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they early got control of the greater part of the commerce of Europe. It has been truly said, They were our factors and bankers before we knew how to read. The Spanish religious wars drove many from that country and dispersed them through Europe, to which they gave an intellectual impulse which it feels to this day.
Jewish influence also contributed to mediæval thought a tinge of Oriental mysticism. The turbid stream of cabalistic philosophy intoxicated some of the noblest minds of Europe. The wild and fantastic theories of Paracelsus and the Rosicrucians, of Cornelius Agrippa and Jacob Behmen, concerning the various orders of elementary spirits, emanations from the deity-a mixture of fanaticism and imposture-were also founded upon the reveries of the cabala. That theophanie system, in its turn, was linked with the venerable Oriental lore of ancient sages on the banks of the Ganges and the Oxus.
The influence of Hebrew thought and of the Eastern imagery and language of the Sacred Scriptures upon the Christian system of theology opens up a vast and varied field of investigation which we must leave to some abler pen It might be found that many of our common and controlling thoughts have their roots far back in remote Oriental antiquity. Assuredly it would appear that the Syrian faith, which began first to be preached at Jerusalem, has been more potent in its influence on the heart and mind of Christendom than all the lore of Greece or Rome, or than all the combined wisdom of the Orient and Occident besides. It has been the great seminal principle from which has sprung all that is best in all the literatures and philosophies, in all the systems of ethics and jurisprudence, in all the political and social economies of the world since its promulgation. It has ennobled, dignified, and elevated them all. It is the hope, and the only hope, for the regeneration of the race.
Much night be said, had we space, upon the influence of the commerce of the East—the land of pearl and gold, of spices and perfumes, of frankincense and myrrh—on the civilization of Europe. The maritime States of the Mediterranean became especially enriched thereby. The names of their merchant princes became familiar as household words in the bazars of Damascus and Ispahan. Their daughters were clothed with
the silks of Iran and the shawls of Cashmere; and in their bouloirs hung, in gilded cages, the tuneful bulbul from the gardens of Schiraz. In the effort to prosecute this gainful commerce by a shorter route a new world was discovered, where the problem of humanity is now being wrought out to such glorious results. The wealth of Ormuz and of Ind was poured into the lap of Europe. Her comforts and luxuries were increased, her manners refined, her enterprise quickened, and a field of empire opened to her arms.
The present decrepitude of the Ottoman Empire can give no idea of its strength in the fiery zeal of its youth, nor of the apprehensions which it caused throughout the West. A new crusade was then waged, not to wrest the Holy Sepulcher from the power of the Turks, but to prevent the subversion of the Christian faith in its very strongholds.
Their corsair fleets swept the Mediterranean, and the terrible Janissaries were the scourge of Central Europe.
For two hundred years the tide of battle ebbed and flowed across the great Sarmatian plain, between Vienna and Belgrade; and Germany became in the sixteenth century, as Spain had been in the eighth, the bulwark of Christendom.
It is strange that the power which was long the standing menace of other nations of Europe should now exist only by the sufferance or jealousy of those very nations. Yet feeble and decrepit as is Turkey, no country excites such regard. The interest thickens around the “sick man's” couch. He holds the key of empire in his trembling grasp. Into whose hands shall it pass when it falls from his ? This is the question of the day—the Gordian knot, whose intricacy, indissoluble by any diplomatic skill, may, possibly, yield only to the keen edge of the sword.
In the East itself, under Ottoman rule, a blight seems to rest upon the fairest and most favored lands on earth. The glory of the Seven Churches of Asia has departed; the candlesticks are removed out of their places, and thick darkness has settled upon the land. The beautiful myths of Homer and the sublime Gospel of Christ are alike forgotten, and the Turkish mosque has superseded both Pagan fane and Christian temple.
As we contemplate these things we cannot help asking, Is it forever? Is there no resurrection for those
nations? no regeneration for those lands? Yet, though oppression and superstition may have crushed and degraded the inhabitants, nature is eternal, and the golden sunlight falls, and the sapphire seas expand, and the purple mountains rise as fair and lovely as of yore. The valleys of the Orontes and Jordan and the slopes of Lebanon are no less beautiful, nor is the soil of Egypt less fertile to-day than in the time of their greatest prosperity and glory.
