Obrázky na stránke

the state of the Greeks as traders, at a time when Babylon combined a crowded and industrious population with extensive commerce, and when the Phoenician merchant ships visited in one direction the southern coast of Arabia, perhaps even the island of Ceylon, in another direction, the British Islands.

INTERNAL COMMERCE.-Greece, considering its limited total extent, offers but little motive, and still less of convenient means, for internal communication among its various inhabitants. Each village, or township, occupying its plain, with the inclosing mountains, supplied its own main wants, while the transport of commodities by land was sufficiently difficult to discourage greatly any regular commerce with neighbors. In so far as the face of the interior country was concerned, it seemed as if nature had been disposed, from the beginning, to keep the population of Greece socially and politically disunited, by providing so many hedges of separation, and so many boundaries, generally hard, sometimes impossible, to overleap. One special motive to intercourse, however, arose out of this very geographical constitution of the country, and its endless alternation of mountain and valley. The difference of climate and temperature between the high and low grounds is very great; the harvest is secured in one place before it is ripe in another, and the cattle find, during the heat of the summer, shelter and pasture on the hills, at a time when the plains are burnt up. The practice of transferring them from the mountains to the plain, according to the change of season, which subsists still as it did in ancient times, is intimately connected with the structure of the country, and must from the earliest period have brought about communication among the otherwise disunited villages.*

UNITY OF FEELING.-The sub-division of Greece into a vast number of small states, united by no common political bond, and constantly at war with one another, did not prevent the formation and maintenance of a certain general Pan-Hellenic feeling-a consciousness of unity, a friendliness, and a readiness to make common cause against a foreign enemy. At the root of this feeling lay a conviction of identity of race. It was further fostered by the possession of a common language, and a common literature; of similar habits and ideas; and of a common religion, of rites, temples, and festivals, which were equally open to all. +

RELIGION. The religion of the Greeks was one of those forms of mythology which have been already spoken of as growing up among most of the Aryan nations. All the powers of nature and all the acts of man's life were believed to be under the care of different deities, of different degrees of power. The head of all was Zeus, the god of the sky, and he is described as reigning on Mount Olympus, in Thessaly, where the gods were believed to dwell, with his Council and his General Assembly, much like an early Greek king on earth. The art and literature of the Greeks, and, indeed, their government and their whole life, were closely bound up with their religion. The poets had from the beginning many beautiful stories to tell about the gods, and about the heroes, who were mostly said to be children of the gods. And when the Greeks began to practice the arts, it was in honor of the gods and heroes that the noblest buildings and the most beautiful statues and pictures were made.

[blocks in formation]

the Old Testament; and for the exercise of it he was responsible only to Zeus, and not to his people. He had the sole command of his people in war, he administered to them justice in peace, and he offered up on their behalf prayers and sacrifices to the gods. He was the general judge and priest of his people. It was necessary that he should be brave in war, wise in counsel, and eloquent in debate. If a king became weak in body or mind, he could not easily retain his position; but as long as his personal qualities commanded the respect of his subjects, they quietly submitted to acts of violence and caprice. An ample domain was assigned to him for his support, and he received frequent presents to avert his enmity and gain his favor. The king was surrounded by a limited number of nobles, or chiefs, to whom the title of Basileus was given, as well as to the monarch himself. Like the king, they traced their descent from the gods, and formed his Boulé, or Council, to which he announced the resolutions he had already formed, and from which he asked advice. The Boulé possessed no veto upon the measures of the king, and far less could it originate any measure itself. When the king had announced his determination to the council, he proceeded with his nobles to the Agora. The king opened the meeting by announcing his intentions, and the nobles were then allowed to address the people. But no one else had the right to speak; no vote was taken; the people simply listened to the debate between the chiefs; and the assembly served only as a means for promulgating the intentions of the king. It was in the Agora that justice was administered by the king, sometimes alone, and sometimes with the assistance of his nobles. This public administration of justice must have had a powerful tendency to check corruption and secure righteous judgments.*

DIVISIONS. The natural division of Greece is into northern, central and southern. Northern Greece contained in ancient times two principal countries, Thessaly and Epirus. Besides these there were on the eastern side of the mountain barrier Magnesia and Achæa Phthiotis; and in the mountain region itself half way between two gulfs, Dolopia, or the country of the Dolopes. Central Greece contained eleven countries, viz: Acarnania, Ætolia, Western Locris, Æniania, Doris, Malis, Eastern Locris, Phocis, Bootia, Attica, and Megaris. Southern Greece, or the Peloponnese, contained also eleven countries, viz: Corinth, Sicyon, Achæa, Elis, Arcadia, Messenia, Laconia, Argolis, Epidauria, Trozenia, and Hermionis.

