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The little present offered in so flattering a man- gregation; you can even make mirth of their ner could not be otherwise than graciously re- follies; but have you ever warned, ever rebuked, ceived. Then, cordially shaking hands with the ever employed your vaunted influence to draw the great Impostor, Love-ease quitted the place, cer- worldlings to something higher than gathering up tainly not a sadder, and still less a wiser man. earth's yellow dust, or raking together its straws ?
Go on your way, Love-ease—on your smooth You deem yourself guiltiess. Love-ease, because and flowery way-satisfied that all must be right you openly transgress no law: is it nothing if the because the world admires and praises, because watchman set on his tower, when he should sound all men speak well of you, and slander itself can the trumpet of warning, tinkles the light guitar; fix on your character no deep stain. Forget the if, instead of putting on the beimet, he is content poor drunkard, the ignorant blasphemer, dying to toy with the plume; if, when the enemy comes without God and without hope—forget him in | in like a flood, he meet him, not with Truth's the costly entertainments of a Dives, the gay keen sword, but with some painted wand of his society of which you form so brilliant a member. own? How will you face, at the last awful day, But is the slave to Mammon, the votary of Folly, those to whom you now speak but smooth things in less soul-peril than the wretch who never came and prophesy deceits? They listen to you now, in his rags to hear your lifeless discourses ? Is and your words are as oil; you must listen to their laughter never to you like “ the crackling them then, and their words shall be as fire! When of thorns under the pot,” the bright flare which that fearful time shall have come, the fatterer's so soon sinks down into ashes ? You know the voice shall be silent; amidst the wreck of a lost errors of the fashionable members of your con- world, Self-deception shall have perished for ever!
HEZEKIAH AND MANASSEH.
UCH has been said and written as to the father in his earlier years, a devoted servant of God
strange fact that such a servant of God as We have no mention of any other son of Hezekiah ; and Hezekiah should have for offspring such a I cannot help thinking that the want of an heir to his
son of Belial as Manasseh. It is frequently throne may have had something to do with the exceedcited as an instance of the mysteriousness of God's ways, ing urgency of the king's prayer for a longer life, ani and the inscrutableness of his dealings with his people. that, in the very words of his psalm of thanksgiving, ne But before thus charging God foolishly with something have a token that the promise of renewed life gave him very like caprice in his actings towards his servants, it hope that this want would be supplied: as we read, would be well for us to inquire whether we cannot find “ The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I da in the bistory of Hezekiah some clue to the mystery; this day" — that for the present time; then, " The and whether there was nothing in the life of that king father to the children shall makt known thy truth"to lead naturally to his son being different from what he that was his hope for the future years now granted him. had himself been during the earlier part of his reign- Whether this be so or not, the fact is certain that whether, in fact, the reaping did not just correspond to Manasseh was a good gift bestowed on Hezekiah after the sowing. Perhaps while doing this we may find some his recovery from sickness: and as such there was an lessons of warning for ourselves, in those days when it especial call on the king to surround the child from his seems so common a matter for godly parents to have birth with every holy influence, both by precept and utterly worldly, if not absolutely ungodly, children. example; and this all the more as the father knew that
First, notice the time of Manasseh's birth. We are his time for this work was short, as he, unlike all other not left in doubt as to this. From his age at the time men, knew the time of his death, and so knew that he of his father's death we learn that he was born during must leave his son to reign after him at a very early those fifteen years which, at the earnest prayer of the age. Thus the duty was all the more incumbent or king, were so wondrously added to his life. After this him to make ready for that day by earnest work during marvellous answer to prayer, we should have expected the years that were granted him. But was it so with that the renewed life of Hezekiah would have been a Hezekiah? What saith Scripture ? “In those day life quickened in prayer, and in work for God ; and that Hezekiah was sick to the death, and prayed unto the all the influences that surrounded his son from his birth Lord: and he spake unto him, and he gave him a sign would have been favourable to his becoming, like his . But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the
benefit done unto him” (2 Chron. xxxii. 24, 25). The kind, in no way requiring self-denial and circumcision fifteen years given him to live for God, instead of being of heart, and which did not at all interfere with the years devoted to perfecting the work of reformation ease and self-indulgence so pleasing to flesh and blood, among his people, and training his son to walk in his and so fitted to foster the hot passions of youth. And steps, were years given up to the enjoyment of the we must bear in mind that in those days and in that * riches and honour" which God had so lavishly be- clime all this would, from the essential attributes of stowed on him, "for his heart was lifted up" in him. Eastern despotic monarchies, be magnified in a degree * Pride of heart” and undue love of the good things of of which we, in our days of Christianized civilization this life were his snare,—that “ love of money” which and constitutional government, have but a very faint is “the root of all evil,” and that “pride of life” which notion. 80 easily creeps into the heart of a prosperous man Thus Manasseh grew up, amid those who, while prornless he constantly retains the remembrance of his fessing to serve the true God, were in reality in their being but a steward of all he possesses.
