Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

5th, Left Alone, v. 24-32.-Having sent his wives and sons and servants over the brood Jabbok, Jacob remained alone for the night-yet not alone, for a man wrestled with him till break of day. Here we have a mysterious conflict, a litera! wrestling with God in prayer. If this hand-to-hand combat was in vision, it is evident that the physical, as well as the mental and spiritual parts of Jacob's being were powerfully affected by it. Mental and spiritual impressions do ofttimes greatly affect the body, as instanced in our Lord's agony in the garden. This of Jacob's was a lengthened conflict, and also a very determined, one; for he said, “I will not let thee go,” &c. Jacob ultimately came off successful, although not with. out detriment; for when the man saw," &c. This hollow of Jacob's thigh came by a kindly stroke, and remained with him, a mark of honour, a victor's scar. This conflict is physically commemorated by the offspring of Jacob till this day. Moreover, through this victorious struggle, " Jacob,the supplanter, gains for him. self a new name-viz., "Israel," a prince with God. This scene and its wonderful experiences must have had a durable effect upon the mind of the patriarch, and can we wonder that he should name the place “ Peniel,the face of God?

[ocr errors]

PRACTICAL LESSONS. 1st, Let our desires be toward the heavenly Canaan.

2d, In our journey through life let us seek to have a sense of God's presence and protection.

3d, Let us prove the power of prayer hy seeking to become prevailing wrestlers with God.

Memory Exercise—Shorter Catechism 39.—Psalm cxxxix. 7-12.

Subject to be ProvedGod is the Hearer of Prayer.

Text for Non-Reading Classes. “ And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.”—Genesis xxxii. 24, 26.

LESSON XL.-OCTOBER 2. JESUS REPROVES THE PHARISEES.—Matthew xii. 1-13. God says in the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt not kill," - Thou shalt not steal.”

He also says, “ Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy.” This Fourth Commandment is, therefore, as sacred as any of the others; and they who refuse to obey that, have just as good a right to disobey the rest. How did Jesus keep this Sabbath day?

I. Jesus, His Disciples, and the Pharisees passing through the Corn, v. 1, 2:It was the Sabbath-day. Jesus and His disciples are represented as passing through the corn fields, perhaps along a small road or pathway with the corn waving on either hand. Pharisees are also there. But we are to notice: (1.) That they were on their way to the synagogue—that is, the place of worship. This is to be inferred from the 9th verse. It was not a journey, therefore, for recreation, but a journey to the place of worship. (2.) The disciples felt hunger. We infer from this that it was morning, and they had left the house without eating. It is better, accordingly, to eat before going to public worship, for the soul is fitter for holy exercises when the body is in a right state. (3.) The plucking and eating the ears of corn was not contrary to the Law, for, in express terms, the Law of Moses (Deut. xxiii. 25) allowed of such a thing. But (4.) the Pharisees who were walking along the same roadway considered that the disciples were breaking the Sabbath, their notion being that they were doing a kind of work-in a sort of way reaping and thrashing out the corn. This was taking an exaggerated view of the matter; but it is plain that all the parties present acknowledged the sanctity of the Sabbath.

II. The Saviour's Defence of His Disciples, v. 3-8.—They had done nothing wrong in plucking the corn ears and eating them. On the contrary, they would, perhaps, be in a better condition, in consequence, for joining in the worship of God. However, Christ rests His defence upon three grounds : (1.) The example of David. A positive commandment required the priests to eat the shew-bread, and not to allow anybody else to eat it. But the Jews all acknowledged that Abiathar had done right in allowing David and his companions to eat the shew-bread, considering the circumstances in which they were placed. If hungry, David might eat the holy bread, and for no other reason but because he was hungry; a similar reason ought to excuse the disciples for plucking and eating the ears of corn on the holy Sabbath-day. It did no harm to any one, and made them more comfortable. (2.) The priests in the Temple. The services of the Temple, even on the Sabbathday, could not be carried on without a great deal of work. The leading or driving of animals into the Temple, the killing of the victims, the skinning of them, and cutting them into pieces, the carrying of wood to keep up the altar fires,--these, and many other things, involved a very great amount of labour. But if they were not done, the worship of the Temple would have had to be given up. Thus, what otherwise would have been a profanation of the Sabbath, became a matter of necessity. (3.) The permission or authority of Jesus Christ himself. The Saviour was then present. He absolutely claims a dispensing power relative to the Sabbathday. He declares himself to be "greater than the Temple," and "Lord even of the Sabbath-day.” This is tantamount to saying that, let the day be as holy as the Pharisees affirmed, and let the plucking and eating the corn-ears be just as they supposed, when considered in itself, yet the sanction of Jesus Christ was sufficient to make that act holy and good. He gave perinission, and that was enough. Thus we learn, that on the Sabbath-day deeds of mercy may be performed ; and when God, in His providence, calls upon us to work—and this sometimes happens, as for instance, to extinguish a fire—it is our duty so to work, even on the Sabbath-day.

III. The Man with the Withered Hand, v. 9-13.-Jesus and His disciples are now in the synagogue; and, either before or after public worship, a man shews himself whose hand is dried up, and utterly helpless. Here, then, was an opportunity of doing a kind action, and the place, too, was very fit to do it in; for, having come to worship God, it was very fitting that God, whom he worshipped, should deal kindly by him. But perhaps the doing of the miracle interfered a little-it must have been only a little-with the routine of the synagogue, or the Sabbath services going on there. Zealots were accordingly angry, and exclaimed that such miracles were breaking the Sabbath-day. This was not so however. Jesus had no intention to interfere with the sanctity of the Sabbath; but He wished to shew, and a very important principle it is, that whenever the opportunity occurs of doing a benevolent action--and more especially on the Sabbath-day-that opportunity ought to be carefully improved. The Sabbath is a day not only for public worship, but for doing kind and benevolent actions.* Memory Exercise–Shorter Catechism 40.–Paraphrase lvi. 2-5.

Subject to be ProvedJesus knows our Thoughts.

Text for Non-Reading Classes. “But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto Him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the Sabbathday. But He said unto them, Have you not read what David did?”—Matthew xii. 2, 3. * Extracted from the Manual for Sabbath School Teachers, by Rev. James Cochrane, A.M.

LESSON XLI.-OCTOBER 9. JACOB AND ESAU RECONCILED.-Genesis xxxiii. 1-20. Verse 1.-As we saw in the last lesson in this book, Jacob was now on his way home. He had wrestled with the angel and prevailed, ard was now nerved for the meeting with his brother Esau, and prepared for whatever might happen. He had taken all the means in his power to soothe and pacify his brother by sending a present, and now, on looking, he saw Esau with four hundred men approaching.

Verse 3.-Bowing to the ground seven times was the manner in which one approached any one greater, and so Jacob manifested the greatest humility.

Verse 4.--What a beautiful and touching meeting! God can restrain man's wrath, and make peace and happiness reign.

Verse 5.-Jacob's reply to Esau's question is worthy of notice. He gives God all the glory. He felt that it is God that lifts our comforts high, that all the blessings we receive are from a kind and gracious Father, whose tender mercies are over all His works.

Verse 11.-Esau's accepting the present proved the completeness of the reconciliation.

Verses 12-15.-It was better that the two brothers should live separately, their manner of living was so different.

Verse 20.–Jacob's example should be imitated. We should ever raise our altar to God, our Ebenezer, in token of His goodness.

PRACTICAL LESSONS. 1. The conduct of Jacob plainly teaches that it is the duty of every one to use all proper means to appease any one whom we may have offended, while we implore the help and support of the God of Jacob. It is ours to use the means; it is God's to make them effectual.

2. God has the hearts of all men in His hands, and can turn them when and how He pleaseth. He can allay the most bitter animosities, and unite in the bonds of friendship those who for years have been living in hatred and strife.

3. A brother offended (as Solomon writes) is harder to be won than a strong city. Let us not give place unto wrath, but forgive, and we shall be forgiven. How much better it is to forgive and forget a wrong than to harbour and revenge it. It is indeed a glorious thing to forgive; better even than being forgiven. Xe who forgives freely, kindly, lovingly, is like God himself; and it is only such that can expect his pardoning mercy, for Christ has taught 'us to forgive those that trespass against us, and we should follow the example of Him who was meek, loving, and forgiving, even while receiving the most cruel treatment and shame.

4. Make it our duty to live at peace; and remember, that the way to recover it when it has been broken, is to act always as if it had never been broken; for it is the remembering and repeating of matters, and casting them up, that separates friends, and perpetuates the separation. A humble, submissive, and gentle manner goes a great way towards the turning away of wrath. Let not, therefore, the sun go down on your wrath.

5. Let us feel that it is not vain to trust in God, and to call upon Him in the day of trouble, for they that do so, like Jacob, will find that their trust is not in an arm of flesh, but in Him who can do for us above what we can ask or think of, and who can make our enemies to be at peace with us. And let us also bear in mind the truth, that God blesseth the peacemaker.

Memory Exercise-Shorter Catechism 41.-Psalm cxxxiii. 1-5.

Subject to be ProvedGod blesses the Peacemaker.

Text for Non-Reading Classes. “ Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him, and he took it.”—Gen. xxxü 11.

THE

SABBATH SCHOOL MAGAZINE.

MICHAEL FARADAY, THE CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHER.

NO. II,

FARADAY's biography reveals little of his religious life till the time of his marriage. His parents were members of a Sandemanian congregation, to which sect young Michael adhered. Robert Sandeman, from whom the body takes its name, taught, in accordance with the doctrine of his father-in law, John Glas, a Presbyterian clergyman in Scotland, “That the Church should be subject to no league nor covenant, but be governed only by the doctrine of Christ and His Apostles. He held that Christianity never was, nor could be, the established religion of any nation without becoming the reverse of what it was when first instituted ; that Christ did not come to establish any worldly power, but to give a hope of eternal life beyond the grave to His people, whom He should choose of His own sovereign will ; that the Bible, and that alone, with nothing added to it, nor taken away from it by man, was the sole and sufficient guide for each individual at all times and in all circumstances; that faith in the divinity and work of Christ is the gift of God; and that the evidence of this faith is obedience to the commandments of Christ.” Writing to a lady of title, the philosopher described himself as belonging to small and despised sect of Christians, known, if known at all, as Sandemanians; and,” he added, “our hope is founded on the faith that is in Christ.” Dr. Tyndall, his successor at the Royal Institution, and in whose progress as an experimental physicist he felt much interest, mentions that Faraday never spoke to him on the subject of religion but once, and then only in answer to a question. This reticence is explained by the circumstance, that one of the distinctive practices of the Sandemanians is the keeping silence on religious subjects to those who are not Christians. This branch of the Christian Church is ministered to by elders chosen by the people; and to this office Faraday No. x.]

[VOL. XXII.

a very

K

66

was in due time appointed, conducting worship on Sabbath mornings and on Wednesday evenings. As a chemist and an electrician, he was now in the zenith of his fame, both as a discoverer and a lecturer; but when he entered the meeting-house, we are told, “he left his science behind, and he would listen to the prayers and exhortations of the most illiterate brother of his sect with an attention which shewed how he loved the Word of truth from whomsoever it came.” They tell, also, of his beautiful reading of the Scriptures, an acquirement which so few preachers possess. One testifies as follows:—“I once heard him read the Scriptures at the chapel where he was an elder; he read a long portion of one of the Gospels slowly, reverently, and with such an intelligent and sympathizing appreciation of the meaning, that I thought I had never heard before so excellent a reader.” As to his preaching, Dr. Jones remarks,—“Generally, perhaps, it might be said that no one could lecture like Faraday, but that many might preach with more effect,” the reason being that in preaching he carefully avoided all aiming at rhetorical effect. “The overflowing energy and clearness of the lecture-room were replaced by an earnestness of manner best summed up in the word devoutness." He preferred the use of Scripture language, and a stranger was equally struck with the number and rapidity of his Scriptural references, and the devout spirit of his address. His discourses were prepared with studious care, and delivered, like his unrivalled lectures, with the aid of a few notes.

Amongst other pleasing features of this great and good man's character, was his conjugal affection and love of home. His marriage was of rather an unromantic description, but was productive of unmingled domestic happiness. Previous to the marriage, he writes : “There will be no bustle, no noise, no hurry occasioned even in one day's proceedings. In externals, that day will pass like all others, for it is in the heart that we expect and look for pleasure.” Eight-and-twenty years after, he wrote: “The union has nowise changed, except in the depth and strength of its character." Wherever he went, and with whomsoever he was associated, we find him yearning for his own quiet and delightful home. Long after the period mentioned, when he was now in his seventy-first year, we find him writing to his wife with the ardent affection of his early years; and the letter is to us the more interesting that its date is “Claremont Gardens, Glasgow, Aug. 14, 1863.” Dearest,-Here is the fortnight complete since I left you, and the thoughts of my return to our home crowd in strongly upon my mind. I long to see you, dearest, and to talk over things together, and call to mind all the kindness I have

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsett »