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It may seem to be presumptuous on our part to question in any respect the exegesis of so great a scholar as the Bishop of Durham. But there are two matters of interpretation to which we must call attention. The first is the following :
'In two most remarkable passages of the Book of Deuteronomy even alien and false worships are represented as part of the Divine ordering of humanity. The Lord the God of Israel had “divided all the host of Heaven unto all the peoples under the whole heaven" (iv. 19). He had “given them” to the nations but not to His own people (xxix. 26)' (pp. 114-15). A second is when it is asserted that
"A careful examination of the narrative' (that is, in the Book of Genesis) 'seems to leave no doubt that these first scenes in the religious history of the world are described in a symbolic form, even as the last scenes portrayed in the Apocalypse' (p. 187).
Our objection to this last passage is partly to the positive character of the statement and partly to the absence of explanation what is meant by 'a symbolic form.' We are not among those who are alarmed by a certain amount of allegorical interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis. We are not ourselves prepared to say, for instance, what is the exact meaning of the phrase 'the tree of knowledge of good and evil,' or to commit ourselves to one particular explanation of the details of the account of creation. But there is a great deal of difference between admitting that some parts of an historical account may be allegorically expressed and allowing that the account itself is of the nature of a myth. Bishop Westcott may perhaps think that the meaning he attaches to the words 'in a symbolic form' may be ascertained from what he has written elsewhere ; we are of opinion that in a work of this kind it would have been an advantage if it had here been made clear. And we cannot agree that the exegesis of these chapters is as simple a matter as this sentence would seem to say.
We are not disposed to assent to the treatment of the passages in Deuteronomy. The explanation of the first of them given by Bishop Wordsworth,' which is, moreover, supported by ancient Jewish and Christian interpretations, seems to us to be most in harmony with the setting of the passage itself, as it certainly is with the course of Jewish history and with the teaching of St. Paul.? And it is difficult to us to sup
T'To serve all men by ministering to their use, and to lead them all to the knowledge of the power and love of the Creator (Rom. i. 20).'— Wordsworth on Deut. iv. 19.
? Keil in his note on Deut. iv. 19 refers to Rom. i. 21, 24, 26, as sup
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pose that the second passage can have the meaning which the Bishop of Durham attaches to it in the face of the expressions a few verses before in xxix. 17.
We are afraid, too, that Bishop Westcott would attach less importance to the decisions of the Church and to her permanently settled mind than appears to us necessarily to follow from the view of revelation which in this article we have advocated. For when it is realized that revelation reaches its climax in Christ, and that His words are Divine truth, we fail to see any escape from the belief that the Catholic Church is His organ in the world in such a sense that her real voice is infallibly true. The Bishop describes in impressive language the 'progressive interpretation of Christian truth ‘in Christian history, and it is, of course, true that ' each age has to apprehend vitally the Incarnation and Ascension of Christ,'and that the formulas 'of another age 'which 'remain to us' as a precious heritage''require to be interpreted' in accordance with the knowledge and progress of our own time (pp. 272-83), but we think that a full acceptance of what we regard as the Catholic belief in the authority of the Church would have led to a different expression of some parts of what is said on this subject. And, unless we are mistaken, there are here and there throughout the book traces of a subjective way of thought which a fuller grasp of the teaching office of the Church might have done something to correct.
VI. Thus, there are points in which we are bound to be be critics. But The Gospel of Life is nevertheless a profound and valuable contribution to Christian thought. It belongs to the class of theological works which are in the true way apologetic by exhibiting the great harmonies of the Faith. It contains much which is positively constructive. In its details it is suggestive and provocative of thought in a very high degree. It is deeply Christian in the central place which it assigns to the living power of the risen Christ :
"The Person of Christ standing where He does in the evolution of human life is in itself the justification of His claim to be the Saviour of the world. All that had gone before prepared the way for the apprehension of the Incarnation of the Birth and Death and Resurrection of the Son of God-but there is not the least evidence that any popular expectation tended to create the belief which was fashioned from the facts of the Lord's self-revelation. The earlier porting the interpretation which Bishop Westcott adopts. But there is much difference between saying that God gave the heathen up either to a false worship or to sins, and saying that God appointed these.
experiences of men made the Gospel intelligible, but they had no power to produce it. It satisfies and crowns them, but it does not grow out of them. Again : the brief records of the Lord's work show in distinct and harmonious outlines a character which presents the fulness of human powers, powers of action and thought and feeling, of command and sympathy and influence, powers characteristic of man and of woman, shown naturally with absolute majesty and grace. Whatever had won enduring admiration in earlier times found a place in it. Courage and self-respect, self-devotion and service, were raised to a new elevation and intensity by the habitual sense of Divine fellowship. Tenderness, compassion, meekness, humility, were revealed in their true majesty. There is no one who cannot find in it that which interprets and completes and hallows his own personality. The lapse of time takes nothing from its completeness, and offers no situation which it is not fitted to meet with calm sufficiency. Peculiarities of time and place and class and work and temperament are lost in that which embraces them all in a universal manhood.
