Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

THE BELIEVER A MYSTERY. It is sometimes rather startling to those around me? If their views of consider how exactly the enjoyments human life are right, I am of all men of earth seem fitted to gratify all the most miserable." desires of the great bulk of its inhabi- And yet, notwithstanding the surtants. As children find their delight passing strangeness of the thing, there in the sports and toys fitted for their are, as there have ever been, some age, so do the trifles and mean enjoy who stand isolated among their fellows, ments of sense appear amply suffi- some who, though in the world, are cient to satisfy the wishes of the not of it. Seeking a better and heamajority of mankind. They are con- venly country, they confess themtent with the quality of the gratifica- selves to be strangers and pilgrims tions they find here, though indeed on the earth. They glow with wishes they would much like that the quantity which nothing earthly can gratify: should be increased. They ask no the fairest scenes of earth are to them new pleasures, though we hear loud beautiful, as being the image of others complaints, that the old ones will not still fairer : they look not downwards last. At times, some misfortune falls to the ground, but upwards to that upon them, which, one would think, heaven where their father is. These might remind them of the vanity of persons are the sons of God-beworldly delights, and bring to a sud- sievers in Christ : and their existence den stop their anxious search after in the midst of this lower creation, is them. But no: exclaiming,

an inexplicable mystery, and a stand“When one vein of silver 's exhausted, ing evidence that there is an immor'Tis easy another to try,”

tality reserved for man. they rush on-over the relics of Believers are a mystery to themruined hopes, over the graves of once- selves. Why they should be singled loved friends, over the withered leaves out to become lovers of God and his of perished joys,--to pursue with in- Christ, rather than lovers of pleasure, creased eagerness some new scheme they do not know. This they know of pleasure or ambition. Even from well, that it is only by the grace of the very sorrows of human life, while God that they are what they are. If not actually smarting under them, they love Him, they are certain that they contrive to extract amusement. it is because He first loved them. That The gaunt shadows of misery that it is the free mercy of God which has stalk across the earth, are by them called them out of their natural summoned to form for their enter- darkness into His marvellous light, tainment, a kind of skeleton-dance, they are fully conscious: but why at which they look and laugh. that mercy has been shewn to them,

To one who feels within himself rather than to others, they cannot tell. the capability for higher enjoyments,

The life of God in the soul of man this consideration, while taken by is a mystery both in its origin and in itself, is necessarily an exceedingly its development. That the spark of melancholy one. “ If these persons Divine grace should be kept alive in are so well satisfied with a mere pro- believers, notwithstanding surroundvision for their bodily senses, as the ing temptations, is a perpetual miracle. ox is with his provender, Why,” such They find themselves possessed of

one may ask, “should I am- the same appetites as other men : bitiously look for more ? Whence their ear is not deaf to the luxury of comes this bold aspiration after com- sounds,—their eye is not blind to the munion with heaven, and an immor- seductive forms of loveliness. Contality of purity and peace? Why scious of the force of sin, and the should the narrow horizon, which weakness of human nature, they are forms the limit of their wishes, be the at times filled with terror, lest, after starting point of mine? Upon what all, they should be cast-aways. A just grounds do I thus separate continual struggle is going on within myself in motives and in hopes from them, between the external and the

an

internal,-between the flesh and the isolated from the great mass of their spirit. In former times, this war fellows,-an isolation felt far more took a corporeal shape. Men fought bitterly and deeply when associating against the flesh with fleshly weapons. with them, than when shut up in Convinced of the danger of suffering solitude with a few congenial spirits. the body to gain dominion, they strove Yes, this wonderful conflict must rage to subject it by stripes and macera- in the renewed man; and a mighty tion. Some withdrew to a desert, mystery it is. The Christian thus and lived on roots; some raised them- finds in himself a twofold cause for selves aloft on pillars; some hid wonder : he is astonished, on the one themselves in caves; many congre- hand, that any good desires can arise gated in monasteries. But all these from so corrupt a heart, -and, on the austerities were but an outward sym- other, that having once tasted of the bol of the inner conflict; though joys of religion, sin should ever trouthere are not wanting some enthu- ble him more, that the law which is in siasts now-a-days who lament the his members should still persist in disuse of them, and declare that faith warring against the law of his mind. is weak and love is cold, because That the love of God should have Christians do not sound a trumpet entered his heart is a mystery ; and before them and call the world to

it is also a mystery that he should witness their combats with Satan.

