Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Archangel's Second Visit

The Archangel's Second Visit

Six months, and, sent again from God,
The angel Gabriel came
To a city of fair Galilee,
And Nazareth by name,

To a virgin, spouse to Joseph
Of David's royal race;
And the virgin's name was Mary,
Whose life was truth and grace.

The angel entered softly,
Where Mary sat alone,
Saying: "Hail! the Lord is with thee,
Thou highly favored one."

But, when she saw the stranger,
Mary was troubled sore;
For such a salutation
She ne'er had heard before.,

But: "Fear not," said the angel,
"For, Mary, thou hast found
Favor with God, whose goodness
And mercy doth abound.

"And thou art greatly honored,
For God hath chosen thee
To nurse the high, anointed One
Whose name shall Jesus be.

"He shall be great, and shall be called
The high Jehovah's Son
And the Lord God shall give to Him
His father David's throne.

"And he shall reign o'er Jacob's house
For ever evermore;
His Kingdom still shall flourish
When earthly reigns are o'er.

"Behold," he said, "Elizabeth,
Thy cousin, good and kind,
I've also promised her a son,
And the promise true she'll find.

"For God is the omnipotent,
All power is in His hand,
And nothing is imposible
To His Divine command."

Then Mary meekly said: "Behold
The handmaid of the Lord;
And let the honor be to me
According to thy word."

The angel then departed--
Ascending up above--
And left the gentle virgin bowed
In humble trust and love.

Friday, July 6, 2018

The Archangel's First Visit

The Archangel's First Visit

Twas in the days of Herod--
First king of that proud name--
Who reigned over Judea,
The land of Scripture fame.

A certain Zacharias,
Of the large, priestly force,
The temple of Jerusalem
Was serving in his course.

His wife, Elizabeth, belonged
To Aaron's favored line;
And they were righteous before God,
And kept the law Divine.

But this couple had no children,
And they were very old;
And lived alone, nor ever hoped
A son they should behold.

And it came to pass one morning--
As Scripture doth record--
That Zacharias burned incense
On the altar of the Lord;

And outside the people waited,
And stood in silent prayer;--
For in this way they worshiped
In the holy temple fair.

And, in that solemn season
To Zacharias' sight--
Standing beside the altar--
Appeared an angel bright.

And the good priest was troubled,
When he saw the spirit form,
And fear fell on him, and he shook
Like willow in a storm.

But the angel said to him: "Fear not,
Thy prayer is heard in heaven,
And to thy wife, Elizabeth,
A son shall now be given.

"And thou shalt call the baby John,
And thou shalt have great joy;
And many shall rejoice with thee
Over this precious boy.

"And he shall in the holy sight
Of God, be great and high;
And sine, or ardent spirit,
His lips shall ne'er come nigh.

"The Holy Ghost shall early
Spread through his heart abroad.
And many of your ancient race
Shall he turn to their God.

"And in the power and spirit
Of Elias, he shall go
Before Him who is coming
To save the world from woe."

Then Zacharias, in surprise
And overwhelming bliss,
Demanded of the angel:
"Whereby shall I know this?"

And the angel, answering, said:
"I am that Gabriel,
Who stand in God's high presence,
And am sent glad news to tell.

"And, now,  because thou doubtest,
Behold thou shalt be dumb,
And shalt not speak, until the child
I have fortold has come."

Meanwhile the people waited till
The priest should come outside,
And marvelled at his long delay--
What could to him betide?

And, when to them he did appear,
And could not speak a word,
They knew that he had seen, within,
A vision from the Lord.

And so he served the temple
Until the day had come
When, his ministration over,
He departed to his home.

Monday, June 25, 2018

What was known of Jesus' plans and methods of work?

       Formal organization He magnificently neglected. "Are you a society?" was asked of George Macdonald's Robert Falconer when he worked among the poor in London. "No; why should we be anything? We are an undefined company of people who have grown into human relations with each other naturally through one attractive force love for human beings. When we die, there will be no corporate body left behind to simulate life." Christ erected no machine. He dealt with persons, life. As Young points out: "He originated no series of well-concerted plans; He neither contrived nor put in motion any extended machinery; He entered into no correspondence with parties in His own country and in other regions of the world, in order to spread His influence and obtain cooperation. Even the few who were His constant companions, and were warmly attached to His person, were not, in His lifetime, imbued with His sentiments, and were not prepared to take up His work in His spirit after He was gone. He constituted no society, with its name, design, and laws all definitely fixed and formally established. He had no time to construct and to organize His life was too short and almost all He did was to speak. He spoke in familiar conversation with His friends, or at the wayside to passers-by, or to those who chose to consult him, or to large assemblies, as opportunity offered. He left behind Him a few spoken truths not a line or word of writing and a certain spirit incarnated in His principles and breathed out from His life; and then He died."
       Yet He worked with an aim. He had a work "given" Him by the Father and He wrought at this work with a plan, and in accordance with clear principles.
  •  "But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me." John 5:35 (KJB)
  • "I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do." John 17:4 (KJB)

Monday, June 18, 2018

Piano Concert Clip Art

Description of Clip Art:  baby grand piano, concert announcement, text "Piano Concert", black and white clip art, instrument

Have a question about the illustration? Just type it in the comment box and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. I only publish content that is closely related to the subject folks.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Vintage Card File With Hands

Description of Clip Art:  old card catalogue, hands and arms, librarian, looking it up, card file system, monochromatic, brown and cream

Have a question about the illustration? Just type it in the comment box and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. I only publish content that is closely related to the subject folks.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

What Is a "Generation"?

       "Generation" is used in a variety of senses in the Scriptures. In some cases, it means a period of limitless duration; in others it means the past (Isa. 51 :8), and still others the future (Psalm. 100:5) again, it means both the past and future (Psalm. 102:24). In Gen. 6:9 it means all men living at any given time. In Prov. 30:11, 14 it refers to a class of men with some special characteristics, and in Psalm. 49:19 it may be interpreted to mean the "dwelling-place." A generation, in modern phraseology, means thirty to thirty-five years, but there is no instance of the word being used in this particular sense in the Bible. Thus, "the book of the generation of Jesus Christ" is a genealogical record extending back to Abraham. In I Peter 2 :9 it means an elect race. 

What Was the Forbidden Fruit?

       There have been many interpretations of the Fall, and the books on the subject would fill a small library. The majority of the early Christian fathers held the Mosaic account to be historical, and interpreted it literally, believing that an actual fruit of some kind, not definitely known, was eaten by our first parents. A few early writers, Philo among them, regarded the story of the Fall as symbolical and mystical, shadowing forth allegorical truths, and that the serpent was the symbol of pleasure, and the offense was forbidden sensuous indulgence. Whatever the "fruit" may have been, its use was plainly the violation of a divine prohibition, the indulgence of an unlawful appetite, the sinful aspiration after forbidden knowledge. Professor Banks, several years ago, while traveling in the region of the Tigris and Euphrates, found in a little known district a place which the natives declared to be the traditional site of Eden and a tree (name and species unknown) which they believed to be the successor of the original tree of knowledge, and it was venerated greatly. It bore no fruit. 

A cherubim holds an engagement ring

Description of Clip Art:  engagement, wedding band, diamond, marriage, angel, wings, quiver of arrows, sparkle, announcement, black and white clip art

Have a question about the illustration? Just type it in the comment box and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. I only publish content that is closely related to the subject folks.

What Were the "Marks of the Lord Jesus"?

       It was a practice to brand slaves with their owners' initials. A slave by showing the brand proved to whom his service was due and that no one else had a claim upon him. The marks of the Lord Jesus which Paul bore (Gal. 6:17) were the scars received in his service - the marks of the rods with which he was beaten and the wounds he received in fighting with wild beasts. He showed them as evidence that he belonged to the Lord Jesus. 

Who Were the Magi?

