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THE STUDY OF PROPHECY.
It was the object of a former essay to set forth the advantages of an acquaintance with prophecy to those who lived under the old dispensation: the object of the present will be, to prove that such an acquaintance with these prophecies cannot fail to have a most beneficial effect upon ourselves:
OF THE UNITED
CHURCH OF ENGLAND
I. In establishing more securely our own faith. The evidence arising from prophecy may be fairly regarded as among the very strongest; and it will be recollected, that to these prophecies concerning the Messiah, and to their exact fulfilment in himself, our Lord referred, and more especially after his resurrection, when he terms the apostles "slow of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken;" when he affirms that "Christ ought to have suffered these things, and enter into his glory," that is, that it was quite in accordance with the whole strain of prophecy that he should have been crucified, dead and buried, and should, on the third day, rise again; and then, beginning at Moses, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things that referred to himself. And thus we find St. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, expostulating with the Jews, convincing them of their guilt, and proving, by reference to prophecy, that Jesus, whom they had crucified, was He of whom David spoke: while a similar effect was produced by his appeal to the same evidence, when the people ran together unto him and John, in the porch of the temple called Solomon's, astonished and amazed at the miracle of healing wrought on the lame man who sat begging at the gate. The study
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of fulfilled prophecy, then, we may expect, will have the important effect of establishing us more securely in the faith; and were those who call in question the Bible as the revelation of God to his creatures, and who in the pride of an unsubdued and unsanctified heart deny the Lord Jesus Christ, to study these prophecies with greater care, and with humble prayer for the Divine guidance, there is little doubt but that they would be speedily brought to the acknowledgment of the truth. It will be observed that I say the study of fulfilled prophecy; for it is most important to keep the distinction in mind between that which is fulfilled, and that for the accomplishment of which we have yet to look. "I must express the conviction of my mind," says one admirably well qualified to judge on this subject, and one to whose patient investigation of the Scripture testimonies to the divinity of the Messiah the Christian Church is under the deepest obligations,-"I must express the conviction of my mind, that it is not the immediate duty of all Christians to engage in this branch of scriptural inquiry-the study of unfulfilled prophecy; and this conclusion rests upon the plain reason, that God has not made that the duty of any persons for which he has not furnished them with the necessary means. But the larger part of sincere and devout believers cannot command the time which those long and laborious disquisitions require, in order to pursue them advantageously; and, if they had sufficient leisure, without neglecting plainly incumbent duties, they are not possessed of that acquaintance with philology and history, which is manifestly indispensable to investigations of this nature. Let not such excellent persons regret
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their disability: they have other and more profitable objects to engage their attention and to fill their hearts; they need not occupy themselves with a light shining in a dark place, when they can walk under the brightness of the Sun of Righteousness,—the clearly revealed doctrines and promises, the precepts, examples, devotional compositions, and historical illustrations of the divine word." It had been well, had these judicious remarks been adopted as the rule of conduct by many in our own day, who seek to be wise above that which is written, and to pry into the secret things which belong to the Lord our God, who have been led away from the sober interpretation of divine truth, and too often to interpret the most mysterious prophecies of the sacred volume according to their own crude fancies.
II. The study of fulfilled prophecy will increase our admiration of the wisdom and goodness of the Almighty. It has often been urged as an objection to the truths of Christianity, that it is utterly inconsistent with our notions of infinite benevolence to suppose that the Most High would have suffered so many ages to pass before the advent of the Messiah; and that had he intended to make a revelation of his will by a messenger especially qualified for the work, that messenger would have appeared at a much earlier period. From an acquaintance with prophecy, however, we learn, that even before the Almighty passed the sentence of condemnation against the guilty pair, a Deliverer was promised. The light of revelation was not poured in upon man at once and with full splendour: the obscurity of the dawn went before the brightness of the noonday. The will of God was at first made known by revelations dark and mysterious; to these succeeded others more clear and perfect, in proportion as the situation of the world made it necessary. Throughout the whole chain of prophecy, however, we behold the Divine mercy to man set forth. We have seen that these prophecies were the stay, and the comfort, and support of God's servants in every age of the Church; and the fulness of the time did not arrive for many ages, when it should please God to send forth his Son; yet, the propitiatory sacrifice made by that Son on the cross was as effectual to the removal of the transgressions of those who lived before, as of those who lived after his advent. It is their ignorance of the divine plan of mercy which induces unbelievers to cavil at the word of God. Would they but patiently study its hallowed pages,-would they but derive its sincere milk, that they might grow thereby, would they but come unprejudiced to the investigation of the truth, they would be soon led to adore that mercy, which even from the
earliest times promised a Deliverer, — one mighty to save, who should reverse the sentence of condemnation, and restore man to that liberty, and light, and felicity, which he had forfeited by transgression.
