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But the mourner's desire to possess this whole,' said the Saviour, need not a wonder-working volume became stronger physician, but they that are sick,' (Matt. and stronger, and the following note was ix. 12). sent, Can you not lend me your inval A knowledge gained from personal exuable treasure for a few hours? I will perience, of the essential principles of true not be unreasonable, it shall be returned religion, enabled the Countess at once to to you soon.' Being lent, it was sent back meet the case of her friend. She adwith the following note, 'I have been dressed to her a letter, the great object of deeply affected by your generous confi. which was to present to her view the dence, in leaving with me a book so pre Lord Jesus Christ as He is revealed in cious to you. I dare not keep it longer ; the Gospel—as the physician of soulsbut pray let me have a Bible. It shall the only hope of the sinner. The fulness never leave me. It shall be my guide and freeness of his grace were dwelt upon, my support--perhaps, one day my con his promise that He would cast out none solation! When I shall have obtained who came to him, (John vi. 37); His that holy joy, you shall know of it, that power, that 'He is able to save to the utyour heavenly charity may be rewarded. termost,' (Heb. vii. 25); His great intenDo not leave me to myself. I trust I shall tion, that He had come, that whosoever yet understand your object. O, my God, believeth on him, should not perish, but give me strength and perseverance.' I feel have eternal life,' (John iii. 15). as if I could repose myself in God with This communication was thús acknowconfidence. Sometimes I feel as if I could ledged, “Your letter has made me weer love him with all my soul; and while I much; but do not repent having written ask him, with fervency, to give the illu- | it, for the tears were the gentlest and mination I so much want, I do-not, I kindest I ever shed. My heart is rivetted cannot doubt, but he will communicate to that phrase, able to save to the utterthe light necessary to my feeble under mosl.' (Heb vii. 25). I thank you, I standing.'
thank you ! for having shed balm on my After the Bible was sent, this note was wounds. I want to talk with you over my received : 'I cannot thank you sufficiently sorrows and my hopes; if you can believe for providing me with the only occupa. that I ought to have any hope. Oh, yes, tion of which I am capable ; but I cannot yes! I have indeed hope, although it is say that your present has brought conso mingled with sorrow. But, mercy, mercy!' lation to my wounded heart. I must ac After this the Countess had an interestknowledge, that, after reading it, I am ing interview with her friend. She found more deeply afflicted; I am even more that the Spirit had indeed begun the good sorrowful, more dejected than before I work, and was gradually leading her mind read it. Shall I tell you why? I am led into all truth. Grief and despair had to look back upon my past life with hor given way to a strong anxiety to underror; and the dreadful thought suggests it stand the Word of God. This new study self, “Is it not probable that my sins absorbed her whole soul; She said she brought on my child his dreadful cata- read it incessantly, and when she met with strophe?' O, my God! was I indeed the any difficulty, she uttered her first prayer, cause of all' he suffered, in life and in o Lord, give me light, that I may know death? I can only weep abundantly. Di- thee. There,' said she, “I often find vine grace must do all for me.'
more force, beauty, and information, in The sorrow referred to was not surpris that which had confounded me, than in all ing. Of the Holy Ghost, it is promised, I understood before. She said also, “This 'that He shall convince of sin.' That book is my nightly comfort, as well as my knowledge of God which he imparts is in daily occupation. When I cannot sleep, separably connected with the knowledge my attendant brings me my book, and of one's self, and the more the light of Di places the candle at my pillow; and so vine truth, with respect to the holiness, the night becomes no more tedious nor purity, and majesty of God, is shed upon gloomy. the mind, the greater is the opportunity Attempts were made by her sister to of discerning the depth of personal un lead her back to the darkness of infidel worthiness and guilt. The Holy Spirit | philosophy; but in vain. The Lord was does not become the Comforter by apply. her keeper. She read the Bible, and ing a false peace in the hour of distress. loved to adorn its doctrine. Adversity He does not heal the conscience slightly, was to her a rich blessing. The sorrow but lays bare the poison that lurks within, which bowed her down was in mercy to that the means of its removal may be her soul. 'God doth not afflict willingly.' more successfully employed. He exposes (Lam. iii. 33). He doth it for our profit.' the malady of the heart, and then applies He causeth us to pass under the rod, the Gospel to the mind which he has pre- that he may bring us into the bond of his pared to appreciate it. They that be covenant.' (Ezek. xx. 37). Painful may
be his discipline in the school of afflic
THE PHILOSOPHY OF SACRED tion; but it comes from the hand of
Reader, art thou in trouble? Has the stroke of affliction fallen on thee? Is
THE TIMES OF THE MESSIAH. there not a cause? Is thine heart ac
NO. 1. quainted with God as thy God? Knowest The Christian era is the index on the thou the riches of his grace, by a personal dial of time, around which the cycle of all interest through faith in Jesus? Then he history revolves; the epoch to which all will teach thee more perfectly the lessons time past looked forward ; and the era to thou hast already begun to learn. He which all time future looks back. Its will manifest himself to thee more fully, epochs rise in the gloom of antiquity, and and lead thee, with increased feeling, to its eras end in the glory of eternity. It is say, 'whom have I in heaven but thee? like a inagnificent lake which receives into and there is none upon earth that I de | its bosom the rivers that roll from the resire beside thee.' (Ps. Ixxiii. 25.)
