Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

and Strabo. But Stanley believes that if even the Hebrew Sacred Scriptures were lost irrevocably, that, from the account of the Jews by Tacitus and Strabo, we should know they were the most remarkable nation of ancient Asia. The traditions of Josephus are very full, and the works of Josephus are the most valuable writings that there are, which confirm the general drift of the statements in Holy Writ. The record of one of the earliest migrations of a family or tribe of the high lands of Asia toward a region further southward and westward is found in the ninth chapter of the Book of Genesis. Terah and his sons Abram, Haran and Nahor dwelt somewhere in the Asiatic highlands with their flocks and herds and slaves, perhaps upon the upper Euphrates, in a place called Ur of the Chaldees. They were descendants of Shem, and may be reasonably supposed to have inherited some degree of noble religious sentiment from the great forefathers of a yet earlier day. Among “the legends the Rabbins have told * is one which indicates that Abram was of those Chaldean shepherd astronomers, who, by their patient watchfulness of the movements among the heavenly orbs, gathered knowledge of the universe. All true knowledge, whether of the visible and material world, or of the spiritual and moral verities, tends to man's advancement to a loftier plane of spirituality. We have, in Genesis, the simple statement that the divine word came to Terah, and at its call he led his tribe from the mysterious Ur of the Chaldees, toward a region further south along the line of the noble rivers as they plunged down from the eternal hills toward unknown regions of fertility, and came unto Haran. Here we may understand that there was a pause of greater or less duration for this patriarchal and pastoral party. Again comes this word of divine direction to Abram, inviting him onward toward Canaan, and he and his wife and nephew, Lot, were ready to advance to the country where all coveted blessings were promised them abundantly. I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” We may turn to the Talmud and the Koran and there find other particulars which round out the very simple account in Genesis, Greek or Asiatic writers represent Abraham as “a great man of the East,” or as a conquering prince, winning his way by the sword, as he sought a new land in which to establish his tribe. The names of this patriarch, Abram, and later, Abraham, are most significant. Abram was The lofty Father, from Abba, Father. Abraham was a name borne after he had had the divine assurance that he was to be the founder or father of a numerous race, and means “the father of multitudes.” It was a prophetic name, indicating that vast multitudes, countless as the stars, should look up to him as their ancestor and their model of faithfulness to God. He was called “The Friend of God,” and by the Mahommedans simply “The Friend.” His faithfulness seems to have consisted in hearkening to the “Inward Witness” in “Minding the Light.” From this we learn that he perceived that the images or teraphim of which Arab tradition

says, Terah his Father was a maker, were not of any avail, but that there was one only spritual Father to whom all the tribes of mankind owed allegiance and love, and this supreme Creator and Father would direct the footsteps of the faithful, not only guiding them aright, but restraining them from evil. Many in our own time have pointed to the attempted sacrifice of Isaac by his venerable and venerated father Abraham as a proof that the patriarch was only a grossly superstitious barbarian at that time. But it is more congenial to our ideas to rest in the thought that Abraham in his zeal and love misunderstood the divine requirings, and was willing to make the greatest possible surrender if indeed the Most High required it. We know the act was turned aside, and the beloved son of promise was not permitted to be harmed, neither was the pure heart of Abraham permitted to suffer an anguish beyond any other conceivable pain. Human sacrifice, even the sacrifice of children was common in the earlier stages of civilization, and this may have been the turning point for the Hebrew forefathers. One thousand years later, one of the greatest of his descendants, another Friend of God whose lips had been touched with a live coal from off the altar, thus spake to troubled and tempest-tossed Israel: “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord : I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, nor of he goats. Wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do well.” The truth had set the inspired Isaiah free from superstitious rites. Abraham had been enabled to hear the Eternal voice of God, his Guide and Comforter, and had been led to entire consecration to the Divine Will, but was not permitted in his zeal to continue the dread. ful rite of human sacrifice, common to his age and race. These sons of Shem and of Arphaxad were doubtless among the noblest of the tribes of mankind in this early day, but this attempted act of faith of the devout Abraham was rejected upon the mountain altar of Gerezim, and he was enlightened to juster conceptions of the Divine Being. Says Stanley : “The sacrifice, the resignation of the will was accepted; the literal sacrifice of the act was repelled. On the one hand, the great principle was proclaimed that mercy is better than sacrifice—that the sacrifice of self is the highest and holiest offering that God can receive. On the other hand, the inhuman superstitions, toward which the ancient ceremonial of sacrifice was perpetually tending, were condemned and cast out of the true worship of the Church forever.” * This chosen and anointed servant of the Highest, has been designed as the “Friend or the Beloved of God. “In him,” says Stanley, “was exemplified the fundamental truth of all religion, that God has not deserted the world; that His work is carried on by His chosen instruments; that good men are not only His creatures and His servants but His friends.” Max Muller tells us further that the title applied to Abraham, indicated the correlative truth, not only was Abraham beloved of God, but God was beloved by him. To expand this truth was the religion, the communion with the Supreme, which raised Abraham above his fellow men. His lofty mind and pure heart rose beyond worship of the heavenly bodies;–he could render no slavish idolatry to kings and princes, but the voice of the Spiritual Divinity, which was heard by the attentive heart, was recognized, and the faithful one experienced the Spiritual Baptism which made him willing to leave his country, kindred, and father's house, to go to a far land where true monotheism had found, or was to find its abiding place. Says Baron Bunsen : “Abraham is the Zoroaster of the Semitic race ; but he is more than the Zoroaster,

