Imágenes de páginas

gant and the imprudent to a point beyond which they could no longer obtain credit; and that point was sufficiently near to save the major part of their property to themselves or their children. Where these matters are not regulated, they are always causes of trouble In other nations the accumulation of wealth on the one hand, and the exten.-ion of poverty on the other, go on until the state of things becomes intolerable; and then is a violent redistribution of property. The social disturbances of the old world now have their origin in this cause. Men are never wise enough to manage vast wealth beneficently, so as not to oppress the poor; and the poor are never patient enough to bear oppression and wrong long without resistance. Thus the redistribution of property, and the levelling of rich and poor, which among other nations are brought to pass only through the violence of revolution, were among the Israelites effected through the peaceful restoration of the year of jub lee.

Verse 17. Ye shall not oppress one another. To secure a just aud upright treatment to every Israelite from his brethren was the object of this law. The Israelite was to deal fairly and honestly with his brethren because Jehovah was the common Father of all. Among Christians the golden rule ought to be observed: Do unto others as ye would that they should do unto you. But this is an ideal that is never realized among Christians now, and was never realized among the Israelites of old. In the historical books of the Old Testament there is even no trace of the actual observance of the year of jubilee. We do not know, therefore, to wLat extent it was observed. But whether observed or not, the institution is there as an idea to be realized in the future. It served especially as a type of the redemption which has already been accomplished through Christ, and also as a type of the sabbatic rest and peace which remains to the people of God, and which shall be fully realized only in that new heaven and new earth wherein dwelleth* righteousness.

A Deserved Tribute.

The sympathy for the American nation shown by foreign nations has been very touching. Among the mauy kind words is this little poem, found in Punch.


So fit to die! With courage calm,

Armed to confront the threatening dart.
Better than skill is such high heart

And helpfuller than healing balm.

So fit to live! With power cool
Equipped to fill his function great,
To crush the knaves who shame the State,

Place-seeking pests of honest rule.

Equal to either fate he'll prove,

May Heaven's high will incline the scale
The way our prayers would fain avail

To weight it—to long life and love!

Mr. Bancroft in His Workshop.

Mr. Bancroft's workshop is upon the second floor, in a large square room facing the street. What a place of rest and study! Great leather and Shaker chairs, a great desk in the middle of the room, and all about the walls, books and books; from the ceiling to the floor, on every side, books! Not an inch of space that is not filled. And he has four rooms like this. The table was strewn with pamphlets, books and bushels of documents and manuscript. The picture, as you enter, is oue you have often seen. An old man sitting at his desk at w^rk, and a young secretary opposite copying, verifying and arranging documeuts, and both encircled by walls of books. Within the four rooms compo>ing his library, Mr. Bancroft has over twelve thousand volumes. There are larger collections of books in private houses, but Mr. Bancrofts library is remarkable for being more select than extensive. It is peculiarly rich in the best editions of ancieut classics, and has almost all the notable works in the modern European languages. The great feature of the library is the manuscripts. No man in the country has such a collection of original documents of a military or political character relating to the country. He began his great historical work in 1825. —The Republic.

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First Sunday in Advent. J «

KEY-NOTE: "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." ,


Prophecy of Balaam.—Num. xxiv. 10-19.

10. And Balak's anger was kindled against Balaam, and he smote his hands together: and Balak paid unto Balaam, I called thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast altogether blessed them these three times.

11. Therefore now flee thou to thy place: I thought to promote thee unto great honor; but, lo, the Lord hath kept thee back from honor.

12. And Balaam said unto Balak, Spake I not also to thy messengers which thou sentest unto me, saying,

13. If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I can not go beyond the commandment of the Lord, to do either good or bad of ray own mind; but what the Lord saith, that will I speak?

14. And now, behold, I go unto my people: come therefore, and I will advertise thee what this people shall do to thy people in the latter days.

15. And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said:

16. He hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the Most High, which saw the vision of the Al mighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open:

17. I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there ahull come a star out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall ri*e out of Israel, and shall smite the comers of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.

18. And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies; and Israel shall do valiantly.

19. Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy bim that remaineth of the city.


What is the name of this Sunday? How is it related to the Church year? What is the Church year? What does Advent mean? How many advents of Christ may we distinguish? Which of these forms the theme of the present Sunday? What is the key-note?

What is the subject ot our lesson to-day? Who was Balaam? Num. xxii. 5. What was his religion t What his character? What was the occasion of his prophecy? Who was Balak? Why did he send for Balaam to curse Israel? Where was Israel at this time? Num. zzii. 1. How long alter Israel's departure from Egypt was this? What result did Balak expect from Balaam's curse? Do men really possess power to do mischief to others in this way?

Verses 10—11. Did Balaam curse Israel? What did he do? How did he bleu Israel? now many times did he do this? What are the contents of these prophecies? Num. xxiii. 9-10, 19-24, xxiv. 3-9. How did this affect Balak? Had he any reason to be angry with Balaam? What did he say to Balaam? What does Balak say he proposed to do for Balaam? What does he mean by saying that the Lord kept him back from honor t

Verses 12-13. What was Balaam's answer to Balak? Was this answer true? Num. xxii. 18. Was Balaam's conduct in the matter then wholly honorable? Did he not know from the first that he would not be allowed to curse Israel? Num. xxii. 12. Should he then have gone to Balak at all? Did his going displease the Lord? How did the Lord manifest His disapprobation? Num. xxii. 22-35. How are we to understand this miracle of the ass? But

why did the Lord afterward give him permission to go? Why did he desire to go? What may we infer from this in regard to his character? How then could he be a prophet?

Verse 14. What does Balaam say here? Does his speech show that he was angry too? Did he really go to his people now? Where did he go? Of what does he inform Balak? What is meant by the expression, in the latter days f

Verses 15-16. What is meant by parable here? Was his utterance a real prophecy? How did he get his knowledge of the future? Does the Gentile world have its prophetic anticipations of Christ too? How is this prophecy of Balaam related to thege^

Verses 17-19. What was the object of Balaam's vision here? Of what was the star a synib il? When was this prophecy first fulfilled? Who is its ultimate fulfillment? What relation is there between the star of Balaam and the star of the wise men, Matt. ii. 2? What does Balaam say of Moab and Edom? When were these predictions first fulfilled? II Sam. viii. 2, 14. Who is he that shall come out of Jacob, and shall have dominion? What will He do to His enemies?

What became afterwards of Balaam? Num. xxxi. 8. Why did they slay him? Num. xxxi. 16. What was the counsel of Balaam t What is the meaning of llalaam f What is meant by the doctrine of Balaam, Rev. ii. 14? Are there many holding the doctrine of Balaam now? How should we regard them? In what way only can the wicked hurt the righteous?

Notes.—The first Sunday in Advent ia the first day* of the Christian or Church year. The Church year is a period of time determined, not like the natural year, by the movements of the earth around the natural sun, but by the movement of the Church about Christ, the Sun of righteousness. Its 8*as)ns are, therefore, determined by the gnat facts in the history of the revelation of Christ; and in its order and course these facts enter ever anew into the Christian thought and experience of the Church in order to her edification and perfection. The first great fact in the history of tbe manifestation of Christ is His Advent, or coming into the world, for which the Old Testament dispensation was a preparation, and of which the Advent season of the Church year is a celebration. We may distinguish three advents of Christ: an advent in the flesh, an advent in the spirit, and an advent in glory. The first is past, the second is taking place now, the third is still future. The advent in the spirit, or the coming of Christ into the hearts of men, which is the fruit of His coming in the flesh, and the prelude of His coming in glory, forms the theme of the first Sunday in Advent. The key-note expresses the salutation with which the Church evermore receives the spiritual advent of her Lord. Hence its use iu the communion service, in which Christ's coming into the hearts of His people is especially symbolized.

Prophecy of Balaam.—Balaam, the eon of Beor,was a native of the northern part of Mesopotamia, the country from which Abraham had come (Num. xxii. 5. Deut. xxiii. 4). He was a believer also in the God of Abraham, whom he worshipped under the names of El Shaddai (Almighty God) and El Elyon (Most High God). His religion was, therefore, the primitive religion of the patriarchs. He possessed something of a prophetic faculty, and had the reputation of being a diviner and enchanter, whose blessings were desired and curses feared. His character was a pecnliar mixture of piety and worklliuess. He possessed spirituality enough to make a prophet, or at least a diviner, but too much covetousness to permit him to be saved. It may be difficult to conceive how such opposite qualities could

