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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 53

Dunedin Review. — "The Prophets of Israel."

page 47

Dunedin Review.

"The Prophets of Israel."

This is a very remarkable book. Its advent in 1882 marks a new era in the history of Presbyterianism in particular; and, indeed, for that matter, in the records of Christianity. The Hebrew prophets occupy a conspicuous position in history. This volume brings us down to the close of the eight century B.C. The lectures, eight in number, are long and prolix, each of them embraces between 40 and 50 pages. This is, indeed, a critical, but not an original, age. Professor Robertson Smith is great in historical science, in criticism, and in Rationalism. What Niebuhr has done to Roman history, legends, and traditions, our Professor has done to Hebrew literature. The notion that the Pentateuch is older than all the prophetical books, is, in the Professor's estimate, quite fallacious. "The priestly legislation did not exist before the exile." Historical criticism has demonstrated the fallacy of this opinion. The prophets were the successive messengers of God to keep alive the flame of religion, more or less pure, in the midst of heathenism. They educated the people from a state of spiritual childhood gradually upwards to a more or less clear conception of monotheism in the midst of degrading polytheism. Professor Smith teaches "the doctrine of an organic development in the plan of revelation and redemption." God is represented as specially dealing with chosen individuals. A personal knowledge of God and His will—and without personal knowledge there can be no true religion—involves a personal dealing of God with men. This is the key of revelation. But, how do we know that the prophets "got revelation by personal relation from God himself?" Professor Smith says, and says truly, "To say that God speaks to all men alike, and gives the same communication directly to all without the use of a revealing agency, reduces religion to mysticism. In point of fact, it is not true in the case of any man that what he believes and knows of page 48 God has come to him directly through the voice of nature and conscience." Precisely so. Our ideas are hereditary, the result of experience. But, in the first instance, when "new truth acquired as all new truth is by some particular man or circle of men," dawns upon the mind, does not that revelation emanate, indirectly if you will, from God through the voice of nature and conscience? Then, how am I to know that the prophet is not a conscious or an unconscious impostor? Our Professor falls back upon an idea—which 16 years ago I had enunciated in my article upon inspiration in the first number of the "Delphic Oracle." The idea is not original. "There is an external evidence of the truth of the Biblical revelation which lies behind the question of the supernatural; as it is usually stated, an evidence which lies, not in the miraculous circumstances of this or that particular act of revelation, but in the intrinsic character of the scheme of revelation as a whole. It is a general law of human history that truth is consistent, progressive and imperishable, while every falsehood is self-contradictory, and ultimately falls to pieces." Truth—not miracle—is the test of religion. The prophets are only higher tribunes—censors and covenanters. "The basis of the prophetic religion is the conception of a unique relation between Jehovah and Israel—Israel as a national unity." The medium of mutual communication is the prophet and the priest. From this fountain flowed civil "liberty, law, justice, and the moral order of society." The prophets inculcated civil righteousness, as directly flowing from the maintenance of a "national feeling and national faith in Jehovah." In prosperity God is with His people. "The presence of Jehovah with His people was quite fully realised in the hour of battle and of victory." In adversity this feeling was more difficult of national realisation. But the prophets—the true messengers of God—as contradistinguished from the false and mercenary, never weary of reminding Israel "that it was one nation, with a national destiny, and a national God."

It is true indeed that every pagan tribe or nation had "its tribal or national God." The rituals of all were in many points similar, but Israel alone rose to the true conception of "a mono-theistic faith." Mr Smith explodes the idea that Israel only was a theocracy. This "was not the idea that gave to the religion of Israel its unique character." But the prophets alone recognised the idea "that it was Jehovah's supreme providence which had determined the migrations of all nations just as much as of Israel." Wherein lay their characteristic difference, then? This lay "in what Jehovah had to say, rather than in the external manner of saying it."

