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cannot err. It will be sufficient for us to say, that we have aimed to render the work inoffensive and useful; that we have sought the injury of no man, or sect of men, but the good of all. We have however no claim to infallibility. As to the means employed in the work, we hope that they have been at least of a harmless character-not adapted to promote party animosities, nor to wound the feelings nor injure the reputation of good people of any name, nor to mislead the wicked.
The work has been conducted under the influence of a firm belief that a great mistake has existed among Christians as to the importance of those contested doctrines by which they have been divided into parties and alienated one from another; that it is the great design of the gospel to reconcile men to God, to make them good people, to unite them together in the bonds of charity, and to prepare them to dwell forever with the God of love and peace. The more have reflected on the past discords and animosities among professing Christians,the more baneful, inconsistent and antichristian they have appeared. The more we have reflected' on the benevolence of the Deity, the design of the gospel, the nature of its requirements, and on the diversities of opinion and character to be found in each of the several sects of Christians, the more fully we have been convinced that there is no respect of persons or sects with God, that goodness
of heart is not peculiar to any sect, and that the best Christians are those who pay the greatest regard to the moral precepts and example of the Lord Jesus We are also fully persuaded that the more there is of contention among Chris-. tians, about doctrines and cere monies, the less there isof christian love and christian practice.
For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. This wisdom descendeth not from above, nor does it lead the soul to God. That wisdom which is from above, and which unites men to the source of all good, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits.
We take this opportunity to express our gratitude to our patrons and subscribers, and to those who have furnished articles for the work, and we earnestly solicit a continuance of these favours In regard to those subscribers who may now be in arrears for the Christian Disciple, we hope it will be sufficient to say, that all delinquencies in respect to payments falls on one who is not very able to bear them.
As the course of Providence has, for a considerable time, deprived us of much of the aid which was expected in conducting the work, we have occasion to renew our request, that those brethren who have health, leisure and talents for the purpose, would lend their aid by furnishing articles, adapted to enrich the work
with greater variety, and to render it more extensively useful. While approaching the close of the year the following inquiries may be usefully proposed by every man's conscience to himself" How old art thou?" How many years has Divine mercy spared thy life, supplied thy wants, and continued thy day of probation? In what manner can I best express my gratitude to that Being who has been so merciful to me-who has kindly lengthened out my days, while others around me have been called to their final account? What has been the state of my soul in relation to eternity, and what would have been my condition had I been summoned by death in any of the past months of this year? Or what would probably be my lot should my life close within the few remaining days of 1818? If I should be spared to another year, my obligations will be constantly increasing, and in what manner should my time and talents be employed? What errors of temper or practice are yet indulged, and which ought before now to have been correct ed? Amin deed and in truth the friend of God and
man ? Am I not of that guity class of Christians, who love only those who love them and are of their party or opinion? Have I truly learned of Him who was meek, lowly, benevolent and forgiving ?Have I learned to bless and curse not to forgive as 1 hope to be forgiven, and to do good to all as I have opportunity? Am I really a disciple of Him who when he was reviled, reviled not again? Do I bear the image of that beneficent Parent who does good to the evil and unthankful? If I am not, how vain are all my pretensions to religion, all my hopes of heaven
and how imminent my danger!
If I am in the path of life, let it be my care still to walk even as Christ walked-to give all diligence to make my calling and election sure, by perseverance in the ways of wisdom, and by endeavoring to diffuse to the extent of my influence correct views of religion and virtue. Let me ever give an example of that heavenly meekness, humility and benevolence, which assim. ilates the soul to the author and finisher of our faith, and prepares it for the mansions of endless love and peace.
For the Christian Disciple.
ATTEMPT TO ILLUSTRATE AN OBSCURE PASSAGE.
THERE is a passage in the writings of Solomon, to which I would invite the attention of your readers. The verses form but one period; but a
more remarkable one is hardly discoverable: Few or none appear so uncommon, so obscure, and, I may almost add, so incomprehensible. From my earliest remembrance, I
have ranked them among the the most strangely metaphorical of the whole Bible Much however of their strangeness and obscurity arose from the common translation; from our translators, in some
menced in the preceding chapter:
1. But remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth : ere the evil days come, and the years arrive, when thou shalt say, no pleasure have I in
degree, misconceiving and them. There is no difficulty mistranslating them. here; the days of age, decrepitude, and suffering, compared with the vigour and a lertness of youth, are well characterised as evil days, days destitute of all enjoyments afforded by the senses.
2. Ere the sun grow dim, and the light, and the moon, and the stars; and ere the clouds, after vain, return a. gain. The growing dim of sun, moon, and stars is a poetical expression, denoting the shadows of age and infirmity, the darkening of life; or possibly the feebleness of the eye, no longer able to distinguish these glories of creation; when the aged monarch, if he possessed the same genius, would exclaim with the aut thor of Paradise Lost: -Thus with the year Seasons return; but not to me returns Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's
Or flocks, or herbs, or human face
But cloud instead, and ever-during
It is a characteristic of the Hebrew poets to employ a multitude of images, to indulge in a mode of expression extremely bold and figurative. By exuberance of imagery, they strive to impart the glow and vigour of their conception. This species of composition is called the oriental, being common, if not peculiar, to the warm climate and lively imagination of Asia.