mote interior, till its waters, swelling up, Reader, art thou yet a stranger to all overflow its banks, and again flow onwards but the name of Jesus; dost thou not to the ocean. It is an interesting study know his preciousness to those who be- to notice its ancient landmarks, to trace lieve; hast thou not cast thyself at his out the source and progress of those events feet, saying, 'Lord, save me, or I perish;' which flow on to it, and to mark the course but dost thou feel thy case to be desperate, of history in all the changes which flow and that thy troubled spirit needs rest? | from it. There are two of its epochs which Oh, seek it in the way this narrative un- | seem to us as most worthy of notice—the folds. Turn to the Scriptures. Read | histories of the east and west. We may them as they may never have been read trace the course of events in each ; but at before. Adopt the petition, O Lord, en present we shall confine our remarks to the lighten me by thy Spirit, that I may | history of the east. know thee.' Yield, troubled spirit, yield As the tribes of the east were less given to the hand that smites thee. " Thy soul to change than those of the west, they were is provided for. Come unto me, and I more conservative in their customs, and will give you rest.' (Matt. xi. 28.) . It is preserved their traditions more pure and a faithful saying, and worthy of all accept-| entire, and if there was one of the eastern ation, that Christ Jesus came into the nations more distinguished than another world to save sinners.' (1 Tim. i. 15.)
for its adherence to the manners and customs of the early ages, the honour of that distinction belongs to Persia. Long after
other nations had sunk into the grossest A lost and sinful world to save,
idolatry, and had changed the glory of the In human form the Saviour came:
incorruptible God into an image made He laid his glory by,
like unto corruptible man, to birds and To bear our sin and shame.
beasts and creeping things,' the Persians A king-he left for us his Father's throne,
had never wandered from the heavens for He came- and was rejected by his own!
an emblem of the divinity, and continued
in the ancient worship of the sun. As A man of sorrows and of grief,
their country was bounded by that of Llomeless-in humble garb arrayed;
Media, the two nations were joined by the A world's iniquity
ties of neighbourhood, and of a similar faith Was on his shoulders laid.
and customs, and were prepared to comDespised and poor-he boundless riches gave;
bine in a common cause, and to become Stricken-he came omnipotent to save.
amalgamated as a united nation. As
Media was joined on the east by Assyria, But, oh to us how beautiful
the Medes were the first to come into colThe feet of him, the Holy One :
lision with that powerful state, and were Herald of endless peace
constantly engaged in all its wars, either To all beneath the sun !
as its ally or its enemy. The rise and proHimself how bruised !-he heals the sinner's pain; gress of the Assyrian power presents ns Nailed to the cross—he bursts the sinner's chain !
with a new feature in human history, and exhibits to us the first picture of a religious
war. From inscriptions which have been Then be it sung,
found in Assyria and Babylonia, it appears The incense of the heart to heaven!
that the chief motives for the Assyrian Lord, let our daily praise
conquests was to extend the honour of their To thy great pame be given ! In this frail scene, be thou our trust, our love;
gods and to propagate their worship by the
sword. In these memorials of their raids, Poor pilgrims here, we seek a home above.