Jehovah was superior to all other gods. Until the time of Jeremiah, the Jews "did not give to the abstract doctrine of monotheism the importance that it possesses to our minds." The page 49 difference between Jehovah and the other deities "was not placed in his spiritual nature." Mr Smith gives ample citations from the Bible to express "the spirituality of the godhead which the Old Testament contains, and they are not directed to distinguish between the true God and false gods, but to characterise the godhead in its difference from human nature. It is, in fact, the divine working, rather than the divine nature, that the Hebrew Scriptures regard as spiritual—that is, as possessing a subtile and invisible character, comparable with the mysterious movements of the wind. The common doctrine of the Old Testament is, not that God is spirit, but that the spirit of Jehovah, going forth from Him, works in the world and among men. And this is no metaphysical doctrine; it simply expresses that difference between divine and human agency which must be recognised wherever there is belief in God, or at least any belief rising above the grossest fetichism. That the early Israelites possessed no metaphysical doctrine of the spirituality of Jehovah, conceived as an existence out of all relation to space and time, is plain, from the fact that the Old Testament never stripped off the idea that Jehovah's contact with earth has a special relation to special places." They had no metaphysical conception of God. He was adored "as a living personal force." The Gentile philosophers and Christian divines alone expatiated on His metaphysical attributes of eternal, infinite, &c.

"Apart from the doctrine of the resurrection, of which nothing is heard till the later books of the Old Testament, the religion of the Hebrews has to do with this life." After death, men pass away into "the shadowy realm of Sheol." In this respect they are like the pagan nations "The Hebrew doctrine of retribution is essentially a doctrine of retribution on earth. Death is itself a final judgment. The religion of the Hebrews does not rest on a philosophy of the unseen universe. The sphere of religion is the present life, and the truths of religion are the truths of an everyday experience, in which Jehovah is as living and personal an actor as men are." Unlike heathen deities, Jehovah has "a personal character—a will and purpose of His own—a purpose rising above the current ideas of His worshippers, and a will directed with steady consistency to a moral aim. All His dealings with Israel were directed to lead people to higher things than their natural character inclined towards. Jehovah vindicated His sovereignty in the very events that proved fatal to the gods of the Gentiles." The prophets interpreted His will and character to the sceptical politicians and the superstitious masses. His character is depicted by them as consistent throughout. He desires the true happiness of Israel, and His religion is moral. "Jehovah is a God of righteousness, whose dealings with His people follow an ethical standard." The prophets put morality on a far sounder basis than any other page 50 religion. "The fundamental superiority of the Hebrew religion does not lie in the particular system of social morality that it enforces, but in the more absolute and self-consistent righteousness of the Divine Judge." Elijah inculcates, even above patriotism, "that divine truth and civil righteousness are more than all the counsels of statecraft." He represented Jehovah as a "pre-eminently jealous God, who could endure no rival in His land, nor in the affections of His people."

Mr Smith gives "an exact inversion of the common representation of the function of the prophets." They are not mere interpreters of the law; nor does he place their originality in their predictions, They were rather great heroes in critical moments—national reformers. The idea of schools of the prophets, according to our author, "is a pure invention of commentators." The prophets forcibly taught that "the sovereignty of Jehovah was not an empty thought; it was the refuge of the oppressed, the support of the weak against the mighty." Well might Carlyle style them "the grand old Hebrew prophets!" And so indeed they were.