The Christian nations of the West are called upon by every principle of moral obligation and of human sympathy to reciprocate the benefits they originally received from the East. It is theirs to carry to those dark lands the light of the Gospel, and the blessings of letters and civilization. Indications of the progress of Western ideas are already numerous and striking. The iron horse snorts in the valley of the Nile, and the iron steamer plies upon its sacred waters. The recent visit of the Sultan and his Viceroy to the seats of western civilization must have impressed there with the contrast between its vigor and prosperity, and the effete and worn-out condition of society in their own dominions. May we not hope that they will be convinced of the superiority of Christian institutions and of monogamic marriage to the superstitions of the mufti and the debasing sensuality of the seraglio? The recent Abyssinian expedition has carried the prestige of European arms and science, and will probably open a way for the Gospel into the very heart of Africa ; and the opening of the Suez Canal makes Egypt the high-way of the Western nations to the East. Christian schools and Christian missions are sowing throughout the entire East the seeds of new and nobler civilization. The crescent may ere long give place to the banner of the cross upon the battlements of Zion, the long-rejected Messiah be adored amid the scenes of his passion, and Jerusalem become again a praise in the earth.
The drowsy nations of the remoter East are turning in their troubled sleep. They are arousing themselves from the lethargy of centuries, and are shaking from them the incubus which so long has oppressed them—their fatuous scorn and hatred of the western barbarians. They are waking up to the activities of the age. They feel the pulses of a new life throbbing and thrilling through all the veins and arteries of
society. The light of science and of the Gospel is dispelling the clouds of ignorance, superstition, and prejudice that so long have mantled over those lands. The night of ages is giving way, and its darkness is being dispersed. A brighter day is bursting on the East. Its freshness breathes around us now. The heralds of the dawn may every-where be seen. Old and hoary symptoms of idolatry and priestcraft are crumbling away. Cruel and bloody heathen rites are being exterminated. A vigorons journalism—that great disseminator of the seeds of thought-is springing up in all the great marts of commerce both in India and China. The absurd myths of the gods, and the religious cosmogonies, are yielding to scientific criticism. The sacred Ganges and the Hoogly swarm with vessels impelled by a more potent genius than any of the Arabian Nights--the great western magician-Steam. China is constructing a steam navy. Yokohama is being lighted with gas. British and American commerce are extending the sphere of the Anglo-Saxon tongue, and diffusing liberal ideas. Chinese emigrants are swarming to Australia and the Pacific coast of America, and insensibly imbibing much of the western spirit and enterprise. The Pacific Railway conducts the tide of oriental commerce to the very heart of occidental civilization; and the projected Pacific Telegraph Cable will knit together East and West in indissoluble bonds of peace and good-will."
The glorious trophies of the progress of civilization are the auguries of still grander triumphs in the future. Those already mentioned are of very recent achievement. What sublime results may not some who read this brief retrospect behold! Those blind and impotent old lands, which so long have struggled with the demons of superstition and idolatry, shall eventually sit, clothed and in their right mind, at the feet of Jesus. The day is hastening when, in a world saved, regenerated, disenthralled from the power and dominion of sin, the Redeemer shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; when he shall receive the heathen for his inheritance, the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession ; when upon all
; the industries and activities of the world-upon all its trade and commerce, its art, its science, and its literature-shall be written, HOLINESS TO THE LORD.
And to this blessed consummation all the events of history, the rise and progress of nations, the decay and fall of dynasties, are tending. With devout as well as philosophic eye, let us read the history of the world, and endeavor to discern, amid its confused revolutions, its battle and its tumults, the great moving principle—the wheel within the wheel—God by his providence reconciling the world unto himself. Let us ever feel that
"God's greatness flows around our incompleteness,
Round our restlessness his rest."
ART. V.—THE ETHICS OF LATIN COMEDY. It is doubtful whether the moral notions of a people are best represented in the ethical systems of her philosophers. These systems are not constructed on the basis of popular sentiment. They may embody that sentiment in part, but they are often only the speculations of a profound thinker whose theories and ideas are not always even the metaphysics of practical morality. Doubtless the current of popular ideas will mingle more or less in the flood of philosophical thought, and give it more or less coloring ; but the little streams will disappear in the larger flood. The ethical sentiment of the masses, that which governs their every-day life, is fused into new and unrecognizable forms in the crucible of the philosopher. The public morals of our own age are not so well mirrored in the ethical treatises and textbooks, the essays and homilies and theological dogmatics of our thinkers and professional teachers, as in the lighter literature of the day and the regular issues of the periodical press. A poet from the people, a novelist from the masses, steeped in the ideas and manners of the nation at large, is the best portrayer of actual morality. Burns unvails the Scottish heart better than Chalmers. Shakspeare and Dickens and Scott utter the real practical moral sentiment of England better than Barrow or Hall. Victor Hugo illustrates the popular ethics of France better than Guizot. The more closely literature photographs real life the nearer is our view of the genuine heart-beats, where actual conduct is the exponent of controlling ethical principles. The best index of a man's faith is his life. The ribs and frame-work of a nation's faith reveal themselves most distinctly when the