Thomas Carlyle.

The Christian treasury, Volume 2 online

. (page 17 of 145)
Online LibraryThomas CarlyleThe Christian treasury, Volume 2 → online text (page 17 of 145)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

itself in torrents of blessing. Not many hours
from the time appointed for the second party
of pleasure, the same large circle, almost with-
out one exception, were assembled in the tame
house, in the same room, where four weeks since
they were mocking the scene of a revival — not
now to renew their unhallowed sport, but as the
subjects, and in the midst of the awful reali-
ties, of tliat spiritual anxiety of mind which none
but deeply awakened and truly convinced sin-
ners understand. They who but recently and on
the identical spot, were rallying each other with
a profanation of the Lord's gracious work, were
now in wry deed smitten to Uie ground, writhing
under an awful sense of their exposedness to the
intenninable woes of the second death, and ut-
tering groans and exclamations enough to pierce
the stoutest heart. God the Spirit was there,
moving amongst and in them in all the might
and majesty of his sin-convincing, soul-con-
verting, heart-regenerating power. Every mind
was awakened — every heart was broken — every
spirit was bowed. The military man — the pro-
fessional man — the merchant — the intelligent
youth — the daughter of beauty, of fashion, and
of song — were alike prostrate at the feet of
sovereign mercy, in humble penitence and
prayer. O what a scene was that! — what a
spectacle for an angel's eye, thrilling with joy
a seraph's bosom ! Yea, God — even that God
who has declared, " To this man will I look,

even to him that is poor and of a contrite spi-
rit, and trembleth at my word" — was present,
receiving a new revenue of praise from that
assembly; while the glorified Redeemer was
beholding from his tbrone the travail of his
soul with infinite satisfaction. Within the
short space of one week from this memorable
evening twenty of these godly-sorrowing indivi-
duals were hopefully new creatures in ChriBt
Jesus; while, within the limits of the town,
three hundred souls became the subjects of re-
newing grace, and witnesses to the truth that
the ** Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort
all her waste places; and he will make her wil-
derness like Eden, and her desert like the gar-
den of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be
found therein, thanksgiving and the voice of
melody." Reader, what an encouraging in-
stance is this of Grod's long-suffering mercy to
the chief of sinners I Sinners they indeed
were, ** but they obtained mercy;** and through
the grace of the Lord Je6us Christ, you may be
saved even as they. Have you fled to Jesus ?
Are you saved } Leave not this momentous mat-
ter to the decision of a dying bed. Decide it nov, 1
and decide it for eternity. Is sin a felt plague ?
Is Jesus precious to your soul f Can you say, in
humble faith : ** I am my Beloved's, and my Be-
loved is mine." And is daily sin daily taken
to the fountain of his precious blood — there
hatedand mourned over, cleansed and subdued!
And through trial and conflict, through evil re-
port and through good report, are you pressing
on to glory, " looking for the blessed hope, and
the glorious appearing of the great God and
our Saviour Jesus Christ ! Then you are bom
again; and soon, O how soon, you shall be in
heaven 1 Until that happy moment, let us me-
ditate frequently on that sweet portion of God's
Word : ** Blessed is the man that walketh not
in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in
the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of
the scomfuL But his delight is in the law of
the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day
and night. And he shall be like a tree planted
by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his
firuit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither,
and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."

We journey through a vttle of tears,

By many a cloud oVrcaat;
And worldly cares, and worldly fears,

Go with us to the last !
A'o< to the Icut ! Tht Word hath laid.

Could we but read aright.
Poor pilgrim ! lift in hope thy head,

At eve there shall be light ! Barton.

