« AnteriorContinuar »
others, in any. Each would mind, not his own interests only, but the interests of others; and if one said, “ The Lord be with you !" the others would respond, “ The Lord bless thee !” Some, indeed, object to religious servants; and happy would it be if there were never any reason. Still, their inconsistencies must not be attributed to their religion, but to their not carrying out the principles they profess. And sometimes servants complain of inconsistencies in religious families, and tell us they should really act differently, if they had better masters and better mis
But what says the apostle Peter ? “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward” (1 Peter ii. 18—21). And there is great wisdom in this principle, in its application to all our relative obligations. As the late Dr. Gregory has well observed, “If the relative duties were made to depend upon character, they would depend upon interpretation of character, which may often be erroneous; and a man's mind, nay, his fancy, would, in reference to his duties to others, become his law, his tribunal, and his judge.” Still, "members of the household of faith,” whatever be their relative position, have additional mutual claims; and if one breathe a prayer, as Boaz, “The Lord be with you !" the other should respond, as the
reapers, The Lord bless thee !” And happy is it when the principle and the feeling involved in such salutations are genuine and deep.
But what a delightful picture have we here of a harvest-field. Judaism was then at a low ebb, yet the Lord had not left himself without witnesses. There were good people in Judea, and a good degree of genuine religion too; and some such (the Lord be praised !) there are among us, and not a few in our agricultural districts and pursuits. But, oh, that England now were as Judea, or at least, as Bethlehem then! that our hay-fields and harvest-fields, and farm-yards, resembled theirs ! Then, instead of foolish songs, and impure jests, and shouts of revelry, we should hear the sweet effusions of cheerful piety. We are no advocates of gloom. There is no religion in melancholy. The gospel is, of all others, a system of joy. And the christian supremely, we might say only, is consistent in “eating his bread with joy, and drinking his wine with a cheerful heart;" for he only is accepted of God. But the cheerfulness should be spiritual, and the joy holy. True, in this degenerate age, the pious salu. tations of Boaz and his reapers would be called cant and fanaticism. It might be difficult, and perhaps not always politic, literally to imitate them. But then are we not just so far removed from sterling religion? It is a bad sign when we are obliged to smooth down the broad godly salutation. But, if a literal imitation might not correspond with modern refinement, surely the principle ought to be recognized. And why wait for christian communion till the world shall please to leave off laughing ? They laugh because they do not understand us, and cannot appreciate our enjoyment. You might as well talk of beauty to the blind, of music to the deaf, of sense to the idiot, as of spiritual communion to them. They have no idea how delightful christian fellowship is, and the intermingling of souls, on the divine principle of being no “respecter of persons." Talk to them of experimental religion, and they will stare, and gape, and laugh. Well, let them laugh: they will not laugh long, if our deportment correspond. And who can tell ? our consistency may induce them to think, and to admire, and to feel, and to enquire, and ultimately to pray, and to praise; to praise too, not the God of providence only, but the God of grace; and then they will reciprocate the christian sympathy, and our hearts shall glow in unison. Feebler instruments than we have been so blest; then why not we?
POWER WITH GOD.
BY THE REV. JAMES SMITH
"He had power with God."-Hosea xii. 3. ; Poor Jacob had passed through twenty years of banishment, trials, and disappointments; he was now on the way to his father's house full of hope; sad and distressing tidings reached him, and he scarcely knew what to do. Like the christian pilgrim sometimes, the farther he advances the more his trials increase. But he flies to a throne of grace. His burdened heart drives him to his God. He weeps and makes supplication, he wrestles and pleads with the angel of the covenant,- he has "power with God," and prevails. This is just what is needed in the present state of the church. She has much power of a certain kind, but it is power with God that is needed. This is more than numbers, more than gold, more than standing well with the world; there can be no substitute found for “power with God.”
Before we can have power with God, we must be reconciled to him. By nature we are enemies. We are rebels up in arms against him. We are opposed to him, and can have no power with him. When the Holy Spirit convinces us of sin, burdens us with a sense of guilt, alarms us with an apprehension of everlasting destruction, we then feel the sad consequences of alienation from God. We try various means to make peace with him, but all fail. At length he leads us to the cross, unfolds to us the wondrous love of God, explains to us the nature of the Saviour's work, fixes the eye of the mind upon the Crucified One; and then the heart softens, the tears begin to flow, enmity is subdued, hope springs up, reliance is placed on the glorious sacrifice, God appears a friend, and reconciliation is effected. The love of God is shed abroad in the heart, and the sinner heartily loves God as the effect of it. Friendship for eternity commences. God and man are upon the best possible terms. It was the righteous Judge meeting with the guilty criminal; it is now the gracious Father meeting with his tenderly beloved child. The soul has 'power with God,” it asks and receives, that its joy may be full.
