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tions which their exigencies require. Here are masons, carpen-
ters, smiths, tailors, shoemakers, cooks, &c. The prior, and one
or two others, have intelligence in their countenances, and a few
are of venerable aspect, but the appearance of most of them is
low and repulsive. Their bread was the poorest we found in
the desert; linen returned from their laundry was in worse
condition than before it went ; they are poor gardeners. As to
their knowledge, they do not even speak the Arabic, the
language of the population with which they are surroimded.
There is a library in the convent, but their appreciation of books
is well illustrated by the discovery made here of the Codex
Sinaiticus, by Tischendorf, an account of which . is contained
in Prof, gtowe's valuable " Origin and History of the Books of
the Bible." On a visit here, in 1844, a basket of rubbish was
brought to kindle the fire of the eminent scholar, and out of it
he picked, forty-three beautiful parchment leaves, belonging to a
manuscript of the Septuagint, previously unknown. These, on
his return to Europe, he published. When, at the convent
again, in 1859, a monk brought him the other leaves of the
same manuscript, loosely tied up in a napkin. To his inex-
pressible delight, he found among them the remaining portions
of the Septuagint, and also the whole New Testament ; and this
the most complete, the most ancient and the best entire manu-
script of the New Testament that has, as yet, been recovered.
The Epistle of Barnabas and portions of the Shepherd of
Hennas, also, were found. Wood is costly in the desert of
Sinai, but fuel, as precious as this, has hitherto seldom if ever
been known in any land on the globe. Monasteries have been
famed as the depositories and guards of letters, but the function

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1868.] The Arabian Desert. 879

of this establishment, in this respect, would seem well nigh to
have ceased. I was glad to see h facsimile of the Codex there
in place of the original, now in the far safer keeping of the
Emperor of Russia. The library is said to consist of about
fifteen hundred volumes of books in Greek, and seven hundred
Arabic manuscripts. A manuscript of the gospels was shown
us, written on vellum, in letters of gold, and a copy of the
Psalter in Greek, written in letters so small that a microscope
is required to read it, — both very remarkable.

After the Sabbath service was over, we were conducted to a
chapel at the rear of the altar, erected by the Empress Helena,
over the very spot where the " burning bush '* stood. Imitating
Moses, as required, we took oflF our shoes before entering. The
chapel is adorned with rich carpets, and the spot, deemed by
the monks the most sacred of all the peninsula, is covered with
silver. Not far distant, the well is shown where the fugitive
from Egypt watered Jethro's flocks, and where the bright partic-
ular star of the desert first flashed with such brilliancy on his
vision, — a star destined erelong to shed baleful rays on the
pathway of Miriam and Aaron. (Numbers xii. 1.)

Monday was a day of hardly less interest than that of ascend-
ing the Mount of the Law. Five of the party had arranged to
take an excursion to Mt. St. Catharine. I concluded to spend
the day alone on the plain of Bahah and at the foot of Sinai,
wishing more fully to define the facts and fix the associations
belonging to those localities. Starting with the party on foot,
early in the morning, I accompanied them for an hour and
twenty minutes, down the convent valley, around the face of
Sinai, and up the parallel valley separating the Horeb range
from that to which Mt. St. Catharine belongs, and proceeded as
far as the place assigned by the monks for the smiting of the
rock by Mosep' rod. In the bed of the deep valley is a reddish
granite boulder brought down by time from the mountain
range above. This is some fifteen feet high and has, running
through it obliquely, a seam of rock of another texture about a
foot thick, with several horizontal gaps, at intervals, cut across

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S80 The Arabian Desert. [July,

it. The monks suppose this seam to have been made by the
water, but obviously other powers must account for that. No
water flows from the rock now, and Moses' rod performed its
marvels elsewhere. Below, however, in the immense gorge, is
a copious stream flowing from the opposite side, with large
tanks, filled with sweet, clear water. Several gardens are sus-
tained by it, inclosing cypresses and a variety of other trees,
some of which were now in bloom. I noticed among the rest,
the thorny tree which Hebrew etymology and tradition indicate
as that of the " burning bush." I sat down in the shadow of a
great rock with the water plashing near (a sound wonderfully
refreshing in this arid land,) and, for an hour, read from the
Bible the history of the events that transpired here. Never
were they so interesting before.

