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others that he offered sacrifices to his wife, and made hymns in favor of his father-in-law. Some are of opinion, he was poisoned by the priests; others are clear that he died of vexation, because he could not discover the causes of the ebb and flow in the Euripus. We now care or know so little about Aristotle, that Mr. Fielding in one of his novels, says, * Aristotle is not such a fool as many people believe who never read a syllable of his works."
There is really nothing of caricature in this strange portrait of one of the greatest philosophers of antiquity. We could produce an entire gallery of such anomalous characters—their creed, their knowledge, their calling, their habits, practices, and mental stature, are all mere matters of conjecture, so that the moral of their lives is necessarily lost. Unless we know all that is obstructive in a man's history, as well as all that favors his growth in real greatness, we can form but a very poor estimate of his true position in society: his creed, his acquirements, his every day life, and his circumstances must be looked at together.
For this reason, the philosophical and practical biographies of Scripture are ever to be preferred to those of other writers. However little we may know of the birth, parentage, or education of these men, we always know, and know certainly, their moral and spiritual status. The great moulding spirit of all their acts, and words, and influences, is thoroughly understood; for the lives of the Bible are all lives of the inner man--not of the mere puppet, worked by the strings and springs of interest or circumstances. How seldom do we find other biographers diving down to the Motive, that pregnant word which we too often regard as a mere conventionalism, instead of translating it as the moving cause—the thing not seen from which “ the things that do appear,” are all made, or moulded.
Let us go some centuries further back than the days of Aristotle, and we shall find in the sacred Scriptures, the histories of men, whom we instinctively recognize, as of like passions with ourselves. We understand them at once, and if they be good men, we know and feel the influence they are intended to exercise upon us. We feel rebuked and abashed by the eminence of their piety, we sympathise with their trials, we weep as they weep, and rejoice as they rejoice, rising from the contemplation of such characters edified by the sweet consideration, that the oneness of their experience, and our own in heavenly things, is an earnest of the reality of our common faith.
As an illustration of these remarks, we might refer to the life of the prophet Ezekiel. Of his personal history we know very little. But how instructive is the investigation of his public life, or of the development of his mental and moral powers. His infancy and youth are unrecorded, but he appears to have been born about the year 625 B. C. of a priestly family, as he held the sacred office peculiar to it, in addition to his prophetical calling. He was among the first of those carried captive by Nebuchadnezzar, to Babylon, with Jehoachin, king of Judah; and here he appears to have uttered all his prophecies.
His introduction to public life was peculiarly abrupt and solemn. Whilst among the captivity, by the river Khabur, or Araxes, which flows into the Euphrates, just above the 30th parallel of north latitude, “the heavens were opened and he saw visions of God.” Without any of those means, which in the case of Daniel and Jeremiah, and many others, appear to have been necessary for bringing the soul into close and earnest contact with the God of prayer, “ the word of the Lord came expressly to Ezekiel, and the hand of the Lord was upon him.” He was introduced at once to the secret place of the Most High, and shut up alone to those awful revelations which were to sink down deep into his heart, and influence him throughout his prophetical life. It is especially worthy of remark, that, under the Jewish dispensation, which was eminently external and tangible in its nature, the direct teaching of the Holy Spirit should be so prominently brought forward in many parts of the Old Testament. God comes at once to the soul, regardless oftentimes of the ritualism of his own appointment, as if purposely to shew that he is greater than the temple. Jacob "awakes out of his sleep,” and finds that he has reached the very “gate of heaven" in the unconsciousness of his slumbers. Isaiah sees the gloom that curtained the melancholy close of a backsliding monarch’s life, suddenly broken by a vision of His glory who was to rise with healing in his wings, for every nation of the wide world; and in like manner,
"expressly,” and with sudden rapture, whilst a stranger in a strange land, and divorced from all his accustomed “ordinances of divine service,” and even from the “worldly sanctuary" itself, in which his fathers worshipped, a call to that majestic office which he was to fulfil with such an utter absorption or sublimation, of all earthly considerations, that the loss even of his dearest treasure here—“the desire of his eyes,” was not allowed to interfere for one moment with his sacred calling. : The first vision of Ezekiel relates to the cherubim, those mysterious symbols of the Godhead which, under various forms, appear always to have indicated the Divine presence. Much confusion has been created by our commentators in discussing this subject, from the tendency they have almost always shewn to assimilate things which differ. They have generally assigned one and the same form and appearance to the various kinds of cherubim referred to in Holy Writ, whereas the careful student cannot fail to observe that those placed at the east of the garden of Eden, those in the tabernacle, those in the temple, and those seen in vision by Ezekiel, were very different in form, posture, position, and every element of their nature.
