صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني
[merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][graphic]

TABOR.

(Tabor.)

TABOR is a conical mountain in Palestine, situated not far from Kadesh, in the tribe of Zebulun, and on the confines of those of Issachar and Nephtali. It rises in the midst of an extensive plain country, called the plain of Esdraelon, at about two hours' distance from Nazareth.

Mr. Maundrell, speaking of Mount Tabor, says: "After a very laborious ascent, which occupied us near an hour, we reached the highest part of the mountain. It has a plain area at top, most fertile and delicious, of an oval figure, extending about one furlong in breadth and two in length. This area is enclosed with trees on

VOL. XXV.

all sides, except towards the south, and contains several cisterns of good water." According to Dr. Richardson, there are on the eastern side masses of ruins, seemingly the vestiges of churches, grottoes, and strong walls; all decidedly of some antiquity, and a few appearing to be the works of a very remote age.

The prospects from this mountain are singularly delightful and extensive. On the northwest you discern at a distance the Mediterranean Sea; and all around you have the plains of Esdraelon and Galilee, which present you with a view of so many places memorable for the resort and for the miracles of the Son of God. At the foot of the mountain westward stands Daberah, a

X

small village, supposed to have derived its name from Deborah, the famous judge and deliverer of Israel. Near this valley is the brook Kishon. Not many leagues distant eastward, Mount Hermon rises to view, at the foot of which is seated the city of Nain, memorable as the place where Jesus raised to life the widow's son (Luke vii. 14); and also Endor, where Saul, the first king of the Israelites, consulted the witch. Turning a little southward you have in view the mountains of Gilboa, fatal to Saul and his sons. Due east you discover the sea of Tiberias, at the distance of about a day's journey; and close by the sea they show a mountain down which the swine ran and perished in the waters (Matt. viii. 32).

On the eastern side of Tabor there is a small height, which by ancient tradition is supposed to have been the scene of our Lord's transfiguration (Matt. xvii. 1-8; Mark ix. 2-9). No place, indeed, is specified by the evangelists: the arguments, therefore, for Tabor's being the particular mountain cannot be regarded as conclusive; but there is no improbability in the supposition.

During the greater part of the summer Tabor is covered in the morning with thick clouds, which disperse towards mid-day.

THE PRAYER OF DANIEL:
A Sermon,

BY THE REV. HENRY S. RICHMOND, M.A.,

Chaplain to the Bath Union.

DANIEL VI. 10, 11. "Now, when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and, his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. Then these men assembled, and found

Daniel praying and making supplication before his God."

[ocr errors]

GOD, in his holy word, has instructed us "in divers manners." One manner is by doctrine: another is by precepts; and another is by examples-by setting before us brief histories and characters of saints to whom the holy truths and the holy precepts of God were precious; who kept them in their hearts, and set them forth in their lives. In the New Testament our great example is the Lord Jesus; the all-perfect man; the divine, yet human, pattern, who "loved righteousness and hated iniquity;" in whose heart was the whole law of God, and in whose life it was all fulfilled. To this example of perfectness, the contemplation of God's people was, by anticipation, called, even in the Old Testament, before the actual incarnation of the Son of God: "Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth!" But, besides this pattern of perfect holiness which all his servants do behold,

and love, and follow, but which in the present life none can attain to, God has instructed and guided us by inferior examples, by instances of righteousness and degrees of actual holiness to which sinful men have, through his effectual grace, attained, and of which we should not be satisfied to come short.

[ocr errors]

