« FöregåendeFortsätt »
star that glimmers upon his aided sight, and fancy that he there beholds, on every hand, other suns and other systems, lighted up in endless perspective, whose immense floods of light, though they have been rushing down for nearly six thousand years, have not as yet reached our little planet, and what dilation of mind must he feel, as he thus traverses the immensity of Jehovah's works, and attempts to conceive an idea of that power, which supports the universe, and of that wisdom, which so adjusted the mechanism of the heavenly bodies, that, from the dawn of creation, they have continued to revolve in perfect uniformity and exactness. And if he be a good man, what a glow of sympathetic joy and benevolence must he feel, when he reflects upon the blessedness of that Almighty Being, who, from the throne of his glory, is continually dispensing the means of life and enjoyinent to all the worlds which move around him; and is receiving, in return, their hymns of adoration and praise. There are several recorded instances of the powerful effect, which the study of astromomy has produced upon the human mind. Dr Rittenhouse, of Pennsylvania, after he had calculated the transit of Venus, which was to happen June 3d, 1769, was appointed at Philadelphia, with others, to repair to the township of Norriton, and there to observe this planet until its passage over the sun's disk should verify the correctness of his calculations. This occurrence had never been witnessed but twice before by any inhabitant of our earth, and was never to be again seen by any person then living. A phenomenon so rare, and so important in its bearings upon astronomical science, was, indeed, well calculated to agitate the soul of one so alive, as he was, to the great truths of nature. The day arrived, and there was no cloud in the horizon. The observers, in silence and trembling anxiety, waited for the predicted moment of observation. It came and in the instant of contact, an emotion of joy so powerful was excited in the bosom of Mr Rittenhouse, that he fainted. Sir Isaac Newton, after he had advanced so far in his mathematical proof of one of his great astronomical doctrines, as to see that the result was to be triumphant, was so affected in view of the momentous truth which he was about to demonstrate, that he was unable to proceed, and begged one of his companions in study to relieve him, and carry out the calculation. The instructions, which the heavens give, are not confined to scholars; but they are imparted to the peasant and to the savage.
The pious shepherd often feels a sudden expansion of mind, while attempting to form an idea of that power, which spread out and adorned the heavens with so many worlds of light.
Nor are those representations of the attributes of God, which tend to expand the soul, and assimilate it to the divine likeness, confined to the material world. It is from the spiritual world, that the glory of God beams forth in its fullest lusture. Yes; one human mind contains greater riches, and furnishes more ennobling proofs of the being and perfections of God, than are supplied by all the systems of unorganized matter. To raise this mind from
ignorance and guilt, and to prepare it for a residence in heaven, God is now expending the wealth of his treasures, and employing the most honorable and powerful agents in his kingdom. It is said that Malebranche, in reading the treatise of Des Cartes upon man, was so overpowered by the sentiments exhibited, that he was obliged to close the book, and pause, until the palpitations of his heart subsided.
The providence of God is eminently calculated to act upon the hopes and fears of man. It is true that rewards and punishments are, in this world, unequally distributed. Fraud and injustice sometimes bask under the sun of prosperity; while honesty and righteousness are chilled under the storms of adversity. But yet the general course of things, in favor of the innocent and against the guilty, fully evinces, that, even in this life, virtue has the decided advantage over vice. Though the cruel oppressor may now prosper, yet he cannot but consider his secret remorse of conscience as a sure presage, that vengeance will overtake him, when inquisition shall be made for blood.
İn religious institutions and ceremonies, the mode of instruction is more direct and efficient. The grand design of all the commands and precepts, doctrines and ceremonies of the Jewish economy, and especially, of the brighter dispensation of Christianity, is
exert a purifying and ennobling influence upon the human mind, to make us victorious over sin, over ourselves, over peril and pain; to join us to God by filial love, and above all, by likeness of nature, by participation of his Spirit.”
But why has God done so much to exhibit his own perfections ? Did he put forth his powers of creation to relieve the weariness of eternal repose; or to gain the praises of adoring millions ? Surely not. For he was perfectly conscious of his own excellencies before he made the worlds. Neither can the homage and admiration of all his creatures add to his essential glory and blessedness. But he has made this exhibition of himself, and required us to express before him the homage of our hearts, because this act of worship, and those truths, which respect his own character and designs, have the greatest power to stir the soul, and to form it for its future destination.
(To be continued.)
LESSONS FOR THE YOUNG.
(Translated from a work of Chancellor Niemeyer.)
The Poetic Writings.
not only Job, the Psalms, and the writings of Solomon, but also much in the Prophets.
The poetic works of this nation may be discerned partly in a peculiarity of language, and partly in a certain artificial manner of representing things. They may be arranged in two classes, the Lyric and the Didactic. Of both, the Bible contains excellent specimens. The peculiarity of the Hebrew poetry rests, among other things, on the peculiarity of the region, of the climate, of the national character, of the religion, and of the history of the people, and on its being designed for public use. There is, in the imagery, the greatest difference between the oriental and the western nations.
Founded probably on actual occurrences, this didactic poem exhibits a very prosperous and upright man, as plunged into conflict with sufferings of every kind, and driven to the borders of scepticism, till he at last, after a well tried integrity, is restored to his former prosperous state. The greater part of the whole is a dialogue between Job and his four friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu, who contend with him concerning the cause and object of his sufferings, till at length God himself interposes, and pronounces the decisive sentence.