ever again be entangled with a love But what do these complainers know of the world. Does he not hate sin ? of what is taking place in christian and yet over what rebellion, what rebosoms? What do they know of the lapses, he has to mourn! "Save me, secret struggles of the pious man of OʻGod, for the waters are come in business; for instance, while follow. unto my soul :" is his plaintive cry, ing the daily duties of his calling ? as the floods of temptation howl In the mart of commerce and by the around him, and their foaming flucdomestic hearth, may be fought and tuations hide for a time the very stars won as severe a conflict with evil as

of heaven. “Persecuted, but not forever hermit carried on in his cell; saken; cast down, but not destroyed :" and a self-denial may be practised thus has the holy Apostle described which it costs human nature inany a the Christian's mysterious condition, piercing pang to accomplish. Is it in that wonderful series of paradoxes not carrying the conflict out of its in which language seems too weak to proper sphere, to make it a matter of express his sublime conceptions. an ounce of bread more or less, or And as believers are mysterious in some lashes from a scourge? “I am their sorrows, so are they also a mystempted on every hand,” the devout tery in their joys. As they are strangers tradesman may say;

and pilgrims on the earth, so have tinually arising, when I have to re- they received power to become the nounce facilities for taking unfair sons of God. They do not attempt advantages, when I have to shun by arts of human reason to pry into what is considered a venial laxity in the secrets of the invisible world, or morals, to curb the risings of temper, to attain unto knowledge unmeet for to keep my mind calm amidst the humanity. The thoughts and desires of engrossing cares of life, and to take their renewed nature, when the chains good heed to my ways lest I incur of outward circumstances are loosened, the accusations of conscience; and go out easily and spontaneously into am I to be said to have no oppor- the regions of the unseen, as into their tunities for exercising self-denial, be- congenial sphere. They do not, cause my dietary is more liberal than

“ Like the boy Icarus, presumptuous, rise that of a monk ?" Let these objectors On borrow'd pinions into unknown skies; be certain, that those who live godly

But, like the prince of birds, by th’immust suffer persecution from the pulse driv'n, world if they come into contact with Of their own nature, seek their kindred it,-must fight the good fight of faith, heav'n."* must war with evil, and must stand

* Isaac Da Costa Wijsbegeerte en Dichtkunst.

66

cases are con

the cross.

They commune with God. They hear swell forth high-toned and full. With the Shepherd's voice, and in obedience wonder will the believer discover that to it, they go in and out, and find all danger and all apprehension have pasture. The Spirit of God bears passed away: the gentle bird, escaped witness with their spirits that they from the fowler's hand, will have are the children of God.

flown to her mountain and be safe. And as the blessings of which they here, will the Father display His partake, are mysterious, so also are love: there, will the Son-the Bride. the means through which they have groom of the soul-claim

His affianced received a title to them. They and spouse: there, will the Holy Spiritall their privileges were bought with never more to be grieved by the sins a price,- with no less a price than and coldness of the beatified saintthe blood of the Son of God. Through shed in sparkling abundance the dews the mysterious sacrifice of Calvary it of His grace. O mystery, in which is, that they have become partakers all other mysteries will be solved ! of mercy; there, were bought for Oh, glorious consummation of the them, pardon, immortality, and glory, strife and struggles of this tem-every joy and every hope they ex- pestuous world ? perience. The covenant of grace,

