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senger were sent to whisper, "This year thou shalt die,"-how would the aspect of the day be changed to many! Yet the decree has gone forth, and before the close of the year 1842, in all probability, more than thirty millions will have seen their last new year's day!
My dear young friends! what would that message be to you? Is it supposing too much to say that it is possible, that some of you may be numbered among those millions? Oh! that message! "This year thou shalt die!" THOU, who hast never given the concerns of thy soul one serious thought; hast never put up one heartfelt prayer; hast luxuriated in earth's vanities, as though the present life were an eternity, and the future a fiction! "Oh that thou wouldst consider, even THOU, the things that belong to thy peace, before they are hid from thy eyes!
This paper would be lengthened beyond prescribed limits were I to sketch the various characters who may be classed under one fearful denomination,-"Those that forget God!" and who, dying in that state, must perish eternally; though the unawakened conscience might know no fear, and mis-judging friends might whisper peace!
The Word of Truth speaks but of two descriptions of characters, the believer and the unbeliever; the regenerate and the unregenerate; the pardoned and the unpardoned. My reader, to which do you belong? Let conscience answer as before God. Does the message speak to you of heaven, or of hell? Let me entreat you, you who are conscious—that hitherto all that is vitally important, has been neglected-to set apart some portion of this first day of another year, for solemn meditation and prayer-prayer that it may prove to you, indeed a beginning of days.
And you, who with enlightened consciences are procrastinating, playing with convictions, hoping that some day you will be remembered with the Lord's family, and yet not praying, or at least, not praying with that importunity to which the blessing is promised; (Luke xii. 5—10,) how long will you halt between two opinions.. Answer faithfully one question, Would you continue your present course of conduct, if you knew that this year you should die? This honestly answered, would shew you the fallacy of your present excuses; would make it manifest that, instead of the smooth sounding phrase so often heard, "I would go to Jesus if I could,"
the real feeling of your heart is, "There is plenty of time, I need not go yet; to-morrow I will seek the blessing!" The day will come, which, for you will have no morrow!
There is all willingness in though it be after years of
One word more before I leave you. Jesus to receive the returning sinner, procrastination; all forgiveness is with Him: "His blood cleanseth from all sin." There is all power in Him to subdue, to melt, to humble. He does not bid you wait until you are penitent, but he bids you come-come as you are. He is exalted to give you repentance, and he has said,-"Him that cometh I will in no wise cast out."
I rejoice in the thought, that to many, this message which we have been considering would be the most joyous that they could receive. I would not damp their joy for one moment, nor persuade them to check the triumphant thought." It may be that I am at this moment on the threshold of eternity, and may soon be with Jesus!" Yet I would not forget that they need the word of exhortation,-"This year thou shalt die." Is all done that you would I wish to have done when the last moment comes! Are you occupying that spot in the vineyard which your Lord has given you to cultivate, well working the ground. There is work to be done for Jesus on earth, for which heaven will afford no opportunity. There are his own to be gathered in; there are his sick and his poor to be comforted. Oh let this year be one of more faithful, more unreserved employment of time and talents for Him, who keeps back nothing from you. Work whilst it is called to-day, for this year thou mayst die!
REVELATION AND TRADITION.
Being the substance of a Lecture delivered before the " Young Men's Society," at Chatham, by the Editor.
[IN the present day, when literary and scientific pursuits are followed with so much ardour and success, it becomes especially necessary to give a sound Scriptural bearing to the studies of young people. It is no less lamentable than true, that, in the majority of instances, the Great Author of all wisdom is kept out of sight in the exercises of the lectureroom; or at all events is not fully exhibited in the light of his revealed word. It has therefore been thought desirable to give in this Magazine, the substance of a series of lectures on various subjects, in which the
paramount importance of the Bible is asserted. These lectures, on their original delivery, were illustrated by a variety of curious drawings and diagrams which it would be impossible to introduce into this work: any direct reference to them will consequently be avoided.]
We are apt to form very inadequate ideas of the universe, both as regards its extent and its duration; and when more enlarged views are advocated, are often asked how far we are able to reconcile them with the statements of Holy Writ. In my own mind, no difficulty whatever exists upon this point, nor need it obtain in the minds of any who are disposed to forego what is usually termed the popular interpretation of Scripture. To those who have considered the subject, it must be evident that this "popular interpretation" may be anything or nothing, varying as knowledge varies, and prejudices are overcome. We have, therefore, only to do with the strict, literal, critical meaning of the Bible itself, and viewed in this light, it contains no statements that oblige us to limit the existence of the universe to five or six thousand years. Notwithstanding all the contention and learned quibbles which have taken place upon this subject, "the beginning" is the only starting-point recognized in the word of God, and this may with equal propriety be referred back to five millions, as to five thousand years.
Geology assures us that the globe upon which we dwell has been tenanted by successive races of animals, altogether unlike those which we now find in its waters, or on its surface; and gives colour and countenance, to say the least, to those theories which assign to it a superlative antiquity.