There must be fuith in God. We must give a warm-hearted credit to God's word, and exercise confidence in God's veracity and faithfulness. We must endeavour to understand just what God means in his promises and proclamations, and give credit to them; and we must go to God, expecting that he will prove himself true and faithful to his word. Without faith it is impossible to please God, therefore we can have no power with "God. Neglect or disbelief of his word pours contempt upon him; but attention to it, and confidence in it, does him honour; and when he sees us struggling with unbelief, fighting against the vile insinuations of Satan, and endeavouring to confide in his truthfulness, he looks upon us with approbation, sympathises with us in our conflicts, and receives us at his throne with pleasure. Crediting his testimony, and confiding in his faithfulness, we have “power with God.”
There must be an abiding sense of our own weakness. It was not until the patriarch felt himself unable to combat with his brother, and was 'broken down before God, that he prevailed. Weak Jacob overcomes the omnipotent angel. Nothing has such an influence upon our covenant God, as the sighs, groans, and tears of his weak and humbled children. The weak believer takes hold upon God's strength, when, with the promise in his hand, the cross in his eye, ardent desires in his heart, and the plaintive language of supplication on his lips, he bows before the throne of mercy, and appeals to a Father's love. When we are weak, then are we strong. When we feel that we have no power to go against the great army of our foes, and our eyes are up unto our God, then victory is certain. Out of weakness we are made strong. The Lord fights for us, and we hold our peace. Oh, to see the Lord's people thoroughly emptied out, and stripped of the last rag of their own righteousness; to see them broken down before God's throne, under a deep sense of their weakness and insufficiency; for then we may expect that great good will be done! But so long as we fancy we are strong, boast of our native powers, and rejoice in our own resources, we shall be weak, feeble, and easily overcome.
There must be earnest application to the Lord for his blessing. Prayer is conceived in the depth of a believer's heart, under the prolific influences of the Holy Spirit, and is poured out before God's gracious throne in the dear Redeemer's naine. The deeper our feeling of the importance and necessity of what we ask, the more earnest will be our prayers before God, and the greater our “power with God.” A cold acquiescence in divine statements, a formal confession of our needs, and a matter-of-course appli. cation to God, will do no good. We must feel, and we must feel deeply, before we shall be powerful on our knees. Too many talk before God, rather than plead with God. They pray from custom, not from necessity. Oh, if we realized that we were the friends of God, if we had strong faith in God, if we were deeply sensible of our weakness before God, if we with downright earnestness applied to God, it would soon be seen that we had “power with God.”
There must be an habitual hatred of all sin. For if we indulge iniquity in our hearts, the Lord will not hear our prayers. The image of jealousy set up in our hearts, be it what it may, will deprive us of all power with God. He will ask, “Do you provoke the Lord tu jealousy?" He will say, “Put away every man his idols from before mine eyes.” If we in. dulge covetousness, gluttony, uncleanness, worldly conformity, deceit, intemperance, hatred, variance, strife, evil speaking, frivolity, or any other sin in our hearts, we cannot have power with God. His word to us is, “Wash ye, make ye clean; put away the evil of your doings, cease to do evil, learn to do well.” One cherished sin, let it be what it may, will effectually prevent our having “power with God.” This accounts for so many prayers being offered in vain. They are scriptural in form, suited to our circumstances, earnestly expressed, and devoutly presented, but secret sin indulged prevents their success.
Beloved, if we have power with God, we shall have power over self. Energetic prayer will bring the arm of God to bear on our corruptions, and subdue them; on our tempers, and control them; on our improper habits, and we shall conquer them. No power short of Divine can really conquer one sin, or effectually subdue one corruption of the heart. If we have power with God, we shall have power with men—with good men to influence them, with bad men to benefit or silence them. Power with God brings a secret energy into the soul, by which we conquer and accom. plish what would otherwise be impossible. If we have power with God, we shall have power over Satan. What an awful description is given of him in the Apocalypse, “That old serpent, the devil, which deceiveth the whole world." How marvellous his power! How amazing his influence ! And this power and influence is opposed to, and brought to bear upon, the church of God. How many professors are deceived by him. How many are led captive by him at his will. The head laid on Delilah’s lap has been shorn of its locks, and our Samsons are now, many of them, the sport of the infernal Philistines. Satan has proved himself too power. ful and too crafty for thousands of professors ; he has induced them to
settle down in a mere form of religion, or to indulge in some secret sin, or to substitute external services for the internal experience of the power of God's truth, and they have no power with God. Nothing will conquer Satan, but power gained from God. He cares for no foot, but that which crushed his head on Golgotha. Nor can we ever conquer self, succeed in our efforts to do lasting good to men, or overcome Satan who overcomes such millions, but as we have power with God. Oh, Holy Spirit, the Spirit of power, break us down before God, set our hearts against all sin, give us faith in God, indulge us with a vivid sense of our reconciliation to God, and enable us to pray with fervour, that so we may have power, with God.
