Page images
PDF
EPUB

truths so as to be comprehended by men whose habits of life and associations were earthly and carnal, the sacred writers made use of a large number of figures. Among these, the dew stands pre-eminent as to the variety and beauty of its meanings. The fact of the dew-fall is referred to in Num. xi. 9. Its divine origin is spoken of (1) naturally in Job xxxviii. 28, where the patriarch asks, “ Who hath begotten the drops of dew ?” and (2) miraculously in Judges vi. 37—40, where Gideon seeks to know the presence of God first by finding dew upon the fleece while none was on the ground. This might have been the case without any supernatural interposition, as the fleece was a better. radiator of heat than the earth, and therefore would of necessity be covered first with moisture. The second test required absolutely some superhuman interposition, for, according to it, the fleece was to be dry while the ground was to be covered with dew. The manner in which the dew is formed is also spoken of-gently, softly, and imperceptibly, its first indication being its actual presence. This is mentioned to illustrate (a) the stealthy approach of an army (2 Sam. xvii. 12); and (6) the kind and gracious words of God (Deut. xxxii. 2). The evaporation of the dew, which happens when the heat of the rising san has become sufficiently great to change the dewdrops into vapour, forming the mist of morning, which disappears when the temperature of the air is raised a little further,—the evaporation of dew is spoken of (a) as a fact in Exod. xvi. 14,"When the dew had gone up;" and (6) as illustrative of transitory goodness, in Hosea vi. 4, “For your goodness ... as the early dew goeth away.In the majority of cases, however, the sacred writers refer to the refreshing influence of dew. It is impossible to exaggerate the value of dew in Western Asia, as but little rain falls from April to September, the existence of both animals and plants being dependent upon the refreshing influence of dew during the hot months of summer.

Hence we find that to have dew, in the case of Jacob (Gen. xxvii. 28), is to have temporal prosperity, and to be far from the dew, as in the case of Esau (Ib. xxvii. 39*), is to suffer temporal privations; and the loss suffered by the country by the death of Saul and Jonathan is spoken of as the cessation of dewfall upon the mountains of Gilboa (2 Sam. i. 21). As

* Our authorised version of this verse is very inaccurate, though it follows all the ancient versions and most of the modern ones, “Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above; and by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother," which Nachmanides explains thus: "The fatness of the land and the dews of heaven I can wish for thee also, but the dominion over thee must abide with thy brother." (See Dr. Raphael, in loco.). It is better, however, to understand the in in mishmanney, fatness, and' in mittal, dew, as min in the sense of a negation. It is so understood' by Vater, Von Bohlen, Tuch, Knobel, and the best critics. The min has often this negative meaning in the sacred book, as in Job xi. 15, mittum, without spot; "and ib. xxi. 9, "safe from fear,” mippachad. In this case the text would thus read: “Behold, away from the fatness of the land shall be thy dwelling, and away from the dew of heaven from above.” The home of Esau was the barren hills of Edom, while that of Jacob was the fertile fields of Canaan. VOL. XX.

I

the dew of night restored the elastic texture, the upright form, of plants, and the blushing tints of flowers, whose life had all but been destroyed by the scorching sun, and made them young again, so full vigour of frame, and youthfulness of health, were spoken of as dew“the dew of youth” (Psa. cx. 3; Isaiah xxvi. 19). The dew also, most graphically, represents the elevating and saving influence of pious men upon ungodly people—" And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the Lord” (Micah v. 7).

The realisation of the Divine presence by faith, spoken of by Hosea (chap. xiv. 5), embraces all the analogies of the dew: for—1. As the dew is the purest water in nature, so is the realised presence of God the truest bliss; 2. As the dew falls most copiously when it is night, and when the night is cold, so is the presence of God most fully realised when life is dark and cold with trouble; 3. As the dew falls only when the sky is clear, so is God's sacred presence felt only when the world is beneath our feet, and when no object intervenes between our soul and the clear heaven; 4. As the dew falls only when the air is still and all is quiet, so do we feel God's presence when, out of bustle, we are alone; 5. As most dew falls upon those objects which are near the surface of the earth, other things being equal, so is God's presence most fully felt by the humble soul; and, 6. As the dew was essential to the growth and beauty of vegetation, so is a realisation of God's presence by faith essential to the life and beauty of the human soul.

The references to hoar frost are insignificant, though appropriate. Exod. xvi. 14; Psa. cxlvii. 16. Preston,

Evan LEWIS, B.A., F.R.G.S., F.E.S.

