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THE CEDARS OF LEBANON. THE cedar, which has been so much famed for its beauty and durability, is of the same class as the fir and the pine. It grows sometimes to the height of one hundred feet. Its fruit is a scaly cone; its leaves are evergreen, and distil a kind of gum. It is a native of eastern countries, and was introduced into England about one hundred and fifty years ago; but the region most celebrated from early ages for the growth of this tree, is a range of mountains, called Lebanon, or Libanus, in the northern part of Syria.
The branches of the cedar extend very far, forming a pleasant shade to the traveller, to which the psalmist alludes, when he describes the flourishing state of a people : “ The righteous shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon," Psa. xcii. 12. “Let a man,” says the Rev. Pliny Fisk, a missionary in Syria, “after a long ride in the heat of the sun, sit down under the shade of a cedar, and contemplate the exact conical form of its top, and the beautiful shape of its branches, and he will no longer wonder that David compared the people of Israel, in the days of their prosperity, to the goodly cedars," Psa. lxxx. 10.
Cedar wood is of bitter taste, which tends to preserve it
from insects, and has led to its being used from early times in the erection of buildings. The temple at Jerusalem, and the palace of Solomon, were chiefly formed of it. The quantity used by the king of Israel for these purposes, must have been great : hence the temple itself was called by the name of Lebanon : "Open thy doors, O Lebanon," Zech. xi. 1. And Solomon's house was described as “the house of the forest of Lebanon,” 1 Kings vii. 2. This wood was also largely employed in the erection of the second temple. Many of the ancient heathen temples were built of the cedar ; as the temple of Diana at Ephesus, and of Apollo at Utica. In later times, Cortes, the conqueror of Mexico, is said to have erected a palace, in which were seven thousand beams of cedar, most of them one hundred and twenty feet long.
The cedar of Lebanon is one of the images used figuratively in the Scriptures to denote kings and princes, Isa. ii. 13. The breaking down of the high and mighty cedars is em: ployed to show the majesty and power of God, Psa. xxix. 5. The spiritual prosperity of the righteous is compared to the same noble tree: “ The righteous shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon,” Psa. xcii. 12. And the glorious results of the reign of Christ are predicted under the figure of the Lord planting the cedar tree in the wilderness, Isa. xli. 19.
Travellers have described the present appearance of the cedars of Lebanon. They are found only in one small tract of ground, and are approached by a long winding road leading down the sides of a steep mountain. In the distance they appear like dark spots; and, on a nearer approach, as dwarfish shrubs, that possess neither dignity nor beauty, nor anything to entitle them to a visit, except the name. But when reached, they are large and beautiful, and full of interest. The trunks of the oldest trees are from thirty to forty-five feet in circumference : they have the foliage and branches at the top only, and four, five, and even seven trunks spring from the same base. The trunks of these trees are covered with the names of travellers from various lands. There are twelve “patriarch trees,” which have stood the storms of perhaps two thousand winters; but more than three hundred cedars of younger growth are scattered around.
Mr. Warburton, in a recent journey, pitched his tent for the night on the green sward beneath a cluster of these trees. He describes the watchfire as it blazed up against a pale grey cliff, its red gleam playing on the branches beneath, and the silvery moon shining on them from above, producing a beautiful effect, as they trembled in the night breeze; while their dark green leaves seemed shot alternately with crimson and silver : then the grouping of the servants, and the mountaineers in their vivid dresses, and the horses in the background,” formed altogether a picture not soon to be forgotten.
In the days of the prophet Isaiah the mountains of Lebanon were thickly covered with forests of this stately tree: a knowledge of this fact may aid in the application of the words, “ Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering,” Isa. xl. 16. Though the trembling sinner were to make choice of these lofty mountains for the altar, and were to take all the herds of cattle that feed on them for a sacrifice, costly as the offering would be esteemed ; and then were to cut down all their forests for fuel, precious and fragrant as the incense would be --- all would not avail to atone for one sin. The just and holy law of God requires a nobler altar and a more precious sacrifice : these we behold in our Lord Jesus Christ; for us he was offered on the cross; for our salvation he shed his blood; and now a full pardon and eternal life are offered to all that repent and believe on him.
J. II. C.
"I HAVE NOT TIME.” THERE are many, who, when pressed by Christian entreaty to become reconciled to God and secure the salvation of the soul, are ready to urge the plea, that they have no time to attend to it. Such persons are found among those who acknowledge the importance of religion, and who profess that they purpose, before the close of life, to give it their serious attention, and to seek peace with God.
