« ElőzőTovább »
caprice, or won by previous canvass, the decisions of his Court began to form a continuous and self-consistent code of interpretative law. One of his cotemporaries tells us, that Archbishop Usher had a prejudice against the legal profession from observing that no cause is so bad as not to find its advocate; but he adds, that on better acquaintance with them, he found as many honest men among lawyers proportionably as among any profession in England, not excepting the Bishops. And we would gladly enumerate some of the “honest men’’ whom the good Archbishop found in his own age, and whom, had he lived still later, he might have found adorning this most learned of professions. But we haste to conclude with the practical observations which have occurred in reading the lives of some eminent lawyers. 1. Might not the legal profession do more to promote the interests of positive morality? Sir M. Hale deemed it a great disgrace that a man could be hired for a little money to do or say otherwise than he thought to be right or true; and I presume that no respectable solicitor or barrister takes up a case which on the face of it bears fraud or wrong. But what I rather mean is this:—Seeing that all the most important transactions of life pass through professional hands— every will and settlement and covenant— and that whim or ignorance or excited feeling often dictates provisions which a disinterested on-looker sees to be wrong, and the iniquity of which their author must also see in the world where he cannot alter them—might not the remonstrance of a right-minded man of business save much sin and sorrow? And seeing that to the angry spirit of many a man his own cause seems good till his neighbour points out its weakness—and seeing that no rebuke nor remonstrance can fall so weighty as his whose interest would foment the mischief—might not much litigation be nipped in the bud by the lawyer's faithfulness and honesty? And, though the men who have exhibited this self-sacrifice may have forfeited some fees or offended some clients, God has made it up to their children or to their own consciences; for how many fees would it take to furnish the “continual feast ’’ of knowing that you have healed a family feud, or saved from ruin an industrious man or an orphan child, or hindered some other act of grievous oppression ? Such feats of humanity
have often been achieved by members of the legal faculty, and just in proportion to their frequency will a profession rich in mental greatness become renowned for its moral glories.* 2. Every profession has its perils. My own is the most perilous of all ; but two special dangers beset the path of the lawyer if he seeks to live righteous and godly. The first is a danger which besets his conduct. Even if he should never attempt to shew that the worse is the better action, it is a great part of his business to shew that the worse action is not so bad as at first it seems; and this peculiar casuistry is apt to exercise on himself a pernicious reflex influence. The conduct which he has exerted all his ingenuity and eloquence to palliate in a client, he himself may yet be placed in circumstances where he is strongly tempted to make that conduct his own. What marvel if his own special pleas now rise to his memory, as ingenious and eloquent as ever? and with self for the judge, what wonder if such pleas o The two departments of society in which nice distinctions are most rife are legal practice and polemical discussion. The professors of either art are the frontier-guards of truth and virtue—the sentries along the border-edge, and if they are apt to fight too fiercely for some intermediate post, they are also apt to treat as debateable land the whole of their respective territories. It is for some such cause that,
* The following fact, related by Mr. Warren in a lecture at the Hall of the Law Society, is now familiar to many readers, but we cannot forbear repeating it here:—
“A short time ago, a gentleman of large fortune, a man, in fact, worth his 40,000l., was indignant with his only child, a daughter, for marrying against his wishes. He quarrelled with her—he disinherited her—he left his whole property, 40,000l., to his attorney, and to two other gentlemen, all of whom were residing in Yorkshire. What did the attorney do? He went to his two co-legatees, got them to sign their respective claims over to himself, and then made over every o: of the 40,000l. to the daughter and her children. When I mentioned this circumstance, this very morning, to a friend of mine, one of the most distinguished men at the bar, he exclaimed, “God bless that man l’”
In a spirit of similar disinterestedness, we have known instances where members of the legal profession took up the righteous cause of oppressed and unbefriended suitors, and, at much cost and trouble, obtained for them the justice which they could not have otherwise secured.
