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fufilled. Archelaus succeeded his
know to refuse the evil and choose
As the second series of kings was to end before the child knew "how to refuse the evil and choose the good," and as peace was to continue until he had attained this knowledge, it follows, that the termination of this series of kings would not be attended with such judgments as accompanied the removal of the house of David from the throne. The fifteenth' verse seems thus to have very great force and propriety.
Now, the second series of kings in Judæa began about 107 years before Christ, and continued in the family of Maccabeus till Herod the Great, about thirty-seven years before Christ, overcame Antigonus, and obtained the regal power and title. Herod died a few months after the birth of our Saviour. Scott, understanding the age of the child in verse fifteen, to be two or three years, supposes the prophecy accomplished in some sense by the death of Herod.
But on the supposition that the age denoted in verse fifteen is that above contended for, the prophecy has been exactly and remarkably
On either supposition, the termination of this series of kings was in peaceable times, and attended with no extraordinary calamities to the people of Judæa.
Thus, if we apply to the word "kings" the idea of series of kings, it is impossible to refer the prophecy to any other than to Jesus Christ; and it fixes the time at which he was to be born-namely, just before the end of the second series of kings.
Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer.
THE inquiry which has taken
W. H. observes, that the English
The date of Herod's death not being exactly known, these paragraphs are writbe taken to them on account of this unten subject to any objection which may certainty.
is in many instances grossly incorrect. But I beg leave to state in reply, that not only have I attentively compared it with the original, and found it to be almost invariably faithful and spirited; but M. Malan himself asssured me, that, having minutely examined it, he thought it not only most correct, but the best translation of any of his works into the English language. I would just notice two of W. H.'s criticisms upon the translation, which appear to me to be altogether erroneous. He speaks of the phrase employed by the translator, "Believe in God," instead of "believe God," as incorrect. But," believe God" and "believe in God" are used synonymously in Scripture. Thus the sacred historian, in Genesis xv. 6, tells us that Abraham "believed in the Lord;" while the Apostle, in the fourth chapter of the Romans, speaks of the patriarch "believing God," and immediately after uses the expression "believe on God," precisely in the same sense.
W. H. has also evidently mistaken the meaning of the following sentence, "Mais ce sont des Chrêtiens que le Seigneur cherche et appelle;" which he says ought to be rendered as follows, "But it is Christians that the Lord seeks for and calls." (p. 263, Ch. Obs.) Had this been M. Malan's meaning, he would have been chargeable with an egregious error in doctrine, directly at variance with Scripture, as well as contrary to our most approved standards. So far from Christians being those whom the Lord seeks and calls, we know that it is the "ungodly," those who are "dead in trespasses and sins." The true translation obviously is, "Christians are those whom the Lord seeks and calls:" that is to say, in order to be a Christian, it is not enough to belong to a particular sect, but we must be sought and effectually called by the Lord.
I was astonished to find in W. H.'s paper a sentiment of the most unCHRIST. OBSERV. No. 308.
guarded and unscriptural nature, and which surely ought to be corrected. W. H. asserts (p. 259, line 12, first column), that the believer performs good works, "not because it is his duty to do them." This doctrine is the very spirit of Antinomianism: it is not only diametrically opposite to M. Malan's sentiments, but it is highly disparaging to the eternal and unchangeable law of God. It is true that W. H. in other parts of his paper seems to contradict this statement; but still it ought not to be allowed to pass unnoticed. The Law is to be regarded in two points of view: 1st, Materially, for its mere preceptive part, and as it teaches us what is the will of God; or, 2dly, Formally, as it is a covenant, whether of works or grace. The Law considered materially is always the same, being the transcript of the Divine image. It is eternal, unchangeable, and everlasting. All the creatures of God, in every situation, are bound to obey it, and can never be freed from this obligation. Both under the covenant of works and under that of grace, the matter of the Law is the same. The believer, being united to Christ, is for ever freed from the Law as a covenant of works," the whole power and sanction of which," to use the words of Dr. Owen, "was conferred upon Christ, and in him fulfilled and ended." But he who believes in Christ, though he be delivered from the curse of the Law, is not freed from its precept. Whether a man is under the covenant of works or that of grace, in either case he is bound, though under the influence of very different motives, to perform good works; that is to say, to obey the Law. The language of the law of works is, "If thou wouldst enter into life eternal, keep the commandments;" that of the law of Christ is, "If ye love me, keep my commandments:" and so far from good works not being a duty, we are told, in the eighty-ninth Psalm, that the disobedience of the believer is to be 3 N
punished with a rod and his iniquity with stripes. The Apostle says, "Do we make void the Law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the Law"--that is, we establish it as a covenant of works, which has been fully performed by Christ; and also as a rule of life, which we have the strongest motives to obey. The moment, then, that we are delivered from the Law as a covenant of works, this unchangeable law becomes our guide to teach us that obedience which we owe to God, and from which neither man nor angel can ever be liberated.