The first state which attained to political importance in Greece was Argos. Among the other states of Greece, the two whose history is most ample and most interesting, even during this early period, are undoubtedly Sparta and Athens. Every "history of Greece" must mainly concern itself with the affairs of these two states which are alone capable of being treated with anything like completeness.†

GRECIAN HISTORY BEGINS.-Grecian history proper begins with the celebration of the Olympian games, 776 B. C., which was about a half century before the Assyrian captivity of the Israelites. If it were not invading the bounds of mythology, it would be a pleasant task to recount here. the story of the Argonautic expedition in search of the Golden Fleece, the dramatic plot of the Trojan war, and to follow Meleager, Theseus, Atalante, and the other heroes in hunt of the ferocious Kalydonian boar. It was a heroic age, and has been vaunted in prose and verse from its own day to ours; the Iliad of Homer having been studied by the youth and manhood of the civilized world, and having been made the foundation of many other productions of genius

and imagination.

*Wiliam Smith.

+ Rawlinson,

THE TROJAN WAR.-The Trojan war is said to have occurred in the year 1184 B. C., after this wise: Venus promised Paris, the son of Priam, King of Troy and Hecuba, that he should have to wife the bandsomest woman in the world, Helen, wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta. In the absence of her husband, Paris carried Helen to his home in Troy, and to obtain her, the princes of Greece, under command of Agamemnon, a brother of the injured husband, undertook an expedition that resulted in the restoration of Helen and the destruction of Troy, after a siege of ten years.

"Great Hector of the beamy helm, the son of Priam," led the Trojans, and under him was Eneas, son of Anchises, whose wanderings subsequent to this war gave Virgil the subject of his masterpiece. After the Trojan war, Greece was the scene of great disturbances and political revolution in which new races drove old ones from the places they had inhabited, only to be in turn dispossessed, and thus colonies were formed which in some cases rivaled the parent country.*

ARGOS.-The importance of the privileges possessed by Argos before the rise of the Spartan power, is shown by the history of Pheidon. This remarkable man may be placed about the eighth Olympiad, or about 747 B. C., and claims our attention the more as one of the first really historical personages hitherto presented to us. He was king of Argos, and is represented as a descendant of the Heracleid Temenus. Having broken through the limits which had been imposed on the authority of his predecessors, he changed the government of Argos into a despotism. He then restored her supremacy over all the cities of her confederacy, which had become nearly dissolved. He appears next to have attacked Corinth, and to have succeeded in reducing it under his dominion. He is further reported to have aimed at extending his sway over the greater part of the Peloponnesus-laying claim, as the descendant of Hercules, to all the cities which that hero had ever taken. His power and his influence became so great in the Peloponne sus, that the Pisatans, who had been accustomed to preside at the Olympic games, but who had been deprived of this privilege by the Eleans, invited him to restore them to their original rights, and expel the intruders. This invitation fell in with the ambitious prospects of Pheidon who claimed for himself the right of presiding at these games which had been instituted by his great ancestor, Hercules. He accordingly marched to Olympia, expelled the Eleans from the sacred spot, and celebrated the games in conjunction with the Pisatans. But his triumph did not last long; the Spartans took the, part of the Eleans, and the contest ended in the defeat of Pheidon. It would appear that the power of Pheidon was destroyed in this struggle, but of the details of his fall we have no information. He did not, however, fall without leaving a very striking and permanent trace of his influence upon Greece. He was the first person who introduced a copper and silver coinage, and a scale of weights and measures into Greece. Through his influence they became adopted throughout the Peloponnesus and the greater part of the north of Greece, under the name of the Eginetan scale.+

