Page images
PDF
EPUB

Are these the general, prevailing characteristics of professors of religion in our times, so that wherever we see a professor of religion, we expect to see such a character as this? If not, then, with all the improvements and advantages of modern times, we have yet something to learn from the piety of the early Christians.

ARTICLE VI.

ON THE HUSKS THAT THE SWINE DID EAT. By Rev. Samuel H. Cox, D. D., Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Brooklyn, N. Y." And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the

swine did eat : and no man gave unto him.—Luke 15:16. ;

My attention has been lately turned to the meaning of the word husks, in this passage, a specimen of which I have just received from the Mediterranean. Indebted to a respected member of my church for the present, I have no doubt of its genuineness. His ships traverse many distant seas; and by a recent arrival from the Levant, he received the same from the Rev. Mr. Dwight, missionary, at Smyrna. The interest thus awakened, has induced me to communicate the results of some attention bestowed on the subject. ·

Και επεθύμει γεμίσει την κοιλίαν αυτού από των κερατίων ων όσθιον, οι χοίροι και ουδείς εδίδου αυτώ.

Thus reads the original. We inquire mainly, what means the word husks ? What were they, credibly, which are thus represented as moving the appetite, even of a starv. ing man, to devour them, and that to satiety; being “filled" with them?

In America, where the aboriginal Indian corn, or maize, has in effect monopolized the application of the word corn, we are coming almost universally to understand by it, maize alone, Whereas, in all the English world besides, and in our common English Bible, the word corn is a generic or collective term, for all farinaceous grains or substances, previously to the process of grinding, which reduces them to

the consistency of meal, flour, or bran. Thus wheat, rye, oats, buckwheat, and other staples of agriculture, are denominated corn; not with us in the United States, but with the whole English world besides us; as when they speak of corn crops, corn stuffs, and corn laws, or the like. With us, by corn is meant, simply, maize ; and by an allied usage, the word husks becomes appropriated to the exterior rind, bark, hull, or integument, that immediately covers and protects the seeds or grains.

The consequence is that among the common people-we do not, of course, implicate the clergy, or the learned of other classes, in the statement—the impressions produced, by reading the passage in question, are ludicrous, or absurd and incredible. This is so, we apprehend, in the experience of almost all youthful readers among us. The figure, in the mind's eye, is that of a famished man, desiring to eat cornstalks, or the dry husks of hard Indian corn; and to that end, almost grudging the luxury, to the miserable, and to the Jews especially, the execrable, quadrupeds, which it was then his deep degradation to attend. Nor is the riddle improved, when we imagine that even swine should think it luxury, or use such aliment. They will eat our corn, but are not ordinarily reduced to any monstrous necessity of subsisting—if this were possible--on husks !

Mistakes of this sort too afford materials, comparatively among the best, for the day-dreams of modern infidelity. A plausibly deduced absurdity is the occasion of arraigning or denouncing the inspiration of the holy Scriptures. How could a man eat husks or corn-stalks? How could swine ? Thus, by weapons as contemptible or as silly, is the bosom of the hearer pierced, and poisoned against the truth.

The specimen mentioned above, is a perfect illustration of the sense of Scripture, and as good a vindication of its truth from such or similar attacks. The word nepatiOV OCcurs in no other passage of the New Testament. It refers doubtless to the very species now identified in the specimen-as we gather from an induction of many particulars. It is a dark hard pod or capsule, about three inches in length, with seeds (8 or 10) that rattle in the case, gently, when shaken, and with a noise resembling that of a rattlesnake. Each seed is about the size of an ordinary dry pea, not perfectly round, but flattened; hard, and of a dark red.

dish color. The taste of the pod is poor, but not entirely disagreeable ; being sweetish, somewhat nutritious even in its dry state, and probably much more palatable and proper for food in its earlier or green state. The whole form is slightly curved, resembling a small horn; from which in Greek its name seems to be derived ; ó xepas, cornu. The whole form or show of them on the tree, especially at some sea. sons of the year, would better suggest probably the idea of horns, as if the tree was full of them.

Such facts are not too trivial to be useful; and their relation of propriety to a REPOSITORY, mainly Biblical, will be obvious to all

. They assist our understanding of the parable of the Prodigal Son, and may aid our wisdom in looking through its drapery to the great idea it there inculcates that worldlings, going away from God for happiness, are compelled often to covet the most miserable substitutes —to subsist on elements, that show their degradation, and make even brutes, in their proper spheres, appear their enviable superiors.