Digitized by VjOOQIC





We are told (Gen. xiL 10) that " there waa a famine
in the land, and Abram went down into Egypt to
sojourn there^*— a drcumstance which proves that
•ven at that early period Egypt waa, what it has
continued to the present day, the granary of the
neighbouring nations, who in all their exigencies and
deficiencies look to the Valley of the Nile as the source
whence a supply of com may be derived. Hence,
agriculture was in Egypt reckoned of peculiar impoi^
tonce, and appears to have been tajcen under the
protection of priests and kings. The fertility of the
Egyptian soil depended not on local rains, but on the
annual inundation of the Nile, which renders the soil
richly productive, even in seasons when the harvests
fail in the neighbouring countries from continued
drought. On this account the most important part
of the labours of an Egyptian husbandman was to
make the overflowings of the river available for the
purposes of irrigation. It is to this peculiarity in the
cultivation of knd in Egypt that Moses alludes when,
comparing it with the promised land, he says : ** The
land whither thou goest in to i>08ses8 it, is not as the
land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou
sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as
a garden of herbs : but the land, whither ye go to
possess it, is a hind of hills and valleys, and drinketh
water of the rain of heaven : a land which the Lord
thy Qod carcth for : the eyes of the Lord thy God
are always upon it, from the beginning of the year
even mnto the end of the year*** — a statement which
shows that the author was intimately acquainted with
the peculiar mode of irrigation practised in Egypt.
The ground required to be watered regularly through-
out the year at stated intervals. According to
Prokesch, it was the custom to water the fields in
winter once in fourteen days; in the spring, if the
dew fiills sufficiently, once in twelve days; but in the
summer once in eight days. The water for this pur-
pose is obtained either from the Nile itself, or from
cisterns which were filled during the inundation.
Hence engines of various kinds for raising water are
placed all along the Nile, and also at the cisterns in
which the water is reserved. PhOo, who lived in
Egypt, describes one of these machines which was
used by the peasantry in his time, as being worked
6y the feet ; that is, so far as his account may be un-
derstood, the machine was worked by the men as-
cending revolving steps— something on the principle
of the tread-mill. Niebuhr also mentions such a
machine as used in Cairo, where it was called ** s&kieh
tedCir bir i^~a watering machine that turns by the
foot." Then, when the water is raised, by whatever
machine, it is directed in its course by clumncls cut
in the ground, which convey the water to those
places where it is wanted; and when one part of the
ground is sufficiently watered, a person closes that
channel by turning the earth against it with Ms foot,

• Dcut. ai. 10-12. Pictorial Bible, vol. U, p. 473. 4to.


and at the same time opening a new channel, by re-
moving with hit fool or with a mattock the earth
with which its entrance had been closed.

The severity of the hibour of irrigation is attested
by all travellers; and it must have been a great satis-
faction to the Israelites to learn that no such Ubour
would be required in Canaan, or was, indeed, at all
applicable to that countiy. The whole passage, as it
has been justly said, transfers us, in a manner inimi-
table by a modem writer, to the time in which the
Israelites were stationed mid-way between Egypt and
Canaan, yet full of the advantages which they had
enjoyed in the former land, and in want of a counter-
poise to the longing desire for that which they had

Among the agricultural implements depicted on the
monuments is the plough, which was long a source of
perplexity to archseologists. Some imagined that it
was intended to represent the mystic legs of the ibis;
while others averred that it was a type of the three
dominant castes— the royal, the priestly, and the
warrior. Rosellini first showed that it was a hand-
plough, and that it was also occasionally used as a
pick-axe. Some of the Hebrew slaves, in the sketch
of " the brickmakers," are represented as diggmg
ehj with these hand-ploughs, for the purpose of
making bricks for Pharaoh. One of these instn^-
ments, in a perfect state, is to be seen in the Egyptian
room in the British Museum— perhaps one of the
very implements which the Jewish bondsmen used in
the time of Moses.

In the description given in the Sacred Narrative of
the calamities inflicted by the plague of hail, we
have an enumeration of the several varieties of grain
which were cultivated in Egypt (Exod. ix. 31, 32)—
flax, barley, wheat, and rye; and on the monuments
we have not only a representation of these produc-
tions, but all the processes of ploughing, sowing,
reaping, threshing out the com, storing it in gran*
aries and grindhig it in the mill, are brought under
reriew. The Egyptians usually sowed in November,
and the harvest was ripe in ApriL Barley was har-
Tested in about four, and wheat in about five months
after sowing— a circumstance which corroborates the
statement of Moses, that '* the flax and the barley
were smitten (by the phigue of hail); for the barley
was in the ear, and the flax was boUed. But the
wheat and the rye were not smitten ; for they were not
grown up." The com was cut with a sickle, the
shape of which bears a considerable resemblance to
that used at the present day. It appears from the
monuments that the reapers cut the gram a little
below the ear— straw being of comparatively little
value in Egypt, as the cattle and horses seem gene-
rally not to have been stabled.* This fact throws
considerable light on the conduct imputed to the