       These wise men were from either Arabia, Mesopotamia, Egypt, or somewhere else in the East. "East"is not to be understood in our wide, modern sense, but referred to those countries that lie to the east as well as north of Palestine. Thus, Persia is referred to as the "East" (Isa. 46:11). While it is true that the Gospel account does not state the number of wise men, but simply says they were from the East, many ancient traditions have been preserved from the early days of the Christian Church, among them one which states that there were three Magian princes, and gives their names as Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, who came with a large retinue of servants and camels. Magism is supposed to have originated in Chaldea and thence spread to the adjacent countries. The Magians are believed to have been originally Semitic. Among the Greeks and Romans they were known as Chaldeans. Daniel sympathized with the order during his exile, and probably became one of their number. They believed in God, hated idolatry and looked for a Messiah. The latter fact alone would almost be regarded as conclusive evidence of their Semitic descent. There are no absolute data, however, for asserting it positively. For many generations the Magi has looked for the fulfillment of the prophecy contained in Numbers 24:17 ". . . there shall come a star out of Jacob . . ." and when the light as guiding star indicated the direction of Judea they knew the prophecy had been fulfilled. "His star" can be interpreted as "his sign." Whatever form it assumed, it was sufficiently marked as an astronomical phenomenon to claim attention. Some writers have contended that it was visible to the Magi alone; others hold that it was a heavenly light, standing as a beacon of glory over the manger; still others, that it was the luminous figure of an angel. Tradition asserts that "the star" guided the Magi both by day and by night. The infant Savior was probably over two months old when the visit of the Magi took place. They had seen the phenomenon of the star long before their arrival in Jerusalem, two months after Jesus had been presented in the temple, and it was some time after this that the Magi arrived in Jerusalem and went thence to Bethlehem to worship him and offer gifts. It must have taken them many months to accomplish the journey from their own country to Palestine. The Magi brought the first material Christmas gifts when they presented their love offerings. 

Who Was Chloe?

       Chloe was a noted Christian woman at Corinth, perhaps a widow, as she is represented as head of her family, from some of which Paul received his information of the divisions at Corinth. 1 Cor. 1:11. - Brown.

Who Was Ananias?

       Ananias was a disciple of Christ, at Damascus, whom the Lord directed to visit Paul, then recently converted and arrived at Damascus. (Acts 9:10) The modern Greeks maintain, that he was one of the seventy disciples, bishop of Damascus; a martyr; and buried in that city. There is a very fine church where he was interred; and the Turks, made a mosque of it to preserve a great respect for his monument.

Friday, June 15, 2018

What was the childhood of Jesus like?

       Of the early life of Jesus very little is known. He never referred to it Himself, and two of the four Gospels are silent regarding it. He must have known, of course, the place of His birth, but He never spoke of it. One of the objections made to the validity of the claims He put forth was that He was not born in that part of the nation where, as a matter of fact, He was born; but neither He nor His disciples ever corrected the erroneous impression that prevailed (John 7: 41, 42, 52). He never mentioned, in the records of His life which are preserved, the wonderful stories of the manner of His birth which are told in the gospels of Matthew and Luke; nor is any allusion made to it in the other writings of the New Testament.
Jesus in the temple as a child.
       All that we are told directly of His life, from the time the family settled in Nazareth, after the visit to Egypt and the death of Herod, until His appearance in public life about thirty years later, we are told by the Gospel which was written chiefly for Gentiles, and which represents the oral gospel preached by the Apostle Paul, who may or may not have made use of this material in his preaching. It surely does not appear in his epistles. The information supplied in this way is confined to two statements concerning the development of Jesus, one of which precedes, while the other follows, the story of a visit He made to the Temple at the age of twelve (Luke 2: 40-52).
       We know, however, that He made His home with the humble people who were known as His father and mother (Matt. 13: 55) in a little country village in the province of Galilee, and there grew up (Luke 4:16). There are few places better than such a village for the strong and true development of a life. Its interests are not so pretentious and extensive as those of city life, but they are deep and thoughtful. In such surroundings the power of true vision and honest action is not discouraged as in a city by the conventional conceptions which obscure the truth, and the life of personal irresponsibility which leads to the toleration of that which is questionable or wrong. No rugged prophet was ever produced by city life. In the simple social life of a country town, with its sympathy, its purity, its kindliness, its blunt honesty, Jesus grew up, an integral part of the community life as no boy is in a city.
       He was from the beginning, evidently, an observant boy. He studied the life of His town, and He took special delight in the unending beauty of mountain and river and sea, and the vast instruction of plants and flowers, of sky and cloud, of bird and beast.
       His home was one of the best class of the simple homes of the poor. It preserved, evidently, the primitive godliness of the nation. His parents (Luke 2: 48) were of the most devout spirit (Matt. 1:19 ; Luke 1: 46-55), free from the bigotry which reigned in Judea, and not contaminated by the laxity of Galilee, which was to Judaism "the court of the Gentiles," and which presented the temptations of foreign life as introduced by the Gentile traders on their constant visits, and by a large foreign community in the Decapolis. It was nevertheless the province "of generous spirits, of warm, impulsive hearts, of intense nationalism, of simple manners, and of earnest piety" (Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, vol. I, pp. 223, 225).
       Jesus was the eldest child in the family. He had four brothers, James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas (Matt. 13: 55 ; Mark v6: 3), and at least two sisters (Matt. 13: 56). Joseph, His mother's husband, seems to have died before Jesus entered upon public life, and He may have been called upon even in His youth to share with His mother the cares of the home (John 2:12). If Edersheim's view of the opinions of James and Jude and of the relationship of Simon Zelotes to Jesus be correct, then in His own home circle Jesus must have felt the influence of the three purest Jewish tendencies: the earnestness of the Shammaites represented in James, the buoyancy of the Messianic watchers represented in Jude, and the fervor of the nationalist idea represented in His cousin, Simon the Zealot (Luke 6:15). Stronger than all such influences, however, must have been the force of His mother's example and teaching. Everything indicates that she was one of those rare women whose glory it is to prepare a noble life, losing themselves in it, and desiring to be glorified only in its usefulness (Heb. 11: 40).
       Jesus did not have what was regarded as a liberal education, the Pharisees of Jerusalem counted this a reproach (John 7:15), but what educational advantages Nazareth afforded were doubtless placed at His disposal. There was, of course, a village school, to which He was probably sent after he had reached the age of six (Geikie, The Life of Christ, p. 173); but much of His training He must have received at home from His mother. Early in life He learned to read and write. He must have been an eager scholar, for besides Aramaic, which was the vernacular of the Jews (Matt. 5: 41), and Greek, which was widely used, especially in Galilee, and which He Himself used in His teaching, He also mastered Hebrew a dead language in His day, but the vestment of the Old Testament Scriptures, which He was a close and earnest student. Up to his tenth year it was held that the Bible should be the exclusive text-book of a Jewish boy; from ten to fifteen the Mishnah should the chief text-book; and after the age of fifteen the higher theological discussions were open to him. Jesus' public life, when He had no opportunity whatever for study, showed a mastery of all branches of a Jewish boy's education, which was proof of careful training in His early days.
       Even if His family had not been very poor, Jesus would probably have learned a trade. It was a good Jewish custom. Jesus followed the trade of Joseph and became a carpenter (Mark 6 : 3). Justin Martyr says He made plows and yokes, and we must believe, from the character of His later work, that they were very excellent plows and yokes which were turned out from His shop.
       Wandering along the Sea of Galilee or over the hills; watching the blue sky, the springing flowers, the husbandman and the shepherd; in the shop of Joseph, in the home of Mary, and in the school of Nazareth, Jesus spent His childhood. "And the child grew, and waxed strong, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him" (Luke 2: 40).
       At the age of twelve came an experience, the story of which is the only direct information we have of all the sweet life of these thirty years (Luke 2: 41-51). He was taken to Jerusalem to attend the Passover. Strictly, He did not be come a " son of the law " until the age of thirteen, but the legal age was often anticipated by a year or two. Upon becoming a "son of the law," the young Jew began regularly to observe the ceremonial law and to attend the three great festivals. It was therefore a solemn epoch in Jesus' life. Moreover, this was probably Jesus' first visit to Jerusalem since He was taken there as a babe from Bethlehem. For the first time the boy from Nazareth of Galilee, with its freedom and sweet air and sky, and the liberal, loving life of Mary's home, was brought into contact with the formalized religious life of His nation: the Holy City of David, kept scrupulously free from all ceremonial uncleanness; and the mighty, in violate Temple, thronged now with the tens and hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who, from many lands and many thousands of cities had come up to worship at Jerusalem. It must have been a wonderful sight to Jesus, and have quickened all the pulses within Him. Yet, though He was a country boy, the strange sights had no fascination for Him not even the historic places made famous by the stories with which His mother had made His heart swell with the pride of His famous nation in the twilight of the Sabbath evenings in Nazareth. His boyish meditations had already carried Him beyond the outward show, and He spent His days at the Temple listening to the doctors. So interested was He in what He heard that He remained behind when the rest of the party left Jerusalem on their way home. When they sought Him, He was found in the midst of a group in the Temple, earnestly asking questions of the learned men, who at the Passover came out of the Sanhedrin and taught the people colloquially, and as earnestly explaining to them His own boyish opinions, to their amazement and delight; for there was about Him nothing forward or impertinent, but only the intense eagerness of a child to whom God had given serious vision, and from whom a wise mother had withheld folly.
       When they sought Jesus, Joseph and Mary were surprised to find Him so engaged. They had taken it for granted that He was among the other children of their caravan. He had evidently kept to Himself, in the years at Nazareth, the grave thoughts and questions which the fascination of the Temple, and the wise and not unkindly doctors, had encouraged Him to express. When His mother, with some reproof, asked Him for an explanation of His conduct, He replied that He did not think it was necessary to make a search for Him; that He might have been expected to be in His Father's house, about His Father's business. It was a strange reply, one which His parents did not understand. But He went at once with them back to Nazareth, where He was subject to them, though His mother kept in mind and heart His strange conduct and words at Jerusalem, and wondered at His unlikeness to other boys who had gone up with them, and who had spent their time in seeing the wonderful sights of the great city.
       In Nazareth He seems to have resumed again the old life, though year by year He must have shown the growth which ended in His appearance as the One whom the Baptist heralded. His religious life was deepening, broadening, strengthening, gathering volume and fullness, rising up into the infinite comprehension of His first public utterances. He evidently spent much time in the little synagogue of Nazareth, whose rabbi knew Him, and where He probably had access to rolls of the Old Testament Scriptures, which neither Joseph nor He had money to buy for use in their own home. He was one of the readers or expositors at the Monday, Thursday, and Sabbath services in the synagogue, and when He came back to Nazareth, at the beginning of His public life, was at once invited to read and explain some passage of Scripture (Luke 4: 1-6).
       His growth after His first visit to Jerusalem was as quiet and symmetrical as before. He "advanced in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man" (Luke 2: 52).
       This is a most attractive picture of a young life. It is represented as perfectly normal and quiet. The silly apocryphal accounts of Jesus' childhood given in the Arabic Gospel of the Infancy (The Ante-Nicene Fathers , vol. 8., pp. 405 ff.) are wholly foreign to the spirit of the authentic story. Yet the temptation to introduce overstatements and exaggerations is irresistible to all who write an account of such a childhood, except those who, as personal witnesses, are telling a story of fact. Even Josephus introduces such elements into his account of the childhood of Moses (Works, book 2., chap, 9., 6, 7). But Jesus, beginning life, as the gospels represent, as a perfect child, yet began it as a perfect child:

