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OUR readers will recollect the affecting reproof given to the church of the Laodiceans by the Spirit, in the book of the Revelation (Rev. iii. 14-22.) This Laodicea was one of four cities so named, and was situate in Asia Minor, on the confines of Lydia and Phrygia, about forty miles east from Ephesus. It took its name from the wife of its founder, Antiochus, the son of Stratonice. It was a long time before it became a place of any note; but it gradually rose to importance towards the commencement of the Christian era, till it became the principal town of Phrygia, and even vied in wealth and power with the great maritime cities. In the end it partook largely of the common calamities of the country; and it suffered more than any other place from the earthquakes by which the cities of this region were so repeatedly desolated. It is now a heap of ruins, covering three or four small hills ; the principal are those of an aqueduct (shewn in the back ground of our cut), an ampitheatre, theatre, and other public
VOL. v. 4th SERIES.
buildings, besides fragments and pedestals. In the ampitheatre an inscription has been found, cotemporary with the message to the lukewarm church assembling in this city, and rebuked with so much tenderness in the message above referred to.—Pictorial Bible, &c.
THE NEW YEAR'S GUIDE.
“I will guide thee with mine eye."-Psalm xxxii. 8. We have just entered on another year-many of us, perhaps, with increased anxiety to spend it better than we have done those that are past, and all of us with the wish that it may prove happier. There is no harm in this desire to be happy, when our views upon the subject are founded in truth, and we look for true joy and peace where we shall be sure to find them. But here is the great mistake into which so many fall: they do not know in what quarter to make the search; and even if they did, they would have no relish for those pleasures and enjoyments which alone deserve the
Under these circumstances, who is not anxious for a guide on whom he may implicitly depend, to shew him, in the first place, what happiness really is, and in the next, how and where, and when it may be surely found ?
Now just such a guide is promised us in the text which we have chosen for our new year's motto: and a few remarks may, perhaps, tend to show what advantages we shall derive by placing ourselves unhesitatingly and implicitly under God's direction-looking up to him as a child looks up to his father or his mother ; but with a much firmer conviction that we are safe, perfectly safe, in leaving every thing to his wisdom and goodness, which are both infinite.
God has a beautiful method of directing his children: “He guides them with his eye.” A look is quite sufficient; but then it implies that our eyes are waiting upon Him, watching every intimation of displeasure, and reflecting every glance of love. It was enough for the poor distracted over-burthened heart of Peter, that Jesus should turn and look upon him.* • He went out and wept bitterly." There are two things distinctly implied in this text-docility on our parts, and exquisite gentleness and love on God's.
* Luke xxii. 61, 62.
should be up unto Him at all times, anxiously observing the effect of our temper and conduct, on the tenderness of such a Father's heart, and answering every intimation of his will by the readiest compliance. But what a delightful thought it is, that he who rules among the armies of heaven, and the inhabitants of earth, with uncontrollable power; who has only to speak and it is done; to .command, that it may stand fast for ever, should resort to so gentle a course in the management and guidance of those he loves. It is by no voice of thunder that he directs his little flock : God is not in the whirlwind or the fire. No arm is bared to fall in judgment on his chosen ones; he looks, and the heart is melted into penitence, even though the glance be one of righteous indignation,
“ Th’ingenuous child, corrected, does not fly
father's frown, but clings more nigh, And quenches with his tears his flaming eye.” God's method is placed in strong contrast in the verse from which our text is taken-“Be ye not as the horse or the mule which have no understanding." Their mouths must be held in with bit and bridle, and a strong hand is necessary to control them. Even the Good Shepherd himself is represented as putting forth his voice to call his sheep around him, a circumstance still beautifully illustrated by the practice of the Eastern shepherds. A recent traveller refers to this custom in the following terms:—Passing by a flock of sheep, says he, I asked the shepherd whether it was usual to give names to sheep; he called one, and it instantly left its pasturage and its companions, and ran up to the hand of the shepherd with signs of pleasure, and with a prompt obedience which I had never observed in any other animal.*
It might, perhaps, have been thought that no image could be carried out beyond this—so admirably expressive is it of the tenderest and most considerate care. But God has done it in the text. His eye alone regulates the movements of his flock. But what a child-like faith, and depth of sensibility, does such a thought impose on us! We can only estimate it rightly when our hearts have been softened and prepared by the Holy Spirit, and we have been taught by him to feel the power of that most touching declaration—“I will establish my covenant with thee, and thou
* Jamieson's " Paxton's Illustrations of Scripture."
shalt know that I am the Lord, that thou mayest remember and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more for shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God."