hearts bowing down to Mammon. What was likely to Eren 80 soon after his marvellous recovery from result from such a state of things ? Could we expect sickness as the time when the congratulatory embassy that he should come out of it a true, earnest servant of arrived from Babylon, we find Hezekiah dilating to the God, as his father had been? It is a fact so well known messengers of Merodoch-Baladan, not on the wonderful as to have grown into a proverb, that precept without power and goodness of the God whom he served, but on practice is of small avail in the training of youth. his own riches and glory. What an opportunity was Young eyes, as yet unused to the many forms and conthen lost of showing these heathen ambassadors from a ventionalities of later life, are sharp-sighted to see heathen king the difference between their gods of wood whether those around them practise what they profess; and stone, and the living God, who killeth and maketh and vain is the endeavour by word-teaching to make to live!
them value that which the life of the teacher shows Hezekiah was still a true servant of God; but the that he counts of small moment. So to Manasseh the fine gold was dimmed, the ardour of his love was cooled, great command, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God an) his influence on those around him was no longer with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all esercisei in drawing them to God. The “inhabitants thy strength, and with all thy mind,” would come with of Jerusalem” are especially mentioned as partaking little effect from that father and those priests who by with him in that “pride of heart” which is so hateful their lives evidenced that their love was set upon the in the sight of God. The worship of the true God was world with its pomps and glories. Their example would till maintained; for Hezekiah was distinguished from be much more pleasing to his natural heart, and sadly 1905 other of the kings of Judah in that, in his days of more effectual in forming his character. The religion hosperity and backsliding, there is no token of his ever which could not keep his teachers from pride of heart, tuning to idolatry. But it is a little remarkable that and covetous desires after the good things of this life, | his later days, amid all the great works which he and lavish self-indulgence, would seem to him a mere kdertook for the outward prosperity of his people, sham, not worthy of regard ; and being perfectly effete ere is no longer any mention of his zeal to maintain as to any influence over his youthful passions, would e worship of the temple in the splendour which be- only fill him with disgust at its strict precepts. ted the Mosaic ritual.
Then, left to reign at the early age of twelve, among What, then, is the sum of the matter as to the aus- fawning courtiers and servile favourites, no wonder that es under which Manasseh was born, and lived the he soon broke loose from even the semblance of religious it twelve years of his life? Just this, that he grew restraints, and, hating the pure precepts of his father's in a court where, though there was the outward form God, whose love had never touched his heart, he soon godliness, it had lost its power, because the heart was cast aside his worship altogether, and gave himself up le out of it, and Hezekiah and his courtiers were set to the abominations of the heathen around him. Their in the glories and splendours of this world, and no idols did not frown on lust and bloodshed, and, thereger gave the love and service of God the first place fore, they were the gods for him. Not desiring “ to heir heart and life. The “lust of the flesh, the lust retain God in his knowledge, he was given up to a reprobe eye, and the pride of life,” like a canker, was at bate mind, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” heart of the fair flower of profession, so no fruit of There is nothing strange in all this. It is nothing liness could be expected. No doubt, Manasseh more than the natural and legitimate outcome of his ri a great deal of the work of outward reformation upbringing, anid formal religion and hearts given to the ught in Judah by the power of his father, and of the world acting on his natural evil heart. So much for aculous interpositions of God on his behalf ; and, Hezekiah and Manasseh. btless, he was taught the law of God, and told that Now what of ourselves in these days of much profesworship was both a duty and an excellent thing. sion and abounding worldliness ? Have we no Hezethere could be little heart in the teaching; and all kiahs, who are training up Manassebs? The Church religion he saw around him was of an easy-going has long been living in prosperous days; no hand of
persecution is raised against her. The world seems to would stand out in their remembrance of your strong have grown wise. Satan, with his long experience, has love were you hastily taken from them? Or would they learned that while persecution, like a stormy blast, not have to recall much-nay, most—of your love as makes the tree strike its roots deeper into the soil, soft expended in the desire and effort to dress them, and winds of worldly favour may make it spend its strength educate them, and give them all accomplishments that on fair, fourishing leaves of profession, while the root is would set them out in the eyes of men, so that they may weak and fruit becomes scanty. Persecution may come be courted, and admired, and, as a climax, be settled in yet some day; but it will not be till the Church has been
a prosperous establishment ? weakened by lying long in the lap of luxury. We have Christian parents, in your consultations about houseChristians in abundance, and, thank God, many, many hold arrangements, and family expenditure, and occutrue servants of God; but even among them, is there not pations, and amusements, what stands forth most prithe taint of worldliness ? Even for them, has not earth minently to those young ears, which give more heed become so much a home that heaven seems far off, and than you sometimes suppose? Will they be impressed not altogether so desirable as in the days when the world by observing that God and his will and his service hare was no pleasant abode for a Christian ?
