Page images

ments of Egypt. The extraordinary clearness and dryness of the climate, the singular vicinity of the desert sands which have preserved what they have overwhelmed, the passionate desire of the old Egyptians to perpetuate every familiar and loved object as long as human power and skill could reach, have all contributed to this result. The wars, the amusements, the meals, the employments, the portraits, nay even the very bodies, of those ancient fathers of the civilised world are still amongst us. We can form a clearer image of the court of the Pharaohs, in all external matters, than we can of the court of Augustus. And, therefore, at each successive disclosure of the state of Egypt in the Sacred narrative, we find ourselves amongst old friends and familiar faces. "We know not whether we may not have touched a human hand that was pressed by the hand of Jacob or Joseph. We are sure, as we gaze on the contemporary pictures of regal or social life, that wo are seeing the very same customs and employments in which they partook.

Wo see Pharaoh surrounded by the great officers of his court, each at the head of his department, responsible, as at the present day, for the conduct of every one beneath him; the prison, the bakery, the vintage, tho wise men, the stewards, the priests, the high priest. Tho Nile presents itself to us for the first time under its peculiar Hebrew name, which indicates its strange and unique significance amongst the rivers of the earth. Tho papyrus, which then grew in its stream, is now extinct; but the green slip of land, achut"meadow," as it is translated,—runs along its banks now, as then. Out of its waters, swimming across its stream, come up the buffaloes or the sacred kine, as in Pharaoh's dream, tho fit symbols of the leanness or the fertility of the future years. The drought which withers up the herbage of the surrounding countries, brings famine on Egypt also. The Nile (so we must of necessity interpret the vision of Pharaoh and its fulfilment), from the failure of the Abyssinian rains, fell short of its due level. Twice only, in the eleventh and in the twelfth centuries of tho Christian era, such a catastrophe is described by Arabian historians in terms which give us a full conception of the calamity from which Joseph delivered the country. The first lasted, like that of Joseph, for seven years: of the other, the most fearful details are given by an eyewitness. "Then the year presented itself as a monster whose wrath must annihilate all the resources of life and all the means of subsistence. The famine began . . . large numbers emigrated. . . . The poor ate carrion, corpses, and dogs. . . . They went further, devouring even little children. The eating of human flesh became

