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yond the air, in the fields of space; and the whole expression of division of waters from waters is thus rendered valueless. Now with respect to this whole chapter, we must remember always that it is intended for the instruction of all mankind, not for the learned reader only; and that therefore the most simple and natural interruption is the likeliest in general to be the true one. An unscientific reader knows little about the manner in which the volume of the atmosphere surrounds the earth; but I imagine that he could hardly glance at the sky when rain was falling in the distance, and see the level line of the bases of the clouds from which the shower descended, without being able to attach an instant and easy meaning to the words, “expansion in the midst of the waters ”; and if, having once seized this idea, he proceeded to examine it more accurately, he would perceive at once, if he had ever noticed anything of the nature of clouds, that the level line of their bases did indeed most severely and stringently divide waters from waters » that is to say, divide water in its collective and tangible state, from water in its aërial state; or the waters which fall and flow, from those which rise and float. Next, if we try this interpretation in the theological sense of the word Heaven, and examine whether the clouds are spoken of as God's dwelling place, we find God going before the Israelites in a pillar of cloud; revealing himself in a cloud on the mercy seat, filling the temple of Solomon with the cloud when its dedication is accepted; appearing in a great cloud to Ezekiel; ascending into a cloud before the eyes of the disciples on Mount Olivet; and in like manner returning to judgment: « Behold he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him.” Then shall they see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.” While further the clouds and heavens are used as interchangeable words in those Psalms which most distinctly set forth the power of God: “He bowed the heavens also, and came down; he made darkness pavilions round about him, dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies.” And again, “Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens, and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds." And again, "His excellency is over Israel, and his strength is in the clouds.” And again, “The clouds poured out water, the skies sent out a sound, the voice of thy thunder was in the heaven.” Again, “Clouds and darkness are round about him, righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne; the heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory.” In all


these passages the meaning is unmistakable if they possess definite meaning at all. We are too apt to take them merely for sublime and vague imagery, and therefore gradually to lose the apprehension of their life and power. The expression, "He bowed the heavens, for instance, is, I suppose, received by most readers as a magnificent hyperbole, having reference to some peculiar and fearful manifestation of God's power to the writer of the Psalm in which the words occur. But the expression either has plain meaning, or it has no meaning. Understand by the term “heavens” the compass of infinite space around the earth, and the expression “ bowed the heavens,” however sublime, is wholly without meaning: infinite space cannot be bent or bowed. But understand by the “heavens” the veil of clouds above the earth, and the expression is neither hyperbolical nor obscure; it is pure, plain, accurate truth, and it describes God, not as revealing himself in any peculiar way to David, but doing what he is still doing before our own eyes, day by day. By accepting the words in their simple sense, we are thus lead to apprehend the immediate presence of the Deity, and his purpose of manifesting himself as near us whenever the storm cloud stoops upon its course; while by our vague and inaccurate acceptance of the words, we remove the idea of his presence far from us, into a region which we can neither see nor know: and gradually, from the close realization of a living God, who "maketh the clouds his chariot,” we define and explain ourselves into dim and distant suspicion of an inactive God inhabiting inconceivable places, and fading into the multitudinous formalisms of the laws of nature. All errors of this kind — and in the present day we are in constant and grievous danger of falling into them - arise from the originally mistaken idea that man can, "by searching, find out God — find out the Almighty to perfection” – that is to say, by help of courses of reasoning and accumulations of science, apprehend the nature of the Deity, in a more exalted and more accurate manner than in a state of comparative ignorance; whereas it is clearly necessary, from the beginning to the end of time, that God's way of revealing himself to his creatures should be a simple way, which all those creatures may understand. Whether taught or untaught, whether of mean capacity or enlarged, it is necessary that communion with their Creator should be possible to all; and the admission to such communion must be rested, not on their having a knowledge of astronomy, but on their having a human soul. In order to render this communion possible, the Deity has stooped from his throne, and has, not only in the per son of the Son, taken upon him the veil of our human flesh, but, in the person of the Father, taken upon him the veil of our human thoughts, and permitted us, by his own spoken authority, to conceive him simply and clearly as a loving father and friend; a being to be walked with and reasoned with, to be moved by our entreaties, angered by our rebellion, alienated by our coldness, pleased by our love, and glorified by our labor; and finally to be beheld in immediate and active presence in all the powers and changes of creation. This conception of God, which is the child's, is evidently the only one which can be universal, and, therefore, the only one which for us can be true. The moment that, in our pride of heart, we refuse to accept the condescension of the Almighty, and desire him, instead of stooping to hold our hands, to rise up before us into his glory, we, hoping that, by standing on a grain of dust or two of human knowledge higher than our fellows, we may behold the Creator as he rises,- God takes us at our word. He rises, into his own invisible and inconceivable majesty; he goes forth upon the ways which are not our ways, and retires into the thoughts which are not our thoughts; and we are left alone. And presently we say in our vain hearts, « There is no God.”