setting out of sight notorious time-servers, so many of each profession have made such mournful falls. We can quite imagine the ingenious arguments by which SELDEN persuaded himself to retract so servilely his “Book on Tythes,” even as we can imagine how Cranmer reasoned himself into a hollow recantation; and from what we know of clerical delinquency in the present and a previous century, we can understand too well how poor Charles Yorke cajoled himself into the acceptance of an ignominious Chancellorship. And therefore do we so fully sympathize with that noble-minded lawyer, Sir THoMAs MoR.E. He knew his peril, for he knew that no man in England could make the compromise look so venal—the perfidy so plausible, as himself. And returning from the Committee of Council his spirits were so high that his son-in-law said, “I trust, Sir, all is well; you are so merry.” “It is so, indeed, Sir, thank God.” “Are you then, Sir, put out of the Bill?” “Wouldest thou know, my son, why I am so joyful ? I have given the devil a foul fall; because I have with these lords gone so far, that without great shame I can never go back.” His spirits were high, because he had told the truth so frankly that he was now certain to lose his head. And just, as in practical religion, he is a noble Christian who is lenient to the faults of others, and inexorable to his own;–so he is a Christian of the same stately style who, able to extend over others the aegis of ingenious eloquence, disdains to court its shelter for himself, or do the doubtful or dangerous deed which seeks a covert under such a shield. And the other is a danger which besets the lawyer's faith. A judge has every inducement to cultivate a decisive and categorical turn of mind; but the pleader has equal reasons for indulging a captious and cavilling propensity. His profession trains him to be ingenious at exceptions, nimble in evasion, rich in hypothesis, learned in improbable precedents, and whilst swift in suspecting, slow to surrender. And when a book like the Bible comes before him, both the document and its several contents have to undergo this questioning ordeal; and even when the force of truth has won his general assent, he is apt to hold his creed with a feeble and ineffectual faith. But still, in cases which, cannot be counted, an earnest
- sgampbell, “Lives of the Chancellors,” 1.
spirithas triumphed over these professional hindrances, and reached a firm and assuring belief. In his earlier years Paesident Forbes was assailed by infidel doubts, and as the most thorough mode of ascertaining the truth he set himself with leonine vigour to master the Bible in its original tongues; and the book which he first cross-questioned like an advocate, and on which he returned a verdict like a juror—he soon learned to sit down to its lessons as a humble pupil and an eager scholar, and after reading the Old Testament in Hebrew eight times through, he became one of the best Hebraists in his native land, as well as a Theologian of no mean accomplishments. To Sir DAvid DALRYMPLE (Lord Hailes) we are indebted for the most erudite refutation of Gibbon's historic calumnies; and to the English Chancellor, Sir PETER KING, we owe one of the best Expositions of the Constitution of the primitive Church; whilst a young lawyer—some here may remember him, and may regretfully wonder what eminence he would have occupied had he been spared till now—John Bowdler, has bequeathed, as the only memorials of his pure taste and elevated genius, some most graceful illustrations of the Gospel's leading truths. He was a lawyer —perhaps the most variously accomplished and the most world-renowned of all who have adorned the English Bar, Sir W. Jones, who after ranging the wide fields of Eastern and Western literature, penned the paragraph which can never be too often repeated:—“I have carefully and regularly perused these Holy Scriptures, and am of opinion that the volume, independently of its divine origin, contains more sublimity, purer morality, more important history, and finer strains of eloquence, than can be collected from all other books, in whatever language they may have been written.” And he was the most profound and erudite of British lawyers, SELDEN, who, when dying said, “I have surveyed most of the learning that is among the sons of men, and my study is filled with books and manuscripts on various subjects; yet at this moment I cannot out of all these books and papers recollect a single passage on which I can rest my soul except that one in the sacred Scriptures,—‘The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world: looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.’”
THE SEVENTH WIAL.”
A very interesting volume has just appeared under this title. Without any pretension to research, learning, or originality of view, it is one of the most clear, sensible, and satisfactory books on prophecy that we have yet seen. We do not know where any one could better in short compass gather the existing state of opinion as to the signs of the times, as held by the greater number of prophetic inquirers. And the style is so clear, and the explanations so simple, that those who have not been much conversant with such subjects may easily understand the statements and arguments of this treatise. For instance, there is a chapter on “Apocalyptic Symbols,” commencing thus:— “The key of the Apocalypse is to be sought in the Old Testament Scriptures. This is the briefest, and perhaps the best, rule that can be laid down for the interpretation of this book. We do not know that there is a really new symbol made use of in it from beginning to end. There is not a single figure or character admitted whose use had not been already sanctioned, and its meaning determined, in the law, the Psalms, or the prophets. The Apocalypse differs from them only in that it is symbolical throughout. It resembles those monuments and temples of Egypt, which, being wholly written over with hieroglyphics, were illegible till the accidental discovery of the Rosetta stone. This furnished the key; and instantly the graven monuments of that ancient land stood forth fraught with the secrets of past ages. In some chapter of Isaiah, or in some Psalm, we find the Rosetta stone of the Apocalypse; we mean that we there find this and the other symbol used in such a way that it is impossible to miss its meaning. Thus we make out an alphabet, by the aid of which we come to read the whole of this symbolic writing. In the prophets the heavenly bodies uniformly symbolize the rulers of kingdoms.
