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agent is the man who is fervently righteous for other folk. And it is during this period we see the Holy Books of the Jews taking definite form. How much as a race they owe to them is beyond calculation. What the singing of Homer was to the Greek and the Bible and Shakespeare to the Anglo-Saxon, such were they to the Jew. They consolidated the people, and in making them protagonists of one of the great moral movements of the world helped to preserve their identity to this day. To what extent they are to be actually traced to Ezra personally is difficult to determine, so completely did his mantle fall upon his immediate successors. We have noticed the reverential regard that Ezra had for the old texts, and the same spirit seems to have animated the immediate school that carried on his work. And it is a great debt we owe them. Patchwork in consequence, as we have observed, their work may have been, but to that fidelity we owe the preservation intact of some of the finest writings the world possesses. A later period we are to find under somewhat different influences, and there is no longer to be the same scrupulous regard for the ancient text in all its integrity. A great wave of literary progress is to mark these days, and certainly from a cultured point of view these subsequent editings may seem to be an improvement. Thus reading the same account in the Canon and the Apocrypha-for instance, the story of Esther-we are bound to confess that the latter has been rewritten by no mean scholar, and yet it is no such rewriting we desire. And then to meet the need of the passing hour we find many interpolations inserted, with other innovations as well. So even the dates of presumed writing have proved imaginary; e.g. much of Daniel which belongs to a late period. All this has had a disquieting effect, and misunderstood and exaggerated has been occasion of concern, and no less concern because wholly unnecessary. Happily the note struck by Ezra has no uncertain sound; it has persisted through the ages and rings out as clear in these times as the day it was delivered. As for the purely human agency by which it has come down to us, it stands out on every page and corroborates the account that it itself gives of its own recovery and preservation. But our supreme interest is that exactly as our Christian faith, acknowledged or unacknowledged, has identified itself with our life, so did it become one with their national consciousness. In moral momentum, in the joint result of philosophy and conduct, its measure was and is still high. As regards doctrine pure and simple, there were probably as many schools amongst the Jews, and with as many fetishes and shibboleths, as amongst ourselves. But creeds are far from the whole of religion, and for ourselves our great Master has made but one test of fellowship : “ By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples if ye love one another." And where there is this love there is need for little further testimony, ordinance, ceremonial, or observance. The power of Christ is the power of love, the law of Christ is the law of freedom. And all beautiful Galatians—WHERE LOVE IS, LAW NO LONGER EXISTS.
28. And here, to some extent summarizing our conclusions, we virtually see in this period, B.C. 444-333, the moulding, so to say, of the race genius of the Jew, whilst during the next four hundred years, B.C. 333 to A.D. 70, we are to follow it in its working out. This time is to be one of varying fortunes, but on the whole also one of progress and increasing consideration, until the crash comes with the destruction of Jerusalem. And contemporaneous with this development we are to find Rome, from a peasant city, become mistress of the world, whilst Greek thought has achieved a similar ascendency in things intellectual. The only rival to challenge her universal supremacy in this department is the Jew himself, and the special feature of these centuries is the rise and decline of Hellenism and its influence upon his race. From being at first favourably disposed to it, we are to find him become in violent antagonism to everything Greek, racial hate intensifying difference in religious outlook.