Of this oriental style, the seven verses to which I allude, Ecclesiastes xii. 1—7, afford a striking specimen. They are addressed by Solomon to the prince, his son; forming a very impressive admonition, to look forward from the bloom of youth, to the decay of age and the solemnity of death. In my examination of this passage, I have derived important light from the version and notes of Dr. Hodg son, a learned foreigner. His mode of rendering and commenting appears both ingen. ious and satisfactory. I therefore borrow his version and interweave several of his notes and other explanatory observations, as I advance. Addressing his youthful son, as the future monarch of the Jews, Solomon continues the admonitions, which he com.
Surround me, from the cheerful ways
Cut off, and for the book of knowl-
Presented with a universal blank
And wisdom, at one entrance, quite
Clouds returning after rain,
denote sorrow upon sorrow, an accumulation of woes, incident to the close of life.
3. Ere that day come, when the guardians of the house shall tremble, and the men of valor shake; that is, when the atten. dants of the prince, both military and domestic, shall lament his death-when the grinding-slaves, forsaken, shall stop; in early times, grindingslaves composed a part of the domestic establishment; most of these, in the confusion occasioned by the death of their master, desert their employment, and are left by their o verseer. And the watchmen on the battlements mourn; the battlements here mean the stations about the palace and its environs, where the sentinels keep watch.
4. When the doors shall be shut in the street, and the sound of the mill not be heard; when the bird shall with shrieking arise, and all the daughters of music retire. At this period of general mourning, the street doors would be closed, the sound of labour would be unheard; Jerusalem would be covered with sadness and silence; no voice of mirth, no sound of musical instruments would reach the ear, or interrupt the solitude; and to impart a heightening touch to his picture, the royal poet introduces a bird of ill omen, screaming amid the gloom. The Hebrew poets and prophets considered the owl as a fit image, in descriptions of desolation. In poetry it is surely justifiable, that a writer should avail himself of any supersti
tious notions prevalent among the people, which he thinks may be advantageous to his subject; and none are sorry that Virgil, Shakespeare, and Milton have so often furnished us with proofs that they were of this opinion.
5. When the noble and the mean shall quake for fear ; when pleasure shall be despised, gratifications be abhorred, and the desires be extinguished; when man to his long home shall now be departing, and the mourners be standing round in the street. The former part of this verse, in our common version, is scarcely intelligible; when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way; the present rendering, when the noble and the mean shall quake and fear, as expressive of the universal consternation, and perhaps too of the apprehension of some change of government, gives an easy and intelligible meaning. The almond-tree flourishing, is usually interpreted gray hairs, and the grasshopper being a burden, to mean, that even food so light as that of the lo cust, would be hardly digestible by the aged; but the present rendering much better a- · grees with the context. By this general calamity, even the dearest delights, the sweetest enjoyments of life, would for a time become distasteful; pleasure would be despised, gratifications abhorred, desires extinguished.
6. Ere the silver thread shrink, and the golden cup be bruised; ere the pitcher be
broken at the well, and the wheel at the cistern be shattered. The silver thread means the thread of life, the spinal marrow; the golden cup, the heart; the pitcher broken at the well, and the wheel shattered at the cistern designate the tubes and arteries about the heart.
7. Ere the dust return to the dust whence it came, and the soul go back to God who gave it. This requires no comment. I would remark, however by the way, that this verse affords a plain intimation, of what is denied by some, that even before the coming of the Messiah, the soul was considered as a spiritual principle, and separable from the Old Version.
1. Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;
2. While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain;
3. In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened,
4. And the doors shall be shut in the street, when the sound of the grinding is low; and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughers of music shall be brought low.
body. What words could be plainer? Ere the dust return to the dust whence it came, and the soul go back to God' who gave it.
This difficult portion of scripture, I flatter myself, the reader will hereafter find something less obscure and incomprehensible. It is ever delightful to obtain clear ideas, to discover the exact import of revelation. For a view of the authorities, by which Dr. Hodgson has endeavoured to support his new renderings, the learned reader is referred to his notes. I close this communication, by exhibiting the two versions in opposite columns.
1. But remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth, ere the evil days come, and the years arrive, when thou shalt say, no pleasure have I in them.
2 Ere the sun grow dim, and the light, and the moon, and the stars; and ere the clouds, after rain, return a♣ gain.
3. Ere that day come, when the guardians of the house shall tremble, and the men of valour shake; when the grinding-slaves, forsaken, shall stop ;
and the watchmen on the battlements mourn.
4. When the doors shall be shut in the street, and the sound of the mill not be heard ; when the bird shall with shrieking arise, and all the daugh ters of music retire.