In the epistle to the Hebrews the apostle has set before us, by name, an array of elders "of whom the world," in which they lived, and suffered, and did God's will," was not worthy;" of men who by faith obtained a good report, and pleased God, and, being dead, yet speak to us. In that list of examples, Daniel is not mentioned expressly; but we have an allusion to him there as a prophet" who through faith..stopped the mouths of lions" (Heb. xi. 33); and of his name distinguished mention is made by God in another place (Ezek. xiv. 13-20), where it is declared that, if any three men together could have availed to "deliver, by their righte ousness," a guilty land from judgments and desolation, those three would have been Noah, Daniel, and Job. We may say, therefore, that the example of Daniel, above that of almost all other of the ancient saints, is set before us for notice and imitation. Sins and follies into which they fell, we read of in the history of most of the other saints. These are recorded, not for our imitation, and not to make us think lightly of sin, but for our warning, that in these respects we may not do as they did; may be reminded of their frailty, and of our danger; and may the more earnestly watch and pray lest we enter into like temptation and fall into like transgression. Such sins of God's eminent servants are also graciously recorded for the encouragement of every penitent and mourning sinner, that in them he may see "patterns of mercy," as well as examples of righteousness. Noah, the "preacher of righteousness," fell into fleshly sin. Job, the "perfect man," rebelled in spirit and in speech against the rod of affliction with which the Lord visited him. Abraham, "the father of the faithful,” told a lie. "Just Lot, whose righteous soul was vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked," was himself overtaken in filthy sin. "Moses, the man of God," "spake unadvisidly with his lips." David, the "man after God's own heart," fell from the path of righteousness into awful sin. Jeremiah, to whom the Lord had even said, "Before thou camest out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee to be a prophet unto the nations," in a fit of foolish and sinful impatience cursed the day wherein he was born to see labour and sorrow" in the blessed

[ocr errors]

service he fulfilled. But we read of no fault, no sinful act of folly, in all that is told us of Daniel. In a wonderful manner" integrity and uprightness preserved him." Envy and malice, watching for his halting, making it their daily object to pick some hole in his character, and snatch some accusation against him, could find nothing to lay hold of (v. 4). See what testimony his enemies reluctantly bore to his integrity and blamelessness: "Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God" (v. 5). Faithfulness to God, and rejection of the false gods which the Babylonians worshipped, that was the only fault which they could lay to his charge, with all their vigilance and all their spite.

in the highest degree in which morality and virtue have ever been displayed by men, but he was a man of spiritual godliness. And very wide is the difference, much wider and deeper than many think, between moral virtue and true living godliness. Daniel, without the spiritual grace of God, might have been an amiable, benevolent, and upright man, faithful and valuable to his masters, the kings of Babylon; but, without God's special grace, Daniel could not have been what Daniel was, any more than Paul would have been what he became by grace. There was spiritual life in his soul: there was a fervent love of God, and of holiness for God's sake, in his heart. He set the Lord always before him; and whatsoever he did, he did it to the glory of God. And, although it is probable that he was, naturally, of amiable, honest, and upright disposition, it was not by nature that he did that.

Are we, then, to think that Daniel was a sinless man towards God? Most surely not. "There is none righteous; no, not one;" and, tried by the law of God, Daniel was not My brethren, this is a truth which, as righteous, and could not have been justified" preachers of righteousness," we have the by his works. Assuredly, confession of sin greatest occasion to set forth in the plainest entered into his daily prayers; and he found, and strongest manner, that, without the reas he searched his own heart, reason to cry, generating, sanctifying, and saving grace of "God be merciful to me a sinner." Sinless God, you may be amiable in your disposition perfection is on earth the desire and the aim and conduct, respected, and honoured as of all saints, but not the attainment of any. useful members of society, dear, and justly The souls of the regenerate hunger and thirst dear, to your neighbours, to those who enjoy after it now, while burdened with bondage of your friendship, or to those who receive your corruption; and, what they so hunger and aid (all this, with or without the form of relifollow after here, they shall be "satisfied" gion), but that you cannot, because you are with in the life to come. For that glorious such, conclude that the life of God is in your state of perfected holiness Daniel was looking souls. Before you can be sure of this, you and waiting. To him bright visions of it must examine and search yourselves inwere vouchsafed, even such as were given in wardly; you must bring the touchstone to after times to St. John. He foresaw the re- your hearts; you must try the principles surrection of the saints in the likeness of which dwell, and the motives that are acting Christ, when (said he, by the Spirit of pro- there; and see that they are more than natuphecy)" of them that sleep in the dust of ral and earthly, that they are indeed the earth, many shall awake; some to everlasting fruits of the Spirit, the principles of faith, life....And they that be wise shall shine as and the motives of love towards God. You the brightness of the firmament, and they must know what Jesus meant by those words that turn many to righteousness as the stars of his, "Without me ye can do nothing;" for ever and ever" (xii. 2, 3); and to him it and you must see that, under the deep and was said expressly: "Go thy way, Daniel; humbling conviction of this truth, you are for the words are closed up and sealed till the seeking from Christ that needful strength time of the end. Many shall be purified, and by which all things may be done (Phil. iv. made white, and tried .... But go thou thy 13). You must "come to the light," and try way till the end be; for thou shalt rest, and your deeds by that, that "it may be made stand in thy lot at the end of the days" (xii. manifest that they are wrought in God" 9-13). This was a prediction of the resur- (John iii. 21). Otherwise, there will be no rection of the body to eternal life, and of life in your virtue, no charity in your beneholiness perfected in soul and body united; ficence (1 Cor. xiii. 3), no power in your and that Daniel should attain to that bles-form of godliness: your best works will be

sedness.

