Joseph Hall.

Scripture history, or, Contemplations on the historical passages of the Old and New Testaments online

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Online LibraryJoseph HallScripture history, or, Contemplations on the historical passages of the Old and New Testaments → online text (page 1 of 40)
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No. Book,


11 »»"■ ■«


The John M. Krebfs Donation.

.___ h







Abridged hj Rev. George Henry Glasse.

" And beginning at Moses, and all the prophets, he expounded unto them
all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." — Luke,2i : 27.




D. Panshaw, Printer.




Couteniplation, Pago.

1. The Creation, ...•••<••• 9

2. Paradise, . . .' 13

3. Cain and Abel, * . 17

4. Noah, . 21

5. Abraham, .•.••.... 26

6. Isaac, 30

7. Jacob, 34

8. Joseph, 39

9. Israel in Egypt, ••••••••• 44

10. Moses bom and called, 8..«»«.43

11. The Plagues of Egypt, 53

12. Isi-ael in the wilderness, 58

13. The Law, 62

14. The Veil of Moses, 66

15. Korah, 71

16. Balaam, 75

17. The death of Moses, 80

13. Joshua, 84

19. The Gibeonites, 89

20. Gideon, 94

21. Manoah, 93

22. Samson, 103

23. Naomi, 107

24. The birth of Samuel , .112


Contemplation. Page.

25, Eli, 116

2G. Saul anointed, . . 120

27. Samuel and David, 125

28. David and Goliah, 129

29. The death of Saul, 134

SO. Nathan and David, 138

31. The conspiracy of Absalom, . • • • . . 143

32. The death of Absalom, 148

33. Solomon, . , 152

34. The Temple, 157

35. The Queen of Sheba, 162

3G. Jeroboam, ....•...» '^ 166

37. Elijah at Sarepta, 172

38. Elijah on Carmel, . . • 176

39. Naboth, 181

40. The ascent of Elijah, . . 186

41. The Shunammite, 191

42. Naaman, . . 2 195

43. Jehu, . , . . : 200

44. Athaliah, 205

45. Hezekiah and Sennacherib, 210

46. Hezekiah and Isaiah, . . , . . ; . .214

47. Josiah, 219

48. The captivity of Judah, 224

49. Ezra, 229

50. Nehemiah, 234

51. Esther, 240

52. The death of Haman, 247



Coutemplation, Page.

53. The Angel and Zacliariali, . ,...., 253

54. The Annunciation of Christ, . ♦ . . , , 258

55. The Birth of Christ, 262

5G. The Sages and the Star, ...,.,. 267

57. The Purification, 273

58. Herod and the Infants, 077

59. Christ with the Doctors in the Temple, .... 282

GO. Christ Baptized, . / 287

CI. Christ Tempted, , 292

62. The same, , 297

G3. Simon Peter called, . • ••■•>,, 303

64. The Man-iage in Cana, .,.,,,, 308

G5. The Good Centurion, ..••,,, 313

G6. The Widow's Son raised, 317

67. The Ruler's Son healed, 322

CS. Matthew called, 327

69. The Gadarenes, . , . , , , , , 330

70. The Woman of Canaan, 337

71. Zacchens, 342

72. Hcrodias, 348

73. The Multitude fed, 353

74. Christ Walking on the Sea, 358

75. Peter Walking on the Sea, 364

7G. Jainis, 369

77. The Samaritan Village, 375


Contemplation. Page.

78. The Ten Lepers, 379

79. The Transfiguration, ....... 385

80. The same, 390

81. The Lunatic healed, .....,,. 395

82. Bethesda, . . _ 401

83. The Power of Conscience, ....... 406

84. The thankful Penitent, 412

85. Martha and Maiy, 418

86. The Blind Beggar cured, 423

87. The Sons of Zebedee, ....... 429

88. Lazarus, . . ..... . . 434

89. The same, . : i 439

90. Christ's Entry into Jerusalem, • 445

91. Christ betrayed, ........ 451

92. The Agony, 456

93. Peter and Malchus, 461

94. Christ before Caiaphas, , . 466

95. Christ before Pilate, .471

96. The same, 477

97. The Crucifixion, 482

98. The same, 487

99. The same, 492

100. The same, ". 497

101. The Resurrection, 501

102. The same, 507

103. The Ascension, 512

lNTR0i>u6TI0N^?7£>in^ /

The name of Joseph Hall, Bishop of Norwich, is re-
membered with veneration at the distance of two centu-
ries from the period in which he flourished. Few, if any,
of the fathers of the English Church have left behind
them such illustrious memorials of learning, piety, and
unwearied industry in the cause of truth. The blame-
lessness of his life — the fervor of his charity — the variety
and importance of his theological wi'itings, have been so
many irresistible claims on posterity to preserve him from
the oblivion into which most of his contemporaries have
fallen. A wise and judicious writer of his own times, Sir
Henry Wotton, distinguished him as the Christian Se-
neca. He might have proceeded further. He might
have called him the Chrysosto77i of England.

