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describe secretaries wearing this for a mark of their office. The apostle John mentions writing with ink and pen, 2 John 12 ; 3 John 13. Also the apostle Paul, 2 Cor. iii. 3 ; from which it appears that the Epistles were written with ink upon paper or parchment. The pens were not of quills, like ours, but of reeds, which are still used by eastern nations : see p. 119. Persons could write quicker with them than with the iron pens or bodkins, which engraved or scratched the writing : this is alluded to, Psa. xlv. 1, where the pen of a ready-writer is mentioned.

There were pens in some ink-horns found in Herculaneum, but they were merely pointed sticks, like skewers.

Printing was not discovered till about the year 1450 : before that time books were but few in number, and cost much money. Yet, even in his own time, Solomon could say, “Of making many books there is no end,” Eccl. xii. 12. How much more is this the case now! and how many vain, trifling, silly, and even wicked and profane books there are! Beware of bad books. We read, 1 Cor. xv. 33, that “evil communications corrupt good manners ;" and, as the writer of the book of Ecclesiasticus has well observed, cannot touch pitch without being defiled,” be assured that you cannot read bad books without injury. Flee the temptation ; and if a bad book comes into your possession, as soon as you are aware of its contents, commit it to the flames. You would not drink a cup of poison because it was offered to you; why then take a bad book if offered to you? Remember what is said of the heavenly Jerusalem : « There shall in nowise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie : but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life," Rev. xxi. 27.

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The eastern nations have always been remarkable for the excellence of their poetry : the Jews, in particular, were much distinguished in this respect. Many parts of the Old Testament are in verse. Learned men have examined this subject very carefully, and have said much about the different sorts

of verse in the original Hebrew. They especially notice the manner in which different things are contrasted with each other. This is very common in the Hebrew poetry, and adds much to the impression that it produces. Thus, in Luke i. 53, Mary contrasts the mighty with them of low degree ; and the hungry being filled with good things, while those who were rich in their own opinion) were sent away empty. This text shows very strongly, that all the blessings we enjoy come from the Lord.

The excellence of the Hebrew poetry is owing to its having been employed on religious subjects. When persons, who understand the ancient languages, compare the poetical parts of the Bible with the best poetry of nations that knew not the Lord, they are struck with the superior excellence of the poetry of the Bible. This arises from its being written about those things which relate to the good of our souls, by men inspired or taught of God.

In the Bible are a great many songs, or psalms, which were written to praise the Lord, to offer thanks for mercies received, or to implore his help under every circumstance of trial and distress which can afflict the soul. And, as the trials of believers in all ages are the same, so the same expressions of prayer and praise will be found suitable. The book of Psalms, in particular, should have much attention. The excellent psalms written by Dr. Watts, as well as several other versions, are taken from the book of Psalms; and there is scarcely a hymn of any value, which has not some thought or expression from the book of Psalms. Nor is this to be wondered at, for “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost," 2 Pet. i. 21; and the book of Psalms, as well as the rest of the Holy Scriptures, contains the word of God. Doubtless, the Jews had many other hymns, or divine songs, which they used to sing while travelling, or while engaged in labour; but the Psalms probably were most used. In Matt. xxvi. 30, we read that after the last supper, and before our Lord went to the Garden of Gethsemane, he sung a hymn with his disciples: this is supposed to have been the 113th to the 118th Psalms. The song of Moses after the destruction of the Egyptians, Exod. xv. ; the song of Deborah, Judg. v. ; of Hannah, 1 Sam. ii. : all are beautiful hymns of praise and thanksgiving. The hymn, Isa. xii., and the thanksgiving of Hezekiah on his recovery from sickness, Isa. xxxviii., are of the same description. Others, as the lamentation of David for Jonathan and Saul, 2 Sam. i., are of a mournful cast. The Lamentations of Jeremiah, in particular, may be noticed.