III. But an acquaintance with fulfilled prophecy is calculated to excite us to active diligence in the great works of the Christian calling, more especially those which refer to the advancement of the kingdom of the Redeemer. Such an acquaintance assures us that God's word standeth for ever sure; that every jot and tittle thereof will be accomplished; and that whatever impediments may appear to stand in the way of the accomplishment of his purposes, they must all be finally overcome. Now God hath expressly assured us that the time will ultimately arrive, though he hath not pleased to state the precise period,for the times and seasons are in his own hand
when all men shall know him, from the least even to the greatest. He hath positively declared that the dominion of the Messiah shall be from sea to sea, and from the river unto the end of the earth. We cannot, therefore, doubt the exact fulfilment of his word. Every obstacle must disappear, every impediment be removed, in the accomplishment of an end so desirable, an object so glorious. He deigns to employ the agency of man; he purposes that man shall be to his fellow-man the herald of peace the messenger of salvation; that the kingdom of the Redeemer shall be enlarged by human exertion, blessed and rendered efficacious by his good Spirit. Here, then, is a call to active diligence in seeking to promote the knowledge of the Saviour among men ; here is a motive which should lead us to be stedfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. Many, indeed, are the discouragements in the way of Christian exertion in this particular; but the encouragements infinitely surpass them. The spread of Christianity may be slow, it may be gradual, it may scarcely be perceptible, it may appear to some to be impossible; yet ultimately we are assured it will cover the earth, even as the waters cover the channel of the great deep. And what, it may be asked, have we done towards the accomplishment of an event so glorious? If we trace with gratitude and delight the gradual development of the plan of mercy, from its first dawning in paradise until it burst forth in splendour in that adorable Saviour who was the light of the world, the Sun of Righteousness; if we meditate with thankfulness on His advent in the flesh, whose testimony was the spirit of prophecy,--we shall pray for the speedy accomplishment of those prophecies which declare his ulterior triumphs in the world; we shall, according to our several abilities, seek to promote the
follow his father's profession, and returned to Glasgow to complete his studies at the University. Here, it is said, he applied with so much ardour, that a Greek or Latin author was his constant companion. By his father's persuasion, he embraced the profession of the law, although his own feelings were in favour of the Church. A Greek Testament was always to be found at his bedside.
honour of his name, to advance the interests of his kingdom. If we rejoice to look back, as Abraham rejoiced to look forward to his day; if he is to us, as he was to the Psalmist, all our salvation and all our desire,-then, assuredly, we shall be fired with a holy zeal to hasten that time, when from the rising even to the going down of the sun his name shall be great among the heathen; the prelude of that day when he shall appear in glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead. Alas, our lukewarmness in this particular may easily be traced to the little value that we affix to the knowledge which we possess of God's purposes of mercy in his Son. It is because we do not estimate aright the blessings of redemption, that we seek not to impart a knowledge of them to others; it is because we are not constrained by the love of the Redeemer, that we feel so little interested for the welfare of our fellow-men; and it becomes us to consider upon what principle we can lay claim to be regarded as Christians, if we are neither anxious that the glory of the Redeemer should be advanced, or the blessings of his salvation be made known; if, while the fields are white unto the harvest, we send not forth labourers into these fields; if, while the cry of the heathen is the entreaty of the man of Macedonia to St. Paul, we send not over and help them;-for, to use the words of Dr. Johnson, "He that voluntarily continues ignorant is guilty of all the crimes which ignorance produces; as to him that should extinguish the tapers of a light-house might justly be imputed the calamities of ship
wreck." "1 *
THE REV. JAMES GRAHAME,
AMONG those who have added to the stores of poesy in Scotland, few names are more worthy of honourable mention than that of the subject of the present memoir. An ardent admirer of the beauties of nature, and imbued with a strong religious feeling, his poems can scarcely fail to impress the heart; while the peculiarly painful circumstances of his early removal, and the disappointments he met with, add a melancholy interest to his biography.