The life and sufferings of this eminent servant of God
have been so carefully transmitted to the present times,
that it will here be sufficient simply to mention, that he
was born at Ashby de la Zouch, A. D. 1574 — that his edu- ■
cation (which commenced at the free-school endowed in
the place of his birth) was completed, under many diffi-
culties and disadvantages, at Emanuel College, Cam-
bridge — that he was successively Rector of Halstead,
Minister of Waltham-Cross, Domestic Chaplain to the
Prince of Wales, Prebendary of Wolverhampton, Dean
of Worcester, Bishop of Exeter, and, lastly, Bishop of


Norwich — where he suffered bitter persecution in the
turbulent times which succeeded the murder of his So-
vereign, and where he died in an honorable and dignified
poverty, A.D. 1656, in the eighty-second year of his age.
He was one of four deputed to represent the Church of
England at the Synod of Dort in 1618, but having attend-
ed for two months, he was compelled to return home by
the failure of his health.

The following pages are commended to the public with
the earnest hope, that in these times of lukewarmness and
depravity, they may promote the glory of God, and diffuse
more widely the knov/ledge of sacred truth — opening
prospects of joy to the afflicted soul, and representing to
the eye of faith Christ the End of the Law and the Ful-
ness of the Gospel, who is over all, God blessed for ever*
more. Amen.


THE scripture" ffi'STORY.


What can I see, O God, in thy creation, but miracles
of omnipotence 1 Thou mad est something of nothing ;
and of that something, all things. It is to the praise of
us men, if, when we have matter, we can give it fashion :
thou gavest a being to matter, without form ; thou gavest
a form to that matter, and a glory to that form. Where-
in can we now distrust thee, who hast thus fully proved
thyself to be the God that doest wonders 1

Thou mightest have made all the world perfect in an
instant, but thou wouldst not. How should we deliberate
in all our actions, which are so subject to imperfection,
since it pleased thine infinite perfection, not out of need,
to take leisure ! Neither did thy wisdom herein proceed
in time only, but in degrees. First, thou madest things
which have being without life — next, those which have
life and being — lastly, those which have being, life, rea-
son. Thus we ourselves first live the life of vegetation,
then of sense, of reason afterwards. When the heaven
and the earth were created in their rude matter, there
was neither day nor light ; but presently thou madest
both light and day. How vainly do we hope to be perfect
at once ! It is well for us, if, through many degrees, we
rise to our consummation.

10 hall's scripture history.

But, alas, what was the very heaven itself without
light 1 How confused ! how^ formless ! Like a fair body-
without a soul — like a soul without thee. Thou art
lio-ht : and in thee is no darkness at all. how incom-
prehensibly glorious is the light that is in thee, since
one glimpse of this created light gave so lively a glory
to all thy workmanship ! Shine thou, God, into the
recesses of my soul, and in thy light I shall see light.

But whence, O God, was that original light 1 The
sun was not made till the fourth day — light, the first.
Thou, who madest the sun, madest the light before the
sun, that so light might depend upon thee, and not upon
any part of thy creation. Thy power will not be limited
to means. It was easy for thee to mai^e a heaven with-
out a sun, light without a heaven, time without its pe-
riodical revolutions. We creatures need not one an-
other, so long as we have thee. A day will come, when
we shall have light again without the sun — thou wilt be
our Sun — thy presence our light. Light is sown for the
righteous. That light, which thou shalt then give us,
will make us shine like the sun in glory.

And now the light, which was for three days dis-
persed through the whole heavens, is united into the
body of the sun. One star is the treasury of light to
heaven and earth. Thus, God, the waters by thy com-
mand are gathered into one place, the sea — thus wilt
thou gather thy saints from all parts of the universe to
be partakers of thy joy. We are as thy heavens in their
first imperfection. Be thou our sun, into which all our
light may be gathered !

