Let Irreverence stay her ribald tongue before these illustrious writings, and Indecency vomit her own nastiness elsewhere than on our Bible.
The Bible lays a yet deeper claim upon our reverence These books constitute the literature of a people whose genius was religion, whose mission was its evolution into universal forms, whose writings express the moods and tenses of that development; whose history is the organic growth which flowered in the life of Him who freed religion from every swathing band, and gave the world its pure essential spirit; after Whom all races are being drawn as one flock under one Shepherd.
1. Israel’s specialty in history was religion.
Every people finds laid upon it certain necessary activities, in most of which all peoples find their common tasks. Every nation must cultivate agriculture handicrafts, trade and commerce; must develop social, political and religious institutions. Each people will, however, do some one thing better than the rest of its tasks, better than it is done by other peoples. Each great race has some commanding inspiration; some ideal which masters every other aspiration and ambition, energizes its efforts and shapes its destiny. It creates a specialty among the nations. The real legacy of each great race lies in the works wrought in the line of its highest aptitudes. Thus Rome developed a genius for civil organization. She conquered the whole western world, united isolated nations under one empire, cleared the Mediterranean for safe and free communication, opened roads as arteries through the vast body politic, established post communications for travellers and the mails, carried law and order into every obscure hamlet, consolidated a polity which, by sheer massiveness, lasted for generations after the soul of Rome had fled, and left to posterity, in her institutes the basis for modern jurisprudence. Thus Greece evolved a genius for art, developed architecture and sculpture to the highest perfection the world has seen, made statues thicker than men in Athens, made men more beautiful than statues, sighed even after Virtue as the Becoming, the Perfect Beauty, left the world temples whose ruins are inspirations, and marbles whose discovery dates the epochs of culture. Israel essayed to do many things that other peoples achieved, and promised success in more than one direction. At a certain period she bade fair to develop into a martial empire, and to become a lesser Assyria or Rome. A little later she seemed about to rival the Phenicians in commerce. About the same time she