« PreviousContinue »
them, by that which he will do on their thou say unto the children of Israel, JEHOVAH,* behalf. He had, in fact, come down,” to God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, deliver them. In strictness of speech, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, neither “ coming down,” nor “ going up,” can hath sent me unto you.” But first, in the be ascribed to God,—for his presence fills the 14th verse, the derivation of that great universe; but in condescension to our modes name is brought into view, in a sense the of apprehension, God is said to “come down,” most apposite to the occasion, indicating that when he puts forth in the sight of men such the immutability which it denotes, is now striking manifestations of his power, either to be manifested in JEHOVAH's fulfilment of for mercy or for judgment, as shall form an his ancient promises to the patriarchs of the unmistakeable token of his special presence. race. Moses is assured that, if he proceeds So now, he had “ come down” to deliver his to Egypt, and, upon his arrival, assembles the oppressed people out of the land of Egypt, elders of Israel, and opens to them his comwhere they were held in bondage, and to lead mission in the authority of that Great Name, them “unto a good land and a large, unto they will receive him, and sanction the a land flowing with milk and honey." This appeal to be made in behalf of the Israelites was the land of Canaan, or Palestine, in to the King of Egypt. It seems, from what which their fathers had in former days lived in subsequently transpires, (Exodus viii. 26,) tents, and fed their flocks. The meaning and that the ox, being an object of worship in fitness of this description of that land, will be that part of Egypt, they had been and were separately stated further on. It was at this still prevented from offering it in sacrifice ; time in the occupation of the same tribes of and this part of their proper worship had Canaanites who held it in the time of the therefore been neglected. Their demand was patriarchs. But the Lord, in most of his then in the first instance to be, that they dealings with mankind, acts by agencies,— might retire. three days' journey into the the agencies of men fitted by Himself for wilderness, that they might there worship the work which he gives them to do. So with appropriate sacrifices the God they now, he had chosen Moses to act as His hand served, without danger of molestation from in the great work of delivering Israel. But the Egyptians. Moses, after having so long led a quiet and Ver. 19-22. But that Moses, may not be happy life among these solitudes, shrunk discouraged by the opposition he must enfrom the task assigned to him, and felt counter, he is warned that the King of Egypt, oppressed by the sense of his insufficiency for suspicious of their ulterior intention of withthe great and heavy duties this appointment drawing altogether, will not consent, until after involved. To these misgivings,“ Certainly, many rigorous judgments had been wrought I will be with thee,” was the sufficient in the land. Then they would be allowed to answer; for he' with whom the Lord is, whose depart; and they would not need to go forth way the Lord prepares, is by that fact made empty-handed, but enriched with the wealth equal to any duty and every suffering. of Egypt; for their departure would take Further to assure him, the Lord promised place under such circumstances of fear and that the day was near when the people, then terror to the Egyptians, that they would sighing in Egyptian bondage, should with readily bestow whatever might be asked t of him worship God in that very mountain. them, to hasten the departure of such dan
Ver. 13—19. Moses, however, still hesi- gerous guests. How exactly all this was tated. He supposed he should be strictly accomplished is well known. questioned by the elders of Israel as to the authority by which he acted. There were THE CHARACTER OF THE DIVINE “gods many, and lords many,” worshipped by
BEING. the nations,—but which yet indeed were no gods : they would therefore require full It is expedient that a just and proper assurance that the Being with whom he had apprehension of the immensity of the Godhead, held converse in the wilderness, was indeed so far as may consist with the shallowness of the God of Israel,—the God of their fathers,
When the word LORD is printed in small capiand no other. He therefore ventured to tals in the Authorised Version, it is "JEHOVAH,” in ask, what name he should produce as that the original Hebrew. of the Being who had given this high com
+ Ask, or demand, is a more correct translation of mission to him. The answer is explicitly used in the Authorised Version, and, which involves
the original Hebrew word than borrow," which is furnished in the 15th verse :-—" Thus shalt | an injurious imputation upon the Israelites.
