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much more inconsistent are those who, while they would admit that in all the instances we have named, and in many others, the language is evidently that of optical description, would yet regard the extension of the same principle of interpretation to the account of the creation of the sun on the fourth day, as a sacrifice of the truth of inspiration; although it is said that God made a firmament or solid plane to sustain the clouds on the second day, as distinctly as that he made the sun on the fourth day. The former however they would explain optically; the latter, with a rigorous literality. Surely some steadier rule of interpretation than that usually held should be put on the conduct of those who think they have found that rule, not in popular whim and prejudice, but in the Sacred Record itself.Harris's Man Primeval.
THE RETROSPECT OF YOUTH. NOTHING is more common with the mature Christian than to look back with regret on the days of his youth. If it were spent thoughtlessly, as our youth too often is, he will mourn over so much time lost to holiness, to happiness, to God. But even if he have sought God early, he will sometimes think with sorrow of those first experiences of his grace, which to his young, trusting, loving heart, seemed so inestimably precious, as to make him fear he has lost something of his former zeala zeal recognized by his Best Friend in those endearing words, “ I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness."
It was some such feeling as this which Job experienced, when he cried out in the bitterness of his soul" Oh that it were as in months past--as in the days when God
preserved me; “ When his candle shined upon my head-and when by his light
I walked through darkness. " As I was in the days of my youth-when the secret of God was
upon my tabernacle, “When the Almighty was yet with me--when my children were
“When I washed my steps with butter, and the rock poured me
out rivers of oil." In the history of the patriarch, there seemed to be a double
withdrawal of God's favor. Yet his language is altogether the language of regret—not of complaint, nor even of querulous repining. Notwithstanding his manly and majestic protest against the fallacious reasonings of his so-called friends, he felt, and felt keenly, that he was cast down. But amidst all his privations, his first great sorrow was the leanness of his own soul. The light of his Father's face was hidden, and his still, small voice was hushed. But the night of weeping was vocal with such songs as this,
“Where are those whispers of the heart,
That voice of peace divine ?
Within this breast of mine." The cloud rested on his worldly prospects; but they had the last and lowest place in his esteem, No longer did his teeming flocks enable him, in the bold and figurative language of the East, “ to wash his steps with butter.” No longer did the rock, fringed with the green, luxuriant olive, “pour him out rivers of oil ;" but he touched not even upon these privations till he had rolled the grievous burthen of his spiritual distresses upon Him who had promised to sustain him,
God had preserved him—God had gladdened him-God had directed him-God had held sweet communion with him; and now all these visitings seemed wholly or partially withdrawn. Was ever sorrow like unto his sorrow, if we except the deep anguish of the Man of Sorrows himself ? Yet in all this darkness, he sins not nor charges God foolishly. He sighs only for the return of spiritual light, though he cannot forget those happy days “when his children were about him.”
Yet even these he looked upon as God's heritage and reward. “ At one fell swoop” they had been snatched from him; but the bitterest drop in all his cup of sorrows, when he thought of their untimely end, was this—“It may be that my sons have sinned, nor blessed God in their hearts." With what tender solicitude he had watched over them, rising up in the early morning to offer sacrifice and prayer on their behalf continually, lest in the heat of their young blood they should have thought or spoken, or acted inconsistently at any of their friendly
gatherings. The ordinary levities of youth, were to his fond father's heart as goads and stings, wounding him to the quick ; but urging him, as all such trials should, to seek a covert and a resting place in God's atoning mercy.
The retrospect of this good man stretches over a long interval. In patriarchal times, when the days of our years were protracted to two centuries, his youth was not limited
He would be still young “when his children were about him," though we are by no means compelled to refer the whole of this tender, touching, lament to any single passage in the patriarch's history, The retrospect of one happy season would call up a thousand memories of similar eharacter, and as he felt his present desolation more and more keenly, he would pass from scene to scene in those days of quietness and assurance, when the candle of the Lord shined upon his head, and by His light he walked through darkness.
