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tion of other than physical hungers and thirst to be satisfied,—a suggestion of ideal wants as well as the gratification of actual wants. The green pastures and still waters are beyond all the needs of present hungers and thirsts. The flocks are to lie down in the midst of this beautiful, bountiful greenness; and the Hebrew phrase for "still is rendered, by one of the most literal translators, into "well-watered resting-places." The Hebrew phrase does, indeed, carry a finer, fuller idea even than that of "still waters." It means "waters of restful quietness.” The eager appetites of the flocks are depicted as already appeased. The scramble for food is over. The tiring, dusty, hot journey to the pastures has had its reward. The flocks can now rest at ease on the lap of Nature's bounty. The grass from which they have fed offers a bed deliciously soft and fragrant. The air they breathe is sweet with the breath of the still waters, and invites their senses to repose. With such abundance close at hand, they can have no anxieties for the future. The Shepherd has led them to the very sources of Nature's plenty, and they are at peace.

But now consider for a moment the times and circumstances under which the Hebrew poet wrote. this pastoral verse, and the purpose he had at heart. Of course, we understand that he was not merely indicting a pretty poem of nature. He had another flock in mind and other pastures in vision. than any he saw among the sheep and hills of Pal


estine. To him Israel was the flock and Jehovah the Shepherd. And, whenever this serere poem was written, it could never have been written at a time when Israel had found all its wants and longings satisfied and was at peace. For Israel never came to such a time. Its land of promise, flowing with milk and honey, was always just before it. It journeyed toward that promise, struggled for it, prayed for it, fought for it, was sometimes just on the verge of securing it; but Israel never passed over the inexorable boundary which separated from it. The promised land was an ideal country,always in promises, not in fulfilment. Yet the devout Hebrew did not cease to believe in it. Though far away from it, he saw it at hand. Though enemies resisted his advance, he saw them overcome. Though his people were in captivity, he saw them free and going forth to conquer and possess. And the Hebrew poets and preachers never ceased to appeal to and uphold this sublime, transcendent faith. To keep the faith was to help toward the fulfilment of the promise,-was, indeed, to insure it. Hence, while their national wants were still unsatisfied and they were in the midst of innumerable troubles, they pictured in perfect confidence the serenity and prosperity which would surely come, if Israel would but faithfully follow Jehovah's guidance and law. That outward serenity and prosperity, which they saw in prophetic vision as the fruit of faithfulness, already seemed to have settled inwardly upon the souls

of seer and poet, so that they spoke out of a spiritual calmness which could not have been suggested by their present surroundings. Hence, our Psalmist saw the green pastures and restful waters which were before Israel as if close at hand, and he wrote as if he already breathed their atmosphere of ineffable peace. "As if" do I say? Nay, he

did. For to souls such as his, that live in a spiritual atmosphere of faith and courage and hope, time and distance are elements which do not count. For Israel as a people, the green pastures and still waters may have yet been far away, with many troubled years between. But he who wrote "The Lord my Shepherd" had found them. Though troubles raged around him, his spirit rested in trust on the calm, bountiful bosom of the Eternal, and shared the eternal strength and repose.

And now let us ask what meaning this particular verse of the Psalm can have for us in this rationalistic age of the nineteenth century. Has the Oriental picture of the Eternal as a good Shepherd, leading mankind into green pastures and beside still waters and leading them beyond the bare needs of existence, no power to touch our hearts nor to stir within us any feeling of its truthfulness? Are we of this prosaic era,- an era of bustling material energies and enterprises, when gifted minds are not poetizing so much about the universe as philosophizing about it, and when the philosophies and theologies do not begin so much as once they did with a priori assumptions about

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the perfect attributes of an infinitely perfect Being, but begin with observing the hard, bare facts of nature and of human life, are we losing our sensitiveness for such an idyllic picture of universal harmony and peace? Science has, indeed, told us of the facts of an animal ancestry for mankind, of savagery in which human history everywhere begins, and of the animal propensities and habits still adhering by the iron links of hereditary law to our most advanced civilization; and only our own observation is needed to tell us of the wickedness and woe everywhere prevalent, the bitter, killing toil, often for the poorest necessities, the gaunt poverty, the deadly famines and diseases, the frequent hardships of innocent souls, the cruel covetousness of mean and grasping souls, the stories of brutal crime which, reeking with blood and filth, the news-gatherers bring daily to our doors. Are we, I ask, so crowded and pressed by such facts as these close at hand that our minds are utterly unimpressible by any of the higher and more comprehensive facts of nature and of human life, which the Psalmist painted in those phrases, in themselves so beautiful, "the green pastures and the still waters"? Have we become such pessimists that we no longer see truth nor beauty in these words? Or, if we still see in them a certain artistic beauty of form, is the poetic sentiment but a bitter mockery for us, in view of the cruel facts of existence?

Even while my brain was busy, on an April day, with these sentences, I looked from my window,

and beheld there before me, on the tender spring grass, two sparrows in terrific battle, one of them picking the very life-blood from the other's breast. And, as I looked, I thought of the tender, trustful words of Jesus: "One of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father." What do those words mean, with that fact of bloody sparrowslaughter before my eyes? Yet that battle of the sparrows is but the most insignificant fraction of the great battle for conquest by blood that is going on in the world of nature, and that from time immemorial has been going on, and is still going on we must say, among men. What mean these terrible facts of conflict, battle, and blood, which seam with their horror all the strata of natural and human history? With our eyes holden by these horrors, can we anywhere descry the still waters and green pastures of the Psalmist's vision? Yet, as I watched the battle of the sparrows, I noted also the upspringing grass newly carpeting the earth with its beautiful green, and above the warring birds the tree-buds pushing out their colors; and I saw the crocuses in brave blossom where snow was lately banked, and all the miracle around me of the new spring-time; and I looked up to the sky's inimitable blue, arched over all, and to the white cloud-ships sailing across that upper main: and then my soul said to itself that, despite the ugly seams in its structure, this is a beautiful world, and despite the moral horrors the moral beauty overarches and overpowers them.

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