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Lord in cutting the precious stones, and in all the beauti. ful work they executed for the tabernacle, Exod. xxxv. 30-35. There is little mention of any thing of this sort afterwards, till the time of Solomon, who was obliged to employ a foreign artist from Tyre, 2 Chron. ii. 7, 13, 14. to plan and direct the works for the temple.
If we consider the simple mode of life pursued by the Israelites, for many years after their settlement in Ca. naan, it is plain that there would be little or no employ. ment for persons skilled in the arts of luxury. The second commandment also contained an express command against the use of sculpture (or making images) and painting, for the purposes to which they were then mostly applied. For the chief employment of such artists, in those times, and even in later days, was to make the images of deities, which the heathen worshipped ; so that where the worship of these false gods was prohibited, there would be little demand for their labors. The histories of Greece and Rome, and a sight of the articles dug from the ruins of ancient cities, fully explain this ; for we see among them many images, which were placed in the houses, and were supposed to be protectors of the families. Such is the case now among heathens, although to us it appears very absurd that peo. ple should suppose that a piece of wood or metal, which they had just carved or purchased, could guard them from evil and danger. Let us not forget the striking description of idols Psa. cxxv. 15—18.
An ancient author has well exposed this folly. He represents the master of a family going to a sculptor's shop to buy a god, for a long time puzzled which to choose, and at last disputing with the workman respecting a few pence in the price of a Jupiter !
The silver shrines for Diana, made at Ephesus, Acts xix. 24. were little images of this sort. They were openly sold. Let me ask my youthful readers how they would feel if their father went to a shop where plaster figures are sold, or to one of the image boys who go about the street, and when he had bought one of the figures, if he should bring it home, and order them to worship it!
pray to it.
But similar things really occur in heathen countries. I remember reading, a short time since, in the letter of a missionary, about a boy who came to a school, in India, and learned about Christ, and could repeat the command. ments. His parents ordered him to worship an image they had lately bought; but he knew that it was sinful, and refused to do so. He patiently endured a great deal of ill treatment; at length his parents saw that he was dutiful in all other respects, and did not any longer require him to worship their image.
Lamentable as the folly of worshipping idols may appear, there are similar practices, not only in heathen lands, but in countries called christian, and even in our own day. It is related of Louis the eleventh, king of France, a most cruel and vile character, that he wore a great number of small images of saints round his hat, and that when he was in any great trouble he used to kneel down, take out one or other of the images, and
Dr. Moore saw a great number of shops at Loretto, in Italy, a few years ago, which were full of these little images; other travellers have noticed the same in all countries where the Romish religion prevails.
We may well lament that such ignorance is to be found, both among heathens, and professed christians; but let us beware of preferring any thing to the love of Christ, and earnestly endeavor to do His will. If we prefer any earthly or sinful pleasure, or vain pursuit, to doing what we find commanded in the word of God, we, in fact, worship that vain or sinful pursuit ; and though it is not an image made of wood, or stone, or metal, still, in preferring it to the service of God, we equally break his command.
After a time, when the Israelites began to follow the wicked customs of the idolatrous nations around them, they had workmen to make their images. Such per. sons are described by the prophets, Jer. x. 3—5. and Isa. xl. 20. xliv. 12-20. From various passages in the books of Kings and Chronicles we find that images were made, and even set up in the temple by the kings, particularly Manasseh ; see 2 Chron. xxxiii. 7.
Many passages in those books awfully describe the man. ner in which the Jews refused to listen to the repeated warnings of the prophets against their idolatry, until at length they were carried captive to Babylon. Since that time, down to the present day, the Jews have not worshipped graven images.
Let us profit from these facts ; let us not despise the repeated warnings of God. Let me ask each of my readers, whether children or grown persons, if there is not something they prefer to Christ? Oh let us humble ourselves, and pray for the pardon of all our sins “ while it is yet time.”
This is an idol worshipped by the Hindoos, called Vishnu triumphant. There is another sort, representing him with the snake coiled round his body and biting his foot, called Vishnu suffering. These idols will probably remind my readers of Gen. iii. 15. It shows how the heathens have in many respects perverted the scriptures,
Ch. XV.-NATURAL HISTORY AND PæiloSOPIY.
The Jews were well informed on subjects of natural history. They were acquainted with the nature of the different animals and plants, and other objects of creation. Still their knowledge on these points was very inferior to that which God has permitted us to enjoy ; we have in this, as in other respects, more talents com. mitted to our care, let us beware of neglecting to use them aright, Matt. xxv. King Solomon was skilled in the sciences. He spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon, even to the hyssop that springeth out of the wall : he spake also of beasts, and birds, and of fowls, and of creeping things, and of fishes, 1 Kings vi. 33. We are told that this, as well as his other know. ledge, was given hiin in answer to his prayer for wisdom, 2 Chron. i. 7–13. and doubtless his people profited from his instruction.
There are also other places in the Bible, which show us that the Jews and other nations were not ignorant on