Resuming my walk down the valley, I came around in front
of the " mount that might be touched, and that burned with
fire." One can go up and touch it at the present time, and the
flocks may crop the shrubs quite up to its base. The grandeur
with which the frowning mass rears itself upward to the clouds
cannot be expressed. I lingered here for a long time alone.
Not a human voice, not a sound was to be heard. Yet the
valley and plain were filled with a life intense. The grand
presence of four thousand years ago seemed not entirely with-
drawn. From the base of the mountain I took a course
directly across the plain lying in front, and soon came to a cres-
cent-shaped mound, rising gradually to the height of perhaps a
hundred feet, formed around the mount, and inclosing a semi-
elliptical area not unlike the space in fr^ont of some church
pulpits. Within this, or near it, (if the formation existed in
Moses' day,) the great Leader may have erected the altar to
Jehovah, with the twelve pillars, on which sacrifices were
offered, and where the covenant was ratified between God and
the Israelites. Here also occurred the shameful violation of
the treaty so recently entered into, in the matter of the molten
calf, and the national relapse into idolatry. The monks profess
to point out the very spot where the idol was forged, — the

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1868.] The Arabian Desert. 381

mould in the rock even is designated, wonderfully preserved
to this day, — and also the place where Moses broke the tablets
containing the violated contract, on his return from the mount.

Beyond the crescent mound in gradual upward slope extends
the long plain where spread the encampment of the children of
Israel. I walked over it the distance of perhaps a mile and a
half to the water-shed, and viewed again the wonderful scene
outlined in the first part of this article.

The situation of the Israelites here seems to have been this :
The third month after leaving Egypt, they came up the Wady-
esh-Sheikh, and " camped before the mount." As I stood with
face towards Sinai, they entered the valley coming in upon the
plain on the left, or by what I have called the left transept of
the mighty temple structure. The columns, marching in,
deployed successively over the oblong plain, and up the valley
coming in on the right, forming the other transept. Thus the
valleys were covered with two millions and a half of manna-fed
men, women and children, who, with their herds and flocks,
found water here in abundance. They were here to meet their
tutelar God, the Lord of the whole earth. They remained here
in camp about a year, and when they departed, under the
guidance of the pillar of cloud and fire, they passed out by the
same avenue by which they came.

When the people had come fully into camp, Moses went up
into the mount to hold an interview with God. He soon
returned, bearing a message from Jehovah to the people;
calling to mind the deliverances He had wrought for them in
Egjrpt and the desert, and inviting them to enter into covenant
with him as the Lord of the whole earth ; pledging themselves
to worship and obey Him, and He promising to take them into
intimate relationship as his peculiar treasure and delight. To
this the people unanimously assented, and Jehovah proposed to
come down and address them, in person, from the mount.

The morning of the third day, the day appointed, was
ushered in with " thunderings and lightnings and the voice of
a trumpet exceeding loud." Amidst the reverberations and


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882 The Arabian Desert. U^7,

quakiiigs of the granite hills, Moses led the people forth to
meet God, and stationed them beneath the mount. The area
directly in front, within the crescent^haped mound, was filled
with the crowd. Thence extending up the slope, the vast mul-
titude covered the crest and filled extensive tracts in the rear,
and up the transept valleysJ The whole nation, excited and
expectant, stood before God. It was as if the entire population
of New Hampshire, multiplied six or seven fold, had been taken
from their homes and led through difficult defiles into the dis-
tant solitudes of the White Mountains, that from some rocky
eminence, the God of the whole earth might utter in theur ears
his majestip voice. " The Lord descended upon Sinai in fire,
the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace and the
whole mount quaked greatly ; " and Jehovah spake in the ears
of the people all the words of the ten commandments.

Thus the first permanent lodgment of divine truth began to
be made on earth. Here the covenant between God and the
nation of Israel was sealed. Here occurred the speedy revolt
of the people against Jehovah, and the apostacy of Aaron and
the tribes unto the worship of the golden calf. Here, through
the entire encampment, rang out the call, " Who is on the
Lord's side? Let him come unto me." And here was the
slaughter by the sons of Levi, of three thousand idolaters,
traitors in the camp. Here Jehovah parted from the people
who had abandoned him, and refused to go with them farther
— his pillar of cloud resting on the tabernacle pitched far from
the camp ; and here, at the intercession of Moses, he was recon-
ciled and returned to them again on their return to loyalty.
Forever memorable must this plain be as the birthplace of the
first constitutional government the world ever saw, based on
principles and supported by forms adapted to secure the full
development and happiness of the people.