so common as to excite no surprise The people spoke and heard of it as of an indifferent thing. ... As for the number of the poor who perished from hunger and exhaustion, God alone knows what it was. ... A traveller often passed through a large village without seeing a single living inhabitant. ... In one village we saw the dwellers of each house extended dead, the husband, the wife, and the children. ... In another, where till late there had been four hundred weaving shops, we saw in like manner the weaver dead in his cornpit, and all his dead family round him. "We were here reminded of the text of the Koran, 'One single cry was heard,' and 'they all perished.' The road between Egypt and Syria was like a vast field sown with human bodies, or rather like a plain which has just been swept by the scythe of the mower. It had become as a banquet hall for the birds, wild beasts, and dogs, which gorged on their flesh." These are but a few of the horrors which Abd-el-Latif details, and which may well explain to us how " the Land of Egypt fainted by reason of the famine,"— how the cry came up year by year to Joseph: "Give us bread, for why should we die in thy presence? Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our land? buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be 'slaves' to Pharaoh; and give us seed that we may live and not die, and that the land be not desolate. . . . Thou hast saved our lives; let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh's' slaves.'" What were the permanent results of the legislation ascribed to Joseph, and what its relations to the regulations ascribed to others in Gentile historians, are questions which belong to the still obscure region of Egyptian history. But there is no difficulty in conceiving from what is to be seen in the past and the present state of Egypt the causes and the nature of Joseph's greatness ; how the Hebrew slave, through the rapid transitions of Oriental life, became the ruler of the land; in language, dress, and appearance a member of the great Egyptian aristocracy, "binding their princes at his pleasure, and teaching their senators wisdom." He is invested with the golden chain or necklace as with an order, exactly as according to the investiture of the royal officers, as represented in the Theban sculptures. He is clothed in the white robe of sacred state, that appears in such marked contrast on the tawny figures of the ancient priests. He bears the royal ring, such as are still found in the earliest sepulchres. He rides in the royal chariot that is seen so often rolling its solemn way in the monumental processions. Before him goes the cry of some Egyptian shout (Abrechl), evidently resembling those which now in the streets of Cairo clear the way for any great personage driving through the crowded masses of man and beast. His Hebrew name of Joseph disappears in the sounding Egyptian title, whichever version of it we adopt,—Zaphnath Paaneach, "Revealer of secrets," or Psonthom Phanech, "Saviour of the age." He becomes the son-in-law of the High Priest of the Sun-God in the sacred city of On. He and his wife Asenath, the servant of the goddess Neith (the Egyptian Athene or Minerva), may henceforth be conceived, as in the many connubial monuments of the priestly order, each with their arms intertwined round the other's neck, each looking out from the other's embrace with the peculiar placid look which makes these old Egyptian tablets the earliest type of the solemn happiness and calm of a stately marriage. The multiplication of his progeny is compared, not to the stars of the Chaldasan heavens, or to the sand of the Syrian shore, but to the countless fish swarming in the great Egyptian river. Not till his death, and hardly even then, does he return to the custom of his fathers. He is embalmed with Egyptian skill, and laid in the usual Egyptian case or coffin. He rests not in any Egyptian tomb, but yet not, even as his father, in the ancestral cave of Machpelah. An Israelite at heart but an Egyptian in outward form, "separate from his brethren" by the singular Providence that had chosen him for a special purpose, he was to lie apart from the great Patriarchal family in the fairest spot in Palestine marked out specially for himself. In the rich corn-field, hard by his father's well, centuries afterwards, "the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in the parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of silver." The whole region round became by this consecration " the inheritance of the sons of Joseph." And if the name of Joseph never reached the same commanding eminence as that of Abraham or Jacob, it was yet a frequent designation of the whole people, and a constant designation of the larger portion.

THE TYEANT REPEOVED BY HIS SLAVE. A Took West Indian negro, employed as a domestic in the house of his master who had purchased him, having bought a trifling article of a fellow-negro, who had procured it by theft, was detected with the property about him; and, therefore, ordered by his master to be very severely whipped. After he had received the punishment, he said to the officer who inflicted it, "Why you no flog white man?" "So wo do," answered the officer, "when they buy stolen goods, knowing them to be stolen." The negro replied, "There stand my mansa ; why you no flog him, as you flog poor mo? He buy me;—he know me stolen."—Old Jonathan.

Delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Sunday School Union.

The want of space in our last number compelled us to limit the record of the proceedings at Exeter Hall to the information given by Mr. Rogers, relative to the relief afforded through the Union to the distress existing in the cotton districts. But the four addresses delivered on that occasion, contained passages well calculated to encourage and stimulate teachers in their work, and probably the influence of the thoughts thus uttered, will bo all the greater from being presented in a somewhat narrative form.

The first speaker was the Rev. R. Parnell, Incumbent of Bow, whom we do not recollect to have seen before on that platform, but who evidently sympathized fully with the object of the meeting. The portion of his address which most struck us, was a reference to some objections to Sunday schools, which have been recently published, and which he disposed of with much tact and humour.