But there is one blessedness on which he touches, peculiar to the “ days of his youth,” strictly so called. Then it was that " the secret of God”—the great soul-secret, the earnest incommunicable ardour which could find no words in the cold vocabulary of our lower world—was with him, resting on and glorifying the audience-chamber of His tabernacle. It was then that he was caught up into the third heaven, and heard words which it is not possible for man to utter. “ The secret of God was upon his tabernacle.” No stranger intermeddled with his joys: he was closeted alone with Him, and then and there he felt as thousands still feel, before the mercy-seat
“ The breathless awe that dares not move,
And all the silent heaven of love." The secret of the Lord is still with those who fear him. The soul and its Great Maker meet and almost mingle in that Holy of Holies. How precious are God's thoughts unto us, how great is the sum of them. Then, in a new and larger sense, He breathes into us the breath of life, and we become living souls-souls vivified by that favor which is better than life.
How many amongst our readers have been thus with God in their earlier years? If they have not felt as Job once felt, the blessedness of youthful communion, let them prove it now. To-day is the best time. Never, we believe, does God grant such fulness of joy here, as when he comes down to meet the trustful, earnest, truthful longings of the young heart. His soul desires the first ripe fruit. If Job, when he was much further advanced upon his pilgrimage, could look back with such warm affection towards his younger days, what must those earlier days have been; and what should ours be who live beneath the greater glory of the Gospel? It is no uncommon thing to grieve over opportunities gone by, or to regret the lapse of those “seasons of refreshing" when it seemed to be better with us than it now is. But the Christian too often forgets that there are varying aspects and phases in the complexion of his course. There is a morning and an evening-the sky may be red and lowering, or it may be bright without a cloud the dew, the rain, the clear shining have each its mission; and the soul's place must not be measured by externals.
But this great fact the Bible seems to note distinctly, that each period has its proper work—its peculiar developments. Our youth is made for love: and touched by the constraining love of Christ it burns more purely, more intensely, than in after years. The older convert has to unlearn much before he can cast himself trustingly, entirely, heartily, upon the bosom of his Saviour. He throws off the man, and becomes again a child; but youth has no need for this. He comes in all the unspoiled, artless, fervor of his soul, to Christ, and is received and welcomed and glorified, as he cries out of the abundance of his overflowing heart, “ My Beloved is mine, and I am his!"
T. LITERARY MERIT OF THE SCRIPTURES. Even in a literary aspect the Bible is unique. Ease, simplicity, and grandeur, characterize its statements; myth and speculation are unknown to it: the historical element predominates. No other ancient cosmogony will sustain comparison with it. While Philosophy was still breathing mist, and living in a chaos, the opening sentence of the Bible had been shining on the Hebrew mind for centuries, a ray direct from heaven. Nor has science been able to transcend that sublime affirmation. It is too spiritual for Materialism to embrace-too personal and substantial for Pantheism to dissipate.-Harris's Man Primeval.
THE ANCIENT FOUNTAIN. *
AGES ago the water oozed through the overhanging rock, and fell in brilliant drops into the basin it had scooped in the bank beneath. It leaped over the rim of the little pool, and ran singing and murmuring through the forest, flashing in the sunbeams as it glided along, by glade and leafy bower, bearing life and freshness in its course.
Cool and sparkling in the summer, pure and liquid in the winter, those crystal globules splashed in ceaseless succession into the dimpled reservoir. When the snow lay around, and its edge was fringed with icicles, the unchilled mirror reflected the scarlet hue of the holly berries which clustered above it. The spring flowers bent their heads over it, as if endeavoring to gaze on their own beauty. The summer sunbeams flickered on it through a leafy screen, which autumn withdrew, while it added a fresher
green to the bordering of moss. Seasons and years rolled on—the little spring was unchanging-exhaustless.
The forest deer sought the sunny glade, to slake his thirst with the clear water, and repose on the soft turf. The birds hovered over it, dipping their beaks from time to time, and warbling grateful songs. The fox and the wild cat resorted hither, the water flowed for them also—and if chance brought the hunter within the sound of the falling drops, he stayed the chase, to drink of the bright stream, and rest in that lovely bower. Years rolled away—the footsteps of man and beast had worn a pathway to the fountain. The outlaw made it his trysting place, and the traveller paused in his journey to refresh himself at that inexhaustible bowl.
Sounds of war arose in the land: and two bands of men of brethren-children of one great Father-spread themselves on the same plain, breathed the same air, drank of the same streamlet, and then hasted to stain their hands with each other's blood. One who stood by the fountain might have heard the roar of the battle, the shrieks of the wounded, and the shouts of the conqueror. The vanquished fled through the forest
From “The Holly Tree,”-see ante p. 90.