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When earth no more beneath the fear
Of his rebuke shall lie; When pain shall cease, and every tear
Be wiped from every eye.
Then Judah, thou no more shalt mourn
Beneath the heathen's chain, Thy days of splendor shall return
And all be new again. The fount of life shall then be quaffed
In peace by all who come; And every wind that blows shall waft
Some long lost exile home.”
GREEK LITERATURE AND PHILOSOPHY.
MATTH. 5: 17.-Think not that I am come to destroy the law and
the prophets: I am not come to destroy but to fulfil.
No one can open the New Testament without perceiving, not only that the world has changed since the closing of the Old, but that it has advanced. No one can read the first discourse of Christ, for instance, without discovering, that it is adapted to a much higher state of intellectual cultivation than any part of the Old Testament. One is addressed to the childhood, the other to the maturity of man. One consists of precepts, the other of principles. In giving instructions to childhood we confine ourselves to precepts, minute and positive directions. If it is writing we define with all possible precision what must be done in certain emergencies. To a grown and intelligent man our manner is different. We give principles not precepts. We state our purposes, we give our reasons, we define our designs, and leave the application of our directions in some measure to his judgment. On the young we enjoin actions, practices, habits, which we know to be salutary, without giving the reasons on which they are founded, and base them upon authority alone. With the mature we proceed differently. We give the reasons, we state principles, we enjoin actions, not so much grounded on our own authority, as the intuitive conviction of those we address, of what is proper and expedient.
Moses dealt in no abstractions, for the world could not then have seen their force. Christ reduced the whole Mosaic system to two great principles, “to love God with all the heart, and our neighbor as ourselves." You meet with no such statement of fundamental principles in all the Old Testament. Moses rests the observance of the Sabbath on the sanctity of the day, as well as its humanity and mercy. Christ declared that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” Moses addressed the senses, and the mind through them, he instituted a splendid ceremonial to impress the imaginations of a rude people. Indeed, the Mosaic religion was a sort of compromise between Paganism and a pure, spiritual religion. It brought mankind as far toward pure religion as they could come at one step. It was the worship of the true God by the same rites, which the heathen performed to their gods. Yet no thinking mind could ever suppose that the true God could be propitiated by the blood of bulls and goats. But mankind in that age could have been drawn away from idolatry in no other way. When Christ came, the danger of idolatry was over, and he was able to establish the true worship, that of the spirit. From all these things, it is evident, at first glance, that the New Testament is addressed to a totally different state of mind from the Old, and to a condition of intellectual enlightenment, the like of which does not appear in the old dispensation.
It appears moreover in the existence of religious sects, the Sadducees and the Pharisees. Men never differ in opinion till they begin to think. They never can have opinions till they examine, reflect, discuss, define and reason. We hear nothing about sects among savages, nor in a state of semi-barbarism.
From all these sources, and from others which time would fail me to enumerate, it appears that the New Testament is directed and adapted to a state of intellectual cultivation altogether above that which is supposed in the institutions of the Mosaic religion. It is the purpose of this lecture to show how this cultivation was brought about. It made a part of the preparation of the world for the advent of the Redeemer. But intellectual cultivation is a matter which does not require any supernatural interference with the ordinary laws of the human mind, though it does not fall without that universal providence of God, which rules over all and extends to every thing that takes place. God as much makes use of men, whom he has largely endowed with natural gifts, to instruct those of less capacity in human wisdom, as he does those to whom he communicates supernatural knowledge, to enlighten the world in what immediately concerns their soul's salvation. If God acknowledged such men as Cyrus and Alexander as the objects of his especial providence, by whom the political condition of the world was so widely affected, much more should we consider Socrates and Plato to have come into his great plan, men, by whose intellectual labors the condition of more of our race has been affected, than by the greatest conquerors, who have overrun the earth.
About the time when the Hebrew commonwealth was declining from the splendid reigns of David and Solomon, to the last feeble and profligate administrations of Jehoiakim and Zedekiah, when the light of prophecy was about becoming extinct in Zechariah and Malachi, a people were coming into notice in the south-eastern corner of Europe, the point nearest the Holy Land, which was destined to exert as extensive an influence upon the intellectual progress of the world, as Judea has upon its spiritual and religious advancement. A few wandering tribes had settled along the shores and among the isles of Greece, which seem to have received from God the highest natural gifts that were ever bestowed on man; a phy