The isolation of Israel was the natural result of the prophetic dogma of Jehovah's jealousy, despite all the corruption and venality of both the prophets and priests. Hosea tells us that in his times "the whole idea of right and wrong was reduced to a money standard, and the moral sense of the community was proportionally debased in every relation of life. Prophecy had sunk to a mere trade." Still we can see clearly "the progress of the religion of Jehovah from Moses to Elijah." The Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch our author sets aside. "It was practically buried, many of its most central laws being quite ignored by the best kings and the most enlightened priests." It had no existence till a much later date. "Neither Amos nor Hosea alludes to an extant written law." The prophets, however, reveal God's character to the people by history and admonition. Joshua, portions of Deuteronomy, and "the main thread of kings" are also of much more recent date than that accepted. "In the time of Amos and Hosea, the truest hearts and best thinkers of Israel did not yet interpret Jehovah's dealings with His people in the light of the Deuteronomic and Levitical laws." In due time traditions and legends took a written shape. The earlier history of Israel is simply "the transcript of a vivid oral tradition." Some of the prophecies resemble the Ossianic poems. Israel had to contend all along with two dangers—ancient heathenism and the gods of the Amorites. In these two ways lies the danger of departing from God. "With Israel Jehovah held personal converse" through his prophets and priests. Amos, the shepherd of the desert, hears, or fancies he hears, the call of God, "Go, prophecy to my people Israel." Having "heard the thunder of page 51 Jehovah's shout," he girds on his prophetic mantle. Through him "God declares himself to Israel formally, as a man does to a friend. To seek God is the old Hebrew phrase for consulting His oracle, asking His help or decision in difficult affairs of conduct or law; and by ancient usage Jehovah was habitually sought at the sanctuary, though the phrase is equally applicable to consulting a prophet. What Jehovah requires of them that seek Him is the practice of civil righteousness." God, according to Amos, demands righteousness and not sacrifice. "The sinners of Israel are the corrupt rulers and their associates, the unjust and sensual oppressors, the men who have no regard to civil righteousness." These must he destroyed preparatory to a national reformation. The problem of the lost tribes—according to Mr Smith —is a purely fanciful one. They lapsed amongst the heathens, and lost their religion and distinctive nationality. Hosea's prophecies are "marked by a tone of deep pathos, akin to that of Jeremiah, and expressive of the tragic isolation of the prophet's position in a society corrupt to the very core, and visibly hastening towards dissolution." Priest and prophet are included in his condemnation. Like the warnings of Cassandra, his message is treated with derision. "Indignation and sorrow, tenderness and severity, faith in the sovereignity of Jehovah's love, and a dispairing sense of Israel's infidelity, are woven together in a sequence which has no logical plan, but is determined by the battle and alternate victory of contending emotions; and the swift transitions, the fragmentary, unbalanced utterance, the half-developed allusions, that make his prophecy so difficult to the commentator, express the agony of this inward conflict. Hosea, above all other prophets, was a man of deep affections, of a gentle poetic nature. His heart is too true and tender to snap the bonds of country and kindred, or mingle aught of personal bitterness with the severity of Jehovah's words. Alone in the midst of a nation that knows not Jehovah, without disciple or friend, without the solace of domestic affection, for even his home was full of shame and sorrow, he yet clings to Israel with inextinguishable love. The doom which he proclaims against his people is the doom of all that is dearest to him on earth; his heart is ready to break with sorrow, his very reason totters under the awful vision of judgment, his whole prophecy is a long cry of anguish, as again and again he renews his appeal to the heedless nation that is running headlong to destruction." A man of emotion—not logic, a poet, not a preacher, Hosea teaches that "the relation between Jehovah and Israel is a relation of love, and of such duties as flow from love." The modern distinction between religious and moral duties was unknown then. "Amos bases religion on morality. Hosea deduces morality from religion" Amos might be classed with rationalists, Hosea with the mystics. "To Amos page 52 and Hosea alike the true standard of religious life is the standard of conduct." But the religion of the one is more spiritual than that of the other. Amos preaches civil righteousness; Hosea looks behind and beneath for a disposition of love in the heart, as the motive power of conduct. Amos deals with the nation collectively; Hosea, as a moral individual. "Jacob is, in fact, the nation summed up in the person of its ancestor." God's love downwards is felt to be unchangeable. Hosea traces the relations of Israel to Jehovah from the days of Jacob. It is a continuous history of love to Israel—Israel is Jehovah's spouse—Ephraim is Jehovah's son. God is the husband and lord of the nation. Israel is also His son. Jehovah has spoken much to His son by the ministry of His prophets. But still more tenderly is Jehovah's love pictured in the idea of a husband to his spouse. Both ideas are of pagan origin. Jehovah's revelation is better conceived under human analogies that by any abstract reasoning. "It is a special characteristic of the Hebrew prophets that they identify themselves with Jehovah's word and will so completely that their personality seems often to be lost in His." The prophets hear God's voice, and "God speaks in the events of history and the events of human life. He spoke to Amos in the thundering march of the Assyrians, and He spoke to Hosea in the shame that blighted his house. Gomer's infidelity after marriage is a figure of Israel's departure from the covenant of God; and the struggle of Hosea's affection, with the burning sense of shame and grief when he found his wife unfaithful, is altogether inconceivable unless his first love had been pure, and full of trust in the purity of its object." Smith treats this episode as literal, not allegorical. "The faithlessness of Israel to Jehovah, the long-suffering of God, the moral discipline of sorrow and tribulation by which He will bring back His erring people, and betroth it to Himself for ever in righteousness, truth, and love, are depicted under the figure of the relation of a husband to his erring spouse." The prophet regarded and "recognised the unhappiness of his married life as no meaningless calamity, but the ordinance of Jehovah, which called him to the work of a prophet. This he expresses by saying that it was in directing him to marry Gomer that Jehovah first spoke to him." But, alas, "the kingdom of Ephraim, in all its dynasties, rests on a principle of godless anarchy." The religious condition of Judah, according to Isaiah, was characterised by the most abject superstitution. The Judean prophets frequently refer to magic and divination, "such as the consultation of familiar spirits through wizards that peep and mutter—a kind of ventriloquists."

