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now difficult to ascertain how far the dis- their systems sprung up simultaneously in persion affected the opinions of men, but the lands of their birth, is an important it is at least certain that a change then truth in human history; for though there came over the spirit of their dream, and may be as much variety in the systems as it seems probable that the Jews were to manifest that they were the growth of instrumental in accomplishing, it. To different soils, there is also as much reshow the grounds of this probability, let semblance as to prove that they were the us glance at some of the important facts product of a similar seed. Thus the which belong to the history of the period. student of history may discover the fruits It was at the time of the dispersion that of the dispersion in the biography of Zoroaster reformed the religion of the Ma- man, as easily as the student of geology gians; and without affirming the genuine- can discover the deposits of the deluge in ness of those books which are ascribed to the geography of the earth. Solitary him, but regarding them only as the facts may be as unmeaning as separate standards of his system, it is evident that, letters, but when combined they form the like the Koran, they were written by men autograph of God, which is as legible on who were not only acquainted with the the pages of history as his footprints are writings of the Jews, but willing to copy on the strata of the globe. G. B., c. their creed and customs. And if to this internal evidence from the sacred books of the Persians we add the external evidence from their history, where their kings are represented as being generally favour
POETRY. able to the religion of the Jews, it is manifest that the reformation of the Magians THE SOULS OF THE CHILDREN. was indebted to the influence of the dispersion. It was also about the time that • Who bids for the little children Judea became a province of the Persian Body and soul and brain ; empire that the first philosophers of the
Who bids for the little childrenWest began to speculate; and as these
Young and without a stain ? speculations commenced in the eastern Will no one bid,' said England, colonies of Greece, the time and the place
* For their souls so pure and white, seems to suggest the thought, that even
And fit for all good or evil, the proud philospohy of the West may
The world on their page may write ? after all have been but a distant ray from the light of the dispersion. However, that • We bid,' said Pest and Famine, light appears to have reached the Greeks • We bid for life and limb; in rays so faint as only to awaken their Fever and pain and squalor first teachers, to let them see their dark
Their bright young eyes shall dim. ness and feel their want; and as there is When the children grow too many, not in their first philosophy any internal
We'll nurse them as our own, evidence of its relation to the Hebrew And hide them in secret places faith, it is manifest that the discussion
Where none may hear their moan.' created by the dispersion rather started than guided their speculations; but having 'I bid,' said Beggary, howling, once begun to speculate, they availed • I'll buy them, one and all, themselves of every source of information, I'll teach them a thousand lessonsand ultimately gave indications of thoughts
To lie, to skulk, to crawl; which were evidently borrowed from the They shall sleep in my lair like maggots, Jews, though they had not the honesty to
They shall rot in the fair sunshine; confess it. It was shortly after the dis- And if they serve my purpose, persion that Confucius, the reformer of I hope they'll answer thine.' China, flourished, and then that his system was established in the different depart- * And I'll bid higher and higher, ments of the Celestial empire. Now, Said Crime with wolfish grin, without stopping to notice the traditions of For I love to lead the children a correspondence between Zoroaster and
Through the pleasant paths of sin. Pythagoras, or the evidence of a resem- They shall swarm in the streets to pilfer, blance between the systems of Pythagoras They shall plague the broad highway, and Confucius, we may assume that a Till they grow too old for pity, movement so widely spread must have
And ripe for the law to slay. had its origin in some very general cause; and these facts establish the connection
* Prison and hulk and gallows, between the dispersion and the dawn of
Are many in the land, philosophy. The knowledge that these 'Twere folly not to use them, three great men were contemporaries, and
So proudly as they stand.
Give me the little children,
child born in the morning is old enough I'll take them as they're born:
to die before night. Today to me, toAnd I'll feed their evil passions
morrow to thee, is death's motto. When With misery and scorn.
