Page images
PDF
EPUB

pages 100—102. are all supposed to be of a date subse. quent to the captivity.

Our blessed Lord referred to merchants and trade. In Matt. xiii. we read the parable of the merchant man who sought for goodly pearls ; and, in Matt. xxv. we read that the faithful servants to whom the talents were intrusted, went and traded with them. But we may here particularly notice the pearl merchant. When he had found one of great price, or very valuable, he went and sold all that he had, that he might buy it. This "goodly pearl” represents to us the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who have really found him, are ready to part with every worldly possession or indulgence, that they may obtain him. He has promised that those who seek him shall find him: “ With all thy wisdom, get understanding," Prov. iv. 7. and the knowledge of Christ as the Saviour who suffered upon the cross for our sins, isthe true wisdom. When we really love Christ, and remember his great love towards us, then we seek to do his will, his ways are ways of pleasantness, and all his paths are paths of peace.

We have seen that trade was not forbidden by the law of Moses, nor by our Lord, when carried on fairly and honestly, and not so as to break the commands of God. But the trade was sinful that our Lord reproved, when he drove the buyers and sellers out of the temple; as you may read in the gospels, John ii. Matt. xxi. Mark xi. Luke xix. Observe, it is related by all the evangelists. Although in our days we do not see people buying and selling in the churches and chapels, how many there are who make the Lord's day a day of mer. chandize, and buy and sell thereon for their own pleasure or profit, without the least necessity! Many, alas ! are not taught how sinful this is; but, I am sorry to say, I have heard even of Sunday scholars who have bought and sold on this day! To such I would say, “Ah! my child, though it may seem only a trifle, yet, you break the fourth commandment for an apple, a cake, or something of that sort, which is not necessary to be got.” I do not mean that there may not be a case when it is requisite to buy medicine or food, (if, for instance, you were unexpectedly in a strange place,) on the sabbath ; but such cases very seldom occur, perhaps not even once in a person's life. Beware that you do not deceive yourselves like the inha. bitants of Jerusalem, who thought it necessary to buy fish and other things on the sabbath ; Neh. xiii. 16. but when Nehemiah shut the gates on the sabbath, and kept out the dealers, the people found that they could manage without buying on that day:

These merchants and traders were men of Tyre, which was the most famous for trade among all the cities in or near Judea. In Ezekiel xxvii. we have a full account of the vast trade of that wealthy ciiy. In that chapter Tyre is compared to a ship. The drawing and description at page 108, will explain that passage of scripture, and also give some ideas respecting the ancient ships. On reading the chapter, we are struck with the great wealth and extensive commerce of the city, which appears to have traded with all countries, and to have dealt in all the articles which are the principal objects of trade at the present day. Here again we find mention of merchants who dealt in slaves ! verse 13. Wealth increased until “ her merchants were prin. ces, and her traffickers the honorable of the earth,” Isa. xxiii. 8. The people of Tyre became proud, and in their anxiety to get riches they dealt unjustly, and became “ defiled by the iniquity of their traffic.” God, by his prophet Ezekiel, declared the downfal of that proud and wealthy city, which in a few years was accomplished, as foretold by the prophet ; see Ezek. xxvi. xxvii. and xxviii. Riches « fly away as an eagle towards heaven.” Prov. xxiii. 5. This strongly shows the uncertainty of riches, the danger of having our hearts cumbered and led astray by worldly wealth, and the certain consequences of unjust gain. In Ezek. xxvi. 4, 5. we read, “ They shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, and break down her towers : I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock. It shall be a place for the spreading of nets, in the midst of the sea : for I have spoken it, saith the Lord God.” Modern travellers have told us how completely this has been fulfilled. The precise situation of ancient Tyre is not exactly known, so utterly has it been destroyed; but a place is pointed out where it probably stood. Mr. Bruce passed by and was a witness of the fulfilment of the prophecy, that Tyre should be a place for fishers to dry their nets. Two miserable fishermen had just returned from their labors, and were about to spread their nets upon the rocks.

Yet awful as the case of Tyre was, our Lord said it should be more tolerable for the inhabitants of Tyre in the day of judgment than for the inhabitants of Chorazin and Bethsaida, where he had so often preached the gospel, and told the glad tidings of salvation, confirming his words by his miracles, yet the inhabitants attended not to his words ! O, may not this be our case! we have the scriptures in our hands, and the gospel is preached throughout our land, yet how many neglect the concerns of their souls. Will not many poor Indians and Negroes, at the last day, appear to have profited by what such multitudes among us have despised? They will in that day be found rejoicing in the Lord, with the

poor woman of Tyre, see Matt. xv. having listened to the glad tidings which so many amongst us reject. Like her they have feasted upon the crumbs of the bread of life, which we have neglected!