Isaiah seems to have held up the torch of prophecy for about 40 years, and "his influence was at its height during the expedition of Sennacherib in 70l B.C. He held a commanding position page 53 in the state, being a man of good connections. Practically he was the Palinurus of Judah; next to David the most notable man in Israel. "Presumably Isaiah himself issued no collected edition of all his prophecies, but only put forth from time to time individual oracles or minor collections, which were gathered together at a later date, and on no plan which we can follow." All his oracles would not amount, in point of bulk, to one number of the "Dunedin Review," or "Delphic Oracle." "The collection of all remains of ancient prophecy, digested into the four books named, from Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekial, and the twelve minor prophets, was not formed till after the time of Ezra, 250 years after the death of Isaiah."

Our author's aim appears to be "to study the prophetic word in the light of the history of the prophet's own times." Isaiah's inaugural vision "in which he received his prophetic consecration" is highly poetical, and the phraseology is borrowed from the features of the Temple of Jerusalem. The whole language is "the necessary pictorial clothing of the supreme truth that In this vision his soul met the Infinite and Eternal face to face, and heard the secrets of Jehovah's council directly from His own mouth." By this view Smith puts Isaiah precisely on a level with a pagan seer. We cannot, indeed, "in the highest imaginings of poetical genius, analyse the working of the prophet's soul in a supreme moment of converse with God." In this sceptical age we should regard the seer as a crazy fanatic. Revelation is believed to flow from dream, vision, voice, and intuition. Isaiah elevates high above all his predecessors the standard of Divine holiness. He sets a higher ideal of God and religion before his fellows.

"The peculiarities of Hebrew grammar and prophetic style often make it difficult to distinguish between narrative and prediction, and the difficulty is increased by the fact that predictions referring to the near future were sometimes fulfilled before they were set forth in a book." Precisely so; confusion reigns supreme in this sphere of prediction, which, however, according to Smith, was only one element of the prophetic character. "Jehovah's righteousness is nothing else than kingly righteousness in the ordinary sense of the word, and its sphere is the sphere of His literal sovereignity—that is, the land of Israel." In point of fact, Jehovah is only a name to conjure with in the mouth of a national reformer, who preached the necessity "of the downfall of the corrupt rulers." Much nonsense is written about prophecy—but "the substance of Messianic prophecy is ideal, not literal; the business oi the prophet is not to anticipate history, but to signalise the principles of divine grace which rule the future, because they are eternal as Jehovah's purpose." Hence, accordingly, "in all matters of difficult decision, the mouth of Jehovah was appealed to," through the visible instrumentality of the priest or prophet. page 54 We hear a deal of British-Israel; but Dr. Smith is decisive upon that delusion. The ten tribes relapsed into heathenism, and finally lost their distinctive characteristics.

Isaiah and his followers led people to see the possibility of religion apart from the state. The formation of this little community, during the Assyrian calamity, was a novelty. "It was the faith of a new era in the Old Testament religion; for it was the birth of the conception of the Church, the first step in the emancipation of spiritual religion from the forms of political life." Isaiah himself, during the Assyrian desolation, did not, perhaps, see "how deep was the breach between the physical Israel and the spiritual community of faith." But the Bible is clearly "the history of true religion, of the adoption and education of the Church from age to age in a scheme of gradual advance." This historical continuity of revelation is the grand theme of Robertson Smith's book. In place of trying "to find the law of this continuity by speculative and dogmatic methods," he applies himself to the same task by means of "ordinary historical investigation." Here in his book differs from Calvinistic theology. Micah is a democrat, Isaiah an aristocrat. "His doctrine of the indestructibility of Zion as the condition of the continuity of the national existence of Judah seems to indicate that the capital and the court appeared to him as the natural centre of the true remnant. Obedience to Jehovah as a king is not the affair of an individual conscience, but of the nation in its national organisation; the righteousness of Israel which Isaiah contemplates is such righteousness as is secured by a perfectly wise and firm application of civil justice and equity. Isaiah's ideal is only the perfect performance of the ordinary duties of monarchy." He had no idea of a future Messiah in the person of Christ.

