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who was obliged to employ a foreign artist from Tyre, 2 Chron. ii. 7, 13, 14, to plan and direct the works of the temple.
If the simple mode of life pursued by the Israelites for many years after their settlement in Canaan is considered, it is plain that there would be little or no employment for persons skilled in the arts of luxury. The second commandment also expressly forbade the use of sculpture, (or making images,) and painting, the purposes to which those arts were then almost entirely confined. The chief employment of such artists then, and even in later days, was to make the images of deities, which the heathen worshipped ; so that where the worship of false gods was prohibited, there would be little demand for their labours. The histories of Greece and Rome, and a sight of the articles dug from the ruins of ancient cities, fully explain this; among them are many images, which were placed in the houses, and were supposed to be protectors of the families. Such is the case now among heathens; although to us it appears very absurd that people should suppose a piece of wood or metal, which they have just carved or purchased, could guard them from evil and danger. There is a striking description of idols in Psa. cxxxv. 15—18. The ancient sculptures in the Egyptian tombs represent the making and painting of idols.
An ancient author has well exposed this folly. He represents the master of a family going to a sculptor's shop to buy a god, for a long time puzzled which to choose, and at last disputing with the workman respecting a few pence in the price of a Jupiter!
The silver shrines for Diana, made at Ephesus, Acts xix.
A few years
24, were little images of this sort, or perhaps models of that temple, as models of the sepulchre at Jerusalem, and of popish shrines, are now made and sold. But the household deities or teraphim, the molten and graven images, such as those in the house of Micah, Judges xviii. 14, were fanciful figures of supposed deities.
Let me ask youthful readers how they would feel if their father went to a shop where plaster figures are sold, or to one of the image boys who go about the streets, and when he had bought one of the figures, if he should bring it home, and order them to worship it? Or what would servants think of a master who gravely told them that such a thing could preserve them from evil? But similar proceedings really take place in heathen countries. ago, there was an account, in the letter of a missionary, about a boy who came to school in India, where he learned respecting Christ, and to repeat the commandments. His parents one day ordered him to worship an image which they had lately bought ; but he knew that it was sinful, and refused to do so. He patiently endured a great deal of ill-treatment: at length his parents saw that he was dutiful in all other respects, and they did not any longer require him to worship their image.
Lamentable as the folly of worshipping idols may appear, there are similar practices, not only in heathen lands, but in countries called Christian, and even in our own day. It is related of Louis xi, king of France, a most cruel and vile character, that he wore a great number of small images of saints around his hat, and that, when he was in any great trouble, he used to kneel down, take out one or other of the images, put it on the table, and pray to it! Dr. Moore saw a great number of shops at Loretto, in Italy, a few years ago, which were full of these little images. Travellers may notice the same in all countries where the Romish religion prevails. Jowett represents the pagan traffic for shrines, and other idolatrous articles, graphically described by the prophet, (Is. xliv. 9—18,) as being in full activity in Romish countries even now. They are openly sold, and many persons got their livelihood by making them.
After a time, when the Israelites began to follow the wicked customs of the idolatrous nations around them, they had workmen to make their images. Such persons are described by the prophets, Jer. x. 3–5, and Isa. xl. 20; xliv. 17–20. Various passages in the books of Kings and
Chronicles show that images were made, and even set up in the temple, by the kings, particularly Manasseh. See 2 Chron. xxxiii. 7. Many passages in those books awfully describe the manner in which the Jews refused to listen to the repeated warnings of the prophets against their idolatry, until, at length,
they were carried captive to Babylon. Since that time, down to the present day, the Jews never have worshipped graven images.
The prophet Ezekiel viii. 8—12, speaks of chambers of imagery. This is strikingly illustrated by the tombs of Egypt, which often have several rooms cut out in the rock the walls literally covered with figures.
These are sculptured or cut out, till they are slightly raised on the surface of the wall, and then painted Belzoni ascertained the process from unfinished specimens, and fully describes it.
The engraving is a representation of an idol worshipped by the Hindoos, called “Vishnu triumphant." There is an. other representing him with a snake coiled round his body, and biting his foot, called “ Vishnu suffering.” These idols will probably remind the reader of Genesis iii. 15. It shows how the heathens have, in many respects, followed the Scriptures, but have altered the great truths contained therein, yet not so but that the source from whence their histories are taken may be traced.
The Jews were well informed on subjects of natural history. They were acquainted with the nature of the different animals and plants, and other objects of creation. But their knowledge on these points was very inferior to that which we enjoy. In this, as in other respects, more talents are committed to our care ; let us beware of neglecting to use them aright, Matt. xxv. 29. Solomon was skilled in the sciences. “ He spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall : he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes.” 1 Kings iv. 33. This, as well as other knowledge, was given in answer to his
prayer for wisdom, 2 Chron. i. 7—12. There are also other places in the Bible, which show that the Jews, and other nations, were not ignorant on these subjects. There are many beautiful passages in the book of Job, (see chap. xxxvii. to xli.,) which prove that the patriarchs were accustomed to observe the works of God, and the wonders of creation. The book of Job is one of the most ancient parts of Scripture. Moses also frequently refers to animals in a manner which shows that he was well acquainted with all circumstances respecting them. From Psalm viii. it is plain that David used to study the works of creation ; indeed, pious persons in all ages have endeavoured to acquaint themselves, more or less, with the works of the Almighty. Those who live in the country have the best opportunity for making such observations. Let them turn to what is said about the ant, Prov. vi. 6; xxx. 25 : about the spider, Job viii. 14; Prov. xxx. 28 : the horse, Job xxxix. 19; Psa. xxxiii. 17; the eagle, Deut. xxxii. 11 ; the coney, Prov. xxx. 26; the wild ass
Job xxxix. 5–8; and elsewhere of other animals, and plants they may learn many useful lessons. Let them remember, that the texts in which things respecting these animals are alluded to, explain other passages ; thus," as a sheep before her shearers is dumb,” Isa. liii
. 7, explains how patiently Christ endured all the pains he suffered for us. The lamb without blemish or spot, Lev. ix. 3 ; 1 Pet. i. 19, showed that Christ was holy, harmless, and undefiled.
With respect to astronomy and the heavenly bodies, the knowledge in ancient times was more limited : they had