Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Persia. Artaxerxes, weary of war with an unvanquishable foe, came at length to an accommodation on these terms--that the Greek cities of Asia should be free that no Persian ship should enter the Grecian seas, and no Persian general come by land within three days march of those seas and that no Athenian troops should commit hostilities in the territories of Persia. Thus ended a contest that from the first burning of Sardis by the Athenians, had lasted fifty years, and caused the death of countless multitudes on either side.

In the 37th year of this long reign, the Peloponnesian war broke out between the Lacedæmonians and Athenians, as will be told elsewhere. The aid of Artaxerxes was solicited by both—but the Persians had had enough of Grecian warfare, and it does not appear that the king returned them any answer till the war had lasted seven years ; when he sent an ambassador to Lacedæmon with a letter, wherein he told them, that among the many embassies he had received, he did not understand what they wanted of him, and desired, if they had proposals to make, a proper messenger might be sent to his court. This ambassador was taken prisoner by the Athenians on the way, and carried to Athens, where the utmost attention was paid him, to conciliate his master's favour-the year following he was sent back with citizens of Athens to attend bim in character of ambassadors to his prince. On landing in Asia, they received news of Artaxerxes' death, whereupon the Athenians took leave of the Persian and returned home. Artaxerxes had reigned fortyone years. He had been more favourable to the people of Israel than any of their Persian masters, as we have mentioned elsewhere. B.C. 423.

A contest, as usual, arose among the sons for the succession. Xerxes reigned first, and then Ochus, but both were murdered within eight months. A third son, named Arsites, had then the throne, and assumed the name of Darius. Revolts in Egypt, Media, and Arabia, occupied the whole of his reign, though generally in the issue suc

cessful--sometimes engaged in assisting the Greeks against each other, and sometimes invaded by them, he enabled the Lacedæmonians to put an end to the Athe

nian power.

This Darius was surnamed Notus, and died after a reign of nineteen years, succeeded by his son Arbaces, under the name of Artaxerxes Mnemon. B.C. 405.

The history of Persian royalty now becomes painful to peruse, by reason of the excess of guilt and most disgust. ing cruelty with which it is interwoven. The misery and confusion that arose from the incestuous marriages of the princes with their sisters, and even sometimes their daughters--the enmity, jealousy, and intrigue of the women, and the murders and adulteries that ensued upon them, were such as might be expected-but the unnatural and revolting stories of Parysatis, Statyra, and Roxana, and other princesses of this abandoned court, can afford us in the perusal nothing but disgust; therefore we pass them over.

Cyrus, the younger, a brother of the present king, much distinguished in his father's reign, was at this time engaged against Artaxerxes, and brought over to his assistance that army of Greeks, whose ever memorable retreat under command of Xenophon, after the prince had fallen in battle, makes so conspicuous a figure in Grecian story. B.C. 401.

REFLECTIONS

ON SELECT PASSAGES OF SCRIPTURE.

Thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in

Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee thence. -DEUT. xxiv. 18.

W110 forgets it? Even all of us--else should we not pervert as we do the judgment of the stranger-we should not be so hard in dealing out judgment towards each other, so eager to condemn, so slow to excuse. Admit that they be strangers living in error, ignorance and sin, having, as we believe, no portion yet assigned them in the land of promise--serving other masters and obeying other lords. Is it reasonable that we should deal with them rudely and speak of them with bitterness—be pleased to detect their faults, and eager to expose them-unwilling to acknowledge their virtues, or concede to them the affection they deserve of us? There are some religious people, who speak of those they consider not to be so, as if they were a different race of beings from themselves; they cannot pronounce their names without an epithet of contempt, or meet their eye without an expression of anger. Nay, but consider! What are they that you are not? Sinnersso are you: without merit, without birth-rightso are you. Nay, but remember! Are they careless, unrighteous, unbelieving—the slaves of their own passions and the world's delusions, wearing yet the yoke of folly they have inherited, contented in their bondage of time and sense, forgetful of their Father's house and of his pleasant land? Remember that thou wert so tooand if, as thou thinkest, thou art not so now, it is because the Lord thy God redeemed thee and set thee free. Be not high-minded, but fear. Thou art no greater thing than the sometime bondman of Egypt, bought with a ransom thou didst not pay—thou hast no right to show scorn to any one—and now that thou seemest to be something, if one should examine thee closely, there are more marks of thy slavery on thee than of thy freedom. Remember and go softly—and when thou seest a sinner go by thee, bow thy head and speak kindly, for he is even thy fellow.

Where shall I fly then from thy presence. WHITHER fly I? To what place can I safely fly? To what mountain? To what den? To what strong

Bb

VOL. V.

ferez sentir interieurement n'être qu'une recherche de moi-même. Quand je me sentirai porté à faire làdessus quelque sacrifice, je le ferai gaiement. J'agirai avec confiance comme un enfant qui joue entre les bras de sa mère; je me réjouirai devant le Seigneur; je tacherai de rejouir les autres. Loin de moi donc, O mon Dieu, cette sagesse triste et craintive qui se ronge toujours la balance en main pous peser des atomes, de peur de rompre ce jeûne interieur. Vous voulez qu'on vous aime uniquement; voilà sur quoi tombe votre jalousie : mais quand on vous aime, vous laissez agir librement l'amour, et vous voyez bien ce qui vient véritablement de lui. Je jeûnerai donc, O mon Dieu, de toute volonté qui n'est point la vôtre; mais je jeûnerai par amour dans la liberté et dans l'abondance de mon

FENÉLON..

coeur.

LECTURES

ON OUR

SAVIOUR'S SERMON ON THE MOUNT.

LECTURE THE SIXTEENTH.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where

moth and rust do corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal : but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of lightbut if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is within thee be darkness, how great is that dark

[ocr errors]

ness.

We must lay up treaşures somewhere—for ill betide the bosom that has notliing to love, nothing to anticipate, nothing to set the eye upon as the material of its happiness. Man, when he came forth from the hands of his Creator, was formed to enjoy-enjoyment was a part of his very nature, and essential, perhaps, to his existence here. If he cannot have it, or cannot hope it, or is not at least within the possible reach of it, he pines away and dies, or, in rank despair, puts an end to an existence he cannot endure without it. Well may that state where enjoyment is not, and cannot come, be termed the region of everlasting death—for without enjoyment there is not life, however there may be existence. The sources of this enjoyment, of whatever kind it may be, are the treasures here spoken of. Some we must have, real or imaginary, possessed or expected--if they are sufficient to our nature's demands, we are happy-from their insufficiency proceeds all that want of happiness so perceptible in the world at large, so deeply felt in the bosom of every individual in it. In Paradise the treasures whence man might draw his happiness, were innocence in himself, favour and communion with God, love to each other, and all the countless sources of enjoyment still so abundant in the created world, without the alloy that sin has intermixed with them. And amply sufficient were they for his spirits' most prodigal expenditure--he could not exhaust them, however much greater his powers of enjoyment may possibly have been than ours. When innocence was lost, and the favour of God was lost, and communion with him was interrupted, man was fain to take up with what remained; and ever since, regenerating grace and celestial hope apart, has laid up his treasures upon earth. Enjoyment is as needful to him as before-but the treasury house, alas! is small and ill-secure. It matters little what our portion in life may be; for there seems to be as much diversity in our powers of enjoyment as in our means of gratifying them. The treasures of the

« AnteriorContinuar »