The Hebrew State, says our author, "consisted essentially of two classes, the peasants and the governors or nobles. Husbandry on the one side, good government and justice on the other, are the twin pillars of the State, and for prince and peasant alike the knowledge of Jehovah means the knowledge of the duties of his vocation, as sacred rules enforced by divine sanction and blessed by divine grace. Well ordered and peaceful industry on the one hand, strict and impartial justice on the other, are the marks by which it is known that Jehovah's law is supreme in Israel. The king of Israel reigns in Jehovah's name. In him Jehovah's rule becomes visible in Israel, and His great four-fold name speaks rather of the Divine attributes that shine forth in his sovereignty, than of the transcendency of a person that is God as well as man. The prophet does not say that the king is the mighty God and the everlasting Father, but that His name is divine and eternal—that is, that the Divine might and everlasting Fatherhood of Jehovah are displaced in His rule." The prophet's religion is very page 55 practical. He does not "regard religion as a thing by itself, which ought, indeed, to influence daily life, but nevertheless occupies a separate place in our hearts and actions. For him that contrast of the natural and supernatural which narrows all the religion of the present, has no existence. He knows nothing of laws of nature, of an order of the world which can be separated even in thought from the constant personal activity of Jehovah. The natural life of Israel is, already, as thoroughly penetrated by the supernatural as any heavenly state can be. It is not in the future alone that the Holy One of Israel is to become a living member in the daily life of His people. To him who has eyes to sec and cars to hear, the presence and voice of Jehovah are already manifested with absolute and unmistakable clearness. It requires no argument to rise from nature to nature's God; the workings of Jehovah are as palpable as those of an ordinary man. He made religion an inseparable part of common life."

Isaiah contended that "everything real is supernatural, and supernatural in the same degree. The miracles of history, and the providences of common life, bring Jehovah alike near to faith. His religion is the religion of the God without whose will not even a sparrow can fall upon the ground, the God whose greatness lies in His equal sovereignty in things small and great. The Bible knows nothing of that narrow definition of miracle which we have inherited from medieval metaphysics. A marvel or miracle is a work of Jehovah, directed to confound the religion of formalism, to teach men that Jehovah's rule is a real thing, and not a traditional convention to be acknowledged in formulas learned by rote." The deliverance of Judah from the grasp of Assyria made it manifest to Israel "that Jehovah reigns supreme, and that there is no help or salvation save in Him." All history is full of like proofs of divine sovereignty and grace, where, in ways incalculable, and through combinations that mocked the foresight and policy of human counsellors, God's cause has been proved indestructible, and the faith in a very present God and Saviour, which Isaiah preached, has come forth in new life from the wreck of societies in which religion had become a mere tradition of men. In this sense the age of miracle is not past. The point of Isaiah's prophecy was not that the deliverance of Judah should take place in any one way, or with those dramatic circumstances of the so-called supernatural which a vulgar faith demands as the proof that God is at work." The religion of Isaiah is "a practical power in daily life, and not a mere precept of men, learned by rote." The restoration of the Jews, and the consequent greatness of Jerusalem, Robertson Smith regards as purely visionary. "Fanciful theorists, who use the Old Testament as a book of curious mysteries, and profane its grandeur by adapting it to their idle visions at the page 56 sacrifice of every law of sound hermeneutics and sober historical judgment, may still dream of future political conjunctions which shall restore to Palestine the position of central importance which it once held as the meeting-place of the lands of ancient civilisation; but no sane thinker can seriously imagine that Tyre will again become the emporium of the world's commerce, or Jerusalem the seat of universal sovereignty." The Millenarians are characterised as a species of fantastic theorists, "whose visions deserve no elaborate refutation ?" Our author does not take much pains to conceal his personal scorn "of the figurative or allegorical school of exegesis." He reads the prophetic writings in their natural sense, and as little respects the hidden sense of mystics. The current allegorical exegesis "enables each man to prove his own dogmas at will from the Old Testament, and leaves us altogether uncertain what the prophets themselves believed, and what work they wrought for God in their own age. The general law of allegorical interpretation is, that everything which in its literal sense seems impossible, untrue, or unworthy of God, must be rescued from this condemnation by the hypothesis of a hidden sense, which was the real meaning of the inspiring Spirit, and even of the prophet himself, except in so far as he was a mere unintelligent machine in the hand of the revealer. It is certainly true that all early thought about abstract and transcendental ideas is largely carried by the aid of figure and analogy, and that general truths are apprehended and expressed in particular, and even accidental forms. But this is something very different from the doctrine of a spiritual sense in the traditional meaning of the word." The prophet, like the dramatist, deals with eternal truths. "The insight of the prophet, like that of the unprophetic dramatist, vindicates itself in the delineation of true motives—in the representation of the actual forces that rule the evolution of human affairs,—not in the exact reproduction of any one stage of past or future history." The prophet deals with spiritual certainties and eternal principles. "The true meaning of his words unfolds itself clearly enough as soon as we realise the historical surroundings of his ministry and the principles of spiritual faith; or, in other words, the conception of Jehovah and the laws of his working. The Kingship of Jehovah, the holy majesty of the one true God, the eternal validity of his law of righteousness, the certainty that His cause on earth is imperishable, and must triumph over all the wrath of man; that His word of grace cannot be without avail; and that the community of His grace is the one thing on earth that cannot be brought to nought. Everything else in his teaching is nothing more than an attempt to give these principles concrete shape and tangible form in relation to the problems of his own day."

