagination the cedar forest of Lebanon, the palm-grove of Jericho, and the venerable olives in the Garden of Gethsemane, in whose mysterious shadow the darkest hour of earthly agony was spent, more vividly than any description can enable him to realise the glories of tropical forests, or the vineyards and orange-groves that are nearer at hand.
But though the subject of Scripture botany is thus surrounded with a romantic interest, and is familiar in its general aspect, and in the garb of an English translation, to the popular mind, there is in reality no department of Biblical research in which the scientific student encounters greater difficulties and perplexities. These arise chiefly from two sources, 1st, The obscurity in which almost every allusion to plants in the Bible is involved; and, 2dly, The peculiar political condition of Bible lands, which has hitherto prevented a thorough investigation of their natural history. We have a few remarks to offer on both these heads. In regard to the first, we observe that no class of writers ever derived more assistance from the physical world in the illus
Peculiarities of Bible Literature.
tration of their works than the authors of the Bible. They lived in the very eye of nature, amid some of her grandest and most striking scenes, in a state of society more favourable for the cultivation of the observing than of the reflecting faculties. Engaged, at least in early years, in the various employments of rural life as shepherds and farmers, they were necessarily brought into close and frequent contact with the varied aspects and objects of nature, and thus their thoughts and feelings were strongly tinctured with her hues. But when they felt the impulse of inspiration, their love of nature and their use of natural imagery were modified and kept within narrower limits than they might otherwise have preserved, by an all-controlling sense of God's presence and power. Henceforth creation was referred by them to the Divine will and thought as the centre, the root, and end of all things; nature was regarded as a mere shadow of something higher and better, and the visible world as a hieroglyph of the spiritual, as a mirror in which to behold the perfections of God. The wealth of poetic materials borrowed from the external world, strewn over their pages, was employed by them only in the way of incidental illustration and allusion. Their writings exhibit no artistic appreciation of nature as nature, no love of beauty, sublimity, or picturesqueness simply for their own sakes. Not one object is described purely for its own intrinsic interest; no landscape is pourtrayed for its mere scenic effect. There is no lingering with satisfied admiration, no dwelling with fond fancy upon the beauties of nature, as we find in the works of our own poets. There is no filling in of the sketch, no shading of the outline with the hues of life. Each writer wholly occupied with his consciousness of the overshadowing presence of God, hurries on from the image to the meaning behind it, from the illustration to the truth which it is intended to convey and enforce. The trees, the flowers, the hills, the streams, the birds and beasts, are alluded to only and purely to express their high thoughts of God, as a pictorial language of trust, prophecy, or prayer, never for the sake of their individual peculiarities. This is the sublime characteristic of Hebrew literature, which separates it from all other literature whatever; but for this very reason there is a certain indefiniteness about many of the Scriptural illustrations, especially those derived from the vegetable kingdom, which places almost insuperable difficulties in the way when they are treated as independent subjects of research. Many of the Scripture plants are, as it were, so rapidly floated past us on the impetuous stream of the narrative, that we only obtain a hurried, shadowy glimpse of their forms;
1 silent reb the text, upon mattern into in
in that majestic, solemn drama in which mankind, devils, angels, and God himself, are actors, we could not expect, and we do not receive that fulness of detail, and that rich, not to say exaggerated colouring, which characterises other and less important history. And this peculiar dignity of the Bible, we cannot help remarking by the way, offers a silent rebuke to that pertinacious minutiæ of illustration smothering the text, and that over-explanatory teaching forcing our attention upon matters of comparatively little significance, and wearying us often into incredulity, when, if left to ourselves, we could not choose but believe, which seems to distinguish most of the religious education of the present day. The names of Bible plants, therefore, furnishing no internal clue for our guidance, and frequently alluded to in the briefest and most cursory manner, by a single word, may be regarded as so many hieroglyphics to which, in the course of ages, the key has been lost, and which are consequently as difficult to decipher as the cuneiform inscriptions of Persepolis and Assyria. The attempts of our translators to find their English equivalents are mere guesses and gropings in the dark; ignorant all of them of botanical science, and dealing with words which suggested no corresponding ideas to their minds, the wonder is, not that they have committed so many mistakes, but that in any single instance they have made even an approximation to the truth. In our difficulties we have no assistance whatever from without, from works contemporary with the sacred writings. All the secular literature of the ancient Jews perished in the wreck of ages. Solomon's treatises on natural history, which would have been an invaluable treasure to us now, are hopelessly lost; and it is, it must be confessed, a somewhat tantalizing circumstance to alight incidentally upon the great fact of some specific and distinguished connection with literature, indicated in the name of Kirjath-sepher or Book-city, one of the Canaanite towns taken by Joshua—when nothing now remains of that connection but the name. Nor did the Jews ever attempt to compensate for this loss. Wrapped up in their own haughty and exclusive fanaticism, and despising all knowledge save that of the law and the traditions of the Fathers, they held no intercourse with surrounding nations, who returned their hatred with interest. The targums of Onkelos and Jonathan Ben Uziel, though valuable in an exegetical point of view, throw no additional light upon Biblical botany; while the works of Josephus and Philo Judæus contain few allusions to the subject of any consequence. The same may be said regarding nearly all the Rabbinical writers who have