human capacity, be deeply impressed on our ness of my heart, as though I thought in minds: without this, in fact, we shall wor- my folly to shut up the Deity, immense and ship a mere idol of our own imagination, immeasurable as he is, within the limits of instead of the true God. “When I awake," my own straitness ; at another time, the says the Psalmist, “I shall be satisfied with thy inactivity and vacuity of my mind, and a likeness.” (Psalm xvii. 15.)
gloomy incapacity for thought; at another, Behold, then, far from all idolatry, the the darkness of ignorance ; at another, the likeness of the Divine Being: holy, indeed, false light of a vain understanding, presenting and, agreeably to the nature of God, spiritual; me with thoughts of God as he is not. All which is nothing else but the most simple these are liabilities, of which he, who deconception, the most abstract recognition of the sires to walk with God, must sedulously Divine Majesty, which can be fastened on our beware. minds: for no other thoughts should we ever But if there be any one who hopes, by entertain of God, than such as are essentially the light of his own understanding, to acpure, and calculated continually to engage quire the knowledge of these salutary truths, our admiration; such, in short, as befit so vast let him know that he is deceiving himself, an amplitude of glory. And we should repre- and labouring but to his own destruction. sent, not so much to our intellect, as to our From heaven, from the Father of Lights, faith, that Infinite Spirit, the God of Spirits; this Divine illumination is to be sought and who is one in essence, yet distinct in three most expected. He who gives us feet that we glorious persons; pure action, spiritual light; may walk, must likewise give us eyes that we the eternal principle of all existence; the may see, however far and faintly, him that incomprehensible Author of life and motion; dwelleth in that light, which no mortal can the Almighty Creator and Governor of the approach unto. Without him, it is imposuniverse ; himself all that is powerful, all that sible for us to walk with him.--BP. HALL. is wise, all that is just, all that is good ; nay, the very life and essence of all goodness, of UNCOVERING THE FEET. all justice, of all wisdom, of all power: while we ascend from a distinct and vivid notion of THE nations of the West uncover the the glorious humanity of our Divine Medi- head in token of reverence, civility, or reator, to a contemplation of that Infinite God- spect; the nations of the East express the head to which that most holy and sacred same sentiments by uncovering their feet. nature is united.
This is one of the most singular, of not merely Unquestionably this is the very founda- the differences, but the contrarieties which tion of all true religion ; and not so much exist between the usages of the Eastern and the guide of our path, as the very eye by Western nations; and it is one for which it which we are directed, the very ground on is most difficult to account. The difficulty is, which we tread, without which we may walk however, not so much in accounting for the indeed,—but it is in by-ways, not along the facts separately taken, as for the contrariety high road, with a phantom of our own, and between them: for uncovering the feet is not not with God.
