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And let those who are in the Church by holy baptism, learn from the foregoing, the importance of making a faithful and proper use of all the means of grace, in order to their peace and comfort on earth, and to their final and eternal salvation in heaven.
It is not enough to be in the Church by baptism, important as a connection with Zion undoubtedly is. We may be baptized and in the Church, and yet not saved from sin, and fitted for the enjoyment of God. Other things are also necessary for the attainment of these great and blessed ends. Having repented of sin and believed in Christ with the heart unto righteousness, we must confess the Redeemer before men, receive the holy sacrament of the Lord's Supper, regularly and devoutly attend upon the instructions and worship of the sanctuary, statedly lift up the heart and voice in prayer to heaven; in a word, we must use faithfully and properly all those means and helps to salvation which God has appointed in his Church.
Oh ye baptized readers of the Guardian, how is it with you, touching these great and vital interests-the performance of these solemn and important duties? Some of you, perhaps, have never yet publicly confessed the Lord Jesus before men, nor sat with his people around the sacramental board. What mean ye, friends; what mean ye? How can you still refuse to eat and live, while the bread of life is piled up at your very door, and the Church and all heaven are giving you ten thousand hearty welcomes to it? May we not hope that you will now see your interest and your duty in such a light, as that you may be constrained to regard your church privileges as you should, and by faith in Christ stretch forth your hand to the tree of life, and, eating of its fruit and enjoying its shade, live forever? God grant it, Amen.
SACRED STUDIES AMID RURAL SCENES.
BY REV. H. HARBAUGH.
I love to breathe where GILEAD sheds her balm;
I love to walk on JORDAN's banks of palm;
I love to wet my foot in HERMON's dews;
I love the promptings of Isaiah's muse;
In CARMEL's holy grots I'll court repose,
And deck my mossy couch with SHARON's deathless rose.
What a mine of wisdom is the Bible!-an inexhaustible mine of precious gems. The wisest and the best men have dug in it. for ages, and yet its depth and width are not yet fully explored. There are veins of wealth lying deep in its pages, that can enrich the wisest of us, and of those who shall come after us. Those who have studied it longest, and know its contents best, still exclaim, each time they hang over its blessed leaves,
Ever charming, ever new!
We have fallen upon an interesting vein in this mine of blessed treasures, which we propose in a series of articles, to work for the pleasure and profit of our readers. We wish to show how, in the Bible, God reflects divine truth from the lower orders of creation, and makes them the instructors of the higher-how He inlays the natural world with spiritual truth, and thus transcribes the truths of divine revelation from the page of the Bible upon the page of nature. Animals, and fowls, and insects, and flowers, are made symbols of divine truth; and we are called upon to read in them the lessons which they are adapted to impart. It is wonderful! Man, occupying so high a position in the scale of being-man, made but a little lower than the angels, is sent to school to the Ravens, which cry unto God and are fed; to the Ants which, by their industry, shame the sluggard; to the Ox which knoweth his owner; to the Stork which knoweth her time; and to the Lilies of the field, which exhibit God's special care for all that he has made. The habits and instincts of fowls and animals, the beauty of flowers, and the fruitfulness of plants, are all made preachers of wisdom to
It may seem strange that God should thus select the lower orders and make them teachers of man. Yet there is reason and wisdom in this. The lower order of creation is ever to serve the higher. The natural world is not only the platform on which man is to live and act, it is also to administer to his wants, and contibute in various ways to the perfection of his nature and character.
Not only are the fruits of the earth to feed him, but the flowers are to speak to him, the birds are to sing to him, and all the things that he sees are to be the symbols of divine truth to him. God shows him all the realms around him, and says: "All are yours!" For man, as the Lord of this lower world,
The whole realm of nature stands,
And stars their courses move!
No wonder, then, that God writes divine teachings upon every object in nature for the instruction of man. The falling leaf, the fading flower, trees, streams, clouds and stars, are all voices of God to him.
Another reason why God teaches the higher orders by the lower is, because the lower order fulfils the design He had in view in their creation, better than the higher. The higher order is a fallen creation, and has thus become perverse and perverted. No doubt the lower order too has suffered, in a measure, by the fall, so that, perhaps birds, insects, plants, and flowers, are not so beautiful as they would have been, had the fall not taken place. No doubt the curse, which fell upon the earth, affected all that is in it, and sin, like a blight, has blasted its primeval loveliness. No doubt there is truth in the sentiment of the great Poet, that when man sinned,
Earth felt the wound; and Nature, from her seat,
Sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe
Yet it seems that the disorder is not so great, and so manifest in the lower as in the higher orders. It seems that the whirlwind of vengeance raised by sin, like a hurricane in nature, bore fiercest against the eminences, while the lower regions of nature lay comparatively unharmed.
Observation teaches us that, in many instances, instinct in the lower orders guides them better than reason does man. Instinct, that mysterious feeling implanted into animals and insects by a kind Providence, impels them to self-preservation, and guides them for the best. They follow implicitly the leadings of this instinctive feeling, and it always leads them right. But man often goes flatly against his reason, and pursues a course which he knows and acknowledges to be wrong and evil. Frequent allusions are made, in the scriptures, to the fact that instinct in animals and fowls, is better used as a guide by them than fallen reason is by man. "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but man doth not know-my people doth not consider." Is. 1: 3. "The stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle, and the crane, and the
swallow, observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the Lord." Jer. 7: 8.
The above passages teach plainly, that these animals and fowls do better follow the monitor and guide with which their Creator has endowed them, than does man. No wonder, then, that he sends man to them for lessons of instruction. This is the reason why, throughout the whole scriptures, the various kingdoms of nature are referred to as the teachers of man, and why animals, and birds, and insects, and flowers, have such power of silent utterance, speaking words of wisdom to those who will be wise.
It is a beautiful idea that all objects in the natural world are but divine thoughts embodied. Whatever, therefore, God has made reveals Him. If the rose or the lily, is a divine thought embodied, then, by looking into its nature, we are looking into the divine mind, for there the image of the flower existed before it was made. Hence when the scriptures refer to the natural world, it is only to interpret it-to aid mute nature in making itself intelligible; or rather, to express for nature what it groans to utter! When God began to give his revelation to the world, birds, animals, insects, trees, and flowers already existed, and had already those characteristics which made it possible and proper to make them representatives of the divine wisdom. As the God of Nature and of Revelation is the same, and as He formed the natural world first, He no doubt, caused a fitness to exist in the different objects in nature to be words, by which he might illustrate truth, and hence the various truths to be taught have been associated with these various objects in nature as their appropriate symbols. Thus, for instance, the loveliness of dove eyes existed, and was known and seen by Solomon; hence he makes dove eyes the scriptural symbol by which to exhibit the mild and tender love of the church toward her children. Nature furnished the sacred writers with great words, in order that they might represent to us those thoughts which were too great for utterance by the mere use of literal terms. Hence the book of Revelation often refers us to the book of Nature. When we would learn from the Bible the nature of the kingdom of God, it refers us to nature, and says, it is like a mustard seed, it is as when one puts a corn of wheat into the earth. The pages of the Bible are small, but the world is large, hence it sends us out to see its teachings expanded and illustrated amid the analogies, symbols, and emblems in nature. The heavens do declare the glory of God, and the whole earth is full of Him -of his wisdom, power and love.
The sacred writers manifest great wisdom in adopting this mode of teaching; and great advantages result to us from studying the Bible in its rural scenes. It makes the whole world. of nature a representation of divine truth-a vast picture gallery of divine events and transactions. The Bible we cannot always have open before us, but nature we have. Wherever we are the world around us speaks to us through all our senses. Whatever we see or hear may be to us as a herald sent from God with messages of high importance. "This entire moral and visible world from first to last, with its kings and its subjects, its parents and its children, its sun and its moon, its sowing and its harvest, its light and its darkness, its sleeping and its waking, its birth and its death, is from beginning to end a mighty parable, a great teaching of supersensuous truth, a help at once to our faith and to our understanding."
As the sacred writers have thus inlaid nature with divine truth, the various objects in nature are every moment standing around us as silent but earnest monitors, reminding us of the truths with which the sacred writers have associated them. Thus God is in nature in a sense more than poetic, for he comes down and dwells and speaks around us. Thus indeed "he is not far from any one of us!" A Pastor once preached a sermon on the words in the Song of Solomon: "I am the Rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys," in which he traced out the analogies between these flowers and the Saviour, of whom they are the sacred emblems; one of his members long afterwards told him that that sermon with its interesting truths came up fresh to his mind whenever he saw roses or lilies-and that these flowers seemed lovelier to him since than they ever did before. This is a practical illustration of the wisdom which God manifests in embosoming his truth in the objects of the rural world. Thus he bids us, in our meditations,
Choose the rural shade,
And find a fane in every sacred grove,
This kind of teaching has a still further advantage, because it exhibits to us truth or grace in its practical effects. We hear not merely from the Bible what graces are, but we see them embodied before us. We see, for instance, how beautiful is mildness in the dove. We know that the possession of this grace will endear us to others because it endears the dove to us. see the desirableness of meekness in the lamb. In like manner the odiousness of enmity and deceit are exhibited to us in the serpent and the adder; and we see how these traits in us will make us shunned and detested. Thus nature is to us as a mirror