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SAYINGS OF LUTHER.
ADAM, said Luther, received the promise of the woman's Seed, before he had done any work or sacrifice, to the end that God's truth might stand fast; namely, that we are justified before God altogether without works, and do obtain forgiveness of sins merely by grace. Ah, said Luther, whoso is able to believe this steadfastly, the same is a doctor above all the doctors in the world!
The evangelist John speaks very majestically, in plain and simple words, in his Gospel, where he saith, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not." Behold, said Luther, how he describes God in simple language, as with a sunbeam! If one of our philosophers had described the same, what wonderful swelling, and high trotting words, would he have prattled, de ente et essentia; insomuch that no man could have understood his meaning. Hereby we see how mighty and powerful Divine truth is. She presseth through, though she be hemmed in: the more she is read, the more she moveth, and taketh possession of the heart!
STRUCTURE OF EASTERN HOUSES.
In reading the New Testament, many difficulties arise from not considering how differently houses were con
structed in Judea, from those with which we are familiar in England. Hence particularly, it has appeared strange to some persons to find a "roof uncovered," in order to let down the paralytic into the house where our Lord was sitting and teaching.*
But Dr. Shaw, and other travellers, render this account perfectly easy, by representing the manner in which the principal houses in the east are built.
The streets of their cities, he observes, are generally narrow, the better to shade them from the sun. In entering one of the houses, we first pass through a porch, or gate-way, with benches on each side; where the master of the family receives visits, and despatches business: few persons are admitted further. From hence we are received into the court, or quadrangle; which being open to the weather, is, according to the ability of the owner, paved with marble, or such materials as will carry off the water. On public occasions, the company is received into this court; and very rarely into the chambers. This court, which is properly called the House, answers to the word in Luke v. 19, the Midst, where Christ and his apostles were seated. The court is frequently surrounded with a cloister, over which there is a gallery erected, having a balustrade, or parapet wall, round it, to prevent people from falling into the court. From the cloisters and galleries we are conducted into large apartments of the same length with the court. The stairs are generally placed in the porch, or at the entrance of the court, so that we may go up or come down them, without entering into any of the
* Luke v. 19, and Mark ix.
apartments; which explains Matt. xxiv. 17, "Let him that is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of the house."
The top of the house, which is always flat, is covered with a strong plaster, and is called the Terrace: this is always guarded with a wall (according to Deut. xxii. 8.) On these terraces several domestic businesses are performed, as the drying of linen and flax,* preparing figs and raisins. Here also they enjoy the refreshing breezes of the evening, converse with each other, and perform their devotions, as Peter did.†
It may be presumed, therefore, that our Savior, at the healing of the paralytic, was preaching in the court of such a house, which, being much crowded, did not admit of passing through the congregation; but that they took him up the stairs from the porch, carried him along the flat gallery, took down (inwards) a part of the balustrade or parapet, an with cords fastened to the corners of his mattress, let him gently down by the wall, which was generally covered with glazed or painted tiles, into the area; where our Lord, observing their faith, was pleased to crown it with the desired success: and thus we see that there is no room for those pretended difficulties and absurdities with which the enemies of the Bible have endeavored to encumber this miracle.
A due attention to this structure of the eastern houses, 'will serve to elucidate many other passages of Scripture.
It is possible, for instance, that the house of Dagonf was constructed in this manner. The roof and the surrounding cloisters might be crowded with persons as
* Joshua ii: 6.
† Acts x.
+ Judges xvi.
sembled to witness the strength of Sampson, who was placed in the court. The Dey's palace at Algiers is formed in this manner; and multitudes of people divert themselves on the roof. The pulling down, therefore, the two front pillars of the porch might occasion the catastrophe recorded.
It was probably on the terrace of his palace that David was walking when he overlooked Uriah's garden; and Nebuchadnezzar was perhaps regaling himself in a similar situation when he surveyed his own mighty works. Peter's vision of the sheet let down from heaven, might be commodiously viewed in the same situation. The chamber of Daniel, in which he prayed, had probably a window opening into such a court; and the informers, who might have business at his office; might easily observe him from the porch.
In a word, the reader, by recollecting this description of eastern habitations, which continue nearly in the same form to this day, will be able to conceive far more correctly of various domestic occurrences, as recorded in the Scriptures, and other writings of the ancients. See Shaw's Travels, p. 378-380. New edition of Calmet's Dictionary; Fragments, No. 204; and Scripture Пlustrated, and Doddridge in loc.
Which if duly attended to, would prevent much confusion. 1.' WHAT warrants a sinner's coming to Christ? Answer: The gospel. 2. What inclines him to come? Answer: Divine influence. 3. What proves that he has come? Answer: The fruits of faith. Q. A.
THE GOOD TREASURE.
The Lord shall open to thee his good treasure.
Deut. xxviii, 12,
How vast are the treasures laid up in the Lord,
My need of the blessings, dear Jesus, reveal; Nor from me the least of thy goodness conceal! O! may thy good Spirit his graces impart, And Christ, the best treasure, convey to my heart!
There may he erect his omnipotent throne,
Possest of this treasure, my soul will rejoice; And I shall for ever exult in my choice! Yes, when I am called to relinquish my breath, This treasure shall render me happy in death!
The work of his hands he will never forsake! But safely to glory my spirit will take? His blood for my pardon he freely has given, And I in his presence shall triumph in heaven!
END OF VOLUME THIRD.