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them, by that which he will do on their behalf. He had, in fact, "come down," to deliver them. In strictness of speech, neither "coming down," nor "going up," can be ascribed to God, for his presence fills the universe; but in condescension to our modes of apprehension, God is said to "come down," when he puts forth in the sight of men such striking manifestations of his power, either for mercy or for judgment, as shall form an unmistakeable token of his special presence. So now, he had "come down" to deliver his oppressed people out of the land of Egypt, where they were held in bondage, and to lead them "unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey." This was the land of Canaan, or Palestine, in which their fathers had in former days lived in tents, and fed their flocks. The meaning and fitness of this description of that land, will be separately stated further on. It was at this time in the occupation of the same tribes of Canaanites who held it in the time of the patriarchs. But the Lord, in most of his dealings with mankind, acts by agencies, the agencies of men fitted by Himself for the work which he gives them to do. So now, he had chosen Moses to act as His hand in the great work of delivering Israel. But Moses, after having so long led a quiet and happy life among these solitudes, shrunk from the task assigned to him, and felt oppressed by the sense of his insufficiency for the great and heavy duties this appointment involved. To these misgivings, "Certainly, I will be with thee," was the sufficient answer; for he with whom the Lord is, whose way the Lord prepares, is by that fact made equal to any duty and every suffering. Further to assure him, the Lord promised that the day was near when the people, then sighing in Egyptian bondage, should with him worship God in that very mountain.
thou say unto the children of Israel, JEHOVAH,* God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you." But first, in the 14th verse, the derivation of that great name is brought into view, in a sense the most apposite to the occasion, indicating that the immutability which it denotes, is now to be manifested in JEHOVAH'S fulfilment of his ancient promises to the patriarchs of the race. Moses is assured that, if he proceeds to Egypt, and, upon his arrival, assembles the elders of Israel, and opens to them his commission in the authority of that Great Name, they will receive him, and sanction the appeal to be made in behalf of the Israelites to the King of Egypt. It seems, from what subsequently transpires, (Exodus viii. 26,) that the ox, being an object of worship in that part of Egypt, they had been and were still prevented from offering it in sacrifice; and this part of their proper worship had therefore been neglected. Their demand was then in the first instance to be, that they might retire three days' journey into the wilderness, that they might there worship with appropriate sacrifices the God they served, without danger of molestation from the Egyptians.
Ver. 19-22. But that Moses may not be discouraged by the opposition he must encounter, he is warned that the King of Egypt, suspicious of their ulterior intention of withdrawing altogether, will not consent, until after many rigorous judgments had been wrought in the land. Then they would be allowed to depart; and they would not need to go forth empty-handed, but enriched with the wealth of Egypt; for their departure would take place under such circumstances of fear and terror to the Egyptians, that they would readily bestow whatever might be asked† of them, to hasten the departure of such dangerous guests. How exactly all this was accomplished is well known.
It is expedient that a just and proper apprehension of the immensity of the Godhead, so far as may consist with the shallowness of
Ver. 13-19. Moses, however, still hesitated. He supposed he should be strictly questioned by the elders of Israel as to the authority by which he acted. There were THE CHARACTER OF THE DIVINE "gods many, and lords many," worshipped by the nations,but which yet indeed were no gods: they would therefore require full assurance that the Being with whom he had held converse in the wilderness, was indeed the God of Israel,-the God of their fathers, and no other. He therefore ventured to ask, what name he should produce as that of the Being who had given this high com† Ask, or demand, is a more correct translation of the original Hebrew word than "borrow," which is mission to him. The answer is explicitly used in the Authorised Version, and which involves furnished in the 15th verse:-" Thus shalt | an injurious imputation upon the Israelites.
*When the word LORD is printed in small capitals in the Authorised Version, it is “JEHOVAH,” in the original Hebrew.
human capacity, be deeply impressed on our minds: without this, in fact, we shall worship a mere idol of our own imagination, instead of the true God. “When I awake," says the Psalmist, "I shall be satisfied with thy likeness." (Psalm xvii. 15.)
Behold, then, far from all idolatry, the likeness of the Divine Being: holy, indeed, and, agreeably to the nature of God, spiritual; which is nothing else but the most simple conception, the most abstract recognition of the Divine Majesty, which can be fastened on our minds: for no other thoughts should we ever entertain of God, than such as are essentially pure, and calculated continually to engage our admiration; such, in short, as befit so vast an amplitude of glory. And we should represent, not so much to our intellect, as to our faith, that Infinite Spirit, the God of Spirits; who is one in essence, yet distinct in three most glorious persons; pure action, spiritual light; the eternal principle of all existence; the incomprehensible Author of life and motion; the Almighty Creator and Governor of the universe; himself all that is powerful, all that is wise, all that is just, all that is good; nay, the very life and essence of all goodness, of all justice, of all wisdom, of all power: while we ascend from a distinct and vivid notion of the glorious humanity of our Divine Mediator, to a contemplation of that Infinite Godhead to which that most holy and sacred nature is united.