This is broadly speaking. No cut and dried principle ever sways a nation as a whole. There is always overlapping of sentiment and unending mixture of motive. Life is the resultant of millions of forces, but in the end in the noble nation that resultant is along the line of noble resolve, whilst in an ignoble nation other considerations preponderate. The resulting action is largely the touch-stone of the class of forces developing it. Thus our war with Germany. Our detractors, especially the yapping curs amongst ourselves, delight to see in our action nothing but selfishness, baseness, and folly. Those who love their country, the best the world has to tell of, may be satisfied her action saved mankind. Thus with the Jews in relation to Hellenism. Their conception of life in its relation to the unseen was impressing itself on the world at large and with increasing power as their prosperity increased. On the other hand, the Greek charm; its metaphysical subtlety, its historical associations never lost its hold on the educated Jew, Mark even the writings of St. Paul. But as a whole, over the centuries, the Jewish outlook on life was the Puritan outlook. And this was what divided them from their fellow man, and more, what divided them amongst themselves. And it is still what divides the world in general to-day. And as with ourselves, it is not in words or creeds or metaphysics that we must seek the difference, but in the fundamentals of life itself. A man is not puritan and therefore serious, but is serious, non-emotional and zealous and therefore puritan. And though we find the puritanism of the Jew in many garbs, yet for all that it has been and is still to be the driving force of many a movement with which its connection is not too obvious. Up till now the temptation has been the worship of strange gods in gross forms and with doubtful ceremonial. The ensuing period is to find the temptation in subtler guise, but in essentials the same. It is now to be wrapped up in the beauties of Greek culture, and reaction against it is to be occasion of offence to neighbours, as well as of fierce quarrellings amongst themselves. Previous dispute had been as to which hated enemy-Assryian or Egyptian; Syrian Greek or Egyptian Greek, they should cast in their lot with, but with the Syrian Greek established in power the temptation was to please their master by accepting his religion. As it appealed to many, both intellectually and emotionally as well, in the rising flood of Hellenism the purer Judaistic faith was to be almost entirely swept away. With the “ fashionables " it was to be altogether out of date. But for all that it will be Hellenism and not puritanism which runs counter to the race consciousness as a whole. The very loveliness and exquisiteness of the Greek anthropomorphism was ever an offence to the Semitic thought, which found its cradle in Arabia, and which has ever known its God as a spirit alone. And in this instinct, especially as developed in their educated peasant of the Scottish type, is great material. It is in such we find the makings of a fierce race of patriots. These Puritans have always been rare fighters. Men of simple nianners and intense earnestness, with no great powers of ratiocination, they will know no temporizing, and with the prophets on their side they will live their faith and not talk it. And the story of their struggle is one of absorbing interest. It is the motif of the two books of the Maccabees. These commence with the time when their fortunes are at their lowest ebb—when the temple knows no more the worship of Jehovah; and they conclude with the rout of their Syrian-Greek tyrants and the triumphant re-establishment of the ancient faith. And anticipating days to come, we are to witness them as they go from strength to strength until they became the proudest of the earth. Until the northern nations of Europe emerge from barbarism to reinvigorate a diseased world it is doubtful if any other race were ever quite their equal. The Persian in his strength had passed away; the people proper of Egypt were never quite their peers; the Greek we are to see become degenerate, whilst the Roman was always at heart a boor. What other people could have resorted to emetics to increase delight in feasting! At the time of our Lord we are to find the Jews as rich and influential colonists in every city of the empire and forming a great though loose confederation, of which Jerusalem was their holy city and centre. When finally we see them throwing down the gauntlet to Rome itself, we shall find it was no act of mere madness but a very real bid for independence even if not for the supremacy of the world. Consolidated, and at the zenith of their fortunes, they had never been denied. A succession of weak or wicked emperorsTiberius, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitllius—had brought the empire to the verge of ruin, from which it was only saved by the genius of Vespasian. The extent of the danger run was shown by the rejoicing over his triumphs. Vespasian himself, though of no family, was acclaimed emperor, and the arch of Titus -erected by Domitian to celebrate the victories of his father and brother over the Jews—is still one of the glories of the city of Rome. But there had been no arch, no victories, had the Jews been then united amongst themselves. Unhappily, at this great crisis in their history they were to be more seriously divided than ever was the case with them, and in their divisions was to be found the hideous ruin of them all.
THE EMPIRE OF ALEXANDER.
29. AND with the year B.C. 333 once more we see the Jews in the throes of a terrible crisis. The Persian and Greek are in mortal combat and the Greek is to prove triumphant. And they refuse him assistance. They are confident in the power of the “Great King.” More, they assist Tyre, leagued with his enemy. Tyre is in need of corn and they supply it, but they have none for him.