Collateral with this period, but reaching nearer to our own times, is the era illustrated by tradition, which may be sub-divided into two periods,―
1. The pre-Adamite, or that which has reference to events supposed to have occurred before man was placed upon the earth, and
2. The mythic or traditional, commonly so called.
I have principally to do with the last of these to-night, in shewing that the mythology of heathen nations is only a refraction—a broken and disjointed shadow-of the events of sacred history.
I. But the first of these periods, or that which relates to events prior to the creation of Adam, deserves considerable notice; and is especially curious, as shewing that all the modern discoveries in the sister sciences of astronomy and geology, startling as they may appear to some, are by no means so novel as is usually supposed.
Three distinct facts are recognized in the traditions of almost all heathen nations.
1. The protracted duration of the earth, far beyond a period of six
2. Its frequent destructions and renewals, and
3. Its successive occupancy by various orders of beings.
-So that tradition is decidedly in favour of the views of modern science, and has anticipated its discoveries.
A few proofs under each of the heads may be advanced.
The Hindoos assigned an extremely protracted duration to the earth, speaking of four yugs or ages, each of which, according to our moderate notions of chronology, were of absurd length. They pretended, indeed, that their astronomical computations went back to the commencement of this immense period; and though modern researches have proved these assumptions to be unwarranted, the fact is indisputable that their traditions were in favour of the remote origin of our planet.
The Babylonians boasted that they possessed a written history, extending over a period of fifteen myriads of years! A myriad is usually supposed to represent ten thousand, and they consequently believed the earth to have existed one hundred and fifty thousand years.
Every one is acquainted with the extravagant pretensions put forth by the Chinese upon this subject, with a view to exalt their antiquity and importance. They are of course untenable as regards the details connected with them, or the inferences deduced; but go to prove the prevalence of such a tradition as I am speaking of.
The Egyptians, according to Manetho, who wrote about two thousand years ago, believed their kingdom to have lasted, at that period, upwards of five thousand years, exclusive of the reigns of the gods and demi-gods, who had previously governed it for an indefinite period. But even this account is much more moderate than other computations still extant; and it is quite certain that the wise men of that country ridiculed the Greeks for their limited ideas on the subject, though some of this latter people (as did also the Siamese) believed this earth to be eternal!
We shall now see what was the opinion of the ancients on the second and third points which have been mentioned, and that they all believed the world to have undergone frequent changes-to have been modified, destroyed, and renewed, as well as to have been inhabited by different races of animals.
The Babylonians certainly preserved a traditional remembrance of three such changes. The first earth was a compound of darkness and waters, tenanted by hideous beings, which were afterwards destroyed by the great Belus. The second, was peopled by animals which died when the light was created. The third, contained the animals and men now existing.
The Phoenicians, according to Sanchoniatho, their recognized historian, believed that the primitive world was a "dark wind and chaos," which will come again under notice. To this succeeded the “putrefaction of a watery mixture, containing the seeds of things," which they called MOT or MOHAT. This circumstance lets us into a curious secret, as the term is evidently the same with the Hebrew TEOM-" the tohu of the waters-the great abyss," and shews that not only the idea, but the very word that expresses it, was stolen from the Bible. The Hebrew, as you are aware, is read from right to left, and not like most other languages (our own for example), from left to right; so that the word, by those who were not aware of this fact, would be written in other characters, MOET, mót, or mòhat. But the same historian, in an after part of his narrative, writing probably from dictation, and not servilely copying letters which he did not understand, uses two other Hebrew words correctly, when in speaking of the creation of man, he makes him to have been the offspring of Kol-pi-a, and Eaau. The first is a compound term, signifying, "the voice of the mouth of God; and the other is used to designate chaos; the idea, therefore, is substantially that of the sacred writer, and implies that the voice of God, speaking to the elements from which man was fashioned, called him at first into being.
The third world of the Phoenicians contained senseless, and the fourth, intelligent beings.
The Mexicans believed that four suns had been extinguished before the creation of the present human race. The first age of the world, they called the "Age of Giants," and believed that at the end of five thousand two hundred and six years, it was consummated by a dreadful famine and the ravages of tigers. The second, they called the " Age of Fire," because, after existing four thousand eight hundred and four years, it was destroyed by that element. The third, they called the "Age of Wind:" it lasted four thousand and ten years, and was put an end to by a terrific tempest. The fourth, they called the " Age of Water," the incidents connected with which, are evidently borrowed from the Scriptural account of the Deluge. At the end of it, in four thousand and eight years, Cox-cox and his wife were saved in the trunk of a cypress tree. It will be recollected that the ark of Noah was made of gopher wood, which is generally believed to be the same as that of the cypress.
The five ages of the Greeks are described as separate creations by Hesiod, who says distinctly, that one race of men became extinct before the next was introduced.
It was not to be expected that any accurate or thoroughly-consistent account of these matters would be handed down by oral tradition only. The same principle that dictated the necessity of a written law among