the first place in your thoughts and affections, and that And what of the children? what training are they all other things are subordinate ; that you feel and act getting? We teach them to sing, “ I'm a little pilgrim as stewards of the inany good things which you enjoy and a stranger here ;” but what tokens of pilgrim life thankfully as sweet tokens of love from a Father's hand ! do they find in these homes of ours, where every device Or must they feel that you regard all these good things of the imagination of man seems expended on making as your own, out of which, indeed, you rather grudgingly our habitations so pleasant that we do not like to think pay a tax to the work for God in the world, but the of the day when they shall know us no more? We love main part of which you use so as to make as great & to hear the sweet young voices raised in the brave war- show as possible in the world? What is the rule of
your house, not merely uttered in words, but constantly
acted on? Is it, “What saith the Lord ?" or is it, To Oft in sorrow, oft in woe, Onward, Christian, onward go!
do as others do? Fight the fight, maintain the strife,
What is the origin of all that we hear of the children Strengthened by the bread of life;"
of Christian parents entering so largely into all the but how do they see us carry out the Scripture marching gaieties and dissipations of the world, but just that the orders for Christian soldiers ? “Thou, therefore, endure parents themselves have been so taken up with this hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man world, so anxious to stand well with it, that all the that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this fanıily life, with its associations and occupations, has life ; that he may please him who hath chosen him to become so interwoven and entangled with the world, be a soldier.” What do they see in us of self-denial in that it seems impossible to withdraw from it without fighting the good fight of faith?
violent wrench, which would put the whole course of Plainly it would be well for us all to see to it, whether home life out of joint. So the young are sacrificed te we are not by our practice contradicting our profession Mammon, and pass through the fire to the Moloch e -of having our hearts set, not on things beneath, but this world's maxims and pleasures; and their parent things above ; of having our treasure in heaven, and our look on and smile, only somewhat puzzled when they final hearts there also. If it be so, can we expect our teach- things going rather further than they expected, ing to lead to any good, to do anything else than disgust shocked at last when they find, perhaps, that their our children with the religion which has so little intluence viewing the whole matter of their father's religion on ourselves?
little more than a tiresome sham, find it powerless Christian fathers, you profess that your strongest de restrain their youthful passions, or to guard them agains sires for your sons is to see them servants of Christ; but the rationalism and scepticism so rife in literary circle would they ever discover that from the general tenor of and so, not having the true Pilot at the helm of the your life and conversation? When it comes to seeking a bark of life, make shipwreck of faith and a gool.com way of life for them, to choosing a profession, would not science. all they hear and see of your efforts for their advantage Oh, Christian parents! how will you answer to Go rather lead them to suppose that your great aim for for those children whom he gave you to bring up them, as for yourselves, is to have, not a heavenly but him, but whom you are training up only for the world an earthly inheritance—to be richer, and ever richer, in True, you may still hope that your children may, the good things of this life—to attain a high position Manasseh, be saved at the last. In spite of all h among men, and have that honour that comes not from people's faithlessness to him, God's mercy to them God but men ?