Unquestionably this is the very foundation of all true religion; and not so much the guide of our path, as the very eye by which we are directed, the very ground on which we tread, without which we may walk indeed, but it is in by-ways, not along the high road, with a phantom of our own, and not with God.
Indeed I confess my fears, lest, on this account, too many who suppose they have made no inconsiderable progress in the things of Christ, be found at last either to have stood still altogether, or at least to have deviated not a little from their course.
ness of my heart, as though I thought in my folly to shut up the Deity, immense and immeasurable as he is, within the limits of my own straitness; at another time, the inactivity and vacuity of my mind, and a gloomy incapacity for thought; at another, the darkness of ignorance; at another, the false light of a vain understanding, presenting me with thoughts of God as he is not. All these are liabilities, of which he, who desires to walk with God, must sedulously beware.
But if there be any one who hopes, by the light of his own understanding, to acquire the knowledge of these salutary truths, let him know that he is deceiving himself, and labouring but to his own destruction.
From heaven, from the Father of Lights, this Divine illumination is to be sought and expected. He who gives us feet that we may walk, must likewise give us eyes that we may see, however far and faintly, him that dwelleth in that light, which no mortal can approach unto. Without him, it is impossible for us to walk with him.-BP. HALL.
UNCOVERING THE FEET.
THE nations of the West uncover the head in token of reverence, civility, or respect; the nations of the East express the same sentiments by uncovering their feet. This is one of the most singular, of not merely the differences, but the contrarieties which exist between the usages of the Eastern and Western nations; and it is one for which it is most difficult to account. The difficulty is, however, not so much in accounting for the facts separately taken, as for the contrariety between them: for uncovering the feet is not in itself a stranger practice than uncovering the head, although to us the latter act seems less strange than the other from being more familiar; and to an Oriental, our own practice of removing the hat, is even more strange than theirs of casting off their shoes is to us.
It has been urged that the Eastern pracOne man in the world, at all events, I tice in this respect is accounted for, by the may make bold to accuse without scruple: difficulty and trouble the Oriental would find myself, myself, I discover to be miserably in continually deranging the numerous and unequal even to a suitable method of attain- complicated folds of the turban, which he finds ing this apprehension, and fearfully liable to requisite to protect his head from the sun's mistake my way; experiencing equal diffi- heat, while to throw off the slippers which he culty, whether I endeavour to bring the wears down at the heels, or rather without thoughts of my mind into a right posture, heels, is a comparatively easy matter. Then, or, if I have so brought them, to keep them on the other hand, the European can easily firm and fast to their position. At one take off his loose hat or cap, whereas it would time I am constrained to lament the narrow-be troublesome to withdraw their feet from
their close-fitting boots. But it is forgotten that the usages create the habits of dress, and not the dress the usages. The Oriental folds his turban elaborately, because he has not to remove it; the Occidental wears a light and moveable hat, because custom exacts that it should be frequently taken off. So the Oriental wears loose slippers, because he must frequently uncover his feet, whereas the Occidental fixes his boot tightly, because custom does not exact this duty from him.
Others have pointed to climate, as the cause of the difference. But there is less in this than might at first view be supposed. The head and the feet will respectively accommodate themselves to any climate. The densely-folded turban is not universal through the East. Among many Eastern nations the head-covering is as light and moveable as our own; and there are some, even under a tropical sun, in which the people go without any headcovering at all. This was also the practice among the ancient nations of Europe, including our own forefathers. And the influence of custom, in this respect, is shown by the fact, that at this day, the numerous boys belonging to Christ's Hospital, in London, go about in the severest weather without any covering on their heads.
And so of the feet. It is true indeed that none of the Orientals go closely shod, unless upon a journey; or, at least, they have the outer clothing of the feet loose, if the inner is confined. There is the sole exception of the soldiery in Turkey, Egypt, and Persia; and, in some measure, of the civil functionaries in the two former countries. But this is an innovation, borrowed from Europe. And as they have not adopted the correlative custom of uncovering the head, they find themselves in a position adverse to the rules of both Asiatic and European etiquette; for they uncover neither the head nor the feet. On the other hand, all Europeans do not go about closely shod. The common people, in many parts of Europe, wear shoes which might be as easily cast off as the slippers or shoes of the East; and many habitually go barefoot as well in its ungenial as its genial climates; as well in the north of Scotland and Ireland, as in Naples, Sicily, and Malta.
casting off their wrappers, so as to leave the upper part of the person naked. But where dress is not of this primitive style, the parts most easily uncovered are the extremities,— the head and the feet,—whence, we suppose, arise the customs which engage our notice.