"He comes, but not in regal splendor drest
The haughty diadem, the Tynan vest;
Not armed in flame, all glorious from afar,
Of hosts the Captain, and the Lord of war"

but as a simple Galilean child.
       That the influences which surrounded Jesus' childhood, and His early training in the freedom of open air and the liberty of a loving home, will explain some of the features of His life and conduct, will be plain; but whether they in any way account for Him will be more manifest after a study of His plans and methods of work, the traits of His character, His bearing and the bearing of others toward Him in the relations of life, His extraordinary personality, His conduct in the persecution which ended in His unjust death, and His posthumous influence. Robert E. Speer

How Old Was Jesus When He Began to Understand the Nature of His Mission?

       Although one cannot trace with any degree of precision the various stages of development of the consciousness of his mission, it is evident from the Gospel record that it must have begun early and gradually increased to complete appreciation as manhood approached. We are told that even in childhood he "grew and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom" and the "grace of God was upon him." (Luke 2:40.) In youth we find him questioning and expounding to the rabbis in the temple and "increasing in stature and in wisdom and in favor with God and man." His wonderful knowledge, his amazing questions and his discerning answers to the elders must have become more and more accentuated during the passage of these early years, and we may gather that Mary had already premonitions of the future career of her Divine Son, since she pondered over and "hid all these things in her heart." There are indications that seem to warrant the conclusion that long before the opening of his public ministry, Jesus was absorbed by the thought! of the mission to which he was destined. He knew his Father's business and did it, and he frequented his Father's house. His life and surroundings in Nazareth brought him in contact with a simple, earnest people and with sorrow and suffering. These were years of character-building and development. They bore fruit when the time was ripe for his public ministry and prepared him for the baptism at John's hands. This was the last act of his private life and the first that marked the beginning of his public mission, when the heavenly voice proclaimed him as the "Beloved Son" and the Baptist bare record that he was the Son of God. 

How Could Jesus, Being Already Perfect, Increase in Wisdom?

       The statement in Luke 2:52 is explicit and there is no reason for doubting it. Jesus was subject to
human conditions and limitations so far as the divine nature could be subjected, We read of His being
weary, of his being hungry and thirsty, and we are assured that He was tempted in all points like as we are, which all show that in His physical nature He was human. Doubtless He would be educated like other boys, and probably His consciousness of divinity would be gradual, and possibly not complete until the forty days in the desert. His questioning the doctors in the Temple (Luke 2:46) is supposed by some authorities to have been not catechizing them but to obtain information. 

Are the Speeches of Job's Friends to Be Regarded as Inspired ?

       This question is answered authoritatively in the book itself (see Job 42:7), where God is represented as saying, "My wrath is kindled against thee and thy two friends; for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right." One gets a clearer idea of the book by regarding it as a symposium on the problem of suffering, each speaker being a representative of a school of thought. Each speaker keeps to the same aspect of the subject but all agree in regarding unusual suffering as an evidence of unusual sin. They imply that in Job's case, he being outwardly so good a man, his sin was aggravated by hypocrisy. This was unjust, because, as we learn by the first chapter, it was precisely because he was so good a man that his affliction came upon him. The author of the book evidently wished to administer a warning to the people of his time against being uncharitable in their inferences.

Did God "Blot Out" the Day on Which Job Was Born?

       This question is doubtless prompted by the ancient, tradition or superstition that we have less days in February than any other month, as Job was born in February. This of course is a fallacy. There was no February in the time of Job, 1520 B. C. The months, or divisions of time, were not as we have them now. The year of the Jews consisted of twelve lunar months of twenty-nine and thirty days alternately, a thirteenth being from time to time introduced to accommodate it to the sun and seasons. Let it be noted that while Job cursed his birthday, he did not curse his Maker, so why should the Lord drop a day on account of a little weakness in his servant, who, despite his great sufferings, never uttered any reproach against the Author of his being? Our months as at present, we have from the Romans. With those people February had originally twenty-nine days in an ordinary year, but when the Roman Senate decreed that the eighth month should bear the name of Augustus, a day was taken from February and given to August, which had then only thirty, that it might not be inferior to July, named in honor of Julius Cesar.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

"United We Stand" Top Hat

Description of Clip Art:  patriotic, Uncle Sam, beard, text "United We Stand" top hat, transparent background

Have a question about the illustration? Just type it in the comment box and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. I only publish content that is closely related to the subject folks.

End Paper: drawn marble design on a print

Artist: restored, recolored, resized by the staff, three color versions

Directions: Click directly on the image to download the largest available size.

End Paper: zig zag pattern

Artist: restored, recolored, resized by the staff, three color versions

Directions: Click directly on the image to download the largest available size.

End Paper: Stamped: flora and bird

Artist: restored, recolored, resized by the staff, three color versions

Directions: Click directly on the image to download the largest available size.

End Paper: Stamped: X in blue, olive and rust

Artist: restored, recolored, resized by the staff
Directions: Click directly on the image to download the largest available size.

End Paper: Stamped: blue dotted pattern

Artist: restored, recolored, resized by the staff
Directions: Click directly on the image to download the largest available size.

What Is Meant by "Strange Fire"?

