« ZurückWeiter »
death must not be denied to their relatives ;” and Paulus, about the same time, “they must be given to any who wish to inter them.” The Jews, though not allowed to bury an executed criminal in an honorable way, in the sepulchre of his fathers, (see Lightfoot, tom. ii. p. 56.) were yet so scrupulous about burying him in some way, that they applied regularly for the privilege, and very seldom do we read of their being denied. Their feelings and laws toward one who had been accursed on the cross, were treated by the emperor, as he endeavored to treat the religions of nearly all his provinces, and as it was politic that he should do, with habitual deference. Accordingly, when a member of the Jewish Sanhedrim made application for the body of Jesus, the application was granted without delay, and he who suffered as a criminal, though without the shadow of a crime, was admitted into a new tomb of a rich and honorable counsellor.
He was buried. There was the last of him thought the Jews. They had longed for his crucifixion, because nothing could be so conclusive a proof against his Messiahship. Now the proof has been given. The memory of a crucified man must be forever odious. The disgrace will cleave like the leprosy to all his relatives, to the remotest generation. Was it ever known that a favorite of heaven incurred the hot displeasure of the lawyers, and judges, and priests, and elders of the favored nation? Can it be conceived, that such a favorite should be left by heaven to such a death? Was it ever heard or dreamed, that the posterity of such a man should have recovered from the shame entailed on them, or that in all coming time they can rival the posterity of sinners however base, who have died another death?
This was the specious reasoning of many an honest Jew. It was specious. There was a fearful amount of incidental testimony against the entombed prisoner. Who are his friends ? Can their judgment be received as authority ? “ Have
any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?" There are learned men in the nation, men of sound practical sense, acute discernment, inquisitive, candid, enlarged mind; on whose side are they? There are men of affluence and power, educated under all the advantages of Roman schools, and intrusted by the Roman emperor with the highest offices in the province; on whose side are they? Is it not probable that they are right? The pageantry, the wealth, the honor, the judgment, the learning, the established religion of the whole land are against the Nazarene. There were twelve fishermen once in his favor, but “they all forsook him and fled.” The youngest, the mildest of the twelve, is now the only one who dares to avow his discipleship. Look at the beggarly census of the adherents to the sufferer ; how ominous of the modern statistics of the church! " And there were also women looking on-afar off_among whom was—Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less, and of Joses; and Salome," "and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem.” And is this to be the conqueror of the world? And is this the retinue of the “most mighty”? Where, when, how can he “dash the nations to pieces, as a potter's vessel”?
According to modern habits of judging, Christianity must now be “as good as dead.” Even if the prisoner had been a favorite of the Jews, his prospects would be dark; for the Jews were a small, subjugated, singular, despised people, and would go forth at fearful odds against the world. What then can be expected of a man born in a little city of this little province, educated in the most contemptible part of this contemned and hated nation, proclaimed a Nazarene by way of scorn, and himself scorned more than all other Nazarenes, scorned by the Nazarenes themselves, hunted down as a beast by the only people whom he could expect to honor him, and whose honor after all, would be unavailing; at last when he had endured every opprobrium which could set him forth as contemptible in life, sealing, as it would seem, his eternal infamy by a death than which nothing can be conceived more infamous. What hope for such a man against the legions of a confederated empire? above all, what hope now he is dead?
And yet the authority of this dead man, within a very few years, triumphs over the prejudice of philosophic Greece and belligerent Rome; “his doctrines continue to gain ground on every hand, till at last the proud monuments of Pagan superstition, consecrated by the worship of a thousand years, and supported by the authority of the most powerful monarchies in the world, fall one after another at the approach of his disciples, and before the prevailing efficacy of the new faith. A little stone becomes a mountain, and fills the whole earth. All the nations of Europe in successive ages-Greek, Roman, Barbarian-glory in the name of the humble Galilean; armies greater than those which Persia in the pride of her ambition led forth to conquest, are seen swarming into Asia, with the sole view of getting possession of his sepulchre, while the East and the West combine to adorn with their treasures the stable in which he was born, and the sacred mount on which he surrendered his precious life.”* Indeed the very instrument which was designed to perpetuate his shame, soon waved in glory on the towers of the capitol; “ by this sign," and this alone did the mistress of the world prosecute her conquests, and the identical wood on which he bled was deemed by whole nations an object of worship.