A few authorities, and I have done. Dr. Campbell translates the word without change, husks. His note on the passage however is valuable.

With the husks, and twr nepatior. Vul. De Siliquis. That xepatiov answers to siliqua, and signifies a husk, or pod, wherein the seeds of some plants, especially those of the leguminous tribe, are contained, is evident, But both the Greek xepariov and the Latin siliqua, signify also the fruit of the carob-tree, a tree very common in the Levant, and in the southern parts of Europe, as Spain and Italy. The Syriac and Arabic words are of the same import. This fruit still continues to be used for the same purposes, the feeding of swine. It is also called St. John's Bread, from the opinion that the Baptist used it in the wilderness. It is the pod only that is eaten, which shows the propriety of the names xepariov and siliqua, and of rendering it into English husk. Miller says, it is mealy, and has a sweetish taste, and that it is eaten by the poorer sort; for it grows in the common hedges, and is of little account.

Our specimen perfectly verifies the above description. We must however dissent from the sentiment that husks is the proper or eligible way of rendering it into English. It strikes us as far preferable to substitute the word pods.

This would be intelligible, and comparatively inaccessible to the evils of mistake or perversion; as it seems almost the precise counterpart of the original, or comparatively the proper word.

Doddridge is more conjectural and less satisfactory. He says, “ I take it, on the whole, to have been the fruit of a tree, something of a wild chestnut kind.” He refers to Brown, Saubert, Grotius, Drusius, in loco, and others.

From Robinson's Calmet, waiting for his better or more authentic and forth coming publication, as our grand thesaurus of biblical antiquities, we transcribe the following:

“ Most interpreters are of opinion that the Greek word signifies carob-beans, the fruit of a tree of the same name ; Ceratonia Silique of Linnæus. There was a sort of wine or liquor, much used in Syria, drawn from it, and the lees of it were given to the hogs. The Greeks and Latins both name carob-beans ceratia ; and Pliny, as well as the Vulgate, calls them Siliqua. This fruit is common in Palestine, Greece, Italy, Provence and Barbary. It is suffered to ripen and grow dry on the tree. The poor eat it, and the cattle are fattened with it. The tree is of a middle size, full of branches, and abounding with round leaves an inch or two in diameter. The blossoms are little red clus. ters, with abundance of yellowish stalks. The fruits are flat pods, from half a foot to fourteen inches long,* and an inch and a half broad. They are brown at the top, sometimes crooked, composed of two husks, separated by membranes into several cells, and containing flat, shining seeds, something like those of cassia. The substance of these husks is filled with a sweetish, honey-like kind of juice, not unlike that of the pith of cassia. In all probability, its crooked figure occasioned its being called, in Greek, Keratia, which signifies little horns."

* Our specimen is small in the comparison-and yet verified. ARTICLE VII.

THE INFLUENCE OF THE AGE UPON POETRY, AND OF POETRY

UPON THE AGE.

By Grenville Mellen, New.York.:

Did we consider it necessary, at this time, to give autho. rity for admiration of the great and gifted in song, we should refer ourselves at once to the tribute which has been paid to poetic genius from the earliest times to our own. The high rank held by poets, in almost every country, during the infancy of its civilization, or of its letters, has been retained, with those modifications, certainly, which might be expected in the progress of society, so that we find it essentially unchanged and undisputed even among ourselves. The ancient superstition which invested the bard with a character of divinity, and his song with all the authority and sacredness of the oracles, naturally resulted from the frequent exhibition of lofty and enthusiastic spirits, in powerful struggle with their strong conceptions, before a people comparatively simple and uncultivated. It is not astonishing that the fight of birds, the responses of the Sybil, or even the “intonuit lævum”-the propitiatory thunders of Jove should be deemed less infallible tokens of a present inspiration, than the kindling strains of the poet, when he appealed, in glowing numbers, to the feelings or the patriotism of his auditory: or when he sung of deeds that touched their memories with an electric interest; or, more than all, when he bore them with him into the shadowy future, and there unveiled visions of glory and greatness, which, by the contrivance of his wizard power were transformed from the mere pageantry of imagination into splendid realities. It is matier familiar with our classic associations, that bards, as well as conquerors, were followed, and courted, and crowned; and it is not an easy thing to decide whether Æschylus was less honored than Miltiades; or whether he might not have borne additional renown from Marathon, while he was gazed on as the father of tragedy.

« PreviousContinue »