« PreviousContinue »
Yes, in the prophecies of Isaiah, God is represented as saying of a distinguished individual ; ‘I will lay the key of the house of David upon
his shoulder.'” “A key, father, in the shape of a reapinghook, might be laid easily on the shoulder, as I have seen the reapers thus often place their sickles. But it would be very strange if any one should talk of hanging any of the keys which we use upon the shoulder.”
“ True, Harry; and hence you see the great importance of a knowledge of Eastern customs to a right understanding of the Scriptures. The language, as used by the Prophet, is figurative. The key is an ensign of power. Thus Our Lord says of himself, that He hath “ the key of David:' that He openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth, Rev. ii. 3. 7. This plainly implies that His power in the invisible world is unlimited. This doctrine accords with his own declaration to his disciples after He arose from the dead; • All power,' said He, ‘is given to me in heaven and on earth,' Matt. xxviii. 18. How delightful to the real Christian is the consideration, that He who loves him with an infinite affection—yea, who has given Himself to die upon the cross for him, has in His hands * the keys of the invisible worlds, and of death;'* and that He has engaged to open the kingdom of Heaven to all believers.'
WHEN God made a covenant, or an agreement, with the Patriarch Abraham, he bade him take a heifer, and a she-goat, and a ram, and divide them in the midst, and lay each piece one against the other, Gen. xv. 9. 10. Now here is the usual mode of making treaties or engagements in the East. A Jewish writer says, that it was a custom with those who entered into covenant with each other to take a heifer, and cut it in two, and then the contracting parties passed between the pieces.””
“ For what did they do this, father ?”
“ No doubt, to intimate that if they were unfaithful to their engagements, they would be willing to be thus cut asunder, or to perish. Thus the Prophet Jeremiah represents the Almighty as saying, that He would give those into the hands of their enemies, who had transgressed his covenant which they had made before him, “when,' he says, they cut the calf in twain, and passed between the parts thereof.'"
“But did not you say, that God made a covenant with Abraham ? It does not tell us, in that chapter, that God went between the pieces of the animals, does it ?”
“Not in so many words; but that which was equivalent to it took place. It is said, in the seventeenth verse, When the sun went down, and it was dark,' that “ a burning lamp passed between those pieces :' this was, no doubt, an expressive symbol of God's presence. As a sacred writer expresses it, ‘God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” ”
“ What a large snake here is !” said Harry to his father, just as he passed through the gate into the orchard ; “ but it is dead, and I am not afraid of it now.”
“ It does not seem to have been long killed. If it had been alive, Harry, I hope you would have been more of a man than to be afraid of it. Snakes are harmless, and they always get away as fast as they can from any human being.”
“ But I don't like to see them ; though the colours of the skin are beautiful.”
“ There certainly is in man, Harry, a general enmity to the whole race of serpents, which one scarcely knows how to account for, without thinking of the sad history in the third