But the believer is also a mystery ratified by the death of Christ, secures to others. The world cannot undertheir salvation and happiness. Their stand him. “ Who is this sturdy justification, sanctification, and adop- rebel,” it is asked, “who remains tion into God's family,—blessings, erect when so many are bowing down each of which is a deep mystery,- to our golden images ? To what inall depend on the central mystery of visible deity and vacant shrine can

his vows be paid, for whom our gailyAnd when the believer has attained decorated altars have no attraction ?" unto his glorified state, he will be a · Christians are not of the world, and far greater mystery to himself than therefore the world hateth them. A before. That he should have been difference of opinion even on trivial borne through the thousand dangers subjects, often causes estrangement of the world, that his repeated acts of and lasting enmity ; but here we ingratitude should not have entailed have a total difference of opinion,-a on him final rejection,—that he should difference as wide apart as are the have survived the dissolution of his kingdoms of flesh and spirit. It is frame, – that he should have lost no wonder, then, that the Christian nothing but what his better nature

seems a mystery to unbelievers. That hated, and preserved everything wor- he should be able to resist the sethy of his love,-will fill him with ductions by which so many fall, to wonder and admiration. But still beat back opponents apparently inmore will he be astonished when vincible, and keep on his way amidst introduced into the fields of Divine ridicule and contumely, is a miracle love and truth, there to be laid open. to the children of this generation. To His intellect, which here flagged and him may be applied the language grew weary, while engaged in holy which Homer makes Pandarus use contemplations, will there mount respecting Diomed, " Not without boundless heights, and gain fresh some deity's assistance does he disvigour as it ascends. Unexpected play this enthusiasm in the fight : delights will spring up around, like but some immortal stands by him, flowers starting from the soil at the veiled in a cloud, who turns aside approach of spring ; but not, like from him the swift-rushing dart." His them, trembling at their very birth true life is one hid with Christ in God, on the verge of decay. The most and therefore concealed from their ardent burst of earthly rapture will scrutiny. And as they cannot exnot equal in intensity the calmest plain his victories, so are they puzzled flow of heavenly bliss: the song of by his defeats. His weaknesses and joy which here faintly murmured on errors are pointed out exultingly by the strings of the soul, will there those who thus find; as they think, their sagacious accusations of hypo- bility of his spiritual nature; the anoerisy and delusion amply justified. malous phenomena produced by the They see his sin, but they see not his workings of indwelling sin, not yet repentance : they see the actings of totally destroyed; and the counterhuman nature, but they cannot trace feits exhibited by those who have a the workings of the inner man. Hence form of godliness without the power. arise continual mistakes on their Still, though mantled in mystery, the part; which are multiplied by the children of light move through the circumstance that some of the out- world, testifying that the works ward acts of grace are often coun- thereof are evil, protesting against its terfeited. Thus there are three causes corruptions, and declaring that the which combine to render the believer fashion thereof passeth away. a mystery to the world : the inscruta

M. N.

THE ORIGIN OF ALL THE NATIONS UPON EARTH.

In anticipation of the meeting of persons from all the civilized nations of the earth in our great metropolis, it may be interesting to some of our readers to have pointed out to them from the Scriptures, the origin of those nations. The following brief summary, extracted from Scott, may serve as a starting point for interesting and instructive conversation upon the only authentic source from which such information can be derived.

were

“ Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth : and

unto them were sons born after the flood.” Gen. x. 1, (see the whole chapter.) Shem, the progenitor of Abraham, The Scythians, Tartars, and other and of the Messiah, is constantly northern nations are supposed to be placed first, when the sons of Noah descendants of Magog, Meshech, and are enumerated; and Japheth last: yet Tubal. The Medes, of Madai. The it is generally supposed that Japheth Ionians, and indeed all the Greeks, of was the eldest and Shem the youngest Javan; and the Thracians of Tiras. of his sons; as in this chapter we find, Nearly all the inhabitants of Europe, 1st, the posterity of Japheth, then and probably of America, descended that of Ham, and then that of Shem. from Japheth, besides those of the

Before the sacred writer entered northern regions of Asia, and by his upon the history of Abraham and his descendants, we learn, ver. 5, “ family, he was led to give a general the isles of the Gentiles divided in account of the several branches of their lands; every one after his Noah's family, from which the origin tongue, after their families, in their of many nations may be distinctly nations." traced. This chapter may therefore “ The isles of the Gentiles" genebe considered as a kind of introduction rally mean the parts of Europe most to universal history.

