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sit under its shadow, and to eat of its fruit, is the purest and sweetest enjoyment of a pious heart. Let the weary and the burdened sinner come under this shadow, and they shall find rest to their souls; and let the pious abide under it, for there alone can they be safe and happy. Once this Plant was smitten of God, but this was done that it might drop balm on you. Now it grows in the midst of the paradise of God, and to it let your affections rise, and from it let them never descend.
· THE CANDID INQUIRER.
THIS character is rare. Many, engrossed by the cares of the world, and unconscious of the beauty and the value of truth, feel not the least solicitude for religious knowledge; and make no effort to attain it. Others, under the influence of the prejudices of education, the feelings of party, or the power of system, examine every opposite doctrine and scheme with a wish and determination to condemn it altogether, or to make it bend to their own. Few there are who
seek wisdom in the spirit of meekness and docility; and who are eager to receive its lessons from the humblest instructors, and in the simplest form. A beautiful example of such an inquirer is presented to us in the desert of Gaza, and in the conduct of the Ethiopian nobleman who was returning to his own country from Jerusalem, where he had been offering homage to the God of Israel. In the whole of the narrative he discovers a very amiable spirit—and a pattern is exhibited which cannot be studied without delight, nor followed without advantage.
His regard to the ordinances of religion first claims our notice. From the Jews who lived in Ethiopia he had probably acquired some knowledge of their religion; and having heard of the glory of the temple of Jerusalem, and of the blessings to be obtained in worshipping the God of Israel there, he resolved to go up to the house of the Lord. The journey was long and fatiguing; his path lay through deserts frightful by their sterility, the perils arising from the wind and the sun, and the predatory tribes, whom the wealth and the helplessness of the traveller embolden; and he had reason to fear that advantage might be taken of his absence to supplant him in the favour of his sovereign, and to defeat
the arrangements which he had made for the conducting of public affairs, yet did he repair to the temple of the Most High. It was not on an embassy to the ruling powers of Judea that he was sent, but for the worship of the King of kings did he come. He would rather bow at his footstool than occupy the highest station in the court of Ethiopia ;. and, without anxiety, he left the protection of his person and interests to the care of Heaven.
It is mournful to think, that in Christian countries there are so many who live within a few steps of the sanctuary of God, but never attend its worship; and that, while the great travel so readily to a considerable distance on tours of curiosity or pleasure, so many of them are strangers to the place where God's honour dwelleth. Our public papers detail the splendid equipages which, on the Lord's day, crowd to the fashionable promenade, but seldom is the chariot seen waiting at the gates of wisdom. In too many families the form of piety is left to be maintained by the female part of them, while the father and the sons act as if they were too wise for its lessons, and too mighty for its restraints.
Some plead the hurry of business as an excuse for their absence; but are their engagements more pressing than those of this noble
man? It is not months, or weeks, or days in succession, that are asked, but one day in seven; and who can say that this is too much. Among the lower orders, many spend the Sabbath in slumber, in dissipation, or in mischief; and many churches might be filled with such wanderers. One great cause of the neglect of public worship has been the little care which has been taken to provide instruction in a form interesting to the heart. The gospel is the true attraction. It is a striking fact, that while the splendid cathedral is deserted, that while the priest stands almost solitary by its gilded altars, and the organ gives its finest tones to the air, assemblies of a humbler kind are crowded, and worship of a simpler cast is accompanied by the hearts of the multitude. That name shines there, without which splendour and learning are vanity, and which can attract from the greatest distance, and charm in the highest degree.
The next excellence in this nobleman, is his delight in the holy Scripture. We may believe that his regard to it was very strong, since he carried it with him in his chariot, and read it there. He had in his journey access to a variety of books, and from his library he might have brought a number of other manuscripts to be perused as he travelled, but the Bible was his
favourite companion. And as he had read it in repairing to Jerusalem to cherish the pious affections required in divine worship, so he read it as he was returning to keep alive the impressions which had been produced, that he might carry with him to a distant land some of that holy fire which he had caught at the altar of God.
It is much to be regretted that so many, in all the ranks of life, are strangers to the Scriptures. In examining the libraries of the rich and the noble, we meet with thousands of volumes, possessing every ornament which the painter or the binder can give them; but amidst so much to amuse or to instruct, as to the interests of time, how little is there to remind of eternity, or to give the knowledge of salvation.
Few think of taking the Bible with them in their journeys, and seldom is it to be found in the apartments to which the traveller is directed. It is a circumstance worthy of notice, as marking the improved taste of the public, that most vessels of passage on canals and rivers are furnished with books for the perusal of passengers; and much better, in every view, is this way of beguiling the time than spending it in cards or in drinking. But how seldom is the