in proportion as his sense of the Divine was more

spiritual, and more free from the philosophy of nature, and the adoration of the visible world.” To Philo, a learned Alexandrian Jew who lived at the time of the Christian era, and wrote many works on the Jewish Religion, has been ascribed the legend which is thus told in the words of the Koran. “When night overshadowed him (Abraham) he saw a star, and said, ‘This is my Lord.” But when it set, he said, ‘I like not those that set.” And when he saw the moon rising he said, ‘This is my Lord.” But when the moon set, he answered, ‘Verily if my Lord direct me not in the right way, I shall be as one of those who err.’ And when he saw the sun rising, he said, ‘This is my Lord. This is greater than the star or moon.’ But when the sun went down, he said, ‘O my people, I am clear of these things; I turn my face to Him who hath made the heaven and the earth.’” It is of interest to the inquirer to know that Ur of the Chaldees is believed to have been the seat of the sun-worship in antique times, as it certainly was in the fourth century, A.D. The urodern Edessa is probably on the same site. The passage in Genesis xv, 6: “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness,” has this sense, according to Stanley. “He was supported, he was built up, he reposed as a child in its mother's arms, in the strength of God’s and it was counted to him for righteousness.” Faith was in him “the evidence of things not seen.” Chaldea, in Abraham's day, was probably a splendidly fertile highland, watered by canals, shadowed by Palms, Tamarisks and Acacias, and the reign of Sargon I, was the time when the local divinities were collected in a vast mythology, the acknowledgment of which was enforced by the supreme ruler (Rawlinson’s “Ancient Monarchies”). There are legends which set forth the persecutions of this pure hearted seeker after spiritual verities, but his soul remained “as a white lily in muddy waters,” amidst the seductive influences which seem to have won over Terah. Great tower temples existed all over the land, on which even human sacrifices were offered. His father's house apostate ; his course, if he would preserve himself and his household, was to depart from the presence of the Chaldean allurements and take refuge in regions further west, where he might plant a pure and simple worship of obedience to the Divine requirings. There are abundant evidences of grandeur of soul and deep perceptions of Spiritual Truth. “Yet,” says Geikie, “it cannot fully explain so unique a phenomena to ascribe to

mined, if possible, to bring her into port.

him any qualities however lofty; there must have been besides, as Scripture affirms, a direct revelation and heavenly guidance.” Thus do the researches of explorers, the inferences of the most profound scholars, the labors of the most able searchers after historic clues, all point to revelations which confirm the affirmations of our own apostolic fathers who, in the 17th century effected a return to original principles, identical with those unfolded to most exalted souls of the sons of men in the dawn of civilization. Truly we have Abraham to our father, if we do the deeds of Abraham. S. R.

FAITH ILLUSTRATED.

