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God,' that they may be led to treat most on the most needful subjects, always bearing in mind that they are to watch for souls 'as they that must give account.' Let us also raise our fervent and united prayer to the throne of God that missions, conveying the genuine gospel to the benighted nations, may be supported with becoming zeal and liberality; that all who have the superintendence of missionary efforts, may in all the affairs which shall come before them, be guided to the adoption of such measures as shall be pleasing to the great Head of the church; and that the missionaries, those dear brethren and sisters who have gone from us to heathen and barbarous regions, though far from kindred and Christian friends, and though exposed to innumerable dangers, may be shielded by the arm of the Almighty; that they may be cheered and strengthened in their work, and be permitted to see their labors crowned with the blessing of Heaven. It is estimated that six hundred millions-about three fourths of the human raceare involved in the abominations and the miseries of heathenism or of Mahometan delusion. O brethren! who that has himself ever known the preciousness of Christ crucified, can neglect to raise his fervent cry to that Being who only is able to open their blind eyes, to subdue their hearts, and give to the Son the heathen for an inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for a possession? With equal fervency let us pray also for the destitute of preaching, and of faithful preaching, in countries usually denominated Christian; and, remembering that neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase,' let us implore his mercy upon those to whom the gospel is preached, that to them it may be the power of God unto salvation,' and not by being disobeyed, become the means of their aggravated condemnation.
While thus we pray, it may be hoped we shall perceive that, to be consistent, we must do all that is in our power for the prosperity of the Redeemer's kingdom. Shall we then shrink back, and neglect to pray? No, brethren. We will not; we cannot. The promises of Jehovah, and the astonishing movements of the present day, urge us onward. May the language of every heart be, For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.'
LESSONS FOR THE YOUNG.
(Translated from a work of Chancellor Niemeyer.)
Special Introduction to the Scriptures.
Besides the loftiest religious ideas that any outward and imperfect system contains, the Writings of the Old Testament contain also the most elevated notions of God, majestic songs of praise, powerful attacks upon religious errors, excellent instructions upon
the difference of a merely outward, and a truly spiritual and devout worship of God. They are certainly the only book of antiquity, in which a deep religious feeling is expressed.
Not less important are they in their moral instructions. are found, 1. in a multitude of short energetic sentences; 2. in instructive and warning examples; 3. in spiritual songs, which are patterns for every expression of devout and moral feelings and sentiments. Yet many of the most instructive portions have traces of the imperfect character of the period and of the people. Hence the inexperienced reader needs the guidance of the experienced; and the pure morality of the Gospel still remains as the standard, by which every thing is to be judged.
OF THE INDIVIDUAL BOOKS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.
The Mosaic Writings.
With Moses, (1500 years before Christ,) began the literature of the Hebrews, if we may so speak. He is by all considered as one of the most remarkable men of antiquity; remarkable for his early misfortunes, his education, his patriotism, his enterprising and persevering spirit, his unshaken trust in God, his lasting influence upon his nation, his various services, and particularly for his Law.
Five Books, or the Pentateuch, bear his name. Antiquity ascribes them to him as their author. Documents and fragments of an earlier age are found in them, and other portions could have been written at a later period. That, however, much proceeded from Moses, can be proved by weighty reasons; [and the genuineness of the Pentateuch has been most satisfactorily vindicated by Jahn in his Introduction to the Old Testament.*]
Great and extensive was the influence of the Mosaic Writings upon the Jewish nation. They are their oldest historical documents, their code of laws, the archetype of their language, the regulator of the instructions of their later wise men, frequently the materials of their poets. In reverence for them, even the Jews and the Samaritans unite.
But they are also most remarkable and interesting for later times, as certainly the oldest monument of legislative wisdom. Some laws, for instance those relating to marriage, have long served as rules even for Christians; and upon the decalogue are founded the Christian morals. A philosophical study of the particular laws, must fill every impartial mind with great regard for the lawgiver, although his precepts, adapted to a particular place, time, and people, are as little fitted, as they were intended, to be a system of universal legislation.
The contents of this Writing are, first, an account of the origin of all things, particularly the primitive history of the human race; then the history of the patriarchs of the Jewish nation up to the
* See also the Biblical Repertory, for Oct. 1826.
time of Joseph, (1750 years before Christ.) There is no older, more valuable, and more credible information respecting the primitive world.
An account of the creation of the world, precedes the history of the first human pair and their descendants. What of these remained after the great flood, became the original stock of a new generation. The most ample accounts are those respecting the patriarchs of the Hebrews; Abraham and his son Isaac, his grandson, and his great-grandson Jacob and Joseph. With the historical accounts are mingled poetical fragments.
Genesis is, in general, as an accurate study of its contents and manner of treatment shows, not a continuous historical work, but a collection composed of separate parts. Otherwise the same transactions would not be related more than once, though in different, expressions, as the history of the Creation, Chapter i. and Chap. ii. 4, 6; the Flood, Chap. vi. 1-7, and 11-24. Even the name of God is exactly distinguished in these distinct portions. Sometimes it is Jehovah, (in English, the LORD;) sometimes it is Elohim, (in English, God.)
The manner and the language are distinguished by the greatest simplicity, and by a view of things adapted to the childhood of the human mind. One sees, that the author gives no more than he has; seeks not, by exaggeration and fiction, to compensate for the want of certain accounts. But what is related, namely, of the gradual progress of men in cultivation and ideas, bears the impress of naturalness and of internal probability.