"And yet beyond this comprehensive humanity of “the Son of man” there lies something which is not of man, a conscious sovereignty over men and nature answering to the voice of unfailing knowledge: a vision which sees the truth of things beneath the phenomena of time : a declared separateness from men as well as fellowship with them : an abiding sense of the issues of His mission transcending the highest possible estimate of the achievements of human effort' (pp. 295-7).
ART. III.—DOROTHY SIDNEY.
Sunderland, her Family and Friends, 1617–1684. By
1893.) THERE is a perennial charm connected with the family of Sidney. Those who know least of English history and literature know and honour the name of Sir Philip Sidney, and have some dim respect for that of Algernon. The name of Sidney stands for all that is most honourable and chivalrous. in the idea of an English gentleman, and is associated for ever with two self-sacrificing deaths; for if the death on the scaffold on Tower Hill was less glorious than that on the field of Zutphen, it was a least a death of sacrifice for an ideal, mistaken, indeed, but pure. And those who know in fuller detail the history of the century which begins with Philip and ends with Algernon, know that other members of the house of
VOL. XXXVI.—NO. LXXII.
he favour" og family threign whom
Sidney were contributing their share to the honourable record of their family. Sir Henry Sidney, Lord-Deputy of Ireland, held that supremely difficult post for thirteen years, with honour to himself and advantage to the people whom he governed. Robert Sidney, Lord Leicester, grandson of Sir Henry, nephew of Sir Philip, father of Dorothy and Algernon, served Charles I. as ambassador in Paris from 1636 to 1641, and all that we hear of him leaves behind a high opinion of the charm and rectitude of his character, if not of the strength of his abilities. Neither Sir Henry nor Lord Leicester was well requited by the sovereign whom he served, and, indeed, the Sidney family throughout the century owed little to the favour of the Crown. History has, however, made amends. It records many names more splendid, more conspicuous for strength and for great achievements, but none more stainless. And literature too is in their debt, for though neither Sir Philip Sidney nor Edmund Waller are in the front rank of English writers, yet to have written Astrophel and Stella and to have inspired the songs to Sacharissa, are not the least among the honours of the house of Sidney.
The distinction just mentioned belongs to the lady whose name stands at the head of this article, and who is the subject of a very readable and pleasant biography by Mrs. Ady, more fainiliarly known to many readers as Miss Julia Cartwright. Dorothy Sidney does, indeed, only form a centre for a picture of the Sidney family during the seven-and-sixty years of her life ; but although not much is known of her, and but few of her letters remain, yet there is enough to show this central figure to be one of unusual grace and charm, a lady distinguished in her youth as the reigning beauty of the age, in her maturer years as the mother of Sunderland, the mother-in-law and intimate correspondent of Halifax, and throughout her life as one who was both lovable and loved, who had many friends and admirers, and few enemies. To read her life is to surrender oneself to the contemplation of the culture of the seventeenth century in its best aspect, the culture which is reflected in George Herbert and Lovelace and Waller, and it is only from such a point of view that it is worth while to read it at all. Lady Sunderland was very near the political movements of that troubled time, but she she was not of them. No new light is thrown by her biography on the history either of Charles I. or of Charles II., and the graver student may safely pass it by. But those who like at times to step back from the bustle of our own day and the familiar accents of our contemporary literature to the con
templation of other days and other manners, may well spend a few hours in turning over the pages of this book. We cannot, indeed, restore the atmosphere of the seventeenth century as we can the days of the Tatler and the Spectator, or of Wraxall and Hervey and Walpole ; but we know the leading men and women of the reigns of Charles I. and Charles II. only less well than we know those of Queen Anne and the Georges, and their company is sometimes brighter and pleasanter. In the company of Dorothy Sidney one may well be content to linger for a little while.
The home that is associated with all the Sidneys is Penshurst in Kent. The terms in which it is described by Ben Jonson and Sir Philip Sidney show that, like the family to which it belonged, it possessed a charm greatly in excess of its splendour. Jonson devotes one of the poems of his Forest to describing its delights:
• Thou art not, Penshurst, built to envious show
And, these grudged at, art reverenced the while.'! And Sir Philip is unquestionably thinking of Penshurst when he describes the house in his Arcadia, ‘built of fair and strong stone, not affecting so much any extraordinary kind of fineness, as an honourable representing of a firm stateliness.' 2 The Sidneys were, as Jonson indicates at the end of his poem, a home-loving family, and at Penshurst Dorothy Sidney passed the greater part of her girlhood. She was born in October, 1617, the eldest daughter of Robert Sidney, then Lord Lisle, and Lady Dorothy Percy, daughter of the Earl of Northumberland. Of these parents one receives a very pleasant impression. Of Lord Leicester, as Dorothy's father became in 1626, Clarendon says that he was'a man of great parts, very conversant in books, and much addicted to the mathematics, and though he had been a soldier, and was afterwards employed in several embassies, as in Denmark and in France, was in truth rather a speculative than a practical man . . . . He was a man of honour and fidelity to the king, and his greatest misfortunes proceeded from the staggering and irresolution of his nature.' His letters show both good sense and good feeling. He was not of the stuff out of which leaders are made in a time of revolution, but he was thoroughly loyal, and served his soveQuoted by Mrs. Ady, Sacharissa, p. 20.
? Ibid. p. 19.