Yet was this light by thee interchanged with dark-
ness. What an instructive lesson hast thou thus im-
parted to thy creatures! The day dies into night, and
rises into morning again, that we may not expect sta-
bility here below. It is always day with thee above —
the night savoreth only of mortality. Lord, our night


is far spent — our day is at hand — teach us to cast off
the works of darkness, and to put upon us the armor
of light.

How fitly, how wisely are all the parts disposed in
this thine enlightened frame! Behold all purity above;
that which is less excellent below. Each element is su-
perior to other, that by these degrees of a§cending per-
fection our thoughts might rise to the top of all splen-
dor, and know thine empyreal heaven to be as much
more glorious than the visible, as t/iai excels the earth.
O how miserable is the place of our pilgrimage com-
pared with our home ! We think one island great, the
earth, scarce measurable. If we were in heaven with
these eyes, the whole earth would then seem to us as a
grain in the balance, or as a moat in the sunbeam. The
greatness of thy work, God, is little inferior to its
majesty. But oh, what a glorious heaven hast thou
spread over our heads ! With what a precious canopy
hast thou encircled our inferior world ! What gems of
light hast thou set above us ! Kings build not cottages,
but magnificent palaces — so hast thou done, O King of
Glory ! If the pavemejit of thine heaven be so splendid,
what shall we think of that which yet is unseen ! If this
sun be so radiant, what is the brightness of its Creator ]
If such a sky be prepared for the use and benefit of us
sinners upon earth, how bright shall those eternal ta-
bernacles be which thou hast prepared for thy children
in heaven !

Behold then, in this stately building, three distinct
stages : this lowest heaven for fowls, for vapors, for
meteors — the second for the stars — the third for thine
angels and saints. The first is thine outward court, open
for all — the second is the body of thy covered temple,
wherein are those candles of heaven perpetually burn-
ing — the third is thine holy of holies. In the first is
tumult and vanity — in the second, immutability and

12 hall's scripture history.

rest — in the third, glory and blessedness. The first we
feel — the second we see — the third we believe.

But to descend to this lowest and meanest region,
wherewith our senses are more acquainted — what mar-
vels do even here present themselves ! There are thy
clouds, thy treasuries of rain — there they hang and
move, though weighty with their burden — how they are
upheld, and by what means they fall we know not, and
wonder. There are thy streams of light, blazing and
falling stars, fires darted up and down in many forms,
hollow openings, and as it were gulfs in the sky, bright
circles about the moon, snows, hail. There are thy
subtle winds, which we hear and feel, yet neither can
see their substance nor know their causes — whence
and whither they pass, and what they are, thou knowest.
If we go down to the great deep, we are there at a loss
whether to wonder most at the clement itself or the
guests it contains. How doth that sea of thine roar, and
foam, and swell, as if it would swallow up the earth !
Thou stayest the rage of it by an insensible violence,
and by a natural miracle confinest its waves. I say no-
thing of those hidden treasures which thy wisdom hath
deposited in the bowels of the earth and sea — what in-
numerable wonders doth the very face of nature ofi^er
us! Which of these herbs, flowers, trees, leaves, seeds,
fruits, is there, what beast, what reptile wherein we
may not see the footsteps of a Deity 1 — wherein we do
not read infinite power and skill, convinced that He who
made the angels and stars of heaven, made also the
creeping thing that creepeth on the earth 1 O God, the
heart of man is too limited to admire sufficiently even
that he treads upon. How shall we speak of thee, the
Maker of these 1 Lord, how wonderful are thy works
in all the world ! In wisdom hast thou made them all.
Thou spakest and they were done — thy will is the
word— and thy word the deed. Thine hand is not now


shortened — thy word is still equally effectual — all things
still obey thee. Say thou the word, and our souls shall
be made new again : say thou the word, and our bodies
shall be repaired from the dust.


But, O God, what a little lord thou hast made over
this great world ! When I consider the heavens, the
sun, moon, and the stars. Lord, what is man 1 Yet none
but he can see what thou hast done ; none but he can
admire and adore thee in what he seetK : how had he
need to do nothing but this, since only he can do it !