The leading thought, has by some been supposed to be, patience under sufferings; by others, the reward of tried virtue. More accurately, the design is to give a vivid illustration of the truth, that the greater sufferings of one person, are no proof of his being more sinful than his neighbors, but are to be contemplated with reverence as coming from the Maker and Ruler of the universe, who frequently moves in a mysterious way.' This design is manifest from the whole current and plan of the poem.
The time and author are unknown. Some have attributed the work to Moses; some to Solomon, or to a far later poet after the Babylonian captivity, especially on account of the mentioning of Satan. But there is nothing inconsistent with its being referred to a much earlier and more flourishing period of Hebrew literature.
The poem belongs to the finest, most elevated, and, in many respects, most instructive books of the Old Testament; although Christian light would have led to a still more fruitful discussion, and would more clearly have set forth the ennobling of the inner man as the grand object of outward afflictions that occur under the moral government of the world. See Heb. xii. 5—11. and James v. 11. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord, that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. It abounds in excellent moral sayings, lively descriptions of nature, striking comparisons, and exhibitions of human character and passions.
This book is a collection of one hundred and fifty poems, partly lyric and partly didactic, from various authors, and from various times; and in respect to it we can only state, as matter of history, that it was gradually made for the use of the singers in the temple service, and was increased from time to time.
Among the writers of these poems were Moses, David, Asaph, Heman, and Ethan. It is not known who wrote some of them; and the superscriptions that occur are not always correct. They were, for the most part, inserted by a later hand. David stands forth as the great master of Israelitish song, and the pattern for many contemporary and succeeding poets. Many of the superscriptions have reference to the music of the Hebrews, and consequently are, in part, quite unintelligible to us; for we are unacquainted with their music. See over Ps. ix.; xvi.; xxii. ; and lviii.
In order to understand many of the Psalms completely, we must be well acquainted with the history of the time. For they often allude to particular events and circumstances, and, as it were, take it for granted that these are known.
The Psalms bear the general stamp of the period in which they were written and of the national religion. Some of them are martial and triumphal songs, and must be judged of in this view, and not upon the principles of Christian refinement. In some, David speaks, not as a private individual, but in his official character. One part of them is, in respect to their contents, altogether national; another is more personal; another is prophetic; and another inculcates morality and religion in a more general manner. These are full of instruction and consolation, and are adapted in the highest degree to awaken the mind for God, and truth, and holiness. According to their respective objects, then, we must determine their use for later readers.
The Psalms have had a great and happy influence on the sacred poetry of many nations.
The writings of Solomon : The Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, The Song
David's most celebrated son was also a poet. See 1 Kings iv. 32. Under his name there are in the Old Testament three poetic books, two of which are didactic, and one is lyric.
be proper to divide the Proverbs into six sections : c. 1 -9; c. 10—24; c. 25—29; c. 30; c. 31: 1–9; and c. 31 : 10–31. They were collected at different times; (see c. 25:1.) and still later were united into a whole. The most suitable way of using them is, for the most part, to view them separately, to lay them up in the mind, to think them over, and apply them as occurrences present themselves. Many of them are uncommonly instructive.
Ecclesiastes will be the most easily understood by readers who have had much experience. They will not mistake the spirit and truth in the reasoning on the changes and vanities of all human things; on the sufferings and joys of life; on what it has that is true, enduring, and only worthy of effort; and they will recognize their own discoveries in those of the author. See c. 4:1; c. 7: 2–6; c. 8:6; c. 12: 13, 14.
The apparent contradictions may be reconciled the best, when we consider the different parts as exhibiting the thoughts that naturally arise, at different periods and in different situations, on Providence, virtue and vice, wisdom and folly, death and life.
The Song of Solomon is a lyric poem, in which love and fidelity are celebrated, and opposed to base and changeful passion. Many Jewish and Christian expositors found it difficult to consider this as the object of a sacred book, and hence fell upon partly allegorical and partly mystical explanations, by which they hoped to remove the objections arising from much of the painting that is adapted to strike the senses. But these objections, perhaps, are the most fairly and the most effectually removed by a reference to the nature of the subject, and to the oriental taste. The well disciplined and experienced, who have accustomed themselves always to associate the moral with the beautiful, in their imaginations, will contemplate these flowers of eastern poetry with safety and with profit. But for others they are neither designed nor adapted.
It may not be uninteresting to your numerous readers, to learn that a person was sprinkled the second time, in Greensboro', Georgia, in 1828. He is the son of an elder in the Presbyterian church, and a respectable and wealthy merchant of that town, having been sprinkled in infancy. The administrator of the ceremony was an aged and very learned doctor of divinity. At first, he was unwilling; but he complied after repeated solicitations. The candidate did not certainly know that he had been sprinkled in infancy, (and who could, as it is practised by Pedobaptists ?) though two or three older sisters and a brother had assured him it was the case; and it is understood, that inasmuch as he did not know it, the doctor consented to perform the ceremony! The candidate had no doubt of his having been once sprinkled; but he thought it was proper, as he had lately become a believer, that it should be done after belief, and as a public testimony of his renouncing the world. One would suppose that such a Presbyterian will not have his own children sprinkled. Indeed, many are questioning the propriety of it. Let the light of truth become more and more bright, and we shall have no more of that relic of the dark ages.