page 57

Our author adopts a clearly rationalistic canon of historical criticism in dealing with the Bible. "When we learn to seek the true significance of the work of the prophets, not in the variable details of their predictions, but in the principles of faith which are common to all spiritual religion, and differ from the faith of the New Testament only as the unexpanded germ differs from the full growth; we see also that the complete proof of their divine mission can only be found in the efficacy of their work towards the maintenance and progressive growth of the community of spiritual faith." Isaiah and his party laboured zealously towards the reformation of religion, the abolition of idolatry, and the administration of equal justice to all classes and conditions of citizens. But the prophets did not fully apprehend the grand truth of the Gospel—to wit, that the effectual reformation and regeneration of corrupt society must proceed from the heart of every individual. It must come, not ab extra, but ab intra. Nevertheless, we can clearly see that the prophets gradually laid a basis "for a new developepment of spiritual truth which should carry the religion of Israel another stage towards its goal in the religion of Christ." Ritual worship is gradually on the wane. The prophets tell the people that Jehovah requires nothing of them but "to fear Jehovah thy Lord, to walk in all His ways, and to love and serve Him with all thy heart and all thy soul." The sum of true religion is clearly enunciated by Micah.—"He hath showed thee, 0 man, what is good; and what doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do judgment, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God." It must be a religion of the heart. The prophets dimly descried the catholic principle, "which no legal system could exhaust, and which never found full embodiment till the religion of the Old Testament passed into the religion of Christ." The prophetic thoughts or God's messengers "stretched far beyond the limits of the old dispensation, to days when Jehovah's precepts should be written on every heart." Religion, then, would be a living force, not a perfunctory or conventional ritual of formalism. There is a persistent unity of plan and purpose pervading the Books of the Old Testament, and steadily pointing at a higher ideal of religion, which culminates in the New Testament. Our author bounds, per saltum, at the most orthodox conclusion, that it is only "through the New Testament that we learn that a complete and adequate manifestation of God to man can only be made through a Godman." This is casting a sop to Cerberus with a vengeance. Our author has coiled round his own neck the cords of Rationalism and historical criticism. He stands on a plank of inspiration which the philosopher will eagerly upset by the same weapons of criticism; and so our ex-professor shall be found floundering in the roaring billows and yawning whirlpools of page 58 scepticism, infidelity, and atheism. His book is a masterpiece of its kind, but when the masses of ignorant men shall be found repeating his shibboleth, and Scotland shall be drifting to infidelity, our author will perhaps be sorrowful, and ashamed of his followers. He has appealed unto Reason, and to Reason he must go. The bulk of mankind is incapable of exercising thoughtful reflection. The disciples of a great thinker generally make a travesty of the doctrines of their master. It is—as we have personally experienced—dangerous to cast the seeds of religious scepticism over the face of society. Socialism, anarchy, immorality, infidelity, and the coarsest forms of materialism invariably spring up from such seeds. The book, however, is learned and replete with the fruits of research. We are perfectly confident that there are not two men in the Southern Hemisphere of sufficient erudition and comprehension of intellect to give us a clear synopsis of his ideas, and a critical analysis of his arguments. This thoughtful conviction has constrained us to criticise the "Prophets of Israel."