in itself a stranger practice than uncovering Indeed I confess my fears, lest, on this the head, although to us the latter act seems account, too many who suppose they have less strange than the other from being more made no inconsiderable progress in the familiar; and to an Oriental, our own practice things of Christ, be found at last either to of removing the hat, is even more strange have stood still altogether, or at least to than theirs of casting off their shoes is to us. have deviated not a little from their course. It has been urged that the Eastern prac
Onė man in the world, at all events, I tice in this respect is accounted for, by the may make bold to accuse without scruple: difficulty and trouble the Oriental would find myself, myself, I discover to be miserably in continually deranging the numerous and unequal even to a suitable method of attain-complicated folds of the turban, which he finds ing this apprehension, and fearfully liable to requisite to protect his head from the sun's mistake my way ; experiencing equal diffi- heat, while to throw off the slippers which he culty, whether I endeavour to bring the wears down at the heels, or rather without thoughts of my mind into a right posture, heels, is a comparatively easy matter. Then, or, if I have so brought them, to keep them on the other hand, the European can easily firm and fast to their position. At one take off his loose hat or cap, whereas it would time I am nstrained to lament the narrow-be troublesome to withdraw their feet from
their close-fitting boots. But it is forgotten casting off their wrappers, so as to leave the that the usages create the habits of dress, upper part of the person naked. But where and not the dress the usages. The Oriental dress is not of this primitive style, the parts folds his turban elaborately, because he has most easily uncovered are the extremities,not to remove it; the Occidental wears a light the head and the feet,—whence, we suppose, and moveable hat, because custom exacts that arise the customs which engage our notice. it should be frequently taken off. So the As the foundation of all these practices is Oriental wears loose slippers, because he must that of uncovering some part of the person; frequently uncover his feet, whereas the and as the choice of the part to be uncovered Occidental fixes his boot tightly, because cus- is not determined by climate; the only questom does not exact this duty from him. tion is, what suggested to the Orientals the
Others have pointed to clinate, as the uncovering of the feet, instead of the head, as cause of the difference. But there is less in in the West ? For this we are unable to disthis than might at first view be supposed. cover any better reason than this :—that in The head and the feet will respectively ac- the East men adopted coverings for the feet commodate themselves to any climate. The long before coverings for the head were in densely-folded turban is not universal through use; and if, therefore, they were to uncover the East. Among many Eastern nations the in token of respect, it must be by putting off head-covering is as light and moveable as our their shoes, as the head was always uncovered. own; and there are some, even under a tropical It is true that in general the Eastern nations sun, in which the people go without any head- now cover the head; but we know that cuscovering at all. This was also the practice toms continue to exist long after the circumamong the ancient nations of Europe, in- stances in which they originated have ceased. cluding our own forefathers. And the influ- It is certain that in these nations—at least ence of custom, in this respect, is shown by in the nations with which we are concerned the fact, that at this day, the numerous boys the feet were generally covered, and the head belonging to Christ's Hospital, in London, go uncovered, through all the long period which about in the severest weather without any the Bible history embraces. We read in Scripcovering on their heads.
ture of “ shoes” or “sandals” very often, first And so of the feet. It is true indeed that in the time of Abraham, (Genesis xiv. 23,) but none of the Orientals go closely shod, unless rarely of coverings for the head; and in these upon a journey; or, at least, they have the outer rare instances, only in regard to the head-coverclothing of the feet loose, if the inner is con- ings of kings, priests, and soldiers ;—and the fined. There is the sole exception of the use of head-coverings, even by these, seems to soldiery in Turkey, Egypt, and Persia ; and, in have been occasional, rather than constant; some measure, of the civil functionaries in the that is, on occasions of state, and when on two former countries. But this is an inno- actual service. This, in fact, was the general vation, borrowed from Europe. And as they usage of Western Asia, as attested by the have not adopted the correlative custom of sculptured remains of Assyria, Persia, and uncovering the head, they find themselves in Egypt, and—which is of more immediate ima position adverse to the rules of both Asiatic portance—in the Egyptian representations of and European etiquette; for they uncover persons belonging to the Syrian nations, in neither the head nor the feet. On the other all of which—with the class exceptions alhand, all Europeans do not go about closely ready indicated—the feet of the people are shod. The common people, in many parts of generally covered, and their heads generally Europe, wear shoes which might be as easily bare. cast off as the slippers or shoes of the East; The difference of the modern European and many habitually go barefoot as well in custom in this respect, would by parity of its ungenial as its genial climates; as well reasoning suggest, that the nations which now in the north of Scotland and Ireland, as in remove the head-covering in token of respect, Naples, Sicily, and Malta.