It is lawful for us to praise thee in ourselves. All thy
creation hath not more wonder in it than one of us.
Other creatures thou madest by thy mere command;
man, by a divine consultation: others at once; man
thou didst first form, then inspire : others in several
shapes; man, in thine own image: others, with quali-
ties fit for service ; man, for dominion. How should we
be consecrated to thee above all others, since thou hast
thus distinguished us above all ! First, thou didst create
the world and furnish it ; then broughtest thou in thy
tenant to possess it. Thou that madest the earth ready
for us before we had a being, hast by the same mercy
decorated a place in heaven for us, while we are yet on
earth. The stage was fully prepared; then was man
brought thither, both as an actor and spectator, that he
might neither be idle nor discontented. Behold, thou
hast prepared the earth for his use, the heaven for his
contemplation, and himself in his soul and body, an
epitome of heaven and earth. Even this mortal part, vile
as it is in respect of the other, as it is thine, O God, I

l^ hall's scripture history.

contemplate with wonder — for lo, this heap of earth
hath an outward reference to heaven. Yet if this body-
be compared to the soul, what is it but a mask to a
beautiful face, a coarse case to a rich instrument, a wall
of clay that encompasses a treasure! Man was made
last, because he was worthiest : the soul was inspired
last, because yet more precious. God, who madest it,
replenish it, possess it — dwell thou in it now, and here-
after receive it to thyself. The body w^as made of earth,
common to its fellow-creatures — the soul derived im-
mediately from above. The body lay senseless upon
earth like itself — the breath of life made it what it is j
and that breath was from thee. Sense, motion, reason
are infused into it at once. Thou, who by thy breath
gavest thy disciples thy Holy Spirit, didst also breathe
on the body, and gavest it a living spirit. To thee only
are we indebted, without any intermediate agency, for
our nobler part. Our flesh is from flesh — our spirit is
from the God of spirits. How should our souls rise up
to thee, and fix themselves in their thoughts upon thee !
How should they long to return back to the fountain of
their being and the Author of their glory !

Man could no sooner see, than he saw himself happy.
His eyesight and his reason were both perfect at once ;
and the objects of both tended to his complete felicity.
"When he first opened his eyes he saw heaven above
him, earth under him, the creatures about him : he
knew what all these meant, as if he had been long ac-
quainted with them all. He saw the heavens glorious,
but far ofl': his Maker thought it proper to prepare him
an earthly Paradise. It was fit his body should have an
image, on earth, of that heaven which should afterwards
receive his soul. Had man been only formed for con-
templaUon, he might have been placed in some vast de-
sert, or on the top of some barren mountain — but the
same power which gave him a heart to meditate, gave


him hands to work, and work fitted to his hands. Nei-
ther was it merely the design of the Creator that man
should live — he willed him to be joyful. Pleasure is
every way consistent with innocence ; it cannot indeed
exist without it. God loves to see his creatures happy j
our lawful delight is his. They know not God who
think to please him by making themselves miserable.

What rare and grateful varieties do we find in gar-
dens planted by the hands of men ! But when He who
made the matter, undertakes the fashion^ how must it
be beyond our capacity excellent ! No herb, no flower,
no tree was wanting which might be for ornament or
use. And yet, if God had not there conversed with
man, his abundance had never made him blessed.

Here his pleasure was his task. Paradise served not
only to feed his senses, but to exercise his hands. Did
happiness consist in doing nothing, man, in his state of
innocence, had been unemployed. But man is no sooner
made, than his Creator gives him his appointed work :
he must labor, because he was happy — he was happy,
in that he labored. The more cheerfully we discharge
the duties of our several callings, the more nearly do
we approach to our paradise.

Neither did these trees afl^ord him only action for his
hands, but instruction to his heart. All other trees in
the garden had a natural use — two a spiritual. The
tree of knowledge and the tree of life were designed
to nourish the soul by a lively representation of that
living Tree, whose fruit is eternal life, and whose
leaves are for the healing of the nations.

infinite mercy ! Man saw his Savior before him,
ere he had need of a Savior. He saw in whom he
should obtain a heavenly life, ere he had lost the
earthly. And though after he had tasted of the tree of
knowledge, he might not taste of the tree of life, yet
then did he reap most benefit from the invisible tree of


life when he was most restrained from the visible. Of
this food, Savior, thou hast called me to partake.
Lo, I eat, and in spite of Adam's disobedience, I live
for ever.

How divine a thing is knowledge, whereof even inno-
cence itself was ambitious! But it Avould not content
our first parent to know God and his creatures; his cu-
riosity affected to know what God never made — evil of
sin, and evil of death. We know evil well enough, and
smart with knowing it. How dearly hath this lesson
taught us, that in some cases our happiness consists in
being ignorant! How many thousand souls miscarry
with the presumptuous affectation of forbidden know-
ledge ! O God, thou hast revealed to us as much as we
can know — enough to make us happy. Without thee
wisdom is folly, and learning, ignorance.