The constant use of songs among the Hebrews and other ancient nations, is shown in many parts of the Bible. Thus, Laban found fault with Jacob, Gen. xxxi. 27, that he had departed secretly, so that he could not send him away with songs. Modern travellers tell


songs are frequently used by Arabs and others at the present day on the like occasions. The schools of the prophets are mentioned repeatedly, as 1 Sam. x. 5, xix. 20, 2 Kings ii. 3, 5. In these places sacred poetry was studied. During the reign of David it was particularly attended to. Barzillai, 2 Sam. xix. 35, speaks of the king's singing men and women. From 1. Chron. xxiii. 5, we learn that David had four thousand Levites, whose employment it was to sing hymns, and to perform on the musical instruments used in public worship; and in chap. xxv. 7, we read of two hundred and eighty-eight, the sons of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, who were especially “instructed in the songs of the Lord;" and John in vision beheld the redeemed thus engaged in heaven, Rev. v. 9, xiv. 3, xv. 3, 4. Ezra brought back two hundred singing men and women from the captivity, Ezra. ii. 65. The hymn of Zacharias is given Luke i. 67. He was employed in the service of the temple.

The apostle told the Colossians to sing with grace in their hearts to the Lord, Col. iii. 16 : see also 1 Cor. xiv. 15. The value of the book of Psalms is very great.

The Psalms cannot be too strongly recommended to the attention of the young. Athanasius said that they contained the whole of the Scriptures ; Luther called them a little Bible ; several excellent men have learned the whole Psalter, or book of Psalms, by heart.

The value of these precious Psalms is much increased by the great use made of them by our blessed Lord himself, when he was upon earth. Even in his last moments, he expressed himself in the words of the 22nd and the 31st Psalms : he expired just after he had uttered the 5th verse of the latter. He, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, who spake as never man spake-he who is one with the Father-chose to conclude his life, and to breathe out his soul in the words of the psalmist. Surely nothing can better show the importance of making the Psalms a constant study. More texts from the book of Psalms are quoted by our Lord and his apostles, in the New Testament, than from any other book of the Old

Testament. The texts so quoted are nearly seventy, besides others which are evidently referred to.

The prophetic books, in the original Hebrew, are mostly written in verse. Several passages are Divine songs or psalms, as Isa. xii., Hab. iii. Most of the prophecies were spoken in verse. The language of Hebrew poetry was more suitable than prose, for the striking and impressive descriptions of the sinfulness of the Jews, and the Divine wrath against sin, as well as for the beautiful and the touching declarations of the mercy and loving-kindness of the Lord.

In the east, people usually read in a sort of singing tone, giving an emphasis which would suit with their mode of writing. Jowett was told that he did not read, but talked. He observes, he might have replied, You do not read, you chant. People thus read aloud, as the treasurer of Candace, Acts viii. 30.

The earliest instance of speaking in verse, in the Bible, is the address of Lamech, Gen. iv. 23. The answer of Samuel to Saul, 1 Sam. xv. 22, 23, is of the same description. The blessing of Jacob, Gen. xlix., and the song of Moses, Deut. xxxii., are beautiful instances of this style. The prophecies of Balaam deserve notice, not only from being some of the earliest we find in the Bible, but also from their peculiar beauty, Numb. xxiii. and xxiv. In Micah vi. 6—8, is a striking passage, which that prophet gives as the inquiry of the king of Moab, and the answer of Balaam ; it is an important inquiry :

Wherewith shall I come before the Lord ?
And bow myself before the high God?
Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings ;
With calves of a year old ?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams;
Or with ten thousand rivers of oil ?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression;

The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul ? Each second line repeats and enforces the idea expressed in the preceding one. This was a favourite sort of poetry among the Jews.

The responsive form is particularly shown in Psalm cxxxvi., where the singers answered each other, as Miriam Exod. xv. 21. It is often a recitative and chorus, and the Arabs of the desert thus sing and answer at the present day. St. Paul speaks of singing to each other in psalms

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