       The "strange fire" mentioned in Lev. 10:1, 2 is understood to mean that Nadab and Abihu, instead of taking fire into their censers from the brazen altar, took common fire which had not been consecrated, and thus were guilty of sacrilege. They had witnessed the descent of the miraculous fire from the cloud (see chapter 9:24), and they were under solemn obligation to use that fire which was specially appropriated to the altar service. But instead of doing so, they became careless, showing want of faith and lamentable irreverence, and their example, had it been permitted to pass unpunished, would have established an evil precedent. The fire that slew them issued from the most holy place, which is the accepted interpretation of the words, "from the Lord." Besides, the two young priests had already been commanded (or warned) not to do the thing they did (verse 2). They had undertaken to perform acts which belonged to the high priest alone, and even to intrude into the innermost sanctuary. See the warnings in Ex. 19:22 and Lev. 8:35.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

"How Readest Thou?"

 "How Readest Thou?"

It is one thing to read the Bible through,
Another thing to read to learn and do.
Some read it with design to learn to read, 
But to the subject pay but little heed. 
Some read it as their duty once a week,
But no instruction from the Bible seek;
While others read it with but little care,
With no regard to how they read, nor where.
Some read to bring themselves into repute,
By showing others how they can dispute;
While others read because their neighbors do,
To see how long 'twill take to read it through.
Some read it for the wonders that are there--
How David killed a lion and a bear;
While others read it with uncommon care,
Hoping to find some contradictions there.
Some read as if it did not speak to them, 
But to the people of Jerusalem.
One reads with father's specs upon his head,
And sees the thing just as his father said.
Some read to prove a preadopted creed,
Hence understand but little that they read;
For every passage in the book they bend
To make it suit that all-important end.
Some people read, as I have often thought,
To teach the book instead of being taught;
And some there are who read it out of spite.
I fear there are but few who read it right.
But read it prayerfully, and you will see,
Although men contradict, God's words agree;
For what the early Bible prophets wrote,
We find that Christ and His apostles quote.
So trust no creed that trembles to recall
What has been penned by one and verified by all.

author unknown

What Is Meant by "Saved, Yet As by Fire"?

       The apostle in I Cor. 3:15 speaks of mistaken teachings and concludes that the man whose work was not of genuine character, who had been seeking worldly gain and popularity and not trying to win and build up souls, would lose the reward which would be given to the preacher who built on the foundation of Christ, "gold, silver, and precious stones." The unprofitable worker's work he likens to wood and stubble which would not stand the day of judgment. Even though his soul should be saved, he would miss the reward promised to the faithful worker, while his own work, being false, will not escape the destruction. 

What Is Meant by the "Elect"?

       "Elect" is a term variously applied. It sometimes meant the ancient church, and the whole body of baptized Christians; again, it was those elected to baptism; and still again, it was the newly baptized who had just been admitted to full Christian privileges. Further it is applied to those especially chosen for the Lord's work, like his prophets and evangelists, and to those who had undergone tribulation and even martyrdom. It has been applied to the whole Jewish people as chosen of God. Finally, it is applied to individuals who, not of their own merit, but through God's grace, through Jesus Christ, are chosen not only to salvation, but to sanctification of the spirit and who are holy and blameless before the Lord. They are individuals specially chosen out of the world to be heirs of salvation and witnesses for God before men. This is not of works, but of free grace. In a general way, the "elect" are the sanctified - those chosen to salvation through sanctification of the spirit, as explained in Peter 1:2 and similar passages. They are the special vessels of the Spirit chosen in God's good pleasure to carry out his purposes. This election is of grace and not of works (see Rom. 9:18, 22, 23). In all ages such men have been evidently chosen by the Lord as his witnesses. This choice is at once an expression of his sovereignty and his grace. Paul himself was so chosen. On the other hand, it should not be forgotten that salvation is by grace. The whole subject of election has been one of acute controversy for ages and has given rise to many differences of opinion. The attitude of Christians with regard to the Second Coming should be one of prayer, expectancy and constant preparation.

In What Sense Was Man Created in The Divine Likeness?

       Man's likeness to God, referred to in Gen. 1:26, is the great fact which distinguishes him from the rest of creation. He is a "person" with power to think, feel and will, and with the capacity for moral life and growth. Still further, at the beginning, man had not only the capacity for moral life, but his moral disposition was such that he loved God, loved the right, and hated the wrong. The tragedy of the fall reversed this. Man was still a person and still had the capacity for righteousness, but his spirit was so changed that he feared and distrusted God, and, to a greater or less extent, loved the evil and disliked the good. Jesus came to undo this calamity and to restore us to a moral likeness to God. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Who Were the Brothers of Jesus?

       The brethren of Jesus are named in the New Testament as James, Joses, Simon and Judas. In Matt. 12:46; Matt. 13:55; John 2:12, and Acts 1:14 they are generally understood to be proper brothers, all being named together conjointly with the mother of Jesus, and the same is inferred from John 7:5. Some of the early church writers, however, held that they were merely relatives or cousins (sons of Mary the sister of Jesus' mother), it being a common custom to call all immediate relatives, nephews, cousins and half-brothers, by the general designation of "brothers" or "brethren." Further, the early fathers of the church held that Mary, the mother of Jesus, had no other children. The question still remains open whether they were not the sons of Joseph by a former marriage, and therefore half-brothers to Jesus. On the other hand Matt. 1 :25 and Luke 2 :7 favor the  view that they were brothers and that Jesus was the "first-born. " Sisters of Jesus are also mentioned in Matt. 13:56 and Mark 6:3, but their names are not given. Much has been written on the subject without positive determination, although most modern commentators hold to the opinion that the "brethren" in question were the sons of Joseph and Mary, and that Mary's mother's sister had two sons, named James and Joses.

Is There a Rational Explanation of the Star of Bethlehem?

       There was a remarkable conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn about that time, which must have been a very brilliant spectacle, and which would be very impressive to astrologers. It might lead them to the belief that some mighty potentate was born, and probably to make inquiry as to such birth. The fact, that would doubtless be known to all Orientals, that the Jews expected a Messiah, may have led the Magi to Palestine. Their inquiry for "the King of the Jews" seems to imply that it was there they expected to find such a being as the conjunction portended. The difficulty, however, is to explain the star going before them (Matt. 2:9). As they traveled westward, it might have had that appearance, but not so definitely as the account implies. Another explanation is that it was possibly a meteor divinely directed. 

Is There a Real Conflict in The Evangelists' Genealogies of Christ?

       The purpose of publishing the Savior's genealogy was to show that he had descended from David. If the genealogy of Mary had been given, it would have carried no weight with the Jews, as they would not admit the divine conception, and regarded Joseph as the head of the family. It was necessary, on their account, to show that Joseph had descended from David. It really, however, includes the others, as the descendants of David were so proud of their distinction, and of the Messianic promise involved, that no man of that family would take a wife of any other family. Mary, undoubtedly, therefore, was descended from David. The theory has been propounded and supported by Weiss and other scholars that the genealogy of Luke is that of Mary. Luke says (3 -.23) that Joseph was the son of Heli, whereas Matthew says (1:16) that he was the son of Jacob. It is suggested that Luke's statement should read, "who was the son-in-law of Heli," that is, married the daughter of Heli. Luke traces the descent through David's son Nathan, while Matthew traces it through Solomon. Even that explanation, however, has its incongruities, of which there is no clear explanation. The fact that Mary before her marriage went to Bethlehem to be taxed or registered (Luke 2:5), would indicate that she was of David's house. It is noteworthy, too, that Christ's claims to Messiahship were never challenged on that ground. If there had been any flaw in his pedigree, the Jews would have seized upon it without a doubt, because the prophecies clearly stated that Messiah would be descended from David. 

Was Christ Born in the Year 1 or in 5 B.C.?

       As we are told in the Gospels that Herod was living and slaughtered the children after Jesus was born (see Matt. 2 :i6), and as it is claimed by chronologists to be a matter of record that he died in 750 U. C, which corresponds to B. C. 4, it is obvious that Jesus was born before that date. Then, on the other hand, he was born after the decree for the census (Luke 2:1) was issued. From Tertullian we learn that the decree was issued in 748 and the enrollment began in 749 U. C, which corresponds to B. C. 5. Thus the birth is fixed by those two occurrences.

