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and enemies of life. Yet the Eternal welcomes and honors this little storm-tossed earth as a guest and friend, and provides for it such a bounty of all the things which make for life and light and goodness and gladness that these finally may master all their foes, and overcome the trial and the evil and the darkness. The word “bounty” is apt to suggest only material good things. But the Eternal Bounty covers all realms, all needs of human life, in its highest ranges.

What inexhaustible riches of truth to reward and delight the eager intellect! What joyous æsthetic gratifications for the eye with a cultured mind behind it! What opportunities for affection and goodness in which the heart may revel! Have you not seen some persons whose characters have an inexhaustible radiance of goodness, like the sparkling of perpetual fountains, and whose daily life is an overflowing bounty of sunshine from the soul?

When I wrote, a disappointing spring day turned to a cold, heavy rain. But the rain had not wholly ceased when I heard the sparrows bravely chirruping, and the robins singing their evening hymns. Despite the rough storm they found the joy of existence. So the human soul, through the stress and storm of life, may so adjust itself to the ways of the Eternal as to learn the harmonies of beneficent service, and thus break into the harmonies of joy and of song.

THE TWENTY-THIRD PSALM IN THE

NINETEENTH CENTURY.

VI.

THE ETERNAL GOODNESS AND HUMAN

DESTINY.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."

In this exalted rapture of perfect confidence and hope, the sentiment of the Twenty-third Psalm reaches both its logical and poetical climax. Each successive verse of the six has expressed some definite expansion or rise of the poet's emotional thought; but thus far everything has been included within the limits of actual experience. The present tense has prevailed. Jehovah is the good and all-powerful shepherd. He leadeth into the green pastures and by the restful waters. He guideth in the straight paths of safety. In the deadly valley of shadows it is his power that supports and comforts. And, in the very presence of hostile forces, his friendly service overflows in bountiful provision. The Psalmist has spoken from the basis of experience, and not, so far as appears in the text of his song, from any a priori theological assumptions. His appeal has been simply to common facts for testing the truth of his patriotic and assuring declarations. “Look around you,” is the implied injunction of his words: “Behold how Jehovah is doing all these things for his people. And then, from this basis of experience, the poet turns, with serene and perfect assurance, to face the future; for (this is his inference) the same bountiful guidance and care can certainly be depended on for continuance. That is his sole reasoning. It is the simplicity of the child's logic. And yet it is the solid foundation on which all science rests: the order of things observed in the natural world in the past can be depended on in the future. The sun in the glory of its power may be expected to rise to-morrow because it has risen, by calculable law, in innumerable yesterdays. It is by a similar mental procedure that the Psalmist rises, in this triumphant ending of his pæan to Jehovah as a Shepherd, to the exulting exclamation: “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life: and I shall dwell in the house of Jehovah forever.”

I may say in passing that the common version stands in no urgent need of revision here for the sake of accuracy, except that it would be better to transpose the auxiliaries "shall ” and “will” in the two divisions of the verse. The Hebrew word translated "mercy,” I may add, is the same word that is often rendered by the richer phrase "loving-kindness ”; and the word translated “good

ness

” carries from its primary root a meaning of outward prosperity and good fortune. And this latter idea is one of the rhetorical links which connects the verse back with the immediately preceding verse depicting Jehovah's bounty. Another and more obvious link is in the expression "house of Jehovah,"— “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." The preceding verse had given a picture of the gracious and bounteous hospitality of a householder to a guest. That thought is now expanded and carried forward to the security and beneficence which must be enjoyed by one who is to dwell, not transiently, but for all time, in Jehovah's house. (I have previously explained that the Psalm is one of steps or degrees, each verse rising upon some suggestive thought of the preceding.) And these two heightened thoughts, to which I have just referred, make the steps by which the poet ascends to his final and sublime contemplation of a beneficent Providence unbounded by time and including the whole future of Israel in its scope. To generalize the lesson of the verse, we may say that it consists of these twin ideas: the Eternal Goodness and its assurances for human destiny.

But neither the Hebrew poet nor the Hebrew theologian was accustomed to regard such ideas as these in any abstract or metaphysical fashion. The Hebrew religion kept close to nature and close to this world. Even in its childlike faith in the supernatural, the supernatural agencies were

conceived in very human and earthly form. If the Hebrews talked of eternity, it was an eternity not severed nor distinguished from but including time. If they thought of the continuance of human existence, it was existence lengthened out indefinitely on this earth. In the very verse we are considering the phrase translated "for ever" meant literally "length of days.” It was only a more intensified form of the expression rendered in the first part of the verse by the words “all the days of my life”; and a literal rendering of the last half of the verse would be “I shall dwell in the house of Jehovah to length of days.” It is the same term which occurs in Proverbs as representing one of the gifts of Wisdom: “Length of days is in her right hand." Yet this phrase seems to have come nearer than any other in the canonical Hebrew Scriptures to taking the place of the word for eternal duration in the Christian Scriptures. In truth (as shown in the fourth lecture), for the greater part of the time of their national existence, the Hebrews manifested no specific belief in the doctrine of immortality, at least in the Christian sense of it.

To the Hebrew, moreover, the earth was a goodly world; and he had no unwholesome, impatient desire to depart from it. Its evils, which he by no means ignored, were, he believed, the consequence of human departure from the law of righteousness. Its destructive forces, its afflictive ills, its deaths and terrors, were to him the penalty for violating Jehovah's commandments. Thus the

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