sought protection for their heads sooner than Notwithstanding the discrepancy between for their feet: but with respect to the earlier these customs, there is a leading idea common usages of the nations which now lead the to both. This is, of uncovering, as a mark of civilization of the world, but were in times respect. This is a very general, if not uni- really ancient still in a barbarous state, there versal, idea. We have read of savage, or is no information that enables us to determine semi-savage nations, in which the people show this question. The earliest representations their respect in the presence of a superior, by of individuals belonging to any of those
nations, are in the figures of Gauls on Roman and slippers of the modern Orientals. Hence monuments, considerably posterior to the they were usually unfastened by a servant; time of our Lord. Most of these figures whence the performance of this menial wear a close shoe or low boot, not at all office supplied a proverbial phrase for the suited for removal, being indeed fastened to designation of servitude,
-as when John the the leg a little above the instep; and some Baptist indicates our Lord as one whose of them wear a kind of cap like a Phrygian shoe-latchet” (or sandal thong) "he was not bonnet,* very easily to be removed. All we worthy to stoop down and unloose.” Mark can infer, therefore, is, that if these nations i. 7; Luke iii. 16; John i. 27; Acts xiii. 25. had in those early times any custom of uncovering in salutation, it could only have been by uncovering the head.
" A GOOD LAND.” It only remains to state, that existing usages in respect of uncovering the feet, are in Moses* and the other sacred writers frethe most exact conformity with those indi- quently describe the land of Canaan as “a cated in Scripture. No native Christian will good land,” “a land flowing with milk and enter his hurch, no Mohammedan his honey." mosque, no Pagan his temple, without taking The latter description indicates, first, in the off his shoes or sandals. To enter without “milk," a country of rich pastures, and theredoing this, would be regarded as an out- fore favourable to the rearing of cattle, whence rageous profanation. In visiting, it is also“ milk” would be so abundantly produced, usual to slip off the sandals on entering the that the land might, by a very expressive room, leaving them outside the door, where poetical hyperbole, be described as “flowing" they remain, or are taken inside by a ser- with it. vant, who promptly produces them when the The same richness of vegetation is exvisitor withdraws. Nothing could be a pressed by the mention of “honey;" for the greater affront than for one to enter a room producers of honey draw their nutriment with the feet undivested of (at least their from flowers; and where flowers are scanty, outer) covering; and if a European should, bees are not. But the abundance of bees, in according to the custom of his own country, that of the honey they produced, is constantly happen to do so, as is sometimes the case, he manifested in Scripture. We, who make but is regarded with disgust and aversion. Aware little use of honey, are apt to under-rate the of this feeling in the natives, Europeans importance of this indication. But this will travelling in the East are often deterred be at once recognized when it is remembered from calling upon native gentlemen, between that the Israelites had no sugar; and that the unwillingness to seem rude, and the consequently, although fond of sweet things, dislike to remove feet-coverings unsuited to as the Orientals always are, honey had to be such a custom. Resident Europeans manage employed by them for all sweetening purbetter, either by defying the custom, or by poses,—being in fact their sugar. conforming to it. However, as an Oriental In what other respects Canaan was “a in visiting a European removes his shoes good land,” is more fully showu by Moses and not his head-dress, according to his own not long before his death :-“ The Lord thy customs, he may seem to have no just cause God bringeth thee into a good land, a land to complain, if the latter, in visiting him, of brooks of water, of fountains and depths removes his hat rather than his boots, ac- that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of cording to the custom of the West. Perhaps wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig-trees, and he might think so himself, were it not that pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; his floors are covered with costly carpets, on a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without which he sits, and from which he eats; and scarceness, thou shalt not lack anything in it.” which are therefore ill-suited to be trodden Deut. x. 7-9. upon by unclean boots from the streets. Now it remarkably happens that the ene
Joshua before Jericho, like Moses at the mies of Revelation have drawn arguments bush, was commanded to remove the sandals from the present neglected state of some from his feet in the presence of the Lord. parts of the country, to invalidate the stateJoshua v. 15.
ments of the sacred historians, who represent The sandals of the ancients seem to have it as one of the most fertile and delightful been removed with less ease than the shoes spots on the face of the earth. In this they * Like “ the cap of liberty," as it is called.