Jacob was asked by Pharaoh, 'How old art
thou ?' or, according to the margin, how • Give me the little children,
many are the days of the years of thy Ye good, ye rich, ye wise,
life? his answer was: 'Few, and evil, have And let the busy world spin round
the days of the years of my life been. A While ye shut your idle eyes ;
great physician says that art is long, life And your judges shall have work,
is short. The heathens' emblem for life And your lawyers wag the tongue ; was an eye open, and for death an eye And the jailers and policemen
shut; as if there were no other difference Shall be fathers to the young.'
between the living and the dying, but the
twinkling of an eye. Man that is born of Oh, shame!' said true Religion,
a woman, is of few days, and full of trouble.' Oh, shame, that this should be!
Job scarce thinks himself worth the namI'll take the little children,
ing, who doth not speak of himself in his I'll take them all to me.
own name; Man that is born of a woman.' I'll raise them up with kindness
But, what of this man? He is of few From the mire in which they're trod; days (short of days) and full of trouble. I'll teach them words of blessing,
Few days, and many troubles, make up I'll lead them up to God.'
the character of man. We used to say,
short and sweet; but here it is short and • You're not the true religion,'
sour; yea, short and bitter. As some . Said a sect with flashing eyes;
speak much in a little, much matter in a * Nor thou,' said another scowling
little discourse, and as some do much • Thou'rt heresy and lies.'
good with a little talent, so all suffer much * You shall not have the children,'
trouble in a little time-many sorrows in Said a third with shout and yell;
a few days. The days of men are few, . Your antichrist and bigot
compared with the days that man lived You'd train them up for hell.'
before the flood; then man lived to six,
seven, eight, nine hundred, almost a thouAnd England, sorely puzzled
sand years. They are few also compared To see such battle strong,
to the days of God. As the days of God Exclaimed with voice of pity
cannot be counted, because they are so Oh friends! you do me wrong!
many, so the days of man can scarcely be Oh, cease your bitter wrangling,
counted, because they are so few. Mine For till you all agree,
age (says the Psalmist) is as nothing I fear the little children
before thee.' All time is as nothing, comWill plague both you and me.'
pared to eternity; what a nothing, then,
is the age of one man unto eternity! Some But all refused to listen:
things created and finite are so great above Quoth they-'We bide our time;'
others, that they are nothing unto them. And the bidders seized the children
What is the ant unto the elephant ? what Beggary, Filth, and Crime;
is the shrimp to the whale ? what is the And the prisons teemed with victims, whole body of the earth to the body of the And the gallows rocked on high ;
heavens? It is but a point, say naturalists. And the thick abomination
As one part of the earth is but a point to Spread reeking to the sky.
the whole, and the whole earth but a point Anon. to the heavens, so one part of time is but
a moment to all time, and all time is but a moment to eternity, especially to the
eternity of God. What is finite unto BREVITY AND UNCERTAINTY infinite? The brevity of man's life will OF LIFE.
yet appear, beyond all modest contradic
tion, by the expressions wherewith it is If the first death be the mistress of clothed, by the metaphors wherein it is mortals, and the empress of the universe, emblemed, and by the things whereunto reflect then on the brevity of life. I have it is compared. For instance: The life been, and that is all,' said Saladin the of man is compared to a weaver's shuttle: Great, who was the conqueror of the East. 'My days are swifter than a weaver's The longest liver had but a handful of shuttle. A weaver's shuttle is an instrudays, and life itself is but a circle, always ment of a very swift and sudden motion ; beginning where it ends. With the An- this passeth the loom, or web, with such cient of Days there are no days, and time speed, that it is grown to a proverb for all will be when time shall no more be. The things quick and transient. The life of man
is compared to an hand-breadth : « Thou ness of death is past.' Pharaoh stood upon hast made my days as an hand-breadth.' even ground with God, little thinking that That is not long, which is no longer than the sea would be his sepulchre, when he the breadth of an hand; not long in the said—'Who is the Lord that I should obey largest extent. The life of man is com- his voice, to let Israel go? I know not pared to a tale that is told : “We spend the Lord, neither will I let Israel go. our days as a tale that is told;' that is, Little did Sennacherib think that he stood suddenly and swiftly. A discourse from upon the brink of eternity, when these the mouth, especially in the mind, outruns words were spoken by his servant- Hear the sun, as much as the sun outruns the ye the words of the great king, the king snail. The thoughts of a man will travel of Assyria ;' when he seemed to stand upon the world over in a moment. The life of higher ground than God. Little also did man is compared to a vapour: What is Herod (the mount of pride, according to our life ? it is even as a vapour, which for his name) think that his grave had been a while appeareth, and then vanisheth digging, when he so charmed his auditory away.' Though all a man hath is short of with his oratory, that they gave a shoutlife, yet this life of man soon evaporates It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.' and expires.