THE MARINER'S HYMN.
BY MRS. SOUTHBY.
Launch thy bark, mariner!
Christian, God speed thee!
Good angels lead thee!
Tempests will come;
Christian, steer home!
Look to the weather-bow,
Breakers are round thee;
Shallows may ground thee.
Hold the helm fast!
There swept the blast.
“What of the night, watchman !
What of the night ?”
No land yet-all's right.”
Danger may be
Secure to thee.
How gains the leak so fast
Clear out the hold-
Heave out thy gold !
Now the ship rights;
Lo! the red lights !
Slacken not sail yet,
At inlet or island-
Straight for the high land;
Cut through the foam-
Heaven is thy home!
THE ANCIENT MANUSCRIPTS OF
No. 2. Having called the attention of the reader to the materials, method of composing, and different classes of ancient Hebrew MSS., we shall now briefly advert to some of the oldest and most celebrated
INDIVIDUAL MANUSCRIPTS. All the copies of the Scriptures now in use among the Jews, are transcripts from certain exemplars highly extolled for their singular correctness and beauty. The first of these is termed the MS. of Hillel. It is a vexed question as to who the writer of this was,
Some suppose it to have been the production of an eminent Rabbi of that name, who lived about sixty years before the birth of Christ; others refer its authorship to a person of the same name, who lived and wrote about the middle of the fourth century; while others, and with å greater degree of probability, assign it a much later date, on the ground that it has the vowel points and other marks of the labours of the Massorets.* The “Babylonian Manuscript" is usually placed the next in order. It was composed under the superintendence of a person of the name of Rabbi Ben Napthali. From about the sixth to the eleventh century there flourished two Jewish academies; one at Tiberias, and the other at Babylon. The studies pursued in these seats of learning were of a biblical character, consisting in the examination and collation of ancient MSS., the writing of new ones, and the composition of other Jewish works. Over the latter of these seminaries, the celebrated individual whose name we have mentioned presided in the beginning of the eleventh century. Another of these exemplars is called “The Manuscript of Israel.” It is also termed
some the “ Codex Jerusalem," and by others the “ Codex Ben Asher," because it emanated from the college at Tiberias, over which this Rabbi presided, cotemporaneously with Ben Napthali, at Babylon. The next which we may mention is called the “ Egyptian Codex,” because it was used
principally by the Jews in Egypt; but some suppose it to be the same as the “Codex Ben Asher" already noticed. Another is termed the “Pentateuch of Jericho." To these some writers add three other MSS., distinguished by the several names of “ Sinai,” “Sanbuki,” and “ Taggin.” We have thought it desirable thus briefly to advert to these celebrated standards, on account of their prominence and importance in Jewish literature, although the documents themselves have ceased to exist, excepting in fragments and extracts.
The oldest Hebrew MS. now known as in actual and entire existence is of Spanish origin, and is called the “Manuscript of Cashrule;" but this dates no higher than the year 1106, and may be considered the junior of the most ancient Greek codex by six or seven hundred years. Some writers, and amongst these Dr. Kenicott and Bishop Walton, have endeavoured to account for the absence of more ancient ones, on the supposition that they were destroyed in obedience to an order from the Jewish authorities, in order to bring into general use the copies of the Massorets. Admitting this to have been the case, which is not impossible, it must by no means be considered as countenancing the opinion of some, that the modern MSS. were corrupted by the Jews; for, from the nature of Massoretic labours, as well as the testimony of ancient versions of the Bible, the substantial harmony between the most ancient and the modern may be fairly and triumphantly established.
THE "SAMARITAN PENTATEUCH is a most valuable and interesting record, which deserves a distinct and prominent notice. It will be remembered by the reader, that on the death of Solomon, and the accession of Rehoboam his son, to the throne, ten of the tribes of Israel revolted, and elected for their sovereign the notorious Jeroboam. This monarch, of impious memory, afraid lest his subjects, by going up to Jerusalem at the stated feasts, should be induced to return to their allegiance to the house of David, set up golden calves at Bethel and Dan, and established and en
** These were Jewish doctors, whose labours consisted chiefly in making comments on the text derived from oral tradition, in counting the number of lines and words in the various books, &c. For a fuller de. scription see Horue's Introduction, or Prideaux's Connexion, &c., in loc.