Mr. Graham was born at Glasgow, April 22, 1765, where his father was a respectable writer, or solicitor. Having been educated at the public grammar-school, he was led by his situation and connexions to the pursuits of business; and as several of his brothers had followed the employment of the law, his friends turned their views for him to those manufacturing pursuits which had brought such an accession of wealth to that quarter of Scotland. He was accordingly placed with a manufacturer at Paisley. The occupations in which he was now necessarily engaged, were little suited to his taste. He resolved, therefore, to
Letter to Mr. Drummond.
t See "Lives of Sacred Poets," by R. A. Willmot, Esq.; Biog. Notice in Scots Mag. 1811, &c.
a mode of life better corresponding with the
Having served the usual term of apprenticeship, he became a writer to the signet in 1790, but was subseThe kindred quently admitted advocate in 1795. employment of the bar appeared to offer more leisure, habits and pursuits of a man of letters. He accordingly gave it the preference, and spent in it the greater part of his succeeding life. Without being ever very highly employed, he soon attained a respectable share of practice, which allowed him at once leisure and competence. His poetical fancies were, meanwhile, not neglected, and several pleasing sketches of the months, afterwards collected in the "Rural Calendar," appeared under a fictitious signature in the Kelso Mail.
In the spring of 1802, Mr. Grahame married the daughter of Mr. Richard Grahame of Annan, in Dumfriesshire. His first poetical production was a tragedy did not obtain, nor perhaps merit, any great share of on the subject of Mary Queen of Scots; "but it popularity." Many parts of it were distinguished by that pleasing and picturesque imagery which afterwards made his poems so much admired; but a merit so little appropriate could not save a piece which wanted the peculiar requisities of dramatic excellence. It is always, with the right thinking, a matter of regret when poetical talents are exercised in dramatie compositions; and the non-success of the tragedy in question may have been of great importance to Mr. Grahame, Who that knows any thing of the true character of theatrical representations, and is at all interested in the well-being of society, can fail to lament that talents should be wasted in the production of that which may prove detrimental to the spiritual welfare of thousands?
Mr. Grahame's most important work was "The Sabbath," which he undertook after a considerable
interval, and his occupation in it was studiously concealed, even from his wife. To avoid the observation of his friends, his publisher and he met at different taverns. The work appeared in 1804. He took a copy home, and placing it on the parlour table, he soon found his wife reading it, and he continued to walk up and down the room until Mrs. Grahame exclaimed, "Ah, James, if you could but produce a poem like this!"
The success of "The Sabbath" induced Mr. Grahame to undertake another work; and in a year or two afterwards he published "The Birds of Scotland," with other poems; which, however, did not become equally popular. It was composed in the retirement of Kirkhill. "These poems," says a reviewer, "bear nearly the same character with that of 'The Sabbath,' which has obtained for Mr. Grahame so ample a share of celebrity. They display the same delicacy, intimate acquaintance with nature, and the same feeling and amiable cast of mind; and they have also the same faults of languor and extreme minuteness."
Mr. Grahame's health had now considerably declined; and he felt inadequate to undergo the labour and fatigue of the bar. His passion for rural tranquillity and a life of contemplation, joined to his feelings of devotion, led him to regret that he had not originally devoted himself to clerical pursuits. Although he was now somewhat advanced in life, it appeared not too late to make the change, as he possessed a small independence, which would enable him to support his family during the interval of expectancy.
Having fully resolved to enter the English Church, he proceeded to Chester, and from thence to London, where he was ordained by Dr. Bathurst, bishop of Norwich, May 28, 1809; his lordship being induced, by the consideration of his merits and qualifications, to dispense with the attendance at one of the English universities. While residing on a curacy at SkiptonMayne, in Gloucestershire, he became a candidate for the ministry of St. George's Chapel, York-place, Edinburgh; but was unsuccessful. He went to Durham, in the hope of obtaining a minor canonry; but here, also, he was disappointed; and after officiating three months as sub-curate in the chapelry of St. Margaret, he was appointed curate of Sedgfield, by the rector, the Rev. George (afterwards Lord Viscount) Barrington, nephew of the bishop of the diocese. The indisposition under which Mr. Grahame laboured baffled the power of medicine to remove it increased with such rapidity, that he was induced to return to Edinburgh; where, at the house of his only surviving sister, Mrs. Archibald Grahame, he received all the affectionate attentions which the melancholy state of his health required. He had constant oppression of the head, and swimming before his eyes. Hoping that the air of his native town might be more salutary than that of Edinburgh, he set out for Glasgow, accompanied by his wife. 66 Though very ill when he departed," writes his friend," and aware of his danger, he did not imagine his dissolution so near; but was animated with the idea of visiting the scenes of his early days and happiest recollections. He even hoped to preach in his native town, and took two sermons for that purpose, the subjects of which bear a striking analogy to the situation of their author; the text of them being, 'O Death, where is thy sting?' The victory, indeed, was soon to be his. He became worse by the way; and two days after, having arrived at White Hill, near Glasgow, the residence of his eldest brother, he expired on the 14th of September, 1811, in the forty-seventh year of his age."