CLASSICAL STUDY, AS A PART OF A LIBERAL EDUCA
The value of classical study, as a part of a liberal education has been, within a few years, the subject of much discussion. This can have occasioned no surprise to those who have been observant of the peculiar characteristics and movements of the present age. This is a time when every thing is questioned and discussed ; and every question and discussion are made common, as the air we breathe. No principle in theory, or measure in practice, is suffered to escape. Every old foundation, whether in religion, or philosophy, or education, or the conduct of life, is assailed.' The greater the reverence in which it has been held by those before us, the less title is it supposed to have to the respect of the present generation. Its very antiquity, which has hitherto thrown a sanctity around it, now exposes it to derision. There seems to be in some a kind of Turk-like spirit, which would delight to undermine and throw down every beautiful structure, which had been the work and admiration of generations that are past. Can it be wonderful, that in this general attack, classical learning has not escaped? And shall it be any disparagement to it, that it has met with that fortune which has befallen even Christianity, and natural religion itself? Should
* Russell's Palestine, p. 20, see Morehead's Dialogues on Nat. and Rev. Relig. p. 241.
Should we not rather, if it had passed unnoticed, have inferred that it was regarded as unworthy of notice? Would not the satire of neglect have been the keenest possible?
Not that we would be understood, as speaking in disparagement of the age in which we live. We honor the spirit of the age. We honor the spirit of free inquiry, of independent thinking, that is abroad. We are willing, that every old foundation should be tested ; assured, that, if it is laid in truth, it will stand every assault; and wishing, that, if laid in error, it might be removed, and all that is built upon it, demolished. We have full confidence in the power of truth; and an unhesitating belief, that, if all the elements of opinion were reduced to a state of utter chaos, there would but arise, from the general confusion, another system of equal symmetry and beauty. Christianity stands far stronger now, than she stood before the attacks of modern infidels; and all their remaining opposition will but aid in perfecting and extending the knowledge of religious truth. In like manner, every attack upon a sound system of philosophy, or a proper method of education, will but leave it the better established.
This result may already be perceived to some extent in regard to classical learning. The discussion respecting its value has had on each side able champions, who have fully exhibited the strength of their cause ; and one of our New England institutions, yielded, for a time, so far to what it believed to be the popular voice, as not to insist on a course of classical study, as a pre-requisite for the honors of the institution. But it was soon found, that the sense of the intelligent public had been mistaken ; and that the community demanded an acquaintance with ancient learning, in those who profess to be educated men. The discussion seems to be now passing away ; and there has perhaps never been a time, when classical education stood on so broad and firm a basis in our country, as at the present; never a period which has promised to do more in its behalf, than that which has just been commenced.
This is then a time peculiarly favorable for the investigation of the great principles upon which classical education should be conducted. The protracted discussion has placed the subject before us in the various attitudes, which can be given it by both friends and enemies; while the prospects before us animate by the encouragement, that such an investigation would not be mere speculative inquiry, and that what might be fixed in principle, would be realized in practice.
Perhaps the subject may be brought before us in the form best adapted to our present purpose, by the inquiry, “What are the great objects which the student should seek, and expect to attain in a course of classical study ?” An attempt to answer this question will involve a general view of the method to be pursued, and the advantages which will result; while to go farther into the details of the course, than this question will carry us, would be better suited to the lecture-room, than to the pages of a quarterly; and there is an objection to treating professedly of the advantages of a classical education, from the unhappy effects which have often followed.
The lovers of the classics have often depicted the advantages which result from their study in such glowing colors, and with such indiscriminating strength of assertion, that many who have heard or read, have supposed that these advantages flow from the study of the ancient authors, as necessarily, and as spontaneously, as water from a fountain ; and that all there is for them to do, is to be at the fountain, ready to drink from the inspiring stream. As the manner and spirit in which they should study, have not been insisted on, they have been led to expect the promised good as the result of some mysterious process, which, though they do not understand, yet they suppose to be infallible in its effects. They seem to regard the whole business of classical study, as a sort of magic, in which it is only necessary that at particular times they should repeat certain formulas, and the shades of the mighty dead, called by these incantations, will come and confer upon them the highest intellectual endowments.
The disappointment which is the necessary consequence, produces opposite effects upon different minds. Many fancy themselves to have been imposed upon, and forsake, entirely, the study of the languages; often endeavoring to derive a