Several years since, being at a small sea-port in Massachusetts, one of those easterly storms came up which so often prove fatal to vessels and their crews on that coast. The wind had blown strongly from the northeast for a day or two; and as it increased to a gale, fears were entertained for the safety of a fine ship which had been, from the beginning of the northeaster, lying off and on the bay, apparently without any decision on the part of her officers which way to direct her course, and who had once or twice refused the offer of a pilot.

On the following morning, an old weather-beaten

tar was seen standing on the highest point of land in

the place, looking anxiously at her through his glass, while others listened with trembling to his remarks upon the apparently doomed vessel. She was completely land-locked, as sailors say (that is, surrounded by land), except in the direction from which the wind blew ; and as between her and the shore extensive sandbanks intervened, her destruction was inevitable unless she could make the harbor. At length a number of resolute young men, perfectly acquainted with the intricate navigation of the bay and harbor, put off in a small schooner, deterA tremendous sea was rolling in the bay, and as the little vessel made her way out of the harbor the scene became one of deep and exciting interest. Now lifted up on the top of a dark wave, she seemed trembling on the verge of destruction; then plunging down into the trough of the sea was lost from our view, not even the top of her mast being visible, though probably twenty feet high ; and a “landsman " would exclaim, “She has gone to the bottom.” Thus alternately rising and sinking, she at length reached the ship, hailed and tendered a pilot, which was again refused. Irritated by the refusal the “skipper” put his little vessel about and stood in for the harbor, when a gun was discharged from the laboring vessel and the signal for a pilot run up to her mast-head. The little schooner was laid to the wind, and as the ship came up she was directed to follow in her wake, until within range of the light-house, where a smoother sea would allow them to run alongside and put a pilot on board. In a few minutes the vessels came side by side, passing each other, and the pilot springing into the ship's chains was soon on her deck. The mysterious movements of the vessel were now explained. She had taken a pilot some days before who was ignorant of his duty, and the crew, aware of his incompetency, were almost in a state of mutiny. When first hailed from the schooner, the captain was below, but hearing the first pilot return the hail went on deck, and deposing him from his trust, at once reversed his answer by firing the signal gun. The new pilot having made the necessary inquiries about the working of the ship, requested the captain and his trustiest man to take the wheel, gave orders for the stations of his men, and charged the captain for the peril of his ship not to change her course a hand breadth but by his order. His port and bearing were those of a man confident in his knowledge and ability to save the vessel; and as the sailors winked to each other and said, “That is none of your land sharks,” it was evident that confidence and hope were reviving within them. All the canvas she could bear was now spread to the gale, and while the silence of death reigned on board, she took her way on the larboard directly towards the foaming breakers. On, on she flew, until it seemed from her proximity to those breakers, that her destruction was inevitable. “Shall I put her about?” shouted the captain, in tones indicative of intense excitement. “Steady,” was the calm reply of the pilot, when the sea was boiling like a cauldron just under her bows. In another moment the same calm, bold voice pronounced the order, “About ship,” and she turned her head from the breakers, and stood boldly off upon the other tack. “He knows what he is about,” said the captain to the man by his side. “He is an old salt, a sailor every yarn of him " was the language of the seaman one to another; and the trembling passengers began to hope. The ship now neared two sunken rocks, the place of which was marked by the angry breaking and boiling of the sea; and she seemed driving directly on them. “Full and steady ?" was pronounced in tones of calm authority by the pilot, who stood with folded arms in the ship's bows, the water drenching him completely as it broke over her bulwarks. She passed safely between them ; the order of turning on the other tack was given, and again she stood toward the fearful breakers. Nearer and nearer she came, and still no order from the pilot, who stood like a statue, calm and unmoved, amid the raging elements. The vessel labored hard, as the broken foaming waves roared around her, and seemed just on the verge of striking, when “About ship,” in a voice like thunder, arose about the fury of the tempest. Again she stood upon the starboard tack, and soon entered the harbor and cast anchor in safety. One hour later she could not have been rescued, for by the time she had reached the anchorage no vessel could have carried a rag of sail in the open bay. Ship and crew and passengers, more than one hundred in all, must haye perished. When the order was given to “back their fore topsails, and let go the anchor,” a scene ensued which might baffle the description of the painter or poet. The captain sprung from the wheel and caught the pilot in his arms, the sailors and passengers crowded around. Some hung around his neck, others embraced his knees, and tears streamed down the face of old seamen who had weathered many a storm, braved untold dangers. All were pressing forward if only to grasp the hand of their deliverer in token of gratitude. And now for the application.