Does the Doctrine of Jesus' Divinity Depend on the Miraculous Conception?

       Even if the doctrine of the miraculous conception were abandoned, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to account for the facts of Christ's life, by any other theory than that of his being the incarnation of God. If you regard him as man, you must explain how he, a plain peasant, trained as a carpenter, brought up in an obscure eastern village, could live such a life as he undoubtedly lived, and give utterance to truths which have thrilled the world for nineteen hundred years. Besides this he spoke with authority, making claims to a higher nature, which if he did not consciously possess that higher nature, would be false claims. His whole life was consistent with his divinity, and therefore, even persons who reject his miraculous conception, have good ground for believing him to be divine. It is the only theory that explains such a life. There is no need, however, to reject the doctrine of the miraculous conception. The more you study the life of Jesus, the less you will be surprised to learn that the promise of God through the prophets, of the union of divinity and humanity, was literally fulfilled in him.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

How Can We Grow in Grace?

       A fair equivalent of the word "grace" is "blessing." Grace means, in the first place, the disposition which God has toward us; that is, his willingness to bless us; his love and favor. It means, also, the blessing received, the state or experience into which we are brought by God's blessing. There is always in the word "grace" the idea of something bestowed entirely without merit or payment on the part of the one who receives it. God's blessings are bestowed freely; we do not earn them; he blesses us because he loves us, because he is gracious. All he asks is that we shall be willing to receive his grace. This promise to Paul means that God will give him the necessary strength to bear the affliction, and also, as Paul implies in the remainder of the verse, that the happiness of the blessing will balance the distress of the thorn.
       To grow in grace means to advance and develop in spiritual experience and power. The Christian grows  in grace in the first place by growing in faith. The more we believe, the more complete we entrust our souls and all the details of our lives to God, the more we are blessed. We grow in grace by our work for God. Religious work develops spiritual muscle just as physical work develops physical muscle. The more we do the more we can do. Prayer, study of the Bible, fellowship with spiritually-minded people, attendance at divine worship and prayer services, taking part in these services, will help us to grow in grace. We should remember, however, that all grace is bestowed by God himself; as we meet the conditions and enlarge our capacity he gives us more grace, just as he gives us more physical and mental strength when we meet the conditions for physical and mental growth.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Voice Of God

       There is an old legend of a nun. She had gone into the thick solitudes to listen to the forest voices. Seated in the shade of a tree she heard a song till then new to her ears. It was the song of the mystic bird. In that song she heard in music all that man thinks and feels, all that he seeks and that he fails to find. On strong wings that song lifted her soul to the heights where it looks upon reality. There, with hands clasped, the nun listened and listened, forgetting earth, sky, time and even self - listened for long centuries, never tiring, but ever finding in that voice a sweetness forever new.

Just such music, only infinitely sweeter, does the soul find that listens amid its solitudes to the voice of God.

Wounds That Speak

       The advocates in ancient Rome gave effect to their appeals by producing on fit occasions the living image of the client's misery, and his claims on the compassion of the courts. Thus, when Antony was defending against the charge of pecuniary corruption, Aquilius, who had successfully conducted the campaign in Sicily against the fugitive slaves, and was unable to disprove or refute the
charge, in the midst of his harangue, after appealing in impassioned tones to the services rendered to his country by the brave soldier who stood by his side - he suddenly unloosed the folds of his client's robe, and showed to his fellow citizens who sat upon his trial the scars of the wounds which had been received in their behalf. They could not resist the effect of such a sight, and Aquilius was acquitted. (Text.) - Croake James, "Curiosities of Law and Lawyers."

Many a heart, like that of Thomas, has been softened and convinced by the sight of the marks of Christ's passion.


       Dr. Bonar tells of a dream he once had. In his dream the angels weighed his zeal, and he was delighted with the result. It reached the maximum and turned the scale at a hundred. Then they analyzed it, and his delight vanished. For (out of the hundred) fourteen parts wore pure selfishness, fifteen parts sectarianism, twenty-two parts ambition, twenty-three parts love for man, and twenty-six parts love to God. He awoke from his dream sobered and saddened, but resolved on a new consecration.

How much religious zeal (if analyzed) would prove even more corrupt !

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Voice of God

by Jane Van Allen

When life is sad, and earth seems drear, 
 I feel affliction's rod;
"To some new work" a voice I hear,
It is the Voice of God.

When here, sometimes, my way is hedged.
My sky seems all one cloud.
The more I try, the closer wedged.
To me a Voice speaks loud.

I look some duty then to see.
Thus guided by the rod.
I know the Hand, That's leading me,
I know the Voice of God.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Christening In Stained Glass

Description of Christian Clip Art: stained glass, text "Holy Baptism, shapes, dove, baptismal font, godmother, priest or pastor, ceremony, robes, shell, sprinkle, baby, sacrement

Have a question about the Christian clip art? Just type it in the comment box and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. I only publish content that is closely related to the subject folks.

Did John Write the Last Chapter of His Gospel?

       We know that it has been asserted by some critics that this chapter must have been added by another hand, because the evangelist concluded his work in the previous chapter. This, however, is not accepted by sound scholarship, for the reason that it is not unusual in the New Testament writings and in other good books, for authors to insert supplementary matter, to which class the chapter in question clearly belongs. There is no evidence that John's Gospel was ever known in the early Church without this chapter. John, it is true, refers to himself in the third person; but he did so also in chapter 19:35 in practically the same terms as in 21:124. The best commentators agree as to the genuineness on prima facie evidence.

What Were the Locusts That Became the Food of John the Baptist?

       Some writers think it may have been the common locust or green grasshopper, which, when prepared and dried, tastes somewhat like a shrimp. Many ancient authors mention them as food. Diodorus Siculus refers to a people of Ethiopia, who were called acridophaghi, or locust eaters. Porphryius says that whole armies have been saved from starvation by eating locusts. Aristotle and Aristophanes assert that they were relished by the Greeks, and Layard, the discoverer, found evidence that they were eaten in a preserved state by the Assyrians. Later commentators, however have conjectured that the "locust" mentioned in Mark's Gospel as being the food of John the Baptist, was the carob, the fruit of a tree of the locust family, which is a sort of sweetish bean, in pods, much used by the poorer classes.

When Did John the Baptist Die?

       The date is somewhat difficult to determine with any degree of reliability. The first Passover of Jesus' ministry is believed to have occurred in A. D. 27. His baptism at John's hands took place immediately before that time. John's imprisonment in the tower of Machserus in all probability began in A. D. 27 and in the first half of that year, but Herod's unwillingness to put him to death may have delayed the climax until the beginning of A. D. 28. Tradition says he was buried in Samaria.

Was John the Baptist Sentenced to Death Before the Dance of Salome?

       While there is no record to prove it, the presumption is that Herod, in his mind, had already condemned John on political grounds as one whose existence endangered his position and authority, but his awakened conscience and the fear inspired by John's teachings restrained him. He had kept John in the prison of Machaerus nearly a year when the Salome incident occurred, which gave Herodias her opportunity to be revenged upon the Baptist, who had rebuked both her and Herod for their sinful relations. It cannot be asserted that Herod would have executed John had not the king been caught by his pledge to Salome. On the contrary Mark 6 :126 tells us that he "was exceeding sorrowful." 

Scriptures from The Mountain Tops

"Look, there on the mountains, the feet of one who brings good news, who proclaims peace! Celebrate your festivals, Judah, and fulfill your vows. No more will the wicked invade you; they will be completely destroyed." Nahum 1:15
Description of the Illustration: silhouettes of pines, mountain view, snow capped mountain, landscape
"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion "Your God reigns!" Isaiah 52:7
"In the last days the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it." Micah 4:1

Saturday, May 26, 2018


"But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect," I Peter 3:15

by Jane Van Allen

From early life to riper years.
The Savior's grace has kept me;
In all my varied, pilgrim life.
The Savior's love sustains me.

In all ray sorrows, sighs and tears.
The Holy Spirit calms me;
In all my trials, doubts and fears,
The loving Savior's with me.

In every suff'ring scene of life,
God's mercy then surrounds me;
And in the darkest hours of life.
The Savior's love shines round me.