Such was the abode of unfallen man, yet even there
was seen the tempter. What marvel is it, if our depra-
vity find him present with us, when our holy parents
found him in their paradise ! No sooner is he entered,
than he commenceth his attack : elsewhere he knew
there v/as no danger; behold him at the tree forbidden!
Lord, (let me beg it without presumption,) make thou
me wiser than Adam. Even thine image, which he
bore, preserved him not in obedience, by reason of his
own infirmity. When he had made a covenant with
death, and with hell an agreement, it was just for thee
to dismiss him from his glorious abode. Why shouldst
thou feed a rebel at thine own board 1

And yet we transgress daily, and thou dost not shut
lieaven against us: how is it that we find more mercy
than our forefather ? His fancied strength deserved se-
verity — our weakness finds pity. That God, whose face
he fled in the garden, now makes him with shame fly
out of the garden — those angels that should have kept
him, now keep the gates of paradise against him. It is


not so easy to recover happiness as to keep it, or to
lose it.

The same cause which drove man from paradise,
has since withdrawn paradise from the world. That
fiery sword did not defend it against those waters
wherewith the sins of men drowned the glory of the
world ; neither now do I seek where that paradise
was which we lost — I know where that paradise is
which we must study to seek and hope to find. As
man was the image of God, so w^as that earthly para-
dise an image of heaven — both the images are defac-
ed — both the first patterns are eternal. Adam was
the first — he remained not — in the second is that Se-
cond Adam, which said, " This day shalt thou be with
me in paradise." There was that chosen Vessel, who
heard and saw what could not be expressed — since as
much as the third heaven exceeds the richest earth,
so doth that paradise, to which we aspire, exceed that
which we have lost. Thou, O God, shalt show us the
path of life — in thy presence is fulness of joy — at thy
right hand is pleasure for evermore.


Look now, O my soul, upon the two first brethren,
and wonder at their contrary dispositions. If the privi-
leges of mere nature had been of any value, the first-
born child had not been desperately wicked. Behold in
Abel a saint, in Cain a murderer !

Doubtless their education was holy. For Adam,
though in paradise he transgressed the command of
God, was devout and faithful in his exile. His sin and
fall had made him circumspect : and since he saw that

18 hall's scripture history.

his act had bereaved his children of those blessings
that were once in store for them, he would surely labor,
by all holy endeavors, to atone for what had passed,
that so his care might make amends for his trespass.
Alas, who would then think that the children of this
common parent should not be examples of mutual love %
If but two brothers be left alive of many, we think that
the love of all the rest should survive in them — yet be-
hold here are but two brothers in a world, and one is
the assassin of the other ! That spirit which caused
enmity between man and God, now sets enmity be-
tween man and man. All quarrels, all uncharitable-
ness must flow from one only source. If we enter-
tain wrath we give place to the devil. Certainly so
deadly an act must needs be deeply grounded.

What then was the occasion of this capital malice 1
Abel's sacrifice meets with acceptance. What was this
to Caini Cain's oblation is rejected. Could Abel be in
fault on this account 1 O envy, the corrosive of all evil
minds, and the root of all atrocious actions ! It should
have been Cain's joy to see his brother accepted — it
should have been his sorrow to see that he had deserv-
ed rejection : his brother's example should have ani-
mated and directed him in the same path of godliness.
Could Abel prevent the fire of God from descending on
his brother's sacrifice 1 Or should he be insensible of
the mercy shown to himself, and displease his Maker
to satisfy a graceless brother 1 Was Cain removed fur-
ther from a blessing because Abel obtained mercy, and
found favor from above 1

How proud and how foolish is malice, which grows
thus frantic and desperate for no cause, but that God is
just and his servant holy ! Religion, from the introduc-
tion of sin amongst mankind, hath ever been the occa-
sion of danger to the children of light. O Lord, let me,
in indifferent actions, be careful to avoid giving of-


fence — but while I walk in the way of thy command-
ments, and receive the gracious manifestations of thy
favor, I care not if my obedience provoke the indigna-
tion of thine enemies.

Seldom hath there existed a nature so perfect as
to be altogether free from envy. Many, who, perhaps,
do not suspect themselves, would, upon examination,

Online LibraryJoseph HallScripture history, or, Contemplations on the historical passages of the Old and New Testaments → online text (page 1 of 40)