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children of Israel in Canaan, being well imagine them to have been models doomed to die in the wilderness. Yet of Phidias and Praxiteles. Their large thou shalt see the land before thee. This eyes, black as jet, sparkle with glances showing him the land which he was not of fire, while the long, silky eylashes to inherit, could not have been a mean- soften the expression and give a dreamy ingless act on the part of God. There appearance of melancholy. Their teeth must have been a peculiar satisfaction are small, white and well set, a fine, in his view of the land, which served to regular profile, a pale olive complexion confirm his faith, and to prepare his and a tall, elegant figure realize an acsoul for the great change which was he- complished type of distinction. As to fore him. There is at first view some- the women, they seem to have left phything melancholy in this closing scene sical perfection to the men; some posin the life of Moses. Moses is not per- sess fine eyes and hair, but as a rule mitted to see his life's labors crowned they have bad figures, and some defect with success. And this is the case with in face that generally spoils the goodthousands of other men, who die before featured. It is among them, however, they seem to have fulfilled their mission, that the old oriental customs are most and before they have enjoyed the fruits strictly preserved; while th of their toil. Such men's lives would be a tremendous failure, if they ended with their departure out of this world. But they live beyond, and they reap the reward of their work here.
Moses' obedience to these directions, and his mysterious death, are recorded in chapter xxxiv. Moses was not translate like Enoch and Elijah. He died, being a hundred and twenty years old, when as yet his eye was not dim nor his natural force abated. The burial of Moses is distinctly mentioned; but it is not clear who buried him. The subject of the sentence, he buried him (ver. 6) may have for its antecedent Jehovah, but it may also be indefinite, and the statement may simply mean that some one buried him. Joshua may have been with him when he died, and may also have buried him. If he had not been buried by the hands of a friend, how then could the general locality of his grave, a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-Peor, have become known? It was only the precise spot of his sepulchre that was unknown. For what reason it was concealed we do not know. Some have supposed that Moses, although he died, was shortly after raised from the dead, and that this accounts for his appearance on the mount of transfiguration. Matt. xvii. 3.
Much has been said in praise of Grecian beauty, and the men are handsome in every sense of the word. We might
gradually undergoing the process of
It was a colored preacher who said to his flock last Christmas Day: "We have a collection to make this morning, and for de glory of heaben, whichever of you stole Mister Jones' turkeys don't put anything on the plate." One who was there says, "Every blessed niggah in de church came down with the rocks."
LESSON 1.1. Phil. 4; 4-7,
Fourth Sunday in Advent.
KEY-NOTE: "Prepare ye the way of the Lord."
The Promised Redemption.-Isa. xl. 1–11.
1. Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
2. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins.
3. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
5. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
6. The voice said, Cry. And he said, What
What is the name of this Sunday? What is its key-note? What is the Church preparing for now? What must we do in order that Christ may be born in us? In what frame of mind then should we spend the season before us?
What is the subject of our Lesson to day? In what book of Scripture is it contained? Who was Isaiah? When did he live and prophesy? Isa. i. 1. What prophecy does he utter in the chapter preceding our lesson? verses 6-7. What was the cause of the Babylonian captivity? When did it begin? (B. C. 588). How long did it continue? Jer. xxix. 10. What was the condition of Jerusalem and of the Jews during this time?
VERSES 1-2. When was this prophecy ut tered? To what period of time does it refer? What is God represented as saying? Who are God's people? Who is to comfort them? Why? What announcement is to be made to Jerusa lem? What reason is given for the two facts announced? Was the punishment of Jerusalem greater than she deserved? Why then is it said that she had received double for all her sins?
VERSES 3-5. Whose voice is this that cries? Who is to prepare the way of the Lord? Where is it to be prepared? For what purpose? What is said of the mountains and hills? What of the rough and crooked places? What does this mean? Who removed all the obstacles in the way of Israel's return from captivity? How did all this serve to reveal the glory of
1. Jesus, Thy Church with longing eyes For Thine expected coming waits. When will the promised light arise,
And glory beam from Zion's gates?
shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof as the flower of the field:
7. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth ; because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.
8. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth : but the word of our God shall stand forever.
9. O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!
10. Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold his reward is with him, and his work before him.
11. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
the Lord? What guarantee is there given for the fulfillment of this prophecy? Was this prophecy absolutely fulfilled in Israel's deliverence from Babylon? To what else does it refer? Matt. iii. 3; John i. 23. How did John the Baptist serve to prepare the way of the Lord? How must we prepare it?
VERSES 6-8. Whose voice said, Cry? Who was he that said, What shall I cry? What is meant by the term all flesh? To what is all mankind compared here? In what respect? What causes grass and flowers to wither? Were the people of Israel as perishable as other men? What is the purpose of this reference to human frailty? What endures forever? What is meant by word of God here? What does St. Peter say of this word? 1 Pet. i. 24-25.
9. Who is addressed in this verse? What do Zion and Jerusalem represent? What is meant by good tidings? Who brings these? What are Zion and Jerusalem commanded to do? What are they to say to the cities of Judah? Why?
VERSES 10-11. What was the coming of the Lord God here spoken of? How is His power expressed here? How His righteousness? How His gentleness? Of what is Israel's redemption from Babylon a type? When did the Christian redemption begin? Is the Christian redemption as yet finished? When will the Lord come to finish it? How will He come then? Matt. xxiv. 30; Rev. xxii. 12. How may we prepare the way for that coming?
2. O come and reign o'er all the land;
Let Satan from his throne be hurled,
NOTES.-The Fourth Sunday in Advent is the day of preparation for the right celebration of the birth of Christ at the approaching festival of the Nativity. The Gospel is the account of the testimony of John the Baptist to the delegation of the Jewish Sanhedrim. The key-note of the day is expressed in the words of the prophet, in which John the Baptist also sums up the object and aim of his own mission: Prepare ye the way of the Lord. In many ways the Church is now preparing for Christmas. Old and young are busy in contributing to the pleasure and happiness of the season. Churches are decorated with evergreens and flowers, houses are put in order, Christmas-trees are gotten ready, delicacies are prepared, presents for friends are selected and hidden away. This busy outward preparation ought to remind us of the necessity also of inward preparation of the heart, by repentance and faith, in order that Christ may be born within us by the Spirit, and dwell in us as the hope of glory. The frame of mind in which we ought to spend this whole season, is well expressed in the epistle for the day: Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand."
The Promised Redemption. The subject of our Lesson to-day is the redemption promised to the captive Israelites in Babylon by the prophet Isaiah, and the still more glorious redemption in the fulness of time, of which Israel's deliverance from Babylon was but a type. The prophet Isaiah lived in the eighth century B. C. His prophetic activity began in the last year of the reign of Uzziah, and continued probably to the close of the reign of Hezekiah, that is, from 759 to about 696 B. C. In the chapter preceding our lesson, on occasion of the congratulatory embassy of Merodach-Baladan, to whom Heze kiah showed all his treasures, Isaiah (in verses 6, 7,) predicted the approaching Babylonian captivity of the Jews, which came upon them in consequence of their religious and moral corruption, and in consequence of their leaning upon the surrounding world-powers for protection and safety, and which continued during a period of seventy years,
namely, from B. C. 588.to 518. ing this period Jerusalem was in desolation, and the Jews were in a state of military captivity, in which they were no doubt often treated with great rigor, so that they spent much of their time in sighing for their native land. See Ps. cxxxvii. The Babylonian captivity, like Israel's bondage in Egypt, was a time of humiliation and suffering which the Jews never forgot, and which may serve as a figure of man's bondage under the power of sin and death.
VERS. 1-2. The prophecies beginning here (unless, as some suppose, they belong to another prophet) were probably delivered toward the close of Isaiah's life. The sickness of Hezekiah, which occasioned the embassy of MerodachBaladan, above spoken of, occurred about fifteen years before Hezekiah's death; and if the death of the prophet occurred about the same time, these prophecies concerning future deliverance must have been published during the last fourteen or fifteen years of his life; that is, between 711 and 696 B. C. The time to which the prophecy contained in our lesson refers, is the end of the Babylonish captivity, when God is about to redeem the people of Israel and bring them back again into their own land. Comfort. The original word here used means to express grief or compassion, to sympathize with and console one. Ye. The persons who are to do this are not named. The Septuagint puts in the word priests here, as if they were the ones addressed. Perhaps it is better to understand prophets. My people. Israel, though punished on account of its sins, and groaning in captivity, is still God's people. The covenant which God established with them is an everlasting covenant. The reason that the prophets are now called upon to comfort Israel, and to speak` comfortably and kindly to Jerusalem, is expressed in the following two statements: her warfare is accomplished, that is, the time of her trial and sorrow is ended; and her iniquities are pardoned. And the reason for these two facts is contained in the following: she hath received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins, which does not mean that the punishment of Jerusalem was really greater than she deserved, for then God would
be unjust, but is only a human way of saying that God regretted the misfortunes which had come upon her, just as a father may regret the punishment which he is forced to inflict upon a disobedient son, and after it is over, fear that it has been too severe. God speaks thus after a human manner in order to show His great tenderness for His people.
VERS. 3-5. The voice of him that crieth. It is not said whose voice this is; and we can, therefore, only say that it belonged to some heavenly messenger. Nor is it said whence it comes; for the phrase in the wilderness belongs not to crying, but to prepare. In the wilderness prepare ye the way of the Lord. The imagery here is derived from the oriental custom of sending out men to repair the roads and secure accommodations for a monarch, when he is about to travel through his dominions. The Lord here is about to come to His people in order to free them from their captivity and bring them back into their own country, and His servants are charged to prepare the way before Him in the wilderness, and make straight a highway in the desert. The terms wilderness and desert denote the same thing, namely, the desert region lying to the east of Palestine, through which the returning Jews would have to pass. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain, &c. This is no longer command, but prediction, and signifies that every obstacle in the way of the returning Jews shall be removed, and every hindrance overcome. The Lord was about to do this Himself. The glory of the Lord shall be revealed. The deliverance of the Jews from captivity, and their restoration to their own country, in spite of all difficulties and obstacles, was a glorious manifestation of the power and wisdom of Israel's God. For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it This is a guarantee for the fulfillment of this prophecy. What God hath spoken or decreed must come to pass. But now this prophecy, whose primary reference is undoubtedly to the return from Babylon, was fulfilled only relatively in that event, and refers therefore to a greater and more glorious deliverance or redemption, in which it shall be fulfilled absolutely. Its ultimate reference
is to our redemption in Christ. John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, who was sent into the world that Christ might be made manifest, referring to this prophecy, declared the aim of his mission to be to prepare the way of the Lord. This he did by calling men to repentance and leading them to believe in Jesus as the Christ. We prepare the way of the Lord in whatever we do to advance His kingdom in ourselves or in the world.
VERS. 6-8. The voice said, Cry. The same voice that had been heard before. And he, (or it) answered. The voice of the same or another heavenly messenger. All flesh, i. e. all mankind. Is grass, &c. Mankind here is compared to grass and to the flowers of the field, in respect of the uncertainty, brevity, frailty and vanity which characterize all human life. This comparison is a favorite one not only in prophecy, but also in poetry. It is found in Homer, the old Greek, who flourished probably a century earlier than the time of Isaiah. The spirit (breath, wind) of the Lord bloweth upon it. As the hot, scorching wind of the desert causes the grass to wither and the flowers to fade, so the punitive judgments of God consume the race of mortal men. Comp. Isa. Ixiv. 6. Surely the people is grass, i. e. as grass. The people of Israel, as well as other men, are subject to this law of speedy decay and death. But for what purpose is this reference to human frailty here? In order to keep alive faith even though God's promises may be long delayed. Generations may pass away, but the word of our God shall stand forever, and the fulfillment of its promises must come at last. The contemporaries of the prophet did not live to see its fulfillment, and the generation that returned from Babylon did not live to see its complete fulfillment; but five centuries later St. Peter, referring to this passage of Isaiah, and to the permanence of God's word which is here declared, says, "And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you." (1 Pet. i. 24, 25). St. Peter's meaning is that frail men can attain to real being, to everlasting life, only by being made partakers (being born again) of the undying, ever-abiding word of God.
VER. 9. 0 Zion, &c. Zion and Jeru- come again in the clouds of heaven, salem here are personified and addressed with power and great glory, (Matt. as living persons, representing the col-xxiv. 30), and when His reward shall lective body of God's prophets, priests be with Him, to give every man accordand servants, who serve as leaders of ing as his work shall be. By earnestly the entire body of God's people. That laboring for the spread of Christ's bringest good tidings, i. e. tidings of kingdom, and the perfecting of the redemption, of security, of peace and body of the saints, we may help to preof happiness. The Septuagint here uses pare the way for that coming of Christ the same word (evaggelizomenos) which in glory, and thus may we hasten the the angel uses (Luke ii. 10), when an- day of the Lord-not hasten unto itnouncing the birth of Christ. Say unto according to 2 Peter, iii. 12. the cities of Judah. Jerusalem is the head of the cities of Judah. It is her mission to point them to their God, that they may trust Him and obey Him. Behold your God, i. e. Jehovah coming to save His people. How little Jerusalem fulfilled this mission of pointing out to the Jews their God, we learn from the Gospels, especially such passages as Matt. xxi. 11, and John i. 11.
"For we really must have more fun."
Full blown from the brain of one.
"Let us ask of the Fairies "-'twas Maud that exclaimed
VERS. 10, 11. Behold, the Lord will come. This coming of the Lord refers primarily to the manifestation of His agency in the restoration of the Jews. Every act of deliverance of God's peo- And they all thought deep, till a plan did leap ple, and every act of judgment upon His enemies, is in a certain sense a coming of the Lord. The deliverance from Babylon was such a coming. In what follows there are expressed three distinct attributes, namely, His power, His righteousness, and His gentleness. With strong hand, &c. Declaration of His power. Nothing can hinder Him. No work is too hard for Him. His enemies, and the enemies of His people, can not prevent Him from accomplishing His people's salvation. His reward is with him, &c. Declaration of His righteousness. He comes to reward every man according to his work. This will be the case especially when He shall come in the last day to execute judgment. Rev. xxii. 12. He shall feed his flock gather the lambs gently lead those that give suck. Declaration of His gentleness. The strong one, the mighty judge, who shall reward His enemies according to their sins, is the gentle shepherd who takes the tenderest care of His people.
Israel's redemption from Babylon is a type or prophecy of the Christian redemption, which began with the manifestation of Christ in the flesh, and which will be finished when He shall
BY H. FRANCIS LIESTER.
Three little maidens out on the grass
They had worked at their play the liveloug day
As hard as maidens can;
So when six little feet were tired with the heat
"What shall we do next?" cried the three, perplexed,
The tallest and fairest was she"Let us ask them to grant whatever we want, And to list to wishes three!"
"And what did they ask for?" The youngest began,
The sweet little maiden May;
The weakest was she, but her spirit was free
you have one to spare, I should like to wear
A dress of invisible white !"
Then the second one prayed for the fairies' aid,
Her limbs they were long, she was rosy and
Such a maid as men extol,
Yet she begged for a prize that would shock
"A wonderful Magic Doll!"
"Now, you are the eldest, and what do you
Little Gwendolen, faithful and true;'
Now what shall be done for you?"
"Oh, Fairies," she said, "let me cut off the head Let me grow strong and bold, like the heroes
Of a giant that sups upon men;