« AnteriorContinuar »
he, perceiving it, said, “ Pray not for my recovery, for I wish to go."
“O, for some angel bands to bear
And glory never dies."
LESSONS FOR THE YOUNG.
(Translated from a work of Chancellor Niemeyer.)
No I. Every branch of knowledge that you acquire diligently at school, is adapted to increase your usefulness in life. But what stands higher than all science is the knowledge of God, of the destination of man, his duties and his hopes, according to the teaching of Him who is the light and the salvation of the world. To lead to this knowledge is the object of all religious instruction, to whatever age it may be imparted. Its essential purport remains constantly the same. It is needed by all; and it must be perceived and understood by all.
The simple instruction which our Lord and his apostles have given, soon became not only an object of more extended reflection, and comparison with what can by other means be known of God and his will, but also an occasion of searching and striving to investigate what is unsearchable. Upon the Scriptures which we possess written in foreign languages, we have all the helps that are used in judging and expounding other monuments of antiquity. And the society of the disciples of Christ, or the church, must, like every human community, be an object of historical research, in respect to its origin and its progress.
A more profound knowledge of the whole is to be expected in preachers and theologians. But to have a general acquaintance with these matters, may preserve from many an error and offence. And any one who would be thought well educated, should endeavor not to be ignorant on a subject so naturally interesting to all considerate men.
This compendium is designed to impart the requisite general knowledge to those who have already attended to the lower and
intermediate steps of religious instruction. May it, in the hand of Divine Providence, be a durable instrument of awakening respect and love for religion, the holiest possession of man; and, especially, may it lead to a sanctifying knowledge of the truth.
What is to be presented, dear youths, is not all religion, by any means, in the highest and
jest sense. It is connected wit ligion. But much of it is human opinion and historical knowledge. Especially is this true of the introduction to the Scriptures, and of the history of religion.
Let no one imagine that he can merely by such knowledge acquire the spirit and power of genuine Christian faith and feeling. Only he who learns in a better and more worthy manner, [through the Holy Spirit] to know and honor God and Him whom He has sent, he who cherishes in himself a feeling of dependence on Him in whom all life dwells, he who hearkens to the voice of his conscience, he who makes the temper of Christ his own, he who chooses the requisition of our sacred books for the rule of his life, he only is worthy of the high name of a Christian. From him the levity and seductions of the world will not tear away his faith. The superstition and fanaticism of the age will not darken the light of his mind. His religion will be truth, virtue, and love; its fruit, quietness, peace, and holiness. To no one does the letter of a dead knowledge give assurance of this; nor does mere philosophy, nor erudition. But it will, in the hands of one who has a right sense for what is holy and divine, be a means of giving him to perceive more and more of the excellency of Christianity.
Happy the youth who from his early years takes such a treasure into subsequent life. Ilappy the teacher who is enabled to awaken this relish for the highest good, Without it, all earthly happiness loses its true purpose. With it, one may safely calculate on a peaceful and blessed life beginning on earth, and, after this imperfect state has passed away, perfected and continuing forever.
The youth who, having passed the period of childhood, needs and can receive more extensive instruction on various subjects than formerly, will, it may be hoped, wish to become more extensively acquainted also with religion, the most important of all subjects.
Instruction thus adapted to the more advanced period of youth, presupposes the elementary knowledge, and only builds on the ground which that has laid. Without that, much of what follows must be unintelligible, or at least it must seem not much to the purpose. When we speak of religion, we understand generally the belief in God and the honoring of him by our thoughts and actions. The appropriate and higher religious instruction is occupied with the establishing and explaining of this belief and with a more extended representation of what pertains to our internal and to our external conduct.
Now the belief in religion as it is found among Christians, rests on the written documents which we receive as sacred. To lead to a more intimate knowledge and a more accurate judging of these documents, may therefore be regarded as a part of this higher instruc
tion concerning religion. Information also upon the various forms, and changes, and circumstances of religious belief among various nations, or the knowledge of their religious history, will be useful.
The whole course, then, will naturally separate itself into four principal divisions : Ist, an Introduction to the Scriptures; 2nd, a History of Religion ; 3d, Christian Doctrine; and, 4th, Duties.
Memoir of the Rev. Pliny Fisk, A. M. late Missionary to Pal
estine. By Alvan Bond, Pastor of the Congregational Church in Sturbridge, Mass. 8vo. pp. 437. Bostou : Crocker & Brewster: 1828.
(Concluded from p. 126.) In a letter to the Rev. Dr Porter of Andover, Mr Fisk says:
I have now spent four days in the city where David lived and reigned, and where David's Lord and King redeemed the world. The house I inhabit stands on Mount Calvary. My little room has but one small window, and this opens toward Mount Olivet. I have walked around Zion. I have walked over Calvary. I have passed through the valley of Hinnom, drunk of the waters of Siloam, crossed the brook Cedron, and have been in the garden of Gethsemane.
The next day after my arrival, I made my first visit to the tomb of my Lord...... I entered and kneeled by the marble which is supposed to cover the spot where the body lay. My tears flowed freely, and my soul seemed to be moved in a way I cannot describe.' p. 286.
The garden of Gethsemane he describes as one of the most affecting and interesting spots on earth. It is a small plat of ground, with a low enclosure of stones, and nourishing eight venerable looking olives, which appeared as if they had been growing there from time immemorial.
April 30, he went to Bethlehem, and visited the two spots which are venerated as the birth-place of our Lord, and the manger in which he was laid, as also the Shepherd's Field, a delightful valley covered with verdure, where it is alleged that the shepherds were watching their flocks, when the angel announced to them the birth of the Redeemer.