SPARTA.—The progress of Sparta from the second to the first place among the states in Peloponnesus, was mainly owing to the peculiar institutions of the state, and more particularly to the military discipline and rigorous training of its citizens. The singular constitution of Sparta was unanimously ascribed to the legislator Lycurgus. Some modern writers, on the other hand, have maintained that the Spartan institutions were common to the whole Doric race. In

*Gilman's General History,

+ William Smith.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Sparta had supplanted Argos as the chief state in the Peloponnesus, soon after the Dorian conquest. She owed her supremacy to the military and political institutions of Lycurgus, who flourished between B. C. 850 and 776. The Spartans were a mere handful of people surrounded by enemies, and hence were compelled to be soldiers. The ordinances of Lycurgus and the severe gymnastic and military training to which the Spartans were subjected, changed their government and society, and made them almost irresistible. This discipline enabled Sparta to conquer Messenia, Arcadia, and Argos. Lycurgus, having obtained from his countrymen an oath to observe his institutions until his return, disappeared, and the Spartans worshipped him as a god.+

MONARCHY AND DEMOCRACY. - Sparta was nominally a monarchy under two kings, but was really an oligarchy in the hands of five ephori. The other states of Greece became democratic. The change from monarchy to democracy usually pursued a regular course. An oligarchy of nobles would overthrow the monarchy, and then some one of the nobles would espouse the cause of the people, and overthrow the oligarchy. He was styled a Tryannus; i. e., a “Usurper"

in allusion to his mode of obtaining power, and not to his manner of exercising it. Resistance to his government incited violence on his part, and he became really a tryant. His power was rarely transmitted to the third generation, and a democracy usually succeeded. Sparta was the type of an oligarchy; Athens, her great rival, the example of a democracy.

WARS OF SPARTA.-The early wars of Sparta were carried on against the Messenians, Arcadians, and Argives. They resulted in making Sparta the undisputed mistress of two thirds of Peloponnesus, and the most powerful of the Grecian states. Of these wars the two waged against Messenia were the most celebrated and the most important. They were both long, protracted and obstinately contested. They both ended in the subjugation of Messenia. These facts are beyond dispute, and are attested by the contemporary poet Tyrtæus. But of the details of these wars, we have no trustworthy narrative. The account of them which is inserted in most histories of Greece is taken from Pausanias, a writer who lived in the second century of the Christian era. He derived his narrative of the first war from a prose writer of the name of Myron, who did not live earlier than the third century before the Christian era; and he took his account of the second from a poet called Rhianus, a native of Crete, who lived about B. C. 220. Both these writers were separated from the events which they narrated by a period of five hundred years, and probably derived their materials from the stories current among the Messenians after their restoration to their native land by Epaminondas. Information of an historical character could not be expected from the work of Rhianus, which was an epic poem celebrating the exploits of the great hero Aristomenes.§

*William Smith.

+ Professor Henry C. Cameron,

Professor Cameron.

§ William Smith.

ATHENS.-The early history of Athens is involved in obscurity. Tradition says that Cecrops divided Attica into twelve states, which were consolidated, with Athens as the capital, under Theseus, the national hero. The Dorians invaded Attica, and the Delphic oracle promised them victory if they spared the life of the Athenian king. Codrus entered their camp in disguise and provoked a quarrel with one of the soldiers, who killed him. The Dorians, learning the fact, withdrew, and the Athenians, from respect to the memory and patriotism of Codrus, abolished the title of king, and instituted that of archon. The people were divided into three classes-eupatridæ, or nobies, geomori, or husbandmen, and demiurgi, or artisans. The government of the eupatridae was so oppressive that in B. C. 624 Draco was appointed to draw up a code of laws. They were so severe that they were said to have been written in blood. Cylon attempted a revolution, B. C. 612, but failed. The poorer classes were in poverty, their lands and persons being pledged to their creditors; many were reduced to Amid their dissensions the people turned to slavery. Solon, a man of great wisdom and patriotism. Solon became archon, B. C. 594, with unlimited power. His legislation relieved the poor, and repealed the laws of Draco, except those against murder, and divided the people into four

