Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

FEMALE BIOGRAPHY OF SCRIPTURE.

THE QUEEN OF SHEBA.

No. I.

Life is like the Sibyl's books, the pages of which became more precious in proportion as their number diminished. We are all slow to learn the value of opportunities, and seldom recognize their preciousness, till we come to look back upon them from the point where they have vanished, and for ever. Manhood, as he wipes his weary brow, and thinks upon the careless leisure of his youthful days, laments that then he did not, as he might have done, employ his vigorous hours in gathering golden fruit from the fair fields of reason; and fragrant honied flowers from the wilds of fancy: that he did not, as he might have done, preserve the crystal cup of life pure from all turbid mixtures of polluting draughts : that he did not nobly contend with evil, ere be yielded to the darkness and degradation of worldly ends and aims. Old age (too often) looks back upon a world receding from its view, and sees the voyage accomplished, but without gain of life's true merchandise: the tale brought to an end, and no more of excitement, no more of interest remaining. And lost spirits (such is the testimony of Him who is the Trath) bewail

[ocr errors]

in self-accusing anguish, their loss of opportunities ; and would fain propose themselves as exemplars to others wbose day of grace has not yet expired.

Neglect of opportunities, as it is one chief cause of remorse in this world, so will it be a chief accuser at the day of judgment. Wherefore else does our Lord represent a heathen state, and a heathen potentate, as severally arraigned at the bar of God, to convict the men of his time of this, their special iniquity ? “ The Queen of the South shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and shall condemn them; for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, a greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh shall rise up in the judgment with this generation and shall condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonas, and behold a greater than Jonas is here.” He further declares, His ministry in the world was the setting up of the light on a candlestick. Luke xi. 29–36. They who came not to this light, were they whose moral vision was obscured : the very light within them was darkness. “ And this was the condemnation, that light came into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deed were evil.”

But though opportunities are as light set on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light; there needs, it seems, a capacity of vision before men can behold it: "a single eye,” “ a body full of light.” How momentous, then, that cautionary charge with which our Lord concludes his condemnatory address to the Jews, on the neglect of their special opportunities—“take heed that the light which is in thee be not darkness.” Let thy moral vision be purged

from obscuring films, in order that “the bright shining of the candle may give thee light.”

That all do not discern their opportunities, we learn from these examples, adduced by our Lord, when comparing the conduct of the Queen of the South, and the men of Nineveh, with that of the Jews of those days. It was far less likely (to judge from human probabilities) that the whole population of a vast metropolis, busied in traffic, immersed in pleasure, and dwelling securely, should quail before the threat of a coming overthrow, uttered in their streets, by a solitary, and a stranger; than that the testimony of the Holy Baptist, and of Him who spake as never man spake, should alike be rejected by men who had the 'scriptures in their hands :-“ Moses and the Prophets” testifying of Christ. But the men of Nineveh were of those who knew their opportunities; and the forty days' probation, spent in repentance and prayer, became to them, not only escape from death, but matter of condemnation to all, who unless they repent will perish.

Nor was it in accordance with the usual course of human experience, that the sovereign of a mighty nation; skilled from remotest time in arts of civil and religious lore; descendant of a dynasty the most ancient with which the world is acquainted ; should in person traverse a thousand leagues o’er land' and sea, to gather knowledge, divine and human, from the lips of a monarch, whose recently acquired possessions were scarce consolidated into empire, and whose brows were adorned with a crown that had been transmitted to him from but two predecessors. Yet, did the Queen of that nation, which, (more ancient in its civilization) gave to Egypt itself its learning, religion, and laws ;-that nation which was believed of old to be highest in the favor of the gods, as it was thought to be nearest to the source of heat and light; think it no scorn to wait upon the teaching of Solomon, and to seize with cost of travail and fatigue and peril, the opportunity to ques. tion with a Hebrew prince renowned for wisdom, “concerning the name of the Lord.” By so doing, the Queen of the South has become an example to believers throughout all ages of the church; teaching the improvement of opportunities, as she will hereafter be a cited witness against those who neglect and forfeit them. Yea, more than this; the Queen of Sheba, in that she has been proposed as an exemplar by our Divine Prophet and Redeemer, has won to herself a name, brighter than the gold and jewels she gave in grateful offering for that wisdom above all price, which she came to seek; and more fragrant than the rich aromatics, which were borne by her from the fruitful south, to kindle into incense, on the altar of Jehovah of Israel. Yes! gone are the records of that noble race, who had their dwelling where the young Nile o’erleaps his fountains to pour wealth and beauty along the channels of his deepening course :—the race that once held aloft the torch of science, and founded their wide-spread dominion, not in the oppression of the conqueror's rule, but in the gradual enlargement which commerce brings; and in that salutary homage which religious awe inspires. The traveller, as be muses among the ruins of Axum, or in the magnificent sepulchres of Thebes, strives (but for the most part vainly) to read in the pictured hieroglyphics, something more of that race, than the records of their genius and civilization, manifested in the gigantic shrines over which time itself bas little power. But the voice of Ethiopian wisdom is not heard to tell aught of the human hearts that devised those monuments of departed greatness; nor of the human deeds, sculptured, as if for immortality, upon the imperishable granite. Oblivion has enwrapped that ancient people in a mystic web which baffles the wishful gaze of later ages; while, to a sovereign of the race, in a period when its renown had somewhat faded, has been given a memorial that shall last, when the crumbling ruins of those giant structures, nay, when the great globe itself, shall be no more. Her name enrolled among the records of the gospel story, and written too, with his approving comment, from whom assembled myriads, shall joy, one day, to hear, “ well done; " the Queen of the South shall live, though all other memorials of her race have perished ; and though the history of her fatherland, like the enigmatic Sphinx which typified its polity, lies half-entombed in the waste of ages, a mutilated mystery.

“ She came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon." Although this declaration of our blessed Lord involves in its spiritual significancy, an ill-important lesson to those who have commenced their search after truth, yet we may also consider it conclusive, in the literal sense, with regard to that opinion (most generally received) which fixes upon Ethiopia, as the country from whence this embassage to Solomon proceeded. Of three persons, who bear the names of Seba, Saba, or Sbeba, in scripture; one is a descendant of Ham (Gen. x. 7.) another of Sbem (Gen. x. 28.) and another of Abraham (Gen.

« PredošláPokračovať »