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than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her : and happy is every one that retaineth her."*
Wisdom, in the Book of Proverbs, stands for God the Son. Let us just refer to a few verses in the first and eighth chapters of that book :6 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets. Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded ; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof. I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon Me, but I will not answer; they shall seek Me early, but they shall not find Me."| Here Wisdom promises the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, a prerogative which belongs exclusively to God the Son. Wisdom threatens judgment without mercy against those that have done despite to His will, and left themselves no place for repentance. We cannot read that part of the first chapter of Proverbs which I have just quoted and not think of the doom of the five foolish virgins in the wellknown parable. I Turn we now to the eighth chapter of the same Book. There we read thus Wisdom's declarations :-"By Me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By Me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth. I love them that love me ; and those that seek me early shall find me. . . . Now therefore hearken unto me, Oye children; for blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord. But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul; all they that hate me love death." Who could fail to identify the speaker with Him who is called “Faithful and True," “ KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS;'|| or with Him who invites hungry and thirsty souls to get of Him bread, and wine, and milk ; that is, that they should incline their ear and come unto Him and bear, and their soul shall live. I
“ The tree of life" is spoken of as “ the fruit of righteousness. It is described as the realisation of a cherished hope long deferred. “ Hope deferred maketh the heart sick ; but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life."ttWhen we examine this last quoted passage by the light of the New Testament, we have no difficulty in applying it to the longings of a fallen creation, which none but the Redeemer can satisfy. Let the Solomonic “hope deferred” and realised be compared with St. Paul's expositions of the same. The great Apostle writes to the Romans : -“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travail. eth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also,
Prov, üi. 13-18. f Prov. viii. 15-17, 82-36. ** Prov. xi. 30.
Ibid. i. 20, 23-28. | Rev. xix. 11-16. tt Ibid. xiii, 12.
| Matt. xxv. 1-13.
Isaiah lv. 1-3.
which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope ; but hope that is seen is not hope ; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for ? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."* He cheers the aching hearts of the Thessalonians with the assurance, “ We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers ; remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.”+ Amongst the various lessons which the same Apostle gives to the Bishop of Crete, as regards teaching, he tells him :-“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation bath appeared to all men, teaching us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." Once more Solomon's divine aphorism, “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick ; but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.” The tree of life may well symbolise Him who calls Himself “the Bread of Life," " THE DESIRE OF ALL Nations.”
The tree of life disappears, by name at least, amongst the leaves of the Bible, till we reach that sublime book, the Book of Revelation. Here we have the tree brought into view under three different aspects. The letter to the angel of the Church of Ephesus closes with these remarkable words :" To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” In the beginning of the last chapter of that book, which containeth the description of Jerusalem the Holy, we read :-"In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations."| Then towards the conclusion of the Book and chapter, the Redeemer applies the revelation respecting the restitution of the tree of life in a practical manDer :- Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city."I Can we help then to contemplate the forfeiture and recovery of the tree of life, as the great event in “the times of refreshing," namely, “the restitution of all things ?”
“The times of refreshing,” and “ the restitution of all things,” convey to our mind two different ideas. The former-symbolised by our Lord's coming to His disciples at the fourth watch-will begin with the Redeemer's manifestation. There will be a great calm.
66 Times of refreshing " after great toil. The restitution of the tree of life" will give the crowning glory to “ the times of refreshing." Let the nature and property of that tree be borne in mind. "And the Lord God said, Behold the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil ; and
* Rom. viii, 22-25.
| 1 Thess. i. 2, 3.
I Titus ii. 11-13.
Ibid. xxii. 12-14,
now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever."* Hence man was expelled from the paradise of God. But in the fulness of the times of refreshing, that is, when Jerusalem the Holy shall be firmly and eternally established on earth, one of its streets is to be the very paradise of God, and the everlasting life-giving tree shall be accessible to all that do God's commandments.”+
The majesty therefore of “the times of refreshing" will be made effulgent and brilliant, when Isaiah's vision shall have received its literal fulfilment, and have ushered in the glorious period for which the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain, which, by reason of the hope deferred, makes the heart of the Church sick.
We must not overlook the practical lesson which the theme furnishes for these our own days. Alas, we are still under the dispensation of the kingdoms of this earth. The fearfully unsettled state of this earth's dominions at the present day, the constant threatenings of a universal war, reminds us too often that the world is still under the rule of the prince of darkness, that Satan is still permitted to be a lying spirit in the mouths of many an avaricious king and unprincipled teacher, of whom Ahab and his prophets of Baal were the types. We have still wars and bloodshed about the rightful possession of some paltry Ramoth-Gilead.
The thoughtful Christian is often lost in reverie while asking himself why are such calamities as war and pestilence and famine sent? The Bible soon supplies him with the only reliable answer. Isaiah furnishes an analogous question and a rejoinder to the same. " Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers ? did not the Lord, He against whom we have sinned ? for they would not walk in His way, neither were they obedient unto His law. Therefore He hath poured upon him the fury of His anger and the strength of battle ; and it hath set bim on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart." | Ezekiel teaches the same truth in different words :—"Or if I bring a sword upon that land, and say, Sword, go through the land; so that I cut off man and beast from it; though these three men were in it, as I live, saith the Lord God, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they only shall be delivered themselves. Or if I send & pestilence into that land, and pour out my fury upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast: though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, saith the Lord God, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter ; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness."'S Would to God that the nations who profess the hallowed religion in our hallowed Bible, studied the mind and will of our God, as propounded by the Spirit of God through His prophet Isaiah. It is His will that nations and peoples shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning-hooks. It is His divine will that nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. Whenever Holy Scriptures favour us with a view of the world as it is to be, it is intended to teach nations and kingdoms to strive to be such as the Almighty intends the renewed earth and the inhabitants thereof to be.