great, and many a wandering sheep, whose reckless li Christian mothers, what do your daughters see and has wrung bitter cries from his parents' hearts, is at ls know of deep yearnings over their souls till Christ be brought home safe by the Good Shepherd. But shou formed in them? Is that the prominent thing that that satisfy you? Will you be content to think tha instead of lives happily devoted to God from youth, your Such a faith is no light matter of easy attainment; but children will only give the fag-end of a worn-out life and it is well worth seeking at the foot of the cross, where, heart to Him who gave all his life for them, even to the confessing our sins of worldliness and self-seeking, we death upon the cross? Is it nothing to you that, in the may obtain pardon, and strength to arise, and, casting meantime, they are to do the devil's work ? For there off the shackles of the world, determine, “As for me are but two services; and if they are not to serve God and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Such a resolutill the eleventh hour, how many may they have helped tion honestly made, and by the aid of God's Spirit earon in the road to hell, instead of heaven, before that nestly carried out, may require much self-denial, but it eleventh hour comes !
will bring the peace of God with it to our hearts and But perhaps you say, “We teach our children God's homes. When we can say with truth, “ I am crucified Word and will : and that is all we have in our power. with Christ : nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ le cannot give them the Spirit to convert them. He liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh bloweth as be listeth. We must leave them in the I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and hand of a God who is sovereign in the actings of his gave himself for me"—then there will be such a power grace, and giveth account of his matters to no man." and beauty in our Christian life, that our children will True, his grace is sovereign ; but it is as a Sorereign be drawn by it to desire to walk with us in the narrow that he says, “The promise is unto you and to your way that leadeth unto life. The seductions of the world children "—the promise, “I will pour out my Spirit will lose their charm, when compared to the happiness upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall to be found in walking so close to Christ as constantly prophesy"—the promise, “ Train up a child in the way to hear his loving voice, and be guided by his eye. Our he should go ; and when he is old, he will not depart prayers for the children whom God has given us will no from it.” That sovereign grace may, through that pro- longered be hinderel; and the home where “What saith wise, be grasped and held fast on behalf of our children; the Lord ?” is the rule of life, will be a home of peace but the hand of faith that grasps the promise must be, and all holy affections, to which they will ever in afternot a dead, but a living, active faith—a faith that works life look back as the most hallowed place upon earth. by love, and purifies and elevates both heart and life.
Two of the leading sects into which Greek philosophy
after the time of Socrates had broken up, immediately THE PHILOSOPHERS.
appear upon the field—the Epicureans and the Stoics. Acts xvii. 17-20.
These two systems were reciprocally antagonist. In LTHOUGH it was the idolatry of the Greeks their nature and mutual relations they resembled some
that stirred Paul's spirit, and launched what the Sadducees and the Pharisees among the Jews. him single-handed on the work, he kept | Paul was a Pharisee before he was a Christian, and if
his old rule of giving the first offer of the he had lived in Athens would certainly have attached gospel to the Jews. Even here he began in the syna- himself to the Stoics. Logue ; but, as might have been expected, the mission Both sects dealt with the same questions :—with man, to the heathen soon sprang to the foreground, and occu- his duty, his destiny, his relation to the universe and to
God. In the market-place he discoursed daily to all who Epicurus bought a garden in the city, and taught his Tere willing to listen. The method indicated by the disciples there. His main principle was, that the chief term “ disputed” was universal among the Greeks. It good of man is enjoyment. It is due, however, to the consisted of question and reply. It was both more founders of the sect to say that they measured enjoyment lively in itself, and better fitted to elicit truth than any by a high standard. They repudiated sensual pleasures. of our modern methods. At Tarsus, Paul was trained It was in the later period of the Roman Empire that to such disputations in his youth ; and doubtless he felt this philosophy developed into unbridled licentiousness. himself at home in the Agora of Athens. The “vessel” But even in Paul's time its maxims tended to degrade was chosen because of its capacity; or rather, capacity humanity. The apostle alludes with horror to its fundawas providentially imparted to the vessel, because such mental maxim, “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow an instrument was needed in the service of the King, we die.”. They ma le special efforts to free themselves,
pied his energies.