As the foundation of all these practices is that of uncovering some part of the person; and as the choice of the part to be uncovered is not determined by climate; the only question is, what suggested to the Orientals the uncovering of the feet, instead of the head, as in the West? For this we are unable to discover any better reason than this:—that in the East men adopted coverings for the feet long before coverings for the head were in use; and if, therefore, they were to uncover in token of respect, it must be by putting off their shoes, as the head was always uncovered. It is true that in general the Eastern nations now cover the head; but we know that customs continue to exist long after the circumstances in which they originated have ceased. It is certain that in these nations at least in the nations with which we are concernedthe feet were generally covered, and the head uncovered, through all the long period which the Bible history embraces. We read in Scripture of "shoes" or "sandals" very often, first in the time of Abraham, (Genesis xiv. 23,) but rarely of coverings for the head; and in these rare instances, only in regard to the head-coverings of kings, priests, and soldiers;—and the use of head-coverings, even by these, seems to have been occasional, rather than constant; that is, on occasions of state, and when on actual service: This, in fact, was the general usage of Western Asia, as attested by the sculptured remains of Assyria, Persia, and Egypt, and—which is of more immediate importance-in the Egyptian representations of persons belonging to the Syrian nations, in all of which-with the class exceptions already indicated-the feet of the people are generally covered, and their heads generally bare.
The difference of the modern European custom in this respect, would by parity of reasoning suggest, that the nations which now remove the head-covering in token of respect, sought protection for their heads sooner than Notwithstanding the discrepancy between for their feet: but with respect to the earlier these customs, there is a leading idea common usages of the nations which now lead the to both. This is, of uncovering, as a mark of civilization of the world, but were in times respect. This is a very general, if not uni- really ancient still in a barbarous state, there versal, idea. We have read of savage, or is no information that enables us to determine semi-savage nations, in which the people show this question. The earliest representations their respect in the presence of a superior, by of individuals belonging to any of those
nations, are in the figures of Gauls on Roman monuments, considerably posterior to the time of our Lord. Most of these figures wear a close shoe or low boot, not at all suited for removal, being indeed fastened to the leg a little above the instep; and some of them wear a kind of cap like a Phrygian bonnet,* very easily to be removed. All we can infer, therefore, is, that if these nations had in those early times any custom of uncovering in salutation, it could only have been by uncovering the head.
It only remains to state, that existing usages in respect of uncovering the feet, are in the most exact conformity with those indicated in Scripture. No native Christian will enter his church, no Mohammedan his mosque, no Pagan his temple, without taking off his shoes or sandals. To enter without doing this, would be regarded as an outrageous profanation. In visiting, it is also usual to slip off the sandals on entering the room, leaving them outside the door, where they remain, or are taken inside by a servant, who promptly produces them when the visitor withdraws. Nothing could be a greater affront than for one to enter a room with the feet undivested of (at least their outer) covering; and if a European should, according to the custom of his own country, happen to do so, as is sometimes the case, he is regarded with disgust and aversion. Aware of this feeling in the natives, Europeans travelling in the East are often deterred from calling upon native gentlemen, between the unwillingness to seem rude, and the dislike to remove feet-coverings unsuited to such a custom. Resident Europeans manage better, either by defying the custom, or by conforming to it. However, as an Oriental in visiting a European removes his shoes and not his head-dress, according to his own customs, he may seem to have no just cause to complain, if the latter, in visiting him, removes his hat rather than his boots, according to the custom of the West. Perhaps he might think so himself, were it not that his floors are covered with costly carpets, on which he sits, and from which he eats; and which are therefore ill-suited to be trodden upon by unclean boots from the streets.
Joshua before Jericho, like Moses at the bush, was commanded to remove the sandals from his feet in the presence of the Lord. Joshua v. 15.
The sandals of the ancients seem to have been removed with less ease than the shoes * Like "the cap of liberty," as it is called.
and slippers of the modern Orientals. Hence they were usually unfastened by a servant; whence the performance of this menial office supplied a proverbial phrase for the designation of servitude,—as when John the Baptist indicates our Lord as one "whose shoe-latchet" (or sandal thong) "he was not worthy to stoop down and unloose." Mark i. 7; Luke iii. 16; John i. 27; Acts xiii. 25.
"A GOOD LAND."