When we contemplate the character of Daniel, one thing to be remembered is, that by the grace of God he was what he was. He was not only a moral and virtuous man,

but dead works: all will be deceitful, like glittering metal and stones, which the unpractised eye looks on as precious gold and jewels; and like fruit which on the outside seems fair and good, but when opened is

found rotten at the core; and like pleasant | earthly enemy, have been such as Satan by all pictures of living things, which only the imagination of admiring beholders inspires with the breath of life.

his agents could not daunt. They have not feared to face and resist him in his fiercest attacks, when the weapons of their warfare have been only spiritual, and his have been not only spiritual, but carnal-such as fire and sword. Cowards by nature, they have become through grace bold confessors of the faith, and patient martyrs of God. They would have made poor soldiers in a worldly army, with bodily weapons of attack or defence; but they have been resolute followers of him "who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession," good soldiers of Jesus Christ.

But,

The chief points which we see in the religious character and conduct of Daniel, and in which he is a pattern to us, are his courage and consistency. He illustrates the meaning of those words of scripture, "the righteous is bold as a lion." He had no hesitation as to how he should act when his choice lay between suffering and danger on the one hand, and idolatry and sin on the other. See in him the wide difference between godly fear, and natural cowardice or terror. Godly fear was the very thing which It was the grace of God, whether made Daniel brave and fearless. The true fear with or without natural courage, which of God--that fear which his children have made Daniel resist and overcome in the and cherish in their hearts, and which is so way in which he did; not on carnal prinunlike the dread of God which his enemies ciples, not through merely natural feelings have is another name for the love of God. and natural strength of mind, but through This fear, this love, dismissed all other fear faith and love towards his God. It was this from Daniel's soul. He did not fear Darius, which made danger a trifle, which made sufnor the bitter enemies who sought to kill his fering welcome, and which took away the body, nor the lions' den. Strong in faith, sting from death. Therefore nothing could he knew that the God of all power, whom he move him from his consistency and perseveserved, could preserve him from the devour-rance in the confession of his faith. ing beasts, if he pleased; and, if God should" when he knew that the writing was signed," not please to do this, still he had no fear of when worldly wisdom would have suggested them who after they had killed his body another course-a concealment, at least, of had no more that they could do. He his private prayers-he disdained all com. was willing, for righteousness' sake, to be promise with danger and idolatry: he detertorn in pieces of lions; but he was not wil- mined to show that a servant of God was not ling, for the saving of his life, to commit one to be turned from the way of righteousnes deliberate sin. In this he was of the same at the bidding of the servants of sin: "He heart and mind as those other blessed men, went into his house; and, his windows being the friends and companions of his youth, open in his chamber towards Jerusalem, he with whom in the land of captivity and ido- knceled upon his knees three times a day, latry he took sweet counsel concerning the and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, things of God-Shadrach, Meshach, and as he did aforetime." He did not do this for Abed-nego; who "answered and said to the the sake of display, nor for the purpose of king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful rushing into danger, uselessly and rashly; to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, but, as he had been accustomed to pray daily our God whom we serve is able to deliver us with "his windows open towards Jerusalem" from the burning fiery furnace, and he will (the holy city, which he always remembered deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But and pleaded for in his prayers), he would not if not, be it known to thee, O king, that we be so far moved from his stated practice as will not serve thy gods, nor worship the even to close his windows when he knew that golden image which thou hast set up." We there were listeners and spies watching to acdo not know that Daniel was naturally a cuse him of having transgressed the king's courageous man. He may have been; and decree, and incurred the penalty of death, by if so, his natural character combined with making prayer to his God. None of these his fear and love of God in making him things could alter his conduct, or disturb the dauntless of the lion's den. But without communion of his soul with God. that, the grace of God was for him sufficient, that "strength which is perfected in weak

ness.

