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ON THE CHARACTER OF HEROD,
one hampered and entangled between good feelings, and desires, and resolutions, on the one hand, and evil inclinations, and evil counsellors on the other. If he could have got rid of the last, he might have been a better man,— if he could even have got rid of the first, he would have been a happier, at least an easier man. As it was, he was perpetually miserable, tossed and bandied to and fro between his sins and his scruples, doing things by halves, and settling the controversy of conscience with temptation by a sort of evasive underhand compromise, which left as much room as ever for a new struggle, a new assault, and a new defeat. he was disposed to do right, some supposed necessity of doing wrong interfered, and yet ever when the wrong was done, there was reluctance at the time, and regret and remorse afterwards. Hence that appearance of cunning which procured him from our Lord, the name "fox." And hence, too, that wavering and vacillating inconsistency which marked his treatment both of the Baptist and of our Lord. Thus, on the one hand, it is quite plain, he had a high opinion of both. For as to the Baptist we read, (ver. 20.) that Herod much esteemed him, admitted him to his court, made him almost a favourite a friend, listened to him respectfully, treated him with all honour, and even, in many things, gladly followed his counsel. Again, as to our Lord, we are told that when Herod heard of his fame and his wonderful works, he desired to see him-out of curiosity, perhaps, or to atone for the violence done to the Baptist, by some attention to his successor and representative Nor did this desire pass away, for on Jesus being brought before Herod for trial, we are told the prince rejoiced, having now for a long time been anxious to see this wonderful prophet, in the hope of witnessing some miracle. It is quite evident, therefore, that, to a certain extent, Herod had a regard for religion and its ministers. Nay, it seems as if at times, under the Baptist's ministry, on which he waited, he were really under the influence of religious impressions both sincere and deep. He "feared John, knowing him to be a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.” He complied with his instructions, so long as these did not interfere too painfully with his worldly inclinations, and seemed to be living in peace and friendship with the prophet, and even with the prophet's Lord. But touch his secret sore too boldly, and the peace is broken, the friendship gone. Let temptation kindle again his favourite lust, his cherished desire; let the
BY THE REV. K. S. CANDLISH, A.M., Minister of St. George's Parish, Edinburgh. THIS Herod was one of the sons of the king of that name in whose reign Christ was born. On his father's death he became ruler over that part of his dominions called Galilee, and was so during the ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus. It was he who put John to death in so singular a way, with so strange a mixture of levity and cruelty. The details of this black tragedy are given in the sixth chapter of Mark, and the statement of the 26th verse, "And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her," may be regarded as the explanation of his conduct. It very strikingly illustrates both the general character of the man and his state of mind in regard to the crime he was about to He was sorry, but he thought he could not help it. And as he, in these respects, represents a large class of men, he may form an important and useful study. The king was exceeding sorry"-Some interpreters have shrewdly suspected that this sorrow was feigned, that the whole scene of this banquet was a preconcerted scheme, to which not only Herodias and her daughter, but Herod himself was privy, to get rid of John the Baptist, who was become alike obnoxious to them all. Herod dared not openly do him wrong for fear of the people, who counted John a prophet. He fell therefore upon the expedient of throwing the guilt of the original suggestion on his accomplices. The feast, the dance, -the sudden admiration, the rash promise, the late repentance, all apparently natural and incidental, were artfully got up, that Herod, to the public eye, might be represented as a reluctant victim rather than a willing actor, as entrapped and surprised. But this view of the matter, though not at all very improbable, is rather too refined; and there are circumstances in the history, and features in the character of Herod, which would incline us to the belief that he was not concerned in any previous arrangement,—that the plot, if there was a plot, was formed between the mother and daughter, without his knowledge,—that the atrocious proposal did come upon him abruptly and unexpectedly, and that he was exceeding sorry. This appears likely from the respect and attachment which we know he previously felt towards the Baptist, and from the remorse of which he afterwards gave proof. The truth is, this man was not by nature blood-thirsty. Weak-world make its demand openly, and religion as openly ness rather than violence was very much the characteristic of his mind. He was not prepared to adopt extreme measures. He was rather prone to try temporising expedients, and to seek the accomplishment of his ends by craft and compromise rather than by force. Other historians give him this character, and such he appears in the Bible. There is not much told of him, but the little that is told exhibits him as a man, in some respects, well disposed, yet too selfish and too timid to be consistent ;-with some good principles, yet too much the slave of passion and the world, to give them fair play and scope ;—not firm enough to do right, yet not bold and bad enough, unscrupulously to do wrong;-neither decidedly good, nor decidedly wicked, neither resolutely honest, nor a reckless ruffian ;---but