Evil Thoughts

Evil Thoughts
by William Collings

As deadly germs of foul disease.
Come floating on the gentle breeze:
And on their entertainers feed,
To satisfy their horrid greed:
Implanting death, where'er they go,
And filling man with mortal woe:
So, sinful thoughts our minds assail,
If we permit them to prevail;
They will to words, and actions grow.
And fill our souls with deadly woe.
 As downy seeds float through the air,
To plant their nuisance anywhere
That they can find a place to rest,
A quiet place will suit them best.
So evil thoughts. pass through the mind,
And if they can a lodgment find,
They will take root; spring up, bloom out,
And scatter their vile seed about.
Yes evil thoughts are passing by
The human mind's perceiving eye.
And if they can a lodgment find:
They occupy that human mind
With deadly germs of inbred sin,
Which let the great deceiver in
To fortify this citadel
And then prepare the soul for hell.
When these vile thoughts, our minds assail
Unresisted, they will prevail;
If they get rooted in the heart,
How hard it is from them to part
Like deadly germs of foul disease,
Which seem to go just where they please,
And on their entertainers feed
To satisfy their awful greed.
These thoughts to words and actions lead.
And thus bloom out and bear the seed,
Which satan's agents scatter round
Where a neglected spot is found.

Forgiveness of Injuries

       Mr. Herring, one of the puritan ministers, was eminently distinguished for Christian meekness, and for love to his greatest enemies. Dr. Lamb, a violent persecutor of the puritans, and especially of this good man, being on a journey, unhappily broke his leg, and was carried to the inn where Mr. Herring happened to be staying for the night. Mr. H. was called on to pray that evening in the family, when he prayed with so much fervour and affection for the doctor as to surprise all who heard him. Being afterwards asked why he manifested such respect to a man who was so utterly unworthy of it, he replied, " The greater enemy he is, the more need he hath of our prayers. We must prove ourselves to be the disciples of Christ by loving our enemies, and praying for our persecutors." On another occasion, Archbishop Laud having said, "I will pickle that Herring of Shrewsbury," the good man meekly replied, " If he will abuse his power, let it teach Christians the more to use their prayers, that their enemies may see they have a God to trust in, when trampled upon by ill-disposed men."

Dr. Coke and The Young Minister

The following interesting anecdote was related by Dr. Coke to his brother-in-law:

       In attempting to cross a river in America, Dr. Coke missed the ford, and got into deep water; he and his horse were carried down the stream, and were in considerable danger ; he caught hold of a bough, and with some difficulty got upon dry land; his horse was carried down the stream. After drying his clothes in the sun, he set out on foot, and at length met a man, who directed him to the nearest village, telling him to inquire for a Mrs. ____, from whom, he had no doubt, he would receive the kindest treatment. Dr. Coke found the good lady's house, and received all the kindness and attention she could show him; messengers were sent after his horse, which was recovered and brought back. The next morning he took leave of his kind hostess, and proceeded on his journey. After a lapse of five years, Dr. Coke happened to be in America again. As he was on his way to one of the annual conferences, in company with about thirty other persons, a young man requested the favor of being allowed to converse with him; he assented with Christian politeness. The young man asked him if he recollected being in such a part of America about five years ago; he replied in the affirmative. "And do you recollect, sir, in attempting to cross the river, being nearly drowned?" "I remember it quite well." "And do you recollect going to the house of a widow lady in such a village?" "I remember it well," said the doctor;" and never shall I forget the kindness which she showed me." "And do you remember, when you departed, leaving a tract at that lady's house?" " I do not recollect that," said he ; "but it is very possible I might do so." "Yes, sir," said the young man, " you did leave there a tract, which that lady read, and the Lord blessed the reading of it to the conversion of her soul ; it was also the means of the conversion of several of her children and neighbors; and there is now, in that village, a little flourishing society." The tears of Dr. Coke showed something of the feelings of his heart. The young man resumed, " I have not, sir, quite told you all. I am one of that lady's children, and owe my conversion to God, to the gracious influence with which he accompanied the reading of that tract to my mind, and I am now. Dr. Coke, on my way to conference, to be proposed as a preacher,"

The Bishop and The Birds

A Bishop who had for his arms two fieldfares, with the motto, " Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?" thus explains the matter to an intimate friend:

       Fifty or sixty years ago, a little boy resided at a little village near Dillengen, on the banks of the Danube. His parents were very poor, and almost as soon as the boy could walk, he was sent into the woods to pick up some sticks for fuel. When he grew older, his father taught him to pick the juniper berries, and carry them to a neighboring distiller, who wanted them for making hollands. Day by day the poor boy went to his task, and on his road he passed by the open windows of the village school, where he saw the schoolmaster teaching a number of boys of about the same age as himself. He looked at these boys with feelings of envy, so earnestly did he long to be among them. He was quite aware it was in vain to ask his father to send him to school, for he knew that his parents had no money to pay the schoolmaster ; and he often passed the whole day thinking, whilst he was gathering the juniper berries, what he could possibly do to please the schoolmaster, in the hope of getting some lessons. One day when he was walking sadly along, he saw two of the boys belonging to the school trying to set a bird-trap, and he asked one what it was for. The boy told him that the schoolmaster was very fond of fieldfares, and that they were setting the trap to catch some. This delighted the poor boy, for he recollected that he had often seen a great number of these birds in the juniper-wood, where they came to eat the berries, and he had no doubt but he could catch some.
       The next day the little boy borrowed an old basket of his mother, and when he went to the wood he had the great delight to catch two fieldfares. He put them in the basket, and tying an old handkerchief over it, he took them to the schoolmaster's house. Just as he arrived at the door, he saw the two little boys who had been setting the trap, and with some alarm he asked them if they had caught any birds. They answered in the negative; and the boy, his heart beating with joy, gained admittance into the schoolmaster's presence. In a few words he told how he had seen the boys setting the trap, and how he had caught the birds to bring them as a present to the master.
       "A present, my good boy !" cried the school master; "you do not look as if you could afford to make presents. Tell me your price, and I will pay it to you, and thank you besides."
       "I would rather give them to you, sir, if you please," said the boy.
       The schoolmaster looked at the boy who stood before him, with bare head and feet, and ragged trousers that reached only half-way down his naked legs. "You are a very singular boy!" said he, "but if you will not take money you must tell me what I can do for you, as I cannot accept your present without doing something for it in return. Is there anything I can do for you?"
       "O, yes!" said the boy, trembling with delight, "you can do for me what I should like better than anything else."
       "What is that?" asked the schoolmaster, smiling.
       "Teach me to read," cried the boy, falling on his knees. "O, dear, kind sir, teach me to read!"
       The schoolmaster complied. The boy came to him at his leisure hours, and learned so rapidly that the schoolmaster recommended him to a nobleman residing in the neighborhood. This gentleman, who was as noble in mind as in birth, patronized the poor boy, and sent him to school at Ratisbon, The boy profited by his opportunities; and when he rose, as he soon did, he adopted two fieldfares as his arms.
       "What do you mean?" cried the bishop's friend.
       "I mean," returned the bishop, with a smile, "that the poor boy was myself." 

"Thy sins are forgiven thee..."