The ship's crew had faith in their pilot. Their faith amounted to confidence. They gave up the ship to his direction. It was obedient confidence. They did not say, “He will save us,” and sit down indolently and neglect his orders. The helm was turned, the sails were trimmed, and every rope loosened or tightened as he directed. Nor did they disobey, though sometimes apparently rushing into the jaws of destruction.— Baptist Register.

A MEMORY AND AN OUTL00K.

We can all appreciate the following, taken from the leading article in the British Friend of First month, 1885.

“I find amongst some old memoranda of my early life, the following sketch of the Meeting which I attended when a boy :

“The little Meeting-house, standing back from the street, and approached through a neatly-kept graveyard, is a sacred spot in my memory. The congregation consisted of a dozen or twenty persons. At the head sat a fine, patriarchal old man, with long white hair, and a most placid face, upon which beamed constantly a tranquil half-smile—as of the very angel of peace and good will to man. He dressed in a snuff-colored suit, with knee-breeches, and great silver buckles on his shoes. His hat was round-topped and capacious brimmed. No spot nor stain of earth was ever seen upon his person, or dress, or conduct amongst men. And such as he was, such was his spouse. She wore long silk mittens, and a crape shawl crossed faultlessly over her breast. Another person whom I remember (I sat opposite to him) was a spare, somewhat more worldly-looking man, whom I regarded as a terrible sinner, because I often used to see the tears stealing from his eyes as

he sat silently pondering the secrets of his heart and

melting into tenderness under the loving teaching of the Spirit of Christ. I thought he was crying because he was so naughty. I wondered what he had been doing, and I pitied him from the bottom of my child-heart. We had not much vocal ministry, but I distinctly remember to have heard the French accents of the voice of that other ‘apostle, born out of due time'—Stephen Grellet. “There were ministers in those days who were gifted with a real spirit of discernment, and could ‘divide the word ' to a hair’s-breadth. One such (the late John Finch Marsh) came to my father's house on a “family visit.” He was then a Saintly-looking elderly man, evidently weighted with a load of real humility and a deep sense of the sacredness and responsibility of his calling. After he had addressed my father and mother, a pause ensued. Believing that he had been really sent by his Divine Master, and being at that time specially depressed by a feeling almost of hopelessness as to realizing the state to which I so earnestly aspired, I put up a silent prayer that he might be commissioned to help me. Immediately he turned towards me and told me that although I was a perfect stranger to him, a feeling of strong and loving encouragement arose in his mind for me. He bade me be patient and trustful and faithful ; and then he assured me that I should be brought out into a large place, and find freedom and strength beyond what I could at that time imagine. When the opportunity was over he was very affectionate to me, and we were both deeply touched with a sense of the loving-kindness of the Lord, and of His special condescension and guidance on that OCC8 S1OI). “I could multiply instances of this genus of real saints of forty or fifty years ago—men whom conventional peculiarity and usage seemed almost to have cut off from ordinary human fellowship, and who had got polished up in secret, after the similtude of those Oriental palaces whose walls smell of cedar and whose winows are agates. They seemed to be walking reverently and softly about in their own inner paradises—meeting there, as in the cool of the day Him whose voice they delighted to hear. Surely human soul-stuff of this crystalline type is the most beautiful thing the world contains ! “Well now, I have no doubt that the principles which nurtured such individual character, and such service as this, were grandly true and sound principles —much better than some which have taken hold of Society since. . I decline to believe that these principles “have had their day.' Being a disciple of the theory of the survival of the fittest in the moral and spiritual world, I do not think it at all likely that ideas and plans – which for their ‘weakness and unprofitableness' were set aside and supplanted by far sounder and better things two centuries and a-half ago—will now succeed in permanently reasserting and re-establishing themselves. They are having a partial day of trial, and their appearance may be tending usefully to stir up the virtuous emulation of the conservative element which still so largely exists amongst us. . For conservatism itself—political and religious, if it is to continue to exist at all—must move, and must move forward and onward. Now movement, from one set of circumstances and surroundings to another absolutely involves a certain degree of change and novelty of form and outward appearance. I am not only not afraid of ‘change,’ but I am satisfied that it is a necessary condition of healthy life, I have lately received from a correspondent, who is a thorough conservative at heart, the following:— ‘It has always seemed to me that the adhesion of the ‘old party’, amongst Friends to old things, simply because they are old, hinders them from the sympathy which they deserve on some points. Our witness should be to a living Spirit, guiding and teaching us now—not to the absolute truth of everything that Friends apprehended that they were taught 200 years ago:' that is, as though it were binding upon us because they believed it—much less as though we must needs express and apply it precisely as they did. “Nobody, perhaps will dispute that there was something the matter in those ‘good old days.” What was it? The charge which I find it most difficult to refute is conveyed in the word “Quietism.’ I fear that the Friends of that period were (and that Friends of this class are still) resting too much satisfied with having firm and quiet possession of the Truth without using it faithfully and diligently. Having the “talent,’ and glorying in its possession,

