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ent. However it be with the British public, a thoughtful band of Christians will love him well, and that band will not grow less in the years to come. Browning's great faith in the future gives elevation to life. His “Grammarian's Funeral” is one with Wordsworth's “ Character of the Happy Warrior” in elevated thought, and this means that both have touched the high-water mark of literature. Except the words of Paul and John nothing is more inspiring for the soul's future than the lines:
That low man goes on adding one to one,
His hundred's soon hit;
Misses an unit.
Let the world mind him !
Seeking shall find him. This high thought finds expression again and again in his writings: man needs heaven to make life complete. The soul is eternal, and noble endeavor is never lost through all the ages to come. God, watching over man and working in him, makes all self-control, self-denial, and suffering work for the good of the soul. Browning is altogether religious.
Earth changes, but thy soul and God stand sure;
What entered into thee,
That was, is, and shall be ;
Time's wheel runs back or stops ; Potter and clay endure. Nothing short of personal immortality, in short, was satisfactory to him.
Neither Robert Browning nor Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote anything so beautiful as the story of their own wedded life. Against her father's will she married, leaving an invalid's couch for the marriage vows. The obtusely willful father would never become reconciled; would never thereafter even read a letter from his daughter. But husband and wife loved with a love that was stronger than death. In que of those lovely “Sonnets from the Portuguese” she says to her lover:
I yield the grave for thy sake, and exchange
And has he not rewarded her well by his own poem, “Prospice?" He wrote it when her death in Florence was fresh in his mind. That death is thus described by his biographer, Mr. Sharpe: “With the first light of the new day she leaned against her lover. A while she lay thus in silence, then softly sighing, 'It is beautiful,' passed like the windy fragrance of a flower.” From the fadeless memory of that picture Browning bids his defiance to the “arch-fear," death :
I would hate that death bandaged my eyes, and forbore,
And with God be the rest! Some verse appears and blooms and has its day, and falls to the ground like autumn leaves. Other poetry is like the evergreens that cheer the eye with their life when the cover of the earth is not grass or flowers, but only snow and ice. The Church will let die without regret Carlyle’s gloomy words on approach to the grave. But the lovers of the best literature will not let die “Crossing the Bar," “Prospice,” or “A
A Grammarian's Funeral,” but will cherish the comfort of them as long as the heart clings to hope itself.
Robust d. Jugiaban!
ART. III.-CURRENT BIBLICAL DISCUSSIONS—THE
PROPER ATTITUDE OF THEOLOGICAL FACUL
TIES WITH RESPECT TO THEM. The discussions here meant are preeminently those which relate to the authorship of certain biblical books and to the age or historic order of certain institutions, codes, and rites referred to in said books. Who gave us the Pentateuch in its present form? Have we in the canon the prophecies of two Isaiahs or only of one? What books, if any, show clear traces of compilation or of composite authorship? What inspired Scriptures had the Jews in the days of Jesus, Ezra, Josiah, Solomon, David ? Has the careful study of these points led to any conclusions which ought to modify in any degree traditional views of the history of God's ancient people? These and such as these are the main questions. Who are the debaters? No one can say that they are in
. significant in numbers or in scholarship. It is difficult to name any great Hebrew teacher in any part of the world who has not felt called upon to choose his ground and to take part. A few are perhaps actuated by a spirit of hostility to evangelical religion as at present organized and administered, but by far the larger part impress candid readers as sincere and in their way devont seekers after the truth. Some of the debaters take an extremely conservative position ; others, an extremely revolutionary one. Still, they do not constitute two thoroughly separate and distinct camps. It is hard to find any two conservatives of the last five years who agree as to every point involved in their main contention, and equally hard, or harder, to find any two radicals who reach identical results. Mediating schemes abound. Often the radical on one question is conservative on another, and vice versa. Meantime, and as a result of all this earnest and sometimes heated discussion, ancient manuscripts and monuments and literatures and institu. tions are being searched as never before, and Old Testament study develops an intensity of interest it otherwise could not command. Moreover, if we survey the countries where biblical studies are most cultivated, it is manifest that modified views of the Old Testament have made great progress. Most striking of all is the fact that, while not a few representatives of traditional views have in mature life gone over to more or less revolutionary positions touching the date of the present form of the Pentateuch and similar questions, no biblical scholar once fairly committed to the newer views has to our knowledge been led by riper studies to the old.
What now should be the attitude of a theological faculty of the Methodist Episcopal Church with respect to these contemporaneous debates ? It will, the writer hopes, add to the value and interest of the answer about to be given if, right here, as a preliminary, he frankly states that his own personal sympathies are, and always have been, with the conservatives in these discussions, and that he has as little confidence in the greater part of the minute critical dissections presented in the Polychrome Bible now appearing under learned auspices in this country as he has in the Baconian authorship of Hamlet or in the learned argument just now urged by an able English student of Homer in support of the theory that the “Odyssey was written by a woman. Of course there are but two general policies which a faculty can pursue, or rather attempt to pursue. First, it can choose and attempt to carry out the policy of silence with respect to all these matters under discussion; or, second, it can choose and attempt to carry out the policy of introducing the students to the discussions and of encouraging them to form intelligent and conscientious opinions of their own on these questions, as they are expected to do on other points of theological and religious controversy. The one is the policy of deliberate and total silence; the other, that of intelligent and critical participation. For brevity's sake let us designate the first as policy A, the second as policy B.
Now, there are three sets of considerations which go to show that our theological faculties and those of other evangelical Churches would do wisely to adopt and to the utmost to carry out policy A. The first set is based upon the nature of the discussions. For the most part these are eminently technical. Moreover, it seems plain that many of the questions raised can never be answered, any more than we can ever hope to know what lines and words and paragraphs in Sir Roger de Coverley we owe to Steele, what to Budgell, and what to Addison primarily, as author and, secondarily, as redactor of the whole composite work. Why waste precious time upon impossible tasks? Finally, granting that some assured new knowledge of
? generally admitted value is likely some time to result froin these lifelong investigations of the erudite radical and conservative critics, it will be time enough to include it in our curriculum when it shall have been attained. The second set is based on the character of the students under instruction. Obviously those young men who, when they enter the theological school, do not know the Hebrew alphabet are in no condition adequately to appreciate nice personal characteristics of style in Hebrew authors, or to distinguish archaic or obsolescent terms from those in customary use at a particular period. Quite as little can they personally judge of the cogency of any argument the force of which depends upon a thorough knowledge of Assyrian, Arabic, or the other constituents of the Semitic group of languages. Why bring before immature schoolboys questions not only confessedly uncertain, but also so recondite that not one in a thousand among mature Christian ministers in any country is equipped with the learning desirable, if not necessary, for their thorough discussion? The third set is based upon the practical perils to which any different policy is believed to expose both the ministry and the Church. Many sincerely believe that the authority of Christ and of his apostles stands or falls with the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch in its exact present form. They further believe that the minds of young ministers cannot even be familiarized with such discussions as that relating to a “Deutero-Isaiah ” without a cer. tain serious unsettlement of faith in prophecy and a certain serious loss of reverence for the Holy Scriptures as a whole. Moreover, a ministry unsettled in faith is of course the sure forerunner of a Church unsettled and of a universal reign of unbelief. What wonder that multitudes hope and pray
that the sacred precincts of our theological seminaries may long be preserved from the admission of investigations the mere presuppositions of which seem so manifestly inimical to faith.
But let us look farther and see what is to be thought of