Seeds of Sermons on the Book of

Proverbs.

(No. LXXVI.) TIIE QUEEN OF THE HOUSEHOLD.

A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband."-Prov. xii. 4. Few men understood more of woman than Solomon. He knew her frailties and her virtues, and his writings abound with many sage remarks upon the subject. Here he speaks of a virtuous woman, and a virtuous woman is

a true woman, chaste, prudent,
modest, loving, faithful, patient
in suffering, and brave in duty,
keeping within the orbit of her
sex, and lighting it with all the
graces of womanhood. Such a
woman, Solomon says, is a crown
to her husband. This language
implies two things.
I. THAT SHE EXERCISES A CON-

A “crown" is the insignia of rule. A virtuous

TROL OVER HIM.

THEIR

THOUGHTS.

66 As a

woman rules, not by intention, | righteous and the wicked, and or arrangement, or legislative they are here presented in their command, but by the power of thoughts, speech, standing and her love, and the graces of her reputation. life. Woman has more force in I. IN her looks than man has in his Thoughts are the most wonderful laws, more force in her tears than things in connection with human man has in his arguments. A life. They are the factors of virtuous woman is really queen character, and the primal forces of the world. Beauty, tender of history. By thought man ness, love, purity, are the im builds up his own world. Now perial forces of life, and these the thoughts of the righteous and woman wields.

wicked are here broughtout. First: “She who ne'er answers till a husband

“The thoughts of the righteous cools,

are right.” The righteous man Or, if she rules him, never shows she is a man righteous in heart, and

rules; Charms by accepting, by submitting

if he is right in heart his thoughts sways,

will be right. The heart is the Yet has her humour most when she spring of the intellect. obeys." BEX Joxsox.

man thinketh in his heart so is II. THAT SHE CONFERS A DIG he.” Secondly: The thoughts NITY UPON HIM. A “crown" is of the wicked are false. "The a dignity. She dignifies her

counsels of the wicked are dehusband, as well as rules him. ceit.” All the thoughts of a First: Her excellence justifies wicked man referring to happihis choice. In her character and ness, greatness, duty, life, God, deportment all see the wisdom, are false. He lives in an illusory the taste, and the judgment of her world. husband. Secondly: Her man II. IN THEIR SPEECH. Speech agement enriches his exchequer. is the instrument by which By her industry and economy thought does its work in society. the produce of his labour is care Words are the incarnations, the fully guarded, and often in vehicles, and the weapons of creased. Thirdly: Her influence thought. First: The words of exalts his character. Her gentle

the wicked

mischievous. spirit and manners smooth the " They lie in wait for blood.” roughnesses of his character, re Malice is the inspiration of the fine his tastes, elevate his aims, wicked, and he uses words as and round the angles of his life.

swords to wound the heart and destroy the reputation of others.

6. The wicked plotteth against the (No. LXXVII.)

just.”. Secondly: The words of

the righteous are beneficent. “ The thoughts of the righteous are ! The mouth of the upright shall right: but the counsels of the wicked deliver them.” The good deare deceit. The words of the wicked

sires good, and the words are not are to lie in wait for blood: but the mouth of the upright shall deliver to injure but to bless, not to them. The wicked are overthrown, destroy but to deliver. To deliver and are not : but the house of the

reputations from calumny, unrighteous shall stand. A man shall be commended according to his wisdom:

derstandings from error, hcarts but he that is of a perverse heart shall from pollution, souls from hell. be despised.”—Prov. xii. 5--8.

III. IN THEIR STANDING. The In these verses Solomon gives us wicked are overthrown and are

further description of the 1 not, but the house of the righteous

are

THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE WICKED.

a

shall stand. First: The wicked pauper fancies himself a prince, are insecure. They are to be and exhibits himself in aspects overthrown. Their hopes, their disgusting to all observers. The purposes, their possessions, their text refers to this in families, and pleasures, are all insecure. “I when it takes possession of househave seen the wicked in great holds it often destroys domestic power, spreading himself like comforts. The words lead us to a green bay tree. Yet he passed remark away, and, lo, he was not.” (Psa. I. THAT THERE ARE DOMESTIC xxxvii. 35, 36.) These men build COMFORTS WITHOUT DISPLAY. He their houses on the sand, they that is despised- that makes cannot stand. Secondly: The himself of no reputation-mainrighteous are safe. “The house tains a humble deportment-may of the righteous shall - stand.” have a “servant." He cares not They are established on the Rock for appearances, his neighbours of Ages.