belong to the same person ; but such is the representation which the Bible gives of him. This renowned enchanter was sent for by Balak, tbe king of Moab, in order that, by means of his curses or spells, he might put a stop to the victorious progress of the children of Israel, when, in the fortieth year after their departure from Egypt, these were encamped among the acacia groves in the plains of Moab, over against Jericho, after having defeated and slain Sihon the king of the Amorites, and Og the king of Bashan. Balak entertained the superstitious notion that some men have power to do mischief to others by the utterance of magic formulas or the practice of magic an*. It was the same notion that underlies the modern belief in witchcraft, and in the efficacy, for good or evil, of charms and incantations. There is, of course, no objective power in these arts. The power which the conjurer exercises, he derives, not from his art, but from the superstition of his victim. A man cannot curse those whom God has not cursed (Num- xxiii. 8). But if one can produce in another the conviction that he is the object of an evil influence, a curse or spell, then that conviction may become the cause of suffering and trouble. There is no doubt ihat much evil has been done in this wav, and that occasionally even persons have died, not in consequence of any evil power put upon them by others, but in consequence of their own superstition. This fact explains such notions as those of Balak. Thinking that by the magic power of Balaam he might rid himself of bis fear of Israel, Balak sent a delegation of Moabitish arjd Midianitish princes, together with costly presents, to bring the enchanter from bis home among the mountains of Mesopotamia to Moab. Balaam, being warned of God, at first refused to go; but when Balak sent another embas-y of princes more honorable than the former, promising to promote him to great honor, thus exciting his covetous desires and lust for money, he obtained of God permission to go. but only on condition that he shonid speak nothing but the words which God would put in his mouth.

Veks. 10-11.—Thou haM altogether blessed tliem. Balak was disappointed. Though Balaam had given him no distinct promise, yet from the fact that he had come at his request, and from the costly sacrifice of seven bullocks and seven rams, which he offered on seven altars, in order to influence God in his favor, Balak expected to obtain his desire, and to hear the prophet pronounce curses upon Israel. But instead of curses, he hears blessings, that is, predictions of future good fortune for Israel.

These three times.—Three times and in three different places, namely, in the high place of Baal, iu the top of Pisgah, an;! in the top of Peor, to which Balak brought him in succession, that he might see different parts of the camp of Israel, did he utter his blessings or favorable prophi cies. The contents of these propecies are the lutureisolation,numbers, strength and prosperity of Israel, and his triumph over his enemies. In consequence of these blessings Balak's wrath was kindled against Balaam, arrd he clapped his hands for anger. Yet he could not have said that Balaam had deceived him. All that Balaam had done was timply to suffer him to deceive himself. Morally there was no difference betweeu B*lak and Balam. The former thought that he could buy the prophet's curses with his money, and move Jehovnh in his favor with his sacrifices; and the latter suffered him to indulge this delusive fancy in the hope of making gain out of it. And when Balak found that he Wjs disappointed he got very angry.

The Lord has kept thee back from honor.—What Balak means is that Balaam's belief in Jehovah and hisdependance upon Jehovah, has prevented him from attaining the honor which he proposed to confer upon him. Balak, like all believers in magic arts, thinks the seer, instead of being controlled by Jehovah, ought to control Jehovah by means of his art, and especially by means of his magnificent offerings Tha s-eer's dependauce upon Jehovah in his utterances, is a thing which Balak can not understand, and he therefore looks up"n him with contempt.

Vers. 12-13.—Spake I not also to thyw-esscngers, etc. This retort of Balaam to Balak's angry speech is strictly true (see Num. xxii. 18), but it is not the whole truth. He did say to Balak's