       "My parents," said Luther, " were very poor. My father was a wood-cutter, and my mother has often carried the wood on her back that she might earn wherewith to bring up us children. They endured the hardest labor for our sakes." John Luther, the father of little Martin, gradually made his way, and established two small furnaces for iron. The child grew up by the side of these forges, and with the earnings of this industry his father was able to send him to school. In those days fear was regarded as the grand stimulus in the business of education. "My parents," said Luther, in after life, " treated me severely, so that I became timid. They truly thought they were doing right, but wanted discernment." At school the poor child was treated with even greater severity. The master flogged him fifteen times in one day. "It is right," said Luther, relating this fact," it is right to correct children, but at the same time we must love them." With such an education Luther early learned to despise the attractions of a self-indulgent life. When Martin was fourteen years of age, his father sent him to the school of the Franciscans at Magdeburg. Here he was cast upon the world, without friends or protectors. According to the custom of those times, he and some children, as poor as himself, begged their bread from door to door. The practice is still preserved in many towns in Germany. "I was accustomed," says he, " with my companions, to beg a little food to supply our wants. One day about Christmas time, we were going all together through the neighbouring villages, from house to house, singing in concert the usual carols on the infant Jesus born at Bethlehem. We stopped in front of a peasant's house which stood detached from the rest, at the extremity of the village. The peasant, hearing us sing our Christmas carols, came out with some food which he meant to give us, and asked, in a rough loud voice, 'Where are you, boys' Terrified at these words, we ran away as fast as we could. We had no reason to fear, for the peasant offered us this assistance in kindness; but our hearts were no doubt become fearful from the threats and tyranny which the masters then used towards their scholars, so that we were seized with sudden fright. At last, however, as the peasant still continued to call after us, we stopped, forgot our fears, ran to him, and received the food that he offered us. It is thus," adds Luther, "that we tremble and flee when our conscience is guilty and alarmed. Then we are afraid even of the help that is offered us, and of those who are our friends, and wish to do us good."
       Often the poor modest boy, instead of bread, received nothing but harsh words. More than once, overwhelmed with sorrow, he shed many tears in secret; he could not look to the future without trembling.
       One day, in particular, after having been repulsed from three houses, he was about to return fasting to his lodging, when, having reached the Place St. George, he stood before the house of an honest burgher, motionless, and lost in painful reflections. Must he, for want of bread, give up his studies, and go to work with his father in the mines of Mansfeld? Suddenly a door opens, a woman appears on the threshold - it is the wife of Conrad Cotta, a daughter of the burgomaster of Eilfeld. Her name was Ursula. The chronicles of Eisenach call her "the pious Shunammite," in remembrance of her who so earnestly entreated the prophet Elijah to eat bread with her. This Christian Shunammite had more than once remarked young Martin in the assemblies of the faithful: she had been affected by the sweetness of his voice and his apparent devotion. She had heard the harsh words with which the poor scholar had been repulsed. She saw him overwhelmed with sorrow before her door; she came to his assistance, beckoned him to enter, and supplied his urgent wants.
       Conrad approved his wife's benevolence; he even found so much pleasure in the society of young Luther, that, a few days afterwards, he took him to live in his house. From that moment he no longer feared to be obliged to relinquish his studies. He was not to return to Mansfeld, and bury the talent that God had committed to his trust!
       At the age of eighteen Luther went to the University of Urfurth. Here the young student spent, in the library of the university, the moments he could snatch from his academical labours. Books being then scarce, it was in his eyes a great privilege to be able to profit by the treasures of this vast collection. One day, (he had been then two years at Erfurth, and was twenty years of age,) he was opening the books in the library one after another, in order to read the names of the authors. One which he opened in its turn drew his attention. He had not seen anything like it till that hour. He reads the title - it is a Bible! a rare book, unknown at that time. His interest is strongly excited; he is filled with astonishment at finding more in this volume than those fragments of the gospels and epistles which the Church has selected to be read to the people in their places of worship every Sunday in the year. Till then he had thought that they were the whole word of God. And here are so many pages, so many chapters, so many books, of which he had no idea! His heart beats as he holds in his hand all the Scripture divinely inspired. With eagerness and indescribable feelings he turns over these leaves of God's word. The first page that arrests his attention, relates the history of Hannah and the young Samuel. He reads, and can scarcely restrain his joyful emotion. This child, whom his parents lend to the Lord as long as he liveth; Hannah's song, in which she declares that the Lord raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set him among princes; the young Samuel, who grows up in the temple before the Lord; all this history, all this revelation which he has discovered, excites feelings till then unknown. He returns home with a full heart. " O!" thought he," if God would but give me such a book for my own!" Luther did not yet understand either Greek or Hebrew. It is not probable that he should have studied those languages during the first two or three years of his residence in the university. The Bible that had filled him with such transport was in Latin. He soon returned to the library to find his treasure again. He read and re-read, and then, in his surprise and joy, he went back to read again. The first gleams of a new truth then arose in his mind.
       In the summer of 1505, Luther was returning from a visit to his parents. He was within a short distance of Erfurth, when he was overtaken by a violent storm. The thunder roared; a thunderbolt sunk into the ground by his side. Luther threw himself on his knees. His hour is perhaps come. Death, judgment, eternity, are before him in all their terrors, and speak with a voice which he can no longer resist. " Encompassed with the anguish and terror of death," as he himself says, he makes a vow, if God will deliver him from this danger, to forsake the world, and devote himself to His service. Risen from the earth, having still before his eyes that death that must one day overtake him, he examines himself seriously, and inquires what he must do. The thoughts that formerly troubled him return with redoubled power. He has endeavored, it is true, to fulfill all his duties. But what is the state of his soul? Can he, with a polluted soul, appear before the tribunal of so terrible a God? He must become holy. He now thirsts after holiness as he had thirsted after knowledge. But where shall he find it? How is it to be attained? The university has furnished him with the means of satisfying his first wish. Who will assuage this anguish, this vehement desire that consumes him now? To what school of holiness can he direct his steps? He will go into a cloister ; the monastic life will ensure his salvation. How often has he been told of its power, to change the heart, to cleanse the sinner, to make man perfect! He will enter into a monastic order. He will there become holy. He will thus ensure his eternal salvation.
       Such was the event that changed the vocation and the whole destiny of Luther. The hand of God was in it. It was that powerful hand that cast to the ground the young master of arts, the aspirant to the bar, the intended jurisconsult, to give an entirely new direction to his after life.
        Luther re-enters Erfurth. His resolution is unalterable. Still, it is with reluctance that he prepares to break ties that are so dear to him. He does not communicate his design to any of his companions. But one evening he invites his college friends to a cheerful and simple repast. Music once more enlivens their social meeting. It is Luther's farewell to the world. Henceforth the companions of his pleasures and studies are to be exchanged for the society of monks ; cheerful and witty discourse for the silence of the cloister; merry voices, for the solemn harmony of the quiet chapel. God calls him; he must sacrifice all things. Now, however, for the last time, let him give way to the joys of his youth! The repast excites his friends. Luther himself encourages their joy. But at the moment when their gayety is at its height, the young man can no longer repress the serious thoughts that occupy his mind. He speaks. He declares his intention to his astonished friends; they endeavor to oppose it; but in vain. And that very night Luther, perhaps dreading their importunity, quits his lodgings. He leaves behind his books and furniture, taking with him only Virgil and Plautus. (He had not yet a Bible.) Virgil and Plautus! an epic poem and comedies! Singular picture of Luther's mind! There was, in fact, in his character the materials of a complete epic poem ; beauty, grandeur, and sublimity; but his disposition inclined to gayety, wit, and mirth; and more than one ludicrous trait broke forth from the serious and noble groundwork of his life.
       Furnished with these two books, he goes alone in the darkness of the night to the convent of the hermits of St. Augustine. He asks admittance. The door opens and closes again. Behold him forever separated from his parents, from his companions in study, and from the world. It was the 17th of August, 1505. Luther was then twenty-one years and nine months old.
       The monks had received him joyfully. It was no small gratification to their self-love to see the university forsaken, by one of its most eminent scholars, for a house of their order. Nevertheless, they treated him harshly, and imposed upon him the meanest offices. They perhaps wished to humble the doctor of philosophy, and to teach him that his learning did not raise him above his brethren; and thought, moreover, by this method, to prevent his devoting himself to his studies, from which the convent would derive no advantage. The former master of arts was obliged to perform the functions of doorkeeper, to open and shut the gates, to wind up the clock, to sweep the church, to clean the rooms. Then, when the poor monk, who was at once porter, sexton, and servant of the cloister, had finished his work, "Cum sacco per civitatem - With your bag through the town!" cried the brothers; and, loaded with his bread-bag, he was obliged to go through the streets of Erfurth, begging from house to house, and perhaps at the doors of those very persons who had been either his friends or his inferiors. But he bore it all. Inclined, from his natural disposition, to devote himself heartily to whatever he undertook, it was with his whole soul that he had become a monk. Besides, could he wish to spare the body?to regard the satisfying of the flesh? Not thus could he acquire the humility, the holiness, that he had come to seek within the walls of a cloister.