classes, according to their income. The kind of military service and the right to hold office were alike determined by income. Solon bound the Athenians by an oath to observe his laws for ten years, and then set out upon his travels. In his absence the old local dissensions broke out again, and the result was the triumph of Pisistratus, the leader of the party of the mountain, in B. C. 560. Twice driven out, he became tyrannus again in B. C. 537, and at his death (B. C. 527) left his power to his sons, Hippias and Hipparchus. He did much for the culture of art and literature at Athens. In consequence of a private quarrel, Harmodiu and Aristogeiton slew Hipparchus, and the character of Hippias was completely changed. Clisthenes, of the family of the Alcimæonidæ, secured the Delphic oracle, which induced the Spartans to overthrow Hippias. Clisthenes returned, and controlled the state only by making the consti

tution more democratic. Athens now defeated Thebes, conquered a part of Euboea, and despite the opposition of Sparta, entered upon her glorious career.*

The brilliant period of the Persian wars now followed, in which two branches of the great Aryan race came in conflict.t

THE PERSIANS.--The people of Persia, though they lived far away from the shores of the Mediterranean, in the further part of Asia, beyond the great rivers Euphrates and Tigris, were much more nearly allied to the Greeks in blood and speech than most of the nations which lay between them. For they belonged to the eastern branch of the Aryan family, who had remained so long separate from their kinsfolk in Europe, and who now met them as enemies. The Persians first began to be of importance in the sixth century before Christ, when, under their King Cyrus, they became a conquering people. He took Babylon, which at that time was the great power of Asia, and also conquered the kingdom of Lydia, in Asia Minor, a conquest which first brought the Persians across the Greeks, first in Asia and then in Europe. For the Greeks who were settled along the coast of Asia had been just before conquered by Croesus, king of Lydia, the first foreign prince who ever bore rule over any Greeks, and now, as being part of the dominions of Croesus, they were conquered again by Cyrus. The Greek cities of Asia, which had, up to this time, been among the greatest cities of the Greek name, now lost their freedom

*Professor Henry C. Cameron. Gilman's General History.


and much of their greatness. And from this time various disputes arose between the Persian kings and the Greeks in Europe. The Athenians had now driven out their Tyrants, and had made their government more democratic. They were therefore full of life and energy, and they gave help to the Asiatic Greeks, in an attempt to throw off the Persian yoke. Then the Persian king Darius wished to make the Athenians take back Hippias, the son of Pisistratus, who had been their Tyrant. At last Darius made up his mind to punish the Athenians, and to bring the other Greeks under his power; and thus the wars between Greece and Persia began.*

PERSIAN WARS.--Darius proceeded to make preparations for the conquest of Greece itself. The first expedition sent out for this purpose, in 492 B. C., proved abortive, but this did not deter Darius from organizing a much more extensive army, and a fleet of six hundred galleys, which were sent across the Egean, and landed on the plain of Marathon in Attica, in the year 490 B. C. An Athenian army of ten thousand heavily armed soldiers, under ten generals, of whom were Miltiades, Themistocles, and Aristides, was sent out to meet the invaders, whose force was over one hundred thousand men. The chief command devolved upon Milti

ades, who managed his small force so effectively that with

a loss of less than two hundred men, he utterly routed the Persians, who lost sixty-four hundred, and fled to their ships. The city of Athens had been thoroughly excited by its danger, and was now thrilled with patriotic enthusiasm, for the power of its arms and democratic institutions had stood a test more trying than even the leaders had supposed them capable of enduring. This victory was an exhaustless source of stimulation to Attic patriotism for centuries, nor has it yet lost its power, for, in the words of Dr. Johnson, "the man is little to be envied whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon." It is to be reto the help of the Athenians, their contribution of two thoumarked that, though the Spartans had been invited to come sand men did not arrive until the victory had been won, owing to a delay caused by religious scruples on the subject of starting on such an expedition at the time of new moon. Miltiades was now called the savior of his country; but having failed in an expedition to the island of Paros, the next year, he was, at the suit of Xantippus, the father of Pericles, fined, and died not long after in prison. He was buried by Cimon, his son. Aristides, the Just, was banished, and Themistocles was left the sole leader of the Athenian republic. He was shrewd and able, and seeing that the only means by which his city could gain superiority was by creating a navy, he increased the fleet, and prepared to meet the new force that the Persians were making ready. Darius was filled with unbounded resentment at his defeat, and used the vast resources of his kingdom for three years in collecting an army that he thought invincible. Before his arrangements were comp lete he died, but his favorite son, Xerxes, entered fully into his plans, and in the spring of 480 B. C. set out with a force said to have comprised a million seven hundred thousand foot, eighty thousand horse, and a fleet of many hundred vessels. In this extremity the Spartans joined forces with the Athenians. A congress was held at Corinth, and it was decided to send an army to the narrow pass of Thermopylæ, to guard the approach to Athens and the Peloponnesus from Thessaly. Leonidas, the Spartan king, commanded this body in person. It included three hundred of his own people, and about four thousand from other cities. In the face of the vast Persian army, this handful of men valiantly attempted their task, but through the efforts of a traitor they were at last attacked on both sides, and all slain. The Persians