The manner and time of death are uncer. Our bodies are but living graves; no tain. Some indeed have predicted the man. sooner did we begin to live, but we began ner of their death; thus Ridley; that he to die, and continue dying, until we be should be burned, and not drowned : thus swallowed up of death. As every man Jewel; he, long before his sickness, prehad his Genesis, his beginning, or coming dicted the approach of it; and in his sickinto this world, so every man shall have ness predicted the precise day of his death. his Exodus, his ending, or going out of the But this is rare, very rare.
What is pray, world. Oh soul ! flatter not thyself, and able, is attainable, but the knowledge of thy soul, with an undiable state. David the length of life is prayable. To pray was a man after God's own heart, and yet for a physical, or literal knowledge of our concerning him it is said, that he died. end—that is, what year, or day, our lives Though he lived to a good old age, full of shall end—is a sinful curiosity, days, riches, and honour, yet he died, and sumptuous intrusion into the secret will Solomon his son reigned in his stead. of God; but to pray for a metaphysical or Death's seizure is without surrender, and spiritual knowledge of our end—that is, from her sentence there is no appeal. how we may end any day of the year, or When news arrived at one concerning hour of the day, in an holy duty and humble the death of his only son, he seemed not submission of ourselves to the revealed to be over-concerned, but to reply without will of God-this is warrantable. But regret—I know that he was begotten Hezekiah had fifteen years added to his mortal; I know the son is mortal as well days, and therefore he knew how long he as the father. Those long-livers recorded should live, and when he
should die. This in Sacred Scripture, and transmitted to is such a favour, as that we read not of the posterity, died. They lived long, but they like indulged any other of God's servants, did not outlive death. They lived long in though very high in favour with him. the world, but at last they left the world. This great and good king is indulged, and They lived long, but a day came when assured a lease of his life fifteen years they could not live a day longer. Death longer; well now may this be ushered in is the obscurest thing in the world. The with a note of attention, and serious congrave is a gloomy place, and filled not sideration, ‘Behold, I will add unto his only with natural, but also with meta- days fifteen years. It is sealed also, being phorical darkness.
an unusual grant, with an unusual miracle; Though death be certain, yet the time of Behold, I will bring again the shadow of death is uncertain. Death is certain, but the degrees, which is gone down in the the day, or hour of death, is uncertain. sun-dial of 'Ahaz ten degrees backward; Little did Julian think that death had so the sun returned ten degrees, by which been at the door, before he was wounded degrees it was gone down.' As we are to by an unknown' hand, and blasphemed reflect on the brevity of life, the children • Thou hast overcome, o Galilean! thou of men being many times of as short a conhast overcome.' Little did Ahab think tinuance as Jonah's gourd, which came up that the day of death had been so near in a night, and perished in a night; and, dawning, when he gave in charge concern- as we are to reflect on the certainty of ing Micaiah—'Put this fellow in the prison, death, this being a tribute due to nature
, and feed him with the bread of affliction, and a debt to be paid by every individual, and with the water of affliction, until I so we are to reflect on the uncertainty of come in peace.' Little did Agag think of the time of death, which comes to many being hewed in pieces before the Lord in persons as a thief in the night-suddenly, Gilgal, when he said — Surely the bitter- silently, unexpectedly.
of remark, I shall specify, in a few partiPRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
culars, where improvement in the working GOVERNMENT.