* “The Seventh Vial.” Being an Exposition of the Apocalypse, with special reference to the present revolutions in Europe. London and Edinburgh: John Johnstone and Co. 1848.
We find this symbol employed, particularly in the denunciations against Egypt and Babylon. Of Egypt Ezekiel says, ‘I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee.' From the Psalms we learn that a vine is the symbol of the true Church:-‘Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt.” In Ezekiel and other books of Scripture, we find the false Church exhibited under the symbol of an harlot. In Daniel we are told that a wild beast is the symbol of a conquering and despotic power; and that a horn denotes a kingdom. Thus, by diligent search in the Scriptures, we discover the symbols here employed in such connexion, that their meaning is obvious; and when we meet the same symbol in the Apocalyse, we have only to transfer its ascertained meaning to the prediction under review, and, without more ado, we translate it into plain language. Thus we come to read off the Apocalyptic prophecies much as we would any ordinary writing. As an example of the way in which an alphabet of the Apocalypse might be made out, we may instance a few of its more important symbols. Earth symbolizes society in a settled state. Sea, society in a state of convulsion. Rivers, nations. Mountains and islands,
great and small kingdoms. Air, the political atmosphere. Heaven, the civil or ecclesiastical firmament. Sun, the
monarch. Stars, inferior rulers. Hail and thunder, wars. Earthquake, revolution. Head, form of government. Horn, king or kingdom. Bow, war. Crown, victory. Altar, martyrdom. Coals, severe judgments. Vine, a church. Rainbow, a covenant. Key, ecclesiastical authority. Angel, a minister of God's purposes. Having determined the import of the individual symbols, it becomes easy to interpret them when found in combination. Thus, when we are shown in the Apocalyptic drama, coals of fire taken from the altar and cast upon the earth, we understand that the action indicated is the infliction of terrible judgments, on account of the martyrdom of the saints, on the inhabitants of the Roman world. Again, when we read, “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy,’ all that is necessary to the right interpretation of the prophecy is to give to each of its component symbols its appropriate meaning. Dealt with on this principle, the passage reads as follows:—I was shown (sea) society in a state of convulsion, and out of these convulsions emerged a (beast) powerful despotic monarchy, having, i.e. having had, seven (heads) distinct forms of government, but broken up at the time of its emergence into ten (horns) separate kingdoms, with their (crowns upon the horns) kings; each of its seven forms of government possessing an impious and idolatrous character, as intimated by the name of blasphemy upon its seven heads.” The first part of the volume is occupied with a summary of the historical events symbolized in the visions previous to the Seventh Seal, in which, for the most part, those views are taken which Mr. Elliott, of all recent commentators, has most fully depicted. The author does not, however, slavishly follow the interpretation of others, and in several points throws out new and striking suggestions as to the relations of historical events to the prophecy. As to the “Seventh Vial,” the following extract will suffice to indicate the author's views:– “We have contemplated the period of judgment that passed over Europe, commencing on the 4th of May, 1789, with the splendid ceremonial of the assembling of the States-General at the palace of Versailles, and terminating on d. 18th of June, 1815, with the awful carnage of the field of Waterloo. History has been guilty of an untruth, if another period can be found, of the same length, in which so many dark woes befell the human race. But when the period of judgment came to an end, it was seen that, i. the world had suffered much, it had learned nothing. ‘They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.” No sooner had the deluge passed over, than the ancient landmarks began to be restored. “Where is the promise of his coming?' said the men of that time; and, concluding that all things would go on as before, they began to make provision accordingly. Absolutism set up the thrones which the revolutionary tempest had overturned; superstition purified the altars which Atheism had profaned; and Infidelity, unawed by the display which God had given of his being and holiness in his judgments,
began again to vent its blasphemies, and propagate its shallow and impious dogmas. On the same stage, the same three principles which had already convulsed Europe, and deluged it with blood, anew began to act with increased activity and energy. We now behold the result, a catastrophe which, even the men of the world admit, threatens to shake the globe to its farthest extremities. “‘And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.' The act of the angel was followed by a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. The mystery of Providence is finished and disclosed; and an end is put to the sufferings of the Church. This symbol, we think, intimates that the dispensation, when it should occur, would proclaim its own character and mission. The Papacy would feel that the blow was a final one, and lose heart and spirit; while the Church would see in it the harbinger of deliverance, and hail it with a shout of triumph. “Our readers will have gathered by this time, that we are disposed