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As we usually adduce the unanimous consent of all nations as an infallible testimony of the being of a God, so we may adduce the unanimous consent of all ancient nations as an infallible testimony that He is to be worshipped with the offerings of every man's substance. The principle, as S. Chrysostom tells us, is a part of our nature, and though it has long been overlaid by modern schemes and inventions, we must yet hope that it will one day emerge from its hiding place, and once again under the auspices of a Church ordinance, come into universal and active operation. Truth may sleep or be buried, but it never dies.
In the next place it must be remembered, that as the Bible hegins with assuming, not with proving the being of God, so by its record of the offerings of Cain and Abel, it assumes that He Who made the beasts of the field and the fruits of the earth, is to be worshipped with the first and choicest of their produce.
In one sense Abel is the father of the faithful, since he is the first upon record who had faith in God, as the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Indeed, as the promise given to Eve contains the germ of Gospel doctrine, so the offering of Abel contains the germ of Gospel worship. Religion requires a sacrifice of the body, of the soul, and of the substance, to be offered to God through the merits of a vicarious sacrifice for sin ; and wherever any one of these elements is wanting, there is no complete duty of man and no complete worship of God. Outward worship, indeed, if it would be acceptable, must be expressive of the inward worship of the heart; but of all counterfeit religion, the worst is that which consists of the calves of hypocritical lips. Surely if we make comparisons between things that are bad, Cain's sacrifice, deficient as was, and the Pharisaical sacrifice of mint and anise, must be better than a sacrifice of words and talk that cost literally nothing. God is the great Landlord of all the world, and to Him, like all other landlords, what is due must be rendered : verbal acknowledgments will not suffice; there must be an actual payment in kind or in coin.
Reason and revelation in this as in other matters confirm each other
. It is known, says Agobarbus, to all who read Holy Scripture, that from the beginning of the world there have been Priests, altars, victims, and sacrifices, and that these were offered to God. There may indeed be offerings without altars, as is proved in the case of Abel, but there cannot be altars without offerings; the altar itself is an offering, and the object of the erection of the altar was to worship God with sacrifice and offerings. Noah erected altars, and doubtless on them he offered a sacrifice which was not expressive of barren faith, but which cost him something.
To Noah succeeded Abraham, who offered tithes to the Most High God, and set us an example how to honour Him “Who is a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”
From Jacob's vow we learn that to offer tithes is to confess our allegiance to God. “ And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If GOD will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then shall the Lord be my God; and this stone which I have set for a pillar shall be God's House; and of all that Thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto Thee.” (Gen. xxviii. 20, 21, 22.)
We are now coming to another era. It is clear that offerings did not originate with Moses, yet it was the object of the Mosaic code of law to keep in perpetual action the principle practised by righteous Abel. The Books of Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, are perpetually enforcing this principle. must particularize chapters, we would mention the twenty-third of Leviticus and the twenty-sixth of Deuteronomy; but the frequency with which the subject is mentioned, is a proof of its importance. At the feast of the Passover the first-fruits of the barleyharvest were offered; at Pentecost the offering consisted of the first-fruits of the wheat-harvest; and at the Feast of Tabernacles, of the first-fruits of the vine and of the other fruit trees.
The sheaves of corn were to be waved before the Lord, as the Creator of the earth, and of all that therein is. And so much weight was laid upon these offerings, because, as Bishop Patrick observes, it was held by all mankind as a principal part of religion, to make this early acknowledgment to God for His goodness. But what was a principal part of religion must be a principal part of Christianity, though not the whole of it. It is impossible to form right views of the offertory unless we consider it in the first place in its connection with natural religion.
But the chief part of the offerings of the fruits of the earth consisted of two tithes; one of which was paid every year to the Levites, while the second every two years out of three was spent in feasting, and this tithe every third year was appropriated to the poor. Thus the rich and the poor were to feast together, and all had their share within fixed limits in all those common blessings which God gave.
The principle of recognising the Great Creator was included also in the redemption of the first-born of men, and in the offering of the firstlings of cattle; the mystery involved in this latter sort of offerings did not absorb what may be called the natural duty. So again, though the Jews had additional motives of thankfulness to the LORD their God for delivering them from bondage and giving them the promised land, yet this peculiarity did not absorb the natural duty of consecrating their substance to the LORD of the whole earth in thankful acknowledgment of His goodness, and in recognition of His authority. It is also to be particularly observed, that what related to the offering of tithes, first-fruits, and firstlings, was a
part of those statutes and ordinances which are so often alluded to in the Old Testament, and amongst other places at the end of the Second Commandment.
Nor must we in our review overlook the half shekel for the service of the sanctuary. The sum to be given by rich and poor was in this case to be precisely the same. The words relating to this ordinance are so remarkable that we cannot help quoting them; the more so as they will make an excellent conclusion to the first part of our observations.
“Every one that passeth among them that are numbered from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the LORD. The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the Lord to make an atonement for your souls. And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle
of the congregation, that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the Lord, to make an atonement for your souls.” (Exodus xxx. 14, 15, 16.)
By A STUDENT. I was returning home from an evening walk, and I had to pass through the churchyard near the little village of at which pretty place I was staying with my friend Mr. Penryn, the Vicar.