B. K. G. | the power and favour of their gods is acknowledged, the name of the chief is stated, Danites had first set up idolatry; it was the country invaded is described, the num- there that Jeroboam had established one ber of temples destroyed and gods taken is of his rival altars; and it was there, on given, then an altar is erected to the 'the people that walked in darkness,' that immortal gods,' and the conqueror returns judgment began. It was well that the first laden with booty and followed by a host of sinners should be the first sufferers; that captives. It is in this light that the As- the calf of Dan should be the first prize syrian power is represented to us in the of the conquerors; and that its worshipScriptures. It is at war with the worshippers should be the first captives from Is-, and gods of the nations : when the people rael. The hour for Samaria and Jerusalem submit to its system of propagandism, they was not yet come, but events were preparare favourably treated; but when they re- ing them for it. Ahaz having ascended sist, the sword desolates the country, and the throne of Judah, and apostatized from its gods and men are led captive to other the religion of his country, lost the confi. lands. Thus each nation was well adapted dence of his people, and was attacked on to serve the purpose for which it had been every side by his enemies. But instead of chosen-Media to become the home of the tracing the disasters of his reign to his expatriated tribes of Israel; Assyria to be- own misgovernment, he ascribed them to come amalgamated with Chaldea, and be the the influence of foreign gods, and to prorod of God's anger' to awe the Jews and pitiate their favour, he erected 'altars in sweep their country; and Persia to preserve every street in Jerusalem. Receiving no the faith of the early ages, to unite with aid from these, he next applies to the King Media and crush the power of the Assyrian of Assyria, confesses that he was ‘his son, after he had finished his mission, and to one like minded with himself, and offers shed the light of a simple creed over the to become his 'servant,' if he would only many errors of the times.
come and help him against his enemies. A nation guided by a spirit like that These kindred spirits having met at Daof Assyria will cut a strange figure in sa. mascus, felt no difficulty in coming to an cred history; yet we expect to discover in agreement: the propagandist did not reits mad evolutions, the method of a conquire to go to Judah and erect an altar," for certed plan-the evidences of a presiding the apostate sends a 'pattern of an altar' power taking advantage of the fury of the to Jerusalem, and gives orders to make all unconscious elements to forward its own needed alterations on the worship there purpose, till all is made to harmonize in ex- for the King of Assyria. This being hibiting the providence, and in establishing settled, Samaria is again visited, and Hothe reign of God on the earth. The Asa shea having submitted, the crusade of the syrian kings who are chiefly referred to Assyrians had now spread their altars from in Scripture, are Pul, and his successors, the Caspian to the Mediterranean Sea. Tiglath-Pileser, Shalmaneser, Sennache- The Jewish writers state, that it was at rib, and Esarhaddon; and the reigns of this time that Shalmaneser took away the these five princes comprehend nearly the calf from Bethel, and that Hoshea removed whole period of the second Assyrian em- the guards which had been placed at the pire. It began with Pul, who united the frontiers of the kingdom, to prevent the kingdoms of Media and Nineveh, and Israelites from going up to worship at having given that of Babylon to his second Jerusalem: as the state religion in both son, converted it into a dependent state. countries was now the same, the people It terminated shortly after the time of were allowed and encouraged to associate Esarhaddon, from whom the Medes re- in their common worship. But Judaism, volted, and by whom Babylon was again though conquered, was not destroyed, for united to Nineveh. The Assyrians made the death of Ahaz, dissolved this "holy their first descent on Israel under Pul, alliance,' when the Jews not only revolted, and as Manahem had no faith to fight for, but took advantage of the circumstances and was besides a usurper, he was ready of the Israelites, to invite them to join in to sell the liberties of his country to secure restoring the worship of their fathers, and his throne; and thus the first storm passed the now united nations swept every symbol lightly over the land. But as the people of foreign vassalage and worship from the were not satisfied with the ransom money land. This was a declaration of indepenexacted from them, they did not comply dence, and Assyria made ready to crush it, readily with the terms, and the country and Judah and Israel prepared to defend was again visited by the Assyrians under it. On the one side was marshalled all the Tiglath-Pileser. Knowing his spirit and power of the east, and on the other all the errand, we can easily anticipate the first forces of the south and west were musterpoint of attack. The northern district was ing; so that from Media to Egypt all were not only the most exposed from the posi- busy in preparing for the approaching tion, but the most notorious for its