to view the present wide-spread revolutions of Europe as the commencement of the pouring out of this vial. Let us briefly recapitulate the evidence. In A.D. 530, Justinian promulgated his code, giving a legal standing to the Papacy, and enacting persecuting laws against the Church. This we have ventured to fix on as the probable commencement of the twelve hundred and sixty years of prophesying in sackcloth. We add twelve hundred and sixty years to the era of Justinian, and are brought down to 1790, the era of the French Revolution. We find the Revolution abrogating the Justinian code, alienating to State purposes the Church's property, and declaring the temporal }. of the Pope to be finally abolished. n these events we find what appears to be the termination of the twelve hundred and sixty years. From the commencement of the vials at the Revolution, we have traced their pouring out, one by one, on evidence which we think will be considered tolerably satisfactory. We have seen in the actual events, as in the Apocalyptic symbols, each successive
wave rise higher and higher, till the throne of the beast itself was overwhelmed. We have next seen in the history, as in the Apocalypse, the scene shift to the East; and in 1820, by the Greek insurrection, the waters of the Euphrates begin to be dried up. At this point we meet the termination of two of Daniel's chronological lines. The first is that of his two thousand three hundred days or years. Reckoning from the invasion of Greece by Xerxes, to the insurrection of the Greeks in 1820 against that power, lineally descended from Xerxes, which desolated Greek Christendom, we find that there are exactly two thousand three hundred years. To the twelve hundred and sixty years Daniel adds first a period of thirty, and after that a i. of forty-five years. The first thirty, we have seen, brings us down to 1820, when eastern Christendom began to be cleansed of the Mahommedan desolation; and its cleansing is now so far advanced, that Protestant congregations now enjoy a legal toleration in Turkey. The second of Daniel's supplementary periods should run out in 1865. It might be thought that the seventh vial would not be poured out till that year; but it would appear from Daniel, that it must commence so that all its plagues may be finished by that time; for the prophet makes that the commencing year of a blessed epoch : ‘Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five-and-thirty days.” Seventeen years, the time from the present date to 1865,-does not seem too long for such revolutions and changes as those comprehended under the seventh vial. But, further, we have seen the western world enjoy that period of repose which it is plain from the prophecy it should do —a peace so lengthened and profound as to have excited the astonishment of statesmen. And, in the interval, we have seen the three identical spirits, symbolized in the Apocalypse, commence an agitation in point of energy and persistency exceeding anything ever known before. And mainly, we might say entirely, through their machinations, while the world was saying Peace, and its wise men could see no sign of coming convulsion, we have seen a terrific storm all suddenly arise, darkening the whole social and political horizon of Europe, and, by its lightningwars and its earthquake-revolutions, shaking it from one extremity to another.
“‘And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air.’ The preceding vials had affected each a part of the antichristian system; but this falls with destructive force upon the whole of it. The first was poured upon its earth, the second upon its sea. and so on; but this is poured into its air. The atmosphere encompasses the globe, and any derangement occurring there is fatal to the whole earth; so this vial being poured into the air of the Papacy, involved the entire system in ruin. Its earth, sea, rivers, and firmament were all smitten at once; and after a series of dreadful convulsions, its fabric was for ever dissolved. As regards the symbol before us, we can be at no loss to interpret it, seeing it has been adopted into the forms of our ordinary discourse. We daily speak of the social and political atmosphere. Into the air was the seventh vial poured. The air is the region of electric storms: accordingly, the pouring of the vial into it was instantly followed by “voices, thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake and so great.' These are the usual Apocalyptic symbols of tumults, insurrections, wars, and revolutions. The great and universal changes introduced by the earthquake are farther described by a reference to the islands and mountains, the symbol of great and small monarchies: “And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.’ Contemporaneous with the shocks by which the earth was moved to and fro, the mountains overturned, and the islands submerged, a great hail poured down from the firmament. Hail is the emblem of northern war; and this hailstorm was of unprecedented severity, every stone being about the weight of a talent. This tremendous infliction, however, does not induce repentance; for “men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.’ Accordingly the vial is consummated by a last and awful judgment on the Papacy. In the earthquake, the great city was divided into three parts, as not unusually happens to cities o visited ; and the cities of the nations fell. This was the immediate precursor of the destruction of Antichrist; for it is added, “And great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.’”