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the intellectual development of the Hebrew people, the same word came to be applied to mental and moral attributes. It became one of their greatest words. It then meant mental and moral straightness, uprightness, integrity, justice, righteousness, which would bring national deliverance from difficulties, bring national felicity and prosperity and salvation. The Hebrews had other words for some of these ideas; but the ideas to them were so mutually related and dependent that they came to use the words interchangeably. The straight paths of righteousness were for them, individually and nationally, the only paths of safety and salvation. Hence the Psalmist, voicing in this song Israel's trust in Jehovah and comparing it to the assured confidence of a flock in its shepherd, would have in his thought both of these allied meanings. True to his metaphor, his poetic vision would see the flock led in the paths of physical safety; but in the moral application both he and his people saw that the very word he used meant that for Israel there were no paths of safety except those of righteousness. With regard, therefore, to the central thought of the verse, no deduction is to be made. from the strong ethical meaning of the common version, “paths of righteousness," though we substitute for it the more metaphorically consistent phrase "paths of safety." To the Hebrew, safety, salvation, and righteousness meant for human beings essentially one and the same thing.
But this central idea of the verse is placed be
tween two other ideas, which are also important in disclosing the poet's full thought. First he says, "Jehovah reviveth [or restoreth] my soul." The word (Nephish) here translated "soul" is the same word which the writer of Genesis used in describing the creation of man, where Jehovah is depicted as breathing into the nostrils of the clay image he had formed “the breath of life; and man became a living soul." The Hebrew word for "soul" signified primitively the breath of life, the animating principle of all living creatures, the vital essence without which they could not be sustained in existence. And this always remained the primary and leading meaning of the word. The derivative meaning, of a rational intelligent principle as something distinct from the physical principle of life, never had for the Hebrews so prominent and positive a place as it has had in Christian thought. The soul was literally to them the breath of life, as it was the breath of Jehovah's life, from whom it came. And the Hebrew poet's most natural thought in this first part of the verse is that Jehovah still revivifies and refreshes this principle of life which came from him. One of the most literal translators renders it, "He reviveth my life." Dr. Noyes, while retaining the word "soul," in a note paraphrases the meaning of the sentence thus: "He refreshes me when drooping and fainting with fatigue or distress." In all translations this idea of renewal of vitality is evident.
The other subsidiary thought, on the other side
of the central idea, is contained in the familiar Scriptural phrase "for his name's sake, "—"He leadeth in paths of righteousness for his name's sake," which means simply that he does it because of his own nature, or from the impulses of his own being and for ends involved in his being.
These three elements, then, constituted essentially the thought of the verse as it sprang from the Hebrew poet's mind, but disrobed of its poetical dress: first, Jehovah - the Eternal - is the continual quickener and sustainer of human life, as he was its creator; second, he is guiding human life toward and in ways of righteousness and safety; third, his doing, both as to motive and end, is because of the nature of his own being. Now put the three parts together into prose thus: "The Eternal Power is the producer and sustainer of life, and in and of its own nature is guiding life onward to righteousness." Is there anything in that statement which the human mind to-day can rationally deny? As we approach the twentieth century, are we outgrowing the convictions here expressed? Has science as yet even offered anything to displace them? So far from it is the fact that we may say with confidence that the doctrine of evolution, which is at the basis of modern science, involves necessarily these convictions. As in the discourse on "The Eternal our Shepherd," so again let us use Herbert Spencer's propositions to illustrate this. I refer to him not because I am an accepter of his philosophical sys
tem, though I recognize his great ability both in research and analysis, but because he is the acknowledged head to-day of that large school of philosophy which takes as the basis of its reasonings only such phenomena as science would accept. Alongside, then, of the foregoing translation of the poetry of our verse into philosophical prose,"The Eternal Power is the producer and sustainer of life, and of its own nature is guiding life onward to righteousness," let us place Mr. Spencer's now familiar declaration concerning what he commonly calls the "Ultimate Reality," "the Unknowable," or the "Great Enigma" of the universe: "There remains the one absolute certainty, that man is ever in the presence of an Infinite and Eternal Energy from which all things proceed." That tallies sufficiently with so much of the Hebrew thought as refers to the relation of human life to the Eternal and to the action of the Eternal Power from its own nature. And as to the other part, the guidance in righteousness, consider this passage from one of the earliest of Mr. Spencer's works: "Man may properly consider himself as one of the myriad agencies through whom works the Unknown Cause; and, when the Unknown Cause produces in him a certain belief, he is thereby authorized to profess and act out that belief. Not as adventitious therefore will the wise man regard the faith which is in him. The highest truth he sees he will fearlessly utter; knowing that, let what may come of it, he is thus playing his right
part in the world - knowing that if he can effect the change he aims at-well; if not well also; though not so well." Mr. Spencer wrote this particularly of intellectual truth; but he would say it equally of ethical truth, and it would apply equally to the conditions of moral progress. The Eternal Power, we can say, is guiding man in righteousness, because the Power is itself organized in human beings as the sentiment of right and as the impelling authority of obligation to do the right. Even ordinary men and women have this much of the Eternal within them directing them toward right paths. And in extraordinary men and women, in saintly characters, in heroic actors for the right, in martyrs and prophets, it is nothing less than the veritable power and presence of the Eternal that in and through them is leading and lifting the world to higher righteousness.
Of course, I am not claiming that the Psalmist himself had the slightest intimation of these ethical results of the doctrine of evolution or any conception of that doctrine. Nor am I making any attempt to rationalize his words in order to fit them to modern beliefs. That is always a vicious mode of interpreting the Bible or any other book. I am not in these lectures seeking Biblical authority, but only a possible harmony between the suggestions of poetic religious sentiment and scientific fact. The Psalmist accepted, doubtless, the belief of his time and race that the relation between Israel and Jehovah was of a supernatural