“ I will guide thee with mine eye.—There is something in the circumstances under which this promise is made, that renders it peculiarly appropriate to the commencement of a new era of our existence. It follows a most flagrant outrage of the laws of God and man; and is given in answer to the first out-pourings of a contrite heart, that after a long dark period of remorse and anguish, every day of which had been marked with unutterable groanings, and every night with tears, was enabled to break through its longcherished reserve; and rejecting all refuges of lies, to fall prostrate and confounded at the throne of grace. It was a new year's day to the soul of the distracted and astonished psalmist—the commencement of a joyous, an all-absorbing peace, which his poor faithless heart imagined had been lost for ever. Oh! what a flood of comfort should rush into the minds of all who are fearing that the sins of the year which has just gone by, have shut up God's mercies for the future. This precious promise belongs especially to those of our dear young friends, who are anxious with the past year, to leave their past pleasures and sins, and thoughtlessness; and from this day commit themselves to God, to be led into paths of true pleasantness and peace. Come unreservedly, immediately, humbly, and in the full assurance of faith, to Christ, and your sins and your iniquities will be remembered no more for ever! In the day that they are sought for they shall not be found.
“ I will counsel—mine eye being upon thee!"—this seems to be the force of the original Hebrew in our text; and it involves three ideas: that God will give us the benefit of his guidance; watch its effect upon our minds; and apply and direct it to its proper ends.
1. God will counsel us. Many men offer us advice which costs them little, and is worth as little to ourselves : it is the mere thought of the moment, is founded upon unsafe data, or none at all; or what is still more likely, is intended to bear indirectly on their own selfish interests. In other cases it may be well-meant and sound, but at the best it cannot be infallible. But none of these objections can possibly apply to the Divine guidance: God himself confers directly, and immediately with us. If it be an honor to assume the title of pupil, under any among the greatest names on earth, what glory must attach to a student of the Most High God! Good means rightly used are good ; but they are here kept altogether out of sight, and we are shut up with God to watch the movements of his eye, and receive grace and wisdom from the very fountain-head himself. The holiest and best instruments and privileges are liable to abuse—the private reading of our Biblesthe public hearing of the word--the sacraments and ordinances of the church, are insufficient in themselves to instruct us perfectly in God's will. After all have been tried, the unction from the Holy One is necessary, and this fills the secret of his tabernacle with its sweet-smelling savour. Let us go there for it, and pray in secret; remembering that it is not enough to enter into our closet unless the door be shut: let our eyes watch the movements of our Father's, and we shall find throughout the coming year, if spared to spend it upon earth, how good a thing it is to wait on him who has said, “ I will guide thee with mine eye.”
2. God will watch the effect of his counsels—" his eye being upon us.” He does not give us his directions, and then send us forth to practise them. Difficulties, trials, and hindrances, of which we never dreamt, may arise ; but God sees them before we do, and answers us before we call, in reference to the way of surmounting them. When orders are given by the government to our ambassadors, or potentates abroad, contingencies will often arise which render it inexpedient or impossible to obey them; and the wisest heads and most efficient hands are often rendered useless in such an emergency. But God's eye follows his counsels, and intimates the way in which they are to be understood and obeyed. It was a hard thing for Abraham to believe that he was reading God's injunction to offer Isaac as it should be read, but faith revealed the unutterable kindness that lighted up his Father's
and following its intimation, he staggered not at the promise; and received his son as in a figure from the very grave.
3. God applies his teaching to its proper end. Knowledge is nothing : “ Wisdom is the principal thing;" but wisdom is only knowledge transmuted and sublimed by the Spirit of Truth. We shall do well to remember this in all our pursuits through the year one thousand eight hundred and forty-two. Has the information we have hitherto collected been of such a kind as to bring