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Can you contemplate the poor Egyptians, trembling before the final verdict of their forty-two assessors, without feeling deeply concerned that they were not apprised of that tremendous assize in which the Ancient of Days shall sit in all his uncreated splendour, to award the destinies of the universe, “and to deal with every one according as his works have been ?"
On these points only, then, we see the danger of uncertainty, and the indispensable necessity for a Revelation ; and it would be easy to shew that the same necessity exists with regard to the traditions to which we have referred. We must not wonder if those thoroughly consistent characters who believe that God made the world, while they repudiate the only book that tells them so, and maintain that we do not want a Revelation, whilst they persist that Creation was intended for one-should be anxious to persuade us that we can do without our Bibles. But unfortunately for them, the question has been long prejudged-the world has had its Bible as well as the church, though it has been but a spurious and mutilated edition of that majestic volume upon which we build our faith. The atmosphere of heathen antiquity is thronged with spectral shadows of the truth. Its united cry has been for ages, “ Who will shew us any good?"
The language of this unwritten period, when it speaks to the Deist, brings him little consolation in his Augæan task of emptying the world of those hideous abominations of which we have been speaking, or the broken, and distorted, and partial views of truth, which still retain so much of their original brightness, as clearly prove them to be corruptions of the pure and primitive faith. The truths of Christianity hinge not upon verbal criticism, the accent, the àdagio or andante of its promulgators, but on all the histories, creeds, rituals, opinions, and practices of all the world.
Abolish every thing that has been done, said, or thought in every age, and nation of the earth; and you have done something towards the overthrow of the true faith; but so long as the world is determined to act out the “earnest expectation,” which the Bible only can meet and satisfy, we need not fear the consequences.
In conclusion, I can find no reason for attaching the very lowest value to any uninspired writings before the close of the Old Testament canon; and so far from our possessing any documents that impugn the historical value of the Bible, we have none that are not filled with glaring plagiarisms from it. After a long and weary investigation of the subject, I have arrived at the conclusion of Heming" That the most profound sages, the most celebrated historians, the most conceited theorists, the most romantic poets, and discursive geniuses of every pagan age and
country, seem to have resorted to the pages of Moses for information, and to have borrowed thence their only true notions regarding the primitive affairs of the earth ; and that what they have feigned to deny as infidels, they have involuntarily admired and espoused, as historians, critics, and philosophers.”
HOW TO PROSPER. A PARENT'S anxiety for the happiness of his child is universally acknowledged. This anxiety is felt particularly when he is about to quit the paternal roof, and to enter upon a situation where all is new and strange; where he is likely to be encompassed by temptations, and snares, and dangers of every kind. Mr. Ormond felt this, in anticipating the departure of his son James. He had given him a good education, such as would be available in the transactions of his future life. He had commended him to God, and endeavoured to impress upon him the necessity and advantages of His blessing. But as he thought, that a few remarks might be beneficial in bringing to his remembrance many things that had been the topics of conversation, he determined, upon parting with him, to put a paper into his hand, which he might peruse frequently, and which, under the Divine blessing, might direct his judgment and stimulate his efforts. The parting scene was affecting ; James was followed by his affectionate parents, with many a prayer, accompanied by flowing tears; and as the carriage, which was to convey him to Manchester, moved off, Mr. Orinond ejaculated with all the affection of a father, “ The Lord bless thee, and keep thee : The Lord make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee; The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace !” (Num. vi. 24-26.) Upon his arrival, James was cordially received by the parties to whom he was entrusted, and forthwith entered upon his new employment. Prior to his retiring to rest, he opened his father's letter and read as follows.
My dear Son-A desire for your prosperity dictates these observations and guides my pen, and I trust, you will hereby derive real and permanent benefit in all your movements through life.
Prosperity may be distinguished into temporal and spiritual, both of which are alluded to in the third Epistle of John (ver. 2.) “Beloved, I wish above all things, that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” It is a happiness where both these are enjoyed. The sentiment is, in some respects, similar to the desire expressed by Horace, “ Mens sana in corpore sano"-A sound mind, in a healthy body. Christianity rises still higher, and adds to these, a soul alive to God, growing in grace, and flourishing in the ways of the Lord. Temporal prosperity relates to this world : soul-prosperity extends to the world to come. It is natural for your parents, and for you, to desire that prosperity may attend your steps, crown your exertions, and reward your toils; but the chief wish that we should cherish, should be, that the soul may live before God.