out of Presbyterian government seems to
me to be demanded :The friends of Presbytery will best se- 1. There should be less jealousy than is cure approval for their Presbyterian polity sometimes manifested of unofficial Chrisby commending it in practice. Let the tian beneficence. I hold, and I have enexcellence of the tree appear in the grace- deavoured to prove, the divine apppointfulness of its proportions, the freshness of ment of the eldership. But since we find its vegetation, and above all, in the abun- that wise men, not formally invested with dance and salubrity of its fruit. Already office, were, by apostolic direction, set to Presbytery has undergone, in several fea- judge on questions deeply affecting the tures, great improvements in Scotland. honour of the Church, we should be slow That it should be immediately perfected to reject the aid of such wisdom, even in by the Reformers, when they had just ecclesiastical proceedings, where it is still emerged from a corrupt and persecuting available for like service. An official Church, was more than could be expected. agency is valuable, not only for what it In leaving Rome, they brought with them can do itself, but as bringing into action some of its intolerance, which they em- all the graces and resources of the Church ; bodied in their new system of ecclesiastical and a punctilious dread of compromising polity. Mr Lawson has little difficulty in our official status in permitting others to proving that the Presbyterians of Scot- work with us, and hailing their co-operaland' were chargeable with tyrannical tion, is not sanctioned, as I think, by the proceedings,' especially in 'trying and facts, the precepts, or the spirit of the punishing cases of scandal, at the end of New Testament. the sixteenth century! I have now before 2. We should do more than is now done me scroll minutes of the Inverness Pres- to elevate the qualifications and efficiency bytery, recording the proceedings of that of the Ruling as distinguished from the Court through a number of years, begin- Teaching Eldership. That scripture ning with 1632, and showing, amid the makes such a distinction among presby. changes of church government, little re- ters has, I trust, been sufficiently proved. laxation of penal discipline in the first But the distinction has been too often half of the seventeenth century. We have widened into a chasm. Variety within a there, on the 22d August, 1632, Mr Lach- species has been enlarged into a specific lan Grant, a member of Presbytery, 'ac- difference. On this practical error both cusit for his lang absence, nowe thre dayes Episcopalians and Independents have togidder. He anserit for the first daye he reared their most formidable engines of was seik of ane cauld, and culd nocht be assault against our Sessional system.
for the secund that he They have asked why the apostles so was with the bischop, meaning yat yai war generally speak of presbyters as one instithreatting to demeiss him of the gleb of tution, if the teaching and ruling presbyDalarassie, and for the third daye ters were then as wide apart as are mini(when) ye exerceis was don or he cam in, sters and elders in our own day. They answerit that he haid evill weather. These have inquired what we gain by contending apologies seem to be tolerably good. Yet, for Presbyterian ordination, and then exwhen Mr Grants was removit, the Pres- cluding the great majority of presbyters bytery decernit him to pay xx£ moie! from the privilege of ordaining. In another minute, I see Donald Makanes Our present usage admits of some reply ordained to make repentance in his own to such strictures. If the writers of the kirk three successive Sabbaths, at the foot New Testament often speak of presbyters of the stool of repentance, and to pay a collectively and as one body, we also speak penalty of £20 for cutting his neighbour's of the members of presbyteries or synods kail
, and breaking his dyke. Examples of without distinguishing the ruling and the same sort of dealing' abound in these teaching elders of whom the court is comrecords. We have a contrast to them posed. presented in the declaration of the Church It is true, also, that the having or wantwith which I am connected, that the word ing a collegiate education makes more court, as used in its Rules, etc., simply difference now than could have originally denotes ministers and elders regularly met subsisted. But still the one term, 'bishop, for the discharge of their deliberative du- so often applied to elders, whether they ties, in session, presbytery, or synod; and ruled or taught, and without any mark of that it conveys no idea of authority beyond discrimination, shows that they were more that of spiritual administration.'
