Page images

these subjects. There are many beautiful passages in the book of Job, see ch. xxxvi. to the end, which prove that the patriarchs were accustomed to observe the works of God, and the wonders of creation. The reader may re. collect that the book of Job is generally supposed to be one of the most ancient parts of scripture. Moses also frequently refers to animals, in such a manner as shows that he was well acquainted with all circumstances respecting them. From the eighth Psalm it is very plain that David used to study the works of creation ; indeed, pious persons in all ages have endeavored to acquaint themselves, more or less, with the works of the Almighty. I hope my young readers will remember this, particu. larly those who live in the country, and have oppor. tunities for making such observations. Let them turn to what is said about the ant, Prov. vi. 6. xxx. 25. about the spider, Job viii. 14. Prov. xxx. 28. the horse, Job xxxix. 19. Psa. xxxiii. 17. the eagle, Deut. xxii. 11. and of other animals and plants; they may learn many useful lessons. Let them also remember, that the texts in which things respecting these animals are alluded to, explain other passages : thus, “as a sheep before her shearers is dumb,” Isa. liii. 7. explains to us how patiently Christ endured all the pains he suffered for us. The lamb without blemish or spot, Lev. ix. 3. &c. 1 Pet. i. 19. shows us that Christ was holy, harmless, and undefiled. I might add many more, but I would rather that my readers tried to find them out for themselves. It would be a good practice for my younger friends, to make a list of such passages, and the texts which explain their meaning. At page 86 will be found sketches of the sheep and goats of the holy land.

With respect to astronomy and the heavenly bodies, their knowledge was more limited ; they had not the ad. vantage of telescopes which we have. It is true that from several passages in Job and elsewhere it is plain that they observed the stars, and all the host of heaven. The inhabitants of the country round Babylon early observed the stars, and ascertained much respecting the motions of the heavenly bodies. The wonders they beheld in

[graphic][merged small][graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

these things caused them to worship the host of heaven, which was the earliest species of idolatry. Job alludes to this, ch. xxvi. 7. when, speaking of the power of God, he says, “ He hangeth the earth upon nothing,” which shows they understood something about the wonderful manner in which the earth is as it were suspended in the heavens. Some learned men have written much to prove that most of the wonderful things now known re. specting the sun, the planets, and the stars, were known to the wise men in ancient times; but we need not exa. mine this particularly. The Bible was written to make men wise unto salvation, under the teaching of God the Holy Spirit; this is so fully set forth that even a plain man may understand the evil of sin, and the truths of the gospel; though he might be very much puzzled to make out a learned book about natural history or astronomy. When any mention is made respecting the sun, moon, and other heavenly bodies, they are usually spoken of just as they appear to our view.

But I do not mean that we should neglect any useful knowledge. The younger and poorer persons amongst us should rejoice that there are many books now written to explain these things to them ; but let us beware of neglecting the one thing needful. From that knowledge we shall gain the charity or love to God and man, without which, as St. Paul says, 1 Cor. xiii. 2. though a man had all knowledge he would be nothing. This is a strong expression, but unless we love Christ we never can be happy or really wise, here or hereafter. Re. member, “ we love him, because he first loved us,” i John iv. 19. He showed that love in the garden of Gethsemane and upon mount Calvary. The wonders of his love are revealed to his people; they are wonders indeed, so great that even the angels desire to look into them, 1 Pet. i. 12. My dear reader, do you really love the Lord Jesus Christ?

Ca. XVI.



Ancient Dials. FROM observations of the heavenly bodies, the earliest computations of time by days, months, and years, were made. The Jewish day was reckoned from evening to evening, Lev. xxiii. 32. In the account of the creation, Gen. i. the evening is mentioned before the morning. The day varied in length at different times of the year, but not so much as in England, Judea being more to the south. The longest day was about fourteen hours, con. sequently the shortest about ten. The day was divided into four parts, Neh. ix. 3. afterwards into twelve hours. Sun-dials were constructed to mark the divisions of time. The ancients had no clocks nor watches like

The first mention of hours is Dan. iii. 6, 15. and as the Jews were then captives in Babylon, it is probable they learned this division of time from the Chal. deans, who were great astronomers.

The hours were counted from six in the morning to six in the evening, consequently the third hour was our nine in the morn.


ing, the ninth hour was our three in the afternoon ; see Matt. xx. 3, 5, 6, 9. and many other texts are explain. ed by this. The night was at first divided into three parts, called watches ; see Lam. ii. 19. Judg. vii. 19. Exod. xiv. 24. These divisions would be longest in winter, and we may suppose how ardently the morning light would be desired by those who watched during a long severe winter night, Psa. cxxx. 6. In the time of our Saviour the night was divided into four watches; see Mark xiii. 35.

The two evenings, Exod. xii. 6. margin, was the time between three and five. The paschal lamb was sacri. ficed at that time. Our blessed Lord, who was repre. sented by the lamb, was crucified at three and taken down from the cross at five.

The division of weeks has nothing to do with the ob. servations or periods of heavenly bodies. It proceeds from the institution of the sabbath, Gen. ii. 2. The Jewish sabbath was on the seventh day or Saturday. After the resurrection of our blessed Lord, the day of rest was altered to the first, that on which he rose from the dead. The reasons for this are shown in many books written upon the subject.*

It is remarkable that the division of time into weeks, or periods of seven days, has been found among heathen nations, as well as Jews and christians. It was observed by the Greeks and Romans of old, and it is now regard. ed by the Chinese and East Indians. It is a striking proof that all nations descended from one parent, and that the observance of the sabbath was a divine command, as we read in the Bible.

The observance of sabbatical and jubilee years, see Lev. xxv. had reference to the institution of the sabbath. I need hardly remind my readers how many texts direct the holy observance of this day, and how constantly sabbath-breaking leads on to other crimes. It is very sad to see how common this sin is among us. national sin, and if persisted in will bring down national


*The reader will find them well stated in the tract written by Dr. Dwight on the sabbath, published by the Religious Tract Society.

It is a

« PreviousContinue »