"It appears that there is a controversy—a very sharp controversy—being carried on in a little serial called ' The Xatwnal Society's Monthly Paper' which has a large circulation among the teachers of the Church of England schools. The controversy is as to -whether Sunday schools have not proved complete failures. The editor of the paper places the controversialists according to this order: he says, There are some who say Sunday schools are altogether failures, and so they discourage them; there are others who say they are evils, but necessary evils, and so they give them a cold support; and there are others who say they have been triumphant successes, and who support them with all their hearts, and aro anxious to do all they can to spread them far and wide. I must say I should expect success only from the latter. I could hardly expect that success would rest upon a work undertaken by any one in a cold and doubting spirit. But let us see, just for curiosity's sake, the nature of the objections brought against Sunday schools, for I dare say in your own hearts you can hardly conceive of a single one. It will be worth while to see how very futile they are. I shall speak of three, and I shall look for an answer from those persons to whom these objections specially relate. The first class of objections relate principally to ministers of the gospel. We aro told that Sunday school teachers are inefficient and unauthorized. Now supposo, for a moment, that this were true—suppose, for a moment, that they are inefficient and unauthorized. I appeal to the ministers of the gospel here whether you, my brethren, are ready to undertake the work of instructing all the Sunday school children of our land? Are you able to do it? Can you by possibility devote the time to it? Should we not then be grateful that there aro those to whom you can break the bread of life, and who are able to break it into smaller portions, and distribute it among the little ones? I am very far from acknowledging that Sunday school teachers are an inefficient class. On the contrary, I believe we have among them a largo number of highly educated persons, and that of those who have not received the advantage of such an education there are many who have so strong a feeling with respect to the momentous importance of the work, that they ' will not offer to the Lord of that which costs them nothing,' and who endeavour, by careful study and preparation, to fit themselves for the instruction of their classes in the knowledge of1 the one thing needful.' Nor can I acknowledge that you are unauthorized, when I have before me the words of God's blessed Book, 'The Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come.' I beliove that every one who has felt' that the Lord is gracious,' is bound to say to others, 'Come thou with us, and we will do thee good.' The next objection springs from those who pretend to have a very anxious care and solicitude with respect to the little children themselves. 'Ah, poor little things,' they say, 'to be dragged twice a day to chapel or to church. What a weariness you make the Sabbath day to them; how hateful religion must become in their eyes!' Now I appeal to the little children themselves for the answer, and I ask these boys and girls, 'Are you tired of your schools? Would you rather stay at home in idleness, or go and meet your dear teachers, and accompany them to the house of God to hear the minister?' I never yet heard a little child say he was tired of his school. For my own children, I can only Bay that they would look upon it as the greatest possible privation if they were prevented from attending the Sunday school or the house of God. It was my lot, a few days ago, to call upon the bereaved mother of one of my little children, and I was delighted to hear that all through her illness she spoke of scarcely anything except her Sunday school and her dear teacher, and that on the Sabbath morning her greatest grief was that she was confined to her bed, and unable to join her class. I do not pretend to know more of what little children like or dislike than they do themselves, and as long as they tell me that they love the Sunday school, I will not believe all the old men and women In the kingdom who tell me that they do not. And there is a last objection, which applies to Sunday school teachers themselves. We are told that Sunday school teachers are too fond of each other, and that they are too apt to take each other ' for better or for worse.' Well, now, what of that? Sunday school teachers, I appeal to you,—Do you consider that an objection? For my own part, I do not, and I am never more delighted than when those who are united are like-minded, and especially when that oneness of mind is 1 the mind that was in Christ Jesus.'"

Mr. Parnell was followed by an old friend of the Sunday School Union, who has not however for some years taken part in its public proceedings—the Rev. Chakle3 Stoveu He was heartily welcomed, seemed much to enjoy the opportunity of renewing his intercourse with the teachers, and delivered a most interesting address. He said "sinco I last addressed you in your anniversary meetings, years have rolled round, and you have grown so great that I know not how to adjust my thoughts to reach tho vast extent of your exertions." He dwelt on the references made in the report to Sunday Schools in France, Switzerland, and Italy, and to the recent visit of Mr. Charles Reed to the Anniversary of the Paris Sunday School Sooiety.

"I was struck, as was my precedent friend, with the fact that 33,000—1 think it was—of Sabbath scholars were to be found in France. I envy my

« PreviousContinue »