* See the first article.
have not only altogether failed, but have un- speaking of the appearance of the country wittingly been the cause of producing much between Shechem and Jerusalem, says:"A confirmation, and illustration of the sacred sight of this territory alone, can convey an records in this respect; for scholars have adequate idea of its surprising produce. It thus been led to gather up the corroborative is truly the Eden of the East, rejoicing in the testimonies of ancient heathen writers; and abundance of its wealth. The effect of this travellers having been induced narrowly to upon the people was strikingly portrayed in observe the existing state of the country, every countenance. Under a wise and benefihave found traces in what it is, of what it cent government, the produce of the Holy once was, and is still capable of becoming. Land would exceed all calculation. Its perThe land has suffered under the blighting ennial harvests, the salubrity of its air, its dominion of Saracens, Turks, and Egyptians, limpid springs, its rivers, lakes, and matchand thus the population having become scanty, less plains; its hills and valleys; all these, agriculture has been neglected, and an air of added to the serenity of the climate, prove comparative desolation has crept over its this to be indeed a field which the Lord once luxuriant hills and dales, although the hath blessed ; God hath given it of the dew traces of its former condition are far from of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and being wholly obliterated.
plenty of corn and wine.' " We shall produce the testimonies of some These are glowing words, and would furobservant travellers, in corroboration of this nish a considerably exaggerated statement statement,-being only a few of the number as applied to the country at large. But it who have borne witness to the same effect. is strictly correct in regard to the district
The Chevalier D'Arvieux, travelling through he describes, especially in the parts nearest the land under peculiarly advantageous cir- Shechem ; and it is fair to take this as a cumstances, towards the close of the seven- specimen of what the land was once, and teenth century, says, in one place:-“We left might yet become. In fact, the hilly district the road to avoid the Arabs, whom it was around Shechem (now Nabulus) is perhaps always disagreeable to meet with, and reached the best cultivated portion of Palestine, by a side path the summit of a mountain, though considerably inferior in natural where we found a beautiful plain. It must fertility to some of the plains that lie tobe confessed, that if one could live secure in wards the Mediterranean Sea. It is this this country, it would be the most agreeable which renders it a fit average specimen of residence in the world, partly on account of what the whole land must have been when the pleasing diversity of mountains and fully cultivated by an abundant and active valleys; partly on account of the salubrious population. In a matter like this, the air which we breathe there, and which is at opinion of a practical agriculturist would all times filled with balsamic odours from the seem of more value than any other that could wild-flowers of these valleys, (hence the bees be obtained. We happen to possess this in and the honey,] and from the aromatic herbs the testimony of Mr. Lowthian, a gentleman of the hills. Most of the mountains are dry farmer
, from the north of England, who, and arid, and exhibit more rock than mould under some peculiar religious impressions, adapted to cultivation, but the industry of proceeded to Palestine, with the view of the old inhabitants had triumphed over this renting a farm, cultivating it after the defect of the soil. They had hewn the rocky English fashion, and teaching the natives hills from the foot to the summit into ter- to do the same. His experience was, that races; to them they carried mould from there was a deficiency of seasonable rain, below, as on the coast of Genoa,* and then which rendered cultivation precarious, and planted on them the fig, olive, and vine, and high cultivation impracticable. Looking into raised corn and all kinds of pulse, which, the Bible, he found, that in Deuteronomy xi. favoured by the usual spring and autumnal 13—15, the rain in its due season—that the rains, by the dews which never fail, by the Israelites might have their corn and their warmth of the sun, and the general mildness wine, and their oil, and that there might of the climate, produced the finest fruit, and be grass in their fields for their cattle—was most excellent corn in the world.”
promised solely on the condition of their Our own traveller, Dr. E. D. Clarke, obedience to the laws of God. Accordingly, * It is also the custom in many other places, and
we read in Jeremiah iii. 3, and v. 24, 25, is common in the Lebanon mountains, which, in that because of their disobedience “the many parts are extensively laid out in such terraces. showers have been withholden, and there