My dear young friends, especially you who have pious parents and teachers, seek to improve the opportunities you enjoy. The blessed Saviour is set before you. He called himself the bread of life, John vi. 35, &c. Large portions of this bread, if I may so speak, are set before you, for you are told much about Christ, and how he suffered to save poor sinners. Pray that you may be enabled to feast thereon, to love him and to serve him. If you enjoy this glad news, which is spoken of as a feast, Isa. xxv. 6. surely you will not forget the poor heathen; but you will be anxious “ to send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared,” Neh. viii. 10. Help the Bible, the Tract, and the Missionary Societies, by whom the gospel is sent to the heathen.

The history of king Solomon presents us with many particulars respecting the commerce of the Jews and other nations. He was a man of peace, as his name signifies, and encouraged trade. In his days the inhabitants of Tyre were very active in trade, he saw the advantages they derived from commerce, and was anxious that his subjects should partake of these benefits.

King David subdued his enemies on all sides, and had extended his dominions to the Red Sea, so that Solomon possessed a good harbor or sea-port there, called Ezion. geber, 1 Kings ix. 26. from whence ships could sail to the rich countries of Africa and Asia. The Jews being ignorant of the method of building ships, Solomon applied to Hiram king of Tyre, who sent workmen able to build vessels; and seamen to navigate them.

The ships being ready, the two kings joined in sending them to foreign countries, and they brought back much gold, silver, ivory, and other valuable merchandize; they also procured apes, peacocks, and other foreign curiosities; see 1 Kings ix. X. 2 Chron. viii. ix. So important did this trade appear to Solomon, that he went himself to Ezion-geber and Elath to superintend the fitting out of the ships, 2 Chron. viii. 17. The Alce!s sent out by Hiram and Solomon went to some countries at a con. siderable distance, called Ophir and Tharshish. They are generally supposed to be the same which are now called Zanguebar or Sofala, on the eastern coast of Africa, but they may have been other places. The art of navigation was then so little understood, that the ships were three years in making a voyage which now would only occupy a few months. We do not find any account of the articles sent out in these ships, but as the people of Tyre traded in all kinds of merchandize, there could be no difficulty in procuring suitable cargoes; and Judea, we have seen, abounded in corn, wine, and oil. The articles received in return have been already mentioned. Solomon was thus supplied with many materials for his splendid pa. laces and other buildings, and the whole nation became enriched by this traffic. Silver became quite common at Jerusalem, so that we read “it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon,” i Kings x. 21, 27. This great monarch also traded with the Egyptians, from whom

he purchased horses, chariots, and linen yarn. The horses cost 150 shekels each, and the chariots 600, 1 Kings X. 28, 29. and though we do not read of horses in Judea long before, we find that he had 40,000 horses for chariots, and 12,000 for his horsemen, 1 Kings iv. 26.

After the death of Solomon and the division of his kingdom, the eastern or southern trade continued, but with less advantage and with less regularity. We read that the ships of Jehoshaphat were wrecked in the Red Sea, and in the reign of Jehoram his successor, the Edomites, in whose country these ports were situated, revolted from the Jewish yoke. Uzziah again obtained possession of Elath, and the trade continued in the hands of the Jews till Rezin king of Damascus, and afterwards Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, took these ports away from the Jews; thus their trade and commercial greatness were destroyed; see 2 Kings xvi. and 2 Ch. xxvii.

From hence we may plainly see that persons cannot expect to prosper in trade or commerce, or any other

pur. suit, without the blessing of Almighty God. Still we are commanded, “ Be not slothsul in business," Rom. xii. 11. and there are many texts in the book of Proverbs which show the importance and duty of being diligent in all that we have to do. But we are also told, “ It riches increase, set not your heart upon them,” Psa. lxii. 10. and “ Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth,” Col. iii. 2. Let us remember what is meant by this expression ; it tells us to seek the love of Christ Je. sus, our blessed Lord and Saviour. He is indeed more to be desired than gold, yea, than much fine gold, and is more precious than rubies. When we remember what He has done and suffered for us, and the promises of everlasting life given to us in him, surely our affections should be set upon him. But our hearts are by nature bent upon earthly things. O, then, let each reader pray for a new heart, and a right spirit, which will seek for these true riches; even “ for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel,” Col. i. 5.

« PreviousContinue »