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Bible Characters Are Wonderful Aids to Faith

Bible Characters Are Wonderful Aids to Faith

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Published by glennpease
BY CHARLES READE, D.C.L.


A LITERARY MARVEL.

The characters in Scripture are a literary
marvel.
BY CHARLES READE, D.C.L.


A LITERARY MARVEL.

The characters in Scripture are a literary
marvel.

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Published by: glennpease on Jun 13, 2013
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BIBLE CHARACTERS ARE WODERFUL AIDS TO FAITHBY CHARLES READE, D.C.L.A LITERARY MARVEL.The characters in Scripture are a literarymarvel.It is very hard to write characters in onecountry to be popular in every land and age.Especially hard in narrative. (Drama paradescharacters by numberless speeches, and auto-graphs them by soliloquy — an expedient false innature, but convenient in art.)Hardest of all to create such world-wide andeverlasting characters in few words, a bare recordof great things said and done.One test of difficulty is rarity : number, then,2 BIBLE CHARACTERS.the world-wide characters — ^if any — ^in Thacydides and Herodotus, and observe whetherJosephus, when he leaves watering the Bible andproceeds to supplement it, has added one death-less character to the picture-galleries of HolyWrit. Shall we carry the comparison higher,and include poetic narrative ? then go to the topof the tree at once, and examine the two greatepics of antiquity.The '-Sneid' — what a stream of narrative!what fire of description! what march and music of words ! But the characters ? — -^Eneas mediocre,his staff lay figures. Dido just interestingenough to make one angry with -^neas. Per-haps the strongest colour is in the friendshipand fate of isus and Euryalus; and there aJewish pen had shown the way.
 
The less polished but mightier Homer hasachieved the highest feat of genius; he hasmade puny things grand, and fertilized pebbles.He has bewitched even scholars into thinkinghis Greeks wiser and braver than the Trojans ;whereas, if you can shut your ears to his music,I -' A LITERARY MARVEL. 3his Greeks were barbarians besieging a civilizedcity for a motive and in a manner incompatiblewith one ray of civilization. The motive : fromthe first dawn of civilization no country with in-dependent states ever got those states to unite inleaving home and besieging a distant city torecover the person of a sohtary adulteress. Themanner: the first dawn of civilization showed menthat cities placed like Troy can always be takenby one of two methods, blockade or assault. ButHomer's Zulus had neither the sense to blockadethat civilized city and starve it out, nor theinvention to make ladders, covered ways, andbattering-rams, nor the courage to scale walls,nor even to bum or break through a miserablegate. The civilized Trojans had a silver currency,the Tyrian shekel, called by scholars with Homeron the brain ' the Homeric shekeL' Homer nevermentions it, never saw it. The uncivilizedGreeks had no currency but bullocks ; no tradebut exchange of commodities. The attack anddefence of Troy were of a piece with the twocurrencies : the civilized Orientals, with a silver4 BIBLE CHARACTERS.currency, barred out the Zulus, with a bullock 
 
currency and calves' brains, like a pack of school-boys, and showed their contempt of them bycoming out and attacking them in the open withtheir inferior numbers. Yet the genius of Homercould dazzle men's eyes, and bewitch their ears,and confound their judgments, and sing black white. So behold the barbarians gilt for ever,and the civilized people smirched. Carent quiavote sacTO.But turn from the glories of the wondrous talethis magician has built on a sorry subject — fitterfor satire than epic — to his characters, and he isno longer supreme.To be sure, he does not dose us with mono-tonies, abstractions, lay figures ;/or^emg'ue Gyan,fortemqne Cloanthwm: he discriminates thebrute courage of Ajax and the airy valour of Tydides, the wisdom of estor and the astutenessof Ulysses. But his gods and goddesses ? — merehuman animals ; blue blood for red, and thereends his puerile invention in things divine. Hisleading heroes are characters, but not on a parA UTERAR V MAR VEL. 5with his descriptions, his narrative, and hismusic. They are the one ephemeral element inan immortal song. Achilles, with his unsoldier-like egotism, his impenetrable armour, his Zulucruelty to his helpless foe, and his antique tenderfriendship, is a brave Greek of the day, but heis not for all time ; two-thirds of him no modemsoldier would deign to copy.The twenty-four books devoted by so great apoet to Ulysses have not engraved ' the much-enduring man * on the Western heart. In short,the leading heroes of Homer's epics are immortalin our libraries, but dead in our lives.ow take the two little books called SamueLThe writer is not a great master like Homer and

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