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would help me to honor my parents, no longer upon earth; but forgive, () Lord, all the disobedience and dishonor I have ever been guilty of towards them. I have much here to confess and to deplore; and do help me, O God, so to walk before my children, as to be worthy of a parent's honor from them.”
Scarcely less pleasing or instructive are the constantly recurring evidences of unaffected humility in the writer of these notes; as when he says, p. 22, - I have never entered much on the study of scripture characters—though I doubt not much might be gathered this way;" again, p. 127, correcting in one place what he had erroneously stated in a former one, and keeping both the error and the correction on record. So when he very often says, in reference to some unexplained point, “ we do not know”. when the temerity of many a rash adventurer would assume to make all plain : when also, he puts down things which one would desire to know, questions of a correlative character growing out of the geography, natural history, or customs of the ancient nations. For instance, he says in the notes on Exodus, ninth chapter, "I should like to know the present crops of Egypt; and if there still grow there flax and barley and rye; and if the barley be in the ear and the flax bolled, ere the wheat and rye are grown up.”
The manner in which true philosophy rebukes the sneers of infidelity is seen on p. 23.' The Dr. says he recollects "an infidel jest of Voltaire's on the insignificance of the district of Judea—from whence he would insinuate how unlikely it is that a place so limited should have been the theatre of transactions and events which, if authentic, are far the most important that ever took place for the destinies of our species. There is something in our view highly unphilosophical in such an observation-as if the same play of essential interests and feelings, and the same manifestation of highest principle, the same lessons, the same moral, could not be as effectually exhibited within the limits of a narrow as within those of the widest materialism. There is no country which, apart from revelation, has bequeathed greater examples, or done more for the civilization of our race, than ancient Greece. Yet look to the smallness of its territory, and see how all that is greatest and most imposing in secular history, was condensed there VOL. XIII.-N
within a space
far more contracted than was the land of Judea."
In the narrative of God's judgments on Pharaoh and his hosts in the Red Sea-he says pertinently, as we think _“I am unwilling to weaken the effect of this sublime though simple narrative, by any attempt at a minute explanation of it.”. How many of God's stupendous acts both of mercy and judgment have been frittered away, and their moral force abated or annihilated, by such anatomizing.
Still the reverence you here meet with, is at the farthest possible remove from superstitious acquiesence. Note the freedom, quite untrammelled, of his remark on the very next page, as follows; “I always feel a recoil when I read of women sharing in any exultation over an event where death is involved; nor can I escape from this feeling, when Miriam and her female attendants are set before me, dancing over the destruction of the Egyptians, whose dead bodies had been cast upon the sea shore.” Similar freedom is evinced in the remarks on the coarseness'of many of the patriarchs.
We copy for their inherent worth and present relevancy, a few sentences from the notes on the beginning of Exodus xxi. “It were well if a civilian or jurist would make a study of these judgments; and estimate, on the principles of natural law, the wisdom of the Mosaic code. Certain of the prescribed observances might mitigate somewhat the peremptory and decided way in which reformers of various classes would urge forward their peculiar dogmata. The passage before us would, on the subject of slavery, make me willingly concede a compensation to masters on the abolition of it. But I would not plead these directions as a sanction for slavery, any more than I would plead them as a sanction for bigamy. We must not forget that Judaism was confessedly to a certain estent a system of accommodation, when certain indulgences were granted to its disciples, because of the hardness of their hearts-certain practices which God winked at, but which from the beginning were not so. The moral administration of God seems a progressive one, on the lower stages of which a preparation is carried forward for its higher stages.” Again he says, “I would allow greater weight to the authority of the Mosaic code in the matter
of capital punishment than in the matter of slavery, and think it might serve to check and qualify the ultraism of those who denounce these altogether, when they read, in the passage before us, of the infliction of death for several offences, and further read of the magistrate in the New Testament, that he bears not the sword in vain.”
Dr. Chalmers, strenuous as he was even to the last, for a modified and guarded union of Church and State, yet frequently notices with satisfaction, the introduction of the voluntary principle in the support of religion, even under the Jewish theocracy. Could this great and good man have cleared his eyes from the film naturally thrown over all pedo-baptists, who so tenaciously adhere to Jewish national observances, as illustrative of the very different relations of a true spiritual church of Christ, built up only of lively stones, where natural birth furnishes no claim to admission, and the whole constitution proceeds upon the obvious principles of voluntary and intelligent personal consent of each individual,-he and they would see many things clearly which now cause them infinite difficulty.
It is pleasant to notice the freshness of his early recollections. Thus on Joshua ji. “There are certain juvenile recollections—perhaps of some school books, such as the Sacred Dialogues, familiar to me when a Latin schoolboy, more than half a century ago, which impart a great charm to this and similar narratives of the Old Testament. There is a certain graphic and picturesque effect which is given to the passage before us by the visible things which are introduced into it- such as the window and the scarlet cord; and then the hazard, and the adventure, and the deliverance of Rahab and her relations from the else universal destruction, confer all the interest of romance on this scripture story.'
American patriotic feeling cannot but be gratified to see this Scotch Doctor denominate Israel's leader, Joshua, the Gen. Washington of his countrymen. But we must not multiply these gleanings. A few only of those we had marked in the first of the three volumes have been given, where all are thickly stored with the amplest variety and richness.
It may be more satisfactory to readers of our pages, who have not access to these volumes, to see a specimen or two of the unbroken notice of the day's reading. One from
the Psalms and another from Ecclesiastes, we give below, more from regard to their brevity, than because of their superiority to hundreds of others.
“ Psalm XXIII.—This psalm is one of the most precious gems in the church's treasury of things new and old-written it is thought, by David, after being anointed by Samuel (verse 5), and having had the prospect given to him of dwelling in the house of the Lord. O that I could realize the peace and the enjoyment which are so beautifully imaged forth in this exquisite ode! What I most pray for and most need, is the restoration of my soul. Thou knowest, o God, how liable it is to be unhinged by controversy, and led away by the instigations, if not laid prostrate under the power of those base and evil affections which war against the soul. Recover me, O Lord, from all the snares of the devil, and cause me henceforth to walk in charity and holiness, even to the end of my days. My death is rapidly approaching-prepare me, O God, for the encounter. Under the care and keeping of hiin who is the shepherd and bishop of souls, let me fear no evil; and let thy goodness and thy mercy follow me to the end."
“Ecclesiastes XII.—The way of prolonging that light and life which are so pleasant to the soul, is to remember Cour reator here—that he in mercy might remember us hereafter. Then follows a most memorable passage from verse 1 to verse 7. The head, and the arms, and the legs, and the eyes, and the teeth, are most elegantly set forth in figures. The whitening of the head is represented by the flourishing of the almond tree. What I myself most feel is the nervousness of fears in the way, and things light as grasshoppers being burdens to me.
How truly beautiful is verse six-and how decisive of immortality is verse seven! The great moral of the whole is the vanity of this world—if this world indeed be our all; a lesson given forth by him who in his time gave many lessons. Let his words be my incitements to what is right, and let them adhere to me.
The masters here are the writers of Scripture, all furnished by the same Holy Spirit with those truths which it is for ministers to deal forth among their congregations. Let the Bible henceforth satisfy me more than it has hitherto done, and let me retire from the faiigues and cares of authorship. How conclusive are these closing sentences; and why is it that after the gleams of light which this book casts on the doctrine, it should still be doubted whether a future state was known in the days of the Old Testament?”
In the same way with the above, the entire Old Testament is gone over in these readings, to the end of Jeremiah. Sometimes the portion for the day embraces but a few verses, at others an entire chapter. Sometimes the explanations are pretty full and particular, at others much more summary. But you always find much that is eminently worthy of prolonged consideration; here, an apt illustration, there, a far-reaching and profound principle, and every where the pious, devout and holy breathing after
more reverent conformity to that infinite unsullied ONE, whose word he loved, whose honor was infinitely dear to him, and whose presence and favor we cannot doubt he has gone to enjoy forever.
Having thus fully described the origin and contents of these volumes, may we be permitted in the close, to offer a suggestion in regard to the most profitable method of using them. They are not designed for continuous reading, nor should they be passed over in haste. Neither are they of the class of books which we preserve for frequent reference. They belong to another department, which for distinction may be called intellectual-devotional; and the best method of employing them to advantage will be found to be to peruse one or two of the scripture passages on which Chalmers here wrote, then follow with the deliberate perusal of his remarks. This may be done with equal profit in private, or in the family circle, where the systematic reading in course of a portion of the divine word, forms each day a part of the duties and delights of domestic devotion.
Often have we had occasion to regret that such reading, especially where the Bible has been several times gone over, degenerates into an almost lifeless form. To obviate this, various plans have been suggested. The most widely prevalent, perhaps, is the endeavor briefly to elucidate the sense, or draw forth by questions the spirit of what has been read, by fiee oral communications. Many intelligent heads of families are deterred, however, from making this attempt, from fear of inadequate mental resources, to continue through successive months and years its interest. These volumes seem made on purpose to meet such an exigency; and we cannot doubt that they will be hailed as a most welcome assistant to family devotion, by hundreds and thousavds of the Christian families of our country and Great Britain. Thus will the pious wishes of one of the greatest and best of men be fully realized. He being dead will yet speak; his words will cheer, his wisdom guide many sons and daughters unto glory.
We scarcely need add that the publishers have well performed their part, issuing these excellent volumes not only in the soberly attractive style which befits their contents; but the fine white paper, the large type and the open page, make them welcome in the closer's dim light, or to the failing vision of the aged. VOL. XIII. NO. LI.