* Some of the cattle appear to have been occaiionally fed in
•heda. One intUnce of stall-fed oxen is giren by Willcinsoa
in bis account of the Cum-yard of the Egyptians. This fact
explains the apparent contradiction of the destruction of
** aU the cattle of Egypt" by the murrain, and the nbtequeui
destruction of the cattle by hail (Bxod. ix. 0-19, et srq.)^
those which ** were in the field " alone having suffered
from the previous plague, and those In the stalls or ** houses
having been preserved.**

Digitized by VjOOQIC



Israelites, when the tjraimical Pharaoh commanded
the task-masters of the people and their officers, say-
ing, ^ Ye shall no more give the people straw to make
brick as heretofore; let them go and gather straw for
themselTes^— ** So the people were scattered abroad
throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble
instead of straw/* By stubble here is evidently meant
the stalks that remained from last year'tt harvest
These were plucked up by the hand, for the purpose
of being employed in the composition of bricks; and
as this was both a tedious and toilsome employment,
it strikingly illustrates the injustice of Pharaoh when
he prohibited the supply of straw to the Hebrew
brickmakers, and yet commanded that they should
** deliver the tale of bricks.** The straw was mixed
with the clay, in order to bind it more compactly to-
gether, and the bricks, when properly moulded, were
carried out and dried in the sun. It is worthy of
notice, that bricks have been found mixed with straw,
precisely as described by Moses; and, according to
Wilkin8on,more bricksbearing the name of Thothmes
III. (whom h^ supposes to have been king of Egypt
at the time of the Exodus) have been discovered
than of any other period. It is almost incredible
that any individual should venture to attack the Pen-
tateuch, on the ground that brick Was not used for
building in Egypt; and yet Von Bohlen says, that
** the author comes under strong suspicion of having
transferred to the Valley of the Nile many things
from Upper Ada, as the Egyptians were accustomed
to build with hewn stone, and the great buildings of
brick spoken of, Elxod. i. 14, instead of being
Egyptian, seem rather to have been borrowed from
Babylonia.** In answer to this assertion, which is the
result of consummate ignorance and presumption, we
may adduce the testimony of RoseUini, who says :
** Ruins of great brick buildingtt are found in all
parts of Egypt, walls of astonishing height and thick-
ness are preserved to the present time, as also whole
pyramids, and a great number of the ruins of monu-
ments, both great and small.** Wilkinson says : " The
use of crude brick baked in the sun was universal in
Upper and Lower Egypt, both for public and private
buildings. Enclosures of gardens, and granaries,
sacred circuits encompassing the courts of temples,
vralls of fortiftcations, and town dwelling-houses, and
tombs-— in short, cUl but the temples themselves, were
of crude brick.*'

When the Egyptianshad cut down their com, they
did not generally bind it into sheaves, but carried the
ears in rope or wicker baskets to the threshing-
floor. The threshing-floor was a level plot of ground,
of a circular shape, generally about fifty feet in
diameter, prepared for use by beating down the earth
till it became like a marble slab. So important were
these placet, that we find threshing-floors mentioned
in Scripture as geographical points of equal import-
ance with the cities. Thus, in the account of the
burial of Jacob, the "very great company, both
chariots and horsemen,** which formed the funeral
procession, is represented as halting at a threshing-
floor, the name of which was changed in consequence
of the grievous mourning by which the patriarchs
loss vras deplored : ** And they came to the thresh-
ing-floor of Atad, which is beyond Jordan, and ther«

they mourned with a great and very sore lamenta-
tion : and he made a mourning for his father seven
days. And when the inhabitants of the land, the
Canaanites, saw the mourning in the floor of Atad,
they said. This is a grievous mourning to the Egyp-
tians : wherefore the name of it was called Abel-
miznum, which is beyond Jordan.** —Gen. 1. 10, 11.
Reference is made in the law of Moses to the tread-
ing out of the grain by oxen, which were humanely
forbidden to be muzzled while engaged in this opera-
tion. The monuments corroborate these references
of the Sacred History, by various representations cf
oxen driven in a circle, or rather in all directions,
over the threshing-floor. ** They make a great heap
of ears,** says Rosellini, '* in the midst of the thresh-
ing-floor, and cause them to be trodden out by six
oxen, which are kept in constant motion by a man
who goes behind with a whip.** While superintend-
ing the animals employed for this purpose, the Egyp-
tian peasant, as usual, both in ancient and modem
times, relieved his labours by singing. In a subterra-
nean apartment at EUethya, which belongs to the
reign of Rameses Meiamoun, who lived about 1500
B.C., there is a representation of the treading out of
the grain by oxen; and over the engraving may be
read in hieroglyphics the song wnich the overseer
sings while threshing. It is thus interpreted by
Champollion : —

•• Tread ye out for yourselves.