But in order to judge rightly respecting so ancient a book, one must examine it from a true point of view, and thus come to the reading of it. He must regard it as exhibiting sketches that pertain to a period of time altogether different from ours. purpose, an acquaintance with other very old works, as for instance Homer, may be recommended as a very good means of helping, particularly to comprehend the spirit and character of the patriarchal age; since both writings shed mutual light upon each other.
The most remarkable, but in part the most difficult sections, are those respecting 1, the creation of all things; 2, the first sin, or the fall of the first parents; 3, Noah's flood; 4, the life of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; 5, the history of Joseph.
For an Israelitish reader, Genesis was very important, especially as the history of his ancestor Abraham, and the next patriarchs, from which the origin of many laws and customs could be explained. To us, it is worthy of regard, not only on account of its antiquity, but also many portions contain most excellent matter for religious and moral consideration. Much also in the later writings refers to this.
The contents of this book consist 1, of historical pieces—what befel the descendants of Abraham who removed to Egypt; the birth of Moses; his endeavors to rescue the nation from servitude; their departure from Egypt; the marching of their army, the giving of the Law, and its consequences. 2, Of laws of variAUGUST, 1829.
ous kinds, among others the well known ten commandments, Chapter 20th, &c.
An obvious design of the arrangements for external religion, was the preservation of it amidst the errors of Polytheism. But how many coverings were then necessary, to procure for the truth an entrance among a people so affected by matters of sense! The victor's song (Chapter xv.) belongs to the oldest and most beautiful triumphal poetry.
The greatest part of the contents consists of laws for the priests, or precepts respecting that which the Israelite was required to observe as to his offerings, as to his sicknesses, towards his slaves, and in respect to marriage, and that over which the priests were required to watch. Some portions are historical. whole is manifestly composed of separate earlier injunctions. As being instructions for the priests, it would be especially important for this class.
The numberings of the people, (whence the name,) compose the beginning. Religious and civil laws fill up another considerable portion. The historical events fall partly in the second year after the departure; partly after an unfilled chasm of thirty-seven years, in the 40th year of the long march.
To a Hebrew it was valuable, as a genealogical account, as a land-record, as a document respecting boundaries, and as a contribution to the national history. This importance it cannot have to later readers. A part of the events is besides very dark, and the illustration very difficult. The oracle of Balaam, as well as the whole history, is remarkable in more respects than one.
Much that is contained in the three preceding books is repeated here. One can consider this as a compressed representation of the Mosaic constitution. Besides, it contains powerful speeches of Moses; and, in his sublime poem and his farewell benediction, masterly remains of oriental poetry.
A part only of this book could Moses have written down himself. Some of it falls even in the times after his death. But it is an authentic monument of his spirit, a justification of his designs, an assurance of his pure patriotism; altogether after his manner, fervent and moving.
Morality and piety are made, in this book, the condition of the prosperity, the freedom, and the greatness of the nation. They seem, according to the notions and the speech of antiquity, as their immediate, positive reward. The particular laws, here partly repeated, partly more definitely fixed, show a comprehensive regard to the maintaining of civil order, by a pure and elevated morality.
The Book of Joshua.
Joshua, an upright man, and a valiant warrior, formed by the most intimate acquaintance with Moses to be his successor, was,
without opposition from the people, acknowledged in that dignity He stood at the head of affairs seventeen years, and subdued Palestine.
The book, which derives its name from him, not as its author, but as the principal person, contains partly a history of the war; partly it is a geographical document. It consists of several memorials partly indeed older, (Chapters 1-8) partly more modern. Its importance is rather national than general.
The Book of Judges.
Judges were extraordinary magistrates, or warlike heroes; or even heroic women, as Deborah, who, inspired by patriotism, placed themselves at the head of the nation, and considered themselves as its deliverers; particularly in those unquiet and oppressive times which followed the death of Joshua, under whom the tribes had become more closely connected. The Book of Judges contains their names, and deeds, together with some events which happened in the same time.
What had been preserved of the history of this period, (1444— 1100 before Christ,) some writer described, and thus filled up a chasm in the Israelitish history.
As the antiquity itself, so likewise the language and spirit of the book resembles that which is known of the heroic antiquity of other nations. A heroic book must be read with a due regard to the spirit of the heroic age.
To the sections peculiarly worthy of remark, on various accounts, belong the administration of Deborah, the history of Jephtha, Abimelech, Jotham, (in which the oldest known fable occurs,) Samson; and the appendix to the book, as a warning to what end men are brought by superstition, sensuality, and revenge.
The Book of Ruth.
Ruth, the principal person in this little domestic sketch, a Moabitess, is worthy of notice in history, as the female ancestor of David. Hence, too, is illustrated his connexion with the Moabites, (1 Sam. xxii. 3.) The time and the author of the sketch are un
The spirited manner with which some family scenes are represented, has something remarkably attracting and moving; for instance, chapter i. 8-18. ii. 11–16. iii. 16—18. iv. 14-16.
The Two Books of Samuel, and the Two Books of Kings.
The history of the Israelitish kingdom is written in a connected historical work, which begins with the last Judge, Samuel, and ends with the overthrow of the Jewish government. It embraces a period of four hundred years.
This historical work was extracted from more comprehensive works, to which it also refers, (1 Kings xi. 41. 2 Kings xiii. 12.) and must have originated when these sources of history were known. The rulers are sometimes praised, and sometimes blamed, without constraint.