It is remarkable that, in the land of Israel's captivity, and the neighbouring countries of Mesopotamia and Assyria, symbols, bearing one or more of the distinctive characters of these cherubim are constantly brought to light. The recent discoveries of Layard, as well as those of earlier travellers in these parts of the East, have been prolific in statues and relievos of human-headed bulls and winged lions--of hawk or eagleheaded human figures, several of them many-winged like those of the prophet. It seems therefore probable that these creatures adumbrative as they no doubt were of the crude and dim mysteries of the Babylonish faith, were vividly present in the mind of the captive seer as he wept at the remembrance of the purer
faith of Zion. A beautiful principle appears to be involved here; God is touched with a father's pity for our infirmities: and sympathises with humanity so far as to use even its darkest guesses after truth in leading us nearer to the true Shekinah of his presence. The Bible is made for man, and man for the Bible.
The charge given to Ezekiel was peculiarly solemn. Yet, with all this solemnity, it was exceedingly simple, “ Warn faithfully and thou shalt save thy soul: prophesy smooth things, and I will require thy blood and the blood of those that hear thee, at thine hands.” Thus spake the word of the Lord to Ezekiel; and with this weight of responsibility, he sat at Tel-abib amongst his hearers," and remained there ASTONISHED,” and overwhelmed by the abundance of the revelations. felt like the great apostle of the gentiles, “ apprehended of God”—a perpetual capture, eaten up with zeal for his Divine Master and the purgation of the once pure faith of his illustrious fathers. The holy and beautiful house where they worshipped was burned up with a fire more hateful than that of any temporal conqueror—" the image of jealousy which provoketh to jealousy,” sat at the door of its inner gate, and there the obscene and impious rites of Tammuz-the Adonis of later times—were celebrated by shameless women, the degenerate representatives of the virgin daughters of Jerusalem. Egypt had concentrated all its plagues in the house of the Lord. “All the chief of the priests and the people transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen,” and polluted it. The prophet's vision carried him possibly beyond the literal reality of the case when he saw "every form of creeping things and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel pourtrayed upon the walls round about ;" but the spirit and essence of their sin was the same as if they had actually introduced these visible forms into the temple now despoiled of its vessels and appurtenances. It is not, however, unlikely, that as the visible paraphernalia of their worship had disappeared, the Jews substituted for them some outward symbols borrowed from the circumjacent heathen nations.
It is worthy of remark that the defection of the house of Israel is first visited with vengeance“An end, an end is come! “Now is the end come upon thee, “ An evil, an only evil behold, is come. « An end is come—THE END is come: it watcheth for thee; behold it
is come.” They that have charge over the city--for it was not yet forsaken—are called on to draw near, even “every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.” But this “ strange work” is only for a little moment, and is framed with special reference to the usages of the idolatrous Egyptians. The men clothed with linen with the inkhorn, the mark set upon the forehead, and the scattering of coals over the doomed city, had each their type in the religious rites of that country. As the Jews had sinned by leaning towards these rites, so were they to be punished by others analagous to the same system. “What a man soweth, that shall he reap."
The signal power that had called Ezekiel to the prophetical office was a perpetual presence—he felt it to be eminentlyexclusively-of God. He could, therefore, have had no doubt that He was the great Idea symbolized in the cherubic vision on the banks of the Chebar. The counterpart of this manifestation is now presented to him, the locality being changed to Jerusalem. There he sees the glory inseparably associated hitherto with the same living creatures, leaving them in the most holy place, hovering over the threshold, and returning again to take its flight with them. " And the cherubim,” he adds, “lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight.” How significant was this vision, indicating the removal both of God's chosen symbol, and of God himself, from those who had proved so unworthy of his presence and favor. The severance of the Great Spiritual Idea from its visible type shewed very plainly His independence of all material symbolism, whilst the fact that the glory of the Lord, after leaving its accustomed resting-place, and retiring to the threshold, returned and stood over the cherubim once more, indicated with equal clearness the honor put upon the Jewish ritualism when followed out in spirit and in truth. Israel's fault had been the undue elevation of the type till it had at length superseded the thing typified. They changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts and creeping things." They were, therefore, doubly reproved here, by the unmistakeable implication that they had not only forsaken the Living Fountain, but had hewn out broken cisterns.
The glory having thus departed from the temple, the de