I would desire, therefore, to receive God's account of his own creation as under the ordinary limits of human knowledge and imagination it would be received by a simple-minded man; and finding that the “heavens and the earth” are spoken of always as having something like equal relation to each other (“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them”), I reject at once all idea of the term “heavens” being intended to signify the infinity of space inhabited by countless worlds; for between those infinite heavens and the particle of sand, which not the earth only, but the sun itself, with all the solar system, is, in relation to them, no relation of equality or comparison could be inferred. But I suppose the heavens to mean that part of creation which holds equal companionship with our globe; I understand the rolling of these heavens together as a scroll,” to be an equal and relative destruction with the melting of the elements in fervent heat; and I understand the making of the firmament to signify that, so far as man is concerned, most magnificent ordinance of the clouds; - the ordinance that as the great plain of waters was formed on the face of the earth, so also a plain of waters should be stretched along the height of air, and the face of the cloud answer the face of the ocean; and that this upper and heavenly plain should be of waters, as it were, glorified in their nature, no longer quenching the fire, but now bearing fire in their own bosoms; no longer murmuring only when the winds raise them or rocks divide, but answering each other with their own voices, from pole to pole; no longer restrained by established shores, and guided through unchanging channels; but going forth at their pleasure like the armies of the angels, and choosing their encampments upon the heights of the hills; no longer hurried downwards forever, moving but to fall, nor lost in the lightless accumulation of the abyss, but covering the east and west with the waving of their wings, and robing the gloom of the further infinite with a vesture of diverse colors, of which the threads are purple and scarlet, and the embroideries flame.

This, I believe, is the ordinance of the firmament; and it seems to me that in the midst of the material nearness of these heavens, God means us to acknowledge his own immediate presence as visiting, judging, and blessing us: «The earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God.” (He doth set his bow in the clouds,” and thus renews, in the sound of every drooping swathe of rain, his promises of everlasting love. them he hath set a tabernacle for the sun”; whose burning ball, which, without the firmament, would be seen but as an intolerable and scorching circle in blackness of vacuity, is by that firmament surrounded with gorgeous service, and tempered by mediatorial ministries: by the firmament of clouds the temple is built, for his presence to fill with light at noon; by the firmament of clouds the purple veil is closed at evening, round the sanctuary of his rest; by the mists of the firmament his implacable light is divided, and its separated fierceness appeased into the soft blue that fills the depth of distance with its bloom, and the flush with which the mountains burn, as they drink the overflowing of the dayspring. And in this tabernacling of the unendurable sun with men, through the shadows of the firmament, God would seem to set forth the stooping of his own Majesty to men, upon the throne of the firmament. As the Creator of all the worlds, and the Inhabiter of eternity, we cannot behold him; but as the Judge of the earth and the Preserver of men, those heavens are

« In

indeed his dwelling place: "Swear not, neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is his footstool!” And all of those passings to and fro of fruitful showers and grateful shade, and all those visions of silver palaces built about the hori. zon, and voices of moaning winds and threatening thunders, and glories of colored robe and cloven ray, are but to deepen in our hearts the acceptance, and distinctness, and dearness, of the simple words, Our Father, which art in heaven.”

Complete as edited from “Modern Painters >>

in «Frondes Agrestes.”


ERFECT taste is the faculty of receiving the greatest possible


our moral nature in its purity and perfection; but why we receive pleasure from some forms and colors and not from others is no more to be asked or answered than why we like sugar and dislike wormwood.

The temper by which right taste is formed is characteristically patent. It dwells upon what is submitted to it. It does not trample upon it, - lest it should be pearls, even though it look like husks. It is good ground, penetrable, retentive; it does not send up thorns of unkind thoughts, to choke the weak seed; it is hungry and thirsty too, and drinks all the dew that falls on it. It is an honest and good heart, that shows no too ready springing before the sun be up, but fails not afterwards; it is distrustful of itself, so as to be ready to believe and to try all things, and yet so trustful of itself, that it will neither quit what it has tried, nor take anything without trying. And the pleasure which it has in things that it finds true and good is so great, that it cannot possibly be led aside by any tricks of fashion, or diseases of vanity; it cannot be cramped in its conclusions by partialities and hypocrisies; its visions and its delights are too penetrating,- too living,- for any whitewashed object or shallow fountain long to endure or supply. It clasps all that it loves so hard that it crushes it if it be hollow.

It is the common consent of men that whatever branch of any pursuit ministers to the bodily comforts, and regards material uses, is ignoble, and whatever part is addressed to the mind only, is noble; and that geology does better in reclothing dry bones

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