we seem to think that in order to “occupy with it,” it is enough to wear it, as it were, and exhibitit upon our shoulders, not coveting earnestly the power and the opportunity to be made the means of investing many others with it.

“If our forefathers of the last and preceding generation had continued to be as much in earnest in teaching and spreading the Truth as the men of the first period of the Society were—using every opportunity that observation could supply or intelligence, devise to put into public practice, and to actual test, the power and adaptability of their principles—it would perhaps never have been discovered that those principles were not suited to all the needs of ‘mission and school work.

“A genuine Friend should not withhold his sympathy and co-operation from any sober effort to answer the cry of the uninstructed and spiritually needy, provided that he can join in it in a simple and consistent way. And if our ministers and ‘concerned Friends object, as they have great right and need to do, to religious meetings ‘conducted by one or two persons—meetings in which there is an obvious distrust of silent waiting upon God, and in which congregational singing and other sensational means are resorted to, let them covet earnestly the commission and the opportunities to hold public meetings for like purposes, but in all the grand simplicity and freedom of faith in the unseen presence of the living Christ.”

EDUCATIONAL.

ON THE WALUE OF SWARTHMORE’S TRAINING. (ALUMNI ARTICLE.)

The older we grow, the more we are convinced that Swarthmore College is one of the places to acquire a good, practical education. Having been away from her fostering walls for several years, we can look back with pleasure, not unmingled with pain for the wasted hours, to our student days. Nothing makes a better foundation for a useful and prosperous life than a good education and a happy childhood and youth to look back upon ; Swarthmore gives both. It is not a University or a College of the highest grade; but its curriculum is liberal and comprehensive, both in arts and science.

There are two sides to education, the practical and the beautiful. The value of the practical part of the education given by our Alma Mater is well attested by the fruits of every department. We should be proud of our Alumni; for including the class of '83, they are at work in the following way:

25 per cent. teachers, 7 per cent. physicians, 26 per cent. in business life, 10 per cent. lawyers, 9 per cent. engineers. The remaining 23 per cent. are women, 13 per cent. of whom are married and have thus taken up their life work, and 10 per cent. are at home gracing society in various ways. Of the teachers all are considered first-class and are doing good work, commanding responsible positions, and receiving as much compensation as any similar set of teachers of the same age. Our physicians are working hard and give promise of extending their fields of usefulness. Of the business men, lawyers and engineers, it is