from the fear of death. Listen, o ye disciples of Epi- | they were fallen. They were dead in sin, and they could curus ! a preacher stands in the Agora to-day who really not bring themselves to life again. can impart to you this secret. He will tell you of One Conceive of a race of intelligent beings springing up who can deliver them who through fear of death were and attaining maturity in an hour : suppose that hour all their lifetime subject to bondage."*
to be the beginning of the night. They are Ephemera; The Stoics, so called because their founder, Zeno, their life-course lasts only twenty-four hours. The taught in a porch (Stoa), were in many respects the first half of their existence is night. They exercise opposite of the Epicureans. They taught that man's their faculties on all the nocturnal phenomena of nature. chief end is to be virtuous. But, alas ! they had no This night, we shall suppose, has been varied. At first certain knowledge of what virtue is ; and they possessed there was darkness; afterwards the stars appeared, and no power to lead a human spirit in the right path, even later still the moon. The world, they thought, was not although it had been known.t
glorious: their privileges were complete. Expectation, When the representatives of these two philosophical imagination, could no further go. At length the day sects encountered the learned Jew in the market-place dawns in the east, and the sun rises in his strength. of Athens, they would soon discover that he was not a But these ephemeral creatures do not relish the light of novice in their own arts. The Stoic system, especially, day. Their faculties have developed under the feeble must have been familiar to Paul in his youth at Tarsus. lights of the night; their senses have accommodated It is remarkable that from the time of Zeno to the themselves to their circumstances. They are content time of Paul, a period of about three hundred years, with what they possess, and busy themselves in weaving almost all the leading Stoics were Asiatic Greeks; and thick curtains to keep out the sunlight. three of these, each of them a leader in his day, were Such were the Athenian philosophers when the gospel of the same province-Cilicia—and two even of the same reached them in the preaching of Paul. They had light city-Tarsus-in which the apostle was educated. Dis- of a kind. Their light, such as it was, reached then as cussions between Epicurean and Stoic, in the schools of a reflection from that Sun which they had never seen Tarsus when Paul was young, must have held the same But so accustomed were they to the darkness, and so place which the dispute between Romanists and the contented with it, that when the Sun appeared they Reformation holds with us. There was the same inter- shut their eyes against his healing beams. val, the same separation into sects, and the same anti- The discussions which sprang up in the market-place pathy.
between Paul and the philosophers soon attracted : Both sections, however, soon turned against Paul, as crowd. The Greeks were sharp enough to perceive that Sadducee and Pharisee, at a later period, combined at there was something deeper in the discourse of the Jerusalem for his destruction. All parties were espe- stranger than the daily gossip of the streets. By concially scandalized by his doctrine of " Jesus and the mon consent it was agreed that these matters were tzo resurrection.” These philosophers could not bear to be grave to be dealt with in the noise and jostling of the told of a crucified Redeemer. They would not receive market. All felt instinctively that there must be an the fact on which the salvation of the world depends, adjournment. The cry, “ To the Areopagus !" that Jesus died for our sins, and rose again for our justi- raised; and the whole mass-preacher, philosophers, and fication,
people-moved together from the low, level market-place Paul was as eager to win these Greek philosophers up to the venerable rock. The ascent, abrupt on the as he had been to win those low, ruffian fortune-tellers side, was an easy gradient on the other. The rock rose who haunted the precincts of the temple at Ephesus. to a height of about sixty feet above the plateau that lay He had learned from the Master to have no respect of between it and the much more elevated Acropolis. It persons. He looked on the learned and unlearned as was levelled on the top, and seats for the magistrates all alike lost, unless and until Christ were formed in were cut in the rock. The Temple of Theseus, the nust them. These were noble specimens of humanity, but ancient, and still the best preserved of their shrines,
was close by. The Acropolis, crowned with the Temple Thoughtful heathens of that time were much exercised about
of Minerva, the patroness of the city, overhung the spot the shadow which the prospect of death casts over the path of
as the Castle rock of Edinburgh overhangs the plateat the living. They wove many curious and acute reasonings to- on which Heriot's Hospital stands. gether, by way of covering ; but, alas! these threads, though exhibiting great ingenuity, possessed no power. Cicero--“Tus
In this open-air court all the great trials of religion culan Questions," Book I-puts the matter thus :
-All men are and politics had been conducted. Grand association either alive or dead. Those who are alive are free from death, and those who are dead are free from it; therefore all are free,
were connected with the spot. In this case it was not and none should fear. He points out, with laborious hair- the trial of a criminal. No charge was preferred against splitting, that no man has anything to do with death. It cannot
Paul. It was an adjournment to this place of grane come to the living, for when it comes, he is no longer living, but dead; and it cannot come to the dead, for he is already past it.
and solenın traditions, that, under the presidency of the How poor are these speculations of philosophy, in presence of the magistrates and in presence of the people, the sublime gospel of Christ! + See a sketch of the Stoic philosophy at page 358 of this Num
themes concerning man and his relation to God, broached ber, by the late Dr. James Hamilton.
by the Jewish stranger, might be ressoned out. Here