*Edward A. Freeman.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Themistocles now availed himself of the fleet that his foresight had provided, and at the naval battle of Salamis gained so complete a victory that Xerxes in despair commenced a hasty retreat through Thessaly, Macedon, and Thrace. He left an army in Thessaly, however, which attacked the people of Attica in the spring of 479 B. C. The Greeks rallied under Pausanias, a Spartan, and Aristides, and gained so complete a victory at Plataea that the Persians were glad to save a part of their forces by a hasty flight. For the succeeding ten years there were conflicts between the Greeks and Persians, but in 469 B. C., a peace was concluded which ended the Persian rule. Pausanias, in spite of his previous valor and patriotism, proved a traitor, and offered to betray his country to Xerxes. His plot was discovered, but it cost Sparta her prestige, and Athens now assumed the supremacy. Themistocles, also, was corrupted by Persian gold, and was justly ostracized; but being received with favor by Artaxerxes, he spent his last days in princely luxury in Asia Minor.*

THE AGE OF PERICLES.-There now became prominent at Athens two men whose fathers had also been intrusted with power: Cimon, the son of Miltiades, and Pericles, the son of Xantippus. They represented respectively the aristocratic and the democratic parties in Athens. Pericles was a man of intellectual pursuits, was accustomed to address popular assemblies, was eloquent, of majestic appearance, wise and prudent. Cimon was a military man, having first attracted attention at the battle of Salamis, after which he was prominent in military affairs. His aristocratic tendencies caused him oppose the democratic party on the question of restricting the power and jurisdiction of the Areopagus, and as he had shown sympathy with Sparta at the insurrection of the Helots, he was ostracized about 459 B. C. He died ten years later, and left to the Athenians a pleasure-ground, which afterward became the seat of the Academy of Plato. He probably had an honest desire to serve his country, but was upon the wrong side in politics.

The banishment and death of Cimon left Pericles free to carry out his plans for the aggrandizement of Athens, and he so completely succeeded in raising her to the rank of the most refined and elegant city of the time, that the period is known both as the "Golden Age" and the "Age of Pericles."

Pericles erected the Propylæa, the Parthenon, and the Temple of Victory on the Acropolis, the Theseum, and other buildings in the city. He built the long walls to the Piræus, and sent out colonies. He popularized intelligence, provided plays, processions, and festivals for the people, gave employment to skilled artisans by the erection of temples, and other grand buildings; he encouraged the cultivation of the arts of sculpture and design; he provided for the poor and for men of genius; and while thus beautifying and improving his city at home, he also acquired great renown for her name abroad.+

CULTURE OF THE AGE.-The progress both of poetry and the plastic arts during this epoch is striking. The great principle that pervaded all was a lively and truthful imita

*Gilman's General History. + Gilman's General History.

tion of nature, but nature of an ideal and elevated stamp. Epic poetry and the ode give place to a more accurate and striking rendering of nature by means of dramatic representations; while sculpture presents us not only with more graceful forms, but with more of dramatic action in the arrangement of its groups. The process by which Athenian genius freed itself from the trammels of ancient stiffness, is as visible in the tragedies of Eschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides as in the productions of the great masters of the plastic arts during the same period. In the dramas of Eschylus, majesty and dignity are not unmixed with a rigid and archaic simplicity, which also marks the works of the contemporary sculptors. During the time of Pericles we find this characteristic giving place to the perfection of grace and sublimity united, as in the tragedies of Sophocles and in the statues of Phidias. Art could not be carried higher. In the next step we find equal truthfulness and grace. In like manner, with regard to architecture, the Parthenon, erected in the time of Pericles, presents the most exquisite example of the Doric style in the happiest medium between antique heaviness and the slender weakness of later monuments. Painting also, in the hands of Polygnotus. attained its highest excellence in the grace and majesty of single figures. Among the artists of this period the sculptors stand out prominently. In general the eminent sculptors of this period also possessed not only a theoretical knowledge, but frequently great practical skill in the sister arts of painting and architecture.*