upon a footing in the primitive Church There is still, however, room for amend than in the present working of Presbytery. ment; and without dreading the advantage At their meetings for public worship, all that
be taken of a confessional strain the elders occupied one bench or platform,
facing the people, to indicate the sameness laxity. Civil society is not more unequally of their order; and he who was to preach represented in parliament, than is Christook his place with them, and delivered tian society in our presbyteries. If one his message from amid his brethren. church contains twelve hundred members,
I do not say this practice should be re- and if twelve churches have each a hun. sumed, though I would not object to its dred members, the first twelve hundred restoration; but I do say there should be people have two representatives, and the more of the parity of which it gave evi- second twelve hundred have twenty-four dence. If not in their seats, at least in representatives—the same numerical contheir services, the elders should be in view stituency is twelve times more adequately of the people, and valued as the pastors represented. Such facts deserve at least with whom they co-operate. We need consideration. not expect to reach an end so important 4. Full advantage has not yet been without the use of reasonable means, and taken of the vast power which assembled surely more pains might be taken to qua- elders might wield for practical purposes. lify elders for ruling well. Laudable zeal Presbyteries and synods have been called has been shown to institute ministers' courts of review. The name points the libraries. Is there no need for elders' li- injured to valuable means of redress; but braries? And might there not be more it fosters a fallacy if it encourage any to frequent meetings with them and addresses think that the sole or chief use of presby. to them, and improving engagements as- terate gatherings is to settle disputes. signed them, having a direct tendency to There has been already a vast improve stimulate their reading of books, and ren- ment in this province. Appeal cases have der it profitable? Some time ago there been diminishing in number: there was was a noble movement among elders to not one of them at the last meeting of the improve their own 'order. Let them not United Presbyterian Synod, and their languish in this enterprise. Let them place was occupied by the prosecution of magnify their office. Let them show that fitting measures for the maintenance and they have a high conception themselves extension of religion at home and abroad. of the trust confided to them, and others But though we have got upon the right will hold it in like estimation : but if they road, we are far from our destination. let down the office, what wonder if others The good that a synod might do is inestitrample it under foot? And how are they mable. The most devoted philanthropist to magnify it? By demeaning themselves is feeble in his isolation. When he joins consequentially-by walking with the air a Church he has an admirable opportunity and strut of office ? Assuredly not. They of engaging fellow-worshippers to be fel
. must qualify themselves for ruling, and low-workers, and to advance in concert then rule with diligence. The Church, with him the common salvation. But through all its sections of young and old, what shall we think of the power of comrichand poor, nearand remote, must feel the municative zeal, judiciously developed in pervading efficacy of their vigilant inspec- a synod or assembly, which acts on many tion. Then it will be seen that they have hundreds of churches, and over the whole plenty to do who have only to rule; and extent of a nation ? If the nature of this wonder will cease to be entertained that influence were more duly appreciated, it labourers so estimable and invaluable have would be more energetically put forth; been classed by the apostles with mini- many churches and pastors now pining in sters of the word, as participating in the neglect would be visited and revived; the same superintendence of the Church, and choicest religious literature would be similarly entitled to be esteemed very showered upon our people; education for highly in love for their work's sake. all the young in the charge of the Church
3. The representative principle might would be adequately provided and indebe more equally acted out by us. In some fatigably worked. "Our waste and desoinstances the application of it is rigorous; late places, and the land of our destrucin others loose and partial. Ministerstion—the regions which appeared to be holding the most important secretaryships, solitudes, they were so few and destroyed and elders the most important treasurer- would become too narrow by reason of the ships, are not members of court, unless inhabitants, and a cry would be heard in they happen to be so by official connection many quarters from our crowded churches, with some particular congregation. If they · The place is too strait for me: give speak, it is by sufferance, and only in re- place to me that I may dwell.' To none lation to their own particular business ; so much as to a concourse of ecclesiastical and they may not vote at all. This is a office-bearers is this commission given, strict rule for honourable functionaries Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let who represent the Church at large in some them stretch forth the curtains of thine of its most important interests. Along habitations : spare not, lengthen thy cords, with this strictness there is commensurate and strengthen thy stakes: for thou shalt