known to the ancient inhabitants of It is supposed by many learned Asia. The inhabitants of Britain are men, that the descendants of Gomer, generally descended from Japheth, Japheth's eldest son, settled in the and especially concerned in

" the northern parts of Asia Minor, and isles of the Gentiles.” then spread into the Cimmerian Bos- From Cush, the son of Ham, the phorus and the adjacent regions; and Ethiopians in Africa, and many tribes that from them the numerous tribes in Asia (inhabiting part of Arabia, of the Gauls, Germans, Celts, and and often improperly called EthioCimbrians descended.

pians) were evidently descended.

Misraim was the ancestor of the plied with till after the confusion of Egyptians, Cyrenians, and Lybians; tongues. or (the word being plural) it may be the general naine of the family or

PRACTICAL OBSERVATIONS. tribe whence they sprang.

As all mankind are of one family, Phut was the ancestor of the Mauri- and nearly related in Adam and tanians,-in short, all Africa is sup- Noah, how reasonable is it that we posed to have been peopled by Ham's should love and do good to each posterity, besides the Philistines, Ca- other! Whenever we behold a human naanites, and Phænicians.

being, whatever be his language and Eber, the descendant of Shem, was garb, or wherever he was born, we the ancestor of the Hebrews, and of should recognize a relation, and bemany other nations.

have to him accordingly. The Persians are supposed to be In this view, how unnatural and the posterity of Elam; the Assyrians absurd is that prejudice against foand Chaldeans, of Asshur; and the reigners, and that contempt of them, Syrians, Armenians, and many tribes which generally prevail! And how inhabiting Mesopotamia, of Aram. can it consist with love to our neigh

The immensely numerous inhabi- bours, our brethren,-“bone of our tants of the East Indies, China and bone, and flesh of our flesh-to treat Japan, may perhaps be considered as them with rigour or hold them in the descendants of Joktan, the son of slavery? “But whence come wars Eber. Indeed many learned men and fightings amongst us?” From suppose that they find all Joktan's that first murderer, who so early descendants in the large peninsula stirred up in fallen man the vile lusts between the Red Sea and the Persian of ambition, covetousness, revenge, Gulph; and appear to derive the and cruelty, and armed brethren Arabians in general from him. But against each other in horrid war; and the mention of a mountain in the who hath in all ages filled the earth East, warrants us to look for his pos- with slaughter and devastation, which terity more to the East. At least, if it might previously have been supthey settled in Arabia at first, some posed could gratify none but himself. of them seem afterwards to have mi- But the very existence of war, and grated to a greater distance. Indeed, the necessity of being always ready this appears to be the most accurate for it, and of sometimes waging it, too account of the peopling of the regions plainly prove man's depravity, as well in the eastern parts of Asia, south of as Satan's influence. Blessed be God, Tartary. It is likewise certain, that the days are coming, when all the many of the Arabians trace back their “ nations shall beat their swords original to Ishmael and Keturah. into plow-shares and their spears into

În verse 25, we read that in the pruning-hooks, and they shall learn days of Peleg, the son of Eber, the war no more;' and then ambitious or earth was divided.

rapacious conquerors, will no longer The name Peleg signifies division ; be adjudged illustrious characters, as and this division of the earth seems in man's partial histories ; but they to have been made by Divine ap

will be branded with infamy, as in pointment, though it was not com- the impartial records of the Bible.

THE GOLDSMITH AND HIS APPRENTICE. There is something peculiarly inte- ries of a trade which is to be his supresting in an apprentice boy, espe- port afterwards; and, if the fond cially if he is connected with any of dreams of parents could be realized, the superior trades. He comes pro

the source of honour and wealth to bably fresh from school, to be taught, their child, when they themselves for seven long years, the myste- were laid low in the grave. The

APRIL-1850

L

« VorigeDoorgaan »