Tread ye out for yourtelves,

O oxen !

Tread ye out for youraelves.

Tread ye out for yourielvei—

The straw ;

For men, who are your masters—
The grain.-
After the grain was trodden out, it was tossed up
against the wind with a fork, by which the broken
straw and chaff were dispersed, and the grain fell to
the ground. To this the Psalmist alludes when he
sajrs : ** The ungodly are like the chaff which the wind
driveth away.** — Ps. L 4. The grain afterwards
passed through a sieve to separate unthreshcd ears,
clods of earth, and other impurities. After this it
underwent a still further purification, by being once
more tossed up against the wind by a wooden scoop
or short-handed shovel, which, in our translation of
the Scriptures, is termed "a fun.** To these two
processes the Prophet Isaiah (xxx. 24) refers, when
he says: "The oxen likewise, and the asses that
plough the ground, shall eat clean provender, which
hath been vrinnowod with the shovel and with the
fan.** In allusion to the fact that the fan was consi-
dered the more perfect winnowing implement, John
the Baptist, describing the coming of Christ, says :
" Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly
purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the gamer;
but he will bum up the chaff with onquenchablo
fire.**— Matt iiil2.*

The winnowed com was carried to the granary in
sacks, each containing a fixed quantity, to facilitate
the keeping of a proper account The com vras
stored away in granaries, which appear to have been
public buildings, and are depicted on the monu-

* Bible lUusUated, &c, p. Ml Blblic. Cyclop.* artlclt

Digitized by VjOOQIC



menls as of Tast extent, quite eufficient to contain
tiie izninense stores of grain which Joseph is repre-
sented as having iaid np during the seven plenteous
rears. As a ^eat portion of the revenues of the
monarch was derived from a corn-rent, a royal officer
a always present, with his pen and tablet, taking
aocoimt of the sacks as they were carried up into the
granary. According to Wilkinson, sometimes two
scribe were present— one to write down the number
of measures taken from the heap of com, and the
other to check them, by entering the quantity re-
moved to the granary. This practice, which is called
awR&eru)^, is referred to in the narrative of the pre-
<^« n tHMi8 which Joseph took against the seven years

1j of famine. " And he gathered up all the food of the
I «T«i years which were in the bind of Egypt, and
^ laid up the food in the cities : the food of the field,
l] wYdch was roond about every city, laid he up in the
, isme. iina Josepli gathered corn as the sand of the
^ sea, very mach, xmtil he left numbering; for it was
I without mimber.'*— Gen. xlL 48, 49. The careful
j precaations thus taken, lest any part of the produce
v^ of the aoU should escape taxation, show the desire of
j j the people to evade the payment of the royal impost,
I i&d account for the absence on the monuments of
•ny trace of a " harvest home." Harvest must in-
deed have been anything but a joyous season to the
figricnltural lab«ourer. It was remarked by the mem-
MTs of the French Commission, that there was a
freat similarity between the joyless looks of the
husbandmen on the monuments, and the sombre
countenances of the modem Fellahs, whose toil is so
vretchedly remunerated.*

In the account given of Pharaoh*s dream (Gen,

^ 2) it is said : ^ And, behold, there came up out of

the river seven well favoured Idne and fatiieshed;

and they fed m a meadow." The word here ren-

teed "meadow," is, in Job viii 1 1, translated ** flag."

" C»n the rush grow up without mire ? can the flag

row without water?" It denotes a succulent aquatic

I pteifc - in all probability the lotus, the cultivation

I of which, as well as of other aquatic phmts, was

1 Peculiar to the agriculture of £g;n>^ The mention

I bete msde of this plant, therefore, shows that the

) wnter was well acquainted with the mods of cultiva^

^pnwtised in the Valley of the NUe. The menu.

j nwnts contain delin^tions of the lotus in its natural

I oo^-<Vin, with Ita stalk and fruit; and on one of the
( n>jal sepulchres there is a representation of the lotus