This plea, though often urged merely to silence the voice of Christian love, or to stifle the warnings of conscience, is no doubt frequently made with the belief that the cares of life, business perhaps immediately pressing, or the support of a dependent family, are inconsistent with that attention to religion which the salvation of the immortal spirit demands. Such was the sentiment of a man known to the writer. He was amiable, upright in his dealings, a constant attendant in the sanctuary, and acknowledged the importance of vital piety. He had always been an industrious man, and having been unfortunate in business, with an expensive and dependent family, he seemed honestly to believe what he replied to the earnest and affectionate entreaty of a Christian friend, pleading with him to seek his own salvation : “I have not time to attend to it now.” Poor man! he has since gone into eternity, and it is to be feared that an appropriate inscription on his tombstone would be, “ He found no time to be a Christian.”
Reader, are you one of those who have been wont to insult God and peril your own soul by this plea ? If so, be assured, that of all the excuses by which the claims of God and the convictions of conscience are outraged, no one is less entitled to regard than this. It is without foundation in truth; it is built upon
the sand. A want of time is not the true reason why you are at this day the enemy of God and exposed every hour to drop into eternal perdition. Stop a moment and consider a few remarks on this subject, infinitely important to the interests of your undying soul.
For what purpose has God given you time? Is it that you may spend it all in hoarding those riches which
“ Will leave thee twice a beggar at thy death ?” Is it that you may spend it in one unending round of toil to secure “ the meat that perisheth ?” Has the infinitely blessed God thrown thee into a world where all thy time is needed to secure the interests of a frail and perishing body, while the interests of the immortal spirit are sacrificed ? No, it is not
God has given you time to glorify him in preparing for a blessed immortality. Rather, he has given you your being that it
all be devoted to him. “ Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God," 1 Cor. x. 31. 6 Holiness to the Lord” must be written on all in which you are engaged. He has enjoined upon you the twofold duty, “not slothful in business,” and yet" fervent in spirit, serving the Lord,” Rom. xii. 11 ; and if you truly serve him, he has not only promised eternal salvation, but that, through the overflowing of his mercy, your temporal wants shall also be supplied. He has kindly said, “ Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you ; ” “for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things,”Matt. vi. 33, 32. It was the remark of a wise man made long since, and doubtless is for the most part true in every age: “I have been young, and now ain old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread,” Psa. xxxvii. 25. But again :
How much time will it take to become a Christian ? How much time to become reconciled to God, when you are ready to renounce your own righteousness and your unworthy selfish purposes, and trust alone in the blood and merits of a crucified Redeemer? God is waiting to be gracious; and as soon as by the grace and help of the Holy Spirit you yield yourself to him and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, he is ready to forgive and to save. Then you may pursue your calling, if it is an honest one, with renewed diligence; consecrating your business, with yourself, to God. How long did it take the dying thief on the cross to repent and believe, and secure, through grace, the assurance of a seat in paradise ? How long was it after Zaccheus first saw Jesus, that salvation came to his house? How long was it after the wicked and suicidal jailer at Philippi began to ask “ What must I do to be saved,” before he was an accepted believer ? How much time is needed for a rebellious child, who really wishes to be reconciled to his parent, to become penitent and obedient? But if a long time is necessary for you to turn to God, who makes that necessity ? Ah, sinner!
“ 'Tis thine own heart makes grace delay,
And hides a pard’ning glorious day ;
Nor lain submissive at his feet.” God has commanded you to dedicate one-seventh part of your time to religious duties. And you have not time to become a Christian ! You have lived, it may be, twentyone years; then three long years of that time have been sabbaths : one whole year in every seven.
What has become of those sabbaths ? Are you still the enemy of God, and have no time to become reconciled to him? Where are those years of sabbaths ? What report have they borne to heaven? Hast thou made those precious seasons, by not using them rightly, only the means of thy greater guilt and deeper doom? Aid wilt thou still say, I have no time?" Oh no! Thy plea is vain, thy excuse will no longer serve thee for a hiding-place from the arrows of truth. Reader, thou hast time, time enough, precious time. But fleeting time is speeding its onward course :
“ While we procrastinate, Time urges on
His rapid fight, and death draws near ;”. and if Christ is still despised by thee, and thy soul neglected, soon time with thee shall be no more. But,
Thou must find time to die. Poor, busy, bustling man, full of worldly cares, thou hast no time now for reflection, to