super- contest to decide who was to be the greatstition. It was there that a portion of the est god. It was evident that a great crisis was at hand, but it would not have been could not feel themselves under strong expedient to leave the settlement of this obligations to worship gods that did not question to the seeming chances of war; save. They were probably also but a type of some decision that would more clearly mark a class, who having more policy than piety, the interposition of a divinity was needed would voluntarily embrace his creed, 'beto manifest to the watching nations that cause the gods of the kings of Syria help Jehovah was God. Besides, it was not them, therefore will I sacrifice to them against the people, but against the God of that they may help me. Besides, as the Judah that the Assyrian had drawn the Assyrians had transplanted the conquered sword; and as the noise of his blasphemy, nations from one country to another, the like the cry of murdered blood, had reached new settlers would feel it difficult to decide the heavens, it was well that some super- whether they ought to worship the gods human power should crush this scorner of which presided over the lands of their birth God and scourge of man. Hence, after or of their settlement, and many would, in Samaria had been subdued, Ethiopia over-their perplexity, follow the plan of the new come, and Egypt overawed, and Judah left colonists of Israel, serve both; and as 'no alone in the breach, unable to resist and man can serve two masters' aright, the unwilling to yield, with no defence but its spirit of their religion vanished and left faith, and no hope but in its God, then but an empty form behind. Hence, while
the Assyrian came down like a wolf on the Medes and Persians soon recovered the fold,' and halted for the night within their independence, and were able to reone short mile of Jerusalem. This extre-store and reform their own religion, the mity was God's opportunity. 'He made nations near to Assyria on the west had bare his holy arm in the sight of all nations;' theirs so often changed and so much diin the darkness, death passed over the vided, that their attachment to the gods of host; the sun rose on the camp of the dead; their fathers was never so strong, and they and the remnants of the God-stricken army | were more ready to receive any new im. fled to their own distant homes. Thy pression. Secondly, The defeat of Senshepherds slumber, 0 King of Assyria, thy necharib destroyed the fear of the god of valiant ones are in the dust, thy people are Nineveh, and extended the fame of the scattered on the mountains and no man God of Judah. Had the Assyrian power gathereth them, there is no healing of thy been allowedto increase without any check, bruise; all that bear the fruit of thee shall its altars might have acquired a foundation clap the hands on thee, for upon whom as broad and lasting as the power of the hath not thy wickedness passed?'. crescent, but on one disastrous field their
We may now inquire how far the con faith and power were cloven down, and the quests of Assyria and the defeat of Sen- | blood of the last of the propagandists of nacherib affected society. Did the storm Nineveh was sprinkled on the first and which swept over Asia uproot the super only sorrowing altar which its chivalry stition of the times? When it rolled like had reared. The finale is full of meaning. a dark cloud from east to west, and burst On the one side of the picture we have, amid the hills of Palestine, did the heathen so he returned with shame of face to see aught of heaven through the riven his own land, and when he was come into cloud ? and when it fell on the earth, did the house of his own god, they that came it'fall like water spilt on the ground,' or, forth of his own bowels slew him there ' like the rain,' did it accomplish the plea- with the sword ;' and on the reverse we sure and further the purpose of Him that have, and many brought gifts unto the sent it? It appears, First, That supersti Lord to Jerusalem, and presents to Hezetion was prevented from taking a deep root kiah King of Judah, so that he was magin the east. Before the rise of the Assyrian nified in the sight of all nations from power the nations had chosen their gods, thenceforth. Sennacherib had been the and each confined their worship to their terror of all nations, and his defeat would own deity. In the west nothing occurred be interesting news to them all. The to disturb this arrangement, so that the King of Babylon having heard that Hezenational religion of Greece became so kiah had been sick, and of the singular interwoven with the feelings and customs deliverance which God had given him, of the people, that it outlived all the politi- sent letters to congratulate him on his cal changes in the country. But in the recovery, and ambassadors to inquire of east no time was given for this, the nations the wonder done in the land. It is to had scarcely selected their gods before the be regretted that no proper answer was Assyrian appeared with the demand that given to these inquirers, and that Hezethey should also worship his, and as super- kiah, instead of explaining all that God stition has more fear than faith, the people had done for him and his people, only readily adopted the worship of the most exhibited his riches—a sad evidence that powerful. Also as their own gods had not he had more regard for his own grandeur protected them from the conqueror, they than for God's glory. This act of culpable