“ Give what thou canst, without thee I am poor,
And with thee rich, take what thou wilt away.” Prosperity may again be considered as real or apparent. True prosperity is that which God sanctifies. The prosperity of the wicked is of the latter kind, and described by David, (Psalm lxxiii. 12.) “ These are the ungodly that prosper in the world ; they increase in riches.” “ How are they,” he continues, “ brought into desolation as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors !" Such was the prosperity of the rich man, (Luke xii. 16-21,) which he was called suddenly to relinquish. He is described as having laid up treasure for himself; but was not rich toward God. “Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased; for when he dieth, he shall carry nothing away; his glory shall not descend after him.” (Ps. xlix. 16, 17.) Unsanctified prosperity is like Jonah's gourd; it springs up in a night, and withers in a night-a temporary joy, succeeded by deep and lasting sorrow. Unsanctified prosperity glares like a meteor, but vanishes in darkness. Unsanctified prosperity promotes pride; it leads a Pharaoh to say, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him ?” and Nebuchadnezzar to exclaim, “ Is not this great Babylon that I have built for the house of my kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty ?" (Dan. iv. 30.) On the other hand, sanctified prosperity produces humility, gratitude, and devotion; as strikingly exemplified in the conduct of David, who, when sitting in his house before the Lord, and reviewing the promises of prosperity which God had recently
made to him by the mouth of Nathan the prophet, exclaimed, 6 Who am I, O Lord God, and what is mine house that thou hast brought me hitherto ?” (1 Chron. xvii. 16.) Sanctified prosperity honours God. Its language is, “ What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits ?" It is a river that seeks the ocean; it flows in gratitude and love to him, whose goodness liberally supplies the blessings we receive; and though it cannot return thanks adequate to the bounty so profusely bestowed, yet it offers its acknowledgment in works of piety and charity, devotedness to God, and love and charity to man. Its language is
"O, may I breathe no longer, than I breathe
God is the gracious author and exhaustless source of all prosperity. Without him, nothing can succeed, nothing can flourish: a truth recognized in every part of the sacred Scriptures, exhibited in the common occurrences of life, and confirmed by our individual history. Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, and a host of others, are evidences that none but God can give the increase, although the most skilful may plant, and the most industrious may water. It is his wind that swells the merchant's sails, and his sun that ripens the husbandman's grain. He turns the wisdom of Ahithophel to foolishness ; pours contempt upon the curses of Balak; defeats the forces of Sennacherib, counteracts the dark designs of Herod, guides the sling and the stone in the hand of David, and causes the “ handful of corn upon the top of the mountains,” to yield so abundantly, that “the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon.” (Ps. lxxii. 16.) Without him, all human efforts are vain, and with his strength, the worm Jacob shall thresh the mountains. “It is he that giveth power to get wealth.” (Deut. viii. 18.) “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain who build it.” (Ps. xxvii. 1.) The blessing of the Lord maketh rich, and addeth no sorrow. The servant of Abraham “held his peace, to wit, whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not." (Gen. xxiv. 21.) “ The Lord was with Joseph and he was a prosperous man.” (Gen. xxxix. 2.) “ Napthali was satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the Lord.” (Deut, xxxiii. 23.) Remember, therefore, my dear James, to look for the Divine blessing in all your undertakings ; lean not to your own understanding, but seek “ the wisdom that cometh from above." He that multiplied the widow's cruse of oil, can render the most humble exertions successful.
“ He overrules all mortal things,
Bestows His counsels and His cares." In granting prosperity, God is pleased to appoint, and to sanction the means appointed. His language is, “I will yet, for this, be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them.” (Esek. xxxvi. 37.) The true and direct road to prosperity is to seek the Lord. It is said of Uzziah, that “as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper.” Your path then is clearly pointed out. It is first, to seek God. This is our Lord's command,“ Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt. vi. 33.) Obedience to the command, ensures the fulfilment of the promise.
The first step to prosperity, is a life of piety and devotion. This is seeking the Lord sincerely, habitually, diligently, perseveringly. It is manifested by self-dedication, an entire and solemn consecration of the soul to God, and to his service; fervent and unremitting prayer, for the divine blessing and presence, offered in the name and through the mediation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; a due veneration and regard for the written and preached word, by a devout and attentive reading, and a diligent, regular, and practical hearing of the same. Every ordinance of God is to be respected and observed. Fill up your place regularly in the Lord's sanctuary. Never make an engagement, if it can by any means be avoided, that will clash with your attendance upon public worship on the sabbath, and at other stated times. It was said of Thomas, that he was not with the disciples, when Jesus came." A poor African being once asked, how it happened that he was always at the house of God, whatever might be the state of the weather ? Replied, “Me fraid to stay away, Massa; for me don't know when saving word is going to be preached.” Piety to God will always be connected with industry.
The pious christian will be the diligent, active christian, and embody in his conduct the maxim of the apostle, “Not slothful in business, fer