MOSES* and the other sacred writers frequently describe the land of Canaan as a good land,” “a land flowing with milk and honey."
The latter description indicates, first, in the milk," a country of rich pastures, and therefore favourable to the rearing of cattle, whence "milk” would be so abundantly produced, that the land might, by a very expressive poetical hyperbole, be described as "flowing" with it.
The same richness of vegetation is expressed by the mention of "honey;" for the producers of honey draw their nutriment from flowers; and where flowers are scanty, bees are not. But the abundance of bees, in that of the honey they produced, is constantly manifested in Scripture. We, who make but little use of honey, are apt to under-rate the importance of this indication. But this will be at once recognized when it is remembered that the Israelites had no sugar; and that consequently, although fond of sweet things, as the Orientals always are, honey had to be employed by them for all sweetening purposes,-being in fact their sugar.
In what other respects Canaan was "a good land," is more fully shown by Moses not long before his death:-" The Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig-trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack anything in it." Deut. x. 7-9.
Now it remarkably happens that the enemies of Revelation have drawn arguments from the present neglected state of some parts of the country, to invalidate the statements of the sacred historians, who represent it as one of the most fertile and delightful spots on the face of the earth. In this they
See the first article.
have not only altogether failed, but have un-speaking of the appearance of the country wittingly been the cause of producing much between Shechem and Jerusalem, says:—“ À confirmation, and illustration of the sacred records in this respect; for scholars have thus been led to gather up the corroborative testimonies of ancient heathen writers; and travellers having been induced narrowly to observe the existing state of the country, have found traces in what it is, of what it once was, and is still capable of becoming. The land has suffered under the blighting dominion of Saracens, Turks, and Egyptians, and thus the population having become scanty, agriculture has been neglected, and an air of comparative desolation has crept over its once luxuriant hills and dales, although the traces of its former condition are far from being wholly obliterated.
sight of this territory alone, can convey an
These are glowing words, and would furnish a considerably exaggerated statement as applied to the country at large. But it is strictly correct in regard to the district
We shall produce the testimonies of some observant travellers, in corroboration of this statement,—being only a few of the number who have borne witness to the same effect. The Chevalier D'Arvieux, travelling through he describes, especially in the parts nearest the land under peculiarly advantageous cir- Shechem; and it is fair to take this as a cumstances, towards the close of the seven-specimen of what the land was once, and teenth century, says, in one place:-"We left the road to avoid the Arabs, whom it was always disagreeable to meet with, and reached by a side path the summit of a mountain, where we found a beautiful plain. It must be confessed, that if one could live secure in this country, it would be the most agreeable residence in the world, partly on account of the pleasing diversity of mountains and valleys; partly on account of the salubrious air which we breathe there, and which is at all times filled with balsamic odours from the wild-flowers of these valleys, [hence the bees and the honey,] and from the aromatic herbs of the hills. Most of the mountains are dry and arid, and exhibit more rock than mould adapted to cultivation; but the industry of the old inhabitants had triumphed over this defect of the soil. They had hewn the rocky hills from the foot to the summit into terraces; to them they carried mould from below, as on the coast of Genoa,* and then planted on them the fig, olive, and vine, and raised corn and all kinds of pulse, which, favoured by the usual spring and autumnal rains, by the dews which never fail, by the warmth of the sun, and the general mildness of the climate, produced the finest fruit, and most excellent corn in the world."
Our own traveller, Dr. E. D. Clarke, * It is also the custom in many other places, and is common in the Lebanon mountains, which, in many parts are extensively laid out in such terraces.
might yet become. In fact, the hilly district around Shechem (now Nabulus) is perhaps the best cultivated portion of Palestine, though considerably inferior in natural fertility to some of the plains that lie towards the Mediterranean Sea. It is this which renders it a fit average specimen of what the whole land must have been when fully cultivated by an abundant and active population. In a matter like this, the opinion of a practical agriculturist would seem of more value than any other that could be obtained. We happen to possess this in the testimony of Mr. Lowthian, a gentleman farmer, from the north of England, who, under some peculiar religious impressions, proceeded to Palestine, with the view of renting a farm, cultivating it after the English fashion, and teaching the natives to do the same. His experience was, that there was a deficiency of seasonable rain, which rendered cultivation precarious, and high cultivation impracticable. Looking into the Bible, he found, that in Deuteronomy xi. 13—15, the rain in its due season—that the Israelites might have their corn and their wine, and their oil, and that there might be grass in their fields for their cattle-was promised solely on the condition of their obedience to the laws of God. Accordingly, we read in Jeremiah iii. 3, and v. 24, 25, that because of their disobedience "the showers have been withholden, and there