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1868.] Exegeiical Sermon. 883

Article Vll.


"Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them prajr
over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith shall
save the sick ; and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall
be forgiven him.'* — JameSy v. 14, 15.

This is an extraordinary passage. It is probably the occasion
of the Papal sacrament of "Extreme Unction," though that is
totally different from the anointing with oil in the name of the
Lord, as recommended by James ; for extreme unction is
never administered till the sick person is supposed to be at the
point of death, and no hope is entertained of his recovery ; so
that spiritual benefit alone can be proposed by the ceremony ;
which, on the contrary, serves merely as an opiate to quiet and
stupefy the conscience, both of the dying and of the living.

This is another proof, besides the commonly recognized ones,
that the " Papacy is Satan's master-piece of deception," and the
prolific parent of ruin to the souls of men. Thus does
" extreme unction " show the diabolical perversion of God's
Holy Word !

Some light may, perhaps, be thrown upon this passage in
James, by adverting to facts well known in ancient history. Of
the numerous substances from which oil was extracted by the
ancients, the olive is most frequently mentioned in the scrip-
tures. The pure oil of olives is nutritious, healthful, and
medicinal, far more so than the cod liver oil that, in modern
times, has become an essential article of the pharmacopia.
The quality and the value of that oil depended very much upon
the time of gathering the fruit, and the amount of pressure used
in the course of preparing it. The best was made from the
fruit that was gathered in November and December, when it
began to change its color, but before it became black.

Later, indeed, the fruit yields more oil, but of an inferior
quality ; and earlier in the year, as in September and October,
an oil is extracted that is neither pure nor nutritious. In order

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884 Exegetical Sermon. [J^Jj

to extract the oil, the fruit was either bruised in a mortar,
crushed in a press, ground in a mill, or trodden by the feet.
The " beaten oil " mentioned in Exodus xvii. 20, and xix. 40 ;
also in Leviticus xxix. 2, and m Numbers xxviii. 5, was
probably made by bruising the fruit in a mortar.

The pure oil was much used in culinary preparations. Wheat
boiled in oil was a common dish for all classes in Syria.
Hasselquist speaks of bread baked in oil as particularly
nourishing. And Faber mentions that eggs fried in oil furnish
a dish for both Saracens and Arabians. And it was probably
on account of the common use of oil in food that " the meat
oflFerings" mentioned in Leviticus ii. 4, vii. 15, viii. 26,
Numbers vii. 19, and many other places, were mixed with oil.

Oil was used for anointing the body after a bath, as giving
the skin a smooth and comely appearance. Jews, Egyptians,
Greeks and Romans used oil for this purpose. Those who ran
for the prize at the Olympic games anointed themselves with
oil to give elasticity to their limbs, that they might win the
prize, and bo crowned amidst the applauses of their countrymen.

But there is much to be said of the use of oil for medici-
nal purposes among the ancients, as well as in the modern
pharmacopia. Josephus, ant. xvii. 6, § 5, mentions that
among the remedies employed in the case of Herod, he was
put into an oil bath. Celsus de Medicina, ii. 14, 17 ; and iii. 6,
9, 19, 22 ; and iv. 2, very abxmdantly speaks of the great use of
oil, especially old oil, applied externally with friction, in fevers
and other diseases. Pliny, xv. 4, 7, and xxiii. 3, 4, says that
olive oil is good to warm the body, and fortify it against cold,
and also to cool the heat of the head, and for many other
purposes. It was so used previously to taking a cold bath, and
also mixed with water for bathing the body, in certain circum-
stances. Oil mixed with wine is also mentioned as a remedy,
used both externally and internally, in the disease with which
the soldiers of the army of Aelius Gallus were aflfected, which
compares well with the use of it by the good Samaritan, in the
case of the man who went down to Jericho and fell among
thieves. (Luke x. 34.)