[ocr errors]

Many of the saints of God who have been naturally timid men, inclined to shrink from all danger and suffering, and who would have trembled in an earthly cause, before an

Surely, if there is one situation more than another in which it is difficult to hold peaceful communion with God, to worship him in spirit and in truth, to pray with the heart fixed, and the mind withdrawn from surrounding distracting circumstances, it is where we know and feel ourselves to be

which makes the cross of Christ not only bearable but sweet, and reproach for his name's sake welcome; that same grace from God, renewed and multiplied according to their necessity, would carry them through fire and sword and a martyr's death. "This is the victory which overcometh" all these things, "even our faith." "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ overcometh the world," whatever be the manner and degree of opposition which the world gives. A true and clear sight of Jesus Christ is more powerful than all, if only we can see, by faith, Christ crucified for sin; Christ as the propitiation for our own sins; Christ as the Lord our righteousness; Christ as ours, because by his Spirit he has brought us into union and communion with himself; Christ engaged by promise to be with us in the day of trial and the hour of death, and to give us the crown of righteousness when death is passed. The suffering believer hears Jesus say, "Be thou faithful unto death; and I will give thee the crown." The heart of the believer answers: Lord, make me, keep me faithful; grant me, according to thy promise, strength to persevere; and I will follow thee through all trial, unto death."

66

watched by the eyes and ears of scoffers, who hate personal religion, and ridicule prayer and what they think overmuch righteousness. But Daniel's soul was able resolutely and devoutly to meet such circumstances, and to rise above them; so courageous, so consistent, so calm was he in the service of God, through the grace which was given to him. We too, my brethren, who follow Christ, are called to be decided, consistent, and bold -consistent from day to day in the profession and practice of our faith, and bold whenever consistency of Christian conduct would bring us into danger and suffering. We do not live here in times of persecution, when Christian men are called to show that "they love not their lives to the death" for the testimony of Jesus. If we did, O how many, who now, while custom and worldly interest are on the side of such profession, continue to profess and call themselves Christians and protestants, would show openly (what now by the course of their lives they do show plainly) that their profession is but a name, that their hearts are given to the world, and that to save their lives they would be willing to sacrifice their confession of the true faith! Dear brethren, because we are not by external circumstances forced into such trial of Another instructive point to be noticed in our sincerity as that which Daniel endured, the history of Daniel is this: how the grace therefore we should the more earnestly ex- of God is able to preserve a man, as it did amine ourselves whether we be in the faith. him, in the midst of earthly prosperity and Let us inquire, and settle it in our hearts, power, from the manifold snares which surwhether we should be willing to endure per-round them. He had long been loaded, not by secution and distress, and even death, for the name of Jesus; whether we are willing to incur whatever disadvantages, inconveniencies, and troubles do at times lie in the path that we must walk in to follow Christ. Very many in former times have in this our land been followers of Daniel, by similar faith and patience, through trials like his, through martyrdom and death, into the rest of faithful departed souls. Very many are now, through less, yet through similar, endurance of trial and difficulty, experiencing the truth of those words: "We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." And all sincere followers of the Lamb of God would-and their hearts [tell them that, through grace, they would-be able and willing to endure the greatest suffering, and, if need were, to lay down their lives, rather than sin against God and deny their Redeemer. The grace, which now does enable them to overcome the world, to renounce its pomps and vanities, and turn away with abhorrence from the pleasures of sin; the grace, which is giving them courage to disregard the opposition and ridicule of ungodly men, of kindred or neighbours, and

his own seeking, with honours in the kingdom and court of the Babylonian kings (See chap. v. 29; vi. 2, 3). It was this that excited against him the envy and hatred of "the presidents and princes"-that this Jew, this worshipper of the God of Israel, should have been advanced to such honours over their heads. Daniel had every temptation to worldliness and pride: he was surrounded by whatever could most endanger spirituality of mind, and tend to make him forgetful of God, and satisfied with things temporal. Yet, amidst all, he walked with God. When riches and honours increased, he did not set his heart upon them. He used them, as far as he could, in the service of God. example and his influence were all the while promoting righteousness, and protesting against sin. Amidst all, he had the spirit that Moses had in Egypt: he esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures of Babylon. His time was necessarily much occupied with affairs of state: he discharged with diligence, as every godly man will, the duties which he had undertaken and which his station laid upon him; but his soul was above all these perishing

« السابقةمتابعة »