During the subsequent week he visited several of the most interesting spots within and around the Holy City—such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, "where the Lord lay" —Mount Olivet, from whose summit the Mediator ascended to glory—the cave of Jeremiah, where it is said he wrote his Lamentations—and the dungeon where he was imprisoned by Zedekiah-Bethany, the town of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and the cave where the inhabitants say that Lazarus was entombed.
Early in June, accompanied by his missionary brethren, he took a journey to the Dead Sea, and the river Jordan. Speaking of the Dead Sea, he says :
“The water looks remarkably clear and pure, but on taking it into my mouth, I found it nauseous and bitter, I think beyond any thing I ever tasted. It has been said, that these waters are so heavy, that the most impetuous winds can scarcely ruffle their surface. Nothing could be more entirely without foundation. The wind was by no means impetuous when we were there, and yet the waves ran so high, that I found difficulty in filling some bottles with the water. My clothes were wet by the waves, and as they dried, I found them covered with salt. It has been said, that birds cannot fly over this sea; but we saw a great number flying about its shores, and I once observed three at a time flying over the water. It is said no vessels ever sail on it. This is true, and the reason is obvious. There are no vessels here, nor is there any person either desirous or capable of constructing one.'
In the afternoon of the same day, they made a visit to the Jordan, at the place where the Israelites passed over on dry ground,
right against Jericho.” Mr Fisk says he there the river, and took a walk in the plain of Moab, in the inheritance of Reuben.” Of course, if the water was sufficiently deep for swimming, it was deep enough for another purpose of interesting import.
In his journal, under date, June 20, after mentioning a visit to Mount Moriah, where stood the temple of Solomon, he says:
“The Jews pay annually a certain sum to the Turks for the privilege of visiting this place. We found about thirty of them sitting on the ground, near the wall, and reading from their Hebrew books. It was deeply affecting to see these lineal descendants of Abraham, most of them poor and ragged, sitting in the dust, and paying for the privilege of weeping, where their fathers sung and rejoiced and triumphed; miserable slaves on the very spot where their fathers were mighty kings!...... Poor Jews! when will they learn the true cause of their oppression, and repent, and return to God?'
Having remained in Jerusalem and the neighborhood, laboriously employed for two months chiefly in distributing the Scriptures, and in discussing religious subjects with Jews, Turks, Catholics, and Greeks, Mr Fisk concluded to pass the hot season at some eligible spot on Mount Lebanon. For this purpose he left the city, with Mr King, and after passing through Arimathea, Lydda, Jaffa, and Acre, he arrived at Tyre, concerning which place he says:
• How affecting to walk over the ruins of the most powerful cities the world ever saw, and to read on scattered columns, broken walls, and fragments of buildings, the fulfilment of scripture predictions.'
The next day they went to Sidon—thence to Beyroot, where the mission was subsequently established—and soon afterwards to Antoura, on Mount Lebanon, where Mr Fisk took up his residence, and pursued, beside his missionary labors and researches, the study of the Arabic language. A letter from this place, to a lady in
Boston, is full of proof that his piety was of a deep and decided character. He loved prayer, he delighted in frequent communion with God.
In October, he visited the “cedars of Lebanon," a grove of about three hundred trees; and Balbec, whose ruins have been reckoned among the wonders of the world. The chief curiosity at Balbec is the temple of the sun, of which a great part of the walls, and many of the columns, are still standing. In the latter part of the month, Mr Fisk returned to Beyroot, and thence set out for Jerusalem. His journey lay through Nazareth, “the city where Joseph and Mary lived, and where the angel Gabriel announced the great mystery of the incarnation." He describes it as a “charming spot.” After employing considerable time in missionary labors and researches in Samaria and other places through which he passed, he reached Jerusalem, and resumed the use of his former room, at the convent on Mount Calvary.
The following is the description of a scene which Mr Fisk denominates baptism :
One part of the service was explained to me, as intended to expel the devil from the child. When ready for the baptism, the font was uncovered, and a small quantity, first of warm water, and then of cold water, was poured into it. The child, in a state of perfect nudity, was then taken by the bishop, who held it in one hand, while with the other he anointed the whole body with oil. He then held the child in the font, its feet and legs being in the water, and with his right hand he took up water, and poured it on the child in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. After this he anointed it with oil, and returned it to its parents.'
This sublime performance was witnessed by Mr Fisk at the Syrian church. As connected with the same subject, it may not be amiss to introduce here an account of some conversation which he had with a Jew at Alexandria, in Egypt. Speaking of him ir a communication addressed to the Corresponding Secretary of the American Board of Foreign Missions, he remarks :
•We have often read the Scriptures together. After reading the account of Philip and the Eunuch, I inquired whether any such thing as baptism is known among the Jews. He said that in ancient times when a stranger embraced the Jewish religion, he and his wife and children were all baptized. The ceremony was performed by sprinkking or pouring a cup of water on the head; and this was done seven times. Now foreigners never embrace the Jewish religion; and if they should, he does not think they would be baptized. I do not yet know what other Jews would say on this subject.'
Some of our Pedobaptist brethren may regard this as a remarkably instructive passage, especially if they may be allowed to stop at 'sprinkling.' Others may feel their consciences somewhat relieved, if they may proceed to 'pouring;' but most of them, it is probable, will be a little startled at the seven times. Here they must be within a step of immersion or real baptism. And perhaps they will be tempted, if they indulge in Judaizing on this matter,