FAMILY SERMONS.-No. CCXXIV. Prov. ix. 6. Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.
TRUE religion includes two particulars, called in Scripture ceasing to do evil, and learning to do well; putting off the old man, and putting on the new; taking from us the heart of stone, and giving to us a heart of flesh. It implies something to be renounced, and something to be espoused; something to be given up, and something to be gained. It is being turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God; or, according to our text, forsaking the way of the foolish, which leads to death; and walking in the way of understanding, that we may live. Are we then anxious for the salvation of our souls? Do we wish to be safe and happy in time and throughout eternity? Let us inquire in what consists that great and essential change of character which is to prepare us to meet our God; let us examine the course and the end of those two paths, in the one or other of which all mankind are walking, but which terminate in the most opposite directions,-the one leading to everlasting happiness, the other to eternal destruction. It is a subject which demands, and will repay, our most diligent search.
It involves our best interests; "it is our life." To come to a right conclusion concerning it, and to act accordingly, is the truest wisdom; it will be our introduction to a state of life, of peace, and of never-ending blessedness. To neglect to inquire into it, or to refuse practically to follow up our convictions when we have done so, is the height of rashness and folly, and will prove the eternal ruin of our souls.
Let us then seriously, and with diligent prayer for the blessing of God upon our meditations, proceed to consider, First, what are the two ways mentioned in the text, the way of the foolish and the way of understanding; and, Secondly, the importance of forsaking the one and going in the other.
First, then, let us inquire what are the two ways mentioned in our text -namely, the way of the foolish and the way of understanding.
Now, if we would obtain a right knowledge on this subject, we must not consult the opinions of the world, or listen to the prejudices or passions of our own hearts; but must go at once to the word of God, and there learn what is true wisdom and what is folly, what are the ways of life and what are the ways of death.
1. And, first, with regard to the character of the foolish-whom and whose ways we are to forsake
how different is the estimate of the word of God from the current opinions of mankind! The world usually account that man foolish who does not make the things of this life, in one or other of its aspects, the great object of his desires. The covetous man thinks him foolish who neglects the pursuit of riches, or is not skilful in obtaining them; the man of pleasure, him who does not endeavour to secure ease and amusement; the ambitious man, him who does not attain worldly honours; the man who is proud of his talents or learning, him who is beneath him in mental acquirements. But, in the estimate of Scripture, though we had the worldly wisdom of each
or all these classes of persons, and had not something infinitely above it, we should benumbered among the foolish. The rich man spoken of by our Lord, whose ground brought forth plentifully, and who intended skilfully to unite the love of money with the love of pleasure to increase his treasures, and build new barns and storehouses for them, while at the same time he said to his soul, Eat, drink, and be merrywas accounted a fool. And why? because he was laying up treasures for himself upon earth, and was not rich towards God; because he disregarded the great end and object of his being; because he made no preparation for death; because he was seeking happiness in the shortlived delights of worldly affluence and gratification, when he knew not that within a few hours-that very night-his soul should be required of him. Well, then, might the Apostle say, that "they that will be rich"-that is, who make the acquisition of money, or indeed of any thing merely worldly, their great object of desire and exertion-"fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition."
In short, sin of every kind-irreligion, disobedience to God, and carelessness respecting our immortal interests-is called in Scripture foolishness. It is the fool who says in his heart that there is no God; and of the same character are all who live as if there were none. "Fools despise wisdom "-that is, especially, religious wisdom-" and hate knowledge." "Fools make a mock at sin." "They say to God, Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways." "It is an abomination to fools to depart from evil." "We ourselves," says St. Paul, were sometimes foolish;" and why? Because, he adds, we were "disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another."
And can any folly be greater, than sporting, as it were, upon the brink of eternity; calling down upon us the anger of our Almighty Creator; rejecting the means which he has provided for our pardon and reconciliation, or perverting the Gospel of his mercy to our own destruction? "O foolish Galatians!" says the Apostle, "who hath bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth?" Now, what especially rendered them liable to this charge of folly was, that they did not sin through ignorance; they were well acquainted with the way of salvation: "Christ had been evidently set forth crucified among them :" they knew the doctrines of the Gospel, though they had corrupted them: they even made a zealous profession of religion, but it was not in simplicity of heart, for they had turned aside from "the truth as it is in Jesus;" and hence says the Apostle, "Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" "Ye did run well. Who did hinder you, that ye should not obey the truth?"
The foolish, then, include all persons, of every name and class, who live in sin, who neglect God, who break his laws, who slight or pervert his Gospel, who choose this world for their portion, who are careless respecting their eternal salvation, who believe not the record which he has given us of his Son, and embrace not the offer of mercy which he has made to us through his infinite merits and all-sufficient atonement.
2. Such being the way of the foolish, we may easily infer what is the way of understanding. "Behold," said Job, "the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding." "The knowledge of the Holy," says Solomon, in the chapter from which our text is taken, "is understanding; "and" a good understanding," says the Psalmist, "have all they who do his commandments." The
truly wise man, then, is he who lives not "in the world as of the world;" but who, viewing all earthly things as infinitely subordinate to the concerns of the soul and of eternity, makes the glory of God and his own everlasting welfare the great objects of his care; who is anxious to "work out his salvation," and to walk in that narrow way which leads to life everlasting that way of wis dom, which, rugged and intricate as it may seem to those who have not entered it, is the only true way of pleasantness, and the paths of which are peace.
These two ways being thus set before us, we are to consider,
Secondly, the importance of forsaking the one and going in the other. "Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding."
1. And, first, let us inquire why we must forsake the foolish-that is, as we have seen, the ungodly-ungodly companions, ungodly practices, ungodly thoughts, ungodly books, every thing that is ungodly. It might be sufficient to satisfy our reason to answer, that our Creator has commanded us to forsake them; that He who has a just right to all our services has given us laws which we are bound to obey, confirming them by the sanction of his own supreme authority. But, in addition to the assertion of his own right to command, he is pleased to appeal to our hopes and fears, by promises and threatenings adapted to our condition and feelings; and such an appeal is made to us in the text: "Forsake the foolish, and live;" implying that the ways of the foolish are ways of death; death, not merely natural, which, in consequence of the fall of Adam, all are subject to, but death spiritual and eternal. This death includes the separation of the soul from God, who is the fountain of life; an alienation of heart from his service; the absence of his favour; the eternal loss of his presence in heaven; and the infliction of his anger in the
world of never-ending darkness and despair. Now, to all this we expose ourselves by our spiritual folly. Shall we not, then, forsake so dangerous a path, a path beset with thorns and snares, and which must lead to everlasting perdition? And more especially shall we not be anxious to do so, when a most merciful promise is added, that in so doing we shall "live?" "If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if, through the Spirit, ye mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." And what is this life? It answers to the death before mentioned; it is life spiritual, and life eternal. The Christian, it is said, "lives according to God in the spirit; "he is "crucified with Christ; nevertheless he lives; and the life which he now lives in the flesh he lives by the faith of the Son of God, who loved him, and gave himself for him;""his spirit is already life, because of righteousness;" and he looks forward to a world where," when Christ, who is his life, shall appear," he shall be for ever with him; and "shall eat of the tree of life," and "wear the crown of life," and "reign in life, by Jesus Christ."
2. But, in addition to the command to forsake the foolish, our text adds, " And go in the way of understanding." These two duties are indeed connected and inseparable; for the first step out of the pathi of destruction, is a step in the path of life; yet it is important that each should be particularly noticed, because we are too apt to content ourselves with a few feeble advances, a few superficial attainments in religion, as if the victory were complete when we are but girding on our armour for the warfare. But true religion is a state of constant progress: we do not forsake one path that we may stand still or loiter in another; but that, having quitted the wrong track, and entered the right one, we may press on with vigour to the conclusion of our journey. It is not enough that we have learned that the ways of