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began, has spoken of. But for the interval between, Scripture is silent, or nearly so. These are the times of ignorance which God winks at. He has suffered all nations to walk in their own ways, though the Apostle adds: “Nevertheless He left not Himself without witness in that He did good, and gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with joy and gladness.” Scripture, while it strongly asserts the historical unity of man, does not follow man in his wanderings from God, and explain the mode in which all the while God was not far from any of us, watching over the heathen perishing for lack of knowledge, as God El-Roi watched over Hagar's child dying of thirst in the wilderness of Beersheba. These are the subjects on which Scripture is silent, and are therefore matters on which we cannot now speak particularly. But philosophy will rush in where revelation fears to tread, and attempts in its own way to fill up the blank in our knowledge of God's education of the world. One little hint is given by the Apostle Paul about the nonage of the Jew, who was under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the Father. But the hint was enough for a German philosopher. Expanding the thought beyond the limits assigned to it by the Apostle who used it, Lessing drew up a theory of the education of the human race, putting the Gentile as well as the Jew, under tutors and governors, until the age of reason had arrived which Christ came to inaugurate, and to which the Illuminati of Lessing's age were to put the finishing touch. We were surprised to see no acknowledgement throughout Dr. Temple’s essay of the German parentage of his theory. In this age of international copyright, when the right of translation is reserved, it was due to Lessing that some reference should be made to his previous use of the metaphor. We can only suppose that Lessing's little book, which has lately reached us through an English translation, is so well known to all who read on these subjects, that any reference to it was unnecessary. As for the unreading multitude, they would have been no wiser to know how far Dr. Temple stood indebted to Lessing, and how far he had added details of his own to the theory. It would take too much time to compare the two together. We have read Lessing's little book twice-once before Dr. Temple's essay had appeared, and once since; and the impression left on us is, that the theory is substantially the same in both, with such variations and additions as a mind of Dr. Temple's ability and independence would make in transfusing the thoughts of another into the current of his own.
The theory, then, is at least not new. But here we are only concerned to see whether it is true. We will drop all thought of Lessing, and let the education of the world pass out as if it had never been heard of till Dr. Temple led off with it the volume of “ Essays and Reviews.”
We must be forgiven for a German way of looking at German theories, and so we propose, at the outset, to enquire what is the Genesis of this idea, what prevailing cast of thought set men on the track of such a theory, that so we may criticise it from the standpoint of the writers who have used it. When divines slept the sleep of dogmatism, it was easy to conclude that while they were in the light, all the rest of the world were in darkness. Men who are asleep in the light will persist in thinking every one asleep but themselves. So it was with the Lutheran divines of Germany a century ago. They nodded assent to the Lutheran formula, and, like men caught sleeping in church, never awoke till the preacher paused, and the monotonous tone of the orthodox formula ceased to fall on their
But they awoke at last, and found that the world had not stood still while they had folded their arms to sleep. A questioning spirit was abroad in Europe. First in England and afterwards in France and Germany, men began to ask themselves whether there might not be more of the natural element in revealed religion, and also more of the revealed element in natural religion, than was commonly supposed. This was the problem which the English deists, the French encyclopædists, and the German Illuminists set themselves to solve, each in their own way. As it might be expected, the solution they wished for was the one which they found. They settled to their own satisfaction that all revealed religions were only variations or amendments of natural, and so the converse evidently followed, that natural religions were also forms of revealed. The “ witness ” of God in nature, which is all Scripture speaks of, was extolled, first into a " light,” and then into a “ life.” That God should leave off caring for mankind, and should lavish all His attention and love on a rude people, cooped in among the valleys of the Lebanon, and shut off from the rest of the world by deserts, and seas, and mountains, seemed incredible to a Deist like Voltaire. It was as absurd as that the gods of Homer should go a twelve days' journey to Ethiopia, leaving Greece to take care of itself during their absence. No, the Deist said to himself, this is incredible. God is not partial or local in His preferences, as the ancients described their gods. This we cannot believe. God is the God of the whole earth, and if He dwelt in Palestine, so also He dwelt in Egypt and Assyria, and under one name or another Jehovah, Jove, or Lord, was worshipped everywhere. All religions are alike emanations from Him or attempts to return to Him. He is the Inspirer everywhere-Prophets deliver the Word of the Lord in Judea, and sages in Greece. Plato is Moses atticising, and Zoroaster, Zenó, or Confucius, are lawgivers, and leaders of the people in their civil and religious polity, as much as Moses, Samuel, and Elijah were in Israel.
“ He was in the world, and the world was made by Him," the Deists said with St. John, but there they stopped short; their pride forbade them to add," and the world
knew Him not." St. Paul's testimony on this point is
“ Eye by which the universe
No error ever lived an hour unless it drew its life from some counter error. This theory of the education of the human race could live only so long as an opposite opinion was current among the orthodox. We have spoken of the silence of Scripture on the subject of God's dealing with the Gentiles during “ the times of their ignorance." It is almost a proof of the inspiration of Holy Writ, that it is silent on matters which it does not behove us to know. “Lord, are there few that shall be saved ?” “Lord, what shall this man do ?” are the questions which curious man puts to God, and which God refuses to answer. Now the Old Testament only glances very occasionally at the present condition of the Gentiles, and never once assumes that they are castaways for ever from God because wanderers now from His presence.
On the contrary, the lesson of Jonah at Nineveh is a marked rebuke to the Jewish people, reminding them that they are not to reason from the part to the whole, and, from the doctrine of their election by God, jump to the very natural corollary-the reprobation of the rest of mankind. Now that which we might expect did happen. Holy men of old, when left to their own meditations, did go on from election to reprobation, as we find in the writers of the Apocrypha. Contrast, for instance, Isaiah with Esdras or the Son of Sirach, and we have a measure of what inspiration is, by seeing to what the religious consciousness of the Jew sunk without it. Left to himself, the Jew at once degenerates into a selfish, sour religionist, wrapped in his Jewish gabardine, and spitting contempt on dogs and infidels. Not to multiply quotations, take one or two : As for the other people which also came of Adam, thou hast said that they are nothing, but be like unto spittle : and hast likened the abundance of them unto a drop which falleth from a vessel” (2 Esdras, vi. 56). Again, “I will tell thee a similitude, Esdras. As when thou askest the earth it shall say unto thee that it giveth much mould whereof earthen vessels are made, but little dust that gold cometh of. Even so is the course of this present world. There be many created, but few shall be saved ” (2 Esdras, viii. 2, 3). This was the genuine spirit of