messengers, that, if the latter would give him his house full of sitver and gold, he could not go bayond the word of Jehovah to do less or more; but he did not say that Jehovah had already told him that he would not be permitted to curse the people of Israel, because they were blessed. Yet this was the fact, see Num. xxii. 12. The prophet's conduct, therefore, was anything but honorable. He knew from the first that he would not be permitted to curse, and should, therefore, not have thought of going to Balak at all. Though he had obtained a condi:ional permission to go, yet his going displeased the Lord, because his motives were not pure, and were every moment growing worse. The Lord manifested His displeasure by frightening his ass on the way, and then, when he smote her, by "opening her mouth" to reprove him. Of course this language is not to be understood literally. No ass ever Bpoke human words. The raira le here was a subjective one. The whole occurrence was in the mind of Balaam, and the form of the narrative is only an outward symbolical clothing of this inward occurrence. It was in fact Balaam's troubled conscience that put the reproving words into the mouth of the ass. He knew that he would not be permitted to curse Israel; and he knew that he ought not to have gone to Balak at all. But he had set his heart on Balak's money, the reward of divination which the latter had promised him, and hence desired to go, and even to curse those whom he knew that God had not cursed. There was a conflict going on in his mind, " his thoughts accusing and excusing one another." Balaam was a '■ double minded" man, who desired to pleas* God and mammon. We may conceive of the state of his mind thus: he desired to obey God, hut he also desired to get Balak's money; he would effect a compromise between these opposite desires; he would go, and perhaps in some way obtain the reward of divination, but he would take care not to go bevond the express commands of God. We can thus understand why God should be displeased at his going, and yet, in order to give him an opportunity for further development, grant him permission to go. ■ But how could so impure a character be a prophet? In the same way that wicked men perform miracles (Matt. xxiv. 24, 1 Cor. xiij. 2), for prophecy is a miracle of knowledge. Caiaphas could prophesy because he was high-priest ( John xi. 51). This need not seem strange, if we remember that nothing is more common than a disparity between men's knowledge and morals.

Verse 14.—And now, behold. The language shows that Balaam had become excited too. The angry words of Balak have in some measure aroused the ire of the prophet. I go unto my people. Balak had warned him to flee to his place, and the prophet now says, ''I go to my people." But he never got to his people. He probably started to go home, and from Num. xxiv. 25 it •would seem that he and Balak separated never to meet again. But on his way back he fell in with the neighboring Midianites whom he taught to reduce the Israelites to idolatry; and when afterwards the Midianites were defeated by the Israelites with great slaughter, Balaam was still among them and was slain (Num. xxxi. 8, 16). I will advertise, i. e. advise or inform thee. In the latter days. Literally, in the afterward of days, or, in the after days. By the phrase the latter days we commonly understand the time of the end of the world, but the prophecy of Balaam does not reach so far as that. It covers the period beginning with the splendid development of Israel in the time of David and Solomon, and ends with the decline of the Greek and commencement of the Boman dominion in Asia. Balaam's prophecy is generally regarded as referring to Christ. This is undoubtedly correct. 0:dy we must not suppose that the prophet himself thought of Christ. Tne whole history of Israel is Christological, i. e., typical of Christ and tending to the manifestation of Christ; and as f irecasting the course of that history, Balaam's prophecy also is Christological.

Verses 15-16.—Parable. Hebrew mushdl, a comparison, proverb; also a poem or song, because the literary productions denoted by the word were expressed in rhythmical form and uttered in a chanting tone. Here it means song or chant, as that was the way in which the seer Epoke. Balaam hath said, etc. Literally, the saying, the ora

ch or prophecy of Balaam. Balaam's prediction is a real prophecy obtained by a divine operation or affl ttus. Which saw the vision of the Almighty, etc. This expresses the form of his inspiration. While his outward eyes were closed, he was made to foresee by the operation of the divine Spirit, the future course of the world's history. There is a foundation for such an operation in the constitution of the world and in the constitution of the human mind. The world is a living process, in which one stage always involves another. The present, therefore, is the womb of the future. The human mind in consequence of its organic relation to the world, may, in certain conditions, be able to obtain glimpses of the plan and tendency of this process, and thus to prophesy. This is the thought embodied in the lines of the poet, which are so often quoted:

"The sunset of life gives me mystical lore, And coming events cast their shadows before."

Hence it is that there are prophetic intimations of Christ even in the heathen world. The tendency of the world's life is towards Christ, and the profoundest heathen minds, when in deep sympathy with this life, have had their anticipations of Christ. Balaam's prophecy was, however, more than this, though it rested on this natural basis: there was in it an element also of supernatural revelation.

Vers. 17-19.—I shall see him, etc. Better: I see him thnuyh he be not now; 1 behold him, though he be not nigh. The object of this vision is the prince or king, afterwards represented by the star and sceptre. Star out of Jacob etc. The star has among all nations served as a symbol of regal power and splendor. Here it is a symbol of the royal line of David, completing itself in the eternal royalty of Christ. This prophecy, then, was first and partially fulfilled in David; but its ultimate and complete fulfillment is Christ. The star of Balaam has generally been brought into relation to the star of the wise men (Matt. ii. 2). It would, however, be a mistake to suppose that the prophecy of Balaam was known to the wise men. They were original seers like Balaam him-elf, and their slar was independent of his. Moab Edom. This prediction was fulfilled by the victories of David over the

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