* Gen. iii. 22.
† Rev. ii. 7 ; xxii, 2, 14.
The vision of Isaiah furnishes, moreover, & practical lesson for individuals. Nations are made up of individuals. When we learn, therefore, that it is the Almighty's design to judge among the nations Himself, it behoves us individually to make Him our Governor. When we learn that “ He shall rebuke many people,” or rather, that He shall decide amongst the multitudes of peoples, it behoves us individually to make His word our arbiter in all things. When we read that nations shall " beat their swords into plowshares; that the people shall beat their spears into pruning-hooks ; that nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more," it behoves us individually to consider those prophecies in the light of so many precepts, addressed to ourselves, to strive to promote peace and happiness, truth and justice, religion and piety. Is it so amongst all professing believers? Do we strive individually to promote those virtues and graces which we have just named ? Is there no animosity rankling in some corner of the heart of some one of our readers against some one ? We trust not! But if there be one of our readers in whose heart the peace of God which passeth all understanding is not experienced, oh, study the spiritual meaning and import of Isaiah's prediction, and pray that the God of peace may give you a new heart !
In a similar way we would desire our readers to meditate upon St. Peter's exhortation, to which so much reference has been made in this paper :-“Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins
may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord ; and He shall send Jesus Christ, who before was preached unto you."
THE LANGUAGE OF CHRIST.
words or phrases did He teach, exhort, and instruct His people ? Literary men have, now and then, stirred the subject, and in an age when men run greedily after every thing that bears the garb of novelty, it can scarcely be expected that so attractive a topic would be left to rest on its old foundations, that our learned men would be content to hold the generally received opinion, which they had learned from their fathers, who had received it from their forefathers, who again had heard it from their predecessors, and so on, even to those primitive days which saw the great Teacher, and heard His heavenly utterances. No; some new hypothesis must be elaborated, and novel theory promulgated—that since our blessed Saviour's teachings and instructions have come down to us in the Greek language, He must needs not only have Himself understood Greek, but also taught and preached to His Jewish hearers in the Greek tongue! Further still, Holy Writ must be dragged into the contest, and passages here and there strained, so as to fall in with the writer's notions.
In the following papers we hope to prove clearly and satisfactorily that the hitherto generally received opinion is the true one-that Aramaic was the language used by our blessed Saviour in His intercourse with His brethren, in His teaching and preaching. We will do this by showing
1. From the circumstances of the times in which our Saviour came, the state of the Jews, their literature, and contemporary testimony that Greek was not the language of the common people in Palestine.
2. From passages, words, and expressions in our Greek gospels, which show that they were originally uttered in Aramaic.
8. By replying to the arguments which are brought forward for the Greek theory, showing that they are founded either in misapprehension, overstraining of facts, or want of acquaintance with Jewish life, manners, and customs.
No sooner does the inquiry as to the language of Christ present itself to our mind, than another question rises up before us—What was the language of the people of Israel when the Son of God humbled Himself and came down upon our earth ? These two inquiries are closely related and most intimately connected, and the solution of the one will greatly facilitate the clearing up of the other. The Saviour Himself tells us that He was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He was born and grew up, taught and preached, accomplished His great work, and ascended on high, from the midst of His brethren according to the flesh. It is therefore most natural, and most consonant to Scripture and reason, tó conclude that their language was His language, that He spoke as they spoke, and that. He made use of those household words which were known, understood, and familiar to them all.
Now in endeavouring to find out what Israel's language was at the coming of Christ, it is unnecessary for us to go back to the nation's early days under their great legislator, Moses; nor have we to turn our attention to their happy and prosperous settlement under David and Solomon. Our line of inquiry commences only with the decline and fall of the nation. In consequence of their sins, God stirred up the king of Babylon against them. The noblest and best families were carried away captive; only a few of the poorest were left in the land. It is worth our noticing that Israel's sojourn in Chaldea differed greatly from that of their forefathers in Egypt. In the one country, they were reduced to grinding bondage, "all their service wherein they made them serve was with rigour ;" in the other, they occasionally met with kind treatment, and some of them were advanced to high offices in the state. In Egypt they lived together in one province, the land of Goshen ; in Chaldea they spread themselves over the length and breadth of the empire. The language of one country was strange and foreign to them; the speech of Babylon they soon learned, for it was one of the same stock as their own Hebrew. These differences in their servitude were naturally followed by equally different results. The Egyptian bondage, though continuing several centuries, had no power to induce them to adopt the language of their masters; seventy years, on the other hand, were sufficient to make their descendants take up with the language of the Chaldeans. For when the appointed term for the captivity of Babylon was ended, and a remnant returned to the land of their fathers, they imported with them the tongue of the Chaldeans.