interpose her authority; let the controversy be brought to a single point, then comes the struggle, then is seen the weakness of merely natural impressions of religion. (ver. 17, 18.) The prince, who seemed to have started so well, in an unlucky hour was tempted to sin. The Baptist fearlessly remonstrated and reproved. Then was the king distracted between the flatteries of the world's easy morals, on the one hand, and religion's uncompromising claims on the other. Need we say which prevailed? The king yielded to his unlawful passion, but not without many apologies to himself, and many prudent resolutions. He was sorry, exceeding sorry, not perhaps "for his sin against God's law, but yet for the severity of God's law against his sin."—(M'Laurin.) He was sorry that the temptation was so strong, and his
conscience, as to make him dread in the Lord Jesus his murdered friend risen to reproach him. He would not again be so rash. And besides he still feared the people, who honoured Jesus even more than they had honoured John. So once more he was in a delemma, and once more he tried a middle course, authorising the Pharisees to convey to this new teacher of righteousness an indirect hint, which might have the effect of banishing him from his own territories. This seems to have been his cunning device and stratagem, in allusion to which Jesus calls him "fox." Thus, sinners think slyly to get the better of their God, and, without committing themselves by open hostility, easily to put away his word of warning and reproof. Again, (Luke xxiii, 8.) the Lord Jesus is brought before Herod to be tried. Herod hopes now at last to gratify his vain curiosity, and see some of the miracles of which he had heard so much. He is provoked by the Saviour's silence, and feels it as a reproof of his former crime. The Pharisces loudly and clamorously reiterate their accusations. What now is the judge's course? plainly either to condemn or to acquit the prisoner,-to declare him guilty and worthy of death, or innocent, and therefore free. But mark the weakness of the man. Either of these measures would be too decided for him. He dares not condemn, neither will he at once absolve. So he gratifies the Pharisees, and vents his own impotent resentment, by an act of wanton, and gratuitous, and unjustifiable barbarity; exposes his victim, still uncondemned, to the insults of the soldiery, and then sends him again to Pilate,-losing all the uprightness of the judge in the petty jealous insolence of the tyrant.
friend so strict, but then he felt as if he could not re- | death, the memory of which crime lay so heavy on his sist the temptation, as if indeed he could scarcely be fairly expected or required to do so. And though in this one instance, he could not go along with those high and stern principles which might suit an austere and solitary recluse, but could not well be acted upon in the world, amid the trials of a court,-still this single, almost unavoidable deviation from his counsels, would not hinder him from paying all respect in general to his friend's teaching. Alas! he little thought how soon this one instance of opposition to good advice would lead on even to the murder of the adviser. O if he could have foreseen that one indulgence, in the world's eye so venial, would issue by an almost necessary and inevitable train in falsehood, and treachery, and blood! But once do wrong, and who shall dare to say where the wrong will end. Doubtless Herod felt that though he might occasionally transgress the too strict rule of his friend, he never could be prevailed upon to disavow religion or its minister. He little knew how instantly and immediately the consciousness of guilt would work a change in his sentiments towards the reprover of that guilt. Even at the time, in the very act of sin, the thought of the holy man's disapprobation, still more the conviction of conscience that he spoke truth, poisoned the pleasure of his unhallowed and incestuous passion. Dissatisfied, restless, impatient, he could scarcely tell why or with whom, angry with himself and with all around, he could no longer gladly listen to the voice of him whose very presence was a reproof, whose smile even of kindness and benignity cut him to the heart. He would fain have silenced him at once and effectually for ever. But he feared John. The prophet had still too great a hold on his mind, and Herod had too many religious feelings and fears to venture on so bold an act of violence; and so he hesitated between his dislike of the reproof and his reverence for the reprover. And this perplexing indecision in his own mind was increased by opposing applications from without. His offended and indignant partner, on the one hand, instigated him to direct outrage. His people, on the other hand, acknowledged John to be a prophet. Weak, therefore, and irresolute, he had recourse to the usual expedient of weakness. He adopted a middle course; he did John no personal violence, but kept him in prison. He put religion and its strenuous assertor quietly, and, as he might think, quite allow ably out of the way, so as neither to be tormented by his officious remonstrances, nor to incur the guilt and odium of avowed and actual hostility to the Word and Prophet of the Lord. Such, in the first instance, was his treatment of the Baptist. Precisely similar was the temper displayed in his treatment of our Lord on two different occasions. (Luke xiii. 31. 32.) It is plain, from our Lord s answer being addressed not to the Pharisees but to Herod, that he suspected that prince to be at the bottom of the message, and the case seems to have been this: The Pharisees, in their usual enmity against Christ, applied to Herod to procure his interference against him. Herod, on the other hand, had scruples. He was willing enough to oblige the Pharisees, to be on good terms with these convenient apologists and absolvers of his worldly frailties. He would gladly have rid himself and them of another troublesome and officious reprover. But then he felt too much about his former violence to the Baptist, for this was after the Baptist's
Such was the character of this monarch,-with which character it is perfectly consistent that, on the occasion of the demand made for the Baptist's head, he should have been "exceeding sorry." No wonder, indeed, that by such a demand, at such a time, on such a day of festal joy, he should have been shocked, startled, horrorstruck. The man whom but lately he had welcomed as his friend, admitted to his family, and entrusted with his confidence; to whom he had pledged his hand in fellowship, and his heart almost in respectful love; from whose lips he had heard words of wisdom and tenderness and kind reproof,-this man of God he was now called upon to sacrifice in the light frivolity of a dance. No wonder he hesitated and scrupled, and was exceeding sorry. But what did his sorrow, however sincere, avail him? did it arrest him in his evil course? did it prevent the crime? He looked about for some way of escape,-fain would he have found some compromise to satisfy his friends and sooth his conscience, and evade the necessity of a definite and decided step. But no ready expedient occurred. Still he hesitated, was exceeding sorry, but a supposed necessity of com pliance prevailed. "For his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not," he thought he could not reject her." Observe the force of the strong compulsion which he pleads, and estimate the worth of his sorrow, exceeding sorry as he was.
"For his oath's sake." Like the Jew of the poet he pleads an oath in justification of his cruelty. He has an oath in heaven; would you have him lay perjury to his soul? True he has been entrapped. In his light and playful mood of joy, he promised, he swore, to grant the
pleasing dancer's request, expecting probably that he
"And for their sakes that sat with him." He had pub-
And these were the arguments which satisfied this man, who had once been almost persuaded to be religious. He consented with reluctance, yet he felt himself compelled to consent. And what compelled him? -a fanciful point of honour-a false feeling of shame— Alas, what a spectacle is here! A man always sinning with regret, yet still always sinning; exceeding sorry to do wrong, yet in spite of his sorrow still always obliged to do it. What a specimen of the deceitfulness of sin! How plausibly it argues, so that the heart of man, aye, even of a seemingly religious man, shall be persuaded to acquiesce in its arguments. How skilfully and cunningly does it contrive to spread the toils and meshes of its net around him, so that he can see no possible way of extricating himself. And the marvel is, it is but a cobweb net after all. A single vigorous effort of honest resolution would burst and break it in ten thousand pieces. But the victim entangled is a weak and half a willing captive. The heart involved in the deceitfulness of sin, is itself deceitful. Still unregenerate, unrenewed, unsanctified, untouched by the mercy, unchanged by the Spirit of God, it has not taken part decidedly with the Lord and his Anointed. Some religion it may have, -a religion of scruples and fears and regrets but not a religion of faith-something of sorrow for sin, but not the godly sorrow that worketh repentance. Let none be deceived by such sorrow, or rest contented with such a religion as Herod's—a religion of continual alternation between sin and sorrow. We know not what ultimately became of him. History tells us, that shortly after this period he lost his kingdom, and spent the latter years of his life in disgrace and solitude in the remote province of Spain, and it is possible that the leisure of exile may have been blessed by God to work a salutary effect; and amid the reflections of adversity, the long controversy carried on in his soul, may have terminated in the decided victory of a spiritual faith over sense and sin. But certain it is, his religion, such as it was at this time, could never save him. It was but leading him on to ruin, and that by no flowery path, but over thorns and painful briars. O it is a sorrow most unprofitable that men feel under the influence of mere natural regrets and longings. It is but losing the present world without gaining any thing of the next. It is but inflicting needless pain. Better far get rid of the sorrow altogether and then go on to sin. But as this they cannot do, better still get rid of the sorrow by getting rid of the sin. And how is this to be done? Not by a system of half measures, or any delusive compromise with the enemy-not by a religion of impulse, of alarm, of instinctive sensibility-but "by grace are ye saved through faith," Let them come over wholly to the Lord's side. All on his part is full and free. There is no hesitation,-there are no half measures with him, but full and free forgiveness, full and free reconciliation, full and free expiation of guilt, full and free outpouring of the sanc tifying Spirit. On our part, too, let there be the like fulness and freeness. Let God be all and in all. So shall we be preserved from those fluctuations between God and the world, those vicissitudes of compliance and compunction, which embitter the life, which must torture the death of him who, in the vain attempt to serve two masters, sins and is sorry, is exceeding sorry and yet goes on to sin,
A MOUNTAIN HYMN.
BY THE REV. ALEXANDER S. PATTERSON.
Lord of the mountain and the plain,
And all the various scenes of earth, Thy glories here around us reign,
And cast their shadows o'er my hearth. What though the chariots of the storm
Are oft across these mountains driven? Do they not thy behests perform?
Bear they not messages from Heaven? Yes, round me, Father, is thy power, Such trust thy Son's compassions bring, By pointing to the opening flower
And the mean sparrow on the wing. The fly that sparkles and is gone,
The heath-bell on the mountain-sod, The fount for ever springing on,
That lives, yet breathes not, speaks of God. Like them I'd live, great Father, free From earth's contaminating dust; Quiet, yet labouring still for Thee
Thy breath my life, thy Word my trust. And let me, Lord of hill and plain,
And all the various scenes of earth,
Around me mark thy glories reign,
And feel thee guard my mountain-hearth.
BY THE LATE REV. WILLIAM GILLESPIE, Minister of Kells, Author of " Consolation," &c., &c. Now thick the fallen leaves are strewed, And stain the meadows lively green, While sad I roam thro' this lone wood, And muse on the departed scene.
In hazel copse, or birchen bower,
Can scarce the blackbird hide her wing,
Fall by the chill breath of disease,
That folds the dead that sleep below?
And soars to heaven from whence it came.
Who ought to be punished, the Devil or Man?—The late Rev. John Thomas, one of the missionary brethren of Serampore, was one day, after addressing a crowd of the natives on the banks of the Ganges, accosted by a brahmin as follows: Sir, don't you say that the devil tempts men to sin ?" "Yes;" answered Mr Thomas. "Then," said the brahmin, "certainly the fault is the devil's; the devil, therefore, and not man, ought to suffer the punishment." While the countenances of many of the natives discovered their approbation of the brahmin's inference, Mr Thomas, observing a boat, with several men on board, descending the river, with that facility of instructive retort for which he was distinguished, replied, "Brahmin, do you see yonder boat?" "Yes." "Suppose I were to send some of my friends to destroy every person on board, and bring me all that
is valuable in the boat; who ought to suffer punishment? I for instructing them, or they for doing this wicked act ?" " Why," answered the brahmin, with emotion, " you ought all to be put to death together." "Ay, brahmin," replied Mr T. "and if you and the devil sin together, the devil and you will be punished together."
Melancthon's Servant.-Melancthon, the Reformer and the friend of Luther, had a servant of the name of John, who lived with him many years, and is mentioned in history with marked respect. John was a man of tried honesty and fidelity. He adorned his humble station in life, and was very much beloved by his master. It was chiefly owing to John's good management and care, that his master was enabled to shew such unbounded benevolence, with means so small and apparently so insufficient. The whole business of providing for the family was intrusted to John; whose care, industry, and prudence fully justified the confidence which was placed in him. He made the concerns of the family his own, avoiding all needless expenses, and watching over his master's property with a jealous eye. He was also the first instructor of the children in the family during their infancy. John grew old in his master's service; and in the year 1553 died in his house, amidst the affectionate regrets of the whole family, after having lived with his master nearly thirty-four years. Melancthon invited the young men in the college to his funeral, made an address over his grave, and composed an epitaph for his tombstone.
The Discourse of a Poor Hindoo.-I am, by birth, of an insignificant and contemptible caste; so low, that if a brahmin should chance to touch me, he must go and bathe in the Ganges for the purpose of purification; and yet God has been pleased to call me, not merely to the knowledge of the Gospel, but to the high office of teaching it to others. My friends, do you know the reason of God's conduct? It is this: if God had selected one of you learned brahmins, and made you the preacher, when you were successful in making converts, by-standers would have said, it was the amazing learning of the brahmin, and his great weight of character that were the cause; but now, when any one is converted by my instrumentality, no one thinks of ascribing any of the praise to me: and God, as is his due, has all the glory.
The Ruling Passion in Death.-Never has the ruling passion been more strongly exemplified in the hour of death than in the case of Dr Payson. His love for preaching was as invincible as that of the miser for gold, who dies grasping his treasure. He directed a label to be attached to his breast when dead, with the admonition, "Remember the words which I spake unto you while I was yet present with you;" that they might be read by all who came to look at his corpse, and by which he, being dead, still spoke. The same words were, at the request of his people, engraved on the plate of the coffin, and read by thousands on the day of his interment.
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VOL. I. No. 14.
SATURDAY, JUNE 4, 1836.
ADDRESS TO THE YOUNG.
BY THE REV. W. STEVENSON,
too late to learn,-in guarding against the beginnings of that guilt which is now rooted in my soul, and in calling on God, who may now shut his ear against my cry. Thus, my young friends, have THERE is a solemn warning to you, my young hundreds of old men mourned. Thus, doubtless, friends, in the fact that no thinking man can re- are many of those who now look with interest on flect on his past life, without feeling that if he had your condition, sadly repining, and blaming themit to spend over again, he would spend it far other-selves in secret. They can no longer help themwise than he has done. After reaching the years selves. Their short remainder of life, indeed, they of manhood, we may indeed look back with satis- may improve, but the past is gone for ever, they faction on the days of our youth, when life itself cannot recover it. Yes, my friends, we who have was a dream full of warm affections and careless advanced beyond the morning of our existence, merriment,—and when our hearts were so giddy and reached the toils of its busy day, can no longer with their own delights, that the days chased one mingle with you, or share your advantages. If another over our heads without being numbered; we have mis-spent our youth, we must bear the still, as the mildest spring has its withering blasts, loss, making up for it as best we may, by redoubso childhood itself has always its little sorrows. ling our diligence now. Still much of that preNay, some of you know well, that the infant is not cious period remains in your power. Improve it unfrequently the nursling of trouble and grief. then, while you have the opportunity, and see that The bloom of the freshest cheek may be whitened you begin to improve it by remembering your by sickness, and the glee of the gayest heart may Creator, for "the fear of the Lord is the beginning be choked by weeping over a parent's ashes. And of wisdom." yet these are not the things on which the fullgrown man looks back with most regret. He thinks of the precious days he has wasted, when he might have been learning useful lessons,—of the evil dispositions he has indulged till they have grown into habits of wickedness,-of the bad company he has kept, and the sins generally of which he has been guilty. If years have brought any wisdom with them, the remembrance of these things will fill us with sorrow, at the very time when, taking a fond view of the past, we feel, for a moment, the returning glow of that sprightliness with which we had sported in the sunny days of childhood. And how sad, after we have reached the serious duties of life, or begun, perhaps, to stoop under the burden of grey-headed age, must it be to think that we are unfitted for serving ourselves and others, through the idle neglect of our early years, and that we are shut out from the peace of religion because we had allowed our hearts to grow hard in the practice of evil. Oh, that I could only recal, a man in such circumstances will that I could recal the months I have missay, spent, those months of health and leisure which are now gone for ever. Then how diligent should I be in treasuring up the knowledge that it is now
And, my young friends, you cannot but know that God deserves to be remembered by you with love and gratitude. You know that every thing you have, and every thing you enjoy, has been given you by God. You know it is he who quick
with life, and blesses you with health, and teaches joy to beat unsought at your hearts; for active as you are, you must sicken and die, unless God were to uphold you. He has given you those minds by which you can gather knowledge, and those opportunities of gathering it with which you are favoured, for he who rears up the lilies of the field, and cares even for the sparrow that chirps on the house-top, has arranged all that concerns you. And you know, too, that it is God who has provided you with fathers to toil for your daily bread, while you cannot earn it for yourselves,-to train you for the active duties of life, and to secure you a Christian education, for the affections that warm a father's heart towards his children have been planted and been nourished there by the goodness of God. He it is, too, who has blessed you with mothers to watch over you with a care that none but a mother can feel, and a love that all your waywardness cannot destroy,-mothers, whose smiles are the reward of your good behav