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on every subject of human knowledge and investigation. They may misapply quotations from the Old Testament; they may fall into error concerning the cause of some diseases; they may use peculiar phraseology, in a manner calculated to mislead readers in the present day. But still they relate the events of Christ's ministry, and record his teachings: Matthew and John as they saw and heard them, Mark and Luke as they were informed by credible eye-witnesses. By comparing their accounts therefore, by using the means of interpretation and explanation, which we possess, we may derive from these accounts a clear notion of what Jesus did and said, the example he set, the religion he taught, and may place full reliance on the substance of what they tell us.
So understanding the use to be made of the Christian Scripture History, we may conclude from the arguments already adduced that THE GOSPELS AND ACTS, THE WORK OF MATTHEW, MARK, LUKE, AND JOHN, ARE CREDIBLE ACCOUNTS OF THE ORIGIN AND FIRST PLANTING OF CHRISTIANITY. M. D. W.
"THE PEOPLE'S DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE.” *
I write not as a reviewer, but as a reader and studier of this Work. And I mean not to criticise or eulogise it; but to speak of it according to the impressions which it has made upon my own mind; that I may recommend to others, the good which I have received myself; if I may be favoured for this purpose, as I hope I may, with a little space in The Christian Pilot.
I value a friend for his goodness; and though he may have various, and, perhaps, many little foibles, yet they are all merged and lost sight of, in the superior excellencies of his heart and mind. And so do I value a book; and so do I value this book. At the first, I must confess, I directed my attention to it under no very strong prepossessions in its favour. For I had the prejudice, I am almost inclined to think, the vulgar prejudice, to imagine, that a Bible Dictionary was merely a book of reference. I do not think so now. If it is a good one; truthful, impartial, fearless and independent in the love of inquiry, rich in information, indicating deep research, and diligent patient investigation, enlightened and liberal, breathing the spirit of universal
*The People's Dictionary of the Bible, in 2 vols., 8vo., 1208 pages, illustrated with maps and engravings.
charity and good will, and, withal, pious and reflective; if such is its character, it should be studied with diligence, impartiality, patience, and perseverance, with thoughts abstracted from the world, and fixed in attention, with the love of truth, with the spirit of candour, and, above all, with the spirit of devotion; that spirit which rests in filial love upon the One universal Father, which sanctifies every sacred duty, and which diffuses through the mind serenity and peace. It may often be a book of reference, as well as of study; and it will be so, with the best effect, when it has first been well considered. But this study is of the greatest importance, and should not by any means be neglected. It is a very pleasing and profitable one; that is, to every serious reflective mind, impressed with the infinite importance of religion, and feeling that piety is divine light and love, peace and joy. It is a study which leads us to tread the most holy ground, where light burst forth from "the Father of lights," and the spirit of God pervaded all, where Enoch walked with God, and the patriarchs and the prophets, and Jesus Christ and the apostles. We are thus accompanied at every step with the most sacred associations; and often, in the fulness of our souls, are we constrained to exclaim, "It is good for us to be here!" It is a study which enriches us with that knowledge, which is more precious than rubies, and more to be desired than gold, yea, than much fine gold; which is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. What examples of admonition and emulation does it present to us! What a cloud of witnesses does it summon before us! It is a study which brings us every day better acquainted with the Scriptures. It gives us a deeper reverence for them, and teaches us to prize them more highly. It prompts the pious spirit, and calls forth the devout exclamation, "O how I love thy law! it is my meditation all the day." It is a hallowed study, which introduces us into the presence of God, to hold sweet and affectionate communion with him, and to dwell in the light of his divine countenance. It brings us also into divine converse with holy men of old, with Jesus, the mediator of the New Covenant, and his missionaries the apostles, whom he sent forth into the world, to preach the glad tidings of the gospel to all nations. It is a study that unfolds to us the grand truths of God more and more, and confirms them
to us every day. It shows us light bursting from everything, and thus invigorates our faith, increases and strengthens it continually, and renders it more the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. This most salutary, pleasing, and animating study enables us to believe with all the heart, and to rejoice in believing with fulness of joy.
Such, I am firmly convinced, must be the good arising from the study, the proper study, of this useful and valuable Dictionary. Such, I may humbly hope, in some measure at least, has been the benefit which I myself have derived from it. Such, I have no doubt, may be realised by all who will take the proper course. And I cannot conceive how any man can enter heartily into this interesting and sacred study, and not receive pleasure from it as well as edification; and not receive continual delight from it, with continual improvement. I should say the same of any good Bible Dictionary; for it is a kind of work and aid of very great importance. But this I know, and of this I speak. And if I were going to seek some rural retreat, to enjoy, for a season, the retirement of nature's stillness, serenity, and beauty, I should wish to take this book with me, in connection with that Sacred Volume, the perusal and study of which it is the great object of this Dictionary to recommend, to aid, and to facilitate.
I trust it will not have appeared in vain ; but that it will have been the means of inducing many to "search the Scriptures," and so to search them, that they may "have in them eternal life."
WHAT TRUE CHRISTIANITY WOULD MAKE THIS
TRUE Christianity is still as pure and uncorrupt as when Jesus of Nazareth travelled through Palestine, teaching his glad tidings to his poor countrymen; yet no nation upon earth can be truly called a Christian State, or has its laws based upon the precepts of the Founder of Christianity. One of the precepts of our Lord says, that the ignorant servant, who performs not his Lord's command, shall be less severely punished than he who wilfully disobeys; yet how many are permitted to remain in ignorance of God's laws by their richer brethren; who, notwithstanding this neglect, dare to punish with severity those offences they have not tried to prevent.
Christ said, "Suffer the little children to come to me," yet how few among the thousands of children in the so-called Christian States are led to the feet of Jesus, the child's best friend and teacher. Christ said, "Do to others as ye would be done unto;" "Be perfect, or just, as your Father in heaven is perfect." Where are the statesmen or rulers of nations, who take these rules as a guide in their dealings with their own subjects, or other states? Christ said, "Forgive, as ye would be forgiven," but kingdoms make war to preserve what they call their claims, or dignity; and the horrid punishment of what is called treason, proves how little the cowardice of too many governments permits them to forgive.
The precepts given by Christ were to be unchangeable and eternal; and, were they made the laws of individuals and states, such states might with truth be called Christian. Christ really and not merely nominally, our Lord and Master, the world would be ruled by justice; none would be visited by severe punishment but such as had been brought up in the knowledge of God's laws, and had wilfully broken them; lighter punishment, mixed with instruction to deter from future crime, not in vengeance, would be used to reform ignorant offenders. Few prisons would be needed, for the guilty would be regarded as morally diseased; and love to God and man being the recognized principles of action, no murders, or gross crimes would be committed. The ruinous expenses of law courts, would be avoided by a people who loved their neighbour as themselves. The trouble of locks, bolts, and bars, would be avoided; and the timid would no longer, in the silence of night, start at the imaginary step of the midnight murderer, or plunderer. There would be none immensely rich, but none would be wretchedly poor. A few might miss their luxuries, but the sense of security and freedom would compensate the reasonable. The animal courage and physical energy, now wasted in war, might find employment and exercise in peaceful enterprises. Friends would fear no treachery. The husband would return with gladness to his cheerful home, sure of a joyful welcome; the wife would no longer tremble at her husband's step, unsteady from intemperance. Extravagance in neither parent would rob their children of education, of comforts, of their reasonable expectations. Parents might securely trust to the love and gratitude of those whom they had "brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." Children would never blight the warm hopes of their
affectionate parents. Brothers and sisters would dwell together in unity, helping each other onward in life, and towards their everlasting home. Masters would regard their servants as brethren, and fellow-heirs of God's promises; and servants would obey from the principles of love and duty. Governors would seek the welfare of the meanest subject, more than their own wealth or grandeur, and the governed would place implicit trust in the wisdom, honesty, and good feelings of their rulers. Christ taught us to pray for God's true kingdom to come on earth; that He might reign here, as he does in heaven. Christ uttered no vain words in teaching this, he taught us the best prayer, the best cure for all heart-aches.
SELECTIONS FROM A PRIZE ESSAY ON THE TEMPORAL
ADVANTAGES OF THE SABBATH.
Some months since the Carrick District Committee of the Sabbath Alliance offered Prizes for the best Essays on the Temporal advantages of the Sabbath, and the right of the Working Man to that Day, and invited Working Men in the Carrick district of Ayrshire to compete. To the Essay from which the following extracts are made a Prize was awarded. Portions of the successful Essays were read at a public meeting held in the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Girvan, Ayrshire, on Tuesday evening, May 22. We are happy that an esteemed Christian friend, and a Contributor to this Magazine, obtained a Prize.-EDITOR.
GOD has decreed that man shall eat bread in the sweat of his brow. Labour, then, is a condition of life. But man cannot toil incessantly without bringing upon himself an accumulation of evils. The bodily organs need exercise, they also require rest. Great as our power of endurance confessedly is, it has yet its limits. Pushed beyond due bounds, over-exerted, the muscular and nervous systems yield, producing disease, delirium, and death. How needful, then, the alternation of day and night! and how beautifully illustrative of the harmony and adaptation discoverable alike in nature and Providence! But physiologists affirm that not more necessary is sleep to the eyelids after long watching, than is the periodical recurrence of relaxation from the cares and toils of every day life, such as the Sabbath affords, to the promotion of that healthful tone of body and mind, without which duty may not be fulfilled or life enjoyed.