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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
From ‘The Republic of God’
By Elisha Mulford (1833–1885)
 
The Personality of Man

THE PERSONALITY of man is not to be represented as a reflection of the personality of God. It is no remote imitation and no faint impression of the personality of God. It is real. It has the strength of the free spirit. It moves among the fleeting forms and fading images of the finite, where shadow pursues shadow, but it is not of them. In the accident of time it is conscious of a life “builded far from accident.”  1
  The personality of God is the ground of his relation with the personality of man. Without personality in God, he would, so far as the knowledge of man goes, be lower than man; and without personality in man, there would be no ground of relation to God.  2
 
The Personality of God

  THE PERSONALITY of God is the postulate of the knowledge of God. In this human life and these human relations, in the knowledge of a person by a person, there are elements of strength and love, elements of freedom which are deeper than those which exist in the knowledge of the physical world. The knowledge of the physical process is the result of observation and comparison; it is the fruit of research: but in human relations there are other elements. There is a knowledge which is not the result of experiment, and yet may come through experience. Thus, for instance, one will not experiment on a friend, and sympathy and love are not among the results of research. There may be in the words, I know Him in whom I have believed, a deeper knowledge than that which man obtains through the external observation of phenomena.
  3
 
The Teleological Argument

  THE CONDITIONS of this process are those of conflict, a struggle for existence; it is “the rack of this tough world,” and one form passes beyond another form by survival. There are in nature elements of subsistence for production and for destruction. One race to subsist must prey with ravin upon another race. There is the adaptation of the wing of the crow and of the tooth of the shark. There is a strange intermingling in the poison that fills the chalice of the most beautiful flower, the malaria that is borne upon the softest airs, the colors that gleam resplendently in the sinuous folds of the serpent. There is the fair light that illumines the dawn and empurples the evening, but throws its radiance over mists and exhalations. There are smooth waters that bear the reflection of the clouds which hold the tempest, and are changed with the clouds which burst over them into the rage of cruel seas. The tides rise and fall with almost changeless precision; but they are swept by the storm that marks their lines with wreck. By the cleft and broken strata of the rocks, one may still seem to hear “the sea rehearse its ancient song of chaos.” There is in nature that which is beautiful, and that which is fantastic and monstrous. These aspects of nature become more apparent in tropical countries, where there is a stronger movement of the impulse, the passion of nature, with more impetuous energies. Thus in India there are more images and shrines of supplication to Siva the destroyer, than to Brahma the creator and Vishnu the preserver.
  4
 
The Scriptures

  THE BIBLE is a book written in literal forms, subject to the ordinary rules of construction, as defined in the science of grammar.
  5
  The Bible is a book written in languages, as the Hebraic, the Chaldaic, the Greek, or Græco-Hebraic; subject to the ordinary rules of derivation and distinction, as defined in the science of comparative philology.  6
  The Bible is a book written in manuscripts; which require in their transcription and authentication the critical study which belongs to the science which—in comparing, for instance, the uncial with other styles—is the science which deals with scriptory forms.  7
  The Bible is a book which has been subject to the mutations of literature. It is written in manuscripts of unequal value, no one of which is entirely perfect in itself, so as to displace all others, and none are free from obscure or various readings. It has suffered simply the mutations of literature, and has had no exemptions from them.  8
  It embraces the most varied forms of literature; as genealogies, laws, histories, records of legislative and judicial procedure, methods of sanitary, civil, and military administration. There is legend and myth. There are various forms of poetry: the ode, as in the antiphone of Moses and Miriam; the drama, as in the Book of Job; the idyl, as in the Song of Solomon; the lyric, as in the Book of the Psalms, and the opening pages of the Gospel of St. Luke; and in the writings of St. Paul, citations from the Greek comedy, as from Menander.  9
  These Scriptures embraced, in substance, all the literature that the ancient Hebrew people possessed. Their productions in art and music always remained rude and simple, and in architecture they were the common adaptations of a primitive mode of life, or often the reproduction of forms copied from Egypt, or imported from Phœnicia.  10
  There are traces in these writings of the races, countries, and ages in which they appeared, and of climatic conditions with respect to languages, customs, and laws. There is a popular element, as in the stories of Samson and Ruth; and there is also a priestly and a kingly element, as in the Books of the Chronicles and Kings. In some books there are the traces of reflective phases of thought, as in the Book of Ecclesiastes; and in some there are traces of Asiatic forms and Asiatic institutions.  11
  These Scriptures were written by various writers in various ages, and bear the note and accent of the individuality of these writers in their modes of expression. If it needs to be said, the literary forms of the older parts rise often to great dignity of expression, as the later chapters of Isaiah and the books of Hosea and Job; and they have, in this quality, a comparative excellence in the literature of the world. There is in the New Testament not an indifference to literary form, but no distinction of literary form. These writings are simply narrative; in a biographical arrangement, or in the style of letters that are few and direct and very unequal in their expression. There is a historical narrative of a discursive character, apparently embracing the work of various writers. The Epistle to the Hebrews has a singular finish, with an antithetic expression, and an elaborate detail of historical portraiture, that indicates the culture of the writer in the schools of rhetoric in his age. The evangel of St. Luke is commended for the diligence and thoroughness of its research. The writings of St. Paul, in the Epistles, which may be distinctively called catholic, indicate more plainly the modifications to which the Greek language was subject when it became the instrument for the expression of Hebrew forms of thought; and they indicate also, in their illustrative expression, the influence of a knowledge of Roman law in an age of great Roman lawyers. But the writings of St. Paul have no literary form to commend them,—to bring them into comparison, in Greek with the consummate beauty of phrase in Æschylus, or the repose in the style of Plato, or the sustained strength of the masterful style of Aristotle. There is often, from language of great elevation, a lapse to some digressive phrase; as, for an extreme instance, in the thirty-third verse of the fifteenth chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians, which drops and moves on with a quotation from the Greek comedy. They lack the form which belongs to the great hymns of the Vedas, and the constructive unity and consonance with a formal system which belongs to the Koran. The Koran is also better preserved, and has suffered less in transcription, with proportionately fewer obscure or various readings. The style has no distinctive quality: but they who, in common parlance with religious society, speak of their beautiful liturgy, suggest a comparison with the hymns of the Vedas; and they who write of the poetry of the Bible must draw their parallel, with Æschylus and Shakespeare, and the masters of the literary art to which they invite attention.  12
  The Bible has a unity which is deeper than any structural form, however various and complete. This prevails with a continuous and continually increasing manifestation through the whole. It is not merely the unity which appears in the literature of a people, as the Latin or the English literature: it is that, but it is more and other than that. It is not merely the unity which attaches to the continuous history, the institutions, laws, customs, wars of a people: it is that, but it is more and other than that.  13
  The Bible is the record of the revelation of God. It is the record of a revelation of God in man and to the world. It is testamentary to the revelation of God to and through the world. This revelation, and not a literature nor a body of traditions, is the ground of the unity which it discovery. It is the record of the revelation of God, in his revelation with humanity; in the fulfillment of his eternal purpose, which was before the foundation of the world; in the righteousness in which he manifests his own being, and in the life which he has given for the world. It is of the coming of his kingdom, in which the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of Christ. It is of a revelation in an order in the world, of the family and the nation. It is of a revelation of and in the Christ.  14
 
 
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