       The poor monk, overwhelmed with toil, eagerly availed himself of every moment he could snatch from his degrading occupations. He sought to retire apart from his companions, and give himself up to his beloved studies. But the brethren soon perceived this, came about him with murmurs, and forced him to leave his books: "Come, come! it is not by study, but by begging bread, corn, eggs, fish, meat, and money, that you can benefit the cloister." And Luther submitted, put away his books, and resumed his bag. Far from repenting of the yoke he had taken upon himself, he resolved to go through with it. Then it was that the inflexible perseverance with which he ever prosecuted the resolutions he had once formed began to develop itself. His patient endurance of this rough usage gave a powerful energy to his will. God was exercising him first with small trials, that he might learn to stand firm in great ones. Besides, to be able to deliver the age in which he lived from the miserable superstitions under which it groaned, it was necessary that he should feel the weight of them. To empty the cup, he must drink it to the very dregs.
       This severe apprenticeship did not, however, last so long as Luther might have feared. The prior of the convent, upon the intercession of the university of which Luther was a member, freed him from the mean offices the monks had imposed upon him. The young monk then resumed his studies with fresh zeal.
       He loved, above all, to draw wisdom from the pure spring of the Word of God. He found in the convent a Bible, fastened by a chain. He had constant recourse to this chained Bible. He understood but little of the Word; but still it was his most absorbing study. Sometimes he would meditate on a single passage for a whole day; another time he learned by heart some parts of the Prophets, but above all, he wished to acquire, from the writings of the Apostles and Prophets, the knowledge of God's will - to increase in reverence for His name - and to nourish his faith by the sure testimony of the Word.
       Burning with the desire after that holiness which he had sought in the cloister, Luther gave himself up to all the rigor of an ascetic life. He endeavored to crucify the flesh by fastings, macerations, and watchings. Shut up in his cell as in a prison, he was continually struggling against the evil thoughts and inclinations of his heart. A little bread, a single herring, were often his only food. Indeed, he was constitutionally abstemious. So it was that his friends have often seen him - even after he had learned that heaven was not to be purchased by abstinence - content himself with the poorest food, and go four days together without eating or drinking.
       Luther did not find, in the tranquillity of the cloister and monkish perfection, the peace he was in quest of. He wanted an assurance that he was saved.
       His conscience, enlightened by the Divine Word, taught him what it was to be holy; but he was filled with terror at finding, neither in his heart nor in his life, the transcript of that holiness which he contemplated with wonder in the Word of God. Melancholy discovery! and one that is made by every sincere man. No righteousness within; no righteousness in outward action ; everywhere omission of duty - sin, pollution. The more ardent Luther's natural character, the more powerful was this secret and constant resistance of his nature to that which is good, and the deeper did it plunge him into despair.
       The monks and theologians encouraged him to do good works, and in that way satisfy the divine justice. "But what works," thought he, "can proceed out of a heart like mine? How can I, with works polluted even in their source and motive, stand before a Holy Judge?" - "I was, in the sight of God, a great sinner," says he; "and I could not think it possible for me to appease him with my merits.''
       A tender conscience led him to regard the least sin as a great crime. No sooner had he detected it, than he labored to expiate it by the strictest self-denial; and that served only to make him feel the inutility of all human remedies. "I tormented myself to death," says he, "to procure for my troubled heart and agitated conscience peace in the presence of God: but, encompassed with thick darkness, I nowhere found peace."
       His bodily powers failed, his strength forsook him; sometimes he was motionless as if dead.
       One day, overcome with sadness, he shut himself in his cell, and for several days and nights suffered no one to approach him. One of his friends, Lucas Edemberger, uneasy about the unhappy monk, and having some presentiment of his state, took with him some young boys, choral singers, and went and knocked at the door of his cell. No one opened or answered. The good Edemberger, still more alarmed, broke open the door, and discovered Luther stretched on the floor in unconsciousness, and without any sign of life. His friend tried in vain to recall his senses, but he continued motionless. Then the young choristers began to sing a sweet hymn. Their clear voices acted like a charm on the poor monk, to whom music had always been a source of delight, and by slow degrees his strength and consciousness returned. But if for a few instants music could restore to him a degree of serenity, another and more powerful remedy was needed for the cure of his malady; there was needed that sweet and penetrating sound of the gospel, which is the voice of God. He felt this to be his want. Accordingly his sufferings and fears impelled him to study with unwearied zeal the writings of the Apostles and Prophets.
       About this time the visit of Staupitz, vicar-general of the Augustines, was announced. This good man had passed through similar exercises, and had at length found peace in believing. Soon after his arrival, one of the brothers attracted his notice. He was a young man of middle stature, reduced by study, fasting, and watching, so that you might count his bones. His eyes, which were afterwards compared to a falcon's, were sunk; his demeanour was dejected ; his countenance expressed a soul agitated with severe conflicts, but yet strong and capable of endurance. There was in his whole appearance something grave, melancholy, and solemn. Staupitz, who had acquired discernment by long experience, easily discerned what was passing in that mind, and at once distinguished the young monk from all his companions. He felt drawn towards him, had a kind of presentiment of his singular destiny, and soon experienced for his inferior a paternal interest. He, like Luther, had been called to struggle; he could therefore understand his feelings. He could, above all, show him the path to that peace which he had himself found. What he was told of the circumstances that had induced the young Augustine to enter the convent, increased his sympathy. He enjoined the prior to treat him with more mildness. He availed himself of the opportunities his office afforded for gaining the confidence of the young monk. He approached him affectionately, and endeavored in every way to overcome the timidity of the novice - a timidity increased by the respect and fear that he felt for a person of rank so exalted as that of Staupitz.
       His venerable guide proves to him that there can be no real conversion, so long as man fears God as a severe judge. "What will you say, then," cries Luther, "to so many consciences, to whom are prescribed a thousand insupportable penances in order to gain heaven?"
       Then he hears this answer from the vicar-general - or rather he does not believe that it comes from a man; it seems to him a voice resounding from heaven. "There is," said Staupitz, " no true repentance but that which begins in the love of God and of righteousness. That which some fancy to be the end of repentance is only its beginning. In order to be filled with the love of that which is good, you must first be filled with the love of God. If you wish to be really converted, do not follow these mortifications and penances. Love him who has first loved you."
       Luther listens, and listens again. These consolations fill him with a joy before unknown, and impart to him new light. "It is Jesus Christ," thinks he in his heart;" yes, it is Jesus Christ himself who comforts me so wonderfully by these sweet and salutary words."
       Still the work was not finished. The vicar-general had prepared it. God reserved the completion of it for a more humble instrument. The conscience of the young Augustine had not yet found repose. His health at last sunk under the exertions and stretch of his mind. He was attacked with a malady that brought him to the gates of the grave. It was then the second year of his abode at the convent. All his anguish and terrors returned in the prospect of death. His own impurity and God's holiness again disturbed his mind. One day when he was overwhelmed with despair, an old monk entered his cell, and spoke kindly to him. Luther opened his heart to him, and acquainted him with the fears that disquieted him. The respectable old man was incapable of entering into all his doubts, as Staupitz had done; but he knew his Credo, and he had found there something to comfort his own heart. He thought he would apply the same remedy to the young brother. Calling his attention therefore to the Apostle's creed, which Luther had learned in his early childhood at the school of Mansfeld, the old monk uttered in simplicity this article: "believe in the forgiveness of sins.'' These simple words, ingeniously recited by the pious brother at a critical moment, shed sweet consolation in the mind of Luther. "I believe," repeated he to himself on his bed of suffering, "I believe the remission of sins." "Ah," said the monk, "you must not only believe that David's or Peter's sins are forgiven: the devils believe that. The commandment of God is that we believe our own sins are forgiven." How sweet did this commandment appear to poor Luther! "Hear what St. Bernard says, in his discourse on the Annunciation," added the old brother. " The testimony which the Holy Ghost applies to your heart is this: 'Thy sins are forgiven thee.' "
       From that moment the light shone into the heart of the young monk of Erfurth. The word of grace was pronounced, and he believed it. He renounced the thought of meriting salvation - and trusted himself with confidence to God's grace in Christ Jesus. He did not perceive the consequence of the principle he admitted - he was still sincerely attached to the Church - and yet he was thenceforward independent of it; for he had received salvation from God himself; and Romish Catholicism was virtually extinct to him. From that hour Luther went forward - he sought in the writings of the Apostles and Prophets for all that might strengthen the hope which filled his heart. Every day he implored help from above, and every day new light was imparted to his soul.