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1868.] Exegetical Sermon. 386

The prophet Isaiah, i. 6, alludes to the use of oil as an ointment
in medical treatment ; and it thus furnished a fitting symbol, if
not an efficient remedy, when used by our Lord's disciples in
the miraculous cures which they were well enabled to perform.
Thus, in Mark vi. 18, when the twelve disciples were sent forth,
two by two, having power over unclean spirits, and preaching
that men should repent, "they cast out many devils, and
anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.'*
With a similar intention, no doubt, it is enjoined by James in
the passage under consideration, and as it appears it was prac-
tised by the ancient Christians in general. An instance of cure
by this means is mentioned by Tertullian, ad Scap. chap. 4.
The medicinal use of oil is also mentioned in the Mishna, a
part of the Jewish Talmud. Says Bloomfield : —

" That oil is highly salutary in various disorders will not prove that it is
here ordered by James as a medical means ; for, from the gospels, (Mark vi.
13, and other places,) we learn that this was used by the disciples in conjunc-
tion with miraculous power. Nay, oar Lord himself condescended to employ
certain symbolic media, so to speak, in working miracles."

In the case of the blind man, (John ix. 6,) Jesus made clay
with his spittle and anointed his eyes, saying, ^^ Go wash in the
pool of Siloam." We cannot suppose that there was any con-
nection between the clay and the miracle ; nor can we suppose
tliat, in the anointing with oil in the name of the Lord, there
was any special efficacy in the use of the oil, but that it was a
symbol of healing. For it is said expressly that the prayer of
faith, in the connection, shall save the sick, and that if he have
committed sins, they shall be foi^ven him. It was the Lord
that raised up the sick man and granted him forgiveness. And
it was done through the faith of miracles.

There is abundance of evidence in both Testaments that vari-
ous miracles were wrought through certain symbolical media,
that really had no connection with the marvellous effects ; as
for instance, the sounding of trumpets of rams' horns around
Jericho through six days. What connection could there be
between the sounding of the horns and the fall of the walls ? When

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386 Exegetical Sermon. [July,

Naaman, the Syrian leper, came with horses and with chariot, and
stood at the door of the house of Elisha, this prophet sent a mes-
senger to him saying, " Go, wash in Jordan seven times, and
thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou slialt be clean."
When Hezekiah was sick nigh unto death, Isaiah ordered him
to take a lump of figs and lay it on the boil, that he might
recover. But all acknowledge that it was the power of God
that healed him. Hezekiah in the connection asked for a sign
that he should be healed, and the sun-dial of Ahaz was made to
turn its shadow ten degrees backward ; and this shadow had as
much to do with healing Hezekiah as the lump of figs. It was
a symbolical transaction as connected with God's healing power.
The serpent of brass, elevated upon a pole, to which the Israel-
ites were to look and be healed of the bite of the fiery serpents,
eflfected nothing, but was a symbol of healing, by faith in which
expedient all that looked were immediately healed. We might
also mention Gideon's pitcher and lamp, &c.

As the Jews used'oil medicinally, this furnished a convenient
symbol to employ when the elders of the church were to pray
for a njiraculous cure. And so Bloomfield seays : —

" Upon the whole, it involves the least difficulty to suppose, that by the
healing in question is meant preternatural healing ; otherwise the strong
expressions edx^ t^> niaieoig aihaei, xal iyeqeT, must be taken with a
limitation. And there can be little doubt that, in the next generation, the
thing became a solemn religious ceremony, comprehending a symbolical rite,
the use of which tended to produce the blessings prayed for."

Dr. Scott has this sensible note upon the subject : —

" It cannot be supposed that these miraculous cures could be performed at
all times ; but there seems to have been some impression on the mind of the
person who wrought the miracle, and a peculiar exercise of faith."

Some persons have argued, that if there were extraordinary
measures of faith in the persons anointing, and in those who are
anointed, an extraordinary blessing might be obtained in this
age in behalf of the sick ! But be this as it may, it is to be
carefully observed, that the saving of the sick and the raising
up to health are not to be ascribed to the oil, but to the
prayer of faith !

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1868.] Literary Notices. 387


Modem Anglicdn Theology. By the Rev. James H. Riog, London.