"If Grahame had produced nothing but 'The Sabbath Walks,' his name," says Mr. Willmott, "would not have been written in water.' The sounds and colours of the varying seasons seem blended with his verse. His Biblical Pictures' are less open to objection than almost any paraphrases of Scripture I happen to remember. The simple grandeur of the original is generally preserved; and the illustrations occasionally introduced are appropriate to the subject."
"An affecting record of his last hours," observes Mr. Willmott, was contributed by a contemporary journal. After his tongue," concludes the writer, "could no longer give utterance to his thoughts, his looks of tenderness and benignity towards the friends who surrounded his sick-bed, unequivocally proved that his heart still glowed with its accustomed feelings; that the amiable and gentle virtues which through life adorned his character, contributed to support and soothe him in his latest moments." There is every reason to believe, that the ground of Mr. Grahame's hope and confidence, his peace and composure at the last, was not his amiable and gentle virtues : these he possessed indeed; but they were not the sure foundation in which he trusted. His writings prove that he had a better confidence, and a more scriptural hope; and that he felt supported by that Saviour. in whose service he was for a short time permitted to minister. M.
SKETCHES FROM A TRAVELLER'S PORTFOLIO.
No. XII.-The Brand Strasse.
I WAS sojourning a short time, during the past summer, in the ancient city of Strasbourg. Having sallied out one bright morning for an early walk, I entered, at no great distance from the glorious cathedral, which was always the object of chief attraction to me, a winding darkish street. Few persons were there-perhaps it was not much of a thoroughfare, or perhaps it was too soon in the day for many of the inhabitants to be stirring. I passed the Hotel-de-Ville, which appeared quiet and still, and next a military station, by the entrance of which a small party of soldiers were lounging, and then I came to the Prefecture. The gates of the court-yard stood wide open, and so I went in. But there was not a soul there to be seen. The Prefecture itself is a large, almost semicircular building, looking shabby and dull. But in front of it there were a number of acacias in full flower, throwing their tall heads and graceful foliage into the clear morning sky, and affording shelter to the early songsters who carolled their welcome to the returning day. Scarcely any other sounds met my ear; and it seemed as if, in the midst of a crowded city, I had found the stillness and solitude of a desert. I thought that this could not have always been so ; for in the stirring times of war, not so long gone by, doubtless the tramp of horse and the tread of men had hurried over the spot where I was standing. Doubtless the bustle of authority, and the concourse of the people, had often filled that court-yard, when the great city had heaved, as it were, with the news of some victory, or the dread of some approaching foe, or the tumult of intestine dissension. But my thoughts were soon carried farther back. For here, in this silent spot-here had once ascended the smoke and spiry flames of a devouring fire-here had resounded the groan and the shriek of many victims consumed in that blazing furnace-here had risen the wild execrations of an infuriate multitude, thrusting men, and women, and children into the flames, and gloating over the spectacle of their torments. For this was the Brand Strasse, or Fire Street; and here, where the Prefecture now stands, two thousand Jews had been murdered in one large fire.