THE DRAMA.-At this time the drama had its origin in Athens. It grew out of the hymns that were sung in honor of Bacchus, and was created and perfected as we now see it, by Eschylus, who was one of those men who with a single stride outdo all previous efforts, and appear to make greater attainments impossible for the future. He was followed by Sophocles, who drew human nature as it ought to be, and Euripides, who drew it as it was. Thus the three greatest pure tragic poets of the world were contemporary. Comedy was cultivated at the same time, and among the names famous on the list of its writers are those of Phrynicus, Aristophanes, and Menander.

LITERATURE.-History was written by Thucydides and Xenophon. Plato founded the Academic school of philosoOratory was Phy, and Aristotle the Peripatetic school. practiced by Solon, Pisistratus, Miltiades, Aristides, Themistocles, Protagoras, Eschines, and Demosthenes, either for the practical purposes of legislation, for legal argument, or for use in the schools of the Sophists.

ARCHITECTURE.-The three great styles of Grecian architecture were the Doric, characterized by simple outline and massive strength; the Ionic, less pure and severe, but graceful, and enriched with the most perfect sculpture: the Corinthian, more florid and splendid. They may be remembered from the Spartan simplicity of the Dorians, the greater grace and softness of the Ionians, and sensuousness of the people of Corinth.

Sculpture and painting were highly cultivated, the former by Phidias and Praxitiles, the latter by Parrhasius, Zeuxis, and Appelles.

Before Pericles died, the prestige of Athens began to pass away.†

*William Smith.

+ Gilman's General History.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

JESUS CHRIST IN CHRONOLOGY. they absorb all others-we all know this. Somehow he is

growing great and bright and Godlike every day. He has been crushed out a great many times; as often as once in ten years, at least, some poor little bewildered doubter mounts his mole-hill, shouts his frantic challenge, flourishes aloft his skeptical sponge, dashes it back and forth hysterically across the path of church history, and shouts, "There, now I've done it!" Done what? "I've rubbed out the name of your wonderful Christ; I've annihilated your wonderful Jesus!" In response to all these shrieks of infidelity, we, who by the Holy Ghost call Jesus Lord, look up and see no man save Jesus only; Jesus filling the whole field of vision; Jesus the Alpha and the Omega, to whom be glory and dominion forever and forever.

They have a tremendous job on their hands who have undertaken to isolate and unfriend Jesus of Nazareth, and to make his name obsolete in the language and literature of the coming age.

One thing, at least, is true of Jesus of Nazareth: the world can not forget him, or stop talking about him. I take it for granted that no person who makes any pretension to scholarship or ordinary intelligence will deny the historical record of the birth and life of Jesus of Nazareth. Infidels and atheists and rationalists and spiritualists all admit that there was a crucifixion scene in the city of Jerusalem, in the province of Judea, under Roman supervision, about 1,850 years ago, which tallied essentially with the accounts as written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, in the book commonly known as the New Testament. Gibbon, the prince of infidel historians, admits this; so also do Strauss, Renan, Parker, and others of this class.

The greatest cloud of witnesses hangs over the cross. The life, crucifixion and death of Jesus are as susceptible of historical proof as are the life and death of Julius Cæsar, Constantine or Napoleon Bonaparte. They are in history, part and parcel of history.

At the time of his death, the name and the character of Jesus were the theme of universal comment, criticism and dispute; I mean that everybody in and about Jerusalem talked and disputed about him. And, strange to say, criticism, dispute and conversation about him did not cease with his death and burial. The excitement in regard to him broke out afresh three days after he was buried; and within thirty days of the time that his sepulchre was stamped with the seal of Cæsar, the civilized world was ablaze with the fame, and aghast before the strange power of the crucified man of Nazareth. This is simple historical fact.

