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all that it contains. I think he would run wild with joy, if he had any prospect of going there.”
“Those dissolving pictures must have a very curious effect.” “They have; it is most ingeniously managed; they come, and pass, and change so imperceptibly."
“What a picture of life, Emily. And how suitable, just as one year, with all its joys and sorrows has glided away, and a new period of time, to be crowded with new circumstances, is opening before us. Scene after scene presents itself; while we look, it changes; suddenly it is gone, to be succeeded, perhaps, by something widely different. Surely we ought to pray for constant preparation for all the will of God, or we shall scarcely be fitted for our scenes of duty, or trial, or enjoyment while they last. He whose principles are fixed, who has the Lord for his director, and the Bible for his guide, is not taken by surprise at every changing circumstance. He is not like those who hesitate how to act till the opportunity is passed away. Neither is he so elated by prosperity, as to think his mountain stands so strong, it shall never be moved; nor so sunk in adversity as to imagine he shall rise no more. He well knows that joy and sorrow alternately succeed each other; that the duty of the present moment will soon give place to another. Earnestly therefore, does he pray to be ready, both in body and soul, cheerfully to have accomplished what his God would have done. Is it not a blessing, my child, to have a mind prepared to meet circumstances as they rise?" "It is, indeed, papa. And not less so, to be enabled to bear in mind, that as the pictures of earth and time pass rapidly on, the last, the closing one, must be near at hand."
• Yes, dear child, the whole will soon be over; and we must turn from shadows to realities, the unchanging realities of eternity. O then, to feel an interest in the blessings of the everlasting covenant, in God the Father's love, in God the Son's redemption, in God the Holy Spirit's effectual operations; to feel our feet firmly fixed on the Rock of Ages; to receive an inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away; to behold the unchanging glory of an unchangeable God, and that God, our Father and our Friend."
"It is a glorious prospect, well worth waiting for. But, papa, I always seem to want something in hand. There are enduring
riches and lasting pleasures to be obtained, even here; are there not? if we seek them in spiritual things."
"Assuredly, my love, a peace which passeth all understanding, a hope which maketh not ashamed.
'The men of grace have found
Glory begun below;
Celestial fruits on earthly ground,
From faith and hope may grow.
A thousand sacred sweets;
Before we reach the heavenly fields,
"Yet even these blessings, Emily, though lasting and perfect in their nature, are at present, but fluctuating in their enjoyment. Nevertheless, they form the commencement of a life everlasting; the Christian is passed from death unto life. They are the earnest and foretaste of that eternal blessedness which shall know no change, and no decline. And even now, they shed over our pilgrimage a sweet and cheering light. Years open, and close, and roll away; time and circumstances vary, but with our heavenly Father there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. The Lord, the Lord merciful and gracious, was his name in days past, and he is still Jesus, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.
To the saints, while here below,
With new years, new mercies come;
Is the last, which brings them home.
"Let us then long and pray, and wait for that glorious hour, when mortality, with all its changes and decays, shall be swallowed up of life; when we shall be made pillars in the temple of our God, to go out no more for ever." S. S. S.
REVELATION AND TRADITION.
(Continued from page 332.)
I admit, for example, that amongst the Egyptians, the creed of Hermes tells us that "before all things which really exist, and before the beginning of time there is one God." This would speak much for the discoveries of the old philosophy, were it not quite certain that Hermes, Thoyth, Tautes, or Mercury, was only a caricatured portrait of Moses;
and that consequently this sentiment, like all that are worth anything, was stolen from the sacred volume.
The Chaldeans made many attempts to comprehend the Incomprehensible, and soar from the material to the immaterial. But they were soon beaten back again “to find no end, in wandering mazes lost,” and to record their sad experience in laboured but unmeaning language, such as is employed by Zoroaster-" the immortal"-" the divine" Zoroaster -when he speaks of the outgoing of his ideas after the "Mind that moves the empyreal heaven; the Mind of Mind," in a torrent of words without knowledge, which it would exhaust your patience to hear. The notion was not uncommon, that it was possible to rise“through Nature up to Nature's God." But the leap from the highest of material things to the lowest of all spiritual existences, has always proved too daring for the unassisted mind. "We are told of a ladder," says Dean Ellis, "a scale of beings by which the understanding may ascend to God; and yet, alas! the first step of this ladder is beyond the reach of our strength and capacities. The first link of the chain that hangs down from heaven is out of view, and without this, all the rest are useless."
Hence it was that the generality of the ancients began their account of the creation, by supposing something already created-whether it were the "muddy mixture" of Sanchoniatho to which I have referred,-the lotus on which reposed the immortal Brahma, who was himself a created Creator! or the mundane egg from which the world was hatched! so famous in all the legends of antiquity. Long and laborious were the discussions among the schoolmen and philosophers of other days, whether the egg that produced the hen, or the hen that laid the egg, were the oldest; and these disputations of science, "falsely so called," appear to have had a reference to the origin of all things. The opinion most generally received, indeed, was that the world was produced from an egg; for Burnet says of this notion, "I do not know of any symbolical doctrine or conclusion that hath been so universally entertained by the mystæ, or wise and learned of all nations."