It was a beautiful night; the moon, nearly at the full, shed a cold clear light on the graves covered with dew; the old trees stretched out their long branches as if longingly to the earth, and the wind as it waved them to and fro, sounded among their leaves as though they whispered with strange melancholy voices to the dead beneath them. As I stood and gazed steadfastly on the green mounds stretching one beyond the other, it seemed to me that they rose and sank with the softly-swelling motion of a calm untroubled sea ; and the tombstones shining white and tall in the moonlight, looked like the figures of the departed ones, rising from their graves to answer the mysterious communings
With that melancholy awe which the sight of a grave by moonlight always produces, I stood and gazed, scarcely drawing my breath, and then moved on lightly and noiselessly, as if by the bed of a dying one, instead of in the presence of the dead.
"Fond wretch ! as if thy step disturbed the dead!"
of the trees.
My feet brushed the dew from the grass as I trod among the graves, though not on them, for I felt that I was on holy ground; and to disturb the dew where the loved and mourned lay in their lonely beds, would have been to my heart like rudely, with unsympathising hands, brushing away the tears of the faithful who still wept for them. O, the histories those graves could tell ! the tender watching, the wild agony, the earnest prayer, the hope lost in fear, the heart trembling at its own bitterness, before those green mounds are raised ; and afterwards perhaps the Christian resignation, perhaps the unbelieving despair, perhaps the recovered gaiety. Yet are we ever truly happy till some we have loved on earth have entered heaven, and we also enter by means of the eternity of human love into a real fellowship with the communion of saints ? Alas! it is too often only in the churchyard, during brief and solemn moments, that we entertain this idea of true happiness : we cannot realize it at home, when our tear-worn eyes rest on the vacant chair, and our ears ask vainly for the sound of the well-known voice. Will our loved ones in heaven speak with the same voices which were theirs on earth? The doubt sometimes crosses me with painful distinctness, and I feel that perhaps that dearest music is after death lost, not only to time but to eternity.
My attention was soon attracted by a black figure lying almost prostrate on a little hillock, which was evidently the grave of a child, from its size, and also from the inscription carved on a low stone at the head which ran thus,
Aged six months. The extreme youthfulness of the figure, and the attitude expressing utter abandonment to grief, excited my pity, and I paused behind her, fearing to pass on lest I should disturb a solitude so sacred.
But she had been there in the pale moonlight—that young mourner-alone with the dead, and some hidden instinct or spiritual presence within her, told her that it was no longer so; there was another being warm with life in that cold burial place, beside herself. She rose slowly to her feet, and while she leaned on the low stone for support, turned her head and looked at me, discovering to me the face of a girl about fifteen years of age. She was very fair but very pale ; her dreamy dark eyes were heavy with tears ; her lips were firm and compressed ; her countenance bore the traces of a sorrow which had passed its first novelty only to sink the deeper into the heart of the sufferer.
She read sympathy in my eyes, and placing both hands before her face, she wept, till the tears rolled from between her fingers, and fell and clustered on the tombstone, like large heavy drops of rain.
Obeying the impulse of the moment, I addressed her. We were not strangers, for our eyes dimmed with tears, had met above the grave which contained the dearest earthly treasure of one of us : could the most formal introduction, in the ball-room or at the dinner-table, have been of so much avail ?
“Do not weep so bitterly,” said I, “ he was innocent, and is happy."
“Yes,” she repeated after me mechanically, and with a deep sigh, as if she would fain, yet could not, lift the weight off her heart, “ he was innocent, and is happy.' And
you will see him again,” I continued; "you will meet in heaven.”
"We shall meet in heaven,” she repeated in the same mechanical manner; then with a sudden change she added wildly, “Ah! but shall we shall we ".
I looked at her with a strange alarm. “Do not doubt it,” I cried; “this very affliction is sent in mercy to wean your spirit from earth, and to teach you to walk in the right path."
Earnestly did she fix her dreamy eyes on me; then flinging herself on her knees, she stooped down till her forehead rested on the soft grass of the grave, and she wept long and bitterly. At length raising her head, she said, “ Is it wicked to doubtto feel as I do? I am very miserable. He was so innocentno bad thought-no earthly desire had entered my baby's heart ; he died ere the kiss of hiš Angel had dried the baptismal dew on his brow; and I, I am not innocent. I have done wrong, and felt wrong, and spoken wrong : I have been heedless, and vain, and giddy. Oh! can our heavens be the same? “In my Father's house there are many mansions. He is innocent. I am penitent. Can we be together? He is one of those who follow the LAMB whithersoever He goeth ; and I, if I go to heaven at all, perhaps I may see him in the distance—may know that he is happy; but shall I clasp him in my arms, and feel his sweet breath on my cheek, and teach him to kiss me? Oh! I am very wicked, but I think earth is happier than heaven!"
She spoke incoherently and wildly, and again hiding her face on the little grave, wept with the quietness of despair.
I did not know what to say to her; her language and the painful depth of her sorrow took me by surprise. I felt it was a case for the voice of the Church only to console, and that I must not enter beyond the porch, and must scarcely even attempt to see the mysteries which lay within.
“Do not mourn thus as one without hope," I said, after a