vanity seems to indicate that the many to revolt, but that they would also help the favours now given to the Jews, instead of Medes in their struggle with the common improving their personal piety, only pro-enemy. Also the messengers sent by the voked their national pride, and thus the King of Babylon to Hezekiah, the nature only stain on a blameless life is like the of the reception they received from the first plague-spot of that pestilence which Jewish prince, and the form of the reproof soon after this withered the religion given by Isaiah, seems to indicate a design and quenched the glory of Judah. But on the part of Babylon to seek to recover though the Jew might in his prosperity for its independence,' by an alliance with get the salvation which God had wrought Judah. It is at least certain, that imfor him, yet in his adversity, when he mediately after the death of Sennacherib, wandered in a strange land as a witness the Medes regained their independence, for God amongst the heathen, these de and that Esarhaddon, to secure the Babyliverances would be to him as a defensive lonians, again united them to Nineveh. armoury, furnishing him with the shield But though this last of the great princes of faith, and for a helmet the hope of salva- of Assyria made a vigorous effort to maintion. Thus armed for his war of passive tain the supremacy of his country, yet resistance to the religion and customs of the spell of its power was broken; and the the times, he was firm in the hour of peril, Medes and Babylonians having, soon after and instead of looking forward to danger, this, united their forces, Nineveh was overhe looked upward for deliverance, and, come, and the sceptre of Asia passed into giving forth his battle cry, 'our God will the hands of the King of Babylon. The deliver,' be stood ready to dare or to en seat of empire being changed, the din of dure all the consequences of commanded strife was carried farther west, and the Perduty. If the result of this defeat was not sians were allowed time and opportunity all that might have been expected in Judah, to renew their strength, and prepare for nor what was desirable in Babylon, neither the time of their manifestation. The was it what it ought to have been in Egypt. transfer of the power over Asia from There the fall of Sennacherib was well Nineveh to Babylon was only a change of known; but as the means by which it was masters, not of measures, for the spirit of effected was not mentioned, the priests both nations was the same; and as Pharaoh took advantage of this to invent such an was confirmed in his obstinacy in order to agency as would favour the superstition of multiply the evidences of God's power, their own country, and give their gods these nations appear to have been conthe credit of the deed. Hence the origin tinued in authority till all that God had of the legend recorded by Herodotus, of a purposed by them was accomplished. Soswarm of mice entering the camp of the ciety was preparing to receive instruction, Assyrians, and cutting the bow-strings of and Judah was ripening for chastisement, the soldiers, so that they were left defence- and as soon as Babylon had established less in the hands of their enemies. It its dominion over the east, and Jerusalem appears that the Persians were the only had filled the cup of its iniquity, then the foreigners who took a benefit from the axe which had long lain at the root of the stirring events of the times, for the first tree, ready to strike, was applied, JudaZoroaster is believed to have flourished ism was cut down, and its leaves scattered about this period, and possibly these events abroad for the healing of the waters. not only gave the first impulse to his re
G. B., C. formation, but formed the groundwork
(To be continued.) of those iniracles which are ascribed to him. May not the contest between the God of Judah and the god of Assyria, and BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.* the temporary success and final overthrow of the latter, have given shape to the
JAMES STARK, D.D. lingering shadows of tradition, and suggested the first outlines of the Magian 1. The late Dr James Stark of Dennysystem,--that is, only two gods—the one Loanhead was born at Cumbernauld on good, the other evil-the latter to be suc the 20th October, 1775; was ordained to cessful for a season, then overcome, and the office of the ministry, August 23, after that the reign of peace to commence ? 1797; and departed this life on the 24th Thirdly, The defeat of Sennacherib led to of May, 1850, in the seventy-fifth year of important changes in the political relations his age, and the fifty-third of his unbroken of society. The greater portion of the ten pastorate. It pleased God that this protribes were carried captive because of their longed ministry should be fulfilled in the resistance to the religion and power of near vicinity of his own country ;' for his Assyria, and being placed in the cities of
* From an able and eloquent Memoir, by the the Medes, it is probable that their example Rev. John Edmond of Glasgow, prefixed to a would not only stimulate their neighbours volume of Discourses just published