“ Him that overcometh may despisehim, because of will I make a pillar in the tem his humble bearing, still he has ple of my God, and he shall go comforts in his family. Instead no more out,” &c. (Revelation of wasting the produce of his. iii. 12.

labour upon gilt and garniture, IV. IN THEIR REPUTATION. he economically lays it out to “ A man shall be commended ac promote the comforts of his home. cording to his wisdom : but he In many an unpretending cotthat is of a perverse heart shall tage there is more real domestic be despised.” First: The good enjoyment than can be found in commands the respect of society. the most imposing mansions. The consciences of the worst men II. THERE IS DOMESTIC DISare bound to reverence the right. PLAY WITHOUT COMFORTE.

He Pharaoh honoured Joseph, Nebu that honoureth himself, and lacketh chadnezzar l'aniel. Secondly: bread." There are in this age of The evil awakes the contempt of empty show increasing multitudes society. “He that is of a per of parents who sacrifice the right verse heart shall be despised." culture of their children, and the Servility and hypocrisy may bow substantial comforts of a home, the knee and uncover the head for appearances. They all but before the wicked man in afflu starve their domestics to feed ence and power, but deep in the

their vanity

They must be heart there is contempt.

grand, though they lack bread. Their half-starved frames must

have gorgeous mantles. This (No. LXXVIII.)

love of appearance, this desire for DOMESTIC MODESTY AND DISPLAY.

show, is, I trow, making sad

havoc with the homes of old “He that is despised, and hath a servant, is better than he that honoureth

England. himself, and lacketh bread.” — Prov. III. THE CONDITION OF THE xii. 9.

FORMER IS PREFERABLE TO THAT VANITY, or love of display, is one OF THE LATTER. It is "better" of the most contemptible and per to have comforts without show, nicious passions that can take than show without comforts. possession of the human mind. Better.First: It is more 1aIts roots are in self-ignorance tional. How absurd to sacrifice its fruits are affectation and false the comforts of life to outward hood. Vanity is a kind of men show! Who cares for your distal intoxication, in which the l play ? None who caro for you;

[blocks in formation]

(No. LXXIX.) THE TREATMENT OF ANIMALS. "A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”—Prov. xii, 10. The world of irrational animals is a wonderful world. Its history, which is only begun to be written, is amongst the marvels of modern literature. The Bible commands us to study this world, sends us to the beasts of the field for instruction; it also legislates for our conduct in relation to this world. The text suggests two remarks concerning man's conduct towards the beasts of the field.

I. THAT KINDNESS TOWARDS THE LOWER ANIMALS RIGHTEOUS. “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast.” Three facts will show why we should be kind to them. First: They are the creatures of God. His breath kindled the life of all. His hand fashioned all, both great and small. Dare we abuse what He thought worth creating ? Secondly: They are given for our

He put all under the dominion of man : some to serve him in one way, and some in ancther: some to charm his eye with their beauty, others to delight his ear with their music: some to supply him with food, and some with clothing: some

to save his own muscular strength in doing his work—some to bear him about. Thirdly: They are endowed with sensibility and intelligence. They have all feeling, and some a good degree of sagacity, amounting to something like reflection. They feel our treatment. *

II. THAT CRUELTY TOWARDS THE LOWER ANIMALS IS WICKED.

“ The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” Cruelty is wickedness. Man sins against God as truly in his conduct towards animals as in his conduct towards man. There is a divine law-" Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out tho corn.

(Deut. xxv. 4.) “Send

now, and gather thy cattle, and all that thou hast in the field; for upon every man and beast which shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die.” (Ex. ix. 19.) Great is the difference between the heart of a righteous and that of a wicked man. The righteous is kind even to his beast, and the kindest treatment of the wicked is but cruelty. “I would not enter on my list of friends (Though graced with polish'd manners

and fine sense, Yet wanting sensibility) the man Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm. An inadvertent step may crush the snail That crawls at evening in the public

path; But he that has humanity, forewarn'd, Will tread aside and let the reptile live.''

COWPER.

IS

use.

(LXXX.) MANLY INDUSTRY AND PARASITICAL

INDOLENCE. “ He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread; but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding.”—Prov. xii. 11. It is implied that all men want

* See a work for children, entitled “ Animal Sagacity,” by Mrs. Hall. Published by Partridge and Co.

« PreviousContinue »