There was neyer so much talk and dispute and criticism about Jesus in any other age as there is in this present age. Men can not drop this theme; the world can not forget him or let him alone. Long continued criticism and reviews of any other name of history become stale and tiresome. Socrates, Alexander, Constantine, Charlemagne, Luther, become threadbare and empty of meaning, except as they are studied in their relations to the times in which they lived, and the men and things with which they were associated.

There is nothing very new to be said of them; some little anecdote or personal incident, making a pleasant newspaper item, comes out occasionally, and that is all. But Jesus Christ has been growing in consequence steadily; 1800 years of talk and controversy have not drained his name of its sweetness or robbed it of its power. Jesus Christ is a new discovery to each thoughtful soul, as really as America was to Columbus.

"Tho' eighteen hundred years are past

Since Christ did in the flesh appear,
His tender mercies ever last,

And still his healing power is here."

Oh, how the world does talk about Jesus to-day! His name is on every lip; all classes and schools of thought and theology, of faith and unfaith, have something to say about him, are trying to form some opinion, to settle down upon some exhaustive and final analysis of his character and place in history. Newspapers, magazines, reviews, scientific lectures, radical clubs, naturalists, geologists, ethnologists, elegant lyceum rhetoricians, the odds and ends of all self-deifying isms and notions-how they all swell into notice for a single moment as they try to classify the Nazarine with human history, or make some mountebank grimace at his eternal kinghood. There is but one topic of thought among us, and that is "Jesus"-"What think ye of Jesus?" "Whose son is he?" These are the universal questions;

*A lecture delivered in the Auditorium, at Chautauqua, August 15, 1877.

Blondin stretched his rope across the river, and in a clown's dress gave a tight-rope exhibition to gaping crowds of spectators. They had a thrilling circus performance for $1.00 apiece, with the spray and roar and everlasting majesty of the cataract gratis.

Niagara's thunders shook the continent ages before man set foot upon it. Its bow will be bright when we are all dead. It never knew that Blondin balanced himself for a moment in the face of its resistless plunge and power. Such is the character, and such will be the result of the rationalistic antagonisms of the day. They are skeptical antics-tight-rope performances before the unchecked momentum and the rainbow-girded name of the crucified man of Nazareth. They fight not a single name of an old Jewish genealogical register, but the satisfying Lord Christ of the sinful human heart, whose Christhood and Lordship have been tested by all classes and races of men with solidarity of satisfying personal communion through 1,800 years, and with the whole love-linked fellowship and testimony of 6,000 years of church life and history. Christ's influence and cause move steadily on. Momentary oppositions, skeptical antagonisms, attract attention and excite to spiteful and break-neck experiments for the time; but these all vanish with their short-lived performers; while the church, under the energy of the omnipotent Holy Ghost, increases to the subjugation of the world to Christ and the filling of the world with his glory.


The talk about Jesus, and the criticisms which are made upon him, are very plain and positive in these times. In their national meetings the Free Religionists have tried to show their smartness by talking of a certain "Mr. Jesus," and of his religion as an "exploded humbug." Mr. Emerson charges the churches with worshiping a Nazarene Fetich. African heathen worship snakes, beetles, stones, as 'fetiches," embodiments of divine ideas. Mr. Emerson says that we worship a Nazarene Fetich. Mr. Frothingham, in his book, "The Religion of Humanity," says The old myth of a God descending to the earth is full of suggestion still." The doctrine of Christ Incarnate is simply "an old myth," though on account of its suggestiveness it may be allowed to live a little longer. Warrington, the late wellknown literary and political writer of Massachusetts, in a recent description of the Boston Radical Club, said: must know that at this club, Jesus as the son of God in any peculiar sense, is-I mean to speak respectfully-on the defensive. Nobody defends the church any longer. Hell has been dismissed with costs, and as to the scriptures, nobody within the same circle pretends to believe in their verbal inspiration." The now defunct Radical lived long enough to announce that "The Messianic notion is of the past; let it repose in honor, but the new world will have no use for it. The Christs belong to a dead epoch. The Luthers are


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PredošláPokračovať »