The Tyrians had an image suspended in the temple of Jupiter, of this mundane egg, encompassed by the genial folds of the Agathodæmon or good genius.
The Japanese preserve to this day, at Meaco, the image of a vast bull, putting with his horns against the egg which floated on the waters of the vast primeval abyss.
The Hindus represented the world as egg-shaped.
The Egyptians figured Cneph, the great animating spirit-" the Architect of the Universe," with an egg proceeding from his mouth.
The doctrine was well-known also among the Greeks; for Protogonus, or the first-born, is thus apostrophized in one of the hymns attributed to Orpheus.
"O mighty First-begotten, hear my prayer,
Two-fold, EGG-BORN, and wandering through the air,
From whom the race of gods and mortals springs."
Thus it appears to have been very generally believed among the ancients that the world sprang from an egg-an idea like all the others, borrowed from a misconception of the language of Scripture, which assimilates the influence of the Spirit on the waters to the "brooding" of a dove, in accordance with the well-known line of Milton's,
"Dove-like sat brooding o'er the vast abyss."
It will be observed that the heathen do not presume to go farther back than this egg, or attempt to shew how it came into existence. The bare conception that something could be created out of nothing never crossed their minds, but was reserved as a point for express revelation from God himself.
But perhaps the most celebrated heathen accounts of the creation are those of Sanchoniatho, Berossus, and Diodorus.
The first Sanchoniatho, the great oracle of the Phoenicians-supposed that the beginning of all things was 66 a dark and condensed windy air, and a chaos turbid and indistinct like Erebus; and that these things were infinite, and for a long time had no bound; but when the wind became enamoured of its own principles, and a mixture took place, that embrace was called Desire; and it was the beginning of the creation and all things."
This absurd and contradictory jumble of ideas and words, has been actually exalted by men of erudition and authority, into a comparison with the account given by Moses! That it was in the first instance borrowed from the sacred historian is sufficiently evident, though it has been disguised and perverted to a ridiculous extent by the ignorance or wilfulness of the copyists. It is not, however, a very difficult task to discover where the wisdom of Moses ends, and the folly of Sanchoniatho begins. "A breeze of dark air" might have moved over the chaotic rudiments of the earth at its creation; but as motion is the effect of rarefaction, it was certainly not a "condensed" air, as the Phoenician describes it to have been. Again, the term "infinite," as regards both time and space, is directly opposed to the insinuation conveyed in the words which immediately follow; nor is easy to imagine how any thing could mix with "its own principles," or by so mixing, could create its own creator!
The account of Berossus, the Chaldean, as it commences with darkness, waters, and a multitude of hideous beings, cannot be properly considered as a creation; though great have been the labour and research bestowed upon it by the grave and learned of all ages.
The account received by Diodorus, from Egypt, begins with a chaos, consisting of all the materials of heaven and earth, which were afterwards separated, the grosser parts descending towards the earth, and the lighter and more ethereal ascending to the heavens. The action of the sun upon the earth caused it to ferment, and from the blisters thus raised, emerged man and the inferior animals!
These were the deductions of the most learned and eminent nations of antiquity with regard to the creation of the world, and they have been not only stoutly defended by the most learned, but preferred to the Sacred Scriptures. I know that those who contend about creeds have been branded as "graceless bigots," and 1 will gladly appropriate the scandal if it can be shewn that these notions had no hand in introducing polytheism, materialism, metempsychosis, animal worship, and eventually atheism.
Let us now look at the next important fact on record in the sacred Scriptures.
II. The Fall of Man. We all possess a conviction that we are not at one with God. The powers of the world to come, will rise in all their appalling character before us, and cause us to tremble and turn sick at heart, when the thought comes home, that we are without excuse in His sight. There is at once an intensity of longing after immortality, and a dread of coming short of it, indelibly impressed upon the hearts of all mankind. The mind is hollowed out for Deity, but the shrine quakes at His awful presence.
But it is not a knowledge of the fact alone, that irresistibly impresses us when contemplating the religious rites of all the heathens of antiquity. There was, throughout the whole world, a marked reference to the particular circumstances under which it was believed the human race had fallen from its original uprightness. The portentous twilight that hung over it, was thick with phantoms of some great instrument of evil. The mystic tempter was the theme of all, from the wild hunter-indian of America, to the polished Greek who, crowned with serpents, yelled out the name of our common mother, in the train of the mad Bacchus. Their earliest fables speak of rebel giants daring to defy omnipotence; of mighty dragons wrestling with the sun himself, or watching with eyes of fire the golden apples in the gardens of the Hesperides. "The mystic serpent," says Mr. Deane, "entered into the mythology of every nation; consecrated almost every temple; symbolized almost every deity; was