II ^'•^▼Mt. Contrary to the Egyptian mode of reaphig
»k«at, the stems of the lotus were cut off close to the
'^^; and ftx>m the great care shown In binding the
•i^eaTca, and canying them to the granaiy, it is
*^at that the reed was looked upon as fkr more
»alttable than straw. The seed is still used as an
■rticle of food by the inhabitants; and that it was so
•Iw in indent times, we know from the testimony of
Herodotus. "The customs of those who reside ki
the manheg^- says he, "do not differ from those of
JJe othor Egyptians; but they have devised the fol-
wwing faiTentions for procuring an easy supply of
food: When the river attains its height, and the
P^sre inundated, there springs up in the water a
iMft Qttmber of lilies, to which the Eg

« Bible lllusUated, &c^ p. 88.

Egyptians give

the name of lotus. They carefully gather these, and
dry them in the sun; and then, squeezing out what
is contuned in the pods of the lotus, resembling
poppy-seed, they make it into loaves, which they
bake over the Are. The root also of this lotus, which
is roundish, and of the size of an apple, is eatable :
its flavour is moderately sweet."



" Let there be light ! " thus spake the Word—
The Word was God; " and there ww light !"
Still the creative voice is heard;
A digr is bom ih)m every night.

And every night shall turn to day.
While months, and years, and age^roU

But we have seen a brighter lay
Dawn on the chaos of the soul.

Nor wo alone: its wakcojng smiles
Have broke the gloom of Pagan sleep^

The Word hi^th reached the utmost isles :
God's Spirit moves upon the deep.

Already, from the dust of death,
Man in his Maker ^s image stands;

Once more he draws immortal breath,
And stretches forth to heaven his hands.

From day to day, beibre our ^es,
Glows and extends the work begun.

When shall the new creation rise
On every land beneath the sim ?

' When, in the Sabbath of his love.
Shall God amidst his labours rest;

AxkI, bending firom his throne above.
Again prononnte hit creatures blest ^

Soon the redeemed, in every dimo.
Yea, all that breathe, and movo, and live,

To Christ, through evexy age of tioio,
Shall kingdom, power, and glory give.


' 9KUr-RieHT«OI79NCBg.

SoMB »!▼ upon their own righteousnees, and the
ment of thdr own ffood works. They doubt not but
if God would set their good against their bad, ther
would stand upright in judgment; and thinTthatl
take one with another, God hath been no loserby
them. If, at one time, they have provoked him, at
another they have apneased hhn; if they have
wronged bun by sins, they have again recompense^
bun by duties. Foolish creatures! who think to
discharge debts bv duties, and satisfy God** justice
with that which tney owe to bis sovereignty. This i«
but robbing one of God*s attributes to pay another.

Let me ask you, to what purpose is it that

you keep up somethina: of reh'gion ? to what purpose
that you frequent pubhc ordinances ?«-that you force
your ears to hear that Word which yet prophesieth
no good concerning you, and task vour lips to say
over thow praycn m which yet you*fi«d no rclWi ?

Digitized by VjOOQIC



If it not the secret thooght of many men's hearts,
that hereby they shall bay off guilt and escape con-
demnation ? If this be your hope, let me tell you it
is no better than a spider^ web ; and when the besom
of destruction comes, it will sweep down such cobweb
hopes as these are, and such as settle in them, into
perdition. For those Terr duties and works, which
many trust unto to sare them, may, at this oay, for
the slight and hypocritical performance of them, be
reckoned up against them as so many sins; so far
Arom being expiations, that they may rather be their
faults. There will be no setting the good against the
bad, for the manner of performing that which is
good turns it into filth ana abomination in the si^ht
of Grod; and all they do is either sin in itself or sm-
fiil : and, therefore, to plead your own righteousness
and your own good works is but to pl^ that the
defects and hy^icrisy of which will oe brought in
against you to condemn you.


Many rely, upon a comparative righteousneas.
They glory, with the bragging Pharisee, that they
are not extortioners, unjust, adulterers, as other men ;
and, therefore, they hope that as they have not lived
the same lives, so they shall not partake of the same
condemnation. But, alas I God will not judge thee
by comparing thee with other men, but ^vith bis
law. Thou tallest far short of the holiness and per-
fection of that, even in those very actions wherein
thou dost far transcend other men. It may be there
is no comparison between thee and others, but then
there is no comparison between thee and the law.

Online LibraryThomas CarlyleThe Christian treasury, Volume 2 → online text (page 17 of 145)