I pictured to my mind the scenes of that woful time. I could almost imagine that I saw the sad procession, the dark and frowning brows of the men, and the frantic grief of the delicate females, and the remorseless rage of the savage executioners; and my thoughts wandered over the various circumstances of the tragedy. The fanatic sect of the Flagellants had first arisen in the thirteenth century in Italy, whence it diffused itself through most other parts of Europe. Then-for it is the property of enthusiasm to exhibit irregular bursts of zeal, rather than a steady consistent flame-then it had become well nigh extinct, till about the year 1349 the spirit of this delusion was again kindled. The companies assembled twice a day, and having stripped off their garments, they whipped themselves before the people with scourges loaded with nails and spurs. Multitudes of all ranks and ages, and of both sexes, joined in the horrid rites, filling the air with dreadful shrieks, and, looking towards hea
ven with a distracted countenance, they sadly and dolefully offered up their prayers. Their worship resembled that of the priests of Baal, but their temper was more bloody, and their acts more disastrous, even than theirs. For they read aloud at their meetings a letter, which they said an angel had brought to them, in which God commanded them to undergo their macerations, that they might relieve the souls that were in purgatory, and stop the miseries that then devastated Germany. The next step was, of course, to endeavour, with such weapons as fury could put into their hands, to rid the world of those whom they deemed to have polluted it. The people of Spires and Strasbourg, and several other cities, had been drawn into this fraternity; and doubtless the unhappy Jews, long accustomed to pay the penalty of public calamity and public excitement, viewed with appre-imagine the working of men's minds before the storm
invoked Heaven's wrath upon the Jews. The father, who looked in silent anguish around his desolate home, was nerving his resolution to exact justice, as he called it, from the Jews. O, what an inconsistent thing is the soul of man; and how near are the extremes often brought of pity and merciless cruelty, of affection and unrelenting hatred! The Jews were deemed guilty of poisoning the wells and fountains of water, and the torrent of popular rage burst vehemently out against them. In some places, the wildest excesses of punishment were inflicted on them; and generally they submitted unresistingly to their fate. In Mayence, however, they rose against their persecutors; but the abortive effort only aggravated and extended their calamities. I can vividly conceive the confusion and fear that reigned in Strasbourg. I can
hension the darkening cloud. Their wealth was, as much as possible, concealed under the guise of poverty, and collected into the smallest compass, in order that, on the shortest notice, they might be able to flee. But, alas, where could they find refuge? The earth was armed against them, and the curse of God and the enmity of man seemed alike to press heavily upon the branded race. Was outrage and torture a likely means to win them over to Christ? No; in the form of Christianity displayed before their eyes, they could not recognise a religion proceeding from a just and merciful God; and the dread of the tormentor, though it might force some of them to play the hypocrite, and outwardly profess the name of Jesus, yet fostered more surely in their hearts their inextinguishable hatred of the crucified man of Nazareth.
actually broke forth, and the signs of hate which scowled on the brow and glared from the eye, or dropped in smothered imprecations from the tongue of the people, as they walked in misery through their half-depopulated streets, and passed the habitations of the detested race, or discovered a Jew stealthily and fearfully gliding along a narrow alley to his insecure home. It was manifest that the thoughts of murder would on the first pretext be displayed in deeds. And it is likely the wail of grief for some specially afflicting bereavement, pointed, perhaps, with frenzied reproaches against some known or neighbouring Israelite, gave the signal of the tumult. I can almost see the dense crowds assembling, while the Jews bar hastily their doors, and strive to secure their most valuable effects. Now they feel the accomplishment of that heavy prediction, "The Lord shall scatter thee among all people; and among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, a failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind; and thy life shall hang in doubt before thee, and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life in the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart, wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes, which thou shalt see." How must the daughters of Judah, when they heard the approaching shout of the destroyers, have mourned over the misfortunes of their race! how must their desires have gone forth to their own lovely land, where their fathers dwelt in peace and blessedness, each man beneath his vine and his fig-tree, none daring to make them afraid! And their recollections of the ancient glory of Zion must have embittered the fate of the unhappy exiles. No deliverer interposed to protect them, no prodigy, as of old, deterred their enemies from the full satiation of their vengeance. Jehovah had given up his people, so that they drank the cup of trembling even to the dregs.
In various places the passions of the people, urged by the madness of the Flagellants, had broken forth into murder. In Frankfort, and other cities, the Jews were massacred; and at Strasbourg, while yet unmolested, their hearts were failing them for fear, and for looking after those things that were coming upon them. In that miserable year, too, a plague wasted Europe. From city to city, and province to province, and kingdom to kingdom, the pestilence stalked on. The grey hairs of the aged were brought down in sorrow to the grave, as the blooming youth and the beautiful maid fell like corn before the reaper's sickle. There is nothing which more touchingly exhibits the power and judgment of God than the rapid march of plague. It is true that in battle as many may fall in as short a space; but there the hand of man is seen at work, each destroying his fellow; whereas in plague the boasted power of man is helpless, and the hand is known to be that of God. And yet, so stubborn is the human heart, that even when smitten, it will not humble itself, nor learn the plainest lessons which God's judgments are intended to teach. The fire may devastate, and the stormy wind may rend, and the earthquake may overthrow; but it is the still small voice alone of his Spirit which reveals him to the soul.
The Jews, it may be thought, died in less numbers than other persons by the plague. Perhaps, hunted as they were from society, they were less exposed to the contagion. And then a diabolical spirit of vengeance was roused against them. The bereaved mother, who had wept over her children's agonies and death,
Every house was speedily plundered, and a huge pile was made of the materials. Troops of victims were hurried through the streets towards the fatal spot; young and old, rich and poor, were thrust together. And then the pile was lighted. Fiercely did the flames ascend, curling round the shrinking bodies it was made to devour; and loud were the shouts of derision and hatred that, on every fresh arrival of