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USE OF COMMENTARIES.
THERE was a man who had undertaken to make himself acquainted with history. He had read until he knew something of the different ages of the world, and also of the habits, manners, and fortunes, of many nations of the earth.
It was stated in the works which he had seen, that the main force of the Saracens consisted in their cavalry. These armies of horsemen were, in some respects, such as the earth has not seen since, nor was the like witnessed before. The yellow silk turban around each head, (when their long extended ranks were drawn out in the sunshine at a distance,) caused them to appear as though every individual was a king wearing a splendid crown. Their faces were somewhat remarkable. The Arabian countenance has been noted by travellers for its haughtiness or ferocity. Their long hair streamed on the gale, like that of the American Indians. Their African teeth, long and white, and coming to a point, made their visages more striking still. Their breastplates were mostly iron. But when they charged at almost the entire speed of the eastern horse, when their steel scabbards struck against their metallic trappings, when the feet of twice ten thousand chargers struck the earth in this headlong rush, it is said that the echo of their impetuosity can scarcely be fancied. Reader, suppose a man who has known these particulars, takes up
the notes of a commentator on the ninth chapter of the Revelation of St. John, and there finds it stated that the ravages of a certain army were described so many hundred years beforehand; and then reads the 7th, 8th, and 9th verses, what army would you imagine he would think was pictured?
Verse 7."And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle, and on their heads were as it were, crowns like gold: and their faces were as the faces of men.
8. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.
9. And they had breast-plates,as it were breast-plates of iron, and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle."
The individual we have said had read some history, but had never noted its application to this passage, until he was reminded of several items by the commen. tary. Was there any reason why he should not be struck with these facts, because they were brought to his recollection by the pen of another? He felt his curiosity so much awakened, that he determined to read other verses of the same chapter. Verse 4 "And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree, but only those men who have not the seal of God in their foreheads."
He did not know how to understand this verse well. Indeed it seemed to him that its interpretation must be difficult. If locusts are not allowed to eat any thing green, what shall they eat? When we remember that it is their natural food, it strikes us as a strange sound to hear the oriental locust forbidden to eat the leaves of
the tree, or the grass of the earth! The commentator reminded him of what he might read again in history, and when it was called to his recollection, it struck him as a fact exceedingly interesting. It was a rule of those armies, wide as were their ravages, cruel as were their devastations, to destroy no grain field, to cut down no fruit tree, and to waste nothing which constituted the sustenance of man. That this should have been the general order of the ferocious devastators was very singular. Reader, you could not count the number of interesting facts, and incidents of this nature, connected with almost every verse of the prophetic or historic part of that beautiful and wonderful book. Men grow up in ignorance, and special ignorance of these things, not only because they love any amusement, or any worldly pursuit in the morning of life, more than they do pious meditations; but also because their fathers and mothers see to it, that they are taught more at school, that more toil and painful industry is expended in making plain any science, or part of a science, art, or literary pursuit whatever, than any thing connected with the book which tells us of our eternal interests.
VALUE OF HISTORICAL KNOWLEdge.
There was a merchant of Kentucky who had been a settled infidel for more than fifteen years. He was unusually skilful in the management of sceptical argu.
ments. His ability to cover or to pervert the truth seemed to have led him into a feeling of entire security. Nevertheless, after reaching middle life, a train of kind providences from heaven led him to a few deliberate meditations. These eventuated in his becoming willing to read a few more pages on the subject of Christianity, by way of inquiry. Whilst looking through Scott's Family Bible, (some notes on the prophecy of Daniel,) his notice was arrested and his attention fixed, causing him to desire still farther research into other parts of the Book of Heaven.
We feel inclined to notice one of the passages which seemed interesting to him, and which has benefited others greatly. Every chapter in the book resembles it, and has fed thousands; nor do we, by quoting this chapter, present it as more striking than any other in the prophecy, but a selection must be made, and we offer these verses, hoping that the reader will peruse all, frequently and prayerfully, together with the notes and comments of those who are capable of instructing.
Daniel chap. ii. verse 31. "Thou, O king, sawest, and behold, a great image. This great image, whose bright. ness was excellent, stood before thee, and the form there. of was terrible.
32. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass.
33. His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
34. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet, that were of iron and clay, and broke them to pieces.
35. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like
the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
36. This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.
37. Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
38. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field, and the fowls of the heaven, hath he given into thy hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.
39. And after thee shall arise another kingdom, inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.
40. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
41. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes part of potter's clay and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.
42. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron and part of clay; so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly broken.
43. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men; but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
44. And in the days of these kings shall the God of