« AnteriorContinuar »
verned by laws given by God himself? Before our first parents were banished from Paradise, “so late their happy seat," God gave them a promise that “THE SEED of the woman" should one day “bruise the serpent's head." This promise, given to the whole family of mankind in Adam, was, from time to time, renewed, through the 4000 years which elapsed before its fulfilment. And by means of the genealogical tables preserved amongst the Jews, we are able to trace in succession, from father to son, the descent of that promised Seed, from Adam, through the family of Seth his son, to Noah. After the food we follow the lineage of Shem, the eldest son of Noah, through nine generations, till we come to Abram, to whom the promise was given that, in his seed, all the families of the earth should be blessed.
"By that seed
The serpent's head.” It was to Abram, and to his children, that the land of Canaan was to be given; and, as we pursue their history, we shall find God's purpose of mercy to man gradually developed, till, in the person of Jesus, we shall see the fulfilment of the first great prophecy given to our race. The simple account which the Bible gives us of Abram, the father of the Israelitish people, contrasts strongly with the boastful claims that heathen nations have made to dignity of descent. After proving his relationship to Noah, through Shem, the Bible tells us that Abram dwelt in Ur of the Chaldees. His father, Terah, was the head of a pastoral tribe, or family, and had three sons, Abram, Nahor, and Haran, of whom Haran died early, leaving a son named Lot.
- In one of the most fertile plains of the whole earth, just above the meeting of the Tigris and the Euphrates, might be seen at that early day, the tents of a simple people, whose wealth chiefly lay in their flocks and herds. Famous in story, many years after, was “ Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldee's excellency;" but they gave not glory to God, and now " the Arabian has ceased to pitch tent there; the shepherds no longer make their folds there." (Is. xiii. 20.)
In glancing at the world's early history, as it stands recorded in the Bible, we find that about 4000 years passed from the creation to the coming of Him who was to bring redemption and restoration to mankind. The middle of this period is marked by the birth of Abram, which took place in the year of the world 2008, or 1996 years B.C. The deluge happened a.m. 1656, or 2349 years B.C. The only remarkable event which occurred in the interval was the attempt to build on the plains of Shinar that tower of strength which was to be a refuge in case of another flood. This attempt ended in confusion and dispersion : “Therefore is the name of it called Babel, because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth, and scatter them abroad." In this confusion the name of God became a forgotten sound-the worship of the Highest lost sight of. “Cannot we understand how it was that men now became worshippers of the stars? Cannot we feel how those lights of heaven would pierce into the hearts of the wanderers whom they were guiding through the solitary wastes ?" These noblest objects would call forth their wonder and their worship. But idolatry did not stop here, the Creator once lost sight of, man has no chart by which to steer, and he sets up his own idols. Besides doing homage to the sun, moon, and stars ; light and air, wind, fire, and water, storm and tempest, became the objects of men's awe and reverence: to this succeeded the worship of images, at first intended to represent their deities, but becoming at length in them. selves objects of worship. Thus man was taught to bow down to birds and beasts and creeping things, to stocks and stones: “He heweth himself down cedars, and taketh the cypress and the oak, he burneth part thereof in the fire, and the residue thereof he maketh a God, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me, for thou art my God."
One of the first acts recorded of Abram, is, that he set out with Terah his father, Sarai his wife, and his nephew Lot, to go into the land of Canaan. They came as far as Haran and dwelt there awhile, and there Terah died at the age of 205 years.
It seems likely that Terah had been an idolater (Joshua xxiv. 2); some have said that he was a maker of images. But whatever Terah's faith might be, the Lord had said to Abram, “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” Here was a great prophecy, and hard to believe. A man that had been long childless was to be the father of a great nation ; he who had no land he could call
his own was to wander forth to a promised land, and by the arm of God to possess it, he and his heirs for ever. But Abram believed in the Word, and with his wife, and nephew, and all they had, continued his journey to that unknown land which was to be his future possession. This is known as the “call of Abram," and took place in the year of the world, 2083, or 1921 years B.C. Cannot wego with him on his way, and behold him in his daily pilgrimage, cheered by his perfect faith in God's Word, now toiling painfully over wastes of parching sand, now halting under the palmtrees by some stream or fountain, places so welcome to travellers in the East ?
Then again we see them pursuing their onward journey, some on foot, the women and children on camels, others* leading the flocks and herds, for this was no solitary pilgrimage, but the progress of a wealthy chief with all his possessions, servants, and their families,
“Not wand'ring poor, but trusting all his wealth
With God, who call’d him in a land unknown.". All this is pictured for us in the book of Genesis with all the freshness of truth; we feel that we are reading of people who really lived,
men who did the deeds which it speaks of." That were indeed " a dull childhood" whose imagination had not been enriched by the living pictures of patriarchal and pastoral life, which may be found in the Bible. " Sarah at her tent door, Hagar by the fountain in the wilderness, Isaac beholding the camels which were bringing Rebecca to him, and the meeting of Jacob and
* In the East, and indeed in some parts of England, the shepherd goes before his flock. There is an allusion to this custom in John X. 4.
Rachel.” And just as all these things are reported to have been 4000 years ago, so they are to be found subsisting, in a wonderful degree, even now. The habits of the desert are the least apt to change. The features of the country and manners of the people remain as living witnesses, proving the reality of past events; the mountains and caves, the wells and fountains, the wildernesses with their rocky fastnesses, ancient Libanus and its cedars, the Dead Sea still telling its tale of awful desolation-all remain, sure records of the past.
THE ANNIVERSARY MEETING OF THE LON
DON SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTI
ANITY AMONGST THE JEWS. INSTEAD of missionary information this month, some extracts from the speeches addressed to the large Meeting at Exeter Hall, on Friday, May 9th, will be given. These yearly Meetings are held to receive the Reports of the work of God amongst his ancient people, and to encourage and stimulate us to increased exertions for their good.
The children of the schools of the Society, fifty Hebrew boys, and fifty girls, were arranged on the platform, and sang several hymns in English and in Hebrew before the commencement of the Meeting. After it had begun, they sang the following hymn, in the chorus of which the immense assembly joined :
Hosannah to the Prince of Grace!
Zion, behold thy King;