This is a showing of the teaching and tendencies of the "Broad Church**
school) (Episcopal) specially with reference to the pantheistic element in it
and its denial of the Atonement. Only those writers and preachers pass in
review who belong to the party of Coleridge in philosophy, viz. : Hare,
Maurice, Jowett and Kingsley. The late F. W. Robertson's version of the
"Moral View** did not come within the author's range. He alludes to J.
McLeod Campbell in a single note only. His method is, — after expounding
Platonism and Keo-Platonism, the opinions of Coleridge and the division of
parties in the Church of England " by law established,** — to discuss the Broad
Church leaders named above, their literary and philosophical peculiarities,
and then their theology, carrying him over a wide, rich and various field.
The four last chapters treat of Atonement and Sacrifice. In placing Coleridge
he says : —

" The agreement between Coleridge and Schleiermacher, and the substan-
tial identity of their views regarding the Trinity, are not to be accounted for
by any supposition of intercourse l^tween them, but by the fact that both
were, in the main, adherents of the same philosophy. Both in fact were
Platonizing idealists, and both studied and admired Platinus as well as Plato.
Both had been ^eatly influenced by (Spinoza and) Schellin^. And though
in a sense and within certain limits Schleiermacher professed to oppose the
prevalent Pantheism of his country, while Coleridge (in his middle and later
lifej ever expressed his strong dissent from Pantheism in any form, yet in fact
botn were, philosophically. Pantheists under a new form ; and their Pantheism
moulded their views of the relations uniting the Logos and humanity, Christ
and all who believe in Christ." " Coleridge's philosophy was a Neo-Platonized
edition of Schelling's ; his theolog}' is essentially rather a semi-pagan theoso-
phy or mysticism, baptized with a Christian and biblical nomenclature, than
any system of doctrines, directly derived from the Bible.**

This differs exceedingly from Prof. Shedd's argument in Coleridge's favor
in the Introduction to his edition of Coleridge's works. Of Hare it is said
that he had a much more extensive and profound acquaintance with not only
German theology but German philosophy than Coleridge ever had. We get
interesting and instructive glimpses of Newman, Arnold, Sterling, Bunsen,
and mysticism as well as rationalism is constantly in view. Dean Trench is
set aside from the Coleridgean rationalists, having in late years become evan-
gelical. Kingsley, " clear, direct and forcible," is set oflf against Maurice,
" misty, redundant, circuitous and evasive." " Jowett is of a more directly
and intensely pantheistic school, and altogether an independent theologian."

On the Atonement controversy the author places upon the anti-evangelical
side many of the admirers of Schleiermacher in Germany, and in England
the followers of Coleridge, Arnold and Hare. The author is himself evangel-
ical. He is as far as possible from sympathizing with that tenet of the Broad

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388 Literary Notices. [July,

Church which makes the church as broad as the world, i. e. the world, impen-
itent and scouting the cross, one with the church. He rejects, indeed, high,
antinomian Calvinism on the one hand, and the '* narrow, weakly-sentimental
and ill-informed Calvinism " of the " evangelical " churchmen on the other.
But he sees that Maurice and Kingsley ignorantly misrepresent, as they
intensely hate, the evangelical theology of the " Dissenters." He himself
holds the penal view of Christ's sufferings. In the interest of that view —
more common than any other in English orthodox circles, where the distinc-
tions of New England theology have not been made — he opposes the theory
of Bahr and Hare and Maurice, that the Jewish sacrifices had no allusion to
the guilt or punishment of him who offered them, but only expressed his self-
surrender, and that the sacrifice of Christ expressed no transaction relating to
law, or justice, or government, but only God's free, reconciling, self-6acrificing
love, and the principle required of man. A somewhat elaborate discussion of
primitive and Mosaic sacrifices and the New Testament doctrine of expiation
closes the book. *^ The blood," say Bahr and Maurice, *^ is the life ; hence the
pouring out of the blood before the altar * before the Lord,' symbolizes the
dedication of the life of the offerer to Grod's service." An instructive portion
of the discussion shows the logical relation of Jowett's anti- Atonement views
to general scepticism. All the Atonement any of these writers believe in is
the reconcilement of man to God, — reconciliation in its established sense, they
deny. As the theory of Bahr, Hare, Jowett, Maurice, Kingsley, &c., with

Online LibraryLouis BallonThe Congregational review → online text (page 37 of 58)