Billeder på siden

dealings are calculated to secure, which can be considered with complacency and joy; and it is this alone which crowns, and gives a worthiness to the means which operate to produce that result. These sentiments are common to the scriptures. They are of a humiliating character, we know, but powerfully influential in producing inward peace and heavenly joy.

Again, as it is the issue of causes and circumstances which gives them their character, so it is this alone which can explain their necessity and utility. The patriarch and his family experienced sad and gloomy reverses. Domestic quietude and joy are exchanged for the most poignant affliction. One beloved object is believed to have been torn in pieces by wild beasts. Famine presses upon them, till the other sons visit Egypt for relief. But there new disasters befal them. They are treated as spies, and constrained to leave one of their number as a hostage, till they bring down their youngest brother to present him to the lord of the country. Who can wonder that such events, such tidings, such presages should fill the heart of an old man, near the close of an eventful, and adverse life, with melancholy and desponding reflections? Alas! It requires uncommon virtue to struggle against evils coming in such rapid succession. It requires a larger share of patience, and more confidence in heaven, than men usually exercise, to grapple successfully with enemies of our peace, so numerous and potent. No wonder that Jacob exclaimed, "all these things are against me;" for here was no part of the dealings of providence that explained itself, or that seemed to throw any light upon the past, or unfold the future. The book of God must have appeared highly paradoxical, one vast enigma, the solution of which, we have no reason to suppose Jacob expected to see, at least in the present world. This history, which is very briefly related, exemplifies the dealings of God in his providential kingdom; and it

gives us some idea of the dense obscurity which envel opes the divine purposes, till, as in the case before us, "the darkness is dissipated and the true light shineth," and the sequel justifies the government of God, and his subjects rejoice in the manifestation of his righteous judgements. Thus "sorrow endures for the night, but joy cometh in the morning."

Many more examples might be produced in support of the sentiment we are considering, but they would be unnecessary, and we shall omit mentioning them. The preceding will serve as a specimen of what we find in many portions of the scriptures; and it will contribute to impress our minds with a solemn sense of the wisdom and goodness of that Great Being, who suffers no scene of tribulation to pass without designing it in mercy, and controlling it by his power, till it closes in the greater good of every sufferer. Such views are suited to inspire the most noble and elevated feelings of which the soul is susceptible; they inspire the language of confidence and hope; "I will wait upon the Lord, who hideth his face from me, until he plead my cause, and execute judgement for me; he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness."

Thirdly. The dispensation of grace explains the mysteries of nature and providence. Jesus Christ is appointed to "open the book, and to loose its seven seals.” Grace forms the conclusion of that volume which has been "written with the finger of God," and is alone capable of interpreting whatever has appeared obscure or contradictory. I state this with special reference to the end for which man was created, which the gospel alone exhibits, and to the "life and immortality" which it brings to light; for in other views of the subject, we shall find, that even the kingdom of grace embraces events, which considered by themselves appear inexplicable. The rejection of the Jews, and the calling of the Gentiles, belongs to this class, and must receive its

interpretation from the fact, that it was the determined purpose of God, to unite Jews and Gentiles in one body, while for wise and benevolent reasons, he rejected the former, for a time, until the fulness of the latter should be brought in, when "all Israel should be saved.”

There is evidently a connexion between this world and that which is to come, or the doctrine of the latter cannot solve the mysteries that belong to the former. Man seems to stand upon an isthmus of existence, contemplating the past and the present; but the future lies involved in clouds and thick darkness; and while this is the case, the events which have marked his progress to the present point of his being, will receive no satisfactory interpretation. He may believe in a God; he may recognize a supreme, disposing power; but this very belief may only increase his difficulties and augment his doubts. Destitute of the light of immortality, we must wander at great uncertainty; we may speculate and conjecture, but our light will be that only, which is just sufficient to "make darkness visible." We shall feel the full pressure of human woe, without the .efficient means of alleviation, and be constantly liable to implicate the divine government with the exercise of principles, and with the prosecution of designs, at which reason is startled, and the soul recoils with horror. The mediatorial work of our Lord is designed to carry the thoughts at once to the benevolent end for which man was brought into being; and to present all the dealings of God, as having reference to the ultimate perfection, holiness, and felicity of the intelligent creation; to exhibit all preceding dispensations as completely subordinate and subservient to the dispensation of eternal life; to refer all sufferings whether consequential or penal to this glorious state, and thus demonstrate, that "our light afflictions which are but for a moment, work out for us, a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."

The ability of this exalted personage to interpret the divine will, by opening his "sealed book," is strikingly represented by his "seven eyes and seven horns,” the former expressing his wisdom, and the latter his power. "And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts, and four and twenty Elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps of gold, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song," in which they were joined by "every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, and in the sea, saying, Blessing and glory, and honor, and power, unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb forever and ever."

In passing this splendid scene in review, and contemplating its glorious consummation, we feel the value of existence, we draw motives to thankfulness and love, from what we enjoy and from what we suffer; we are impressed with a sense of our elevated destiny, and with the importance of a constant recollection, that our "chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever." 0 the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God; who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy; for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgements are made manifest."

Continued from page 46.

3. The dress and manners of the ancients was exceedingly different from ours. Their loose and flowing raiment formed a perfect contrast to the tight and inelegant garb of our own time and country. A knowledge of this is necessary to explain many passages of scripture. The girding up of loins is frequently mentioned in places which allude either to diligence in labor, or to

swiftness in running the appointed course. Now it is obvious that a long, loose robe would be very inconvenient to servants who required to have their hands much at liberty, and to be able to stoop with ease in the performance of their work; and also to those who had to move quickly, and required that their steps should not be impeded, nor their feet entangled by the length of their garments. To remedy this, they always had a girdle, by means of which, when they had gathered up the skirts of their garment, they fastened it round their loins. To one who knew that he could neither work nor run without having recourse to this measure, how forcible would be such passages as these; Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning, and ye yourselves like unto men who wait for their Lord. Gird 2 up the loins of your mind, he sober, and hope unto the

end, &c.

It were easy to extend observations of this kind, and to produce other causes of obscurity in the various figures which are employed in the pen of inspiration. The truth is that similar difficulties present themselves in all the classical productions of antiquity; and it would have been a strong argument against the genuineness of the Scriptures, had they been wanting in that style of speaking and thinking which were peculiar to the times in which they were written.

There is only one more remark on this subject to which the attention of the reader is particularly requested; and that is the difficulty of conveying the true import of a figure in a translation. Let the reader take a French book, and, regardless of the idiom of the two languages, and of the different class of figures, employed by them, let him translate literally, and how much will he lose of the beauty, and, in many cases, of the sense of the original!

Now in the translation of the Bible, there is less liberty allowed to the imagination, and even judgement of

« ForrigeFortsæt »