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it is all conditioned, as we have seen, upon our obedience to these laws of our being, which are the laws of God; and from these laws retributions, in case of their violation, are inseparable.
This being the case, it may seem to us that it would be better if the laws might be changed, we ourselves remaining as we are. But this, again, is to desire an impossibility. Let the laws of our being be so changed that their violation would bring no penalty, what then? The order of the universe would be broken up, the government of God would be destroyed, and all things resolved back into anarchy and chaos. A world in which there should be no right and no wrong, no friendship and no hatred, no food and no poison, where all should be as each, and each as all, would mean the dethronement of God, the destruction of the universe, and the annihilation of man himself. Such are the absurdities into which we find ourselves running when we attempt to improve upon the existing order. These laws of God-physical, social, moral, and spiritualare the manifestation of the divine goodness and grace. And the severity of the Almighty in the infliction of suffering when laws are violated, the physical sufferings which follow physical sin, the social disorders and woes, and the strifes and awful wars with their terrible losses and bereavements, are exhibitions also of the divine love. In these severities God himself stands guard over the stupendous interests which are involved in the keeping of his commandments. Retributions are divine warnings. Suffering because of sin is the danger-signal which tells of peril. It is intended to lead us to study to know what is the will of God. It is the pilot and pioneer to new discoveries of the hidden blessings of the divine storehouse. And in our moral helplessness and unwillingness the divine severity is intended to lead us to Christ our personal Deliverer and Saviour.
VOL. LV. No. 219. 7
The most wonderful spectacle which this world presents is the cross of Christ erected in the midst of the ages, proclaiming forever the gospel of hope, pledging deliverance from the guilt and the power of sin through faith, and giving the assurance of life and blessing to whosoever will accept the Christ who was dead and is alive forevermore. And it is by the sufferings which sin inflicts that men are led to look to Christ, even as the serpent-stung Israelites in the wilderness were led by their sufferings to look to the brazen serpent lifted up at God's command by Moses in the midst of the camp.
Whatever may be our use of them, such are the purposes which the chastisements of the Almighty are intended to serve. And for them they call upon us to thank God. What would this world be were the severities of it so eliminated that men could feel that they had nothing to fear? How certain is it that Christ would be ignored, that God would be forgotten, and the laws of God disregarded, and that society would degenerate into heathenism! How certain is it that there would be universal death, instead of the present hope and promise and dawn of life! God is love, but God is not weak. God is love, but he is not sentimental. God pities and will save unto the uttermost the repentant, but he will not condone sin. Were God to do this, he would cease to be love, and to be God. Love is kindly, but it is positive and true to the right. It is patient and forbearing, but it is also stalwart and intense in its indignations. It can withhold the blow when it is right, but it can also strike. Severity is the divine protest against wrong, and the divine appeal for obedience and righteousness. It is the severity of God which reveals the divine earnestness, and which, being lighted up and interpreted by his love, awes us and humbles us and leads us to a godly fear. And in these days of increasing lawlessness and of increasing retributions,
have we, as individuals and as a nation, a greater need than this, that we increase in the fear of God,
"Lest we forget, lest we forget."
In the face of the forces of the Almighty, how puny is the power of man! How insignificant are the pomp and might of the greatest of the navies and the strongest of the armies! And if we are against the laws of God, instead of for and with them, where is our hope?
"Be not high-minded, but fear. Behold then the goodness and severity of God; toward them that fell, severity; but toward thee, God's goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off."
BY PROFESSOR LORENZO SEARS, L.H.D.
No reader of the Homeric poems can fail to observe the prominence which is given to the speech of one and another of the principal actors in these stories of war and adventure. The narrative, to be sure, is the main purpose of the writer, but in its movement, and contributing to that movement, the element of spoken sentiment, opinion, conviction, and emotion is a large and important factor. It is safe to say that nearly one-half of the verses are declarations of this hero or that deity about other heroes and other deities; about events and plottings, about the conduct of war and the issue of battles, and about adventures by sea and land.
The presumption is that these speeches are mainly the creation of a single poet, or in any case compiled and revised by him. But for such composition there must have been examples and types approximating as nearly to his version as the ships and chariots, the shields and spears, he describes, resembled those in actual use, or as the heroes he calls by name resembled those of his own or a former age. Such being the case, the complacent mind of this century is surprised that twenty-seven hundred years ago so good examples of public speech were possible as realities or creations of literature, and the conceit of a generation which calls itself the inheritor of the arts and sciences of all time is lowered by reflections upon the attainment of
at least one pristine people. Then it will be remembered that the Epics of Homer are the surviving monuments of a literary age unsurpassed in vigor and beauty, standing apart in the grandeur of isolation-a Mount St. Elias amid low foot-hills and surrounding levels.
Discussion of Homeric questions suggested by any allusion to the poems must be waived for once. The probable date of the Trojan war, of the wanderings of Ulysses, the time of Homer, the material upon which he worked, his relation to predecessors and successors, the very personality of the poet himself,-all these and similar questions must be left to whom they may most concern. For the present purpose it is enough that a literature called by the name of Homer exists, and that in it a certain form of composition abounds, corresponding to the reputed character of the speakers, and consistent with their varying moods and the differing occasions which inspired their speech. In these respects the epic poet surpassed later writers in the dramatic virtue of losing himself in the individual peculiarities of his characters, much more, for example, than the great historians Herodotus and Thucydides, whose reputed or imputed orations of generals and ambassadors are a prominent feature of their narrations, but betray considerable uniformity of style and structure. In Homer, on the contrary, the utterances of Achilles are not in the manner of Agamemnon, nor does Ulysses speak like Nestor. Diomed's manner is not that of Ajax Telamon, nor do Hector's deeds surpass Paris's exploits more than his words excel his brother's in nobility of spirit.
The standards by which the speakers of the Iliad and the Odyssey are to be rated are not necessarily those of any subsequent age. The first canon of just criticism should place the listener by the ships of the Argives, upon the towers of Ilium, or at the court of Alcinous and in the assembly of Ithaca. The critic will step out of the town