too early to speak, but we can say truthfully, that they are the peers of any set of college graduates of the same age and experience, while some of our number have gone far above the average line. The figures in this statement are practically correct and should encourage young men pursuing the college course to persevere to the end. They may be, at graduation, behind their fellows who started the actual race of life a little earlier; but in almost every case they will be able to obtain promotion faster and in a short time will far outstrip their acquaintances who have not had the advantage of a collegiate education. There are one or two things experience has taught us, and roughly, too; and these are, that the world outside of Swarthmore does know something; that you must take hold at the beginning, for you are at the foot of the hill, not half way up, as you fondly imagine; and that life is a monotonous repetition, day by day, and must be kept in the same straight rut. It is easy enough to do the same thing for a day or two, but to do it each day for a lifetime requires rare nerve and courage. In a business light, almost absolute correctness is demanded; if you would accomplish your aim you must be exact, or as an old friend of our's says, “you must remember that 2 and 2 make 4 and make it every time, every way.” The percentage of marriages among the young women is large, although the list does not include those engaged ; so their matrimonial prospects will not suffer in comparison with those of other girls, by a Swarthmore education, while their chance of earning a sufficient livelihood is almost a certainty. So much for the practical side of the question. The beauty of a liberal education can be attested by all who possess it. Life is made much more enjoyable; and one is able to improve his spare moments and appreciate the problems of existence in an entirely different way from his fellow men who have not acquired habits of study and close observation. The exterior surroundings of the college, its interior associations and its general liberality all tend to develop a useful and important sense of individual responsibility in the students, which enables them to step out into the world with more of a home-like training than can be obtained at most institutions of learning; and this we think one of the strong points of co-education.— The Swarthmore Phoenic.

WHY is it that most people find it so much easier to be earnest in their amusements than to be earnest in their work.” There could hardly be a greater contrast than between the slow pace of the average school-boy going to school, and the joyous unanimity with which a whole troop of school-boys will burst from the school-house when the day’s work is over. Other things being equal, a proposal to stop work is always sure of a wider popularity than a proposal to begin work. The truth is, that, in this particular, as in many others, men and women are too much like children who prefer candy to wholesome food. The question of pleasure is allowed to take the place of principal motive, instead of the question of duty. Yet no man will ever be likely to be successful as a man, until he decides, once for all, that his work is s deserving of enthusiasm and devotion as his play,

and that his work will get the benefit of that enthusiasm and that devotion which he would so willingly expend on his pleasure. It is all a question of the will and of the training of the will. When once there is the determination that one's legitimate work shall be performed with that whole energy of the mind which most people devote to play, work will cease to be a task, and will become, if not a pleasure, at least pleasurable. And work like that need spoil no one's capability to play, at the fitting time. Only, then, work will be work, and play will be play.— S. S. Times.

CORRESPON DEN CE.

WE feel to thank the many friends who contributed to the eleven barrels and nine trunks shipped by A. Hillborn & Co. The toys were a great delight to the childreu, and the supply of small picture cards will do for many schools. The clothing and pieces were most acceptable, as we have classes all day under the instruction of a sewing teacher, where vests, coats, and clothing that need mending, are taken, to teach them how to patch and mend, as taking care of what they have is as important a habit as making new things. Our great desire is to make these people useful in the position of life they will be likely to fill; and, unless we lift up the home, and teach such habits to girls as will fit them for the heads of homes, we fail in our duty to the race. They have been dependents for two centuries, and the ability to do for one's self, the capacity to bring out one's own powers, needs constant training under competent teachers. While the girls are busy with needle and thread, the boys of the class are being taught the use of tools. At first, only three out of seven (some aged 16) knew how to hold and drive a nail; for there are hundreds of homes where neither hammer, gimlet nor screw-driver could be found. Every one passing through the South must have noticed the shackling, shiftless condition of fences and outbuildings, even where the owners were well able to have them otherwise. It will take generations to overcome the example and practice in which many grew up; but the hope is in the boys and girls whose habits and characters are trained and formed with their book education. A donation of hardware from our friend, Robert Biddle, enabled us to start the carpenter work; but double the number of hammers, chisels and planes could be used, as boys have to wait their turns, and we do find nails go very fast the few pounds we buy, as well as the ones carefully drawn from boxes and barrels, and straightened for use. Broken chairs are mended, various things made for the use of the school, gates and fences fixed, tools sharpened on the grindstone, all under instruction which trains hand, eye and judgment; and if–oh! if we had a turning lathe, they would make things for sale, and the many visitors take away specimens of work. We are so crowded for space, the same room has to be used as a shoe shop. A pair of these shoes went to New Orleans, and the correspondent of the

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »