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when happy in prosperity, and basking in the light of God's countenance~privileged with unusual nearness of communion with Him, how ineffably cheering the promise then, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." The favor of earthly monarchs may
be deceitful, but that of the King of kings is unchangeable; the friendship of humanity may be unstable, but that of the Lord endureth for ever, unless forfeited by our own wilful misconduct; and even then, oh! blessed truth, “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, even Jesus Christ the righteous.”
Again, there is a shadow mentioned in the Bible which all must covet. As a quiet family party were one day toiling along a sandy beach, under the fervid heat of a summer's sun, reflected in all its noon-tide brightness from the chalk cliffs towering near ; they well-nigh fainted under its intensity. Suddenly they turned an angle of the rock, and lo! a huge mass, detached from the main body, cast a tempting gloom downwards. “And a man shall be as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land,” repeated the father, and never before had the simile conveyed so full a meaning. They sat awhile tracing its aptness, as they spoke of the scorching fires of Divine wrath--the accessibility of the sheltering rock—its stability—the rich supplies to be obtained by those who rightly seek them from that spiritual rock which is Christ-and then went on their way rejoicing.
Moreover, as the weary pilgrim of life approaches the termination of his career, he girds up his mind with the royal poet's aspiration—"Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” Thanks be to God it is only the shadow, the enemy himself is powerlesswe may feel the chill influences of his near approach-but leaning on the Saviour's arm we pursue our way uninjured ; nor can it be more than a dim shadow, "for the darkness hideth not from God :" "the light shineth as the day" in His presence. So David found it, when in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honor, the time “drew near that he must die.” Calmly and steadfastly he handed the crown to his son,-set his house in order, and "slept with his fathers.” Not less calmly, also, Stephen and the noble army of martyrs, amidst stones, and flames, and rocks, "fell asleep” too! The shadow of death was but the curtain of night, inviting to repose till the glorious morning when the Saviour will announce of all his followers“I go that I may awake them out of sleep."
Once more, dear young readers, the word of God compares human life to a passing shadow. Swiftly it is gone, and no trace left. Have you ever watched the shadows of April clouds as they fit across the landscape, rendering the whole scene changeful and evanescent ? Even such are the most protracted lives compared to the long day, or night, of eternity: and 'tis while the shadow walks the earth, you have to choose between endless misery, or everlasting happiness. Oh! while time is yours, seek without delay, that "Light of the world” which will dispel every shadow from off every soul, and eventually conduct you to those regions, where there is no more shadow for ever!
PREJUDICE AND SCRIPTURE.
(Concluded from page 409.) A SECOND and very common prejudice with which men approach the Scriptures is this—That there was no death in the world before Adam's Fall.
This subject has been already discussed in our last number; and that the opinion still exists in all its force, is evident from the fact that the majority of answers to the question prompting that discussion, were in favor of the prejudice referred to. As we are thoroughly convinced that no warrant for such an opinion is to be found in the Bible, we gave only those arguments which support the contrary hypothesis.
The Bible always represents death as a consequence of sin; but unless it can be shewn that any or all of the lower animals are responsible for their actions, we cannot see in what sense they can be guilty before God, or justly subject to punishment. If it be argued that they are suffering for man's transgression, we think, at least, that some proofs should be brought forward from the Scriptures, either of the fact itself, or of its consistency with the well-known character of the Deity, which we believe has not yet been done.
But think only for a moment what would be the state of our world, if none of the inferior animals were subject to death either casually or in the due order of nature. It is said that a single pair of rabbits will in four years produce more than a million. The calculation may be exaggerated, but reduce it as We will, what would be the consequence of this rapid increase? In a few thousand years the habitable parts of the earth would be entirely covered by the progeny of these two animals alone, as thickly as the land of Egypt with the frogs or flies called up by the powerful agency of Moses.
And yet what would be this prodigious increase of land animals compared with that of fishes? The hebraism to express overwhelming multiplication—"as fishes do increase"-appears to be founded in the literal factof their prodigious fecundity. Not to enter into details, it may be sufficient to state that such an unchecked augmentation of numbers would in no very long period so raise the level of the sea, that it would actually overflow and drown a large portion of the world.
There is something, too, bordering on the ludicrous, in the idea of many of the inferior existences surviving the shock of centuries, even in a climate like that of Eden. Let us, if we can, think of a butterfly or ephemeron, a thousand years old! The mere wear and tear consequent on a proper provision for their wants, supposing the winds of heaven were forbidden ever to visit them roughly, would render such a thing utterly impossible. They were evidently never created for so long
Supposing, again, that all animals were originally herbivorous, whence was it possible they could have been supplied with a sufficient quantity of food, even allowing that all plants and trees grew with the extraordinary rapidity and luxuriance incident to tropical vegetation? It may, indeed, be doubted whether with only the actual number of the inferior animals existing at this moment on the earth's surface, including of course the carnivora, each could procure sustenance sufficient for its support. What, then, would be the case if all these animals had continued to multiply from the creation, without let, hindrance, or impediment-exempt from death and the thousand casualties that lead to it.
But there are many who modify this idea of death, telling us that very probably the inferior animals died before the Fall of man—but not by violence or casualty. They wore out quietly and gradually, expiring as a flame expires, or as some more vernacularly express it, "going off like a bird.” On this point, Dr. Buckland in his Bridgewater Treatise has shewn that the sudden and unexpected death of animals is one of the most merciful arrangements of Providence. To languish and die by inches would doubtlessly be a great aggravation of the evil, especially as it is well known, and as Dr. Pye Smith has demonstrated, there is no class of animals, the more intelligent kinds of monkey, perhaps, excepted, that shews any sympathy for the sufferer. A strong argument indeed might be drawn from the innate propensity of many birds in particular to persecute and destroy those of their own kind that are ailing. But this, again, we may perhaps be told, is a consequence of Adam's transgression.
A more serious objection, however, than any which has yet been brought forward, may be deduced from Natural Theology. It is well known that the writers on this subject lay very great stress on the illustrations of the Divine Power, Wisdom, and Goodness drawn from the study of Comparative Anatomy. “God,” it is said, and said with reason, “has given to every creature, exactly that frame and constitution which enables it to provide for its necessities—to fulfil its purpose in creation, and to procure food convenient for it. “ The young lions roar after their prey and seek their meat from God.” He has, therefore, given them fleetness of foot to overtake it, claws to seize it, teeth to tear it, and a stomach to digest it. But all these beautiful appliances would be thrown away if the lion were herbivorous. Yet, in fact, the tardigrade elephant would be as well suited for a beast of prey, as the tiger, or the leopard, for feeding upon plants or grasses. All the deductions arising from an all-wise adaptation of certain means to certain ends would be nullified, and the delightful study of anatomy be put out of the argument in favor of a Deity.
Leaving the question as to whether it would not mar the beauty of God's creation much more, to destroy all vegetable life (as under this arrangement must eventually be the case)
than to suffer the animal world to die in due course, let us look for a few moments at the real facts of this question, and ask ourselves whether animals living on grain, herbs, or vegetable products, really destroy no animal life. The microscope will tell us, if the naked eye cannot. With every drop of water they drink, and every leaf, spray, flower, and fruit they eat, they maim, disable, or destroy, hundreds, if not thousands, of living creatures-minute, indeed, but perfectly and beautifully organized-beings as sentient, and perhaps as important in the scale of creation as the lion, the elephant, or the whale. 66 In the leaves of every forest,” says Dr. Chalmers, “ in the flowers of every garden; in the waters of every rivulet, there are worlds teeming with life, and numberless as are the glories of the firmament."
A third prejudice, very common, among Bible-readers is this, - That no concession to popular opinion is, or ought to be, made, in a book emphatically designated, “ the Book of Truth."
For example, it is urged that we are to understand literally those passages which speak of the sun's rising and setting; and are consequently bound to believe that the earth is stationary, and the sun moveable. Others of a similar kind are instanced, such as those which describe the earth as “established for ever that it cannot be moved," or those which, referring to the character of God, affirm that He repents or is grieved. Numberless instances might be adduced, especially in those parts of Scripture which partake of a poetical character, or deal in fable, parable, or other forms, usually designated fictitious. " How can it be possible," say these objectors, “to teach truth by fiction, or what is at all events not rigidly and critically exact?"
There seems, at first, some plausibility in this opinion; but it all vanishes before the consideration that the Bible is written for men, and must, therefore, speak in man's language. God says to us, “My thoughts are not as your thoughts,” and yet we expect him to use His own, in reasoning with those who can have no sympathy with them. If the Bible were really a literal transcript of God's thoughts, who amongst us could hope to understand it? Let us give an illustration.
The Holy Spirit says of wisdom that it is more precious than rubies