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like manner, when the preacher warns his people to fly from the wrath to come, too many look on his warnings and invitations as so many words of course, which it is his business to utter from the pulpit, but which there is no need to carry into practice. It is quite right, they say and think, to come to the sermon, and to listen to it but, as to doing what it says, such a thought never comes into their heads. Be not, I beseech you, brethren, like such vain foolish people. The message which I bring to you is from God. It is he who sends you merciful invitations to repentance, that you may be saved from the ruin of a wicked world. It is he who will bring to pass the threatenings of his word against all manner of unrighteousness and ungodliness and sin.
THE BEST CHRISTIAN, THE BEST PATRIOT.
1 SAMUEL ii. 30.
Them that honour me I will honour; and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
I AM going to speak to you about the historical books of the Old Testament. By the historical books I mean the book of Joshua, the book of Judges, the two books of Samuel, the books of Kings and of Chronicles, in a word, all those parts of the Old Testament which contain the history of the children of Israel, and relate their dealings and goings on, from the time of Joshua, when they first crossed the river Jordan to conquer and take possession of the land of Canaan, down to the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, when Jerusalem was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, and the Jewish people were
carried away captive far from their native land. These are the chief historical books of the Old Testament: out of them the lessons are taken for thirteen Sundays together, that is, for a quarter of the year. Now what do we learn from the book of God during this quarter of a year? Why has our Church appointed the fourth part of every year for the reading of chapters from these historical books? What are the chief truths which the great body of Christians are to gather from them? For it must be clear to every one, that these chapters would not be read to you over and over again, year after year, unless the Church had hoped that the hearing them would in some way make you better. Moreover it must be clear to you, that a mere knowledge of the names and facts set down in these historical books can do you no good whatever. That Jehu was the captain who conspired against his master,—that Joram was king of Israel, and Ahaziah king of Judah,that the prophet Elisha's servant was called Gehazi,-what can it profit a man to know? Facts of this kind are like the beard of the barley: they are the part which comes first in sight, but yield no nourishment. If a person learnt nothing from Scripture, but a list of names and facts,-such as that Samson was the strongest man, and that Solomon was the wisest,-he would not be a jot the
better for his knowledge.
Knowledge of this
sort may puff a man up with a vain conceit of his learning and cleverness; but most assuredly it cannot edify. One little verse from the Sermon on the Mount would be worth it all.
The lessons we are to draw from the histories of the Old Testament are not of names and facts, but of laws and principles. We are to look on those histories as shewing us the wires and springs by which God governs the world. That he does govern the world, that all the nations of the earth are subject to him, and that he allots prosperity to this nation, and calamity to that nation, as seems best to him, we know. But in most cases we cannot make out the hows and the wherefores of his dealings with them. We see that one nation is raised, and another lowered: but the reasons of God's ordinances, and the way in which he brings his will to pass, are mostly hidden from us. So that the history of most countries may be likened to a great clock: we see the hands move, and hear the hours strike; but we cannot see and examine the works by which the hands are set in motion, and the hours are made to strike. With the history of the Jews however it is otherwise. In their case God has lifted up the veil, which mostly covers his dealings with mankind he has shewn us the inside of the clock,
and given us the means of observing how the wheels and pullies act upon the hands. In other words, he has set before us in the Bible, how entirely the welfare of a nation depends upon the piety and true religion of the people. There is no truth appertaining to what is called political wisdom, so useful, so important, so indispensable to be known and kept in mind. In the history of the Jewish people, we see this truth set forth not once and again, but in every page. The sun does not ripen the wheat more regularly, or more constantly, than God's favour attends the Jews and prospers them, when they are stedfast to walk in his paths. Nor are weeds of all kinds more certain to spring up in a neglected piece of ground, than God's judgements to fall on the children of Israel, whenever their hearts are set on evil.
I was comparing the world and its goings on to a clock. If a savage were to see a clock, and were not to be told that there are works which make it go, he would probably fancy it a live creature, or at any rate that the hands went of themselves. But after being shewn the works of any one clock, after some person had explained to him the uses of the wheels, and the pendulum, and the other parts, he would have no difficulty in making out that other clocks move on somewhat